So what is the difference between a religion and a cult? or is there no difference?
As far as i can see the only real difference between a religion and a cult is the level of social acceptance that each receive. while the statement "I have joined a cult" will usually be met with horror the statement "I am religious" is often met with respect and admiration, When the reality of it is they are both the same thing.
wikipedia defines a cult as: "a cohesive social group devoted to beliefs or practices that the surrounding culture considers outside the mainstream". Isn't that an accurate description of a religion? The surrounding culture considers not mixing milk and meat, pretending to drink blood, Mutilating genitals, Starving yourself and covering up women outside of what would be considered "mainstream", Unless that society was predominantly of the same religion. So is it the amount of people around you who believe the same thing what determines if what you follow is a cult or religion?
The psychology of cults and religions share a common ground too. Cults like to tell their recruits that they are flawed and that perfection can only achieved by staying with the cult and following it's rules. or is that religion? I am getting confused now.
So what is the difference between them? try to answer without discussing particular religions and without quoting from religious books (nobody cares what your "god" thinks).