Sam, hopefully I do not offend anyone, as I mean nothing of the sort because I myself come from a Methodist Christian background myself.. But what in your words do you define the difference between a cult and a religion? And also do you think that all religions derive from what was at one point in some form or another a cult. That being said what does that make of standardized religions of today? Or at least in terms of the way that they are currently practiced?
A cult is an out of the mainstream movement with tenets which are odd to the majority population and which usually exert considerable power over the lives of their adherents.
Most religions were once cults. It is common to speak of First Century Apocalyptic Christianity as the “Jesus Cult”. I am certain that when the Jews entered Canaan and confronted the ancient religions of that land with their new upstart God that they were considered a cult. Mormonism was clearly a cult and now the Mormons can run major party candidates for President of the United States. Scientology is a cult but who knows what will be in five hundred years.