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Collective veneration or worship (e.g., the cult of the saintsmeaning collective veneration of the saintsin Roman Catholicism). In the West, the term has come to be used for groups that are perceived to have deviated from normative religions in belief and practice. They typically have a charismatic leader and attract followers who are in some way disenfranchised from the mainstream of society. Cults as thus defined are often viewed as foreign or dangerous.
This entry comes from Encyclopædia Britannica Concise. For the full entry on cult, visit Britannica.com.