Religions and belief systems different from our own are often threatening to us, but we should refrain from highly derogatory labels such as dangerous cult
unless they are truly deserved. The following things are not generally considered reason to objectively label a religion as dangerous:
Beliefs Contrary to Your Own
Some groups consider beliefs contrary to their own to be cultish
. Because these beliefs are considered wrong and/or heretical, they are spiritually dangerous. However, this is not the same as groups that are investigated by law enforcement for dangerous behavior.
"Fringe" ReligionsJust because a religion is not well known and doesn't have many followers does not make it a dangerous cult. It doesn't even make them wrong. All religions start out small, and some religions simply function better on a smaller scale.
Selective MembershipChristianity has developed an expectation within Westerners that all religions should want to embrace everyone and gather as many followers as possible. That is certainly one way for religions to function, but it is not the only way. Some religious groups only want a certain type of person, and see mass congregations as actually detrimental to the functioning of their religion.
Condoning Minor Legal InfractionsWhile felonious behavior gets a group labeled a dangerous cult faster than just about anything, minor infractions such as civil disobedience or use of prohibited substances is generally not sufficient to label a group as dangerous.
"Weird" BehaviorWeird is subjective. Humans have a tendency to label people different from ourselves as the enemy. Just because a group does something you do not agree with does not make them dangerous.
Occult ConnectionsThe word occult has a lot of inaccurate stereotypes associated with it. There are a wide variety of occult groups or occult-influenced groups that are perfectly harmless to both members and others.
People often presume that only bad people keep secrets. Thus, any religion that does not make its beliefs and practices fully public must be hiding sort of nefarious activity. In truth, there are plenty of non-malevolent reasons to keep secrets, including the simple desire for privacy.