Going through a two-hour mental endurance test, I went to the Hillsong Church in London today, to see for myself the sort of techniques used by an evangelical cult.
All the usual traits are there – “hosts” with their disturbing smiles, a charismatic leader, loud music, etc. While I believe that any religion is a cult by definition, Hillsong is very intense. Many churchs peddle their lies in a low-key, ‘drip drip’ fashion so that people simply become used to the tradition and ceremony. In contrast, Hillsong brims with energy as hundreds of people appear to be having epileptic fits at once.
It’s very scary – but worth seeing if you prepare yourself for it beforehand. Unfortunately humans seem to have evolved to be incredibly suggestible, joyfully welcoming a lengthy attack on the individual. Rows upon rows of people, often with large amounts of common sense otherwise, jump up and down [I’m not kidding] like zombies, ‘surrending’ to God and gobbling down stories about the creation of the world in 6 days, and where to buy the latest Hillsong CD.
Financially, this works – Hillsong has a video wall while many old, more traditional churchs struggle to maintain their buldings with a dwindling amount of visitors. It’s a very slick operation, the mental equivalent of a dose of heroin without the hassle of a needle. And it proves that we should fight the theft of people’s ability to think as hard as we possibly can.