I watched a really interesting documentary on four corners the other night on cults. What I found intriguing about the documentary was that it illustrated how much influence religions have on politics. The cult the documentary focused on was the Christian group The Exclusive Brethren. I was quite annoyed watching the cult leaders persuade their group members to vote for specific political parties. The cult also used millions of dollars in donation money to support the liberal party. What really bugged me was how deceptive the cult members were about their influence in politics. They secretly paid for adds that put down the labor party and the greens and hid the fact that it was written and paid for by a religious group by masking it as an official add. I noticed the leaders in the cult used a lot of the techniques in our text book chapter on social influence and persuasion. Like they would ask members if they wouldn’t mind calling a few people on the phone to encourage the community to vote liberal, once members agreed the leaders reveled they actually wanted them to call a list of hundreds of people! (a low-ball technique). Also many ex-members stated they agreed with the groups ideas purely to fit in so they wouldn’t be excluded (an example of normative influence).
What also enraged me was the way the group excluded any member who displayed any differing opinions on politics to the cults beliefs. One man disapproved of the large amount of money being spent on supporting the liberal party and so he was kicked out of the group, never to see his wife or children again!
What do you all think about the mix of religion and politics? Fair… or should the two be independent of each other?
Someone is doing their blog 2 on cults aren’t they… just wondering if they plan to discuss such issues?