@AC & dusan maletic
>Religions at least have a veneer of doing "Good Works" and responisibility
>to and engagement with Society.
Sometimes they do and sometimes they don't, I don't think this is a defining characteristic of a religion but of a charity.
The US cult problem should perhaps result in laws that control the illegal activity rather than saying whether or not the activity is a religion.
Perhaps these cults set up in the US because they can, the US is a very free country compared to many places, I doubt Saudi or Iran would tolerate these groups forming. On a lower level there are fewer in France and Spain perhaps because of the homogeneity of belief.
>not going to religious states around the world, where this discussion does not apply anyway
Why doesn't it apply to fully religious states? That's the extreme end of the spectrum, not the Russian one.
Your description of Scientology is of a pyramid scheme rather than a cult, I'm not arguing with that, but there are laws covering that in most countries. Perhaps religious suppression isn't required, rather that the law is enforced.
Cults aren't inherently bad, I know a guy who is a priest in a fundamentalist christian sect, while I don't follow his beliefs (very definitely atheist), he is not a bad person.
BTW "many ending in tragedies" s/many/some/ there's a lot out there you never even hear about.