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‘Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep’s clothing’



Editor: My article published in this newspaper several weeks ago, under the caption: “Signs of a religious cult,” elicited a response from the now Honourable Senator Anesia Baptiste. It was obvious that the response was done more from the perspective of the senator’s religiously sanctimonious alter ego as head of the Thusian Institute of Religious Liberty (TIRL) and her activism in that regard.{{more}}

Unfortunately, much of the content of my article was woefully taken out of context. Such gross misrepresentations can only be attributed to two or three probabilities. Firstly, that the writer’s ability to read, digest and comprehend is severely compromised. Secondly, that the writer is patently biased with a pathological aversion to the assimilation and reconciliation of factual content. Thirdly, that the writer possesses an uncanny proclivity or propensity to maliciously and deliberately distort, obfuscate and manipulate facts.

How else do you explain the writer’s conclusion that quote: “….Feddows’ description of a “cult” implies that our savior Jesus Christ himself and his disciples were cult leader and cult respectively”??? The writer’s interpretation was predicated on my assertion that cultists: “…engage in fear and scare-mongering and preach a the-sky-is-falling, end-of-the-world Armageddon doctrine.”

The writer sought to equate Jesus’ warning in the synoptic gospels regarding earthquakes, famines, disasters and wars and his predictions of persecution of the early church, with modern-day, anti-establishment, anti-government and politically motivated activism.

Jesus taught and practised humility and self-denial. He had no political agenda nor surreptitious or ulterior motives. It was Jesus who warned, also in the synoptic gospels (Matt. 7:15): “Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravenous wolves.”

The writer asserts that Jesus and his disciples preached against corrupt government. However, Jesus’ main mission on earth was the preaching of the good news of salvation. He called sinners to repentance. He was not disproportionately pre-occupied with personal vilification of the authority and leaders of his day. Conversely, he encouraged respect for secular authority. Such as is borne out when the Scribes and Pharisees tried to coerce him into dishonouring and disrespecting the Roman Emperor Caesar. They asked: “Is it lawful for us to give tribute to Caesar?” His response was: “Render therefore unto Caesar the things which be Caesar’s and unto God the things which be God’s.”

The writer contends that the Rev. Jim Jones was a communist. Jim Jones’ leftist inclination made him no less a cultist. The annals of history are forever indelibly imprinted with the indisputable immutable fact that the Rev. Jim Jones was an anti-establishment, anti-government, megalomaniacal, religious cult leader. His alleged communistic inclinations notwithstanding.

The writer’s postulation that: “Jim Jones was pro-government”, is ridiculously absurd. That assertion does not jibe with the evidence and has no factual basis. So averse and repulsed was Jim Jones to government and authority, that he uprooted and moved hundreds of his followers from the United States to the deep jungle of Guyana, where he created a self-contained, self-sustained commune with a sort of bunker methodology. The writer posited: “According to Feddows one might speculate that this administration in government is “cultist”, considering its negative treatment of local dissenters’ freedoms.”

It is instructive to note that the writer, in her presentations, quotes heavily from the American “Bill of Rights” and Constitution. Most persons will agree that the United States is considered the “bastion of freedom and democracy”; yet persons who are in the employ of the Federal, State, or City government cannot be overly critical of, nor be belligerent towards, that authority’s chief executive, be it the President, Governor or Mayor, at whose pleasure that person serves. Yes, even in the great bastion of freedom and democracy, you’d be shown the door. Ask General McChrystal. He criticized and bad-talked the Commander-in-Chief (President Obama) and his other bosses and he was told to take a long walk on a short pier; given a swift kick in the pants and the great heave-ho.

Some may argue that the military is different, but that is not necessarily true. There are scores of incidents of persons in the civilian workforce who have met a similar fate. In the good ole US of A, there is an unwritten rule that you adhere to the “Pledge of Loyalty” viz: “If you work for a man, in heaven’s name work for him, speak well of him and stand by the institution that he represents. Remember, an ounce of loyalty is worth a pound of cleverness. If you must growl, condemn and eternally find fault, resign your position. And when you are on the outside, damn to your heart’s content. But as long as you are a part of the institution, do not condemn it. For if you do, the first high wind that comes along will blow you away.”

The writer’s arguments bordered on the ridiculous, such as: “The word ‘cult’ is never used in the Bible.” What does that mean? It doesn’t mean diddly squat! Does that prove or disprove anything? Pleeaase! Ok, so the Bible mentions nothing about cigarette smoking nor shooting up heroin, but it warns about over-indulgence in alcohol and abhors adultery. Does it therefore then follow that the smoking of cigarettes and shooting up drugs are non-issues with regard to Christian faith and practice?

Another gross misrepresentation by the writer was the implication that: “It is false to say that charisma in a leader is a sign of cult.” At no time did I express or imply such. My statement pertaining to “charisma” was the following: “A cult is usually led by a charismatic leader.” That is distinctly different than saying that charisma is a sign of a cult leader. That, however, does not negate the fact that charisma is among the traits exhibited by most cult leaders, and in fact is an integral part of what he or she draws upon to entice susceptible and vulnerable persons.

If I were to say that fanaticism is a trait of most suicide-bombers, would you, therefore, infer and extrapolate that all persons exhibiting fanaticism are potential suicide-bombers? That would be deductive reasoning at its worst. It would be like the medieval reasoning: “The cock crowed and the sun rose; therefore the crowing of the cock caused the sun to rise.” Totally and absolutely co-incidental and completely immaterial to the rising of the sun. I think that I have said enough to set the record straight with regard to the factual content of my article.

What I have written is totally indisputable. I began this article by stating that there are two or three probable reasons for the writer’s gross misrepresentations. I will not attempt to assign a motive.

Except to say I know what I think and believe. That said, I rest my case.

Benson Plaugh-Feddows