1960s/70s Christian Cults Or The Jesus Movement

Discussion in 'Faith & Religion' started by Ken Anderson, Oct 1, 2016.

  1. Ken Anderson

    Ken Anderson Veteran Member
    Registered

    Joined:
    Jan 21, 2015
    Messages:
    7,451
    Likes Received:
    9,813
    First, I'll quote the post that prompted this thread. I wanted to reply to the post but my reply would not have been on-topic in that particular thread, so I thought I'd quote it and start another thread here.

    When I was sixteen or seventeen, I think, I was in Southern California, having hitchhiked there. Coming out of a supermarket fairly late at night, there was a group of kids passing out Christian pamphlets. They were all younger than I was, and some seemed to be as young as eleven or twelve, and there were no adults with them that I could see. I judged that the oldest was younger than I was.

    Even for someone who had hitchhiked halfway across the country at the age of sixteen, I thought it was kind of late for these kids to be approaching stranger outside of a supermarket late at night.

    I was curious though. They were all young, attractive, and well dressed, although casually. There were no ugly or even plain kids in the group. Those that I spoke to were well spoken as well, and seemed to be bright. From what I could see, they were asking for donations from older people who were going in or out of the supermarket, while trying to recruit the younger people. Since I was one of the few younger people there, that included me.

    As I remember it, they were from a Christian group known as "The Way," which they described as being "kind of a church" but "more of a movement." They wanted me to come with them on a bus that would be picking them up in an hour or so.

    I wasn't doing anything else in particular, and considered doing that, just to see what it was all about but, in the end, I was too cautious to take a chance with them. I wasn't at all concerned about any of the kids who were in the parking lot because they didn't seem to be a threat at all, but of whoever it is that might be driving or accompanying the bus that was going to pick them up.

    Still, I thought, if these kids were being mistreated, there didn't seem to be anything keeping them there in the parking lot. Any one of them could have simply walked away or asked someone for help. Instead, they seemed to be enjoying themselves. When I decided not to accompany them, a couple of them walked with me for a block or so, trying to talk me into changing my mind.

    When I mentioned them to people, some people said they were a cult, while others thought they were part of the "Jesus Movement" that was going on at the time. Looking online, I can see that this hasn't changed.

    A religious organization called "The Way, International" still exists, with a web site, although they've grown up. From their site, I don't see a focus on teens or young people any longer. They are identified as a cult on several web sites, while others treat them more like any other Christian organization. Since they don't believe that Jesus was God, they aren't a group that could be legitimately be considered Christian, but an organization isn't necessarily a cult just because people disagree with them on matters of theology.

    The Wikipedia article mentions that one of their leaders resigned after allegations of sexual misconduct, but very few organizations have been able to escape allegations of sexual misconduct. Otherwise, the Wikipedia article treats them as a legitimate religious organization, but I had looked them up on Wikipedia a few years ago and that wasn't the case.

    If you're familiar with Wikipedia, and particularly if, like me, you are an editor there, the term "Wikipedia wars" will have some meaning to you. This occurs when partisan editors get involved, either for or against an organization or person. One editor will rewrite large portions of the article, then another (on the other side) will change it back and so on, until finally a higher-level editor will make a decision.

    When the subject is political, the higher-level editor is almost certain to be liberal and the liberal perspective is cemented in place, and particularly volatile articles are locked to changes by anyone but these higher-level editors. When the subject is one of a religious organization, the fear of litigation means that unless a scandal can be proven, the article treats the subject as if the scandal did not exist.

    So it appears that the Wikipedia article on "The Way" has been whitewashed.
     
    #1
  2. Chrissy Cross

    Chrissy Cross Veteran Member
    Registered

    Joined:
    Aug 11, 2015
    Messages:
    15,000
    Likes Received:
    13,750
    I always have heard that anybody can edit Wikipedia so I never truely believe everything especially if it's opinion and not fact.

    In fact, I believe less and less what I read on the internet no matter the source. It's very hard to find actual fact on the internet.
     
    #2
    Diane Lane likes this.
  3. Ken Anderson

    Ken Anderson Veteran Member
    Registered

    Joined:
    Jan 21, 2015
    Messages:
    7,451
    Likes Received:
    9,813
    Even without an editor account, anyone can edit most of the articles on Wikipedia unless they are one of the ones that have been locked. Wikipedia editors have accounts there but it isn't even necessary to have an account or to log into your account in order to edit a Wikipedia page.

    This allows new information to be added rapidly, but it also means that not everything you read there is necessarily accurate.

    Usually, frivolous edits are reverted pretty quickly, and Wikipedia is a tremendously helpful resource on most topics, but the people who rise to the higher levels are usually liberal, so when there is doubt, the benefit of it usually goes to the liberal side.

    Back on topic though, I don't know if "The Way" is a cult. In one sense, a cult is a religious organization that doesn't yet have enough political pull to be considered credible. Christianity was considered to be a cult at one time. There were quite a few Christian or quasi-Christian movements going on in the 1970s, as well as non-Christian ones, such as Scientology.
     
    #3
    Last edited: Oct 1, 2016
    Diane Lane and Chrissy Cross like this.
  4. Chrissy Cross

    Chrissy Cross Veteran Member
    Registered

    Joined:
    Aug 11, 2015
    Messages:
    15,000
    Likes Received:
    13,750
    To me the difference between religion and cult is in the numbers. I can belong to a religion and be religious all by myself.

    I can't belong to a cult and never interact with them or be part of the group. There's a leader and followers in a cult.
     
    #4
    Diane Lane likes this.
  5. Kitty Carmel

    Kitty Carmel Well-Known Member
    Registered

    Joined:
    May 9, 2016
    Messages:
    575
    Likes Received:
    532
    Ken, I'm certainly glad you survived hitchhiking. It's a scary thought, even years ago.

    My oldest brother is a Jehovah's Witness. Does that count? I have not spoken to him in over 30 years. It's a family mess I won't get into. But as my other brother suggested, they accepted him when perhaps other family members were critical and fighting and on and on. I think that is a draw of cults. Finding those who need a place. I think so many could be drawn in. American Society and I'm sure many others are very good at isolating people.

    You had an interesting encounter there and I'm glad you chose not to go off with them.
     
    #5
  6. Frank Sanoica

    Frank Sanoica Very Well-Known Member
    Registered

    Joined:
    Feb 21, 2016
    Messages:
    3,834
    Likes Received:
    3,425
    @Kitty Carmel

    "Finding those who need a place."

    Perhaps a cult specifically for the chronically homeless might be a worthwhile pursuit?
    Frank
     
    #6
  7. Ken Anderson

    Ken Anderson Veteran Member
    Registered

    Joined:
    Jan 21, 2015
    Messages:
    7,451
    Likes Received:
    9,813
    Many people consider them to be. I don't know. I don't even come close to accepting their theology but, as I've said, that doesn't make them a cult. Years ago, I attended a few Kingdom Hall services and invited them into my house once a week for a couple of months, until they finally got the idea that I wasn't going to join, I guess, and quit coming. I consider the Jehovah's Witnesses to be among the most sincere religious groups in the country. There is much to be admired about the group, but I don't accept their theology.
     
    #7
  8. Diane Lane

    Diane Lane Very Well-Known Member
    Registered

    Joined:
    Apr 10, 2015
    Messages:
    4,590
    Likes Received:
    4,020
    I first learned of The Way back in the 80s. I was working corporate security, and an employee of the corporation disappeared under questionable circumstances. Some of us had been close to him, and he had seemed to be a very upstanding person and employee. We were concerned about him, and started investigating to see if we could figure out what had happened, before calling the police into it. He had gone through a somewhat recent break up with a longtime girlfriend around that time. He didn't show up for work, so someone from the department went to his home to check on him. The door was ajar, and his home was wrecked, things tossed all over, "Welcome to the world of AIDS" written on his mirror, in lipstick, if my memory serves me correctly. I believe his car was found abandoned, as well. We became very concerned, and his family had asked us to look into the matter further. We went through his desk and office, and found quite a bit of information about The Way. We turned the matter over to the police. From what I recall, he was ultimately found o.k., and had apparently had an emotional breakdown and run off with the group after being recruited by a young female. It was definitely a vulnerable time in his life. It seems the trashing of the apartment and writing on the mirror were to worry the ex-girlfriend, although my memory isn't what it used to be. It was a very odd situation, and I've always considered the group a cult.
     
    #8
  9. Corie Henson

    Corie Henson Very Well-Known Member
    Registered

    Joined:
    Jun 11, 2015
    Messages:
    2,906
    Likes Received:
    2,419
    I don't remember the exact year but I guess it was in the late 1970s or early 1980s when the Ako cult came to the limelight. It was established in the southern Philippines and has hundreds of followers during that time. What's funny is their belief that it will rain fire and stones. The followers prepared to live in caves and some made an underground shelter. The hard hat is a prescribed head wear that all of them should wear. And the rest is history that their prediction of raining fire and stone fell flat on their head.

    Do you recall the cult of Jim Jones? That's another big story in that era.
     
    #9
  10. Chrissy Cross

    Chrissy Cross Veteran Member
    Registered

    Joined:
    Aug 11, 2015
    Messages:
    15,000
    Likes Received:
    13,750
    Yes, I remember Jim Jones.

    What was the more recent one...Heavens Gate or something like that? The members all took something and put plastic bags over their heads and died in preparation for waiting for a UFO to take them to another planet...not sure of the story but it was creepy!

    Happened in the desert in California.
     
    #10
    Diane Lane likes this.
  11. Chrissy Cross

    Chrissy Cross Veteran Member
    Registered

    Joined:
    Aug 11, 2015
    Messages:
    15,000
    Likes Received:
    13,750
    @Kitty Carmel, I never think of JW as a cult, more a weird religion.
     
    #11
  12. Kitty Carmel

    Kitty Carmel Well-Known Member
    Registered

    Joined:
    May 9, 2016
    Messages:
    575
    Likes Received:
    532
    I do. This is so well known and there was even a recent CNN piece about survivors. I think Jones Town is a very good example of how people were pulled in looking for something that didn't exist. I think many of them were poor but not all. But they were all looking for something.
     
    #12
  13. Kitty Carmel

    Kitty Carmel Well-Known Member
    Registered

    Joined:
    May 9, 2016
    Messages:
    575
    Likes Received:
    532
    My brother tried of coarse to save us. I'm surprised my mother allowed him to even try. Maybe she didn't know, I'm not sure. My mother stopped speaking to my oldest brother when I was in high school. Another mess I won't get into. My family is full of them.

    I tried to reconnect with my brother again in my 20's but it was worthless. I remember he told me our parent's marriage started to fall apart about the time I was born. If this was the truest thing, it was still of no benefit for me to be told this. In fact it was cruel. It's things like this that made me know a brother like that is not worth interacting with.

    My other brother is still in contact with him. I don't know if he would have been different had he never become a JW.
     
    #13
    Diane Lane likes this.
  14. Frank Sanoica

    Frank Sanoica Very Well-Known Member
    Registered

    Joined:
    Feb 21, 2016
    Messages:
    3,834
    Likes Received:
    3,425
    "But they were all looking for something."

    "Everybody's looking for something........" famous line by Annie Lennox:
     
    #14
  15. Diane Lane

    Diane Lane Very Well-Known Member
    Registered

    Joined:
    Apr 10, 2015
    Messages:
    4,590
    Likes Received:
    4,020
    A friend's aunt was a policewoman in Guyana at the time of Jim Jones and Jonestown. She recounted going into the homes afterwards and bodies falling from behind doors when they opened. What a horrible experience.

    I remember hearing about the Heaven's Gate cult. Then there's also Charles Manson and his crew. It seems there are always people on the edge, as @Frank Sanoica (and the Eurythmics) said, looking for something. It's a shame many have to die seeking something larger than themselves to belong to.
     
    #15
    Kitty Carmel and Chrissy Cross like this.

Share This Page