Usually some people easily confuse cults with sects, many even think they are synonyms because of their similarities. Both share negative peculiarities such as mental domination, brainwashing, and their iron control, but even so it is wrong to say that cults and sects are the same.
The word cult comes from the Latin "cultus", meaning veneration or reverence. In reality this word is used to allude to the adoration of a person or idea. A cult can be religious or ideological, and its functioning is centralized in a figure, and ideological or religious dogmas. Commonly there is an initiator, qualified as superior by the affiliates, and all follow the ideas of this one.
They are voluntary congregations, with a strong sense of identity, and demand from their participants a faithful subordination that must eliminate all other commitments or at least place themselves above them. Cult members generally live in seclusion, distant from their homes. Leaders not only verbally, physically or sexually abuse their members, they do not tolerate objections to their authority, and many steal members' financial resources. They are nurtured by outsized egos and mold the world to their views. They are specialists in capturing the weaknesses of others by providing them with what they need and thus seducing them.
As an example we can cite the human sacrifice cult "Los Narco Satanicos"; Mark Kilroy, a student from Texas disappeared during the spring of 1989. He crossed the border into Mexico to enjoy his nightlife, and never returned. Four weeks later his fate was revealed when his brain was found in a black metal cauldron in Matamoros. He had been boiled in blood in a bonfire along with a tortoiseshell carapace, a horse shoe, spinal column and other human bones. His ritual murder took place in the context of a type of cult performed by a drug trafficker operating in Mexico. Police officers located a grave with the remains of Kilroy's body, the first in an extensive list of severed bodies. During the first hours of excavation, twelve bodies were pulled from the Santa Elena ranch. The victims had been hanged, beaten or shot, and many were boiled alive.
The traffickers were convinced that the human sacrifices mysteriously shielded them from arrest by the police and even made them immune to bullets.
The man who cajoled his henchmen into supporting him in this paranoia called himself 'El Padrino', was 26 years old and his name was Adolfo de Jesus Constanzo, a Cuban American born in Miami. Constanzo, baptized by the Catholic religion and a practitioner of voodoo, consummated his crimes with the help of Sara Aldrete, his partner of 24 years who was nicknamed 'The Witch'.
The 'Solar Temple Cult', originated in 1984 by Joseph Di Mambro and Luc Jouret, was initially based on the ideas of the Rosicrucians and the Knights Templar. Over time, its spiritualism shifted towards frightening beliefs and strong fantasy. The cult's front man was Dr. Jouret and his speeches, although apocalyptic, were attractive and won new followers. The cult's fortunes ended in the late 1990s, when several members escaped and were charged with illegal possession of weapons and sexual abuse. In 1994, the cult agreed that it was time to rise to a higher dimension to survive the approaching environmental catastrophe and reappear on a planet near the star Sirius. The procedure to effect this ascension was through fire. An associate murdered Tony Dutoit, a former member who had testified against them, along with his wife and young son, and days later, the cult's headquarters were incinerated.
The morning after the fire, the experts were baffled, 48 people were dead on the scene, many had committed suicide, but others showed signs of violence. They had been given tranquilizers or suffocated with plastic covers, many had been shot. Among the dead were Jouret, Di Mambro, his wife and children. The tragedy did not end there. In December 1995, a mansion in the Swiss Alps burned to the ground with 16 people inside. Most of them had died before the fire. In 1997, five other cult members sacrificed themselves in Quebec; counting Dutoit's family, the cult's victims climbed to 74 people.