From WILLIAM EDELEN
The Contrary Minister
Psycho-ceramic (crack pot) ideas sometimes spew out of politicians so fast it is almost impossible to keep up with them. The “faith-based” circus that totally destroys the line between church and state must be one of the most insane. Some of the TV evangelists have screamed “You can’t give money to cults… but only to real religion… like us…”
Many have asked me the question: “What is a cult… and how can you tell the difference between a cult and a real religion?” Hey… easy question.
A Cult: Believes in heavenly signs such as comets and gateways to heaven and other mentally deranged ideas.
A Real Religion: Believes in heavenly signs such as stars in the East at their leaders birth and the “Sun standing still” for an entire day. (Joshua 10:12) and other mentally deranged ideas.
A Cult: Believes they have found the truth while all others are deceived.
A Real Religion: Believes they have found the truth while all others are deceived. “Salvation is only through Jesus.”
A Cult: The leader says, “Believe me and you will go to heaven.”
A Real Religion: The leader says, “Believe me and you will go to heaven. Don’t believe me and you will go to someplace called hell.”
A Cult: Has leaders, mostly men, often wearing fancy robes and promising you salvation and heaven if you will give them your money and property.
A Real Religion: Has leaders, mostly men, often wearing fancy robes and promising you salvation and heaven if you will give them your money and property.
A Cult: Claims their leader is led by God, and God speaks to him and tells him what to do. The leader talks to God.
A Real Religion: Claims their leader is led by God, and God speaks to him and tells him what to do. And the leader talks to God.
A Cult: Makes miraculous claims about the importance of their leader.
A Real Religion: Makes miraculous claims about their leader, that he was born of a virgin… could walk on water… could turn water into wine and feed thousands with only five loaves and two fish.
A Cult: Thinks women are subservient to men and the male leader and should take orders from them, including sexual bondage
A Real Religion: Thinks women are subservient to men. “Let the women keep silence for it is not permitted for them to speak; they are commanded to be under obedience.” (1Cor. 14:34) “Man was not created for the woman, but the woman for the man.” (1Cor. 11:13) “Let women learn silence in all subjection. I suffer not a woman to have authoriyy over a man.” 1Timothy 2:11)
See how easy it is to tell a cult from a real religion? No problem.
Any individual on this little cosmic speck called Earth who really believes that he/she is speaking for the power behind a million galaxies in a universe beyond comprehension is closing in on insanity.
I was invited to speak a number of years ago to a state convention of Lutheran ministers in Tacoma, Washington. I asked them this question: “How many of you actually believe that you are speaking for a God of the universe when you are in the pulpit on a Sunday morning?” About three fourths of them held up their hand. I then said to them, “Not a one of you can explain a light bulb to me or a television set and yet you fantasize that you are speaking for the power behind the universe?” They never invited me back to speak again. I think you can see why.
In that classic university text book for religious studies, The Ghost Dance, the author Weston LaBarre of Duke University writes these words: “The traditions of fundamentalist and orthodox Christianity give powerful support and impetus to cults, fantasies and fanaticism.”
Concepts of a savior, authoritarian, father figure are appalling to Taoists, Buddhist, Zen Buddhist and Hindu. The pathology that goes with speaking for God, in this country at least, exists primarily in elements of Christianity.
There is a very, very thin, fine line between the Jim Jones’s of the world and the Billy Grahams and Pat Robertsons… or any preacher who stands up in a pulpit and says… “I am speaking for God… listen to me… I have the ‘saving’ words for you that are going to lead you into heaven… help me lead people into heaven… just send cash or checks to help me lead people to heaven…”
Robert Ingersoll offers us a humorous final image. “Can anyone really believe that God created this universe simply for the purpose of raising orthodox Christians? And that he is finally going to turn heaven into a religious museum filled with Baptist barnacles, petrified Presbyterians and Methodist mummies?”
Do not miss this final word. There is a vast chasm between orthodox, institutionalized religion and spirituality. A human being can be profoundly spiritual without any attachment to doctrinal man-made systems.