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Column: Your political enemies aren’t cult members

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Trump supporters gather in prayer near Kohl’s in Paso Robles before a MAGA rally last fall. The word ‘cult’ is derogatory – don’t use it in religion or politics

–By Stephen Lloyd-Moffett

Political commentators on the left, including most recently Washington Post’s Eugene Robinson and former CBS anchor Katie Couric , have warned America about the “cult of Trump,” whose members need to be “deprogrammed.”

On Fox News, former Governor of Arkansas Mike Huckabee countered that it’s the political left who are part of a cult. So-called “cult experts” in deprogramming have been called in to adjudicate, but as a religious studies professor, the current proclivity to pin the “cult” label on the other side represents a misguided introduction of religious language to politics and reveals more about the political environment than the religious one.

While the term “cult” is often employed in the media, most scholars of religion avoid it altogether because it has no specific definition. What is the difference between a cult and a religion? My glib answer is only 100 years and 100,000 followers.

You see, “cult” is merely a derogatory label typically placed on alternative religious movements that someone does not like. When new religious movements gain […]

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