I read the news piece at 4am yesterday morning while laying in bed contemplating the breakfast tacos I had to get up and make for the concession stand. My reaction was such that all I wanted to make was a beeline to the computer to disgorge my feelings about it.
But with a full day of concession standing, then straight to Carson's game, then home exhausted, it had all day and night to stew in my brain.
It was still there this morning, the response as strong as it was 24 hours prior...
Rick Perry supporter, Robert Jeffress, pastor of the First Baptist Church of Dallas - one of those Goliath sized structures that cast shadows from so many streetcorners in Big D - appeared on CNN stating, "I think Mitt Romney's a good, moral man, but I think those of us who are born-again followers of Christ should always prefer a competent Christian to a competent non-Christian like Mitt Romney. So that's why I'm enthusiastic about Rick Perry."
He continued his drivel by adding that the Southern Baptist Convention "has officially labeled Mormonism as a cult." (Like Jehovah's Witnesses, Scientology, etc)
As you can imagine, that got a lot of attention.
For me it was because of the glaring hypocrisy of the statement.
A religious organization, by its very existence, is a CULT.
Webster's: noun: 1. formal religious veneration : worship 2: a system of religious beliefs and ritual; also : its body of adherents 3. great devotion to a person, idea, object, movement, or work (as a film or book); especially
Sure, it also lists as one definition: a religion regarded as unorthodox or spurious; also : its body of adherents - but just because we sanctimonious folks have appropriated it and gone with that very selective definition over the years, only applying it to the David Koreshes, Jim Joneses, Hare Krishnas, Heavens Gaters, and Charles Mansons of the world, doesn't change the fact that EVERY RELIGION IS A CULT.
It doesn't matter that your temple is bigger, your steeple taller, your stories older - if you belong to a church, ascribe to a set of religious tenets, and believe YOU are right and THEY are wrong - you, my friend, belong to a cult.
But, but, we don't brainwash our followers! you protest.
Um, yes, yes you do.
They are called children. Carson got a first hand look at that brainwashing a couple weeks ago at rehearsal. Many of the kids were off stage and religion came up. One ideology bashed against the other, each teen dramatically, emphatically so sure of THEIR church's flight plan.
(Again, children come into this world as blank slates - so someone had to write upon them with this stuff. Ask yourself, why do you so fervently believe what you believe? YOU did not come out of the womb holding a Bible, Book of Mormon, Koran, set of Dead Sea Scrolls...)
Then they asked Carson what she believed.
Insert sound of pin hitting floor as they all got momentarily speechless.
She was happy to inform them she does not belong to a church. That she doesn't sit in a pew to talk to God. That she has not been raised to believe ONE thing.
What came forth was a torrent of "But"s, a cascade of fear, and a Niagra of confusion by her so systematically dismantleing their attempts to sway her, make her afraid, shake her foundation.
She made it very clear that her parents have given her the gift of choice. That she has not been raised to believe one thing. She has permission to explore, read, ask, roll her eyes, explore some more. That yes, she feels a greater power, but she has no more true idea of what that is than they do. She chooses to be a good person, to do what good people do - treat one another with respect, consideration, kindness, courtesy. Not stand in judgment because the sign outside their church says something different than the sign next door to it.
She ended it with her being completely fine with whatever they each believed in as long as they didn't try to shove it down her throat.
I do not like churches. I do not like religious organizations. Say what you will about yours, but in my opinion they all serve themselves, and they all separate people, they do NOT bring them together.
I was raised in Catholicism. I also ran as fast as I could away from it when I was no longer under my parents' roof.
My mind is way too open to belong to something that seeks to oppress me, tell me I am less than a man, dictate what I can and cannot do, think, feel. I don't NEED religion to make me a good person. I don't NEED some appointed church person telling me that God Hates Fags! so I'd better hate them, too. I don't NEED someone banging on a pulpit to keep me afraid and in line with promises of Heaven or threats of Hell.
As I have said repeatedly in this blog - if a particular religion works for you, GREAT. Enjoy it, wallow in it, roll around in it, bathe in its Holy Water. Just don't bring it to my doorstep, don't bring it up in a conversation, don't post about it on my Facebook wall. It is YOURS. Keep it.
But back to the word: CULT.
Just because David Koresh did not have a soaring monument in Salt Lake City, doesn't make him any different than the minister, priest, elder, clergyman/woman in your church. His goal was the same: veneration, worship, control, and money.
Just because other religions have roots that go back much further than Mormanism don't make them better, truer, more worthy.
And just because some people obviously like to be selective with their Dictionarys the way they are with their Bibles doesn't make the word CULT less applicable to their church and fellow parishioners.
Look around next Sunday when you're in your pew. Just because you are surrounded by a lot of decently dressed people, listening to an expensive organ, passing a basket full of cash and envelopes, watching a show put on by people in fancy costumes doesn't make it NOT a cult.
It just makes it a really successful one.