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Religion is one of the foundations and building blocks of our society. It wields a power over people that was quite evident during ancient times but has become very subtle in our modern era due to the way religion has distracted its members from noticing the manipulation that religion expertly wields over their members. Thanks to my exposure to the history of religion and how our society has evolved to further include it in our lives, I have come to understand that these mega churches are part of the recruitment techniques of these cults and sects, hoping to turn themselves into the most massively popular and leading “religion” in the future.
The mega church concept as discussed Johnston's book presents us with a unique look into the evolution of a cult into a sect and then finally, an officially recognized religion. It would seem that the first requirement for the creation of a sect is a man who has a vivid imagination, is a skilled story teller, and has an intense amount of the gift of gab. What actually helps a cult to flourish is the charisma of the sect leader and his ability to actually make people believe that he understands what he is going through, whether he truly does or not.
In order to grow a cult into a mega church, the leader of the cult must have an almost hypnotic effect on people. It is important to understand that these cult leaders come into the business of religion with barely a cent to their names. Just like Jesus Christ did when he started preaching and building his cult of Christian followers. Johnston presents us with a clear path towards an understanding of the basis for the existence of the mega churches and how exactly it functions to help propagate the way of life that the cult believes in. With an impressive number of members, the cult moves from “religious” status to a part of the weekly entertainment of the group members. Yes, the gatherings have to do with religion, but the method by which the people are enticed to come to church and stay there for hours on end, opening up their wallets to the cause of the cult is what people should be truly aware of. Mega churches reach such a status because the leaders of the cult want to have a wide membership that can support their lifestyle, there is nothing about the mega church that exists in order to truly feed the spirit or soul of the cult member. The imposing structure is actually a part of the control mechanism that the cult leaders weld over members and future members of the cult. By creating mega churches housed within a shopping complex or adjacent to a shopping complex, the cult will have cornered the religious market in relation to the kind of people that frequent the mall. As such, the church will redefine itself and present itself in a light that they know will appeal to the crown of mall-shoppers and entice them to come to the church for services. They do this by disguising themselves as non-sectarian cults that very slyly disciples people who attend the church. What the mega church expects is that over time, they will have weaned the unsuspecting attendees from their original religious venues in favor of their own cult. It is because of this type of discipling that the mega churches require huge buildings of “worship” that can house around 2,000 people at any given service time. Nobody who wishes to attend the mega church is turned away. After all, an unsuspecting attendee is a future staunch mega church supporter if the cult plays their cards right. Johnston reminds us of the fact that these mega churches are all based upon small time cults that somehow manage to hit the big time. Their recruitment technique is simple. Aside from ensuring that their mega churches are
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