Here is an article by Pete Vere, a Canadian canon lawyer on some possible warning signs of a cult,
http://www.icsahome.com/infoserv_articles/vere_peter_whatcanonlawyerslookfor_0402.htm. Here are a few excerpts which I found especially intriguing, especially in light of my recent postings on the Legion of Christ.
- The leadership induces feeling of guilt in members to control them
One’s vocation within the Church should be freely chosen. Similarly, obedience is something a superior should inspire among those under his or her charge. While it sometimes happens that a superior must impose his or her will upon a particular member, obedience should never be coerced through illicit or improper means. Additionally, if a superior must constantly impose his will upon the majority of the membership through coercive means, then this proves problematical to the long-term health of the specific association or religious group.
- The group is preoccupied with bringing in new members
Of course every new association, if it wishes to grow, will seek to increase its membership. Such growth, however, should come because potential members identify with the mission or apostolate of the association. Additionally, members should only join after a reasonable period of discernment. Thus, any association whose main focus is to bring in new members, to the exclusion of other acts of apostolate or ministry, should be carefully examined.