Sample text for: GOD.COM A Deity for the New Millennium (2nd edition)
A cult is defined as a system of beliefs held by a minority of individuals who have broken away from the majority. By that definition, all religions were heresies and cults when they first started. As they gained more believers and became more widely accepted, they became religions. You may prefer Tom Wolfe’s definition: “A cult is a religion with no political power.” We can update the definition by saying that a cult is a religion that doesn’t have its own newspaper and television channel.
To understand how the established religions respond to a cult, watch how the Jews respond to Christians, how the Roman Catholics treat the followers of the Greek Orthodox Church, how the Catholics respond to the Protestants, or how the Protestants respond to the various sects of their denomination. The mother church is rarely happy with its offspring.
These reactions can be observed today as the many cults from devil worshippers to witchery grab a hold on people’s minds. Observe the reactions of the established religions to these offshoots. The established churches criticize long and hard the very techniques they used to gain a foothold in the minds of their worshipers. Does it really make any difference if you believe in heaven upon your natural death or believe that god is calling you now? One view is acceptable because it is held by an established church while the other is unacceptable because it is held by a cult.
The Christian Research Institute estimates that about two and one half million Americans are involved in cults. We now have retreats and programs for the specific purpose of debriefing those Americans and bringing them back into the fold of the mainline churches. Retreats use the time-honored method of substituting one set of beliefs for a more socially acceptable set.
Conway and Siegelman in their study of cults as related in Holy Terror: The Fundamentalist War interviewed many individuals who had extreme, sequestered religious indoctrination. They noted:
Of forty-eight groups in our study . . . more than thirty . . . had emerged out of fundamentalist or other branches of conservative Christianity.
Moreover, these thirty Christian sects combined ranked higher than the most destructive cults we studied in terms of the trauma they inflicted on their members.
Long- term effects included emotional problems such as depression, suicidal tendencies and feelings and guilt, fear and humiliation, and mental disorders such as disorientation, amnesia, nightmares, hallucinations and delusions.
The anguished comments we received in personal replies only added to our concern over the effects of some fundamentalist practices on individuals and families in America.
One man’s cult is another man’s religion. Certainly if satan was allowed to go free and to wreak havoc on mankind, then those who don’t think they can make the grade to heaven Should consider worshiping satan. After all, if god couldn’t control Satan, why should man think that he could? If god likes to be stroked with adoration, perhaps satan would also like that. If you praise and adore satan enough, perhaps you will earn a more comfortable spot in hell.
Of course, you may choose to believe as one fellow did when he was asked if he was worried about hell. His retort was, “Nah, I’m not worried ‘cause I know the Texans down there have done got it all air- conditioned” Perhaps if you can please satan, you will get one of those air-conditioned rooms.