NEW BOOK ASSERTS THAT MANY ORGANIZATIONS ARE ‘CULTS,’ INCLUDING ONE THAT HEARKENS TO THE ELEVEN O’CLOCK HOUR
What’s the definition of a “cult” — and are cults demonic? What about social and religious clubs, or entire religions?
If you listen to world-known deliverance expert Bob Larson, author of Curse Breaking: Freedom From the Bondage of Generational Sin, the list is long and includes Mormonism, Freemasonry, Scientology, Transcendental Meditation, Christian Science, and Woodmen of the World, as well as the dark occult cults, which of course are of more serious concern. He asserts that Mormonism has its roots, in fact, in Freemasonry. (Others consider it a branch — albeit an exotic one — of Christianity, one that teaches strict morals; ditto, as far as Christianity, for Jehovah’s Witnesses.)
We’ll leave that up to you. Larson defines a cult as having a centralized authority that tightly structures both philosophy and lifestyle; an “us versus them” view of the world; a commitment to proselytize with abnormal intensity; and an entrenched isolationism that divorces the devotee from the realities of the world. He’s not talking about satanic cults. He’s talking about a cultish mentality. Does he go too far?
We’d be more inclined to define it as a “spirit of control” — a spirit that at least to a degree replaces the Holy Spirit, however much God and the Trinity are invoked.
Does involvement in one such organization or religion attach a spirit to the person?
“A curse of cults results from a belief system that controls the thinking of people to the extent that their view of spiritual reality becomes conformed to the demonic world,” claims this author (a general Christian). “Cults also facilitate demonization by initiating members through some kind of process that gives permission for demonic engagement, often without the participant knowing what is going on.”
It is a spirit that captures folks into the personal orbit of a living person (or demonic spirit). This is a different use of the word than the term “cultus” employed by the Catholic Church to signify a group with a particular devotion.
Often, it’s tough to figure out what a closed organization believes.
And, often, there are unusual customs (Mormons wear special “protective” underwear”). In some religious sects Jesus is portrayed as merely an exceptionally good man. That’s a red flag, for certain. One must be careful, asserts Larson, that a fraternal Christian organization does not tend toward secret oaths and rituals. Can we really go so far as to label it “cultic”?
Your discernment. We prefer the term “sect.”
Interestingly, discussing “camaraderie cults,” and the Elks Club, Larson mentions that organization’s “11 o’clock toast.”
“The eleventh hour of the day had acquired almost mystical significance [to Elks] over the years because so many communities had a ‘lights out at eleven’ policy,” he says. “This toast is intended to honor the departed members of the organization, but can end up essentially communicating with the dead.” He quotes Elks literature as stating:
“You have heard the tolling of eleven strokes. This is to remind us that with Elks, the hour of eleven has a tender significance. Wherever an Elk may roam, whatever his lot in life may be, when this hour falls upon the dial of the night the great heart of Elkdom swells and throbs. It is the golden hour of recollection, the homecoming of those who wander, the mystic roll call of those who will come no more. Living or dead, an Elk is never forgotten, never forsaken.
“Morning and noon may pass him by, the light of day sinks heedlessly in the west, but ere the shadows of midnight shall fall, the chimes of memory will be pealing forth the friendly message: ‘To Our Absent Members.'”
We have long wondered why so many find significance in that number (particularly when a digital clock strikes 11:11). Is this one reason?
We’re careful not to besmirch, let alone vilify, groups (not to mention entire religions). There are many flawed belief systems, and good people involved. Is it so bad to remember the deceased?
No; not at all; not as long as remembrance does not turn into superstition.
— Michael H. Brown