Religious Cults

UNITED STATES

Since 1900, some 20,000,000 Americans have joined approximately 1,000 religious cults. A large number of these have been rackets, but they often flourished because they promised health, prosperity and security to the frustrated individual. While most of these religions have been profitable to their promoters, many have also become wealthy through substantial gifts of money from fanatical followers.

California is the spawning ground for every conceivable variation on the religio-spiritual-self-realisation trip,* from Tim Leary’s psychodelic Brotherhood* (just busted in a massive coastal drugs swoop”) to High Church* drive-in services* all eager to net lost souls and their pay caeques. If you want to make a fast buck, tax-free,* get yourself a group ol followers and a religion or charity together. Charity especially is a thriving tax-evasion business.

Here particularly, where all the pioneering frontiers have been crossed, where research and technology have extended the quest to extra-terrestrial boundaries,“ and surrounded by the consumer fruits of the American Dream,” the young are asking “...and now what?’’ Or “where next?’’

The self-styled gurus* and religious freaks have been quick to jump in, pointing heavenward and using the hip language of the Woodstock and Coke generation,* “Turn on to Jesus’’,* “Things go better with Christ’’, to preach their message.

It’s usually the middle-class kids who go in for the salvation trip. Under-25-year-olds, mostly beautiful girls listen raptly to an Apocalyptic fire-and-brimstone account* of the end of Western civilised society.

The bearer of these dire warnings is an ascetic young, long-haired, Christ-like character. He preaches a brand of pseudo-scientology spiritual fascism: the masses are beyond hope, only the chosen few can hope for salvation, so work on your inner light trip — all very remote from the original Christian doctrine.