When I was a child, my parents abused me by allowing me to watch Fred Flintstone. I'm tongue-in-cheek on the abuse, although I mean it a little because it's interesting what people are willing to call abuse today. And what they want to call a cult as well. Cult and abuse really do diminish in their meaning when people use them as weapons for their own rhetorical battles. They want to shock to the actual worst degree, and they are limited in their vocabularies, so they borrow the easy words that will cause the most pain for their targets. Who cares on what their usage does to the meaning of a real cult or genuine abuse.
Of course, it isn't abuse to allow our children to vegetate in front of a television, only if parents make the children work really hard and punish them when they don't. The former might qualify you as a vegetable, not abuse, but the latter will make you a hard working, successful, and productive person, so abuse. You are angry about the latter. You really wanted to be vegetative. You may have even made it difficult on your parents, so you succeeded and now have plenty of time to cause havoc on the internet.
On one episode of Fred Flintstone, Fred made a personal recording of himself singing a popular song. The stone tablet record with beak of actual living bird as needle for the player landed in the hands of a radio station and Fred became an instant hit, that is, until Wilma, out of a desire to get back her old Fred, started a rumor that Fred was "square." Once everyone knew he was "square," well, Fred's singing career was dead. A gigantic group of cro magnons, who once thought Fred was the greatest thing since sliced brontosaurus, now instantly recognized he was mere piltdown. Instantly swung into an opposite position. I swear his new critics were very smart and independent thinkers. Why? They say so.
You have a church where the pastor may not follow a biblical model of church government. Authority leans a little too heavily in the pastor's direction, not out of some desire to dictate to everyone his thinking, but because the heavy top-down model seems to him to succeed better at creating his visage of a Christian group. He sees his product looks better than yours every time in the short term, so it must be right too. Some of what is biblical as to how this gets done has already been chucked, so his few and powerful bureaucrats are given too much latitude for implementation. Without proper accountability, momentum shifts and opposition increases to a tipping point. Mutiny occurs.
The mutineers, independent thinkers that they are, form their own new group. No criticism is allowed. Everyone walks in lockstep. If you are not with them 100%, you are against them. They really are getting their own way. If you offer a different idea, you are humiliated, cajoled, badgered, and put down. Everyone must think independently. This is required.
It does remind me of the 1960s when young people rebelled against the government and their parents and other institutions. They would not conform. They would not dress like they were told. They were going to be different!! And so they all looked and talked the same. They shifted to a different brand of GroupThink with all new leaders.
Gangs operate in the same fashion. They aren't going to conform, but everybody still conforms. Of course, they would protest this, but all the evidence reveals it to be true. And they circle the wagons just like the ones they attack. They are running away from humiliation. So they humiliate. It's not a biblical group. It isn't a God loving group. It's just a different group with a different way of thinking as the first group.
Let's say you had a question for the first group, because you thought you might want to join it. So you ask your question. Nope. You don't get to ask questions of the group. The group alone asks questions. And you answer. The group doesn't answer. They don't have to answer. They won't answer. You just say, "You're right." They are all independent thinkers. Maybe the second group seems to be inconsistent with their founding principles. Maybe you think their methods seem wrong. Sorry. No questioning, even between themselves. Everybody must be on the same page. That's the way it goes with such independence and individualism.
Without offering unqualified support to the second group, you are at risk of abusive treatment. You'll be said to be a number of things. These are lies, but they are permissible lies, ones for which no one requires an apology. The second group can't apologize and especially in public. They expect apologies. They expect groveling. Really groveling may not be enough. But they do not apologize. They can't be wrong. But they are not like what they criticize of the first group.
If I had a choice between the two, I would choose the first group. At least it looks better, looks closer to what is right. And it is far more productive than the latter group, that exists for the mere purpose of protest. The former group has certain standards of decency that I would like better. The latter, of course, calls the first a cult. There's no way the second group could be a cult. The latter group isn't a cult, because it is a group of independent thinkers who will savage and humiliate you if you offer your opinion. The second group is not like the first group at all, of course. The second one will only allow you to be supportive and follow their way or you will be subject to intellectual and emotional abuse with a subtle threat of violence.
All unbiblical belief and behavior will turn out bad, whatever group believes it and practices it.