Thursday, May 18, 2006

Christianity: Cultish Undertones

Throughout my readings I have been finding more and more that even standard religions that everyone accepts could be considered cults if thoroughly examined. Like Sukyo Mahikari, Christianity could also fit the cult mold if its practices and teachings were held up to scrutiny. Below are some of the standard cult characteristics. I have described the practices of Christianity that could be considered cultish.

1. Questioning, doubt, and dissent are discouraged or even punished.

-This is true in Christianity as well as in Mahikari. Christians are discouraged from doubting the Bible. They are told by Priests, Pastors, Bishops, etc…that the Bible is the unaltered word of God and that nothing within it is inaccurate so why bother to doubt? The only questions that are welcomed are questions concerning the deciphering of difficult scripture. Otherwise they are simply told to pray about the issues/doubts and ask that God show them the right path.

2. Mind-altering practices (such as meditation, chanting, speaking in tongues, denunciation sessions, and debilitating work routines) are used in excess and serve to suppress doubts about the group and its leader(s).

-There are many Christian churches that practice speaking in tongues and receiving the Holy Spirit. This practice could be compared to SM’s okiyome. The Pentecostal Christian churches as well as some non-denominational churches invite their members to come to the platform and receive the Holy Spirit after mass. Many people who participate in this have similar reactions to those who have spirit disturbances; much like the ones displayed in Mahikari…they call out, lash out, speak in foreign languages they do not know, or speak in what sounds like gibberish to most, but is supposedly their secret language that only they and God understand.

3. The leadership dictates, sometimes in great detail, how members should think, act, and feel (for example, members must get permission to date, change jobs, marry—or leaders prescribe what types of clothes to wear, where to live, whether or not to have children, how to discipline children, and so forth).

Leadership and the Bible dictate what the members of Christian churches think, feel, and do.

Some Christian families do not allow their children to date until a certain age. Other families do not allow their children to date at all; only have friends until one decides to propose.

Christian women are allowed to work, but it is frowned upon in the church. When God punished Adam and Eve at the fall He told Adam that his punishment would be to work for all of his days, while he told Eve that she would suffer great pain during childbirth…many Christians believe that it is the man’s job to work and the female’s job to tend to the children. Many mothers who work because their family cannot make ends meat are frowned upon.

Christians are discouraged from marrying anyone who is not Christian. They are told that if they marry a non-believer, but then have issues concerning faith after the marriage is performed that they are not allowed to divorce due to these problems. There is even scripture that reiterates that sentiment.

Women are discouraged from wearing anything revealing as they are told that this provokes the men’s high sexual drive and could even cause a married man to lust after a women so strongly that he might stray from his wife. (I think the men just need to control themselves).

Christians are encouraged to raise their children within the faith. From the time the children are born they are brought to church, when they are four or five they start attending the children services, when they’re teens they join the youth group, and then they grow up to be Christians. There is a reason religions try to program children…children believe everything their parents tell them and they are more absorbent, thus by the time they are adults they are full indoctrinated.

4. The group is elitist, claiming a special, exalted status for itself, its leader(s) and members (for example, the leader is considered the Messiah, a special being, an avatar—or the group and/or the leader is on a special mission to save humanity).

-Christians have a name for themselves within the organization. Member who they consider to be saved are called the ‘elect’. Christians teach their followers that the only way to be saved is to become a Christian and devout your life to Christ. If a person does this successfully they will go on to heaven when they die. Everyone else, including all followers of alternate religions go to hell. For this reason Christians must spend most of their time evangelizing AKA saving humanity, by spreading their teachings around the world.

5. The group is preoccupied with bringing in new members.

-Christians will go door to door if necessary in order to bring new members into their organization in order to ensure that they too will be saved. They are also encouraged to bring their families into Christianity and sometimes other members of the church will go with new members to help them talk to their families about the importance of joining the church.

6. The group is preoccupied with making money

-Like Mahikari, Christian churches ask that their members pay a monthly 10% tithe to God. The Bible has scripture that talks about how money belongs to God and therefore it should not be difficult to part with. Some texts say things like, “God will provide”, leaving no room for argument even when it comes to people with little money. My personal opinion is that when the Bible was edited in the Council of Nicaea in 545AD...maybe Emperor Justinian added that bit into the Bible.

I suppose the point I am trying to make is love God with all your heart and soul, but be yourself and don't conform to any sort of religion that is going to dictate every aspect of your life; Mahikari or any other. In the end you rearrange your whole life to live according to the religion's teachings and you sacrifice yourself in the process.

1892 - Oomoto Kyo sect
1934 -
Sekai Kyusei Kyo sect - It has given birth to 21 factions
1959 -
Sekai Mahikari Bunmei Kyodan sect - It has given birth to 5 factions.
1974 -
Shin Yu Gen Kyu Sei Mahikari Kyodan
1978 - Sukyo Mahikari
1980 - Subikari Koha Sekai Shindan
? - Mahikari Seiho No Kai -
? - Yokoshi Tomo No Kai -

All of these factions of Mahikari still exist today...that means that the 'one true religion' is now at least 33 religions. Christianity has at least 50 denominations, but most people who study Christianity agree that it is probably a much higher number. With so many faiths claiming to be the 'right one' how can anyone hope to find salvation? Every religion in the world thinks they are the right path, that they are doing what God the end to trust in God, believe in Him, hold your breath and pray for the best.


Blogger Steve said...

Hi Ash,
I came across this site some time ago. It really puts things into perspective regarding the evolution of christianity.

The same process can be applied to SM...the making of a myth.

At what stage does a cult become a religion?

I guess..... when a spiritual mythology captures the imagination of a few people, and starts to generate a support structure.

The myth becomes wide spread over time with an acceptance of the establishment of the day. Eventually the myth is accepted by so many people they don't bother to ask about its origins. If questions are asked.......then, just kill the questions.

The manufacturing of spiritual myths will never stop, human history dictates otherwise.

It certainly adds a lot of colour to lifes experience tho'.

4:53 AM  
Blogger Joe said...

Hey Asher,

Thanks for the post here. I am sorry to get to this so late, but what do you know about the third Mahikari----Shin Yu Gen Kyu Sei Mahikari Kyodan ??? I followed the link but I can't read Japanese. Would love some more info on this, especially because of the 1974 date...

6:12 PM  
Blogger Asher Kennedy said...

I actually don't know much about this sect. Maybe Steve or Anne would be able to tell you.

9:36 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi ash,
Have you read the book 'The Light of Johrei'? On page 4 it says "It is just by wearing the ohikari[pendant] on their chests that members are able to channel Gods light."
According to the book, the many calligraphies Mochiki Okada created have a high vibration. So the calligraphy for the pendant is Light.
In essence Johrei and Mahikari are the same. What does thios mean?

7:41 AM  

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