Tuesday, March 10, 2009

The Irony, It Burns

I didn't even realize Billy Graham was still with us, much less answering reader mail (via PZ). Given his answer to this question, I'm not sure if he's up to the task:

Why do people get involved in cults? My cousin has gotten involved in one, and no matter what we say to him, he refuses to listen. He says we are the ones who are in the dark, and he alone in our family has found the truth. — S. McM.
Good question, one that could get into all sorts of fascinating psychiatric and sociological areas. Here's how Graham's answer starts:
One characteristic of cults is that they strongly believe they alone are right in their beliefs and everyone else is wrong. Thus they reject the central truths of the Bible that Christians have held in common for almost 2,000 years and substitute their own beliefs for the clear teaching of Scripture.
Um, yeah. In other words, as one of PZ's commenters puts it:
my cult is better than your cult...my cult leader told me so.
Graham then goes on to dispense what he believes are self evident truths, you know, in the dogmatic kind of way that any cult, er, excuse me "religious" leader does. Maybe one's sense of irony withers once you reach 90.

For what it's worth, I've always held to the proposition that the only meaningful difference between a religion and a cult is that religions have better lawyers.

UPDATE: Seems like Graham is taking a page out of Reverand Lovejoy's book:
This so called 'new religion' is nothing but a pack of weird rituals and chants designed to take away the money of fools. Let us say the Lord's prayer 40 times, but first let's pass the collection plate!

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