The happenings in the world have sent me toppling backwards — years backwards — into the fear and frustrations and seemingly inescapable situation of my past. Of the cult I grew up in and the people who were taken prisoner by its promises and leadership.
I know what a cult can do. I know the appeal of a leader who focuses on your innermost desires and vows to put an end to your most paralyzing fears. I know what that kind of leader can do.
I know how his testimonies speak to good people with legitimate concerns. I know how his scripture touting soothes, how his pulpit pounding activates, how his charisma intoxicates.
How his promises to carry you, save you, deliver you from evil are so very welcome in our dark world. How the traits he embodies (or at least professes) — strength, charisma, Godliness — are just what you’ve been looking for to bring you — to bring everyone — into the promised land.
But he’s no Moses.
Nor is he the chosen one to lead anyone out of darkness — despite the genuine hopes behind those who support him.
But be wary of the “Hope” this man holds aloft with his dazzling promises.
I’ve lived among false promises such as he proports. I’ve watched my family — and countless others — fall under the weight of sincere hope, falsely met.
I was speaking recently with a friend of mine who shares my past and also overcame it — and is as equally worried (and furious) about what she sees unfolding as I.
In her own words, “The exploitation of a good heart is the vilest of crimes.”
And I agree.
I’ve seen far too many good hearts (then and now) used as ammunition; I’ve seen too much real hope twisted to poison. I’ve seen too many rational heads uprooted, unhinged, and made ready to destroy others — and themselves. United with him, it becomes “Us vs Them,” and the fallout is deadly. Families torn apart. Friendships. Self worth. So many lives destroyed.
And the motivations I see now are the same as the motivations of the good hearts who found themselves entangled in my childhood cult: To align more closely with God’s commandments and Christ’s teachings and traditional family values. At least that’s what so many of those who follow Trump are seeking. Despite the fact that his promises resemble nothing of Christ’s promises. Nothing of true Christianity.
White nationalism is not Christian. Prejudice and pride is not Christian. Political power over moral duty is not Christian.
Christ asked that we protect the weak, include the marginalized, serve the downtrodden. We are supposed to be good stewards of this earth, not blatantly ignore — or participate — in its destruction.
Trump’s platform is the reverse of Christ’s message. But the lambs have laid down with the wolf by the millions.
Half our country has fallen victim to a leader whose ability to bend and break wills is mind-blowing in its potency. And the fallout has already begun.
And, sadly, I’ve seen it all before.
But this time, it’s not the hearts and lives and futures of a (relatively speaking) small congregation in Texas at stake. It is the vast population of these United States. And it is not only our freedom that is threatened, it is the very soul of decency.
Yes, the happenings of this past week — and throughout the past four years — have sent me toppling backwards into a time and place in my life where my freedom was nonexistent, my future bleak and seemingly out of my control, my frustrations at those who couldn’t see the truth, overwhelming.
But this isn’t my past. It is my present. And I am terrified about what my future might hold.
I was able to escape a cult like this one once before. It took courage, unmitigated strength, and a willful refusal (every single day) to listen to the sugar-coated lies of those who would eagerly lead me astray. I had to guard myself at every angle, lest they slip the Kool Aid into my mouth, lest they place the blinders over my eyes.
I pray our country can now do the same.
But, y’all… I’m really, really scared.