Original Research

The effect of misapplied religious practices in some alternative religious groups

Stephan P. Pretorius
HTS Teologiese Studies / Theological Studies | Vol 70, No 3 | a2060 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/hts.v70i3.2060 | © 2014 Stephan P. Pretorius | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 03 September 2013 | Published: 26 May 2014

About the author(s)

Stephan P. Pretorius, Student Admission and Registrations, University of South Africa, South Africa


The positive impact that religion generally has on human beings has been suggested by different studies. However, it cannot be assumed that religion always contributes to the well-being of believers. Religious systems can be misused, resulting in people being spiritually and even physically hurt and harmed. This study investigates certain aspects of some alternative religious group in order to determine the impact it has on the well-being of the members of these groups. It was found that people are drawn to these groups because of the challenges they present, the display of true love amongst members and the ‘message’ of an authoritative charismatic leader that resonates with them and convinces them to become part. As time pass, members were challenged with questionable aspects that appear in the activities and teaching of these groups. Obtaining clarity on these concerns was strongly discouraged by the culture and other members of the group, resulting in members suppressing doubts and emotions. Adherence to the tenets of the group then occurred as a result of peer pressure and out of fear instead of true conviction. The study concludes that most of the respondents in the study reported that their experience in these groups did not contribute to their well-being, and emotionally, they struggled to adapt to society and other religious groups after leaving the group.


Spirituality; former members; religious leader; well-being; alternative religions


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