When asked about their idea of a cult, most people will conjure up the image of a group of religious devotees following an alternative doctrine and worshiping an authoritarian leader. Many cults fit into this …
In my book The Cult of Trump, I present a thesis that Donald Trump was a symptom of decades of right-wing maneuvering to gain power and institute a theocracy by eliminating the separation between Church and State, which the Founders of the Constitution tried to ensure would not happen. White evangelical Christians, among other powerful groups like The Family, Opus Dei, and the New Apostolic Reformation, appear to support this movement and, indeed, are the driving force behind it because they believe Trump is being used to do ‘God’s work.’
Someone very experienced in talking about this issue is Frank Schaeffer. He was born and bred into an evangelical fundamentalist life and went on to play an active role in helping to politicize evangelical leaders. He has now bravely written and spoken about his regret at the part he played in this process and is an active religious reform activist.
We can use psychology to understand media shaming and ask the right questions Media shaming has been around for decades, but the advent of the Internet and 24/7 information cycles have taken it in an …
In my book, The Cult of Trump, I explored the parallels between Trump and cult leaders, arguing that his presidency was much like a destructive cult. The indoctrination techniques Trump used to build fanatical devotion in his supporters is akin to those of Jim Jones, David Koresh, Ron Hubbard, and Sun Myung Moon. Trump’s lies, lack of conscience, inability to admit when he is wrong, and projecting his shortcomings onto others can be seen in many cult leaders. With his rise to the presidency, he became more authoritarian and though he lost the election in 2020, he continues the lie that it was stolen and his supporters continue to believe him.
As technology evolves, we become more enmeshed with online social media platforms, Artificial Intelligence (AI), and the Internet. Information warfare is an epidemic, and we must treat it like a dangerous virus that affects our minds. From my experience as a former cult member, I know our minds can be hacked through lies and propaganda.
The New Apostolic Reformation (NAR) is a reorganized, large Pentecostal and charismatic movement reframed by the religious right to move into politics. My guests on this episode of the Influence Continuum are warning people about the dangers associated with the rise of the NAR.
Frederick Clarkson has written and worked at the intersection of religion and politics for over four decades. He’s currently a Senior Research analyst at Political Research Associates, a is a social justice research and strategy center in Somerville, Massachusetts. He’s also the author of a very important book that I recommend everyone read called Eternal Hostility – The Struggle Between Theocracy and Democracy, a subject that everyone’s talking about in the media these days.
Public attention to the phenomenon of lone-actor terrorism has seemed to rise in recent decades. Tragic shootings in just the last two months have brought this phenomenon into even sharper relief: a school shooting in Uvalde, which prompted outrage over law enforcement and U.S. gun control policies; the July 4th Highland Park shooting in Chicago, which again led to an interrogation of the internet’s role in motivating lone-actor terrorists; and, most recently, the assassination of former Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, which brought to light how the Unification Church’s predatory financial tactics factored into the shooter’s motivations. We also know mass shootings occur on a larger scale than just those involving high-profile, lone-actor terrorist cases; in fact, over 300 have occurred in the U.S. in 2022 alone.
Earlier this month, I attended the 37th Annual Conference of the International Academy of Law and Mental Health (IALMH) in Lyon, France. The IALMH is founded on the belief that issues arising from the interaction of law and mental health can best be addressed through multi-disciplinary and cross-national approaches, drawing on law, the health professions, the social sciences, and the humanities.
With the assassination of former Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe by Tetsuya Yamagami, the Moon cult is back in the news. Abe became a target, reportedly because he and his father publicly supported the Moon cult. The assassin was reportedly furious because his mother had given away all the family money to the cult. I interviewed former top American political leader of Unification Church, Allen Tate Wood, and wish to expose the mindset of cult psychology.
I’ve been hosting the Influence Continuum podcast for over seven months, and I’ve spoken with guests on topics ranging from election integrity to 4th Generation Warfare and the Christian Right. It is plausible to say that I would not even be investigating any of these topics had I not encountered the work—and later met—the esteemed guest of my first ever podcast episode, Dr. Robert Jay Lifton.
Almost four years ago, I spoke with my friend Narendra Nayak about the rise of right-wing religious and political extremism in India. I had contacted him after learning of the killing of Gauri Lankesh. Lankesh was an activist journalist who was openly critical of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, the Bharatiya Janata Party, and their extremist Hindutva ideology. There are many similarities between the rise of conservative, right-wing ideologies in India and the United States. I recently spoke with Nayak to discuss the current social and political situations in India and the United States.
In a recent episode of my podcast, The Influence Continuum, I interviewed Amanda Ripley, a best-selling author, journalist, and host of the How-To! Podcast on Slate. Her timely book, High Conflict: Why We Get Trapped and How We Get Out, explores this concept of “high conflict” and approaches to identifying and escaping it.