Not So Polite Dinner Conversation – a great paper on how cults rationalize their nonsense

Just a link to a very good paper on how cults, aka religions, can invent nonsense and end up believing it to be true. Thanks to John Loftus over at Debunking Christianity for giving the link.

“The Rationalization Hypothesis: Is a Vision of Jesus Necessary for the Rise of the Resurrection Belief?” — by Kris Komarnitsky

The information about the Marian Keech cult was interesting. I hadn’t known that UFO cults were so early.

Not So Polite Dinner Conversation – one more theocratic Christian cult in the US

From the Washington Post:

“The church is called Mercy Culture, and it is part of a growing Christian movement that is nondenominational, openly political and has become an engine of former president Donald Trump’s Republican Party. It includes some of the largest congregations in the nation, housed in the husks of old Baptist churches, former big-box stores and sprawling multimillion-dollar buildings with private security to direct traffic on Sundays. Its most successful leaders are considered apostles and prophets, including some with followings in the hundreds of thousands, publishing empires, TV shows, vast prayer networks, podcasts, spiritual academies, and branding in the form of T-shirts, bumper stickers and even flags. It is a world in which demons are real, miracles are real, and the ultimate mission is not just transforming individual lives but also turning civilization itself into their version of God’s Kingdom: one with two genders, no abortion, a free-market economy, Bible-based education, church-based social programs and laws such as the ones curtailing LGBTQ rights now moving through statehouses around the country.

This is the world of Trump’s spiritual adviser Paula White and many more lesser-known but influential religious leaders who prophesied that Trump would win the election and helped organize nationwide prayer rallies in the days before the Jan. 6 insurrection, speaking of an imminent “heavenly strike” and “a Christian populist uprising,” leading many who stormed the Capitol to believe they were taking back the country for God.”

Apologies if you’ve read WaPo articles and this is behind the pay wall for you. Let me know.

More hateful bigots aka theocrats on the rampage. This is why I stand against theist nonsense.

Not So Polite Dinner Conversation – more fear and ignorance

And more lies from a  Christian contradicted.  As usual, this is from John Clayton over at “Does God Exist Today?”   he’s too afraid to allow comments.   

“We have frequently pointed out that a massive percentage of the pain and death people experience is directly related to their choices in life. If you don’t believe in God, what do you use for support when you hit the usual frustrations in life? My brother Jim bought into my parent’s atheistic beliefs. For much of his life, he lived as an atheist.”

John, and the mouse in his pocket, thinks that only his god is suitable for supporting through life’s frustrations.  He seems to also need to image that all non-christians turn ot the bottle.  Happily we don’t, and there are plenty of supports for us, family, friends, psychotherapy, etc. 

“When my youngest brother grew frustrated with the everyday struggles of life, alcohol became his tool for coping. That caused him to be unable to help others or find meaningful companionship. When he struggled with his normal sexual drives, he did not believe that marriage was the only way those feelings could be satisfied. My brother’s marriage failed because of his alcohol use, and it also seriously affected his relationship with his two sons.”

A pity he didn’t find his family of any help, since John tried to lie to him.  Brother was ill, not needing some imaginary god.

“My brother Jim was fired from his first teaching job because his alcohol use affected how he dealt with his students. One of his sons and I pleaded with him to realize what alcohol was doing to him, and gradually he began to move away from his addiction. He eventually got involved in Alcoholics Anonymous, started studying the Bible, and carried on extensive conversations with me about the existence of God.”

Alcohol addition is a disease, not a moral failing.  No god helps anyone, only humans do. 

“I finally convinced my brother Jim to go with me and a group of 50 Christians as we toured the Grand Canyon, Bryce, Zion, and the Canyonlands. In addition to showing evidence that the Bible accurately describes Earth’s history as revealed in these places, we all engaged in singing hymns, praying for one another, and studying God’s Word. At the end of the trip, my brother admitted that he could not be an atheist anymore and that he saw the validity of Christianity.”

John chooses to lie more to his brother.  Alas, the Grand Canyon shows that the noah flood to be impossible since a massive flood never sets down discrete layers each sorted from coarse to fine within itself. 

“What do people in our culture do to relieve the pains that come in life? The use of drugs, including alcohol, has skyrocketed in my lifetime. Developing a relationship with God and working with those of like faith to establish a realistic approach to failure and frustration is not on the radar for much of our culture.”

John inadvertently admits that his god does nothing at all if use of drugs and alcohol has supposed “skyrocketed”.  Christians can’t quite decide if they want to pretend they are persecuted and losing people or if they want to pretend they are the majority. 

“As people reject God, ridiculing the Bible,
 and questioning its relevance to the struggles of life, the problems they experience have grown. The ultimate result of this is a massive increase in health issues related to drug use and an enormous rise in legal problems, including prison terms. More than half of the prisoners studying our correspondence courses are in prison because they abused drugs.”

Alas, the bible has no relevance to modern humans, only those who want to pretend some magical being agrees with them. Nope, the problems that non-christians haven’t grown.  John is just upset since Christianity is indeed losing members and churches are emptying.  Nothing in links shows that there is any correlation.  John tries to lie again.  And funny how many Christians are in prison.  Hardly any atheists at all.  Amazing how this god fails constantly, eh?

“Unfortunately, the use of alcohol and the destructive nature of my brother’s early atheistic beliefs had consequences on his relationships and health. He had marginal relationships with family, had few friends, and never found the kind of joy that Christians have when they follow God’s Word. In addition, his health had been compromised by his use of alcohol. On May 28, he died from all the damage alcohol had done in the past. Living the Christian way of life is essential to give the hope of eternal life and to give us the very best things that this life can bring. My brother Jim is a case history that demonstrates that fact in vivid, realistic terms.

— John N. Clayton © 2021”

Now, John finds he must try to scare people into his religion, as usual.  A religion that only has fear and ignorance to get people to believe isn’t much of one. Christians die all of the time.  It’s a pity they wasted their life on playing pretend.  John’s brother is dead.  That’s all. 

Not So Polite Dinner Conversation – Just what is a cult? Another review of Billy Graham’s columns

Cults-A-ComparisonWe have a new column from the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association, which has been the gift that keeps on giving.  What is this one about, you may ask?   It’s about how to identify cults.  Yes, you might know where this is going already.   When a theist calls something a cult, it’s hard to look away from the train wreck that always ensues.

The querent asks how they can know if a group is a cult or not.  A coworker of the querent has invited this person to attend her “religious assembly”, but the querent doesn’t know anything about it.  The querent finishes by saying that they are not from a religious family but they know that they need God, aka the Christian one.

In that the querent didn’t simply ask the woman about her church e.g. religious assembly, or do an internet search of it is curious enough.   We also have no idea on how someone can come to know that they need some god.  Billy is of course joyous that someone knows that they need his god.  He also has some advice on how to know if a group is a cult or not.  He is sure that such “cults” will lead away from his god rather than toward him.

So how does one identify one of those cults according to the BGEA?

“One way is to find out if the members think that they, and they alone, have all the truth about God.”

The problem with this is that most, if not all religions, do claim this.  Even Billy claims this when he states that his religion is the “only way” repeatedly in this article, titled “The Only Way”. Ahem…. 🙄

“To put it another way, most cults teach that every other church is wrong, and they alone are right.”

Which the BGEA has done when it had an article up on its website saying that Mormons, Jehovah’s Witnesses, etc were cults and when it claims that anyone who uses other books or sources other than the bible is also a cult, aka Roman Catholics. (Billy himself seems to be straying from this position, see the bottom of the article) This article was removed when Billy was schmoozing with Mitt Romney, former presidential candidate and Mormon.

And of course we have other TrueChristians sure that Billy Graham isn’t a TrueChristian at all, here at Christian Apologetics and Research Ministries, a wonderful nest of TrueChristians insisting that they and they alone have all of the truth about their god.  Could it be we have another band of cultists?

Billy also has that another way one can tell is if the “cult” is of recent origin that it is wrong.  Now, at one point his religion was recent, about two thousand years ago or so.  Did that make it a cult?  The people at the time certainly seemed to think so, which would indicate that the “time in grade” argument is utterly subjective and meaningless.  It does indeed help the TrueChristian to decry other religions and even sects of their own religion.  With this claim, the Catholics are much less “culty” than Protestant sects, which seems to indicate that everyone should be a Catholic rather than holding to Protestant ideals of sola scriptura, etc.  Perhaps even the Coptic Christians are even less “culty” than them, so who knows who has the “right” answers?  And then we have to consider the Jewish faith, which is even older and the variations of ancient religions that people have done their best to recreate that may be from much farther back.   To claim that “time in grade” or age is nothing more than the logical fallacy of appealing to tradition.  The inverse can also be true, that just because something is old doesn’t mean that it isn’t true, the fallacy of the appeal to novelty, but as always evidence is needed to establish truth, not just a claim of a fact that has no determined correlation to the claims of truth.

Billy also tries to claim that if a group doesn’t agree with him about what the bible “really” says,  then they are a cult by definition. “Do they see him as both fully God and fully man? Most cults don’t, but the Bible does. Do they teach that because of his death and resurrection we can be saved as we put our faith and trust in him? Most cults don’t, but the Bible does.”   This is no more than insisting that he’s right and everyone else is wrong, what he claims as a sign of a cult repeatedly.  Hmmm, seems we are indeed going in circles here.

Finally, after looking at the BGEA’s website we have this about cults: “Cults also often have a leader who demands full obedience, and threatens members with condemnation if they doubt his teachings. They also may try to cut them off from their families, or anyone else who might try to draw them away.”

Like this? The a new believer of a religious movement says “Before I join you, let me go back and say goodbye to my family“ and the leader replies “You cannot.  If you look back, you are not fit for my religion.”

Or the leader of the religious movement says “Everyone who follows me must hate their family and their own life.  They must give up everything. If they do not, they are not worthy.” ( incidentally, both of the above are in the Gospel of Luke, chap 9 and 14 respectively).

Seems like Billy’s religion is a cult exactly as defined by Billy:  a leader that requires full obedience, an insistence that they and they alone are “right” and a recent minting date for their particular version of the religion, at best circa 1517 or so, and likely much more recent since I rather doubt that Martin Luther would agree with Billy. (A quick look around the internet, search differences Lutheran baptist, shows that at least some Lutherans are quite sure that Billy, a Baptist, is wrong about what their god “really” wants.  More recent words from Billy, that “everyone loves Christ” whether they know it or not and that they will be saved no matter what they worship has incensed some other TrueChristians who again are sure that they have the only “right” answer.)

It is no surprise that such arguments about cults can so easily be turned against those who make them.