Saturday, February 27, 2010

Is Fundamentalist Christianity a Cult?

When more than 900 people present in Pastor Jim Jones’ Jonestown killed themselves, they were referred to as being part of the “Jonestown cult”. The most peculiar aspect of Jonestown was the total control Jones exerted on what his charges thought, or believed. As documented in the book, The Suicide Cult, extreme punishments were meted out to anyone who defected in the slightest way – including expressing a scintilla of doubt in “Pastor Jones” (who was often called “Father Jones”)

The question arises: Can Fundamentalist Christianity be regarded as a vast cult, though not quite as centralized as Rev. Jim Jones’ Guyana cult?

First, what are the criteria for asserting a religious group is a cult? 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 literature (provided by cult leaders) 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, 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 how Fundamentalist Christianity meets the respective criteria:

1) All one need do to confirm this is inspect and read any online confrontation between a fundie Christian and a rationalist. You will quickly see before two responses are made that the Christian unquestioningly adopts what’s been read in biblical texts, as his own truths. Thus, he lacks any truths forged on his own, by his own brain. He simply masticates what’s in his bible (usually the corrupted KJV) and provides that as his truth.

Seldom, if ever, do Christian Fundamentalists make their own conjectures about nature, the phenomena 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. In its place they impose and insinuate their own corrupted and debased information, which is actually carefully crafted propaganda.

In every case that some original or initial information exhibits a contradiction to their KJV or other source, the fundie will reject the contradicting material in favor of that spouted by semi-literates in biblical texts. Never mind we live in the 21st century, some old ragamuffin, sheep-herder peasant from 2200 years or more ago has his words assume precedence. Never mind that since then, we've learned: how to conquer numerous killer diseases (smallpox, typhoid, etc.), flown to the Moon and mapped it, and engineered the modern marvels of computers and the internet- the fundie is mandated to choose his antiquated ignorance over any new knowledge or enlightenment. He is manifestly proud of his ignorance, and often displays it as a perverse badge of honor. In extreme cases, he even fancies himself a "warrior of God" decked out in armor to fight the heathens that otherwise would inundate him.

This means a Christian Fundie typically has no real ability to decide what he or she believes about the world or about life in general. In the same way, the mental captives of Jonestown became incapable of choosing their actual beliefs, even concerning their own welfare. (Many were told their infected mosquito bites were of their own making or mentality). Thus, when "Pastor" Jones ordered them to drink the (cyanide-laced) Kool aid they never complained or argued. They drank every drop down just like they imbibed his frequent quotations and preaching. (Though some did object at the last minute and were murdered for their trouble).

In addition, any attempt to challenge the Fundie Cultists' beliefs will be met with hostility. Regardless of what scientific, historical, even mathematical evidence you can produce to offset any given bible teaching, expect to be resisted or even attacked by the fundie as a pal of "Satan" or at least one of his "agents".

2) The choice to isolate themselves is pre-meditated, because the Fundie accepts the world is evil, and only those who accept HIS version of the Christian faith will be saved from eternity in Hell. Therefore many Christians are afraid of anything and everything that is not directly condoned by their bible or their pastor. Some actually assert their bible requires that they separate themselves from all “Satanic” religions” – which of course means any religion that doesn’t share their particular code of accepted beliefs.

Christian Fundamentalist organizations and individuals often target television, movies, music, games, politicians, retail organizations, and even children’s toy franchises.(Remember how they went after Barney the Dinosaur on PBS for spreading “gay teachings”) After declaring an entity wicked and wayward, the Christian fundies 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. This is the only way they can gain some semblance of feeling they are on the right track. For the Christian Fundie this amounts to a subtle terrorist tactic called “witnessing”.

Via this process, they believe god has charged them with the task of turning everyone in the world into a 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 judgements!)

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. In fact the suggestion is blasphemy to a Christian Fundie cultist, and you are in danger of burning in hell for all eternity (as far as they are concerned) for having the audacity to resist their efforts to convert you.

They even go so far as to assert that the only reason to befriend a non-believer is to spread their gospel message. Otherwise, there’s no purpose or gain to it and they simply risk “burning in Hell” along with the unbeliever they truly befriend.

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 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”. Apart from that, unqualified friendship is renounced as cozying up to Satan, and as one of these cultists has put it: “Why should I risk going to Hell based on some friendship with an unbeliever? The road to righteous glory and salvation is straight and narrow!”

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.

When this also is imposed in terms of associations, friendships etc. the cult itself becomes the vehicle for a very powerful tyranny. Of course, because of their engrained psychosis – most of these Christian Cultists can’t see it. All they see is their own righteousness in protecting themselves from damnation.

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.

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