Edelen holds a Masters degree in Theology; two years of graduate
studies in anthropology
from the University of Colorado, a lecturer of religion and anthropology
at the University of Puget Sound in Tacoma, Washington, and a weekly
columnist for many western newspapers. In
1990 he received a grant from the Annenberg Foundation to promote
religious literacy through writing and speaking. His home
base is Palm Springs, California, where he and his wife, Elizabeth, now
Before I even
imagined that my work would be considered radical ... Bill Edelen
already was. The following is reprinted
with his permission:
by William Edelen
Crack-pot ideas are
spewing out of the George W. Bush White House so fast it is almost
impossible to keep up with them. The "faith-based" circus that
totally destroys the line between church and state must be one of the
most insane. Even the Director that Bush chose to run the program has
quit. We need that authentic Republican conservative, Barry Goldwater,
around today like never before. He would tell Bush he is going straight
to hell. This is what Goldwater said to those with like constipated
mentalities just before
he died. Quote: "Anyone who tries to make politics out of God ought
to go to hell."
One national Republican leader said it
well: "Goldwater was always so straight forward it just took your
The "faith-based" comedy
started when Pat Robertson and others of like mentality started
screaming ..."you can't give money to cults...but only to
"real" religion...like us."
Many people started asking me this question
..."what is a cult....and how can you tell the difference between a
"cult" and a "real" religion.?" Hey....easy
question. No problem.
A CULT: Believes in heavenly signs such as comets and gateways to heaven
and other mentally deranged ideas.
A REAL RELIGION Believes in heavenly signs such as stars in the East at
leaders birth ..and the "sun standing still" for an entire day
(Joshua 10:12) and other mentally deranged ideas.
A CULT Believes they have found the truth while all others are deceived.
A REAL RELIGION Believes they have found the truth while all others are
deceived.. "Salvation is only through Jesus"
A CULT The leader says "believe me and you will go to Heaven."
A REAL RELIGION The leader says "believe me and you will go to
believe me and you will go to someplace called 'hell"."
A CULT Has leaders, mostly men, often wearing fancy robes and promising
salvation and heaven if you will give them your money and property.
A REAL RELIGION Has leaders, mostly men, often wearing fancy robes and
promising you salvation and heaven if you will give them your money and
A CULT Claims their leader is led by God, and God speaks to him and
tells him what to do. Their leader talks to God.
A REAL RELIGION Claims their leader is led by God, and God speaks to him
and tells him what to do. Their leader talks to God.
A CULT Makes miraculous claims about the importance of their leader.
A REAL RELIGION Makes miraculous claims about the importance of their
leader ..,that he was born of a virgin ..could walk on water...could
turn water into wine and feed thousands with two fish.
A CULT Thinks women are subservient to men and the male leader and
should take orders from them, including sexual bondage.
A REAL RELIGION Thinks women are subservient to men: "Let the women
silent for it is not permitted for them to speak, they are commanded to
obedience." (1Cor. 14:34) "Man was not created for woman, but
woman was created for man." (1Cor 11;13) "Let woman learn
silence in all subjection. No woman shall have authority over a
man." (1 Timothy 2:11)
See how easy it is to tell a cult from a real
religion. No problem.
LUNATICS....Barry Goldwater often aimed his
sharpest arrows at the religious and political right, calling them
"lunatics" and "religious charlatans." Pat Robertson
and his Christian Coalition, James Dobson and his "Focus on the
Family" organization ..Falwell and all the others. And so he said
of them.. "Anyone who tries to make politics out of God ought to go
to hell. I am sick and tired of political preachers telling me that if I
want to be a moral, or patriotic, person, I must believe them and what
they say. Just who in the hell do they think they are?"
"Gays and lesbians are a part of every American family. They should
not be short-changed in their efforts to lead their lives. This is not a
liberal cause. It is democracy. Our problem is that the radical
right and extremists want to destroy everybody who does not agree with
them. They are betrayers of the fundamental principles of conservatism.
So called conservatives today don't even know what the word means."
I am writing about cults and "real
religion" and lunatics.
I was invited to speak
a number of years ago to a state convention of Lutheran ministers in
Tacoma, WA. I asked them this question: "how many of you actually
believe that you are speaking for a God of the universe when you are in
the pulpit on Sunday morning?" About three fourths of them
held up their hand. I then said to them..."not a one of you can
explain a light bulb to me.....or a radio....and yet you fantasize that
you are speaking for the power behind the universe. That on this little
cosmic speck called Earth you are speaking for the power behind a
million galaxies.....that to me is closing in on insanity. "
They never again invited me back to speak. I think you can see why.?
A grisly cartoon a number of years in the
"Seattle Times" said it all. There was a figure, a skeleton,
clothed in a white sheet ..bent down almost to his knees ...marching.
It is clutching in its hand a sign that says...'JONES SAVES." I am
sure you have not forgotten that horrible event, led by the
fundamentalist minister in Central America a few years back. Jones was a
strong savior figure ..fatherly...dominant...charismatic..
authoritarian...paranoid...who came forth speaking for God. And the
hundreds following him all died.
Concepts of a "savior" figure
are appalling to Taoist ..Buddhist...Zen Buddhist and other similar
traditions. The pathology that goes with speaking for God is only
present with people of the "book" (bible)
Judaism...Christianity and Muslim. There is a very, very fine line
between the Jim Jones of the world and the Billy Grahams or Pat
Robertsons or any preacher who stands up in a pulpit and says..."I
am speaking for God...listen to me...I have the "saving" words
for you that are going to lead you into heaven....help me lead people to
heaven....just send checks or cash or a financial pledge to help .....
it takes money to lead people to heaven....".
Robert Ingersoll offers us a humorous final
image. "Can anyone really believe that God created the
universe simply for the purpose of raising orthodox Christians? And that
finally he is going to turn heaven into a religious
museum filled with Baptist barnacles.....Petrified Presbyterians....and
Do not miss this final word. There is a vast chasm between
orthodox, institutionalized religion and spirituality. A human being can
be profoundly spiritual without any attachment to doctrinal man made
systems. It is these very systems that stand as a great
wall........blocking an individual's quest for the Mystery. (EOM)
salute Bill Edelen for having the courage and the veracity to write this
article and bless him immensely as he continues to do his perfect work.
Do I agree with all of it? ... no I don't ... but his, is a voice of
"reason" that is very necessary in our world today.
So It Is!