If you were around for the 1980s, then you saw the ascendency of the Evangelicals. It was when the idea of a “Culture war” seemed to enter mainstream consciousness, and the Satanic Panic spread from coast to coast. In Fundagelical churches across America, congregants were warned of the evil that was lurking everywhere. It was in the music, on television, in newspapers, and even in the public schools. Satan was alive and well and very active. Satan had masterminded countless conspiracies against unwary Christians. The Freemasons, the Catholic Church, and Preschools were all part of the plot.
The 80s were a time when the Evangelicals coalesced into a powerful voting block and began to influence politics and popular culture. Forty years on, Evangelicals have become drunk on political power, and the Religious Right has devolved into a death cult.
Let me explain why I call them a cult. Again, if you grew up in the 80s, you heard a lot about cults. It is often associated with groups like the Moonies, or Jim Jones’ Peoples Temple. Most people, when they think of cult, think of a fringe group with heretical doctrine and a charismatic leader who thinks of themselves as the Messiah.
Although that is a popular definition of a cult, we will wait and see if it fits Evangelicals. The definition of a cult I want to start with relates to its sociological meaning. The word cult has the same root as “agriculture.” In agriculture, we care for the earth. Think of the word “cultivate.” We tend to and take care of something. Religious cults of the ancient world created rituals of devotion in which they would take care of, or tend to their god/s. If you tended to your god and provided for his needs, then your god was empowered and would take care of you. If you didn’t tend to your god, if you abandoned your god, then bad things would befall you. The worst, of course, would be that another god’s adherents would conquer you.
If you listen to Evangelicals today, this same message begins to sound familiar. Why did Hurricane Katrina cause so much damage? According to Evangelicals, God was punishing the United States for our sins. We had failed to stay holy, a ritual devotion, and evil things befell us. Why are we experiencing a pandemic? God is punishing us for ignoring Him. We failed to tend to our god, and so, bad things happen.
Worst yet, as we are constantly being warned, Satan is using Black Lives Matter, the wearing of masks, and vaccinations to advance his evil agenda. Our failure to cultivate God’s goodness will result in Satan taking over.
This mindset, heard in sermons, interviews, podcasts, and radio shows, paints a picture of cultic behavior. What about that other definition? You know the one about a fringe group with strange practices, heretical teachings, and a charismatic leader? Whether or not there is one singular Charismatic leader amongst Evangelicals can be debated. I believe there is a cluster of leaders coalesced around a singular goal of gaining political power. Some of the leaders and groups are more radical and fringe-like than others.
One of the problems is that Fundamentalism and Evangelicalism have become so ubiquitous that it’s hard to realize they aren’t mainstream. Let’s take Dispensationalism. This system of interpreting prophecy is less than 200 years old. However, it has permeated Evangelical Christianity to such an extent that most people who attend Evangelical churches don’t know the name of the system, or even how it developed and spread. They are certainly unaware of the many critiques that demonstrate the deeply flawed methodology of deriving dispensational teaching. Evangelicals are so infused with dispensational teaching that any view of prophecy that doesn’t agree with their warped interpretation of apocalyptical writing is heretical.
I think demonstrating Evangelicals as a cult, in that rewards and punishments depend on taking care of God, is a reasonable assumption, but are they a death cult? Do Evangelicals long for, wish for, hope for death?
If reading some of the comments and emails I get are any indication, then I would say “Yes.” The typical Fundagelical email exchange I go through has three distinct phases. The first phase is the “bait.” It starts with an offer to dialogue or an expression of concern.
Here’s a typical bait email “I read your post on cursed Halloween candy. I had a few questions and thought you might be able to answer them. I think you make some good points, but I don’t agree with everything you said. Maybe you could explain your point of view. As Christians, we should be able, with the Holy Spirit’s guidance, work through these disagreements.”
Isn’t than nice. It sounds so sweet. Who could resist having a dialogue and discussing differing perspectives? It seems almost collegial and Rabbinical.
The second phase is the concern, scripture quote, and threat phase. After you answer their questions and show no signs of coming around to their way of thinking, you get an email like this, “I’m concerned that you are closing yourself off to the word of God because of the rebellious spirit of anger and hate you hold in your heart towards Christians. As it says in scripture, “There is a way that appears to be right, but in the end, it leads to death.” (Proverbs 14;12) You think you know what is right, based on your education, and quoting ungodly sources. did you notice how you never once quoted scripture, if you don’t turn from your perverted mindset and acknowledge Jesus, you will find yourself cut off from the company of the saved.” How nice they are concerned about me, a little scripture thrown in to add authority, and a veiled threat of my fate if I don’t come around to their view.
In phase three, the mask of concern comes off, and open threats come out. “How dare you blaspheme a godly teacher like Kathy DeGraw. You are a tool of Satan. One day when you stand before the throne of God, you will be cast into hell and burn for all eternity. I’m sure DeGraw will laugh at your foolishness, and I certainly will too. Burn in hell forever you libtard Satanist.”
I’m always amazed at how much glee condemning someone to hell to burn for eternity is expressed by Evangelicals. It is one of their signature characteristics. How many times have I heard/read, “When you are burning in hell, then we will know who was right!” Evangelicals love the idea of eternal conscious torment/torture in hell for anyone who disagrees with them. Evangelicals yearn for death to the infidels.
If you read the “Left Behind” series, you know how Evangelicals love their poorly written Christian torture porn. All unbelievers are dispatched in terrible ways during what they call “The Great Tribulation.” It brings a small tear of joy to their Evangelical eyes. Ah, the sweet, sweet bliss of watching someone, not like me, die a horrible death.
Now that Evangelicals have brought their twisted interpretation of scripture into the political realm, their desire for death is even more evident. Political policy is being promoted by radical dominionist and Christian nationalist based on provoking the “End Times” I guess they are tired of waiting for Jesus to return and have decided to help speed things up. Middle eastern political policy under the influence of Evangelicals has caused a destabilization in the area. Hopefully, this, together with the rise of Russia and China, will fulfill the requirements set out in Dispensationalism to jump-start the final battle of Armageddon.
Evangelicals can’t wait for Armageddon. After all, good Evangelicals will be whisked away in an event known as “The Rapture” where they can enjoy watching everyone else die horrible deaths for seven years. After that, they get to rule the earth! They hope for the utter destruction of this earth and everyone on it. So that a new earth, they reign over, will come to fruition. If you ask me, that sounds like a death cult right there.
If there were only fifty of these Evangelicals spewing out this nonsense, they would be on a watch list somewhere. However, there are tens of thousands. Their death cult has spread like a virus throughout the entire Religious Right. They have seized political power, and they won’t go away without a fight. In fact, they would love a fight! To die as a martyr for their cause is just another jewel in the crown. The Evangelical church’s desire for death is going to get us all killed if we aren’t careful.
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