Cults in Religion and Politics

  • A cult is usually looked at in a negative light. In the language of Wikipedia pejorative. But this is not always true.  There are good healthy cults and destructive cults.
  • Christianity began as a cult. Its leader was considered to be the messiah by his followers.  When it began there were only a few people following Jesus.
  • It may be that the Democratic Party is breaking up into liberal cults.  It is hard to believe that those Liberals are American when they speak against religion and for socialism.

A cult is usually looked at in a negative light. In the language of Wikipedia pejorative. But this is not always true.  There are good healthy cults and destructive cults.

Christianity began as a cult. Its leader was considered to be the messiah by his followers.  When it began there were only a few people following Jesus.  In the Mishna which are the oral teachings on Jewish law  is mentioned about which people should be chosen to lead the congregation in prayer.  Not everyone is qualified to lead prayers in a synagogue because of lack of knowledge and other reasons.  In our synagogue the leader of the prayers should wear a gartel which is a cloth belt around his waist called a prayer belt. A prayer belt is used primarily by Chassidim.  It may also be a requirement in some places of worship that the leader of the prayers should have a beard; or that he should be married.  Each synagogue has its particular qualification for those that lead the prayers.

The Mishna is speaking about in the times of the second temple qualification for those that lead prayers.  It says that there were some people in those days that wore sandals or went barefooted and wore white and colored garbs and it was questionable if they should lead the service. Rashi a medieval French Rabbi in his commentary on this Mishna mentions that these people were the first Christians.  They dressed like hippies.  The main stream of Jews in those times did not dress this way.  Rashi pinpointed the people that were mentioned in this Mishna to be the members of a new cult.  New religious movements are called cults. A cult can latter become a religion.
Chassidism when it first began was called a cult.  Their leader Rabbi Israel Baal Shem Tov was recognized as a great scholar but his approach to Judaism was different from the conventional fundamental Orthodox Jewish way.  He had in the beginning many opponents to his new way in Judaism from the Orthodox community.  His cult became Chassidism.  There are today many Chassidic groups spread out in the Jewish world. In Williamsburg the large majority of Chassidim are from the Satmar group.  It is a very large group also located in Monsey, and Monroe New York, Boro Park, Israel.  Satmar is too large to be considered a cult. It came from a cult which was the first Chassidim in the Ukraine in the 1700s.

Chassidism grew after the Baal Shem Tov and branched out into many dynasties included in them Lubavitch, Breslov, Bobov a strong movement in Boro Park, Vishnitz located principally in Monsey and Bnei Brak, and many other sects.  Lubavitch is a large Chassidic group which has spread out throughout the world but its center is in Crown Heights Brooklyn.  Just like Chassidism was once called a cult many fundamentalist Orthodox religious leaders call Lubavitch a cult. The Lubavitcher Rebbe who passed away in 1994 initiated many changes in Judaism which a large majority of Jews consider to be improvements. However those traditional Jewish religious leaders who are against change oppose many of these improvements.  They don’t want to accept these changes so they call Lubavitch a cult.  The leader of the Breslov Chassidic movement Rabbi Yisrael Odessa called the Baal Petek started a new movement in Breslov Chassidism which attracted many new followers called Baaleh Teshuva penitents.  The unique quality of this movement which believes in a letter written by Rabbi Nachman 200 years after his passing away is not accepted by fundamentalists and the movement is called a cult by his opponents.  There is a main stream Judaism and there are branches with unique qualities called cults.  These cults in Judaism are important and give to Judaism life and light.

The picture above is of the Devil leader of a cult.  There are good and healthy cults whose leader is pictured like the Devil by their opponents.

Christianity was once a cult. It later became the largest religion in the world. Christianity has also branched out into many sects.  The largest sect of Christianity is Protestant.  Protestant is too large to be called a cult. It has become accepted in the world.  However there is in Christianity cults which are dangerous like the Klu Klux clan. There are good cults and dangerous bad cults.

In Islam there are also various sects.  There is Sunni and Shiites.  There are liberal Muslims and conservative.  Amongst the conservative extremists are Gihads, ISIS, Hamas which the main stream of Muslim call cults.  Destructive cults give a bad name to their religious faith.

Religions start with a leader who has prophecy.  Bha”i faith started with their leader who taught Universal faith and was imprisoned ten years in Acre Palestine in the Ottoman empire.  His teachings became accepted by many people and has spread out in the world its principal location is Haifa Israel. It for sure started as a cult.  The leader of this cult was imprisoned by the mainstream Ottoman Muslim. The founder of the Lubavitch movement Rabbi Shneur Zalman of Liadi was imprisoned for speaking out and teaching Chassidic new ideas.  His opponents in the Jewish world mainstream informed the government on him that he was doing illegal actions sending money to Israel.  They wanted to stop the cult of Chassidism and they failed.  Rabbi Schneur Zalman did not give up and when he was released from prison he continued even with more fervency to spread the wellsprings and secrets of the Torah.

People with new ideas are attacked by the mainstream.  New ideas are considered dangerous.  President Trump has initiated changes which Democrats continue to oppose even to the point of trying to find ways to impeach him.  To call Trump presidency a cult movement would be a joke since he won the elections.  Only through impeaching him can he be called Trump the cultist.  It would be difficult to call the new president in his third year a prophet.  Prophets are men of God living in sanctity.  President Trump was known to the world to be a great businessman.  His reputation was unquestionable.  Few people knew him in his private life.  He was always a very proud man.  He attended church services. The world is learning the hard way who is Donald Trump.  Donald Trump has deep belief in God.  He is intelligent and personable. He has not surrendered his Christianity to liberalism.  He certainly is not part of Klu Klux Klan since he loves Jews. He loves also Americans and America the land of success for him.

It may be that the Democratic Party is breaking up into liberal cults.  It is hard to believe that those Liberals are American when they speak against religion and for socialism.  Communism began with socialism which was a cult.  Socialism did not interfere with human rights but it opened up a way to become a dangerous cult to be called Communism opposing freedom. Cults can be dangerous and in the beginning the mainstream are suspicious who they are and what are their secret goals. Many cults proved to be the work of the devil (see picture above of demon king) and like the cult of the false Messiah Shabtei Tzvi who almost destroyed Judaism in 1600s.

Democrat and Conservative parties when they connect to the same constitution and declaration of independence unite America.  If they break off one from the other without communication between them it can be dangerous.  The constitution gave the President power which he sometimes needs to use.  The Congress has the right to question his decisions but don’t talk about the President like he is running a cult. America is not a cult nation.  North America has 5% of the world population and one fourth of the global gross domestic product. America needs unity.  The world needs America to be strong.  America: Stand behind President Trump.

(The TOP PIC is of the Mayflower a small group of pilgrims which founded America)

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David Wexelman

Rabbi David Wexelman is the  author of five books on the topics of World Unity and Peace, and Progressive Jewish Spirituality. Rabbi Wexelman is a member of the American Friends of Maccabee, a charitable organization helping the poor in the United States and in Israel.  Donations are tax deductible in the USA.
http://www.worldunitypeace.org

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