Some of my fascination with history comes from living in a cult. Because they are counterculture groups, cults often idealize a fictionalized past or imaginary future as superior to their own time. Home in Zion, my group, had common cause with the Quiverful movement of homeschooling, home birthing, and home churching. Quiverful Christians romanticize the past.
UFO cults idealize the future, when aliens will save us from ourselves. Rapture Ready groups do the same. What cults generally agree on is the current world is a mess. Why it’s a mess and how to respond varies by group and doctrine, but the sad fallen state of this sinful world is the common ground they share.
The present rise of Naziism and white racial hate groups in the United States can be understood in this context. They are a counterculture that idealizes a fictionalized past and thinks returning to that era will bring about a glorious change. They are also racist and horrible. Racism is a standard feature in white America, and even more so in white cults.
White cults include white supremacist terrorist and hate groups like the KKK, some motorcycle clubs, and Quiverful Christians who fear white genocide and respond with prolific breeding. They view having large families as obedience to God and service to whiteness. Even the People’s Temple, ostensibly an anti racist church, mistreated black members, who were overrepresented in the cult’s mass “suicide”.
I have written before about the necessity of kindness in the battle against cults. In the case of white racist cults, much of that kindness should be extended to Jews and people of color first or instead. Cult leaders rely on the world being ugly and unfair; it’s what they promise to change. When we show kindness to others, when we give money to widows and orphans and homeless, when we ensure everyone has their needs met, for many this will prevent them ever getting so ensnared.
But racism isn’t caused by poverty or need. It’s socially taught and encouraged at every stage of white life. Racist cults don’t arise to meet the needs of an oppressed people. They exploit the racist whites they claim to be looking out for, and terrorize or even kill people of other races and religions.