In religion and sociology, a cult is a term designating a cohesive group of people (generally, but not exclusively a relatively small and recently founded religious movement) devoted to beliefs or practices that the surrounding culture or society considers to be outside the mainstream or reaching the point of a taboo. Its status may come about either due to its novel belief system, its idiosyncratic practices, its perceived harmful effects on members, or because it perceived opposition to the interests of the mainstream culture. Non-religious groups may also display cult-like characteristics.
- The Temple of the Seven Stars was an apocalyptic cult led by Vernon Ephesian in Tennessee. The FBI and ATF investigated allegations of child abuse and possession of illegal firearms but were unable to discover any incriminating evidence. When released from custody, Ephesian led his followers in a mass suicide through use of poisoned kool-aid. (TXF: "The Field Where I Died")
- In 2000, Dana Scully encountered a cult in Utah that worshiped a parasite that they believed to be the second coming of Jesus Christ. Cult members would introduce the parasite to a host's lower back and allow it to enter the spine. If the host was "refused," the cult members stoned him or her to death and tried again with another host. This is exactly what happened to Scully, but Agent Doggett was able to rescue her. After removing the parasite from Scully, Doggett shot it dead, much to the horror of the cult members. ("Roadrunners")
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