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Cargo Cult
(540 words)

1. “Cargo cult” refers to a religious group that believes that material wealth can be gained through the exercise of proper ritual worship. The word “cargo” in this phrase refers to various goods of European origin (e.g., dishes, knives, rice, canned food, glass beads, razor blades, hydrogen peroxide, rifles, axes, and cotton goods) and the money with which to buy such items. Believers in the cult typically have no access to such goods but expect that they will soon acquire them supernaturally.

2. The cults belong to Melanesia, though there are similar phenomena in other cultures (e.g., …

Cite this page
Greschat, Hans-Jürgen, “Cargo Cult”, in: Encyclopedia of Christianity Online. Consulted online on 20 August 2022 <http://dx.doi.org/10.1163/2211-2685_eco_C151>
First published online: 2011
First print edition: ISBN: 9789004169678, 20080512



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