Profits And Prophets: A Study Of The Traditional Business Practices Of Three Religious Cults

ASU Author/Contributor (non-ASU co-authors, if there are any, appear on document)
Leslie Faith Showler (Creator)
Appalachian State University (ASU )
Web Site:
Edward Brewer

Abstract: Existing research suggests that there are instances of cult-like behavior in the corporate realm, specifically in high-performing teams. Notable occurrences of this can be found in organizations such as Enron and Madoff Investment Securities, which exhibited traits aligning with characteristics of religious cults. These characteristics include the manipulation of employees, a strong organizational culture, various tools to enhance competition and recruiting abilities, manipulative hierarchal relationships, and the overcommunication of deceptive messages. While facets of the corporate realm mimic religious cults, there are also notable behaviors exhibited by religious cults which mirror traditional businesses. Three religious cults (specifically the People’s Temple, Heaven’s Gate, and Rajneeshpuram) demonstrated characteristics of traditional businesses including the offering of a product, internal networks and infrastructure, product movement, revenue generation, and an implementable marketing and recruiting plan. While the goods offered by each religious cult were not tangible, they were valuable services marketed to a pliable audience which resulted in the exchange of money, possessions, and in some instances, lives.

Additional Information

Honors Project
Showler, L. (2020). Profits And Prophets: A Study Of The Traditional Business Practices Of Three Religious Cults. Unpublished Honors Thesis. Appalachian State University, Boone, NC.
Language: English
Date: 2020
Secular Business Cult, Religious Cult, Manipulative Business

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