Will the Real Cultist Please Stand Up!

When I see the charge of "cultist" leveled against Republican standard-bearer Mitt Romney, I wonder how to respond when the pot calls the kettle black?

The common meaning of a cult is a group of people who accept the leader's thoughts and decisions in place of their own individual judgments and choices. The cult leader is charismatic, often striking, and unshakable in the surety of his wisdom. The cult leader alone has God's phone number on speed dial.

Those who follow the cult leader - cultists -- reject what they might personally think, even when there is hard proof, if that is contrary to what the cultist says. From the outside, they appear brainwashed. Whether the cultist makes pronouncements on moral, religious, political, financial, or practical issues makes no difference. If he says it, it must be so...to his cult followers.

Is Mr. Romney being vilified as a cultist by Democrats because their standard bearer is so obviously a cult leader? To Democrats and most of the media, President Obama can do no wrong. If he says it, it must be so.

Contrast a real leader with a cult leader. A real leader has a vision and plan that he communicates to potential followers. He encourages them to think for themselves and then decide whether or not to follow his vision and his plan. These potential followers discuss, debate, and then decide based on their own judgments. They never substitute the leader's pronouncements for their own thoughts.

A cult leader says: Trust me! I know what is best for you better than you do.

A real leader says: Trust yourself. Trust the evidence. Look at what I do rather than what I say. Decide for yourself what is best for you.  

Look at the facts. Ignore the lofty words, sonorous phrases, and weighty but unsubstantiated predictions. Consider actions taken to date and then ask yourself: Is President Obama a real leader or a cult leader? You decide.

Now turn to Mr. Romney. The charge that he is a cultist requires that Mormonism be declared a cult. Such a declaration would be based on bias and ignorance.

Mormonism is the dominant practice within the Church of the Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints that was originally founded by Joseph Smith in the 1820's as a form of Christian primitivism and later modified by Brigham Young. It has strict beliefs and rules that followers accept or not of their own volition.

Mormonism is no more or less controlling of the individual than Orthodox Judaism or Islam. If Mormons are cultists, then so are the Hasidic Jews of Crown Heights, New York and over one billion Muslims (I am not referring to the tiny fraction of fanatics with bombs strapped to their chests.)

U.S. national labs seem to hire a lot of Mormons? Why, you ask? The labs have found that Mormons pose lower security risk than other groups. That is an interesting factoid about a group that has been vilified as a cult. 

Accusing Mr. Romney of cultism is beneath the Democrats, or should be. It is more of the fact-poor, divisive, class warfare approach that seems to have taken over U.S. political debate. When the two Parties seek to woo our votes, let's demand that they stick to evidence and proof; that they avoid substituting rhetoric for track record; and that they eschew mud-slinging, negative ad hominem attack campaigns.

When I see the charge of "cultist" leveled against Republican standard-bearer Mitt Romney, I wonder how to respond when the pot calls the kettle black?

The common meaning of a cult is a group of people who accept the leader's thoughts and decisions in place of their own individual judgments and choices. The cult leader is charismatic, often striking, and unshakable in the surety of his wisdom. The cult leader alone has God's phone number on speed dial.

Those who follow the cult leader - cultists -- reject what they might personally think, even when there is hard proof, if that is contrary to what the cultist says. From the outside, they appear brainwashed. Whether the cultist makes pronouncements on moral, religious, political, financial, or practical issues makes no difference. If he says it, it must be so...to his cult followers.

Is Mr. Romney being vilified as a cultist by Democrats because their standard bearer is so obviously a cult leader? To Democrats and most of the media, President Obama can do no wrong. If he says it, it must be so.

Contrast a real leader with a cult leader. A real leader has a vision and plan that he communicates to potential followers. He encourages them to think for themselves and then decide whether or not to follow his vision and his plan. These potential followers discuss, debate, and then decide based on their own judgments. They never substitute the leader's pronouncements for their own thoughts.

A cult leader says: Trust me! I know what is best for you better than you do.

A real leader says: Trust yourself. Trust the evidence. Look at what I do rather than what I say. Decide for yourself what is best for you.  

Look at the facts. Ignore the lofty words, sonorous phrases, and weighty but unsubstantiated predictions. Consider actions taken to date and then ask yourself: Is President Obama a real leader or a cult leader? You decide.

Now turn to Mr. Romney. The charge that he is a cultist requires that Mormonism be declared a cult. Such a declaration would be based on bias and ignorance.

Mormonism is the dominant practice within the Church of the Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints that was originally founded by Joseph Smith in the 1820's as a form of Christian primitivism and later modified by Brigham Young. It has strict beliefs and rules that followers accept or not of their own volition.

Mormonism is no more or less controlling of the individual than Orthodox Judaism or Islam. If Mormons are cultists, then so are the Hasidic Jews of Crown Heights, New York and over one billion Muslims (I am not referring to the tiny fraction of fanatics with bombs strapped to their chests.)

U.S. national labs seem to hire a lot of Mormons? Why, you ask? The labs have found that Mormons pose lower security risk than other groups. That is an interesting factoid about a group that has been vilified as a cult. 

Accusing Mr. Romney of cultism is beneath the Democrats, or should be. It is more of the fact-poor, divisive, class warfare approach that seems to have taken over U.S. political debate. When the two Parties seek to woo our votes, let's demand that they stick to evidence and proof; that they avoid substituting rhetoric for track record; and that they eschew mud-slinging, negative ad hominem attack campaigns.

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