By Robert A. Vella
It may seem insignificant right now, but this is how cults die. People who devote themselves to a cultural leader, whether it’s based on ideology or pragmatism, eventually lose faith in that individual because such high expectations cannot be met by any mortal being. This is why religion has great allure and longevity, for the figurehead is typically intangible and immortal. Conversely, cults rise and fall very quickly. In the beginning, it is the chosen messiah’s message which resonates. In the end, it is their real human flaws which reverberates. Once the group starts having ‘the discussion’ about their leader and doubts or even fears emerge, the downfall can occur quite rapidly.
A prime example is the internal dissent which befell Jim Jones and his Peoples Temple cult at a Jonestown, Guyana commune in 1978 where nearly a thousand members committed mass suicide or were victims of mass murder. The Jonestown commune existed for about four years, but only within its last year did members move there en masse. Those fateful few months in the South American jungle unleashed Jones’ repressed mania for all to see and the trouble soon followed.
The cult of President Donald Trump is now about four years old. It is many times larger and has taken over one of America’s two major political parties, but the internal dynamics are still the same. Like Jones, he rose to prominence by appealing to the dreams and fears of an anxious people. Also, like Jones, Trump’s unleashed mania is exposing his profound ugliness. Principled Republican voters and politicians (most of whom have resigned from office) have been having ‘the discussion’ about Trump for some time. Today, his most vital base of supporters – white evangelical Christians – are joining that conversation too. For Republicans, the concern has always been about the long-term damage Trump could do to the party. For Evangelicals, the concern is about elevating a mortal man to immortal status in an obvious challenge to their previously chosen messiah – Jesus Christ.
A former Republican congressman has warned the party is walking a “demographic death march” and faces being “wiped out” in American suburbs as a result of “Trumpism.”
Ex-Pennsylvania Rep. Charlie Dent told CNN on Monday that GOP leaders were “creating problems” for the membership by “fully embracing Trumpism” for their own advantage. He also said that the party needed to have a debate about what it will look like when President Donald Trump leaves office.
WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Christianity Today, the magazine founded by the late Reverend Billy Graham, renewed its criticism of President Donald Trump in a new editorial that cited his “misuses of power” and asked fellow Christians to examine their loyalty to him, days after a controversial editorial that called for his impeachment.
The 130,000-circulation magazine, which has 4.3 million monthly website viewers, in its editorial last week cited Trump’s “profoundly immoral” conduct in office, drawing immediate criticism from Trump and dozens of evangelical leaders.
An editor at the Christian Post announced his resignation after the publication came out with an editorial in defense of President Trump.
Napp Nazworth’s decision to quit comes amid a divide among evangelical publications concerning President Trump. Nazworth, who had been at the outlet for more than eight years, announced his resignation on Twitter Monday night, calling the decision a “difficult choice” and adding that he “can’t be an editor for a publication with that editorial voice.”
“Like so many other media companies, they’ve chosen to silo themselves,” he continued. “They’ve chosen to represent a narrow (and shrinking) slice of Christianity. That might be a good business decision, short term at least. But… it’s bad for Democracy, and bad for the Gospel. It means there will be one more place where readers can go for bias confirmation, but one less place where readers can go to exercise their brains on diversity of thought.”
A Republican group is launching an ad campaign to demand that several key White House officials, such as chief of staff Mick Mulvaney and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, testify in the impeachment process against President Donald Trump.
Republicans for the Rule of Law, a conservative organization whose stated purpose is “defending the institutions of our republic,” will air the 30-second video on Thursday during Fox & Friends and Lou Dobbs Tonight.
SPOKANE, Wash. — Matt Shea was 34 years old when he ran for the State Legislature in eastern Washington, but he had already established credentials that made him a promising Republican candidate.
But back in his home district, Mr. Shea also began attracting the attention of law enforcement for his growing embrace of fringe ideologies and conspiracy theories. He networked with local militia groups, talked about plans to create a 51st state called Liberty and distributed to his closest followers a “Biblical Basis for War” document that calls for the “surrender” of those who favor abortion rights, same-sex marriage, “idolatry” and communism. “If they do not yield — kill all males,” it said.
Last week, a report commissioned by the State Legislature asserted that Mr. Shea had engaged in domestic terrorism in his support of the armed takeover of Oregon’s Malheur National Wildlife Refuge by militant ranchers and their supporters in 2016 — part of a protest over federal ownership of public lands in the West.
In response to the report, J.T. Wilcox, the leader of Republicans in the State House, said Mr. Shea had been suspended from any role in the caucus. He also urged Mr. Shea to resign.
Today’s other news:
Georgia is preparing to roll out 30,000 of the machines in every polling place for its presidential primary in March, replacing a paperless electronic voting system that a federal judge declared insecure and unreliable.
But election security experts said the state’s newest voting machines also remain vulnerable to potential intrusions or malfunctions — and some view the paper records they produce as insufficient if a verified audit of the vote is needed.
The concerns in Georgia come as paperless machines are set to be used in parts of at least half a dozen states in 2020 — a practice that leading experts and government officials warn is risky.
SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — The Trump administration said Monday it will allow Medicaid expansion with a work requirement in Utah, a decision that came despite courts taking a dim view of the requirement in other states.
The announcement means the state will have full Medicaid expansion under former President Barack Obama’s signature healthcare law, covering a total of up to 120,000 adults starting Jan. 1.
Though Utah voters passed Medicaid expansion more than a year ago, conservative lawmakers have delayed its full implementation, saying it was too expensive. Health care advocates said they were glad more people will be eligible but wary about the work requirements they say could cause 7,500 people to lose coverage.
St. PETERSBURG, Russia—Russians are protesting over everything from garbage disposal to hospital closures, voicing grievances about deteriorating public services as President Vladimir Putin tries to manage an economy beset by falling oil prices and international sanctions.
Over the last year alone, there have been hundreds of mass rallies, flash mobs and other demonstrations, a marked shift from less than a decade ago when publicly challenging authority over social concerns would have been nearly unthinkable for average people.
“There are more protests not by activists, not by political parties, but by just ordinary citizens,” said Anna Ochkina, head of a group that tracks protest movements at Moscow’s Center of Social and Labor Rights.
Chinese authorities seized the prominent activist last week and punished him with a jail stint of at least two weeks for “provoking quarrels and stirring troubles,” according to a person with direct knowledge of his case who spoke on the condition of anonymity for fear of official reprisal.
The case of the U.S.-educated Chen, who ran a microblog called “Heart Sanitation,” illustrates how a brand of nonviolent labor activism that was once tolerated by Chinese authorities is now off-limits in a country facing stiff economic head winds and deepening political insecurity.
Chen’s penalty was relatively light by China’s standards. But he is likely the 140th worker, activist or student to be arrested or detained in the past 18 months, according to data kept by the China Labor Crackdown Concern Group, a coalition of Chinese and foreign activists and academics.
The labor crackdown amounts to one of the largest campaigns to suppress civil society groups in China under Xi, the Chinese leader who has spoken this year about the risks facing the ruling Communist Party as it navigates rising unemployment and the most difficult economic conditions in decades.
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