What comes to mind when you hear the word ‘cult’? Dangerous? Weird? Unorthodox? Damaging? Scary? It’s extremely unlikely that the word would engender positive feelings. Why is this?
In contemporary society, the word ‘cult’ is always used in a pejorative way. It has become synonymous with threat and fear. No one would send a Well done on joining a cult! greeting card to a friend or loved one. But although the term ‘cult’ is viewed negatively today, it has not always been so.
The word cult comes from the Latin, cultus. Among other things, the word denoted worship, reverence, and veneration, and could be used in a positive context. It was used in this way during the 16th and 17th centuries.