The Cult of Republicangelicalism

I have said this before and I will say it again, I am non-partisan. I have never been a member of a political party, worked for a candidate or had other interest in political issues. To be candid, I have mostly voted for Republicans, voting for Obama as my first  Democratic vote. However, I have always been concerned about truth especially how how the Church deals with truth. I therefore have been very concerned and vocal about what’s happening in our country at this time.

Tump as Cult leader

Each time I try to express my concerns to my fellow Replublicangelical (Republican Evangelicals) I am immediately labeled as a “liberal,” Democrat or “Hillary lover.” None of those are true.

The most perplexing thing that I grapple with, is how these evangelical friends support Trump so much. He is the antithesis of what we have always been taught as the ideal human character. The things that these Christian friends have said to me is mind boggling. “This whole Russia thing is just a conspiracy put together by the liberal, godless, elite.”  or “Donald Trump is the most truthful and godly president we have ever had.”

These conversations remind me of something that I found equally as perplexing. It was an interview on NPR’s Fresh Air. It was with a lady who had written a biography about her experience within a cult. I can’t remember the name of the book, or which cult. But I think it was about David Brandt Berg and Family International. If I had time to do more research, I would try to figure it out.

So, in her story, she had had sex with the leaders and pastors within the cult (and had  children by them). Then one evening one of the pastors came to pick up her daughter, who was 10 or 12 years old. The lady knew that the request was to have sex with her daughter, but she still let her go with him. Today it is hard for her to imagine how she did this. She said, in her eyes at the time, this pastor was the most godly person on earth and anything he said or wanted had to be from God.

So, this was a good window into the psychology of a cult. It is dawning on me, that this new unholy alliance between the Republican Party, especially the present administration and the far-right political movement, and the evangelicals, is behaving like a cult.

Friends, who are smart, who were kind and humble, now believe the most ridiculous things and cannot see reality, which is right in front of them. Donald Trump is the stereotypical, champion cult leader. So now, I approach these friends in the same way as I would if they had been taken in by a cult. With love, kindness, and soft reasoning. You cannot hate someone out of a cult . . . such as arguing with them day and night. But you can, by the grace of God, win them back into reality over time.  Below I will post the typical psychological traits of a cult, which have been established by people who work with ex-cult members.

CULT CHARACTERISTICS

by Janja Lalich and Michael Langone

Concerted efforts at influence and control lie at the core of cultic groups, programs, and relationships. Many members, former members, and supporters of cults are not fully aware of the extent to which members may be manipulated, exploited, or even abused. The following list of social-structural, social-psychological, and interpersonal behavioral patterns commonly found in cultic environments may help you assess a particular group or relationship.

Compare these patterns to the situation you were in (or in which you, a family member, or friend is currently involved). This list may help you determine if there is cause for concern. Bear in mind that this list is not meant to be a “cult scale,” or a definitive checklist to determine if a specific group is a cult; this is not so much a diagnostic instrument as it is an analytical tool.

  • The group displays excessively zealous and unquestioning commitment to its leader, and (whether he is alive or dead) regards his belief system, ideology, and practices as the Truth, as law.
  • Questioning, doubt, and dissent are discouraged or even punished.
  • Mind-altering practices (such as meditation, chanting, speaking in tongues, denunciation sessions, or debilitating work routines) are used in excess and serve to suppress doubts about the group and its leader(s).
  • The leadership dictates, sometimes in great detail, how members should think, act, and feel (e.g., members must get permission to date, change jobs, or marryor leaders prescribe what to wear, where to live, whether to have children, how to discipline children, and so forth).
  • The group is elitist, claiming a special, exalted status for itself, its leader(s), and its members (e.g., the leader is considered the Messiah, a special being, an avataror the group and/or the leader is on a special mission to save humanity).
  • The group has a polarized, us-versus-them mentality, which may cause conflict with the wider society.
  • The leader is not accountable to any authorities (unlike, for example, teachers, military commanders, or ministers, priests, monks, and rabbis of mainstream religious denominations).
  • The group teaches or implies that its supposedly exalted ends justify whatever means it deems necessary. This may result in members participating in behaviors or activities they would have considered reprehensible or unethical before joining the group (e.g., lying to family or friends, or collecting money for bogus charities).
  • The leadership induces feelings of shame and/or guilt in order to influence and control members. Often this is done through peer pressure and subtle forms of persuasion.
  • Subservience to the leader or group requires members to cut ties with family and friends, and radically alter the personal goals and activities they had before joining the group.
  • The group is preoccupied with bringing in new members.
  • The group is preoccupied with making money.
  • Members are expected to devote inordinate amounts of time to the group and group-related activities.
  • Members are encouraged or required to live and/or socialize only with other group members.

The most loyal members (the “true believers”) feel there can be no life outside the context of the group. They believe there is no other way to be, and often fear reprisals to themselves or others if they leaveor even consider leavingthe group.

 

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