It's no coincidence that so many cults align themselves with mainstream religions. Like a predatory animal that has evolved to resemble something commonplace and nonthreatening, these organizations understand that the more they appear to be a branch of a familiar institution, the more easily they'll be able lure new followers into the fold.
This insidious (and often effective) tactic might be difficult to spot at first, but it can be done. Ahead, we spoke with cult researcher and author Janja Lalich, Ph.D., professor emerita of sociology at California State University, Chico, about the key distinctions, explicit and implicit, between legitimate religions and cults.
All summer long, Refinery29 will be examining cults from every angle: pop culture, fashion, food, beauty, and their controversial origins. Let’s dig into the fascination behind this fervor with "Cult Fridays."