Jesus cult flourishes

THE REVEREND Chris Brain, an Anglican vicar, hit the headlines last week for organising a cult which regularly attracted up to 300 young adults. Allegations of sexual favours and authoritarian domination abounded and the minister was suspended. The Guardian attempted to reassure concerned parents with advice on how to spot a cult.

Apparently, a cult demands that the church is the most important thing in a person’s life and, the paper adds, encourages members to give up their study, jobs and contacts with their family. I think there was a man called Jesus who got his mates to give up fishing, and when his mum turned up, he said: “Woman, what have I to do with thee?” Cults normally have a male hierarchy, according to The Guardian. The Catholic Church might just fall into this category too.

Next, cults frequently indulge in sexual relationships with their flocks, they demand money in large quantities and they distort established philosophical and religious concepts.

What’s new? On the question of giving up large quantities of money, a fairly well established concept is that it is more difficult for a rich man to get into the kingdom of heaven than for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle. As for sexual relationships, under the Borgias, the best way of becoming pope was being born a bastard son of a pope.

The press is whipping up a campaign against cults. Many of them are undoubtedly strange. But then I consider the teachings of established religions more than a little odd and they have a much stronger hold on a far larger section of society.

The Salvation Army and the Quakers started off as sects or cults. Now they are deemed respectable since they conform to the needs of capitalism.

The threat to limit the rights of cults infringes on our civil liberties too. Their persecution in the United States culminated in the Waco burning and aerial bombardment of Move. Dozens of cult followers were slaughtered.

Such sects frequently consist of people deeply alienated from the vicious ravages of today’s society, looking for some meaning and hope in their lives.

Unconventional ideas can never be eradicated through oppression. The more oppressive the society, the more they will blossom.

John Walsh