Thursday, February 02, 2012

Seattle Cult

The Stranger, an alt-weekly in Seattle, has published an article by Brendan Kiley about a creepy megachurch in their area. The Mars Hill Church has gained a reputation for completely controlling the lives of its members and for essentially stalking people who try to leave. Former members describe incidents of Mars Hill leaders contacting their new churches and even the parents of people they were dating.

My Gut Reaction: I may not be a huge fan of organized religion, but I know the difference between a church and a cult. This, my friends, is a cult.

Analysis: Admittedly, the word cult is a very loaded term, and my use of it in this case requires some degree of explanation. I am not trying to argue that Mars Hill is some sort of Jim Jones / David Koresh style disaster where all the members will end up killing themselves.

Rather, Mars Hill, based on the article, is a cult in the sense that it tries to control its members' lives and has a manipulative leader. Let's start with the domineering leader, one of the sure signs of a cult. Pastor Mark Driscoll is the head of the church, which is based to a large extent on his teachings and books. He was one of the founders of the church, and gained control after one of the founders left and other church leaders were fired. Former members report being reprimanded after even jokingly critiquing Pastor Driscoll.

More disturbingly, Mars Hill appears to set out to control its members' lives. For example, it tells its members not to associate with people who have left the church. People who have left the church report being suddenly cut off by friends. It has also made moves to heavily indoctrinate children as young as two years old, all using materials designed by Pastor Driscoll.

Some might object that The Stranger is an extremely liberal paper with atheist writers such as Dan Savage. However, a number of evangelical Christians in the Seattle area have come out against Mars Hill. Many of their testimonies are gathered at this website. It's always a bad sign when there are enough angry former members of church that they form their own website.

No comments: