Table of Contents
Churches have faced immense criticism due to their investment in congregations’ blind faith. The use of ignorance of their congregation to affect their lives in adverse ways has been noted across the world. This is a case among the Spoken Word religious group in Ghana and the People’s Temple in the US. People have left their families, jobs, and even killed themselves in pursuit of religious gratification as members of these cult-like religious groups. Calls to abolish such groups are rampant within these regions, but the need for moderation with religious groups stands in the way. The members of the church claim not to affect anyone outside their group negatively. However, I stand for the option of abolishing such religious groups that require intense overhauling of one’s life.
Effects of Extremist Churches
The members of Spoken Word religious group of Ghana live within bushes for over 3 years now. The members of this church left their past lives, no matter whether they were successful or not, to live in a primitive nature without communication with the outside world. There are educated persons within this group, and children form a part of this fraternity too. The group leader, Daniel Navel, controls the communication with the outside world (Religion of Thursday).
Perhaps the most controversial of such groups was the People’s Temple group created by James Warren Jones. In 1978, after the members of this church that had relocated to Guyana, South America, (to escape US regulations) killed California Congressman Leo Ryan, they performed a mass suicide. The society was concerned that the church members had been brainwashed (Haney).
Arguments for Extremist Church Groups
The need for spiritual fulfillment in the human race is subjective. Numerous constitutions allow people to have freedom of religion. These churches and their members appear to have found peace between each other despite their conditions. Their voluntary participation in the church activities show that they are not obligated to join the groups (Religion of Thursday). Therefore, they must have had legitimate reasons for joining the group as some appear to have achieved higher education.
Furthermore, these extremist churches cannot be labeled as such without a preformed standard against which churches can be evaluated. Churches that require significant investment in their faith to be a member cannot be stopped as they are not breaking any set laws. The Spoken Word group has confirmed this; thus, it continues its operations without breaking any laws despite its ‘extreme’ nature.
Arguments against Extremist Church Groups
These groups have proved to be capable of destroying the lives of their members. Kwame Kpogoh from the Spoken Word group has denied his children a proper education due to his church affiliations. James Warren James’ church members left their respective jobs and families to follow their church in Guyana. A sect of this church even killed a congressional representative. This shows how this church transforms its members from reasonable persons to illogical and abnormal beings. Thus, they should be purged from the society (Religion of Thursday).
The massive loss of life within these groups should convince the society to not condone such groups. The death of 912 people in the mass suicide on November 18, 1978 by command of their leader James Warren Jones cannot be justified by any religious notion (Haney). Human life is not expendable over reasons that cannot be substantiated by whoever claims their existence. This shows the brutality of these groups within the society.
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Compromise to Adapt Extremist Churches
Churches should be registered and their doctrines known by the authorities before they begin their operations within a society. Continuous evaluation of church activities to ensure that their congregations are not being fed lies or manipulated is necessary. Ethical issues that arise from auditing churches should not be exaggerated as it is already evident that churches can also cause immense harm to the society.
Difficulties in Adopting Extremist Churches
These churches prove challenging to adapt to the society due to their unpredictability. Spiritual issues and faith do not need justification for their formulation. This can give auditing bodies problems in challenging controversial issues within extremist churches. When it comes to handling such issues, the ethical boundaries also make it hard to regulate churches as they are supposed to be sacred institutions not categorized with other enterprises.
Families of the affiliate members are the most concerned persons when it comes to regulating these churches. Desertion by family members who join such groups and concern for their welfare drives their goal to end such churches (Religion of Thursday).
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Human rights groups and politicians also try to manage these groups. Notably, California Congressman Leo Ryan is one politician whose involvement in the outcry cost him his life (Haney). The Ministry of Gender and Children’s Affairs also need sto be a part of this regulation as children suffer within these groups.
The extremist church groups have been held in contempt for their adverse impact on their congregations. The demands they stipulate to their members can even cost their lives. They capitalize in the vulnerability of their congregation to feed them lies and brainwash them. Their regulation is difficult as there is no criterion by which they can be considered extremist before it is too late to save its members. The ethical issues involved with vetting churches also make it a challenge to control such churches.