The International Cultic Studies Association says "the Masons, the Jesuits, Opus Dei and the Military do NOT qualify as "CULTS"
"Aren't the Jesuits or other monastic religious orders a cult?
While cults, military organizations, and legitimate spiritual groups share some superficials, they are fundamentally different.
They share an indoctrination process, strict codes of behavior and ethics, uniform dress, restricted diets and exercise regimens.
Where they differ most is deception. Anyone signing up for bootcamp has no doubt in his or her mind that he will be going through a severe mental, emotional, and physical trial meant to improve their physique and sharpen their mind. There are no secrets.
Whether a curious person attends an introductory seminar for Transcendental Meditation, the Church of Scientology, the Moonists, or smaller cults, the speaker will conveniently forget to mention that new members will undergo what the California Supreme Court has called "brainwashing, thought reform, or mind control," may end up "donating" hundreds of thousands of dollars and years of their lives to the cult.
It should be pointed out also that legitimate organizations like the Marines and Jesuits care for their members with health care, food, lodging, clothing -- and that when members leave they will have been trained in a trade, received an advanced degree, or received other value."
"Aren't the Marines a Cult by Your Definition?
--adapted from Cults in Our Midst: The Hidden Menace in Our Everyday Lives, by Margaret Singer and Janja Lalich, Jossey-Bass, 1995. Reprinted with authors' permission.
I have had to point out why the United States Marine Corps is not a cult so many times that I carry a list to lectures and court appearances. It cites 19 ways in which the practices of the Marine Corps differ from those found in most modern cults....
Cults clearly differ from such purely authoritarian groups as the military, some types of sects and communes, and centuries- old Roman Catholic and Greek and Russian Orthodox Orders. These groups, though rigid and controlling, lack a double agenda and are not manipulative or leader-centered. The differences become apparent when we examine the intensity and pervasiveness with which mind-manipulating techniques and deceptions are or are not applied.
Jesuit seminaries may isolate the seminarian from the rest of the world for periods of time, but the candidate is not deliberately deceived about the obligations and burdens of the priesthood. In fact, he is warned in advance about what is expected, and what he can and cannot do....
Mainstream religious organizations do not concentrate their search on the lonely and the vulnerable.... Nor do mainstream religions focus recruitment on wealthy believers who are seen as pots of gold for the church, as is the case with those cults who target rich individuals....
Military training and legitimate executive training programs may use the dictates of authority as well as peer pressure to encourage the adoption of new patterns of thought and behavior. They do not seek, however, to accelerate the process by prolonged or intense psychological depletion or by stirring up feelings of dread, guilt, and sinfulness....
And what is wrong with cults is not just that cults are secret societies. In our culture, there are openly recognized, social secret societies, such as the Masons, in which new members know up front that they will gradually learn the shared rituals of the group....
In [cults], there is deliberate deception about what the group is and what some of the rituals might be, and primarily, there is deception about what the ultimate goal will be for a member, what will ultimately be demanded and expected, and what the damages resulting from some of the practices might be. A secret handshake is not equivalent to mind control."
from Steve Eichel Web site