“What’s the difference between a religion and a cult” with guest Susan Palmer


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We throw the words ‘religion’ and ‘cult’ around, like we know what they mean, but do we? Sure, Judaism and Buddhism are religions, but why not the Branch Davidians or Scientology? And, why should we trust the charismatic pastor of a mega-church, but not the quirky but powerful spokesman who is selling his faith on a street corner? Why do new religions make us so uncomfortable? These are important questions, not just because they help us understand the human experience, but because we use them to approve or condemn others’ choices.

Susan J. Palmer is a researcher, sociologist and writer in the area of new religious movements. She is a member of the Religious Studies Faculty at McGill University, and an Affiliate Professor and Part-time Instructor at Concordia University. She is the author of numerous books, most recently Storming Zion: Government Raids on Religions with co-author Stuart Wright.

Read Susan’s article Caught up in the Cult Wars for free. This is the article mentioned in the episode.

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2 thoughts on ““What’s the difference between a religion and a cult” with guest Susan Palmer

  1. The best quote I’ve ever heard regarding this question is: “The difference between a cult and a religion is what happens when you try and leave.”

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