THE FUTURE OF RELIGIOUS CULTS
(From an anonymously published ex-cult memberís newsletter Winter 1992.)
What is the future for modern religious cults? Do we have a chance of defeating them? There are certainly major changes afoot. The collapse of socialism is leading cults to step into the open and unprepared markets of Eastern Europe. Anyone with friends or relatives out there will hopefully send out letters of warning and samples of literature warning of the potential cult related dangers we have encountered in the West.
The drive to the East is likely to drain the resources of some cults in England and the US, but it seems unlikely many will abandon their power bases here entirely. The worst that could happen would be a transfer of members from our shores to countries abroad to fuel missionary evangelical projects there. That would make it harder, and sometimes impossible for concerned friends and relatives to communicate with the cultists involved.
The establishment of a cult monitoring body in each of the Eastern bloc nations is essential. Letters to their respective embassies and national leaders explaining our concerns and giving some of our testimonies of personal experience could prove to be invaluable.
At home, the future looks a little brighter. The devastating media campaign against David Icke implies that many new cults springing up on the scene are going to find it very difficult to gain credibility in the media spotlight from their very conception. Many of the established cults and some major, mainstream church organizations only got a secure foundation because there were relatively few precedents for them.
New movements are likely to face immediate comparisons with the Moonies, Scientologists, and other well recognized, established sects. Intense questioning of cult ' values and a healthy degree of skepticism (but not cynicism) seems to permeate the 1990's and the cults are likely to have problems coming to terms with that. This is not to soy that we should relax our campaigns. We must continue to support the families of those in cults, and to support one another as ex-cultists.
The cults are recognizing that there are Limits on what the world is prepared to allow them to do. Some cults will hopefully begin to co-operate. Others will probably look for ingenious new ways in which to deceive us. The most dangerous trend of late has been the move away from religious cultism to business cultism, environmentalist cults and political cults. Here the target groups have changed, along with their language, brainwashing techniques, and manner of dress. The business cults approach the unwary upwardly mobile promotion-interested classes with a claim to improving their sales potential. Many will not speak out on this terrible policy for fear of losing their jobs. It is bad enough to be approached by a cult at home or in the street, but to be sent by your bosses under contract and company policy and possible threat of disciplinary action or dismissal from employment has to be investigated closely.
Increasing concerns for the environment and being ecosystem-friendly is leading to several cults addressing green issues using the new age banner and supporting the holistic ĎGaia Hypothesisí that suggests all things in the world are mystically interconnected.. Recognition of any problem is always the first step towards solving that problem. We should all reflect on what the future holds for cults and their opponents. I am not saying that we should prophesy in any Nostrodamus like manner, but that we should identify existing trends and forecast them into best and worst possible future scenarios. '
Had there not been any opposition from those who have been adversely affected by the problems cults have been known to cause, then the situation would now be far worse than it actually is. We have effectively protected many people against the cults; but our work can never be enough to protect and warn everyone. The cults will mutate, evolve and change their approach and chameleon-colours. The more we can anticipate that, the better.
Cults are not going to go away. It is unlikely that there will ever be a day when no cult is out there recruiting people with mind-altering deceptive techniques. We can slow them down, though.
We are rapidly approaching the millennial year 2,000. the end of a century is 'such an ideal time for prophesies and predictions by cults and quacks about both the end of the world and our entry into a new Aquarian age of enlightenment. Some cultists have already taken to the nuclear fallout shelters only to emerge red-faced to find the world is still there afterwards.
Such survival cults are often paramilitary and aggressive by nature. .
The world has often been scheduled or demolition by its prophets. David Wallechinskyís Book Of Predictions (Corgi 1982) lists the years predicted by various leaders; 982, 999, 533. 1665, 1900 (when in Russia, a hundred of the Brothers and Sisters Of Death burnt themselves alive rather than face the immediately impending apocalypse.) 1993, 1999, 2000, (nice round number, not much mathematical calculation involved), 2038 (believed to be Nostradamusís guess) and many other dates past, present and future.
Modern predictions of the end of the world frighten us more because we now have the nuclear, chemical, and biological means to destroy our own world, whereas before now it was always down to god to decide the date for Armageddon. Of course, the Sun will burn out one day, so one day our world will end quite naturally. (Itís thousands of years off yet though, so donít worry). Cultists claim that they alone will be able to predict the end of the world, that they alone will prevent it, or survive it, that the gods will descend in UFOís to save them, or everyone, or to kill everyone off, and that the survivors will see the error of their ways and live out their lives in utopian bliss under the regime of the leading Guru or cult leader.
Cults, rarely change their fundamental identity. Their points of reference change, but the change is always a cosmetic one. The best that we can hope for in the future is that a cult or two will recognize that their 'conversion' process immoral, and that they will make a commitment to operate within the bounds of moral, social and legal law. This would make religious pilgrimage and experimentation a much safer practice for those who wish to go on searching for enlightenment. Such a future is not going to materialize overnight. We have to work for it.
© Copyright. Arthur Chappell
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