It was stunning to read the attached discussion of about churches and cults. Even though it is written in a dissident publication, it makes a point about both today’s Catholic Church and the Southern Baptist Convention.
He quotes other scholars on the difference between a religion and a cult. A religion has social status, is thought to be the repository of religious truths and has a vested interest in the success of the larger society. A cult, on the other hand, is focused on the discipline of its members, pushes non-conforming members out and sees itself as separate from society at large.
The Pope has said he wants a smaller, more pure and conforming church. Whether members leave over abortion, birth control or women in the clergy, no tears are shed. As it becomes more strict, it removes itself from the mainstream of society.
The Southern Baptist Convention has been losing five percent of its members a year for several years. Nevertheless, its best known spokesman, Albert Mohler, seems proud it refuses to budge an inch on any matter of dogma.
Groups splitting from their parent denominations over gay pastors are also taking the mini steps of withdrawing from the broader society. Long term stable relationships, which are in the national interest, are set aside for absolutism of the literal Bible.
Several Protestant denominations, in addition to the Southern Baptish Convention, prohibit women clergy. They, also, are becoming islands adrift, separate from the general society.