Politi-vangelists and the Cult of New Glory

On a beautiful, unseasonably warm day in Madison Square Park this past Fall, while trying to detach myself from the world by catching up on some reading, I was approached by young girl who couldn’t have been more than 16 years old. She tactfully lowered my insular New York City defenses with a polite smile, and asked me if it would be O.K. if she asked me a question. Without letting on that she had, in fact, already asked me a question, but fearing that she might be lost, I acquiesced only to have her hand me a pamphlet and ask me “If I’d found Jesus”? Indeed, she was lost.

Having lived in, and around NYC for my entire life, I have seen many cults disguise themselves as (among other faiths) Christianity. One cannot walk through the tunnel that connects the Port Authority and Times Square without being inundated with cult volunteers who collect money from sensibly susceptible passer-bys for some feckless ringleader with a dynamic, albeit unscrupulous personality. Somehow cult leaders tragically manage to convince their misguided flock that righteousness and dedication to the “cause” will one day be rewarded.

Likewise, I was saddened when confronted with this fearful, vulnerable young girl who was also being emotionally victimized by a ruthless, profiteering ideologue. To me, this type of predatory exploitation is beyond contempt. However realizing that since I was a complete stranger, even a rational dialogue about her pamphlet would most probably be met with scornful distrust. So I smiled back, thanked her, and suggested she read the bible and not take anyone else’s word for it’s content. After all, that’s how I began my journey into Atheism. Beyond that, nothing I said could possibly undo the psychological damage that has already been done to this poor kid.

As she meandered through the park handing pamphlets to anyone willing to engage in conversation, I watched with the concern of a Father who has a daughter around her age… and I sat heartbroken.

But I have come to learn that not all cults are strictly about “religion”, at least not as we have come to think of it. Many of us are more gullible than we’d like to believe. Sometimes cults are cleverly disguised as something else. The differences between someone shaving their heads, donning a robe and selling flowers on a street corner and someone who waddles through Walmart regurgitating cable news catch phrases is not as distinctive of a line as one might think. Being the subjective creatures that we humans are, cult members don’t always recognize when they have been sucked in. Like this pamphlet touting young girl, many of us are naive, and helping someone become wealthy by reciting what we’re told.

Such is the case with the Tea Party.

Would-be patriots across America are having their justifiable anxiety exploited by dynamic, verbally lyrical political televangelists. What was once a bi-partisan, grass roots gathering of citizens voicing concerns over the size of government, and taxes …has become a cult-like collection of fundamentalist Christian revisionist historians. Like cult leaders before them, fear is the oxygen which feeds the Tea Party fire.

To be fair, it was not always this way. The “Ron Paul” Tea Partiers — who tended to employ a more rational approach to social and fiscal policy — have all but evaporated back into the GOP from whence they came. While the “Sarah Palin” Tea Party has emerged as a national force by using acrimonious rhetoric, acerbic hyperbole, and evangelical indignation in order to create a frenzy of vitriolic cultists. Nevermind that the Tea Party is now short on substantive solutions, and long on apocalyptic, factually challenged narratives… the easily coerced have found a cult which makes them feel safe. And while the “Hell Fire and Brimstone” approach to public speaking is an age old practice, the Tea Party has put a new spin on it… the end is approaching because your liberal fellow Americans are the enemy.

…and by enemy, the Tea Party does not mean just America’s enemy, but God’s as well.

It is a dangerously combustible combination of God and country. Wrapping themselves in “Old Glory”, the Tea Party are creating a “New Glory” which revolves around a less than factual historical perspective in which Jesus co-wrote the Constitution with our Fundamentalist Christian Founding Fathers. Like any cultists, Tea Partiers believe what they want to believe. Like any other cultists, they have become the vehicle by which their leaders profit.

Self righteous indignation allows the Tea Party to rationalize a revisionist Jesus, and his right wing politics. But like the predatory opportunists who coerce 16 year olds to ask for donations in a city park, this brand of Tea Partiers are Christians in name only. But the “Tea Party message” is not what the Tea Party is truly about anymore. As it is with any cult, the leaders are in it for profit, and the flock just wants to be a part of a ‘family”. It’s a perfect synergy of self promotional, morally bankrupt, capitalist pontiffs, and people seeking a socially acceptable venue to vent pious ignorance.

The list of biblical and constitutional contradictions in the Tea Party platform are, in fact, staggering. It’s a brilliant, albeit dishonest way to use the first amendment to circumvent our political process in order to make a profit. The truth is we will never know if Rev. Jim Jones actually believed whether or not he was a messiah … just as we will never know how or why Glenn Beck connects the “Nazi dots” in his head. A cult leader’s sincerity is incidental to the amount of lives which they negatively effect, and the amount of blood money they accumulate.

This much is clear: The industry of fear is grinding on. Irrational infighting among our fellow Americans at the urgency of the Tea party — while it might make us feel as if we have some control over our lives — actually puts that control in the hands of Tea Party politi-vangelists. Forsaking independent thought in order to regurgitate socio/political platitudes might make a Tea Partier feel righteous, but in reality it accomplishes just the opposite. It makes Tea Party members essentially the same as any other cult members… gullible, and easily led.

Americans with varying political views may, or may not be wrong on certain issues, but our biggest enemy is how we respond to our own fear, not each other. If you believe that cult is too strong of a word to describe the Tea Party, then visit this site to which I have NO affiliation: http://www.howcultswork.com/ …and judge for yourself whether or not it applies.


About Rich Woods

Rich Woods is the author of the critically acclaimed books, UnLearn Vanilla Marriage, and Yahweh to Hell. He is also a columnist, sociologist, and satirist who has performed seminars around the country. He's also made several TV and radio appearances. Transitioning from a blue-collar background has given Mr. Woods a unique perspective --and an even more unique elocution--among his peers. Raised Catholic, Mr. Woods is now a very public atheist who champions the separation of church and state. He's an advocate for non-traditional relationships, including --but not limited to-- negotiating non-monogamy, as well as being a vocal opponent of political correctness. Throughout his career, Woods has had colorful metaphors hurled in his direction from both liberals, and conservatives. To be honest, most of the vitriol comes from the Tea Party. However, he considers one of his greatest accomplishments having been called "Harry Reid's Lapdog" , and referred to as being "just like Rush Limbaugh" from two different sources within minutes of one another. Originally from Queens, New York, and presently residing in central New Jersey, Rich Woods is madly, and hopelessly in love with his wife Jane since before they were wed in 2002, and is the proud father of two successful, brilliantly creative, young adult children. Try as he might, he can't juggle.

Posted on January 28, 2011, in Archived Posts and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.

  1. Bullshit!!Yes, Bullshit is what the TEA party is all about! Never has the distinction beewetn progressive and conservative philosophies been clearer. For conservatives, it’s all about cutting benefits for middle class families while decrying as class warfare even the most modest attempts to raise taxes on the wealthiest few.The worst part of all this, however, is the continual effort over the last twenty years to spread this feed-the-rich agenda by spreading the most vile and divisive hate against the Democrats and liberals in general. I first noticed it when George Bush Sr referred to liberals as the L word as if liberalism were some obscenity unworthy of mention in polite society. Since then the venom has been seriously escalated by an army of right wing talk-meisters and assorted hate mongers who have become all the more shrill since the election of a black President. They have stopped at nothing in their quest to demonize him, and anytime I think the remarks have become so hateful that surely decent conservatives will object, they not only accept the remarks but actually increase the vitriol. They realized some time ago that it is not necessary to use facts and logic to achieve your agenda if you can cause your opponents to be hated and distrusted and patriotism questioned. That has been their strategy and it has worked..Playing of this hate they have done everything imaginable to undermine the President and block any and all programs he might support, in some cases voting against the very programs they themselves have originated! But thinking of themselves as warriors in a life and death struggle against the powers of evil, they do not hesitate to rip apart society. They will truly tear down the house if that is what it takes to rule over the ruins.There is a great sense of victim hood in these people..victims of the liberal press, victims of the gay and lesbian agenda, victims of reverse discrimination..In truth they are victims..victims of their own ignorance. How many realize that the proposal by the Gang of Six cuts the taxes paid by the top few while eliminating the tax deduction for interest on mortgages?Yes Bullshit is the only word I can think of their nasty agenda and they may succeed but if so I can only think of the old Greek saying that when the gods are really angry at men, they give them exactly what they pray for. How many of these teabagers will think differently when their mortgage interest payments are no longer tax deductible?

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