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Page last updated at 10:20 GMT, Saturday, 7 July 2012 11:20 UK

Cults: 'Size doesn't matter'


Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes have separated, possibly over Tom Cruise's devotion to the controversial Church of Scientology and his desire for his daughter Suri to be heavily involved. The story has brought the scientologist to the fore once again, but has the religion been around long enough for us to take it seriously and stop calling it a cult?

Writer and researcher on new religions, Dr David Barrett told the Today programme that a cult is usually seen as "a personality-driven group of people" where its believers are "devoted to a guru-figure".

Founder and spokesperson of the Cult Information Centre, Ian Howarth, explained that when it comes to defining cults, "size doesn't matter" and those who are recruited "tend to be upwardly mobile, intelligent, well- educated and of all ages". He added that the methods of recruitment employed by these groups must be scrutinised because "the basic human right to free choice is removed".

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