Compare and Contrast: Cornerstone Church vs. PKG
Surprisingly enough, there is actually a large British-Israel movement amongst the evangelicals that has absolutely nothing to do with Armstrongism or Sabbatarianism. I am referring here of course to John Hagee’s Cornerstone Church (yes the wacko you see on TV sandwiched in between The Late Late Show and the informercials; he’s usually hawking a piece of matzoh in a ziploc baggie or, even worse, a “green prosperity handkerchief” for which people are supposed to send in their very last penny).
Rolling Stone recently sent a journalist undercover to observe the indoctrination process for Hagee’s megachurch. Appropriately titled, the article is “Jesus Made Me Puke”. Of particular note is the hard-living, atheist journalist’s acknowledgement that he too, was worn down, at least partially, by the thought-reform techniques utilized during the “Encounter Weekend”.
All quotes are excerpted from the Rolling Stone article linked to above.
“When most Americans think of the Christian right, they think of scenes from television — great halls full of perfectly groomed people in pale suits and light-colored dresses, smiling and happy and full of the Holy Spirit, robotically singing hymns at the behest of some squeaky-clean pastor with a baritone voice and impossible hair. We don’t get to see the utterly batshit world they live in, when the cameras are turned off and their pastors are not afraid of saying the really dumb stuff, for fear of it turning up on CNN.”
“The fundamentalist formula is much less a journey from folly to wisdom than it is from weakness to strength. They don’t want a near-complete personality that needs fine-tuning — they want a human jellyfish, raw clay they can transform into a vigorous instrument of God.”
“He was taking broken people and giving them a road map to a new set of parents, a new family — your basic cultist bait-and-switch formula for cutting old emotional ties and redirecting that psychic energy toward the desired new destination.”
“One thing about this world: Once a preacher says it, it’s true. No one is going to look up anything the preacher says, cross-check his facts, raise an eyebrow at something that might sound a little off.”
“So long as you’re telling them what they want to hear, there’s no danger; your crowd will angrily dismiss any alternative explanations anyway as demonic subversion.”
“For a brief, fleeting moment I could see how under different circumstances it would be easy enough to bury your “sinful” self far under the skin of your outer Christian and to just travel through life this way. So long as you go through all the motions, no one will care who you really are underneath. And besides, so long as you are going through all the motions, never breaking the facade, who are you really? It was an incomplete thought, but it was a scary one; it was the very first time I worried that the experience of entering this world might prove to be anything more than an unusually tiring assignment.”
“By the end of the weekend I realized how quaint was the mere suggestion that Christians of this type should learn to “be rational” or “set aside your religion” about such things as the Iraq War or other policy matters. Once you’ve made a journey like this — once you’ve gone this far — you are beyond suggestible. It’s not merely the informational indoctrination, the constant belittling of homosexuals and atheists and Muslims and pacifists, etc., that’s the issue. It’s that once you’ve gotten to this place, you’ve left behind the mental process that a person would need to form an independent opinion about such things.”
“All that matters is being full of the Lord and empty of demons. And since everything that is not of God is demonic, asking these people to be objective about anything else is just absurd. There is no “anything else.” All alternative points of view are nonstarters. There is this “our thing,” a sort of Cosa Nostra of the soul, and then there are the fires of Hell. And that’s all.”
Of course there are no “fires of hell” in Armstrongism. But there is “the second death”, attainable only by “rejecting the truth”. The techniques and the sound-bites may be very different, between the Cornerstone Church and the CoG-PKG; the results, however, are eerily similar: Clockwork Christians.
Individual human beings reduced to automatons, spouting all the right doctrines and paying all the right tithes…..and keeping the witlesses and their Levitical priesthood of elders very well-heeled indeed.