Just a note: I grew up in this. What I call the Cult of the Shining City has spread across America and has gained an incredible hold over our politics and culture, so much so that it's hard to wrap your head around.

But it's necessary to understand them and their history.

Make no mistake. It is a cult. It is suicidal in nature, obsessed with power and oblivion. They follow leaders with doubtless abandon because, like other cults, they demand fealty and reject any information, including experts and scientists, that might cause doubt.

Before we begin, it's necessary to say: they worship Donald Trump like a messiah. Honestly, they do. And the story of how Trump's cult, the Cult of the Shining City, came about is a wild, wild story, but all of it is completely true.

It shatters the very myth of America.

We have to start at the beginning of America, the Christian influence that ran through our colonies. There was a perpetual myth that America was chosen by God to be a "Shining City." It was a unifying myth, a national myth used by preachers to carve a new path.

The problem with myths, however, is that they are used to manipulate and can be seized by anyone. In the 1860's the South took the national myth and made it its own. The Confederacy argued IT was the chosen nation God wanted, a racist, dystopian nation.

We don't study the Confederacy much in public education because to do so would be to look at our own twisted reflection and see how much of the Confederacy runs through us. The CSA was America, but with an explicitly racist identity instead of it being hidden.

In its documents and operations, the Confederacy was explicitly Christian. They claimed they were God's chosen nation, a nation with a divine white supremacy ordained by divine will. Their entire culture was based around this horrific ideology.
In Confederate churches, Confederate preachers gave sermons about a racist God who carried out white supremacy as a universal belief and operation. It was a nationalistic religion that influenced everyday life and belief.

Confederates worshiped a Confederate God.

When the Confederacy lost battles, it was because they had angered their racist God.

They were called to humiliate themselves. Fast for the racist God's mercy. Their churches were temples to this racist, white supremacist God.

It was the culture itself.

Here's the thing: when the Civil War ended, the racist Confederate God didn't just go away.

The preachers continued preaching divine white supremacy. They continued the Confederate ideology for a perverse "second coming" - the South "rising again."

Now. We have to flash forward. To the 1960's and the rise of the Civil Rights Movement. Leaders like MLK start preaching the social justice nature of Christ, appealing to Americans to embrace the progressive nature of religion to expel white supremacy.

But Confederate-strain preachers like Jerry Falwell took obvious exception to MLK's Christian message. They preached that their God had "drawn a line" of segregation and white supremacy. To fight that would be an affront to their racist, Confederate God.

Now. People always say Falwell gained power because of abortion. But that's only partly true. His original crusade was fighting desegregation. His and others kingdoms were built on a maintaining of white supremacy through religion and political purposes.

As MLK and Civil Rights leaders used Christ's social justice message to fight their battle, Falwell and other Neo-Confederates preached of the dysfunction as proof of Satanic forces at work. In this, liberal progressivism became the work of the devil.

For a complete view, you need to find the work of Francis Schaeffer, who Falwell and others threw in with who preached that liberal activism was destroying the world and damning us to a new Dark Ages. It became a battle for the soul and fate of the world.

Without saying it explicitly, white-identity evangelicals had a unifying message: Civil Rights & social progress were the projects of Satan in battling God. Troubling white supremacy meant troubling the racist God's plan. To do so would destroy the world and call God's anger. 17/
It was during Civil Rights and the social revolution of the 60's that Neo-Confederate evangelicals began reestablishing their hold on politics. They would eventually embrace Jimmy Carter, but his religion was social justice-based and they needed...someone else.

Enter Ronald Reagan. The former governor of California who cruelly fought the counterculture and who embraced the Evangelical Right as a political maneuver.

But here's the thing: Reagan wasn't really religious, but spiritual. His belief was steeped in the occult.

Reagan made an amazing partner though for Falwell and others. He knew the advantages of embracing this Neo-Confederate, white supremacist movement for votes and political power. They formed a partnership that would change the course of the country forever.

Reagan became a religious idol and his problems and occult beliefs papered over. The Evangelical Right got power and influence.

The white supremacist view was hidden behind rhetoric and a streamlined Southern Strategy. And the Evangelical Right embraced hypercapitalism.

What you need to understand is this: capitalism as it's enshrined in America is white supremacy made law. The people at the top from the beginning were white men.

That has held throughout the centuries and capitalism stands as "proof" of white supremacy.

Through Reagan and the Evangelical Right, wealth and power denoted God's will. If you were rich, it was God's reward for being godly. If you were poor, obviously you were a sinner and had failed to find God's will.

In this, the Confederate, racist God became a capitalist.

Surely you remember the Evangelical Right in the 1980's. They built theme parks. Flew private jets. Wore fancy watches and jewelry.

The church was a temple worshiping white supremacy and the gospel of wealth and power.

It corrupted them and damned the poor.

Here's something you need to understand: Republicans and the Evangelicals create these crises because of their policies and beliefs. But they blame it on society and then sell you the "solution."

To say people were poor or criminals because of lesser morality is a scam.

The belief of the 1980's was that people who failed did so because of personal, moral failings. But it was because of Reagan's policies and the GOP's upending of the economy.

The Confederate faith continued casting the blame on those suffering and again urged humiliation.

Aside: for anyone paying attention, surely you can see how Donald Trump comes in.

He grew up in this, worshiped under Norman Vincent Peale and the prosperity gospel.

He is this faith personified. But, more on him later.

The evangelical cult of prosperity infected the church. It made them charlatans of profit and wealth.

Like James Bakker, they embezzled. They committed idolatry. Falwell and others could only blame one thing: Satan.

As televangelists and evangelical celebrities like Jimmy Swaggart were humiliated and exposed as frauds, people like Falwell didn't blame the religion or its perversion.

They said it was a society run through with satanic forces corrupting everything.

Another aside: talking about James Bakker and Jimmy Swaggart, brought down by corruption after building a base of personality and a cult of personality, I again point to Donald Trump.

See how this runs through. See how it has evolved into this diseased cult.

Back to Reagan, who spent his time in acting circles in California. He trafficked in New Age ideas. He and Nancy depended on astrologers and mystics. The image Sean Hannity and other Fox News idolators create of Reagan is false and whitewashed for history.

As president, Reagan ran everything through an astrologer. His dates. His meetings. He even turned to her for advice on dealing with the Russians. His own staff questioned whether he was committing federal crimes by doling out classified information to his astrologer.

Reagan's idea of "the Shining City on the Hill" is the defining rhetoric of the post-WW2 America, but people need to understand his vision was influenced by a man named Manley P. Hall, an occultist who believed America was a divine country created by secret societies.

When Reagan spoke of "the shining city" he was talking about Manley P. Hall's idea that America was a divine country created by centuries' worth of secret societies and established as a bulkhead of reason against evil.

That was Reagan's religion.

Reagan believed, falsely, that God had intervened in American affairs since the beginning. At one point sending an angel to ensure the Declaration of Independence was signed.

This was a myth. A demonstrably fake myth. But it has become the foundation of the Republican Party

The marriage between Reagan and the Neo-Confederate evangelicalism turned America into a spiritual battleground where Satan roamed the streets.

This is where the Satanic Panic came from. If you grew up in the 80's you remember it being EVERYWHERE.

The Cult of the Shining City told us America, as a godly country, was being attacked by Satan and conspiracies. The conspirators and devilish army?

People of color. Poor people. Women. LGBTQ Americans. Everyone challenging the white patriarchal order.

Suddenly, it wasn't just that Democrats and liberals were political opponents. They were tools of Satan, part of a centuries' old conspiracy to bring down America, God's chosen country and bulkhead of the good and moral universal order.

An addendum: one of Reagan and the GOP's favorite books/movies was written by Hal Lindsey, who claimed the end of the world was being hastened by a satanic conspiracy loosely based on the Book of Revelation.

It is a central piece of all this madness.

Some might have seen The Late, Great Planet Earth, starring an older Orson Welles.

It's a part of all this, using Christian apocalypticism, Reagan occult beliefs, and the vilification of the USSR to profit off Satanic Panic.

This created a toxic stew in America among white-identity evangelicals. They believed America was endangered by a global conspiracy, with the USSR and Satan behind every moment and development.

It wasn't geopolitics anymore. It was spiritual war.

Inside the US, the Cult of the Shining City believed anyone questioning America, anyone calling for reform of Reagan's disastrous policies, was secretly part of the conspiracy against America and in league with Satan. They weren't just opponents, they were satanic traitors.

A note: the GOP was well aware of all this. They didn't believe it necessarily, but they used it to their advantage. They played the Cult of the Shining City like an instrument, dropping dog whistles in speeches and their public performance.

Over time, they merged.

The Cult of the Shining City was told to only pay attention to Revelation so they could always be "prepared" for the End Times. Men like Pat Robertson made so much money off this, blaming every natural disaster on "sinners" and selling apocalypticism.

Robertson and other charlatans pushed the idea of a "New World Order" that was a satanic conspiracy.

It was a new branding of anti-Jewish conspiracy theories. The same garbage that'd been peddled for centuries. But it was made new and it spread like wildfire.

The New World Order conspiracy theory became a central component of the Cult of the Shining City. It was the Enemy, Satanism and liberal decay personified. It was used to sell nationalistic, white supremacist ideas and keep cult members from questioning hypercapitalism.

One of the main components of the NWO conspiracy was the idea of an antichrist rising and controlling America.

Barack Obama became that fictional antichrist and was vilified as the personification of evil and realization of End Times "prophecy."

Obama's framing as the antichrist was inevitable. The first African-American president, he was proof white supremacy was not indestructible. His election meant *something* had gone wrong in this cult's worldview. There had to be a reason.

Surely there was conspiracy.

Birtherism was New World Order/Cult of the Shining City ideology put into action. It was never explicitly said on FNC or other outlets, but the suggestion was that Obama was a conspiratorial figurehead of something larger.

It was the New World Order, Satan's organization.

A note: this is all wild, I know. But cults become more and more unraveled as time goes on. Leaders change narratives and incorporate conflicting information.

The NWO/Obama/Satanic conspiracy thing is nuts, but if you grew up in this you recognize it instantly.

All these conspiracies, the NWO, The Deep State, the Elders of Zion, they're about protecting white supremacy and branding anyone who might trouble white supremacy as engaged in evil manipulation. It is white supremacy personified, and it has been made religion.


Before we get back to Obama and Trump and the Cult of the Shining City. It's necessary to go back to Germany in the 1930's, where the National Socialist Party was merging with something called "Positive Christianity."

Positive Christianity was a Christian cult in Germany that positioned Jesus Christ as the first "anti-Semite." Hitler and others embraced this ideology as it was a white supremacist perversion of the gospel that aided their cause.

It also provided a means of control.

Within Positive Christianity, "Christian" preachers preached of a racist God and over time began bestowing a religious nature on the Nazis.

Hitler embraced this and over time the Nazis announced all faith was unnecessary as Hitler was the new prophecy moving forward.

This brief journey to Nazi Germany tells us something: religious belief can be seized by anyone and turned into a means of control and power.

All you need to do is to grasp control and use it to your own ends, establishing a new cult of personality.

Here, in America, the evangelical right created a cult within a belief. That cult was dedicated to Confederate ideology, white supremacy, and the godliness of profit and wealth.

People within the cult don't recognize they're in the cult. It's simply their world.

Now, in 2020, they see Donald Trump as the embodiment of their beliefs. He is white, powerful, and wealthy. According to the Cult of the Shining City, he is everything they have looked for and believed in.

And it doesn't hurt that he willingly embraces the cult.

The "Deep State" conspiracy theory is the New World Order and the Elders of Zion conspiracy theories made new. His wielding of those paranoid ramblings is a weaponization of the cult's beliefs and fears.

It is a message: I am battling a conspiracy of evil as a messiah.

This is how we get him called "the chosen one," how Falwell Jr. holds him as an amazing man of God. How they worship him like a messiah. His embrace of birtherism and these paranoid conspiracies centers Trump as a papal figure in the Cult of the Shining City.

This is how you get madness like the Qanon phenomenon. It is a conscious attempt to make sense of indefensible narratives that keep Trump centered as infallible and godly.

It is the disease that is threatening the American political body as we know it.

The truth is that the Cult of the Shining City is at a terminal point. Their stories are losing their power and are becoming muddled and strange, indecipherable and offputting. This is what happens with cults. They grow and grow and change until they become deadly.

The Cult of the Shining City has been raised to search for the apocalypse, told over and over it's coming, and in a way they're dying to die. They want the End Times now because their country has been poisoned with murderous politics and culture.

This is a death cult.

Watch the coverage now. Evangelicals holding services. Saying they're protected by the blood of Christ from coronavirus. They believe this is a plague sent against the unholy. They believe these are the End Times.

They'll kill themselves and take us with them.

This all sounds really wild. I know it does. But this is what happens in a cult. They grow increasingly paranoid and are swallowed by madness.

The problem is they took control of the country and we've been steeped in their madness for decades. It became part of our history

The truth is that this isn't religion. It's political and hypercapitalism corrupting a religion for the purposes of profit and power. A Neo-Confederate, idolistic, nationalist movement seized control of our societal reins and has been driving us into the abyss for decades.

You can follow @JYSexton.
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