Authentic Christianity is Not a Cult; American Christianity Is

 Since writing a term paper on Cultism in college, I have been fascinated at the similarities to traditional "cults" and the present climate of Conservative, American, Evangelical Christianity. In the year 2000, the father of one of my best friends accused me of being a cult leader. He didn't like me, this I already knew. Knowing what I did about cults and cult leaders, I easily dismissed the accusation. I was a Pastor, not a cult leader. 

Or was I?

Upon further research and honest reflection, I realized that I was kind of a cult leader. I sure didn't set out to become one. I was fresh out of Bible College and a Seminary student. I was just doing what I was taught to do. 

The first Pastor I ever served under was Rev. Ray Truett in 1990. He let me preach occasionally and took me under his wing. My first sermon included some political commentary about Walter Mondale being the antichrist or something. I had heard someone at my home church make these claims and I thought I would too to protect the people! Pastor Ray later critiqued my sermon and assured me that politics never belongs behind the pulpit. Ever. 

My how things have changed. American Christianity today is nothing but politics behind the pulpit. I have heard some of the most prominent pastors (I hate that word prominent, by the way) have quite publicly endorse Donald Trump for President, and despite the number of times per day he put his presidential foot in his mouth, they continue their unwavering support. It is almost...cult like. 

You be the judge. Here are some of the most common qualities that every cult shares. 

  • Questioning, doubt, and dissent (like this post) are highly discouraged and even punished.
  • The leadership dictates, sometimes in great detail, how members should think, act, feel, or believe.
  • The group is elitist, claiming special, exalted favor for its members and leader(s).
  • The group has a polarizing, us-versus-them mentality.
  • The leader is not accountable to any authorities.
  • The leadership induces feelings of guilt or shame and/or guilt to influence its members. This is often accomplished through peer pressure or other forms of persuasion.
  • The group is preoccupied with bringing in new members.
  • Members are expected to devote inordinate amounts of time to the group and group-related activities.
  • Members are encouraged and even required to socialize only with other members of the group with no room for outsiders.
  • The most loyal members, or "true believers," feel there can be no other life outside of the context of the group.
  • Members believe there is no other way to be and feel threatened by reprisals to themselves or others if they leave, or even consider leaving the group.
Again, you be the judge. 

This is not a political post, though it will no doubt be taken that way by some. It is a sincere cry to the American Christian to look in the mirror and honestly ask themselves why they believe as they do. 

It could very well be that they are intellectually trapped inside of
some cult, or that they value willful ignorance to authenticity.

American Christianity is so far removed from the teachings of Jesus that it cannot see beyond its infallibility and political influence.

Lord have mercy, Christ have mercy.

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