Tuesday, January 11, 2022

The Branch Covidians Are Basically the Same as the Heaven's Gate Cultists (Except Not as Nice)


AP Photo/Mark Lennihan

I have HBO Max. I love it. Out of all the streaming services, HBO Max gives the best content for the money, in my opinion. Maybe it’s because I’m a documentary junkie, and the documentaries on HBO Max are plentiful. I recently binged Heaven’s Gate: The Cult of Cults and could not believe the similarities between them and the true believers of the cult I’ve come to call the Branch Covidians.

I’m not talking about the people who are going along with the regulations because they’re trying to survive, nor the ones who got the vaccine to keep a job, nor even the ones who don a mask to go grocery shopping. The Branch Covidians are much more insidious than that. These are the people for whom it is not enough to slavishly conform with every directive (“I put my cloth mask over my N95!”) despite COVID having a 99% survival rate. No, these people demand that everyone else also conforms to every dictatorial decree that comes down from on high like a message from God. The second coming of Christ took the form of Anthony Fauci to these people.

They stayed inside for an entire year, seeing no one but the back of their grocery delivery person. They never spent time with family, they didn’t go to their nephew’s birthday, and they didn’t visit their grandmother unless it was through a window. And it’s not enough that they did those things; they want you to do them too and if you don’t, you’re doomed to Hell on earth.

Heaven’s Gate cultists were following their Christ on earth, Do, who said he was the son of God the father, who was named Ti. Ti and Do had a lot of rules for their “class members,” too. The rules were strikingly similar to what we have gone through since 2020. Heaven’s Gate members were told to cut ties with all family, to deny human desires for connection, sex and socialization, and to retreat from the world into a closed community. There, they would wait for a sign that their savior (in the form of space aliens) was coming to get them to do work in the kingdom of heaven.

Another interesting part of the philosophy of Heaven’s Gate was their idea of what that “work” in heaven would be. It wouldn’t be creating families, nor would it be love or relationships, but communal work in the service of one entity. The ultimate goal for Heaven’s Gate was to transcend “humanness,” to become alien-like with no human emotions or desires. Class members would one day even lose the need to speak, communicating only through ESP. They believed this outcome would be the next step in the evolution of our beings.

It does not escape my notice that the Branch Covidians want the same thing for us. They want us to stop celebrating holidays, stop socializing with friends and family, and stop having joyful human relationships, and instead opt for the digitizing of our lives onto machines and serving the government unquestioningly. We had already been communicating mostly silently through texting and emails for some time, but the onset of COVID lockdowns exacerbated that to such an extent that now some people are finding it difficult to speak to people in public. The New York Times published an article called, “Don’t Worry, You Can Learn to Talk To People Again.” And it wasn’t just them. There are plenty of articles detailing how millions of people are losing their social skills, developing social anxiety, and failing at being human.

The big difference between Heaven’s Gate and the Branch Covidians is that the HG folks were super nice. They didn’t have any mechanisms other than their own persuasion to convince others to join. The Branch Covidians have access to every government institution and will literally destroy your life if you don’t join their cult. You will be fired or have your business shut down, your kids can’t go to school, you will be unable to travel, and you could even be imprisoned.

Has anyone stopped to assess whether or not we’ve been initiated into a cult? How is a cult defined, and what are the danger signs? According to Cult Education, there are several signs you should look out for.

1. Absolute authoritarianism without meaningful accountability.

To whom have governors been accountable when they’ve extended “states of emergency” for going-on-three years now? Or demanded that you receive medicine you don’t want or else lose your job? No one (in blue states, anyway). To whom is the health department accountable? Not the voters; they’re unelected. And yet, they can have you locked in your house and restrict you from going to the grocery store if you have a cold (which omicron literally is: a cold). That seems like absolute authoritarianism to me.

2. No tolerance for questions or critical inquiry.

If you question the official narrative of the CDC or Saint Anthony Fauci, you are banned from all popular platforms and your message is censored and stifled. It doesn’t matter if you spent your life practicing science, treating patients, studying immunology; if your conclusions are different than the ruling authority, you’re demonized and silenced.

3. No meaningful financial disclosure regarding budget or expenses, such as an independently audited financial statement.

This one can be compared to the transparency of data. There is none. And nothing else needs to be said beyond what Scott Adams tweeted out a few days ago: “If it’s opaque, it’s fake.”

4. Unreasonable fear about the outside world, such as impending catastrophe, evil conspiracies, and persecutions.

It’s dangerous out there. Don’t go out. Your fellow citizens are walking disease vectors who could kill you. You are in danger everywhere. 

5. There is no legitimate reason to leave, and former followers who leave are always wrong, negative, or even evil.

6. Former members often relate the same stories of abuse and reflect a similar pattern of grievances.

Has anyone gotten out successfully yet? I’m not sure. But I can’t wait to hear their stories when they do.

7. There are records, books, news articles, or television programs that document the abuses of the group/leader.

8. Followers feel they can never be “good enough.”

I wear two masks! I got my kid 3 boosters and posted them crying on Facebook! Oh yeah? Well, I got four shots and wear three masks AND have cut my unvaccinated family out of my life! 

Branch Covidians are always trying to outdo each other with their devotion to the cult.

9. The group/leader is always right.

Even when Fauci is wrong, he’s right. He said don’t wear a mask. Masks are security theater. Then he said to wear one. Then he said to wear two. He said the vaccines were 90% effective, then he said 80%, then 70%, and now he says they don’t reduce transmission, and somehow … he’s still right. His face is also on our food. It’s super weird.

10. The group/leader is the exclusive means of knowing “truth” or receiving validation; no other process of discovery is acceptable or credible.

And I would add another sign: weird, creepy singing. If you’re not convinced that you’re in a cult yet, check this out. First, Heaven’s Gate performing their version of Do Re Mi.

Cult Education also has a list of how to recognize a safe leader. Does this sound like anyone in our government?

A safe group/leader will answer your questions without becoming judgmental and punitive.

A safe group/leader will disclose information such as finances and often offer an independently audited financial statement regarding budget and expenses. Safe groups and leaders will tell you more than you want to know.

A safe group/leader is often democratic, sharing decision making and encouraging accountability and oversight.

A safe group/leader may have disgruntled former followers, but will not vilify, excommunicate and forbid others from associating with them.

A safe group/leader will not have a paper trail of overwhelmingly negative records, books, articles and statements about them.

A safe group/leader will encourage family communication, community interaction and existing friendships and not feel threatened.

A safe group/leader will recognize reasonable boundaries and limitations when dealing with others.

A safe group/leader will encourage critical thinking, individual autonomy and feelings of self-esteem.

A safe group/leader will admit failings and mistakes and accept constructive criticism and advice.

A safe group/leader will not be the only source of knowledge and learning excluding everyone else, but value dialogue and the free exchange of ideas.

We are not under safe leadership. This is a cult. You’re in a cult. I’m sorry I have to be the one to break it to you but those are the facts according to cult experts.

There’s a certain portion of the population who cannot be hypnotized who are not in danger of being sucked into a cult. That’s me (and probably some of you). This stuff doesn’t work on me, but I’m watching so many around me fall prey to the biggest cult ever to arise. Unfortunately, people like me who can’t be hypnotized make up only about 25% of the population, so … we’re screwed.

At least the documentaries in a few years are going to be epic.