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"That cult would never die until the stars came right again, and the secret priests would take Cthulhu from His tomb to revive His subjects and resume His rule of earth. The time would be easy to know, for then mankind would have become as the Great Old Ones; free and wild, and beyond good and evil, with laws and morals thrown aside and all men shouting and killing and reveling in joy. Then the liberated Old Ones would teach them new ways to shout and kill and revel and enjoy themselves, and all earth would flame with a holocaust of ecstasy and freedom."
- H. P. Lovecraft, "The Call of Cthulhu", (1926)
--"The literal and traditional meanings of the word cult, which are more fully explored at the entry Cult (religion), derive from the Latin cultus, meaning "care" or "adoration," as "a system of religious belief or ritual; or: the body of adherents to same."
In French or Spanish, culte or culto simply means "worship" or "religious attendance"; thus an association cultuelle is an association whose goal is to organize religious worship and practices (not to be mistaken for an association culturelle or "cultural association"). The word for "cult" in the popular English meaning is secte (French) or secta (Spanish). (See false cognate.)
In German or Russian the word sekta (sect) has a slightly different meaning than the English word cult in addition to the German word Sekte.
In formal English use, and in non-English European terms, the cognates of the English word "cult" are neutral, and refer mainly to divisions within a single faith, a case where English speakers might use the word "sect". Hence Roman Catholicism, Eastern Orthodoxy and Protestantism are cults within Christianity. In English, it remains perfectly neutral to refer to the "cult of Artemis at Ephesus" and the "cult figures" that accompanied it, or to "the importance of the Ave Maria in the cult of the Virgin."
However, in common usage, "cult" has a very negative connotation, and is generally applied to a group in order to criticize it. Understandably, most groups, if not all, that are called "cults" deny this qualification, whether or not they fit some common definition of what a "cult" is. Some groups called "cults" by some critics may consider themselves not to be "cults", but may consider some other groups to be "cults". It is thus to be understood that in most, if not all, cases, the groups cited below deny being cults."-- Wikipedia's defintion of "cult"