Are you a religion?
We are an ancient non-dogmatic non-denominational monastic order. By the definitions of some, we would be considered a religion. But we have no dogma, which to some would make it not a religion. Most religions generally have many other aspects to them, including "dogma", and are generally denominational.
By the definitions commonly used by universities and academic experts, anything that is not a very old religion, is considered a sect or cult. The old religions are considered Judaism, Islam, Buddhism, Roman Catholicism, etc. A sect is considered something that has "split off of" a mainstream old religion. Academics thus categorize Mormons as a sect, and Zen, since it is a branch off of Buddhism is considered a sect. By that definition in the strictest terms, any protestant religion, would also be considered a sect. The academic definition of cult, is a religion based on a new idea, or a new religion. They are often created "out of the blue", without splitting off of any other religion or sect. We aren't a sect or cult by any definition, let alone the academic, but rather pre-date all of the "old religions".
I'm sure we might be considered a religion or cult by someone's broad definition, but we have none of the things that are "earmarks" of what is commonly thought of.
As far as the cults that deserve a bad reputation, the most common "earmarks" to be wary of are: Mind control, recruitment of new members, and a leader with absolute power and authority that cannot be criticized/questioned, and who can change the beliefs of his/her followers on a whim.
All of us, including head monks, not only welcome constructive criticism, we solicit it. No one has absolute authority in our order. Rather than recruiting new members, we have always discouraged it, and have not allowed any student monks for a very long time. We also strive for and teach individual thinking, and freedom of thought and action.
There is a horrible "stigma" attached to the word "cult", which is often used to injure someone's reputation. Of course, this may be deserved - but many times it is not. Everyone has different religious or spiritual beliefs, and often, non-tolerant people or organizations will use the word to call anyone who doesn't have the same beliefs as they do, a cult, when in fact, it is just "different". Consider the derivative from the word "culture". Essentially anyone who has their own beliefs, and doesn't follow a mainstream old religion, is creating and living in their own "culture", thus a cultist. Jesus, while considered a Jew, was at odds with mainstream Judaism, and not large or mainstream enough to even be considered the founder of a sect. Publicly, He was already part of what academics and many theologians consider a sect of Judaism, called the Essenes (the Essenes were actually a branch of the Children of the Law of One™ ). But in Jesus' day, He was considered a cult founder and leader - often telling people to leave their families and jobs, and follow Him, and challenging the religious and political establishments of His time.
The Children of the Law of One™ are an enigma. We are the oldest spiritual order in the world, and the founder of the original versions of the "old" religions like Christianity, Buddhism, Judaism, etc. So by academic definitions, those religions are actually "sects" that are break offs from our monastic order [enigma].
Our teachings aren't new, they are very old - the oldest - yet the pure ancient teachings have only been directly accessible to the public since the 1960's, so it seems new depending on your viewpoint [enigma].
Our teachers cannot, do not, alter the ancient teachings to fit their whims. The ancient teachings are what they are, what they have always been, and great care in passing them down from teacher to student - orally, written, and through experience, they have been accurately preserved.
And while the teachings are just the Universal Law "facts of life", rather than a dogma (as is the case with most religions), they are what we consider important, not the personalities or charisma of a teacher/teachers. Yet our teachers throughout time have often been charismatic, come to be revered (despite themselves), and became the foundation of major religions - that were considered cults in their time. [enigma]
We don't "recruit" or accept new members. Our order has always just had a small, "fixed" number of teacher/monks for thousands of years, and our goal is to help raise the consciousness of all humankind so they can attain freedom, via working behind the scenes through various "incognito" means. We do not have the goal to "expand our ranks", and are not interested in it. We do have prophecies that all people may one day believe the same things, be as One with and in harmony with each other, nature and God. But until that occurs (which is an "if", not a when) naturally (not by force or political means), we encourage people to live independently, or if they wish, perhaps roommate with others of like mind if they wish.
Next, our highest tenet is Free Will. Instead of fostering a blind follower type of thinking and behavior (which is actually programmed into most people via their cultures, societies and schooling) we encourage people to think for themselves, teach them ways to break out of old "blind obedience/conformity" programming, find and express their own minds and inner beings. While most people take that for granted, and believe they are doing what THEY want and are thinking their own thoughts - they are not. The ancient teachings reveal, and now scientific studies have proven, that about 98% of what people think and do, is generated by their subconscious programming. And how did that programming get there? They didn't choose it. They were programmed by their experiences and society - whatever those happen to be. We teach how to examine your programming, and make it what YOU really want. Applying the ancient teachings and techniques, frees peoples' minds, and often, it is the first time people have ever really directly experienced "themselves" and their "soul" - the part of the Universal Spirit within everyone - instead of being told what it is, who they are, and what to believe.
To summarize, you can't get further from the negative connotation of a cult, than the Children of the Law of One™ .
Order line: 1 (800) 845-7991
© 1998 - 2012 CLO™, Children of the Law of One™