It’s always a bit of an amusement to visit a certain blog (which shall remain nameless) to see (and laugh at) the latest bunkum posted by its blustering, huffing, undereducated and misguided owner. I guess you could call it a welcome diversion.
In my last, most recent foray into this backward, backwoods blog, the claim was made that “Catholics, JWs, Mormons, etc. were all CULTS” and moreover, the “red flag ought to go up whenever one sees them being “defended by an Atheist”. Really? How so?
Does “defending them” really mean supporting them? Does describing a possible basis for common cause imply "defending them"? Well, I imagine so in the derelict, fractionated brain of this pastor. As readers will recall, however, I have been every bit as hard on these religions as on the good pastor’s (which incidentally, I regard as the only Cult – for reasons I will proffer shortly).
What I did do is the following, to clear the air:
1- Never said one word about the Mormons, which I regard as no more or less a “cult” than the Christian evangelicals or their Charismatic- talking in tongues, KJV -banging brethren.
2- Justified the Catholic Church, warts and all, as a true and valid religion primarily by virtue of its historicity and seniority. In other words, it commenced well over fourteen centuries before the pipsqueak Protestant Johnny come latelies began their revolt (over 1500+ years before King James and his corrupted bible, based on an erroneous script by Erasmus). To assert, therefore, that "Catholics form a cult” is as disingenuous and ignorant as asserting that the U.S. is a real, independent nation – but Great Britain (from which the U.S. revolted)is merely a "colony".
3- Justified considering the Jehovah’s Witnesses as possible “comrades in arms” given the same pompous pastor had waylaid them with a 10-12 blog attack, thereby taking his odious sights temporarily off atheists. (However, at no point did I “defend” any JW beliefs, though my conversations with them have disclosed they don’t buy into a literal “Hell” like this corny –cornpone “pastor”. )
Now, again, what constitutes a cult and what doesn’t? Unless the specific attributes are known and accepted, one will go round and round the bend on this, so let’s revisit those criteria which I discussed in a February blog. (Note: whether one accepts a particular rendering of scriptures, e.g. KJV bible or other, is NOT a cult criterion. What is, is whether one embraces it as a SOLE FONT of truth!)
Generally, four characteristics can be used to make an identification:
1-A belief system that is independent of facts, logic, or even one’s own intuition. In other words an absolute and blind acceptance of specific literature (generally a bible) as undeniable fact.
2-A pre-meditated choice to isolate from the rest of society, usually justified by the assertion that those outside of the faith are wicked, lost, hellbound etc.
3-The compulsive need to recruit others into the cult- called by different names, e.g. witnessing,.
4-The complete loss of individuality, logic, and objectivity. The only reasons for continued existence becomes the serving of the cult’s raison d’etre.
Let’s look at each in turn to see whether JWs or Catholics meet the respective criteria (clearly Atheists do not, since we harbor no belief systems independent of logic, nor adopt any specific SINGLE piece of literature (e.g. like the KJV bible by fundies), nor do we “isolate from society” or declare our opponents bound for atheist hell, oh and we don’t need to “witness to others”! We also extol individuality, rather than steamrolling it under a pile of superstitious mush).
Catholics by way of their magisterium (teaching office) have always allowed for extending one’s insights beyond one or several books. (This is one reason why, for a long time, the Church discouraged reading the bible and scriptures, because it was felt the lower classes and especially the less educated would invest too much time and energy in them to the exclusion of other works- like The Confessions of St. Augustine.)
On this basis alone the Catholic Church can’t be a cult. Second, the Church doesn’t isolate from the rest of society, but rather extends its missions and outreach programs all over the world. Third, the Church has no “witnessing” or proselytizing program like the fundies-evangelicals do. Last, there’s no loss of individuality because many priests and bishops readily allow that certain teachings (e.g. banning artificial contraception) can be judiciously ignored without risk of grave sin. Millions of Roman Catholics actually take communion each day and still practice artificial birth control, since they understand the teaching on it issued from the magisterium and not the infallible office of the papacy.
ON all these counts, like it or not, The Catholic Church comprises no cult.
What about the JWs? I can’t make as certain a contention here, because I’ve never belonged to that religion. I can only go by my interactions with assorted JWs online (AARP 'Is There Life After Death?' forum - from 2007-2008) . But from those interactions I found: 1) at no time did any "JWs" attempt to insist only one book (e.g. their NWT bible) was the correct one, like the fundies insist their KJV is; and 2) they all agreed that Darwinian evolution correctly explains nature and human biology, and 3) they never issued any hell threats or warnings. On just this limited basis, the JWs therefore, can’t be called a cult. Maybe a “sect” but not a cult. At the very least, bare minimum, the JWs are no more a cult than the KJV-dominated evangelicals who want to pin the word on them. Speaking of whom.....
What about Fundies? Let’s look at why THEY DO MEET the critera:
1) All Fundies (ok, 99.9999999999%) believe their ONE book is “inerrant” so they simply masticate what’s in that bible (usually the corrupted KJV) and declare it provides not only ALL their truth, but EVERYONE ELSE'S. In terms of facts and logic, seldom, if ever, do Christian Evangelicals make their own conjectures about nature, the phenomenon of life and morality. They accept without question everything imparted to them by their pastors or bibles- even when the information is contradictive of science, history, logic, or basic intelligence. In its place they impose and insinuate their own corrupted and debased information, which is actually carefully crafted propaganda- though they don't realize it. The very fact they embrace ONE BOOK as holding ALL truth means they ascend to undeniable culthood.
Note: the one exception to this I've beheld was an Evangelical pastor in Florida who recently stated that evolution is possible, and should not be excluded automatically. For that bit of independent thought he was rousted from his position. Again, the same thing we beheld over and over with the Rev. Jim Jones cult in Guyana! The attribute of a CULT.
2) The choice to isolate themselves is pre-meditated, because the Evangelical-Fundie accepts the world is evil, and only those who accept HIS version of the Christian faith will be saved from eternity in Hell. Some actually assert their bible requires that they separate and ISOLATE themselves from all “Satanic religions” – which of course means any religion that doesn’t share their particular code of accepted beliefs or bible. They also mandate the benefits of ISOLATION from ("non-born again") family who may otherwise "speed them to Hell." Worse, they can't see their monumental arrogance and self-righteousness in all this.
After declaring an entity "wicked and wayward", the Christian fundagelicals will use boycott and even public protest to show disdain for a wide range of institutions.All of this behavior is exactly the same as we have documented at Jonestown, where certain books, people, movies etc. were to be shunned. Pastor Jones declared what was acceptable and what wasn’t.
3) All cults feel they have to validate their existence by recruiting others into their insanity and mental slavery. For the Christian Fundie this amounts to a subtle terrorist tactic called “witnessing”.Using this process, they believe god has charged them with the task of turning everyone in the world into a ‘Saved” – Born Again Christian who embraces John 3:16. After all, they must save people from the otherwise certain fate of “Hellfire’. (Odd, because their own good Book, in the New Testament (Matt. 7:1-5) enjoins them not to judge “lest ye be judged”. And in deeming people hellbound they are emphatically making their own judgments!)Christian Fundamentalists believe it is the will of the divine that they make every effort to recruit (witness to) every other human being on the planet into their religious organization. The idea of simply letting each worship his own God, observing his traditions, and allowing the rest of the world to do the same is unacceptable
4) In respect of this attribute it’s easily seen that the Christian Cultists’ identity is totally vested in his belief system – which is based exclusively on the King James Version of the Bible. Criticize his belief system (or KJV) and he construes it as an attack on himself personally as well as charging "blasphemy". Predicated on the foregoing, Christian Fundamentalism- Evangelicalism can be seen as one enormous cult. Further, its belief system can be seen as a form of fear-based mind control. These people feel that they can’t even be friends with an “unbeliever” unless the ulterior purpose enters of getting him to see “God’s word”.
Thus, they lack any manner of independence to even choose their friends – even if these people are family members. Their poisonous, toxic belief system prevents it. How people choose to think, believe, and even act is completely up to them, of course, but when any group has a clear and aggressive mission of subverting and disrupting the rights of other people in an effort to impose its edicts upon the masses it ceases to be religion but becomes a cult – especially if its members are impervious to argument and logic.
Pastor Jim Jones was the same, and he saw enemies and an "evil" opposition throughout his life, leading inexorably to the perception that an exodus to Guyana (in South America ) was the only escape. Arguably, Jones totally lost whatever was left of his mind long before he issued the order for mass suicide in Christ’s name and his own. Because the vast opposition to him was feared to be gaining strength, he commanded all his gullible minions to take their own lives rather than inhabit a “Satanic-loving, politically correct world”.
Sad, but this is the lot for those prepared to sacrifice their minds, brains to the commands and edicts of a CULT, or to its claimed leader-pastor-Reverend. People inclined to do this might do well to consult the bible they hold so dear and the sections referring to "wolves in sheep's clothing" and "FALSE PROPHETS" who will lead them astray. Because make no mistake, anyone grounded in all the essential cult attributes and yet prepared to fling the c-word at all other religions, beliefs or non-beliefs, is definitely a cultist. Worse, a cultist who doesn't even recognize he's a cultist: the worst kind! Rather than consuming so much of their time and energy on blustering castigations of others and their beliefs, these religious misfits and miscreants would do better to apply the same time and energy to feeding the homeless, or attending to poor seniors in a nursing home. At least then they'd prove to us they aren't cultists and aren't isolated.