Help me out here. In literature we distinguish fantasy from Science Fiction. The distinguishing variable – is it plausible. Do the premises set forth in the story violate basic principles of physics? Like a two ton dragon flying with a ten foot wing span – probably fantasy. A space ship flying across the galaxies in the year 25059 – who knows? But what about religion? How do we distinguish legitimate religious organization?
Every parent in America is afraid their child will join a ‘cult.’ Well what exactly is that? How do we qualify legitimacy? Is it merely by numbers? When an organization has more than 50 participants? How about a thousand? Or 10,000,000 – is that enough to qualify as a legitimate faith based organization?
Or is the dependent variable one of ideology or philosophy? The Christian faith was founded by a wandering preacher about 2,000 years ago – They were condemned by government for a couple of hundred years – then accepted as legitimate. The Mormon’s faith was established by Joseph Smith, Jr. in the early 1800’s. They were condemned my many, including government officials, for many years. The Mormons are now generally accepted as being here to stay – if not accepted for their faith.
Tom Cruise and some other celebrity types are hyping the legitimacy of Scientology. That faith was started in the 1950’s by L. Ron Hubbard, a fantasy writer of that time. Does the endorsement of celebrities give legitimacy to the faith? Is it a faith?
So here is my question – Are there generally accepted parameters for establishing legitimacy of a faith based organization?
Readers – help us understand.