I’ve wanted to put this article together for some time, and for the last few months I have been collecting articles and events that provide the point of the question I want to ask us in the opening of this: How is the progressive left like any other cult in America today?
Defining a Cult
My favorite Christian Apologist, Dr. James White, has said he tries to avoid the term “cult” because it cannot really be defined objectively. He has a very good point, but I wonder, can we actually find an objective definition of a cult? I think we can. For some time, I worked on the essential principle that a cult was “A subset of Christianity in which the leader deters his/her followers from looking to Christ, the founder of Christianity, to a different person, namely themselves”. This helped me with marking out the LDS Church with Joseph Smith, Jehovah’s Witnesses and Charles Taze Russel and others. Certainly, one is tempted to include even Roman Catholicism in that group, as well as even Islam, which claims to be continued revelation from Scripture by the mouth of the prophet Muhammad.
But then I have to confront myself with the reality that if this is how we define it, doesn’t Christianity fit that definition? After all, just as Joseph Smith was the founder and prophet of Mormonism, so Jesus of Nazareth was the founder and prophet of Christianity, which Jews might rightly consider “a subset of Judaism”; a religious movement that distorts the Tanahk (the Old Testament Scriptures) and departs from the original faith. It even adds Scripture, just as Joseph Smith and Muhammad did.
What’s more, the Roman Catholic Church and the Eastern Orthodox, on this definition, might rightly call even Protestantism a cult, since after all, Protestantism is the result of a single German monk’s dispute with the Papal authority; and Calvinism is just a sixteenth century theological system coming from John Calvin.
This all has to of course set aside the reality of divine revelation and what we consider revelation. Ultimately, it gets us in a far too complicated mess that makes it all the more difficult to get to the root of our differences. Hence, I’ve essentially given up on that definition, as it can quickly become antithetical to my own religion; I have to admit to the reality that not only is Christianity a religion founded by one man that branches off of Judaism, but my particular Christian theology which is reformed, comes out of the sixteenth century, driven primarily by the works of Luther, Calvin and Zwingli.
But can we find some way of defining a cult? We might say that it’s not so much a person who defines a cult but a thing that the group sets over and above everything else as essential to true faith. But this becomes a subterfuge really, as the ‘thing’ that is essential is basically the same as a person, with the only difference being it is an inanimate object, or an abstract idea (a doctrine) rather than a person. Furthermore, it is a subterfuge because the thing that is placed over and above everything else is often touted by a person, and so ultimately, we still would be left with defining a cult as following a particular individual’s teaching, which leaves us back to square one.
This again leaves us with the dilemma of ‘cult’ being defined subjectively and having no objective something to set as our standard.
But what if we stray from defining a cult as being centered on an objective thing, and more on the behavior of individuals who follow the person or thing? This removes the problem of making a cult be about a person or thing that is only right and wrong insofar as we all assume the same premise (which we don’t), and more about how one behaves about the things. Let us therefore define a cult as not a group that follows one particular person, but rather how the group, in perceiving the person, acts as a result. It’s not cultic for Oliver Cowdery to follow Joseph Smith, no more than it is cultic for Peter to follow Jesus, or for us to “follow” Calvin, or the Puritans. What makes Oliver different is what he was willing to do to make Smith the prophet he claimed to be, i.e., it was his behavior that defined the cult-like mentality of his person.
How does a cult behave, then? We’re going to examine several ways in which cults act and behave and see how the left relates to this very behavior religiously. Speaking of religion, I want to make sure we understand in the outset that we are going to be intentionally using religion and cult interchangeably, because the essential point of this article is to prove how the Secular progressives fall into both activities.
One thing cults all have in common is their zealous commitment to their cause. Now once again, we may find here that Christianity fits this bill, and you would be right. There have been and continues to be countless in the world today who are zealous for some form of Christianity and are willing to do some pretty remarkable things for that cause. My mind immediately thinks back to the story of Munster during the Anabaptist rebellion in the sixteenth century. The things Jan Matthys and his followers were willing to do was absolutely cultic. But, if Jan simply believed we were entering the end of the world and Munster was the new Jerusalem, but instead was able to still get along with his fellow Christians and debate in the public square as Paul did, be open to new interpretations that may prove him wrong and to change his mind, would he have been a cultic man? At the very least, it would make it rather difficult to consider him such.
But he and his followers had a zealotry, and a fervor against Romanism that led to the attack on Munster and the insanity of Matthys and his ultimate demise. That is to say, they were so passionate about their cause, that they lost their grip on reality itself for the sake of the cause. Zealotry is a wonderful thing when it is tamed by a mature, balanced believer; one who knows when it is time to be aggressive and when it is time to be calm and graceful. Often times, however, the untamed fuel their zeal, and as a result, often do unordinary things (to say the least) for that cause, which is a religious cause in nature–something they hold most dear to their hearts, mind and soul.
But although there are countless accounts in history of people who affirmed belief in a religious movement like Christianity or Islam acting to bring about their Armageddon or Jihad, how can the same be said for Secularists, who deny altogether religion? After all, they are fundamentally materialists, not spiritualists. There is no God, no doctrine of creation, there is just the universe and we in it.
But your worldview on the origin and fundamental principle of the universe does not seclude you from being religious and zealous for your worldview. These are actually two completely different things. Being fundamentally a materialist doesn’t mean you won’t zealously act for any cause the way a Jihadist would cut off the head of an infidel for Islam.
In an article published by newstarget.com a mother passionate about the “LGBTQ” movement beat her son to death because he wouldn’t dress like a girl. Certainly, if we asked, this mother would likely have no affiliation, nor desire to be affiliated with any meaningful definition of Christianity, and likely would have no real doctrine of God at all. But what’s the difference between her and a Muslim father who beats his wife for improperly dressing in public? He believes in his religious cause, so does this mother–religiously.
There are countless reports of LGBTQ proponents resorting to violence to promote their cause, even exploitation, like the baker in Colorado being sued more than once by the group for his refusal to bake them a cake. How different are these people from the many instances we have in history of people who–for the name of Christ–used political, illegal and even legal means to exploit, and ultimately banish opposing views to their own? Joseph Smith did this (which ultimately led to his murder in 1844) when he tried to destroy a printing press in Nauvoo, Illinois that criticized his religious authority, as well as his moral character.
The left, then, bears all the same marks as being zealously religious, despite their claims to the contrary, and just like so many Christians in the past, they are willing to use legal and political, and even violent means of extortion to push their agendas, no different from the persecutions of the Romans, the Muslims, the Roman Catholic Church and even the Protestant Reformation.
Certainty Over Truth
The other thing the progressive left has with any standard cult activity is one that sounds most peculiar and strange, yet is one of the most essential marks of a cultic mentality, and that is what we are going to call Certainty Over Truth. But what does this mean, however?
Have you ever been in conversation with someone who, no matter what data is given, will simply not move from their position? But more than this, their reasons are on the grounds of “absolute certainty”? That is to say, they are willing to go so far as to reject even giving a hearing to information that would tell us an issue is not as ‘black and white’ as they originally supposed so that they may maintain their own sense of certainty?
For our primary example of this, let us use what we often call the King James Only group. The group is exactly as the name claims–the King James Bible is the only true word of God in the world today. There is a divine elevation of this translation by these people (though they will hardly admit to that in front of you). If you ever find yourself in the peculiar situation of debating with what we will abbreviate as a “KJVO”, what you ought to begin to discover is their primary concern is not really truth, but certainty.
That is to say, even if you know the history of the King James Bible, and how it came about, how it is the product of fifteen-hundred years of a massive wealth of manuscript data, and all it really intends to be is a fresh English translation for the English-speaking world, the KJVO is going to completely override all of that with his assertion that the King James is the purest translation, with no errors, no faults–and the reason? Because God’s word cannot have errors in it, of course.
Well we all agree that God’s word is inerrant, but textual variations that are real, no matter how much we may try to say they aren’t, are not the same thing as inerrancy. But you see, the KJVO conflates all that, flattens it out in some simplistic way to drive his point. He is caught in a “black and white” scenario: you either have the pure word of God, or no word of God at all, and therefore if you want to be a fulfilled Christian, you must be reading only the King James.
Notice what his great concern is: certainty. He needs an absolute, unattested certainty on this matter that he simply will not negotiate, otherwise, everything is lost, there is no hope but despair and painful death. Now certainly (no pun intended) there are things that Christians must believe on principle, such as the deity of Christ and the Trinity. Nevertheless, do we make these certain truths as dogma? No. The Bible teaches these things, and it invites us to use our minds and discover them. While Christ’s deity is essential, that doesn’t change the fact that there was a great debate as to the nature of the Son and the man and their relationship.
That is, while the essential principle is certain and objective, the ways to it are not always so certain, and things are not as simple as we often want them to be. In eschatology as well (the study of the end of things), often times you may come across a group of people who are absolutely certain that their view is true (despite Jesus’s words that no one knows the hour, nor the day). They are so certain, that they don’t even teach other ways to understand Revelation to their people.
As Dan Wallace of Dallas Theological Seminary has said, “There are many people who are willing to trade truth for certainty”. They don’t want to have to deal with the often multifaceted factors of a single issue that show us it’s not as easy as we may want to perceive. I once believed the subject of baptism was pretty simple and straightforward. While I remain Baptist in my theology today, I recognize that this debate is huge.
How then does the progressive left come into this situation? Quite simply, look at what we have in the coronavirus pandemic. What were we constantly told from the beginning? That the experts have spoken, and the “science is settled” echoing their views of Climate Change. There is no more debating, no more reflection necessary; our overlords and high priests have spoken from the divinely-spoken words of the State that this is the truth and now we must accept it or perish. There is no gray area, there is either this or that. If you do not comply, you despise your elders, your fellow man and you despise order for the sake of your petty individualism.
They take one view, and make that view the absolute pure truth; no disputes, no debate, and any preponderance of a debate suggests we don’t have certainty. Isn’t that how the Climate Change activists act? Isn’t that how the COVID-19 activists act? Even further, that’s how pro-death abortionists act. There is no pondering, not even considering the possibility of being incorrect, because the alternative, in their eyes, is utter destruction. It is the trading of truth (the truth that things are not so simple as we want them to be) for certainty. Absolute certainty. But many Mormons are absolutely certain that the Book of Mormon is true. That doesn’t make it so.
The Youth Ministry
The religion of Secularism also has its very own youth ministry, which we call Public Education. This may surprise fellow Christians the most, since so many of us have sent our children into these schools to be trained and educated. I myself went through public education. Like the most extreme of cults, Secularism is very passionate about raising the gullible youth on their own terms. To make sure they’re trained up right so that they know who the enemy is and is not.
We’ve all seen those creepy movies or TV show episodes of cultic behavior by the followers, and how they repeat certain phrases to codify and reinforce the thinking of their people. Things like that do actually happen in cults today. The followers and the gullible, especially the children are taught what to think, and not how to think. They may give their people exposure to certain things “on the outside” of their worldview, but will always present those views with their own caveats and interpretations, so when their followers encounter any opposition, they know to interpret it through the teaching they received already that poisons them to any honest understanding of reality.
But you may ask, how is the public school system part of the cultic religion of Secular Progressivism? Isn’t school just school? The reality is that we believe this because of how we were educated. But remember, our founders had a Puritan background, and that means that it was the responsibility of the home and the family to educated their children, and the reality is that kids grew up far more well-educated as a result in those days than most kids today, sadly. I am reminded of the fact that at least one of Jonathan Edwards’ sister was able to speak Greek and Latin by the time she was twenty years old, and Jonathan himself entered into Yale by the time he was thirteen.
Public education began with a man named Horace Mann, and originally, the intention was religious in purpose. What has it become since? It has attempted to separate religion from a proper education, but has it really succeeded? Not at all. All it’s done is replaced one religion for another. Later educational reformers, such as Henry Bernard, William T. Harris and John Swett would begin the push to make education about teaching the youth their place in the state, not so much as their place in God’s creation.
While their intentions may be said to have been well, they most likely did not anticipate what would come as a result. The term “separation of church and state” would take on a whole new meaning, one far different than the founding fathers intended it to mean. Often people today will quote “separation of church and state” with the intent to argue against religion being part of public life, and they quote it as if it is part of our Constitution. The reality is it is not, but people are sure of it.
Why are they sure? Because of the education reform began by Mann, carried out by Harris, Bernard and Swett (and many more after them) that steered the public education system to be centered around the preservation of the state, and not so much religion. And yet, in the process, all it really did was replace one religion with another–the religion of Secularism. It is no coincidence that later judges and men in power would abuse the phrase “separation of church and state”, because those judges were raised in the youth ministry of the Progressive left, raised to believe even if they themselves are men of religion, their religion bears no relevance to public matters. That is, from their youth, this mentality was put into their minds, before they even knew it, and they grow up with it, not realizing they have been given a presupposition that automatically functions to the defense of the State, instead of the defense of the individual.
And so who wins in the end if not the State protecting its own religious institution by its acolytes, judges and high priests from the religious influence of other beliefs?
Ecclesiology is just a fancy term for governance and organization. In religious institutions, the ecclesiology means the structure of the religion–who is the head, who are his subjects and those beneath them? What is their function? What is the function of the congregation? How is worship to be carried out? These are questions that ecclesiology attempts to answer.
The most clear example is that of the priest and the clergy. In the early church, the head of every church had a bishop, and beneath the bishop the elders and then deacons, all having functions and authority depending on their office. A priest is very common, not just within Christianity, but outside in pagan worlds. They carry different meanings as a result, and so the very broad meaning we are going to use is the meaning they all share, and that is a position of great authority in the religious group.
A priest ranges from a teacher, to a prophet, to a rite performer and ritual authority figure. The left has no shortage of these, but they come in the name of science and education, and of course, abortion. Their priests are the scientists, who speak prophetic words to the people, with their elevated education and prophetic insight that the masses do not have, giving them their grand authority which they use to teach the congregation the ways of the State, give to the people their purpose in the State, and to provide the true interpretation of themselves and their world from the authority of the State.
Recall again the dogmatic claims of the scientists, and that we should believe the science. As the Climate Change activists say, “the science is settled”. Alexandria Ocazio Cortez has recently spoken about the COVID-19 lockdown response and how it relates to Climate Change, saying “This is scientifically informed legislation. I’m not here to tell you what is politically easy. I’m here to tell you what is scientifically necessary.”
Notice how she doesn’t actual argue for these assertions, they are just asserted. The word ‘science’ is placed as a positive, because no one wants to be thought of as anti-science. Hence, put that in front of any of your major assertions, it is easily taken by the followers of the cult. But the word ‘political’ is not a nice word, because it implies the use of pulling strings for a shady, alternative agenda. Therefore that is used in a negative way; it’s meant to make this “science vs politics” and hence anyone who opposes AOC’s discipleship message does so for political reasons.
The congregation, however, doesn’t really believe all the scientists, they believe the scientists that support the efforts and actions of the State, just like any cult would do. Why is Fauci believed over Wittkowski? Both are men of science. It’s because Fauci supports the State, and Wittkowski does not. Hence, he is banished, excommunicated as he is a heretic who does not support the actions of the State and its Church authority. Cults aren’t interested in exchanging ideas, they aren’t interested in the gray areas. It is either their institution and their prophetic leaders’ authority, or the destruction of all that is good.
How does the left offer even its own eschatology (doctrine of the end of things)? One thing that stands out with cults is they often come with an eschatology. But that’s not saying much, since even Christianity as it is has an eschatology; Christians debate to this day how the eschaton will pan out. Nevertheless, cults don’t behave about these issues as Christians would, which is with actual debate and discourse, inviting each other to think critically on these things, and meaningfully.
The cults, like the Jehovah’s Witnesses do not debate nor negotiate this point. They are adamantly a kind of premillennialism. The last Jehovah’s Witness I attempted to talk to simply wouldn’t give me the time of day, and said I was lost because I saw Matthew 24 differently than he did. It’s more than simply seeing the end differently, it’s having a dooms-day view of it that is upon us; the end is nigh and imminent. The world is over.
Sound familiar? The left has its own eschatology! That is to say, Climate Change. Yes, the very thing that is one of their black and white issues, is also their doctrine of eschatology, and like many strange forms of premillennialism in America today, the left’s predictions of the end of the world have constantly been proven false over and over again, and just like the others, they are never held accountable, are still believed and hold the faith of the masses of their religious following of Secularism through the sacred truth of Science. Still more, the faithful proclaim their loyalty to the prophets of the Secular world like Al Gore by continuing to fund them and proclaim the gospel of Secularism to the world.
Repent or perish! is what they essentially say. That is, turn from your wicked ways of believing in the superstition of God, and the demons and angels, and instead embrace the gospel of Science! Join us in repenting of destroying Mother Earth!
Utopia, and the Kingdom of God
The reality is the Progressive Left is just as religious as anyone else. They are not more Enlightened than a superstitious cultist, and are in fact, far more like the cults than they would like to admit. They may answer “but we are on the side of truth!” The Crusaders claimed they were on the side of truth, the Muslims before them also claimed it. Joseph Smith said so, and many, many others. Just like the left, they had their prophets and their orators who proclaimed the message and power of salvation and purpose.
We left out here one other category simply because I didn’t want to take far too much space; this article is long enough already, and that is faith in the gospel of a future hope and glory. It began with Karl Marx and his Utopian dream of a classless society. Ever since Marx’s Communist Manifesto, the Secular religion coming out of the Enlightenment has replaced the hope for the kingdom of God with instead the hope for a kingdom in this world.
It has all the essential wants and desires that the New Heaven and New Earth has. It has a war-less future, no more people killing each other, no more crime and sadness; all the ill and the needy are taken care of without any cost to them. But it doesn’t have the one thing only God can give, and that is eternity. Why is the heavenly city what the Marxian Utopia cannot be? Because Marx’s dream is built on a fallen world, a world that is a creation, and hence cannot sustain itself. The God of Scripture, the God who made the heavens, He creates in and of Himself, and He has the power over death. Only He can give life eternally, and care for His creation without end.
But as we have seen, simply refusing to believe in God and give yourself to established religions does not make you invulnerable to religion, nor cultic mentality. It may make you more susceptible to it. Because a cult isn’t so much holding to a false messiah, it’s how you behave about what you believe. If indeed that’s what a cult is, the Progressive Left is just as violent, vitriolic and zealously religious as the rest they denounce. They’ve traded one religion for another.
The reality is you cannot escape being religious. Sam Harris, a famous atheist, has a book, “Waking Up: A Guide to Spirituality Without Religion”. What a contradiction in terms! But what Harris proves is that he is made in the image of the God he hates. We all are. We were made to be creatures who worship, and we will give that worship to someone; we cannot help being what we are. If it is not God, it is the State and the Utopian dream.