With the "religious right" (I'll keep calling 'em that, as well as "conservative Chrstians despite what some "evangelicals" would like to say is P.C.) taking credit for the recent election (which has been shown false by the left and right, as I've noted earlier) Daily Kos has some very good posts from Christians on this phenomenon that should keep thinking people from falling into the cult-like aspects of these, uh, cults...and maybe, just maybe, using the blogosphere, can help people out of these, uh, cults...
soonergrunt's diary makes mincemeat of the basic theological aspects of these folks:
I have proudly called myself a Christian my entire life. I believe wholeheartedly in the saving grace of Christ's love and sacrifice. Where I part with so many of my neighbors is my belief that Christ commands us to clothe the poor, feed the hungry, welcome strangers, and visit the sick and incarcerated.
They are well aware of the fact that He suffered horribly for them. They cry at scenes from The Passion of the Christ, and they universally hold themselves responsible for every lash and wound He suffered, but they miss the greater point of his life and ministry. It's as if He appeared on the earth in the court with the Jews, and nothing that came before like the Sermon on the Mount, or Gethsemane is important. For them, the point is that He suffered for them personally, as if He was the ultimate concierge: "Do you need forgiveness? Don't worry, I'll handle it with your dry-cleaning."
Their pride at this constant state of siege and discrimination in which they see themselves allows them to hold themselves above others, particularly those whom they perceive to be less favored of God. If God loved those people, he would've made them rich. They are poor--proof of their lesser status in God's eye, and they would take our God-given wealth and property for evil. Those on the outs of society deserve to be so for they are evil or misled by Satan. What charity they do practice is almost exclusively sent outside the country. Clothing and blanket drives for refugees in Bosnia and Iraq, mainly Christians, to great fanfare are de rigueur, but it's the mainline Christian churches that maintain the food lockers here in God's Country while they keep adding wings, plasma displays, and LCD projectors to their temples. They conveniently forget that God commands us to give, and give, and give all that we can to the poor and less fortunate, and to do it quietly. He wished us to mind the planks in our own eyes before plucking the mote in our neighbors' eyes.
And if that's not enough for you, then LeftHandedMan's infiltration of the Tuesday Night Prayer Group should enlighten, enrage, and stimulate you...
So, here is the lay of the land in the part of the system I stuck my head into... (and I know that it looks terrifying on the surface, but look closer as I have and you will see that this system, like any institution, has exploitable and potentially devastating flaws beneath its surface that we can attack) ...accredited and unaccredited bible colleges certify hundreds of new pastors annually, and new independent evangelical churches are started up like fast food restaurants in store fronts and trailers all over the country. They are independent, expandable, pay no taxes, and can be broken down and started again and again until they are viable because their creators willingness to fleece the flock and liberally use bankruptcy laws they condemn politically as conservatives. They mandate that you have to give them a portion of your money. Unless you are destitute, or have skin thicker than rhino-hide, if you don't pay you don't stay. They answer to no one unless they choose to, as the leadership of these individual churches are the `owners' of these churches, but they benefit, and are willing to pay for, affiliations with larger umbrella organizations that give them legitimacy and aid in their ability to grow and raise money. They are their own marketplaces for the buying and selling of products specifically targeted to increase their ability to buy and sell their products and influence legislation. They most successful of them use peer pressure and shaming to control the flock and are ever expanding.
It is clear that the religious right will over-reach, and that they don't have a clue about what kind of organizations are already flourishing on the progressive side.