Cults and Such

“One of us, one of us, one of us” they chanted as the scaldingly-hot, pitch black Folgers coffee poured from the styrofoam chalice into the fresh, nubile lips of the naive freshman. They only needed one thing to complete the contract, just one thing to ensure that this young fool would never be free from their frigid grasp: his UCSD email.

The past few years have seen the growth of a number of religious organization on campus, all of whom have transitioned to more modern approaches of indoctrinating UC San Diego’s ever-growing pool of heathens. A common example is the neverending barrage of email-based references to such classic biblical verses as Judges 3:6 and Jesus 4:20 that follow once they lull a complacent freshman into a false sense of security with an offer of free coffee. But many are beginning to question if these religious groups should turn the other cheek to more common forms of marketing and return to their humble roots of brimstone, sulfur, and the utter damnation of non-believers.

When asked about these critiques, one member of the UCSD chapter of Intervarsity said, “We noticed that people were becoming less and less receptive to the message of God so we asked [hashtag] W.W.J.D., and the decision was unanimous among all our members: coffee probably.” Some groups criticize this approach of mainstream marketing as a means of recruiting new initiates citing the efficacy of traditional scare tactics in integrating strict fundamentalist beliefs into every facet of an initiate’s life. A member of the UCSD chapter of Cru argued, “people need to realize that blind subservience to God’s will under penalty of incurring his wrath is the only way to protect them from… Oh, Jesus Christ, what’s his name again? You know, the guy with the horns.”   

The issue with both of these approaches is that they each cater to too niche of an audience. The modern approaches appeal more to the millennial crowd whose religiosity is typically centered around cleverly shared Facebook posts to distract God from their night of sweet, sweet debauchery. The fundamentalist approaches fit more with the crowd who occasionally confuses Trump with one of the 12 apostles. If these student organizations really expect to succeed in the competitive marketplace of conversion, they need a more holistic and time-tested model. That is to say that these organizations should become cults.

Cults offer a happy medium between the archaic rigidity of fundamentalism and the laissez-faire frivolity of modern religion. This precarious position finds balance by offsetting the fear of eternally damning one’s mortal soul to the abominable pits of hells through crude and callous sin with some pretty neat benefits. The peripheral nature of cults allows the group to pick and choose its own interpretations of scripture, cutting out those useless, inconvenient bits like “thou shalt not covet thy neighbor’s wife.” Plus, the messianic leader of the cult has to handle all the responsibility of running the group, which is especially useful for a busy student whose midterms take precedence over some silly covenant with God. The best talking point though is the bragging rights that come from knowing that this particular cult will, without a doubt, inherit the earth. After all, isn’t condemning your professor to toil in hell forever much more satisfying than writing an unflattering CAPE review?

Cults have stood the test of time for a reason, so it is about time that the student organizations on campus take a cue from some of the oldest institutions in history. This is especially true given that many religions began as cults. In pagan society, for example, Christianity was a divisive cult that crept its way through every part of western civilization. It became so influential that it lead to crusades, the Inquisition, homophobia, restrictive gender roles, and worst of all, mean nuns. The current student organizations can only ever hope to have this level of influence. So the answer to W.W.J.D. is clear —- start a cult.