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Answering ‘signs of a religious cult’



Editor: I wish to answer one Benson Plaugh-Feddows in his piece “Signs of a Religious Cult”, published in the midweek Searchlight of December 21, 2010. I’ll expose the misrepresentations presented primarily in the first column of his article and also highlight some facts on the general discussion on “cults”, which has arisen in his article.{{more}}

Firstly, I observe that although the author is supposedly discussing the “religious cult’, he spends all his time on the issue of government and not religion – proposing a definition of a cult as having an “anti-government” image. Even in the examples he used, this could not be further from the truth. I will come to that shortly, but first let me prove that Feddows’ description of a ‘cult’ implies that our Savior Jesus Christ himself and his disciples and apostles were cult leader and cult respectively. Feddows claimed: “They engage in scare and fear mongering. They preach a the sky-is-falling, end of the world Armageddon doctrine.” The whole of Mathew 24 and Luke 21 in the Bible contains Jesus’ words, warning of the doom of destruction to come from earthquakes, famines, diseases and wars. He warned of false prophets and deceivers, of the end of the world that cometh. In Luke 21:12, 17, Jesus said: “But before all these, they shall lay their hands on you, and persecute you…and ye shall be hated of all men for my name’s sake…” These would be the signs of Jesus’ coming and he asked his followers to beware. Is Feddows saying that Jesus was a “cultist”? Furthermore, Feddows claims that cults lead their followers to think that “the government is out to get them and to deprive them of their civil and religious liberties and freedoms”. This is twistingly misleading and, followed to its logical conclusion, makes early Christians in the Bible book of ACTS into “cults”.

The Bible teaches that government is good and of God (Romans 13:1-2), but it also shows that government can be corrupt by not performing its role (Romans 13:3). When the latter occurs, we must protest against it and this is what Jesus and his disciples did. Doth not Feddows know that it was corrupt government that persecuted Jesus and the early church? Peter and John were arrested and put in prison, threatened and beaten for preaching the gospel of Christ (Acts 5). Before Paul’s conversion, the Bible records how he “made havoc of the church” during a time when there was “great persecution against the church which was at Jerusalem” (Acts 8: 1, 3). During all this, the early Christians stood their ground and preached, asserting their religious liberty and freedom of expression. “We ought to obey God rather than men” was their answer. Yet, Feddows would make these holy men out to be “cults” by his twisted tainting of their image. Inalienable rights and freedoms defenders he labels as cults. Preachers of Jesus’ gospel, including the end time events, he labels “cults”, even though Jesus himself led in such example. This is outrageous, to say the least.

All “cults” are “anti-government”, Feddows says. However, history proves Feddows’ example- Jim Jones- was pro-communist ideology and government. Jim Jones’ wife Marceline told the New York Times in 1977 that his goal was social change through Marxism. Near to her dead body was found a signed and witnessed will, leaving all his funds to “The Communist party of the Soviet Union”. Jones himself, in his last speech, is recorded as saying: “lay down your life with dignity, don’t lay down with tears and agony…stop the hysterics, this is not the way for people who are socialists or communists to die, no way for us to die”. Jones’ lawyer, Guyanese Sir Lionel Luckhoo, said in August 1983, “He was a Satanist – indeed if he believed in anything he believed in the communist ideology, which he proclaimed in his last will and testimony, leaving everything to the Soviets…” See and True to communism, Jones infringed upon his followers’ God-given rights and freedoms, including denying their freedom of expression by persecuting any critics and those who tried to leave. According to Feddows one might speculate that this administration in government is “cultist”, considering its negative treatment of local dissenters’ freedoms.

This is why the real issue is true and false religion, not “cult”. The word “cult” is never used in the Bible, but Jesus warns against false prophets. Similarly, James ch.1 speaks of ‘pure religion’. The problem of false religion, which the writer calls ‘cult’, is not one of opposing secular government, but holding erroneous teachings which will cause them to be lost, propagating teachings that makes their leaders god and persecuting people who oppose them. David Koresh claimed to be the messiah, thereby the source of rights and freedoms and that is false religion. It is false to say that charisma in a leader is a sign of “cult”. Here is an example, our Prime Minister’s Roman Catholic religion, in history, persecuted and murdered millions of Christians for about 1,260 years (538 ACB-1798 ACB) and they have had charismatic leaders in the Vatican – the Pope(s). Is Feddows then saying that this religion is a “cult”? If so, why does the PM belong to it? Stick to the truth Feddows and you will not condemn yourself.

Anesia O. Baptiste