Hobby Lobby & Cults

Way back in the olden thymes I lived near a Hari Kirsihna center. Despite their reputation for extreme weirdness, they were excellent neighbors. You only saw members when they were headed out to annoy people in a public place. That is one of their primary methods of spreading their faith. They make a big fuss in a public area, hoping someone will find it interesting. They really do seek out people who have run out of options, as far as participating in a social group.

Otherwise, they kept to themselves and avoided all contact with neighbors. A key characteristic of cults is the adherent’s “us” versus “them” view of the world. Everyone and everything is either inside or outside the group. In the case of groups like the Krishnas, that results in complete isolation from outsiders. As far as they were concerned, the neighbors did not exist and that was the way they wanted it.

We tend to think of cults as having a charismatic. That leader has some grand vision of the future. Maybe it involves space aliens or God. Maybe he thinks he is God. Of course, the cult of popular imagination always follows the same arc. The leader acquires some followers and it all seems innocent and wonderful. The thing grows as the leader becomes increasingly deranged. At some point he either leads them into mass suicide or into some crazy act that brings the whole thing down.

As we see with the Krishnas and Scientology, obliteration is not the outcome in all cases or even most cases. The guy who started the Hari Krishnas has been dead for years and his movement keeps going. Scientology thrived after the death of L. Ron Hubbard. As far as I know, neither is plotting mass suicide or trying to launch a revolution.

The famous UFO cult, The Seekers, fell apart, reformed a few times until Dorothy Martin died. The point being that cults and religious movements don’t always end in obliteration. In fact, most either stabilize into a viable ongoing concern or they fall apart and the followers find a new movement. Those that survive their founders tend to get good at drawing bright lines between themselves and everyone else.

I was reminded of all that when I saw this posted on MR the other day. On a regular basis, a gaggle of social scientists release a study telling us why liberals are good and conservatives are bad. Sometimes it is just a focus on why conservatives are bad and other times it is a study on some essential goodness of liberals. The point is always the same, as the people doing it are always the same.

The gold standard for this, oddly enough, led to the Goldwater Rule. In 1964 a bunch of liberal psychiatrists, during the 1964 presidential campaign, declared that Barry Goldwater was clinically insane. After all, only a crazy person would deny the essential goodness of the Progressive movement. Some version of this pops up every few years, masked as social science.

An obsession with the moral differences between “us” and “them” is a hallmark of mass movements. It is fair to say they are fanatical about it. Oddly and maybe even counter intuitively, members of mass movements are not very good at understanding the differences between the array of groups not in their group. The others are just an undifferentiated mass of people not inside the cult.

A good example is the Amish. As far as they’re concerned, everyone else is English, by which they mean outsiders. They could no more tell a Catholic from a Jew and they don’t care. Muslims see nothing but infidels outside the world of Islam. Scientology, from what I understand, has similar labels for people outside their faith. Jews call non-Jews gentiles and, oddly, Mormons call non-Mormons gentiles too.

Progressives are by any reasonable definition, a political cult. Like Islam, it is aggressive and intolerant, particularly of Christianity. Not unreasonably, it sees Christianity as its chief threat. Not that Christians are automatically a bunch of freedom loving Burkeans. The Pope, after all, is a Marxist. That does not matter to the Left. They have a long hatred for Christians and Christianity.

The mandates in ObamaCare were not put in for health or cost reasons. Their intent was to make life miserable for Christians because they oppose contraception and abortion. That’s why Progressives have gone berserk over the Hobby Lobby case. If you imagine yourself in a life and death struggle with your chief rival, even tiny set backs seem like the end of the world.

I’ll wrap this rambling post up with a short story about an Iranian I once knew. This was back in the Iran – Iraq War days. He had been drafted into the Ayatollah’s army and sent to fight the Iraqis. A commander called for volunteers to clear a minefield. Immediately a bunch of young fanatics volunteered. They were sent out into the minefield, finding the mines the old fashioned way. Behind them the infantry, followed the now clear path through the field.

Shortly thereafter my Iranian friend went AWOL, got a fake student Visa and found his way to Belgium. He hooked up with other Iranian ex-pats, mostly Christians and Jews. They helped him get his paperwork in order. Because of the chaos in Iran at the time, his parents were able to claim he was missing in action so they could avoid trouble from the fanatics.

That’s life in a land where a cult takes over.

1 thought on “Hobby Lobby & Cults

  1. “They have a long hatred for Christians.”?
    In My Humble Opinion
    Nah, I think it’s “…The pillars of Christianity” that “liberals” (can we just call them leftists to avoid confusion?)
    Mindful that there is no requirement to “believe” in God, “follow” Christ, “swear” on a bible (revised or not) or carry a membership card to aspire to the pillars of Christianity, “radical” leftists (and “rightists”) are just as happy as Muslims to “justify” enslavement/elimination/oppression/robbery of “others” in the name of (ie, but not limited to) whatever’s “trending” on HuffPo/MSNBC’s raison d’etre, cause celebre, tu quoque THIS week.
    Sorry for the French poliSci stuff, they refer to reams of “thought”, and don’t “briefly” translate well.

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