Cults work hard to turn their adherents against family, friends, and anything from the outside that might snap them back to reality. In Scientology, this is called “disconnection,” which the Wikipedia entry describes as “a form of shunning. Among Scientologists, disconnection is viewed as an important method of removing obstacles to one's spiritual growth. In some circumstances, disconnection has ended marriages and separated children from their parents.”
Now, a new poll shows that Donald Trump has effectively become the nation’s most successful cult leader, convincing people his words are worth more than those from their own friends and family members.
There isn’t much that should surprise us about the MAGA movement anymore, but this CBS poll manages to do so.
Among Trump voters, only 42% think that what their religious leaders tell them is true, which puts this story about “liberal Jesus” in a new context. Remember the key passage in that story from an NPR podcast:
It was the result of having multiple pastors tell me, essentially, the same story about quoting the Sermon on the Mount, parenthetically, in their preaching — "turn the other cheek" — [and] to have someone come up after to say, "Where did you get those liberal talking points?" And what was alarming to me is that in most of these scenarios, when the pastor would say, "I'm literally quoting Jesus Christ," the response would not be, "I apologize." The response would be, "Yes, but that doesn't work anymore. That's weak." And when we get to the point where the teachings of Jesus himself are seen as subversive to us, then we're in a crisis.
So yeah, it’s no surprise that Trump supporters no longer trust their religious leaders what with all their liberal yapping about Jesus.
Weirdly, only 56% of them feel that conservative media figures give them the truth, but that makes sense when you consider how relentlessly Trump has attacked Fox News the last couple of years when “Fox News” is synonymous with “conservative media.” Trump posted this on his trash social site late last week:
“Why doesn’t Fox and Friends show all of the polls where I am beating Biden, by a lot,” he asks, and the answer is because it’s just not true. The polls have the race neck and neck. And given that Trump couldn’t beat Joe Biden with the advantages of presidential incumbency, nor could he beat Hillary Clinton in the popular vote, he hasn’t exactly proven the ability to win anything “by a lot.”
He’s then left crying about the pictures Fox uses of him. That’s just sad and pathetic to any outsider, but that’s not what the cult hears. Ever since Fox backed away from the Big Lie that Trump had won the 2020 election and fired Trump-loving Tucker Carlson, Trump’s attacks on the network have been relentless. So yes, if you’re part of the Trump cult, you’re going to follow his lead and distrust conservative media hosts.
Next up, over a third of Trump voters don’t believe what their friends and family members say. That’s some serious cult action! It’s clear they only believe friends and family who are fellow cult members. If someone is a white, male, rural southerner, odds are that everyone around him is also a Trump supporter. But anyone whose immediate circle isn’t part of the cult? Well, it’s time for disconnection. No dissent against their Dear Leader can be trusted.
As shocking as that was, there is one even bigger shock in the poll: Twenty-nine percent of Trump voters don’t feel that Trump himself tells them the truth. That is, a significant portion of Trump’s own voters think he’s full of shit, and they still support him!
Trumpism is, at its very core, nihilist. Nothing matters. All institutions are evil. Government can’t help you. Democrats aren’t just the opposition, they are all child traffickers and sexual deviants. The Jews are using space lasers to zap Hawaiian cities in order to enact their climate change agenda. MAGA-ism is a dark, dreary place. And given the strong correlation between Trump support and the prevalence of meth use in a county, the immediate world around them is also a dark, dreary place.
They are such nihilists, in fact, that they don’t even have an ideology. All they care about is hurting the kind of people they hate: immigrants, ethnic and racial minorities, Jewish people, Democrats, urbanites, college students, women, etc. That’s why when the Trump administration ignored Hurricane Michael’s devastation in the deep-red Florida panhandle in 2019, people weren’t angry that the government had failed them. They expected that. They were angry that Trump had failed them.
“I voted for him, and he’s the one who’s doing this,” Crystal Minton said of Mr. Trump. “I thought he was going to do good things. He’s not hurting the people he needs to be hurting.”
Minton was, at the time of that article, a single mother caring for her disabled parents. But she didn’t expect Trump to “do good things” to materially help her care for her struggling family. For these nihilist cultists, Trump and MAGA exist only to “hurt the people that need to be hurting.” They simply want the destruction of everything they hate. That’s why Jan. 6 came so easy to them.
Trump is an incredibly successful cult leader. But when even many of his own adherents don’t believe him, maybe he’s having the wrong kind of success.
Sign the petition: Disqualify Trump from running for public office.