Has my friend joined a cult?
June 16, 2006 8:40 AM   Subscribe

Has my friend joined a cult?

A friend of mine has become very immersed in a religion (?) called ECK. From what I have read, it doesn't seem like a very good thing, but all faiths have websites with people complaining about how awful/evil they are.

Does anyone have any experience with this group, or can tell me if this is a cult, and if so, what are the long term negative effects belonging to ECK could have on my friend? Is this a lose all your money type thing, a Heaven's Gate cousin, or niether?
posted by anonymous to Religion & Philosophy (16 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
History of the Temple of ECK
posted by matteo at 8:47 AM on June 16, 2006

and this is the boss. my opinion: looks zany, but not dangerous.
posted by matteo at 8:48 AM on June 16, 2006

Check out Rick Ross's site, he's got lots of info there. You can also read through people's experiences (and post) on his message board.
posted by necessitas at 8:51 AM on June 16, 2006

Oh, I forgot to actually answer the question. Yes, he has joined a cult.
posted by necessitas at 8:52 AM on June 16, 2006

ECK on Wikipedia. Yes, it's a cult.

A hilarious cult.
posted by interrobang at 8:55 AM on June 16, 2006 [1 favorite]

This is the cult that "sings HU" (mp3). I'd forgotten about that.

I don't think it's a brainwashings 'n' suicide-type cult, but there is some "controversy" about how the presidency was passed from one guy to the next, if you read the Wikipedia article.
posted by interrobang at 8:59 AM on June 16, 2006

The Making of a Spiritual Movement
(origins of ECKANKAR)

The founder Twitchell got clear in Scientology and borrowed some stuff from there.

ECKANKAR is largely derived from an apparently more genuine tradition called Radhasoami which is (I think) also known as Sant Mat.

If your friend finds something of value in the ECKANKAR teachings, he might find more in the traditions from which they were appropriated.
posted by sonofsamiam at 9:16 AM on June 16, 2006

I have a friend who was into ECK. It seemed pretty goofy to me, but relatively harmless. I think it helped him at one time in his life, then he sort of drifted away, and that was all OK.
posted by Nelson at 9:24 AM on June 16, 2006

I was friends with someone when I was younger who was Eckankar. We were 13 and the family seemed just a bit hippy-dorky, but otherwise not harmful. I mean, their kids went to public school with us, and their daughter could have sleepovers (and all we had to do was suffer soy-based ice cream - I don't know if the veg*nism was personal or religious, but you know, new-age grab bag of beliefs and all.) For me the big 'cult' signs are 'not allowed to/discouraged association with others' and evangelism and that wasn't apparent from my brush.

(And I thought the HU was really, painfully goofy, even for a 13-year old who was into the occult.)
posted by cobaltnine at 9:34 AM on June 16, 2006

My best friend growing up was a member of Eckankar. In fact, her father formed one of the splinter groups mentioned in that wikipedia article! If you want to call it a cult, it's not a creepy or dangerous one.
posted by emyd at 9:41 AM on June 16, 2006

Religion Facts has a good non-bias background on ECK.

It also has links to other websites and books on ECK.
posted by bamassippi at 9:42 AM on June 16, 2006

I attended an outreach introductory meeting with these folks around 1995. I remember a couple hours of guided meditation along with evangilism in an elementary school classroom one evening. The thing that stuck with me from this evening was that at one point the mediator told us that when you hear a buzzing in your left/right ear it means that the spiritual founder ( i have forgotten his name) is telling you you are on the right track, if you hear a buzzing in your right/left ear it means you are doing things incorrectly. But for the life of me I can't recall which was which!! To this day when i hear a buzzing in one of my ears it reminds me of that evening.

Cultish, yes; but from my experience...harmless.
posted by iurodivii at 1:16 PM on June 16, 2006

Not necessarily harmless. One of my favorite quotes from, I think FactNet, is "In the end, only an individual can judge whether they personally experienced an abusive, cultic relationship. One person's nightmare may correspond to another's 'uplifting experience.'"

I went to a charismatic Christian church for 5 years, and I ended up with Borderline Personality Disorder (which I STRONGLY believe would not have been so severe if I hadn't been in that church) and it took me 3 years of therapy + Eye Movement Desensitizaition & Reprocessing (EMDR, controversial but workd for me) to get over it.
posted by IndigoRain at 11:23 PM on June 16, 2006

bah, Desensitization, and worked.
posted by IndigoRain at 11:24 PM on June 16, 2006

All I know about it is if your friend joins the military and expires in such a fashion as to qualify for burial in a national military cemetery, your friend can celebrate their culty hu-ishness right on their stone.
posted by Sallyfur at 3:56 PM on June 17, 2006

My boss, who goes to the Eck church, makes us sing 'hu' everyday at work and then meditate :) but then I do work at a mind/body/spirit magazine!

the Ecks are alright - just don't ever believe anyone who tells you theirs is the only way that's all. I grew up in a Born Again church and that is one of their (many) problems, this head-in-the-sand insistence that they are the only bunch who aren't going to fry in hell. Yeah right.
posted by Moose at 8:30 PM on June 17, 2006

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