Thoughts On The Texas +quot;Cult+quot; By William Edelen You probably were shocked when yo

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Thoughts On The Texas "Cult" By William Edelen You probably were shocked when you read about the nightmare of Waco, Texas and the man who thinks he is Jesus Christ. Four agents dead and several other lawmen wounded by this religious nut who calls his people "God's marines." But, if you pause and think it through, you should not be "shocked" at all. We live in a culture that feeds this kind of religious insanity. The distinguished psychiatrist Dr. Karl Menninger once said that fundamentalist Christianity had put more people in mental institutions than any other cause. Those who study cultic movements estimate that today within the United States there are at least ten million who are members of groups and organizations not far removed from the Rev. Jim Jones and David Koresh. The language they use, as well as the ideas and concepts they spew out, are directly related to orthodox Christianity, and especially evangelical, fundamentalist Christianity. In the words of Norman Cousins, "So long as we in the United States are prepared to provide unlimited hospitality, and give status and tax benefits, to those claiming to speak for God, who call themselves religious, then we must be prepared to deal with all the horrors that are the natural progeny." In our country we live in a religious climate that breeds father, savior, authoritarian religious figures. And I am saying that there is a very fine line between cult leaders and their language and the Billy Grahams and Pat Robertsons of the world who will stand before people and say 'everyone is going to the hell of judgment unless you listen to me and my words of salvation ... I have the 'saving' words for you that will lead you to heaven." Now, there is also a very fine line between the Billy Grahams of the world and any orthodox, traditional Christian minister who actually believes that he/she is speaking for God. A number of years ago I was invited to speak at an annual ministers' conference in the state of Washington. The 170 ministers present were all from mainline Protestant denominations. They asked me to speak on "The Relationship Between Cult Movements and Orthodox Christianity." They were not comfortable when I asked them "How many here, really, actually, believe that when you stand in that pulpit on Sunday morning, you are speaking for God ... that God is literally speaking through you? Raise your hand if you believe that." About three-fourths of them raised their hands. Can you imagine it? These ministers cannot even explain how a light bulb works, and yet they think that they are the spokespersons for the mystery that is behind millions of galaxies and the entire universe. And they proceed to tell people that they are speaking for 'God,' what this God wants people to read, what movies to see, what God wants them to do! Religious arrogance, insanity and lethal superstition come in many forms. It is a very fine line between various expressions of these forms. Nobody should be "shocked" at Waco, Texas. The soil is fertilized for such outbreaks every Sunday morning, all over this country. ----------------------------------------------------------- This article is reprinted (with permission) from the April 1993 issue of Freethought Today, bulletin of the Freedom From Religion Foundation. For more information, write or call Freedom From Religion Foundation P. O. Box 750 Madison, WI 53701 USA (608) 256-8900 -----------------------------------------------------------

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