The first rule of Fight Club is you don’t talk about Fight Club. The first rule of cults is you don’t call it a cult. This was certainly the rule in Nxivm.
Journalist Sarah Berman titled her comprehensive book on Nxivm “Don’t Call It A Cult”.
Former Doc Roberts didn’t lose her medical license because of narrow-minded “mainstream American culture”. She lost it because she was branding dear leader Vanguard’s initials onto women’s nethers. Women who had been coerced and lied to.
It had nothing to do with Roberts being in a cult. Even though she was. Nxivm was a cult. The exalted leader, the bowing to his picture, the enforced groupthink, the sashes, the Knox Woods compound. Cult, cult, cult.
Cults aren’t some freedom-loving expression of individuality, persecuted because of “mainstream American culture”.
You don’t shave your head and put on orange robes and chant in unison and do whatever dear Leader tells you because you’re an independent thinker. It’s a surrender of freedom. It’s choosing to be a slave.
Ah yes, the Hare Krishnas in robes at airports. Haven’t seen them since the era of the Hippie. They were the embodiment of the word “cult”. Forty years ago.
They weren’t a cult? They were “straight-up Hindus”? What is a straight-up Hindu? There are four sects of Hinduism, subdivided into six sub-sects https://religionfacts.com/hinduism/branches
Hinduism has a very ugly side, sectarian and violent. Brought to prominence by Modi’s recent Hindu Nationalist chauvinism https://www.economist.com/briefing/2020/01/23/narendra-modis-sectarianism-is-eroding-indias-secular-democracy
So saying “they’re Hindus!” Isn’t much of an endorsement.
Lastly, this sneering at “mainstream American culture”. What exactly is it? Republican or Democratic? Pickup truck or Prius? LA or rural Oklahoma? Evangelical, Unitarian, Mormon, liberal Catholic like Biden, or agnostic? BLM sign in the front yard, or the American flag, or both?
I find it odd that all this disparity can be lumped together as “mainstream American culture” and the various sects of Hinduism can be grouped together as “straight-up Hindus” and yet there is no commonality that allows Nxivm and Scientology to be categorized as modern-day cults. I find that both odd and unconvincing.