Archive for Cult and Appocalypse

Religious Cults Birthed from the Fear of Apocalypse

Posted in Religious Roots, Rhetoric, Risk & Fear with tags , on February 11, 2010 by Taylor Manuel

Cults or religious sects have existed throughout time, some formed into the popular religions of today. Though, very often they can be manipulative, immoral and dangerous to themselves and others. Often they are formed, or include in their belief a fear, (or welcoming) of imminent Apocalypse. Some people have prophesied the End down to a specific date and time, only to change it to a later date when the prophecy fails to fulfill itself. Cults have committed mass suicides in escape or release from the disaster they believed approached. Some have barricaded themselves in maximum security compounds with stashes of food and supplies awaiting the End, and some have even withdrew to underground tunnels and bunkers.

In the Parable of the Sower, the Earthseed Religion is formed not due to the approach of the end, but in the wake of it. What does not change is human coercion and manipulation that can exist within any institution. It does not appear that her beliefs are used in any such way, but the possibility still exists in the expectancy of a leader as can be seen here:

When apparent stability disintegrates,

As it must-

God is Change-

People tend to give in

To fear and depression,

When no influence is strong enough

To unify people

They divide

They struggle,

One against one,

Group against group,

For survival, position, power.

They remember old hates and generate new ones,

They create chaos and nurture it.

They kill and kill and kill,

Until they are exhausted and destroyed,

Until they are conquered by outside forces,

Or until one of them becomes

A leader

Most will follow,

Or a tyrant

Most fear.

I’m not arguing that the Earthseed religion resembles the traits of a cult at all. More, I am simply pointing out the implications of not just environmental rhetoric, but religious rhetoric, which can be the most convincingly dangerous.

Apocalypse is not simply a belief but a tool utilized by individuals to manipulate and control the wills of others. In the case of religious Cults it is often used as a way to control the souls of many. To some, the end is an attractive idea. With it comes an end to the present toil and struggles that people face. To others, it can be a natural selector, and only those who follow the true faith will be saved. Its use is one to be wary of, not for fear of being assimilated into a cult, but rather the way it slowly seeps into our own notions of life.