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Topic: What makes a cult, a cult. Is Newspring one?
Replies: 14   Last Post: Apr 8, 2012 2:13 PM by: tigerking79®
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What makes a cult, a cult. Is Newspring one? [17]
Posted: Apr 7, 2012 12:12 AM
 

Here are some relatively well-agreed upon traits for cults. An organization having one of these traits does not make it anywhere near a cult. Some are more important than others.

As someone who attended Newspring for several years (believe it or not) and with many friends both in the congregation and staff, I'll just give my honest opinion on the matter.

My own view is that Newspring isn't a cult... but it's followers certain act "cultish."

*Veneration of a leader


To me, this is unequivocally true at Newspring. To say that Newspring's congregation doesn't vouchsafe rock-star status in their Pastor is a bold-faced lie. Perry does give cursory warnings that he is not perfect, and need not be the subject of idolatory-- however, if you've been to Newspring for any length of time, it's hard to ignore the number of times Perry has dedicated large swaths of his sermons to defenses of himself, or thinly-veiled self-aggrandizing (See the number of times in a sermon he has refuted his critiques by chanting "scoreboard.")

Perhaps the best way to describe the trait at Newspring is "supremacy of the leader." Newspring has something like eight campuses. They usually watch Perry live via streaming video. Doesn't that make you stop for just a second? It has to be him.

For what I find a funny, ironic example, watch this clip.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ECNtPxOl1bo

Perry starts off by criticizing his congregation for making church about Perry and not Jesus. Then he proceeds to talk about himself for five minutes. Just found it mildly amusing.

*Inerrancy of the leader

This is debatable; while I doubt that more than a handful of zealots actually think Perry is perfect, I do think that any criticism of Perry is very routinely taken with hostility. Because...

*Dissent is discouraged

Again, I cannot see how this can even be denied, if you've attended Newspring long enough. The turnover at Newspring and their support staff is significant. Say the wrong thing, criticize the wrong person, and you're out. I've seen many members raise valid concerns via email or phone call, only to be snidely told "If you don't like it, don't go here." See the entire fiasco involving Anderson professor James Duncan, when he wrote a letter to the editor. More to come on this.

More to the point-- just have a conversation with a typical, rabid Newspringer. Tell them that you don't like big churches, or that you don't think it's biblical, or that it seems cultish. I think you'll find the responses tend to be significantly less measured than the ones on this board. That has been my experience anyway. There is a ferocity and vitriol, lurking, at the ready, in the minds and hearts of many of these people.

*Absolute Truth

Yep. But this goes for most religious organizations.
*Absolute Morality

Yep.
*In Group/Out Group Mentality (Isolation of the "other)

Absolutely. Again, if you've been to Newspring long enough, and have a criticism, or leave-- try to have a conversation with the current members. They isolate themselves from OTHER Christians who aren't Newspringers. The number of times Perry uses isolationist rhetoric in regard to his critics and other Christians is astounding to me. Again, this is a generalization, but reflective of my personal experience. I have seen and heard MANY times, Newsprings accuse Christians of being false prophets or unbelievers because they dislike Newspring or Perry.

*Ends Justify the Means

Sure. I don't think I'm the only person that found Newspring to be going out of its way to be secular and "unequally yoked." The sermons are superficial, the music ultra-contemporary, and the language from the pulpit presses and passes the limits of what is traditionally acceptable. Why? Because Newspring is about two things; more members and more money. Newspring has embarked upon a pretty significant shift in how to "reach" people.

*Deceit and hidden agendas


I think this ties into the next point...

*Financial exploitation

Newspring has made tens of millions of dollars.

They are the richest church in the state. Yet they seemingly charge for everything. Someone told me the membership class costs money (it's actually called an "ownership class" now). I cannot vouch for if this is true or was ever true.

Their schemes for making money are ubiquitous. Perry holds "conversations" with Pastors who want to grow their churches, and charges them 100 bucks a person for the service. Want to serve Newspring and your lord by going to Kenya on a mission trip? Better be willing to drop 4 grand.
Over half of Newpsring's budget goes to personnel salary and benefits. That seems awfully high for a "missions based ministry." Newspring, along with vocally pushing tithing and giving, has had several multi-million dollar capital campaigns. Newspring preaches against debt, but pushes online giving via credit cards.

I don't know. Just seems awfully, awfully money-minded to me. And please don't start with the "you're just jealous they have so much money" crap. I don't go to church. I don't have a "house" to compare.


*Mind-altering practices


I think the entire process by which music, lighting, mood, and ambiance are used to incite desired emotions (guilt, bliss, relief, consolation) is common to most religions.

Newspring does it well.
*Lack of accountability

This, to me, is a big one. The upper echelon of Newspring is untouchable. Call me old school-- a "church" is supposed to be a body. It's a cooperative. The congregation of Newspring and the community at large has no say in their own collective experience at the "church." Perry and his inner circle don't lead; they rule. They are untouchable.

If you haven't heard about what some of Newspring's staff did to the Anderson University professor, read this

http://www.pajamapages.com/holy-rage-at-the-spring-2/

The lack of accountability reeks.
*Aggressive recruitment practices

I'd say so. Billboards, TV, Radio, Twitter, Facebook...

*Propaganda techniques.

See above.

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