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Lessons from my Bible college past

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It’s becoming increasingly clear to me why the government of The United States of America (and its servant/partner nations like Israel and Britain) and radical Islam are at each others’ throats – it’s because they’re both run by fanatics. So much in common: Two fundamentalist religious ideologies, one rich and overtly dominant, the other poor and characterized by guerilla desperation, in a struggle for the hearts and minds of the world. We all know that radical Islam is a cult, and a violent one; however, the Republican Bush administration also behaves like a cult, not least in the way in which it refuses to be self-critical.

Read through the list below and ponder. (I’ve highlighted my favorites):


  1. The group is focused on a living leader to whom members seem to display excessively zealous, unquestioning commitment.
  2. The group is preoccupied with making money. (LOL – Rick); or, to put it another way: Cults, particularly in regard to their finances, are shrouded in secrecy.
  3. If one questions the beliefs of the group or the leaders of the group, one is made to feel that there is something inherently wrong with them to even question
  4. The group is elitist, claiming it is the only one that has the truth, often claiming a special revelation. Members are the chosen people and are spiritually superior to other members of society; and further, the rest of the world is not saved, not Christian, not transformed (whatever) – the only valid source of feedback and information is the group
  5. The group refuses to consider that it might be wrong.
  6. Such groups often have a polarized us-versus-them mentality, which may cause conflict with society.
  7. The group believes its exalted status or ends justify the means the group uses to achieve the ends. This is even though such means might be considered unethical or illegal by members of society, or members prior to their indoctrination.

This list was compiled from a couple sources, here, here and here.

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  • This might be useful as a snarky throat clearing exercise, but the Republican Party as a Cult? Please . . . if for no other reason than the current Admin has shown to be capable of course correction if the goal looks to be out of reach.

    Now, your analysis could very well be true for Howard Dean supporters . . .

  • cjones

    This is fascinating. I can def see it as a possibility based on the fact that many Republicans are confused over the direction the administration is going also. Its almost like a group within a group.

  • Hmm. “Snarky throating-clearing exercise.” I don’t even know what that means.

    Perhaps I should have added this additional characteristic: “The group often makes use of jargon or common words with special
    definitions in order to confuse any outsider’s examinations of the group.”

  • Here’s another good one:

    “There is frequently an aura of or potential for violence around cults.”

  • Ummm . . . I didn’t know that snarky had any special meaning. It means what it means.

    Potential for violence — you mean like the Earth Liberation Front?

  • No, I mean like the Bush administration’s codification of “the potential for violence” into a foreign policy, apparently its only foreign policy.

    Pre-emptive war. Just another name for it.

  • Never mind that there are states and people out there who wish us harm.

    Like it or not, and I am guessing you don’t, 9/11 changed the facts on the ground.

    We could debate all day what those changed facts mean we should do.

  • It looks like Fox Newsforgot to properly brainwash one of its regular and popular contributors.

  • This may be the stupidest anti-Bush post ever published on Blogcritics. It is completely arbitrary and has no real reference points with reality at all.

    The “special truth” which in fact makes US and Bush “spiritually superior” to our enemies is that we recognize a right to stop sonsabitches from massacring us. It is somewhere beyond accidental stupidity to even vaguely equate evil death cult Muslims and their co-horts with Dubya’s aggressive defense. This is objective truth, not opinion. [Which is not to say that Dubya’s foreign policies are beyond question.]

    Bush has nothing like a personality cult; conservatives and even Republicans are and have been substantially critical toward the president. The only way in which he might really be seen as a personality cult would be in a negative way, in the ridiculously exaggerated hatred of liberals who elevate (or de-elevate?) him into an evil demon.

    However, he gets substantial support from most Americans because they recognize that he is making a strong mortal human effort to defend the country. It is natural and reasonable that the POTUS get some benefit of the doubt as a wartime leader.

    I didn’t vote for Dubya, and probably will not next year. He cheeses me off regularly in a dozen different directions. Nonetheless, stopping sonsabitches from killing us is a legitimate “exalted end” which will justify some pretty harsh means- though in fact Bush has used pretty fair restraint thus far.

  • “This is objective truth, not opinion.” Thank you for proving my point.

  • RE: Chris’ comment of “Never mind that there are states and people out there who wish us harm.”

    Yes, and never mind that it turned out to be Saudis wishing us harm. Whoops! Or, Osama bin Laden. Remember him?

    It sure as hell isn’t the French.

  • “Thank you for proving my point.” You seem to suggest that there is no such thing as any objective truth, and any viewing of such constitutes religious bigotry.

    Obviously you are being dishonest. There is no legitimate question but that a goddam jet plane flying into a skyscraper is a hard fact, not a matter of opinion.

  • And you know what — Take the Saudi’s Down. And interesting that we haven’t heard from Osama in awhile.

    And, no, the French aren’t our enemy.
    Any nation that mandates you can’t work more than 35 (or 36) hours a week is way down on the list of Nations to worry about.

    And yes, under your reasoning that makes me preoccupied about making money.

  • Re: “You seem to suggest that there is no such thing as any objective truth.”

    Here’s my take on that: the phrase “objective truth” is redundant so that says to me there’s some doubt, even in the minds of those who believe in “obejctive truth.” Why modify a noun you’re apparently so sure about?

    A person without doubts is a fanatic.

    “My God, my God, why have you foresaken me?”

    -Jesus on the Cross

  • Re: the civilized French

    Wanting to work 35 hours a week and get paid the same as 40? That’s not being preoccupied with money – it’s being, appropriately, I might add, preoccupied with life outside of work.

    Kinda un-American, maybe? That will NEVER happen here.

  • Wanting to get paid for 40 while working only 35 is selfish, greedy and lazy. Plus, most of Europe gets like 8 months of paid vacation.

    If the Europeans ever want to challenge the might and power of the U.S. they are going to have to get off their ass first.

  • Oh my! 8 months of paid vacation! (Is that even true?)

    How horrible! What a betrayal of fundamental American values!

    Thankfully, acquiring might and power isn’t on everyone’s or every country’s list of “things to do today.” Only Al Qaeda and the currrent United States government.

  • It was a slight exaggeration, I think the official number is 1 maybe 2 months. And, yes, while I would love to have a month or two off every year, I understand that part of what makes this country work and work well, is work.

    Hmmm . . . wonder what all that noise in run up to Iraq from the EU was about, if it wasn’t about trying to figure out a way to counterblance Amercian influence and power.

    But, nice line about U.S. and Al Qaeda. Noam would be proud.

  • Acquiring might and power and balancing American influence and power are not the same goals and will not exhibit the same strategies. At least in the case of the war on Iraq, the European position is one of diplomacy and restraint, a position I support, as does most of the world, including a sizeable proportion of Americans.

    Critique of the war and the reasons for war is not confined to lefties. Criticism is coming from the broadest spectrum of American opinion possible, unprecedented in fact.

    Based on the non-appearance of WMD and the non-links to Al Queda, debunked and disbelieved by pretty much everyone in the world (except the Bush administration and handful of gullible nitwits and drunks like Christopher Hitchens), including members of our own intelligence and military communities, the currrent administration, under fire from every quarter, is behaving more and more like a cult in its refusal to critique itself. When everyone thinks you’re nuts, maybe it should give you pause?

    As far as my characterizing the current world political climate being a power struggle between Al Queda and the U. S.: I’m not saying anything that Bush hasn’t said himself. I reserve my right to oppose, quite vociferously, with both of them.

  • Mike

    It’s tough to even make it to your real argument: Bush repubs are a cult, when the first half of your argument doesn’t even work.

    According to your overly broad, poor definition of a cult, Islam doesn’t even fit. Which one islamic leader are they following? Where in the Quran does it advocate making money? The opposite is, in fact, true. Mullahs and sects w/in Islam constantly conflict, hence the growth of wahibism. The other ones are accurate, but almost half your points don’t work.

    This is really a bad argument on almost every level. It reminds me of a game you can play. Name any noun. Now relate that noun to life. You can make any noun work. For example, Coke. Life’s a lot like a coke, fizzy at first then it goes flat. It’s a dumb game, but it’s equivalent to your thesis. You can relate your seven points to ANY group if your mind has the elasticity yours does: corporations, civic groups, social clubs, etc.

    Come on, if you’re going to attack Bush and the repubs there’s lots of better ways.

  • Rick:

    Re: I reserve my right to oppose, quite vociferously, with both of them.

    Nobody said you couldn’t.

  • Wow. People are taking me so seriously. Let’s go back to my original post: “behaves like a cult.” The Bush administration is not the Moonies, I realize. Are they refusing to be self-critical? You betcha. Do they have an us-versus-them mentality. Sure. Are they prone to consider or the threat of violence before other methods of problem-solving. Seems that way.

    I continue: “Read through the list below and ponder.” This is suggestive not definitive. Note the open-ended nature of the word “ponder.”

    And yes, I believe whenever human beings form groups, especially groups whose purpose is to consolidate power, they tend to exhibit behaviors, to greater or lesser degree, similar to that list of cult characteristics. Which means, no one is exempt. Thanks for pointing that out.

    And no, I didn’t create that list out of thin air, I just quoted it from a wide variety of web sites and from a course on comparative religions I had in colleg; however, there does seem to be a general consensus as to what constitutes a cult.

    Finally, did anyone consider the humor in the post? Sheesh. Note the LOL in one of the list items.

    Why must I point out basic literary/journalistic tropes like satire to otherwise smart people.

    I thought lefties were supposed to be the dull, humorless ones.

  • Humor is based on some measure of reflecting truth, so this post fails totally there. Saying that you’re only “suggesting” just amounts to being a weasel. In other words, you want to say it, but not take the responsibility of defending it.

    Bush does not regularly send official representatives out to flagellate themselves in front of cameras. That would be the only way you could say that they are not self-critical. The shoe doesn’t fit.

    Indeed, you could argue that this administration is more self-critical than others, based for example on the fact that they themselves stepped up on the 16-words issue that no one else was real concerned with.

  • On the other hand, Chomskyites are a cult.

  • Doesn’t work.

    The Humor? Oh, you mean when you called Bush the flip side of Islam?

    Backpedaling is not becoming. Should have stuck to your guns. Your responses give pause to any consideration that you were writing a satire piece.

    For instance, your opening line could set up a satirical piece by making the comparison ridiculous.

    You wrote this piece to be provocative, not satirical, and yes, there is a difference.

    Nice try — next.

  • Well, we disagree about the main point: the Bush administration is not self-critical. They are the weasels. Witness the attitude toward Tenet over the last couple weeks. And plenty of people were concerned about the “16-word issue.” So, you’re saying they, the administation brought it up, the fact that the President of the United States used a lie to justify going to war? lol. Talk about revisionist history.

    Finally, I’d like to point out how often my critics have stepped up to the plate to call me names. Dishonest. Chomskyite. Please! I was rooting for Foucault in that debate they had. Chomsky is far more a humanist than I’ll ever be. And now I’m a weasel. Don’t know really how to respond to that one.

    And in my book I can’t possibly say anything worse than saying someone refuses to be self-critical.

  • mike

    “I take personal responsibility for everything I say, absolutely,” the president said during an hour-long White House news conference where he sought to quell a controversy that has dogged his administration for weeks.


    note the publication. ironic, isn’t it.

    Dude, throw in the towel.

  • Well, good satire is provocative. Duh. But I don’t think the comparison is merely ridiculous. I think it’s suggestive. Things can be compared without being equated. (It’s so weird to explain this stuff. You really want to believe certain things about me, don’t you. That’s why you resort insults. Whatever.)

    You don’t think it’s suggestive or appropriate to compare Bushies to a cult. I do.

  • Mike

    So now you’re back to not joking and making a poor comparison, er, suggestion, right?

    I’m charting the number of times you move from one side of the fence to the other and I’m having trouble keeping up.

  • I’m glad Bush is taking responsibility for what he says (not the same thing as admitting what he said was wrong and unverified). I just wish he and his cronies had taken the responsibiility for what he said before he said it.

  • Joe

    Have you ever blurted something out that you thought was funny and just had everyone stare at you like you had a penis growing out of your forehead? I know I have, but it was just because they didn’t have share my brilliant sense of humor.

  • Well, anyway. I was both trying to be funny and trying to make a point. And I can’t back off from either approach. I don’t know what to tell you if you think that makes me a weasel. And I find it bizarre that I would have to explain why I’m unwilling to commit to one or the other and that I don’t see the contradiction or why I have to explain what “suggestive” means. It’s not an equivocation. I think the Bush administration and some Republicans, exhibit behaviors and attitudes scarily similar to the behaviors of those in cults. I think the similarities are instructive and cautionary. And no, saying, “dude, throw in the towel” won’t make me retract. And yes, I’ve seen similar behavior and attitudes in leftist groups. I don’t want any part of either one.

    Is that succinct enough? Have I stopped hedging now?

  • Rick —

    If you really were trying to do satire I would have to say, and this is only my opinion, that it didn’t work.

    Now, I have attempted to stay above name calling . . . the Noam Chomsky crack was based on the books you provided as a link to Amazon, and I have read Mr. Chomsky make explicit the comparison of Radical Islam and the Bush Admin.

    I will give you credit for one thing, at least you didn’t pull the 16 characteristics of facism as a “ponder” piece.

    And, the list is missing one thing — the mind control techniques, i.e. the sleep deprivation, etc.

    Now, if you could show that, then I might give a little ground on the argument.

  • debbie


    Maybe I’m missing something, but everybody keeps saying that Bush lied about in ref to the “16 words”. He didn’t lie about anything… everything he said was factual, there were intelligence reports from the British that said that Saddam tried to purchase uranium from Africa. Where is the lie???
    Just because the Democrats have come up with their usual “smear and chant the mantra” campaign for the election does not change facts. The British Intellegence reports did say that, they still have not retracted that statement… is there some evidence that they are unwilling to share with world for security purposes… probably.
    As for the WMD, it is big desert, they just now found numerous MIG’s buried in the sand. They are much bigger than WMD… give them time.
    Until it is proven to me that our government lied (actual proof – not a continous chant even tho wrong) I’ll believe them. I Clinton on the first denial with Flowers, until it came out and he admitted it. I had less belief in him on Lewinsky (because of the past lie and similar circumstance) but still gave him the benefit of the doubt until they had positive evidence that he lied again.
    Maybe you jump to those conclusions because you just expect everybody to have the same ethics as Clinton? I’m not sure. Maybe I’m missing something, but I haven’t heard what the lie is exactly. Some people just keep saying that he lied…without ever backing it up. That is why is comes off as being the “mantra or buzz words” of the Democratic Party.
    Hm – must be a cult. Even with the mind control… :~)

  • For the Record: facism is spelled fascism. Sorry about that.