Cults Gain Popularity

All of us are becoming more and more aware of the evils found in the world today.  One that we don’t know much about or pay much attention to is the growing cult movements. The cult move­ments are large groups who follow after one man and place his teachings on an equal basis or above the Bible.

The cult movements are growing rapidly. It has been estimated that between one and three million young people are involved in some kind of cult.

After reading a review on three of the largest cults in the October 1978 Insight magazine, I’d like to share some of their history and beliefs.

The cult we are most familiar with is the Moon Unification Church, or the “Moonies”.

The leader, Sun Myung Moon, was born in 1920 in North Korea. Moon claims that in 1936 on Easter morning Jesus Christ appeared to him and told him he had a mission to carry out. This mission was to create a divine physical family since Christ didn’t get married and have children.

When Moon first established his church in Seoul, Korea in 1954, it was called “The Holy Spirit Association for the Unification of World Christianity.’’ Since then, the church has grown by leaps and bounds and now claims to have 30,000 members in America and approximately three million in 120 other countries.

The headquarters are located on a twenty-two acre estate in Tarrytown, New York. Moon is a millionaire. He gets his money from his followers who go out every day and try to sell things for the “Divine Father.”

A few basic beliefs of the Moonies are: 1. Jesus was a sinless man but he didn’t fulfill his mission because he died before he married, had children, and established a divine family. God chose Moon to fulfill this mission. 2. God has given revelations to Moon, who wrote them in “The Divine Principles”. All of Moon’s teachings are in this book. 3. The cross is a sign of Satan’s victory since Jesus death on the cross prevented him from fulfilling His task on earth. 4. There is no Trinity. God has two qualities (spirit and energy) but He is also a Being with personal qualities of consciousness, in­telligence, love, and purpose.

Once one has agreed to join the cult, his life is turned over to the control of his leaders. Everything he says or does is dictated by Moon. A member must hand over all possessions and lose all contact with family and friends.

The second cult is the “Children of God”. Although it is not as familiar to us as the Moonies, it has just as many members and is as widespread.

Their leader is David Brandt Berg (Moses David). He was born in Oakland, Canada in 1919. Before he started the Children of God, Berg was an evangelist, a pastor of a Christian and Missionary Alliance Church in Arizona, and a Christian school teacher. In 1967, he started a youth ministry in California with coffee houses, mainly attracting drug freaks and hippies.

Then he started preaching against the “materialistic American society and the conventional church,” and attracted many more street people. A newsman later referred to them as Children of God and the name stayed with them.

On one of his preaching campaigns, Berg began to set up the program and structure for his group. He set up a complicated system of prime ministers, archbishops, bishops, and shepherds. After awhile he only associated with the highest leaders.

Berg moved to Europe after he divorced his wife and married his secretary. He didn’t want to admit his wrongdoing, so he just moved where his followers couldn’t see him. From Europe he sends his MO letters which is the Bible for his followers. In these letters “Mo” or Berg writes his beliefs on occult, reincar­nation, and sexual permissiveness. His followers read, memorize, and follow these letters very diligently. They also sell them on street corners to earn money for the group.

The Children of God believe that 1. David Berg is a prophet. He was chosen by God to make revelations to the people through his MO letters. 2. Berg, his children and their spouses are the Rulers of the New Nation. 3. The Children of God are chosen people who will someday rule over the earth for a thousand years. 4. Followers must give up all possessions, cannot speak against authorities and must be in total submission. Murmurers are not tolerated. 5. Drugs and excessive drinking are not allowed; but swearing, porno­graphy, and sexual permissiveness are permitted.

The last cult I would like to cover is the Hare Krishna sect. Its real name is the International Society of Krishna Con­sciousness. It was founded in the fourteen hundreds by Bengalese Brahmin Chaitanya Mahaprablie. The beliefs and customs were passed on through the kings of Bengal. In 1939, Mahaprabhu was ordered by his king to bring Krishna to the English speaking people.

He introduced the beliefs first in a magazine called “Back to Godhead”. Later he came to America, settled in Greenwich Village. New York and stood on the street comer chanting the name Krishna to the sound of cymbals. He attracted many hippies and later founded a temple in New York which expanded to the seventy temples found in America today.

The followers are very clean, they wear robes, and some of the men shave their head. They follow a strict schedule, spending most of their day chanting and singing on the street or selling “Back to Godhead” magazines.

The Krishna cult believes that 1. Jesus is a great teacher, 2. The world is just an illusion and in a man believes that he is a sinner, he is saying the world is real. 3. Salvation is granted if one chants the name Hare Krishna at least 1,728 times a day. 4. Worshipping gods of wood and stone is permissible. 5. A follower must not gamble, play games, participate in sports, use narcotics, alcohol, tobacco, coffee or tea, or eat meat, fish or eggs.

As Christians, we should look at the cults as the false prophets we are warned of in the Bible. Many young people join the cults because they are confused about their purpose in life and sick of the selfish greed of the world they live in. The cult followers attract joiners by showing brotherly love, confidence in themselves, and telling others how happy they are. Once a person gives any sign he is interested in their group, the followers invite him to retreat and keep talking with him until he joins.

As Christian young people, we should search the Scripture for guidance and consult our Leader, Jesus Christ. The Scriptures are our armour and weapon in the fight against Satan and his forces.

If the cult followers think that their leader is worth following so faithfully, and are willing to give up everything for their religion, shouldn’t we, who have a much better hope and purpose show a little more devotion?h