- DOES A CULT HAVE TO BE BLATANTLY RELIGIOUS?
- THE NON-RELIGIOUS CULTISM IS THE ESSENCE OF THE TRUMP CULT.
- I. An infallible and non-criticizable leader – a “strong man”
- II. A requirement of obedience – or excommunication.
- III. Persuading people to do things normally unacceptable to them,
- IV. Polarizing, separating, isolation, extreme sense of superiority.
- V. Agreeing to not think for oneself,
- VI Exploitation of members
- CULTISM, AND THE TRUMP CULT – 2 SUMMARY LISTS
The Trump Cult – can you see it? People outside a cult – or on their way out – can often see it for what it is. What are you seeing?
There is this question:
DOES A CULT HAVE TO BE BLATANTLY RELIGIOUS?
I mean, to be cultic must they quote the Bible (or other religious authorities) a lot? Even Hitler, you know, claimed to love his “lord and Savior Jesus.”
Trumpism per se quotes the Bible very rarely.
multitudes in so-called “Evangelical” churches promote and serve Trump enthusiastically and persistently,
Now what about those not-specifically-religious aspects of cultism?
THE NON-RELIGIOUS CULTISM IS THE ESSENCE OF THE TRUMP CULT.
And its aspects are blatantly present. This is my own list, written from personal experience and study, with quotes from several online sources.
I. An infallible and non-criticizable leader – a “strong man”
treated as a Savior, a Messiah, a Christ, an object of adoration, worship, obedience, and given financial and other support.
- The group displays excessively zealous and unquestioning commitment to its leader and (whether he is alive or dead) regards his belief system, ideology, and practices as the truth, as law. 1
- A living leader, who has no meaningful accountability and becomes the single most defining element of the group and its source of power and authority. 2
- If you’re not allowed to criticize your leader, even if the criticism is true, you’re probably in a cult. 4
- If your group is the solution for all the world’s problems, you’re probably in a cult. Cults see themselves as the enlightened, chosen, and elect organization tasked with radically transforming individual lives and the entire world. 4
II. A requirement of obedience – or excommunication.
- Because the cult considers itself the ultimate authority on truth, it can’t imagine anybody leaving it with their integrity intact. 4
- Cults often impose some kind of shunning to shame former members and prevent them from infecting other members with the truth. 4
III. Persuading people to do things normally unacceptable to them,
things most of them would not have done or approved of before their cult involvement. This can include lawbreaking or surrendering prior religious allegiances or convictions.
- The group teaches or implies that its supposedly exalted ends justify whatever means it deems necessary. This may result in members’ participating in behaviors or activities they would have considered reprehensible or unethical before joining the group. 1
- … members of the group often doing things that are not in their own best interest, but consistently in the best interest of the group and its leader. 2
- “If you think it could never happen to you, then you’re the most vulnerable, because nobody’s impervious.” 3 (quoting former cult member Steven Hassan)
- If you’re held to a different moral standard, specifically in regard to sex, you’re probably in a cult. A prevalent idea among cult leaders is that they are above the law, be it human or divine. This idea allows them to exploit their followers economically and sexually without repercussions. 4
IV. Polarizing, separating, isolation, extreme sense of superiority.
- The group has a polarized us-versus-them mentality, which may cause conflict with the wider society. 1
- Cults position themselves as the sole refuge from an evil outside world that is intent on their destruction. Cults thrive on conspiracy theories, catastrophic thinking, and persecution complexes. 4
V. Agreeing to not think for oneself,
- Questioning, doubt, and dissent are discouraged or even punished. 1
- Be wary of any group that can’t give you straight answers to questions … Conduct your own research, and train yourself on how to spot disinformation online. 3
- … placing the burden of proof on others … But the believer is the one who needs to provide proof, instead of sending others into reaction mode. 3
- If you’re only allowed to study your organization through approved sources, you’re probably in a cult. 4
VI Exploitation of members
- Economic, sexual, and other exploitation of group members … 2
- If you’re not allowed to know what the group does with their money, you’re probably in a cult. 4
CULTISM, AND THE TRUMP CULT – 2 SUMMARY LISTS
“10 warning signs” from the Guardian article:2
“Absolute authoritarianism without meaningful accountability.” (Please notice this sentence!)
- No tolerance for questions or critical inquiry.
- No meaningful financial disclosure …
- Unreasonable fear about the outside world, such as impending catastrophe, evil conspiracies and persecutions.
- There is no legitimate reason to leave, former followers are always wrong in leaving, negative or even evil.
- Former members often relate the same stories of abuse and reflect a similar pattern of grievances.
- There are records, books, news articles, or broadcast reports that document the abuses of the group/leader.
- Followers feel they can never be “good enough”.
- The group/leader is always right.
- The group/leader is the exclusive means of knowing “truth” or receiving validation, no other process of discovery is really acceptable or credible.
The 4 basic elements of Steven Hassan’s “BITE Model” of cultism from the Guardian article: 2
- Behavior Control
- Information Control
- Thought Control
- Emotional Control
If you don’t quickly recognize how true these things are of the Trump phenomenon, you fit well into the information-controlled characteristic of cults. You have no way of seeing it, because you do not listen to reality. Your demi-god, or anti-Messiah and his (usually) approved news sources, have told you not to.
In Christian terms, cultism IS idolatry. And Trumpism fits that pattern very well.
See also (on this site):
Christofascism: It’s Real, It’s Deadly, and It Intends to Dominate Us All
German Christians Sold Out to Power and Glory
The Trump Problem: Naomi Klein Finds Hope – In “Killing the Trump Within”
How Can One Recover From Near or Actual Trump-Worship?
1 From an article at Digital Citizen, April 2023. This is a prestigious Kenyan news service.
2 From The Guardian news service. May 2009. This article relies a lot on Robert Jay Lifton’s excellent treatment from the 1960’s, frequently referenced since then, and partly republished in Lifton’s “Losing Reality”, 2019. It also relies on Steven Hassan’s “Bite Model”.
3 From OprahDaily.com. August 2020.
4 From a ZelphOnTheShelf blog post. June 2018. A thoughtful study of the authors’ own experiences with cult life.