More Odd Advice from Billy Graham

The question to famed Christian evangelist Billy Graham:

How can I know whether a certain religious group is Christian or if it’s a cult?

Because we all know it’s either one or the other…

Anyway, Graham’s response:

… Cults often claim that they, and they alone, have the truth about God, and they often dismiss other churches as wrong or misguided. They also may claim that God gave their founder a new revelation that “corrects” the “errors” of others.

Someone please explain to me why this is not incredible irony.

(Thanks to Reginald for the link!)

  • blackskeptic

    Maybe he thought the question asked him to describe the basic tenets of Christianity.

  • Todd

    The only difference between a cult and a religion is the amount of real estate they own. – Frank Zappa

  • http://primesequence.blogspot.com/ PrimeNumbers

    They’re all cults. Thanks Billy for explaining that!

  • http://defiantskeptic.wordpress.com/ Alex

    Any sufficiently pious religion is indistinguishable from parody.

  • Dyl

    Ironicly, wouldn’t Christianity be considered a cult when compared to the Jewish faith?

  • Ben

    When I was back in high school theology classes (yup, it was catholic), I would occasionally pop that one on the priests. Good times, good times.

  • Gabriel

    A cult will be unable to donate enough money to a politician to get said politician to come and praise them in a speech. The moonies are now a religion. Scientology is now a religion. The FLDS is still a cult. Tony Alamo is still a cult.

  • http://superstitionfree.blogspot.com Robert Madewell

    Cults often claim that they, and they alone, have the truth about God, and they often dismiss other churches as wrong or misguided. They also may claim that God gave their founder a new revelation that “corrects” the “errors” of others.

    Wow! That sounds just like <Pick a Religion>!

  • Ryan

    “A cult will be unable to donate enough money to a politician to get said politician to come and praise them in a speech. ”

    That’s the difference between a cult and religion isnt it? A religion is a cult with political recognition and a cult is a religon without PR (in a nutshell anyway)

  • Shane

    Obviously, Billy Graham doesn’t own a dictionary. If you look up “cult” there is a picture of Jesus and Mohammad. And if I remember correctly, I believe they are tongue kissing.

  • http://skepticsplay.blogspot.com miller

    It gets more ironic.

    However, cults usually deny that Jesus was the unique son of God, sent from heaven to save us from our sins. They also may add other books to the Bible or substitute their own teachings for the Bible’s truth. They also deny that our greatest need is to be cleansed of our sins and that the only way this can happen is through faith and trust in Christ.

    Apparently, one of the characteristic features of a cult is that they believe something different from Billy Graham.

  • Colin

    Why do I keep listening to what these people have to say? It’s costing me a fortune in ironymeters.

  • Miko

    From the Simpsons:

    “This so called “new religion” is nothing but a pack of weird rituals and chants designed to take away the money of fools.

    Now, let us say the Lord’s prayer forty times, but first let’s pass the collection plate…”
    – Rev. Lovejoy

  • David

    The most obvious sign of any cult is the collection basket.

  • Pingback: The cult of religion « Thought Begets Heresy

  • http://www.banalleakage.com martymankins

    The Frank Zappa quote explains it better than Billy Graham.

  • Loren Petrich

    Billy Graham:

    They also may add other books to the Bible or substitute their own teachings for the Bible’s truth.

    Adding other sacred books? Can anyone say “New Testament”?

    Billy Graham ought to look at the history of his religion some time.

  • Vhyrrimyr

    *boom* damn, there goes another ironymeter…

  • Brian A

    Isn’t the only real difference between a cult and a religion the number of members?

  • http://atheistsandchristians.com Mike aka MonolithTMA

    Adding other sacred books?

    You mean like the way the Bible was compiled?

    Or did it just fall from the sky with all 66 books intact?

  • Luther

    (in a nutshell anyway)

    Actually that could be the abbreviation for many cults and religions: Nuts who believe everyone else is headed for Hell.

  • http://religiouscomics.net Jeff

    Religions are cults that have enough power and members to be able to call other less established cults “cults”.

  • http://lunchboxsw.wordpress.com Aaron

    Agreed! It is quite sad when Christianity has taken such a direction that while holding up humility as a strong tenant people can still make such arrogant claims. Christianity, thankfully, is not the same thing as following Christ…

  • http://miketheinfidel.blogspot.com/ MikeTheInfidel

    How can I know whether a certain religious group is Christian or if it’s a cult?

    The solution is simple. Count the number of members. If it’s more than one, yes, it’s a cult. Otherwise, it’s one person’s delusion.

    Aaron: Why follow Christ, when he gave a lot of bad advice (e.g. “give no thought for tomorrow”) and the good advice he gave wasn’t original?

  • Matt D

    my wife is a devout Christian and belongs to what I describe as a happy-clappy church. It’s one of the new ones with lots of singing and dancing and all that crap.
    It is housed in a purpose built facitly, and also has a school and creche on the grounds (i have been heard to refer to it as “the compound” or Waco)

    It has a few charismatic leaders who I find really creepy in that Christian way. The pastor and his wife are drving flash new cars and I’m sure are seen by the congregants as being an important link to god.

    She is quick to point out that other smaller churches are in fact cults, primarily because the focus is on the leaders – not Jesus. And she also says the priority placed on raising money is a sign of a cult.

    ahh…hello….does anybody else see the irony??

    I think a cult must be defined as any religion of which you are not a member.

    weird…

  • Phallo

    *spoing*

  • Dan W

    …And so Billy Graham epic fails. I had to laugh when I saw that quote of his.

  • http://google.com/groups?q=Autymn+-autumn+Jesus Autymn D. C.

    Aaron, Kristism is the same as followan Krist. However, the church doghma is to follow Paul, not Krist. I doubt you do much of the latter.

  • ayer

    It seems clear he is referring to groups which claim the label “Christian” but which have adopted beliefs which are heretical in terms of traditional, orthodox Christian faith (e.g., the Mormon Church), and is guiding the questioner in identifying these groups which he believes are engaging in false advertising.

  • http://www.rationalitynow.com Dan Gilbert

    I have nothing to say but “ROFLMAO!!!”

    :-)

  • John L

    My jewish coworker found this hilarious because Billy Graham just defined all of Christianity.

  • Zahada

    Dan I am with you! Hilarious!

  • kevin

    THERE IS NO DIFFERENCE!!! all religions are cults.

  • pcs19000

    So why is Judaism not a cult as well? There is an assumption that they are right in some way. They are the original bronze age scribes afraid of thunder plus confused about day and night among other things that we take for granted. At best.

  • Token

    Well… i guess i have to be the one to defend christianity… boo hoo. So lets hear it… what evidence is there against christianity? this is going to be fun.

  • Richard Cranium

    No one is saying Christianity doesn’t exist. It’s just wrong.

  • Phil E. Drifter

    “Because we all know it’s either one or the other…”

    Um…no.

    cult: a small group of people who treat their beliefs like a religion

    religion: a large group of people who treat their beliefs like a cult

    religion = cult = religion

  • Phil E. Drifter

    “Well… i guess i have to be the one to defend christianity… boo hoo. So lets hear it… what evidence is there against christianity? this is going to be fun.”

    Cannibal.

    You’re a cannibal.

    Every Sunday (or however often you go) you truly believe that when the priest blesses the wafers and water and you consume either/both, you truly believe you’re eating the flesh of christ. You truly believe you’re drinking the blood of christ.

    That’s a cannibal in my book.

    Think for yourself, man. Your brain evolved over millions if not billions of years. Give it a little respect.

    “I do not believe that the same god who gave us reason and intellect wanted us to forgo their use.” -Galileo (I was born exactly 413 years after this genius, and I was alive when Pope John Paul II finally ‘forgave’ him for mathematically proving the helio-centric solar system/disproving the geocentric solar system.)

    Religion = control. They promise you everlasting life…after you die. God is all powerful but HE NEEDS YOUR MONEY!

    God loves you and if you go against his rules he’ll send you to hell to burn for all eternity!!! (but he LOVES you!)

    What evidence is there? Well lets see, 600BC there was a greek god who was:
    • born of a virgin
    • had 12 followers (apostles)
    • healed the sick
    • restored sight to the blind
    • rose from the dead after 3 days

    See Bill Maher’s “Religulous”.

    There is no god, man. Get over it. Think for yourself instead.

    You really think god loves you so much that he puts everyone on earth just to test them, to watch over every little thing you do and then JUDGE you? It’s a pipe-dream, man. People believe this crap because a.) they were brainwashed by their parents, who were brainwashed by *their* parents, etc ad infinitum, and/or b.) they can’t accept that they will one day die so they dream up these fantastic fairy tales where everything is hunky-dory after you die.

    See “George Carlin: Religion is Bullshit!” or Penn & Teller’s “Bullshit!: religion” (As opposed to Penn & Teller’s “Bullshit: The War on (some) drugs”)

    You do humanity the ultimate disservice by refusing to use your brain.

    “Do you believe in god?”
    “No.”
    “BANG! Dead!”

    “Do you believe in god?”
    “Yes.”
    “… Do you believe in *my* god?”
    “No.”
    “BANG! Dead! My god has a bigger dick than your god!”
    -George Carlin

    Oh, as for drugs: read tinyurl.com/1mn
    It’s not a war on (some) drugs, it’s a war on minorities. After the Civil War and after ‘Grandfather clauses’ were struck down as unconstitutional (right around 1904) they decided to recoup their slave labor losses by replacing it with prison labor. What better way to lock up nonviolent minorities than to outlaw the *naturally growing* substances that they were using instead of drinking the white man’s alcohol?

    tinyurl.com/1mn
    tinyurl.com/potconviction

    The latter is the research which eventually was published in 1974 by Profs Whitebread & Bonnie, two UVa law professors who researched extensively in the Library of Congress to find the history of non-medicinal drug use. (The former is a transcript of the speech given before the 1995 CA Judges’ Assn before the passage of Prop 215, medicinal cannabis. (I refuse to call it ‘marijuana’ because we’re not speaking Mexican Spanish, we’re speaking English. Oh make sure you look up “Hemp for Victory” on youtube/google video)

    “It wasn’t hostility to the drug, it was hostility to the newly arrived Mexican community that used it.”

    me = someone who suffered through 12 years of catholic school education: AP pre-calc, AP Chem I, AP Calculus, AP Bio I, AP Chem II, AP Bio II, and… religion, which there were no AP courses of.

    I am a militant atheist. Kindly pull your head out of your behind. There is no god. It’s irrational fear. You’re going to die. Everyone does.

  • Phil E. Drifter

    You think jebus was really born on Dec. 25th? That happens to be the Winter Solstice (well, it varies year to year for the same reason we have ‘leap years,’ an earth year is actually 365.25 days; can happen Dec. 22nd-25th; when the sun reaches it’s lowest point in the sky and then days start getting ‘longer’ and warmer/stop getting ‘shorter’ and colder. Funny how Hannukuh is around the same time of year and overlaps, and Kwanzaa too. These people think they’re celebrating the births of their individual saviors, but they’re really celebrating the Winter Solstice, which is yet another thing the Catholic Church stole and claimed as their own:

    “We’ll kill you unless you convert to christianity, but we’ll let you continue to practice your wacky rituals, but you have to call it Christmas instead of Yule.”

    See dictionary.com/yule:
    “O.E. geol, geola “Christmas Day, Christmastide,” from O.N. jol (pl.), a heathen feast, later taken over by Christianity, of unknown origin. The O.E. (Anglian) cognate giuli was the Anglo-Saxons’ name for a two-month midwinter season corresponding to Roman December and January, a time of important feasts but not itself a festival. After conversion to Christianity it narrowed to mean “the 12-day feast of the Nativity” (which began Dec. 25), but was replaced by Christmas by 11c., except in the northeast (areas of Danish settlement), where it remained the usual word. Revived 19c. by writers to mean “the Christmas of ‘Merrie England.’ ” First direct reference to the Yule log is 17c. O.N. jol seems to have been borrowed in O.Fr. as jolif, hence Mod.Fr. joli “pretty, nice,” originally “festive” (see jolly).”

    O.E.= Olde English
    O.N.= Olde Norse
    O.Fr.= Olde French

    Why do people decorate evergreen trees? Jebus was in the middle east, you can be damn sure there wasn’t an evergreen tree within 5000 miles of jebus when he lived. The answer of course is because they stole the customs of the Europeans as they conquered in the name of god; before it was ‘Christmas’ it was ‘Saturnalia’ or something similar, because that’s what the greeks celebrated. ‘Olde Saint Nick’ was based on a Dutch man who went around sneaking coins into people’s shoes as they slept. Christmas didn’t start until around 266 AD.

  • Phil E. Drifter

    The terms are interchangeable, but ‘cult’ is derogatory while ‘religion’ is not; whoever it was that said ‘a cult is what you call every religion but your own’ was the best way to explain it. Judaism? Cult. Islamic? Cult. Scientology? Cult. Catholicism? Cult. They’re all cults, even the ones I didn’t mention for the sake of brevity. The only one that’s not? Atheism.

  • Heidi

    “Because we all know it’s either one or the other…”

    Um…no.

    Relax, brother. That was irony. Of course they’re all cults. That’s the whole point of Hemant’s post.

    Were you speaking of the god Mithras? I think he is the pre-Christian god who has the most in common with Jesus. There are actually quite a few with suspiciously similar stories. Horus is another who comes to mind.

  • Token

    This is all well and done.

    But what about moral values?

    Where do these come from?
    You get used to stuff and you just think its always been there. Morals had to come from somewhere. People didnt just wake up one day and think killing was wrong. Morals are INSTILLED into you the day your born. The need for a purpose, the strive to be better, values, it all comes from God. If the second law of thermodynamics says that no matter in this universe can be created or destroyed, how does this universe even EXIST. Did it all pop into being one day? no. the explanation is that someone created it. There HAS to be a beginning. THINK about it. I could care less about ‘drinking the blood of christ’ or whatever else they call communion. Aside from all the hub-bub, my religion consists of me knowing there is a god, knowing he loves, and striving for a better relationship with him. of course he send people to hell, if he made every one follow him, we would be a bunch of robots. his greatest gift is free will. That’s the reason you sit here and argue against him right now. Because he WANTED you to be able to. You cant honestly live your life going about solely for the purpose of pursuing happiness. Cant you see there’s something more? You obviously never experienced god. Im not talking communion, singing hymns, reading the bible. Im talking god. Dont ask me what it is, youll know it when it hits you. The true thing that makes me believe is something you dont have, experience. My experiences are my facts. You can slam on me all day, or religion for that matter. i dont care. of course christian are awful. How can a perfect god be portrayed by an imperfect race? they cant. So if your looking for god in religion, youve gone to the wrong place my friend.

  • http://n/a CynicalOptamist.

    First off this isn’t irony because well your honestly miss using the word ironic. What he said has no underlining meaning that means the exact opposite of what he said. It was ignorance… although I’m giving him the benefit of the doubt on that one. :b

    Token I find there are some logical fallacies I would like you to clarify.

    “People didnt just wake up one day and think killing was wrong. Morals are INSTILLED into you the day your born.” ~ Token

    You leave out years upon years of territorial conflict between tribes. I don’t mean just Native American’s either. Mesopotamia the cradle of modern civilization was built off the corpses of conflicting tribes all fighting over little strips of land.

    Ever read Moby Dick? Melville would disagree with you as well. Queequeg was a cannibal. He came from what we would consider a savage nation but in actuality it was normal. Than he came to our culture and such things were shunned. So he learned and adapted to our society because it was what he needed to to in order to survive.

    These people had a society that defined their morals. Einstein said the same thing.

    “A man’s ethical behavior should be based effectually on sympathy, education, and social ties; no religious basis is necessary. Man would indeed be in a poor way if he had to be restrained by fear of punishment and hope of reward after death.”

    “Did it all pop into being one day? no. the explanation is that someone created it. There HAS to be a beginning”

    First off how do you know it didn’t just pop into being one day? What proof do you provide? Are you on the track for discovering such a method? It is easy to say that SOMEONE had to create but what create that someone? Where did they come from? How did they come into existence? Did they just pop into existence?

    As for a beginning I will agree that I feel there is one. I won’t say that it was intelligent design however. Whatever happened we aren’t close to understanding what it happened but if we just stop looking and say “someone must have done it” the truth won’t be revealed.

    “knowing he loves, and striving for a better relationship with him. of course he send people to hell, if he made every one follow him, we would be a bunch of robots. his greatest gift is free will.”

    Free will and God do not correlate. You see if God is all powerful than should our free will is not in existence because he can still make us do anything he wants us to. On that account if he does permit us free will and he chooses not to intercede than Hell is not viable. Rather it is unjust for him to punish us because he gave our own choices to do what we did. He also must have known we were going to do those things so why bother creating us at all? If he didn’t know he is no God.

    You also have a logic fallacy via your own logic here. If we are born with these morals instilled in us by God than we are not to blame by what actions we choose. He pre programed us to be the way we are. Therefore he is damning the people he created for no reason.

    This is where it get’s really personal.

    “You cant honestly live your life going about solely for the purpose of pursuing happiness. Cant you see there’s something more? You obviously never experienced god. Im not talking communion, singing hymns, reading the bible. Im talking god. Dont ask me what it is, youll know it when it hits you. The true thing that makes me believe is something you dont have, experience.”

    First off: Your wrong. Pursuing happiness is all there is in life. Why do you try and communicate to your God? Because it makes you feel important, because it makes you happy. Your reasons are just as selfish as anyone else. So don’t be a hypocrite and criticize the rest of us for doing it without the necessity of communicating with a figure we obviously don’t feel is important. Sorry I should really say without even realizing you too were pursuing what made you happy.

    I’m perfectly content spending my life making others feel good about themselves. I don’t have time to try and make contact with any God that may or may not be. There is to little time in my life. Honestly a breath wasted trying to communicate to someone who didn’t respond the first time I tried isn’t worth the effort. My bigger picture has to little time to be completed for God to be painted in.

    I don’t want to worship anyone. I don’t want to be saved from damnation. I don’t need a God I only need what I know I have. People.

    So tell me why do you want to communicate with this God of yours? Is it to save your soul from damnation? Because that’s honestly selfish. Is it feel a sense of belonging. That’s also selfish. Is that so that you may be one with God? That’s selfish. Is it so you can do good around the world? What good are you doing by merely communicating?

  • savarin

    Ya know, it really is a w*nk how people go on and on about all this religious bull dust. (so I thought I would jump on the band wagon because I have just come back from an awesome holiday breakup party and have consumed a few jars of the amber nectar and am feeling a tad argumentative)(Oh dear, under most religious B/S claptrap its not allowed to enjoy yourself is it?)
    If its an atheist site the majority of the comments are just preaching to the converted.
    If its a religious site then its just flame wars. And a few erupt over onto the atheist sites as well.
    The only ones who really give a sh*t what and how others think are the religious f**ktards who appear to be under the mistaken belief that everybody MUST think how they do and, who also have the temerity to state that “you must show respect” to their stupid belief system even though those beliefs have been proven to be a total crock of s**t many times over.
    I find it incomprehensible how anyone with two neurons to rub together can even come close to believing all that total claptrap spouted every Saturday or Sunday depending upon the respective “Faith” in buildings devoted to the worship of some mythical being or another.
    What really riles me is the fact that a belief in some totally ridiculous load of complete and utter BS is tax exempt.
    WHY? what have these dipsh*ts done to deserve this?
    Nothing, thats what. You and I have to pay our way, so does every other business in the western nations but not these jerks who pontificate on and on about some weird super power who lords it over all of us. Big deal I say. Now grow up and live your life. Whoops, sorry, they cant do that can they, they need the overseeing influence of a the “Super being” (say this out loud in a somber voice)
    A supposed super being who is benevolent towards all of us but threatens us all with eternal damnation (whatever that may be) if we do not worship in him/her. (petulant f***er)
    I don’t even want to get started on those other brainwashed idiots (no other word fits the description) from other illogically stupid “Faiths” who attempt to win converts by “Killing them??” But hey!, its not so bad, I get to sleep with a s**t load of virgins (72 isn’t it? How the f**k did they come up with this number?) in the afterlife. Hmmmm, whats the average ratio of male to female birth rates in those countries? Where are all these dead virgins coming from? Don’t they knock off the female children because males are the preferred choice? (I’m too lazy to look it up because it don’t mean s**t) Oh! wait, females knocked off at a young age, does this mean that all those heroes of the Muslim world are pedophiles? Lets not become too emotive here, accidental death Is I believe the politically correct definition.
    I may be mixing this up with china here but who gives a s**t, it doesn’t detract from from the fact they are still total f**ktards.
    I could go on and on but why bother, its a senseless argument. The f***tards will never think for themselves, they are incapable of it.
    Meanwhile I can now go to bed and sleep easy after my alcohol induced soapbox oratory that holds a heap more sense than their religious nonsense, safe in the knowledge that all their prayer and hate can do nothing to me.
    Maybe I’m getting as bad as ARGH! “THEM” ????
    Nah!
    Their belief systems will never change despite the proofs whilst my lack of belief could change if a proof is offered.
    Have a happy few days off work irrespective of your personal belief system.

  • Ken Creten

    I think we need to keep in mind that cults often have a psychological context that “regular main line” Christian churches do not. I am a former Christian and when I decided over time, a long time ago, that I was an atheist, no one in my Presbyterian church “came to get me” or kicked me out of any community. Many serious cults isolate their community away from mainstream society and have rules that support, perhaps, one guy that’s the dude in the know.

    Whereas most Christian churches are come and go. You can go if you want, but it’s up to you.

    I think this is one difference between a cult, and a simply deluded community believing in “Jesus.”

    Like anything there would be a sliding scale of tactics to keep members, but most Christian churches I’ve known about, while having the usual strange Christian beliefs, also do not exercise heavy duty psychological tactics to hold onto their members.

  • RG Muchmore

    We atheists are a sad lot. All dressed up and no place to go!


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