Religious cults, religious leaders and the abuse of power


  • Stephan P. Pretorius


Freedom of religion, religious abuse, cults, abuse of trust, religious leaders


The abuse of authority by religious leaders, accepted as persons of authority and upholders of moral values, has led to violations of human rights within religious cults. This article discusses the means by which cults obtain undue authority and influence in society and create an illusion of utopia while causing harm to believers. I propose measures to ensure that instead of remaining “untouchable”, religious leaders take responsibility for their own practices, ensuring that no harm will be caused through internal rules of conduct. If such behaviour comes under the guise of religious freedom, governments are put in a dilemma of simultaneously safeguarding both religious freedom and the well-being of its citizens.