Fundamentalist Christianity is a CULT!

jesus-on-the-cross

“What is a Cult?”

Alan Gomes writes: “A cult of Christianity is a group of people, which claiming to be Christian, embraces a particular doctrine system taught by an individual leader, group of leaders, or organization, which (system) denies (either explicitly or implicitly) one or more of the central doctrines of the Christian Faith as taught in the sixty-six books of the Bible.” Alan Gomes, Unmasking The Cults (Zondervan, 1995)

“A cult is a group or movement exhibiting a great or excessive devotion or dedication to some person, idea, or thing and employing unethically manipulative techniques of persuasion and control (e.g., isolation from former friends and family, debilitation, use of special methods to heighten suggestibility and subservience, powerful group pressures, information management, suspension of individuality or critical judgment, promotion of total dependency on the group and fear of leaving it, etc.) designed to advance the goals of the group’s leaders to the actual or possible detriment of members, their families, or the community.” (West & Langone, 1986)

This article will make the case – from the cult identification materials offered by Fundamentalist Christians themselves – that Fundamentalist Christianity itself is a cult. My comments will be in bold. cult identification information available here was used as the basis for this article.

“A cult is a group or movement exhibiting a great or excessive devotion or dedication to some person, idea, or thing…”

Fundamentalist Christianity stresses excessive devotion to Jesus above all else, marking them as a cult.

“employing unethically manipulative techniques of persuasion and control …”

From http://dangerouschristianity.com/brainwashing-and-fear-the-tools-of-the-church/:

The Christian Church uses several known brainwashing techniques to gain and then keep converts. Here is an example: Ever been to a church service where the same song is sung over and over and over again? I have, and it is a common practice. What the vast majority of church members do not know is that this is a brainwashing technique. The repetition of the song breaks down mental barriers and puts people in an extremely suggestible state. The music plays a part as well. Deep bass tones played rhythmically and repeatedly will cause people to enter an altered state of consciousness – they go in and out of trance while the song is playing. Watch a Charismatic praise & worship service or pay attention next time you are in a church service. You will notice some folks staring blankly into space. They are in a hypnotic trance. Some preachers also use a speaking technique called “voice roll”, which also has a hypnotic effect. While in a relaxed altered state, most people’s defenses (and critical thinking skills) are down and what they are taught at that time they will not necessarily think through for themselves. So, while the defenses are down, the brainwashing and indoctrination takes place.

“use of special methods to heighten suggestibility and subservience…”

See above. Also see the excellent and informative article available at this link: The Battle for Your Mind.

“powerful group pressures…”

Fundamentalist Christians are strongly pressured to avoid “sinful” activities and to conform to the standards of the group.

“information management…”

Information critical of the Bible or the Christian religion rarely reaches Fundamentalist Christians because it has been denounced as being “from Satan“, therefore they avoid it, if they even know that it exists.

“suspension of individuality or critical judgment…”

These are big issues within the Fundamentalist Christian faith. Among Christians, critical thinking about the Bible or the Christian religion is strongly discouraged. Doubt is, after all, “of the devil”. Proper development of the personality and individualization in children and adolescents may be severely impaired due to the replacement of the real personality with a false religious one due to brainwashing and indoctrination.

“fear of leaving it…”

Religious fear is a huge factor for those who are questioning their faith or who have decided to leave it. Fear of Satan and fear of Hell are tools that the Church has used very successfully to keep people in the fold. Those who leave are often plagued for years with religious fears. These fears may appear to be baseless to those outside of the Fundamentalist Christian cult, but to those suffering from them, these religious fears are very real indeed. For those suffering from fear of Satan or fear of Hell, the information available at this link should help overcome those fears: http://dangerouschristianity.com/to-end-fear-of-hell/.

Characteristics of a Cult

“Popular”

Fundamentalist Christianity is certainly popular. Millions of people in this nation alone claim to have had a “born again” experience and claim to be Christians. Dick Sutphen, the popular New Age author and hypnotist, has pinpointed what I think is a very valid reason for the continued growth of the Fundamentalist Christian cult. From his article, “The Battle for Your Mind“:

Any study of brainwashing has to begin with a study of Christian revivalism in eighteenth century America. Apparently, Jonathan Edwards accidentally discovered the techniques during a religious crusade in 1735 in Northampton, Massachusetts. By inducing guilt and acute apprehension and by increasing the tension, the sinners attending his revival meetings would break down and completely submit. Technically, what Edwards was doing was creating conditions that wipe the brain slate clean so that the mind accepts new programming. He would tell those attending, “You’re a sinner! You’re destined for hell!”

As a result, one person committed suicide and another attempted suicide. The neighbors of the suicidal converts related that they, too, were affected so deeply that, although they had found “eternal salvation,” they were obsessed with a diabolical temptation to end their own lives.

Once a preacher, cult leader, manipulator or authority figure creates the brain phrase to wipe the brain-slate clean, his subjects are open to new programming. New input, in the form of suggestions, can be substituted for their previous ideas. Because Edwards didn’t turn his message positive until the end of the revival, many accepted the negative suggestions and acted, or desired to act, upon them.

Charles J. Finney was another Christian revivalist who used the same techniques four years later in mass religious conversions in New York. The techniques are still being used today by Christian revivalists, Cults, human-potential training, some business rallies and the U.S. armed services.

Let me point out here that I don’t think most revivalist preachers realize or know they are using brainwashing techniques. Edwards simply stumbled upon a technique that worked, and others copied it and have continued to copy it for over two hundred years. And the more sophisticated our knowledge and technology become, the more effective the conversion. I feel strongly that this is one of the major reasons for the increasing rise in Christian fundamentalism, especially the televised variety, while most of the orthodox religions are declining.

“Manipulative”

Fundamentalist Christians are regularly manipulated through fear, guilt, and shame tactics. Fear tactics include inducing fear of God, fear of Satan, and fear of Hell. Guilt and shame tactics are used on those who have committed some alleged “sin” and all Christians (and possible converts) are made to feel guilty and ashamed for having allegedly offended God.

“Controlling and authoritative: This message is from God; I am a prophet… You must follow these rules…”

This one is definitely a characteristic of Fundamentalist Christianity. Their message is supposedly from God, Jesus is the prophet of God/the Messiah, and there are rules that must be followed to be saved or to be in fellowship with other Christians and the church as a whole.

“Fear-inducing”

Fundamentalist Christianity is definitely fear-inducing – fear of God, fear of Jesus, fear of Satan, fear of Hell, fear of demons, fear of sinning…and so on. Fear, fear, fear, fear, and more fear is the name of the game! It is used unfortunately quite successfully to keep the flock in line.

“Legalistic”

Some Fundamentalist Christian denominations, such as the Church of Christ, are more legalistic than others.

“Condemning”

Fundamentalist Christianity is very much a condemning religion. Entire groups of people are regularly condemned, as is everything that is seen as “sin”.

“Conformity”

Christians are definitely expected to conform to the culture of their church and to behave “as Christians” – i.e. avoid “sinful” activities.

“Exclusivity”

This is absolutely true of Fundamentalist Christianity. Fundamentalist Christians believe that theirs is the only right way to live – the only way to Heaven and the only way to God.

“Financial involvement”

Fundamentalist Christians definitely are expected to contribute financially in the form of tithes (supposedly mandatory for the blessings of God), building funds, love offerings, etc. It is not uncommon for Christians to be manipulated through fear, guilt, and shame into giving much more than the base 10% tithe.

“isolation from outside”

This can be an issue in some churches, but I don’t believe it to be common except in the sense that Christians are often denied the knowledge of the existence of materials critical of their faith.

“Lack of privacy”

This can be an issue with new converts. They often are not allowed time or privacy to think their decision to become a Christian through rationally after the emotional high of conversion has worn off.

“Love-bombing”

This is definitely an issue in Fundamentalist Christian churches. Visitors are often love-bombed in the hopes that they will keep coming back and eventually be converted, and new converts are often love-bombed in an effort to keep them coming to church and to discourage them from thinking critically about their conversion experience.

“Critical thinking discouraged; can’t question.”

This is definitely true of Fundamentalist Christianity. Fundamentalist Christians are strongly discouraged from thinking critically about their faith, the Bible, or the Christian religion. Doubt, they are told, is “of the devil”, while the need to “just have faith” is stressed.

“Indoctrination”

Fundamentalist Christians are definitely indoctrinated, and brainwashed as well.

“Corporate identification with goals of group”

This is true of Fundamentalist Christianity, whether dealing with a building fund for example, or a corporate desire to get to heaven.

“Demands Total Committment and unquestioning submission”

This is true in the sense that total commitment and submission to God/Jesus is strongly stressed.

“Value rejection: encouraged to denounce values and beliefs of former life.”

This is definitely true of Fundamentalist Christianity. New converts are frequently encouraged to denounce old spiritual beliefs and values, and to get rid of anything they may own that is “not of God”.

“Threats about leaving and consequences”

This is absolutely true of Fundamentalist Christianity. Those leaving the Fundamentalist Christian cult are frequently threatened with the anger of God and the supposed “reality” of Hell.

Symptoms of cult Followers

  • Fear
  • Loyalty
  • Brainwashing
  • Emotional vulnerability
  • Neurosis
  • Guilt
  • Identity confusion
  • Paranoia
  • Loss of free will
  • Intellectual sterility
  • Diminished capacity of judgment
  • Psychosis
  • Suicidal tendencies

All of these characteristics typify someone who has been involved with and then left the Fundamentalist Christian cult. I know they describe my struggles with leaving the cult and they hold true for others as well.

12 Responses to “ Fundamentalist Christianity is a CULT! ”

  1. […] Fundamentalist Christianity is a CULT! (dangerouschristianity.com) […]

  2. Neil says:

    I disagree with many of the points of this article (At least from within MY church building, but it would not surprise me that it is used in some churches) but I do agree with you in one area:

    Critical Thinking and reflection

    I think that lack of critical thought from church members is very discouraging…and I am saying this as a Christian. The “unquestioning” and “blind faith” that some Christians display is one of the reasons I think that so many “Christians” fall away from the faith when hard times come. They don’t understand that the end goal of our faith is to glorify God, not to make our own lives “better” or “easier”. Their “fair weather faith” is simply evidence of a salvation and faith that was never present to begin with.

    Many professing Christians are not even saved: Jesus said this himself in Matthew 7:21-23, so I think that judging the truthfulness of Christianity on the behavior of it’s “adherents” is superficial and illogical (not that I am saying you are doing so necessarily, but many people do).

    All of these criticisms of the Church and Christians aside, either Christianity is true or false, but we should base it’s objective validity on the evidence from science, archaeology (history), philosophy and textual criticism while recognizing that, like a murder investigation, investigation into a religious faith is NEVER 100% provable (due to the truth lying outside of the naturalistic realm). Our opinions about what we are investigating merely slides to and fro on a true/false scale based on the amount and how convincing the available evidence is (meanwhile the objective truth about the issue remains constant regardless of our opinion at any given time).

    I hope this was received with kindness, as that was my intention. I appreciate your kind and honest comment on my blog.

    Take care,

    Neil

  3. Brother Jeff says:

    Hi Neil,

    I agree that the amount of damage inflicted on believers varies from denomination to denomination and from church to church as well. Generally speaking, the more fundamental and authoritarian the church is, the greater the damage inflicted by the cult will be.

    One interesting thing about the process of religious conversion is that it does not occur after a thoughtful and reasoned weighing of the available facts and evidence has taken place from both sides of the fence. It occurs in very emotionally charged settings after a tremendous amount of (in reality, baseless) guilt, shame, and fear have been preached from the pulpit. Once conversion has taken place, then there is a natural and understandable desire by the one converted to justify and validate the emotional experience as having a solid basis in reality. At least, that’s true for those who don’t rely on blind, unquestioning faith. :) But that is precious few fundamentalist Christians, for understandable reasons.

    I addressed the issue of the authorship of Matthew in a comment I left on your blog. But to repeat it here for the benefit of others who come across this post, the reality is that the authors of the gospels are unknown.

    http://www.rejectionofpascalswager.net/jesus.html#sources

    http://www.rejectionofpascalswager.net/bibleanalysis.html#author

    What Jesus may or may not have said is highly debatable and can generally never be known with any certainty, and that’s granting that he actually lived in history to say anything at all.

    If you talk with many ex-Christians, I think you’ll find that most of them will tell you that their faith started to fall apart *when they began asking questions* and the answers given by Christian apologists didn’t satisfy. As far as the alleged quote from Jesus in the book of Matthew goes, it is essentially meaningless from my point of view since there is no such thing as “salvation.” Nobody on this planet is, in reality, either “saved” or “lost”. Those are false distinctions made by a demonstrably false religion.

    I do completely agree with you that the truth or falsity of a religion should not be based on the behavior of its believers. Christianity stands or falls on the validity of its claims, and that’s true of any religion.

    Science, archaeology and textual criticism are generally not friendly towards the Bible or the Christian faith in general. There is ample proof of the falsity of the Christian religion without even addressing the supernatural aspect of the question, so I would have to respectfully disagree with you that 100% certainty cannot be reached. I believe it can be as I am 100% certain that the Christian faith is untrue. I base that certainty not on a rejection of supernatural claims or possible or alleged realities, but on years of careful research done on both sides of the fence. The simple fact is that the answers coming from the Christian side are severely lacking and unconvincing — in my opinion — when compared with those coming from the skeptical/atheist side of the fence.

    Take care. :)

    • Neil says:

      Hi Jeff,

      I ask this with sincerity, kindness and curiosity: How do you account for the universe given how well the big bang theory has been attested to? What is your theory on what gave rise to the natural universe? Obviously, you weren’t there (I say that with complete respect) so you can’t say for sure what happened, but what “origin theory” if you will do you find most likely and why?

      Take care,

      Neil

  4. Brother Jeff says:

    Hi Neil,

    I don’t have a personal theory on what gave rise to the universe. I accept the findings of science on the issue, as far as I happen to be aware of them, and no god is required to explain it. In fact, “God did it” fails to explain anything, including the universe. See this link:

    http://atheism.about.com/b/2005/12/23/god-as-cause-why-god-cannot-explain-the-universe-book-notes-arguing-for-atheism.htm

    No offense intended, but “you weren’t there so you can’t say for sure” is an absurd thing to say in this context and it fails miserably as an argument. In my opinion, it also reveals your lack of knowledge concerning what science is and how it is done. A human presence at a past event is hardly required in order for us to gain reliable knowledge concerning how it occurred.

    But if we’re going to discuss cosmology, I think it’s important to point out the fact that the biblical universe and the real one bear little resemblance to each other. There is also the fact that the anonymous author(s) of the book of Genesis (it wasn’t Moses) got his facts wrong in the very first verse of his book.

    http://www.rejectionofpascalswager.net/authormoses.html

    Genesis 1:1 states that in the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. A simultaneous creation event is assumed, with no mention of the billions of years that passed between the time the universe came into being and the time that our solar system and Earth came into being. Beyond that reality, there is the fact that Genesis contains two contradictory creation myths, neither of which even comes close to accurately describing the processes that brought our universe and our world into being.

    To answer your question, I believe that the universe came into being via entirely natural processes, and that viewpoint is firmly supported by the findings of science on the matter.

    Take care.

  5. Brother Jeff says:

    Hi Neil,

    Thought I would share this quote with you from a great book by David Mills called “Atheist Universe”. It is clipped from a longer discussion on the topic, but I think it reinforces an important point — that being that no god is required to have created or caused the real universe (not the biblical one) to come into existence. If the universe has always existed in some form, which is apparently the case, then it was never created and can never be destroyed.

    “If mass-energy cannot be created or destroyed, and if the universe is entirely composed of mass-energy, then the law of the conservation of mass-energy may be extrapolated to this startling conclusion: the universe, in one form or another, in one density or another, always existed. There was never a time when the mass-energy comprising our universe did not exist, if only in the form of an empty oscillating vacuum or an infinitely dense theoretical point called a singularity, consisting of no volume whatsoever. At the Big Bang, the universe was incredibly dense and unimaginably hot. The elementary particles, which now constitute the chemical elements, could not exist under such extreme conditions. Immediately following the Big Bang, therefore, the rapidly expanding universe is believed to have been composed solely of energy, with matter condensing later, after further expansion allowed for cooler temperatures. Regardless of its form, however, the universe—which is the sum of all mass-energy—could not, according to the mass-energy conservation law, come into existence ex nihilo in the way demanded by creationism. According to this well-confirmed scientific principle, our universe of mass-energy was never created, and cannot be annihilated. To believe in “scientific” creationism, therefore, is to overlook or dismiss the law of the conservation of mass-energy. If creationists possess empirical evidence to contradict the law of the conservation of mass-energy, let them share such information with the general scientific community. Otherwise, the fundamental doctrine of creationism—that the universe was created by God out of literally and absolutely nothing—must be recognized as theological rather than scientific. The term “Creation science” is therefore a self-contained contradiction in terms.”

    The book is available from Amazon here:

    http://www.amazon.com/Atheist-Universe-Thinking-Christian-Fundamentalism/dp/1569755671/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1309926497&sr=1-1

    Highly recommended reading!

    Take care.

  6. Brother Jeff says:

    Hi Neil,

    I have a question for you regarding something you said earlier. You claimed that the end goal of faith is to glorify God. My question is: Why would anyone in their right mind wish to glorify a god who either orders or directly commits mass murder multiple times in the OT and continues to kill without just cause in the NT (see Acts 5)?

    Thanks, and take care.

  7. […] Fundamentalist Christianity is a CULT! (dangerouschristianity.com) […]

  8. April Galamin says:

    Great information here!!
    Thanks!

  9. Richard P (OnceConvinced) says:

    Very true. I have been a member of many different churches and demoniations. Some are definitely more extreme in certain areas than others, but overall, your evaluation is accurate. Of course most Christian will claim “Oh many churches are like that, but not ours!” but then of course that’s always the case isn’t it? MY CHURCH is the RIGHT church. MY RELIGION is the ONE TRUE RELIGION. Yeah, yeah, whatever, mate.

  10. Rachel says:

    I landed at a revivalist fundamentalist church 12 years ago when I was having a mental breakdown – I got recruited off a hospital ward by a well-meaning nurse who thought that Jesus was the answer. The church is accepted in my town by most people as being happy clappy and still manages to appear respectable to many people by reporting ‘healings’ and lives turned around by having new people cloned and contact with various charities, but I’ve been increasingly aware of a large number of people who have been left reeling by the damage done through the amount of control, indoctrination or insensitive judgement that has been exerted over their lives, myself included or who have felt uncomfortable and left in the belief that God must be leading them somewhere else. I remember well the long drawn out worship sessions with loud hypnotic music and the prophetic songs sung over the congregation where ‘God’ declared messages of love or encouragement to his people – yeah, I well remember ‘love-bombing’ – it was partly through meeting some really decent people outside of the church, combined with the atheistic views of my son that thankfully I began to realise that it was ‘all a dream’.

    Thanks very much for taking the time to write this! ‘Blessings’!

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