Why #NXIVM was never a cult, and why we should abandon the “c” word altogether.

A thread.
90% of the headlines I’ve seen on the sentencing of the self-proclaimed self-help guru Keith Raniere labels the organization he created a “cult” or a “sex cult“ even if they sometimes adopt the language of “cultlike" in the article text itself. https://www.nytimes.com/2020/10/29/nyregion/nxivm-cult-keith-raniere-abuse.html
What gets lost in labeling NXIVM a “cult” is the fact that there was little religiosity among Raniere’s teachings or his followers praxis.

Instead, this was an almost entirely secular, quasi-“scientific” (as Raniere would like to call it), and humanistic community.
If, as @mpgPhD has argued, colloquially, a cult is a "religion I don't like,” then placing NXIVM under the category of the religious not only undermines that (already) problematic term, but also shifts blame on religion for something that was an almost entirely secular effort.
To be sure, abuse is prevalent in religious communities. I’ve written why the long history of Protestant sex abuse should not be discounted as evidence of the dangers that lie just under the surface of organized religion. https://therevealer.org/a-history-of-sex-abuse-in-the-protestant-imagination/
But NXIVM and other groups like it tell us that the problem is not religion; the problem is us. To cite @mpgPhD, non-Protestant groups are often accused of cult-like tendencies in order for the majority to police them with more legitimacy. https://www.rutgersuniversitypress.org/abusing-religion/9781978807785
The slippery usage of “cult” for NXIVM makes little sense even on the terms of that already problematic word.
By relegating Raniere’s abuses to the realm of the religious, we absolve ourselves of our collective responsibility for turning a blind eye toward the more casual, secular forms of abuse.
This thread was brought to you by a @Sacred_Writes assignment of trying to get us all to be #SmartInPublic.

Thanks to @constancekassor & @AmbreLynae for their sage wisdom and joyful encouragement to proceed to add my 2 cents to this conversation!
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