Redefining cult

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 07 March, 2004, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 07 March, 2004, 12:00am

The attacks on New York, Washington, Israel or even Bali can be seen as political, but the massacre of civilian Shi'ites on March 2 is largely religious, especially in Pakistan, where the motive is purely religious.

Religious wars have happened for more than 3,000 years. I doubt very much the simplistic idea that religion teaches us to do good. The root of all such disasters is the dogmatic claim of 'one true' religion. This is a claim never made by eastern religions.

Can we define, tentatively, that any religion that encourages martyrdom, suicidal or otherwise, is a cult?