Mukhit Asanbaev, Ph.D. (Political Science), vice president of the Caucasian Center of Humanitarian and Political Trends (Almaty, Kazakhstan)

Liazat Umirzakova, Ph.D. (Philosophy), associate professor at the School of Social and Humanitarian Disciplines, Almaty Technological University (Almaty, Kazakhstan)


The current religious situation in Kazakhstan is characterized by the emergence and strengthening of radical religious communities, an expansion in the scope of activity of non-traditional beliefs, an increase in the influence of the foreign missionary movement, and an enlargement in the social base of sectarian organizations, particularly by means of young people. All of these changes should be qualified as the most obvious development trends in the current religious situation in Kazakhstan.

An analysis of this situation in Kazakhstan points in particular to the growing activity of a new generation of destructive sects and cults, which is arousing the greatest concern. This trend is especially dangerous since the Kazakh youth, for whom religion is increasingly becoming a value system that regulates social behavior, the psychology of communication, and a philosophical attitude toward life, has a very vague idea about the difference between traditional religion and pseudo-religious views and outlooks.

Main Characteristics of Destructive Sects and Cults. Destructive sects and cults all share the fact that they are opposed to traditional religion since they are all based on an artificial world outlook that is not backed by any real religious theological substance. As a rule, destructive sects and cults are emerging during the leveling out of religious traditions as a result of the spiritual crisis in society today, as well as due to the exploitation and commercialization of religion. The characteristics of sectarian and cult organizations are very similar, since they are all based on the same criteria: extreme heterogeneity and contradictoriness with respect to ideology and doctrine, a spirit of dissension and separatism, totalitarian teaching, and severe criticism of traditional religions for deviating from original beliefs and practice. Their structural organization, methods of influence, and striving for dynamic spiritual expansion among the population, particularly among the youth, are also similar.

During their development they have reexamined or greatly distorted the general system of world values of traditional religion and religious mysticism. Claiming the extra-ordinary nature of their belief, they continuously elaborate new applied methods, focusing attention on psychological and emotional aspects and often supplementing their teaching with unusual practices. Whereby this trend has become so obvious that over the past few decades essentially all of these sects and cults have undergone immense transformations and

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