The Rise of Cults: A Cause for Government Control of Religion?

. It has been over two years ago since the time of the mass murder/suicide claimed the lives of 913 people. In 1978 the world was stunned when the cult leader, Jim Jones, of the People’s Temple persuaded his faithful followers to drink the poisoned grape Kool-Aid which caused their deaths. Over 250 children were found among the corpses of their parents and relatives. Men, women, and children were led to their doom because they worshipped and trusted in this man-devil, their cult leader. 

Despite such an incident, cults still rapidly increase in membership. Thousands of people flock to the cults every year. For the wicked who “are like the troubled sea, when it cannot rest, whose waters cast up mire and dirt” (Isaiah 57:20-21), the cults seem to offer some kind of false stability in their confused and miserable lives. For the confused and dissatisfied church-goer who has lost sight of the objective standard of Scripture, the cults seem to fill a lack in life. For these reasons the cults are attracting thousands yearly. And that is true not only of the major cults but also of many smaller, perhaps more sinister cults. 

In connection with this rise of the cults the child of God, who in all things looks for the return of Christ, asks himself this question: Is this perhaps one of the causes of eventual government control of religion? As we learn from Revelation 13, the Antichrist will possess not only a supreme political power for a time but also an extraordinary power of persuasion in the realm of religion. In verses 13 and 14 of that chapter in Revelation we read, “And he doeth great wonders, so that he maketh fire come down from heaven on the earth in the sight of men, and deceiveth them that dwell on the earth by means of those miracles which he had power to do in the sight of the beast.” From this it becomes evident that the power and rule of Antichrist will not be limited strictly to the realm of the political. He will also control religion—all religion. When he has gained such control then God’s children will become the objects of persecution, for his “religion” will be anti-Christ. All the means which he uses to attain this end we certainly are unable to ascertain. ascertain. Yet we watch for certain developments in the realm of religion which perhaps finally could lead to such a control of religion. That is why we raise the question: Could the rise of cults in any way lead to the government’s eventual control and regulation of what we believe? 

The answer: perhaps. Here is how. 

Because of the continued “special revelations” which the leaders of the various cults claim to have, they are able to act contrary to the law of God as well as the law of the land without so much as a question raised in the minds of their followers. The cults, therefore, promote lawlessness. That this is true is well substantiated. This is evident from the mass suicide/murder of the members of the People’s Temple of which Jim Jones was the leader. Certainly, here was an act of lawlessness in the grossest proportion! Just recently I clipped an article from the newspaper which spoke of this same kind of lawlessness. It was reported that a woman watched as members of a devil worshipping cult killed a woman and her two children in their home. The killings were acts of vengeance by the cult members who were angry with this woman’s husband for his attitude toward the cultist’s drug use. Perhaps it is argued that this is true only of exceptional and particularly malicious cults. But we note in the first place that these are cults nonetheless. We note in the second place, that this disregard for the laws of the land can also be found in the established and more popular cults. In 1968 a cultic movement began in Grand Rapids, Michigan under the leadership of a Donald De Graff. This particular cult has attracted several hundred followers as it is constantly on the move “from Florida to New Mexico.” Although not as yet charged with any criminal offence, DeGraaf is under investigation for using religion to collect thousands of tax-free dollars that he spent himself. Similarly, the Church of the Latter Day Saints is on government record as a cult guilty of fraudulent monetary acts, as well as counterfeiting. Add to this the fact that Mormons advocate polygamy and it cannot be denied that the cults are guilty of violating the laws of the civil government (not to mention the law of God). 

How does this lead to government control of religion? The cults use their “religion” as a palisade behind which they can hide and feel safe from punishment for the wrongs they commit. They openly defy the laws of the government because the “special revelation” of their corrupted leaders say they must. Notice from the Mormon’s Doctrine and Covenants, “Behold, and lo, I am the Lord thy God, and will answer thee as touching this matter. Therefore, prepare thy heart to receive and obey the instructions which I am about to give unto you: for all those who have this law revealed unto themmust obey the same. . . . Abraham received concubines, and they bore him children; and it was accounted unto him for righteousness, . . . David also received many wives and concubines and also Solomon and Moses my servants, . . . and in nothing did they sin save in those things which they received not of me.” I repeat, members of the cults are requiredto defy the good laws of government which are, in fact, in harmony with God’s law. 

This frustrates the government; and in these instances rightfully so. The government has given laws which allow for the freedom of religion and the cults abuse them. There is little that can be done by police officers and government officials as long as the Constitution guarantees freedom of religion. Their hands are tied. In the words of an FBI agent who was investigating the DeGraaf cult, “Only in America could something like this happen—good or bad—but that is the way it is.” 

The only recourse that government has in situations such as these is to amend the first amendment of the Constitution which grants freedom of religion, and to make it say, “freedom of religion—as long as the government has determined that one’s religion stands in harmony with the laws of the land.” This, of course, would mean government control and regulation of religion. The government could outlaw any religion with which it has any basic disagreement. The result:according to the government’s determination all religion must stand in harmony with its laws with very little, if any variation. 

At this point this solution to the government’s problem with the cults appears to be a good one. Even we are tempted to say that if this is the only way to stop such abuses of religion then so let it be. That way we who right now stand in harmony with the law of the land will be protected from those who seek to pervert the truth in such a terrible way! Surely the motive of the government in regulating religion is pure! That is true. But have you thought for a moment concerning the implications now that government has in its hands the control of our faith? Oh, at present it may seem to go pretty well for us, maybe even to our advantage. But then again, maybe not! Antichrist is developing right now, at this very moment! Imagine if the government were sitting in the driver’s seat as far as what you and I may or may not believe. Do you think that they would allow us to maintain our “strict” views on such things as divorce and remarriage, abortion, union membership, or women in office? Not likely! 

Then again, look into the near future. With the population explosion the government may attempt to regulate the size of a family. Do you think they would accept us as a legitimate religion if we, according to God’s Word, continued having children beyond their limitations? Even now the mystery of iniquity is working in this way. And then comes the final development of Antichrist. Paul explains in II Thessalonians 2:8-10, “And then shall that Wicked One be revealed,. . . even him whose coming is after the working of Satan with all power and signs and lying wonders, and with all deceivableness of unrighteousness in them that perish; because they received not the love of the truth, that they might be saved.” This “Wicked One,” the Antichrist, will persuade all religions to unite in order to worship the image of the beast. He will cause all men to receive the mark of the beast in their right hand or on their forehead. That will be law! Will we bow down to the image or take the mark of the beast in our foreheads? Not at all. Then the government will not only take away our right as churches but he will persecute us for not standing in harmony with the laws he has made. 

The cults are not harmless. They not only deceive many but in a very real way they prepare the way for Antichrist. Be aware of them and their development. The signs of Christ’s return surround us on every side. As we watch them we prepare ourselves for His swift return. And we stand assured—f God is for us then nothing can be against us, for all things work toward our salvation.