Grievance Cults

In mid-June, a number of media sources reported on a cult in Kenya that advised members to starve themselves to meet Jesus. At the time of the reports, some 318 people had died, and another 65 taken into custody were still refusing to eat.

The cult leader–one Paul Nthenge Mackenzie– was a taxi driver before he founded Good News international church, promoted the Shakahola Forest as a refuge and ordered   his followers to starve so they could go to heaven before his predicted end of the world date. He also urged children not to attend school, saying that education was not encouraged by the Bible, and he had a YouTube channel where he encouraged his followers to reject modern aspects of life (You Tube isn’t modern??), like wearing wigs or using digital payment services. 

It’s unclear what grievances led Kenyans to join that cult.

Many Americans reading about this undoubtedly felt superior, assuming a degree of sophistication that would prevent acceptance of obviously lunatic ideas.

Think again.

Let me share with you just a few positions from the official Republican platform of the State of Georgia.

A section on “election Integrity” demands English-only ballots, an end to early voting, an end to automatic voter registration when getting a driver’s license, and an explicit county right to ban “Dominion” voting machines–the usual political power play.

Then it got mean. And weird.

The official position of Georgia schools shall be that there are only two sexes, biological males and biological females,” and, “We oppose transgender normalizing curriculum and pronoun use.” It’s not just “Critical Race Theory” that makes an appearance, but “The 1619 Project,” “DIE (Diversity, Inclusion, Equity,” “Social Emotional Learning,” and “Drag Queen Story Hour” come up, too, all of which are pretty much shorthand for “right-wing propaganda hack Christopher Rufo is my guiding light and I will promote whatever he says in whatever words he says it because I, as a lowly Georgia Republican, have no brain for doing brain-thinking on my own.”

There’s a specific section banning state funds from being used to “enable participation with, or show support for” what they call “Globalist Organizations,” like the World Health Organization or the United Nations. These are paranoias from the decaying John Birch Society but filtered back through thinly veiled “globalist” rhetoric to make it even more clear that Georgia Republicans mean it in an antisemitic way.

There is also opposition to the “Great Reset” (whatever that is) and to attention to “Environmental, Social, Governance (ESG)”.

There’s a very evasive section opposing the removal of “any” monuments or other honors honoring “veterans of any conflict,” which would almost pass as a phrase not specifically intended to protect traitors of the Confederacy if they didn’t tack on a reference to racist traitor monument Stone Mountain at the end of it.

And of course there’s support for a total abortion ban.

There is also support for a ban on prescribing puberty blockers, and a call to “Protect Georgia Food from Vaccines.”

The Georgian who posted this description noted that the state’s governor, Brian Kemp, and its Secretary of State, Brad Raffensperger, hadn’t attended their party’s state convention, despite the fact that

 This isn’t the riffraff of the base; these people are at least committed enough to Republicanism to pretend to be “delegates,” at least until Saturday afternoon rolls around and they’ve had enough pretending at civics for the day. And there’s nothing they can think of that needs fixing in the nation, nothing at all, except to make sure that “Drag Queen Story Hour” and “CRT” and “Globalist Organizations” get what’s coming to them. The party is for nothing; it’s only against whatever the last non-Republican said, anywhere, ever.

The poster’s rant–and it was a rant, albeit an informative one–made me think of the videos of the January 6th insurrection: the QAnon guy with the horns, the large number of confederate flags and flags purporting to represent Christianity–the sheer insanity of it all.

Kenyans followed the lunatic ravings of Paul Nthenge Mackenzie. The January 6th rioters and (as of April, 2023) seventy percent of self-identified Republicans still support  the equally insane ravings of Donald Trump.

The bottom line: if they want to win their primary elections, even rational Republican candidates running for municipal and state offices have no choice but to pander to the majority of truly deranged members of what is no longer a political party but a racist, anti-Semitic, misogynist “grievance” cult.

That reality is what has led so many former Republicans to become”Never Trumpers.” 

Until and unless the GOP returns to sanity or is replaced by a genuine political party, those of us who haven’t drunk the Kool-Aid need to vote straight Blue.


  1. The number of grievances nationwide is on such an increasing trajectory that I can’t help thinking some nefarious entity is generating them for the primary purpose of setting Americans at each other’s throats.

  2. Gordon, there is indeed a “nefarious entity” out there, but its motive is not always to set Americans against each other. Instead, IMO, that nefarious entity is advertisement and the motive is to make money.
    The internet, television, radio and the print media smother us daily in messages about what we “need”, what we “should” have, what we “deserve” to have, and what the other guy “already” has. A person looks around and concludes that somehow he/she has been denied, cheated, robbed. The result for those who cannot afford all that stuff is whine, whine, whine. Bitch, bitch, bitch. Bitter, bitter, bitter. RESENTMENT!
    This advertising approach is also useful for building a political base on these same emotions of unfulfilled greed. Just ask the Republican Party.

  3. my my how social media has tweeked the world..nothing like a bull horn to the vast open infinate window of the internet.seems like a bad car,it needs a recall.. we cant laugh it off when they,er,them,er, whatevers vote. i see why china bans the open warfare. parents need to come back home and settle in for a few topics of basic priciples of life.and not from the net. glad i drive a truck, i seldom ever see any t.v. shows. and my surfin is usually tech,well, old school tech related, and the better journals of a sane society. what am i missin?
    as we ramble on this topic, there is a end game,just have the republicans tell us in public exactly what they sure it jives with each one of them,somehow..i figure its all has to do with the rich running thi$ goverment and getting there anyway they can.. seems the billionaires have done a bang up job of showing how well they can keep democracy alive after shooting it full of holes.

    MTG and boebert for a cat fight with musk and zukkerburg. no holds barred…might as well waste somemore of Americas fragile time left..

  4. That Trump’s approval rating among Republicans is so high suggests to me that there is a difference between Never Trumpers and Never Trumpism. The former group may be growing, slowly, but the latter is withering on the vine.

  5. In re-reading my 2015 book, “Racing to the Brink: The End Game for Race and Capitalism”, I re-discovered the chapter I wrote about the 2014 Republican party platform in Texas. The same grievance cult planks were there then. The especially egregious ones centered around NOT teaching critical-thinking skills and ABSOLUTELY supporting corporal punishment to students who “misbehaved”. As a former science educator in Texas public schools, I can tell you first-hand that the right-wing crazies were there and active in full throat.

    More than once I had students tell me that their ministers said that all science teachers were the spawns of Satan. I’m not making this up. It’s heartbreaking to see children being so abused both directly and indirectly by “grown-ups” who are totally without a clue about the meaning of freedom, growth and progress of the species.

    THOSE are the roots of the grievance culture. All it takes is a flaming lunatic con man to appeal to those mindless, latent grievances. In Texas it was the Republican “leadership” pandering to the right-wing churches. And yes, Donald Trump, psychopath that he may be, is the master cult leader and con man that will demand that his followers starve their brains of facts and thought until they perish at his altar of insanity.

  6. With regard to one of Jack’s comments, the Trumpists really would like the country to revert to the conditions rampant in the 1940s, when “those people” knew their place and didn’t stick their necks out for fear of having it chopped off. Basically, they want to reconstruct the Reconstruction period in the 21st century.

  7. The real danger comes when the cult leaders take the reins of government, as in 2016 here in the good old US of A. Thank God, or whoever or whatever you pray to, that they didn’t keep the trifecta for 4 years. We would still be trying to get out of the muck. It’s bad enough that the House is back in the clown car. VOTE! VOTE! VOTE! and when you do, vote BLUE!

  8. The Republican “platform” of the State of Georgia? More like the screams of a dying political party. Not just dying, but tearing themselves apart. They are madly suicidal and want to take as many down with them as possible. Seems like the same impulse that drives a young man with an assault rifle to open fire on innocents before turning the gun on himself.

  9. Wow, the comments today are a thing of beauty!
    Then Sharon posted and a light went on. The GOP are becoming groomers for the AK’s next mass shooting. Thank you for the Moment of Clarity. Vote blue. Save our life!

    Vote the criminals out because the legal system has failed us.
    45 is a free man. WHY?

  10. As I have often written here and elsewhere, the Republican Party is defunct, having been sent to the same political graveyard as its predecessor Whigs, and its remnants are now captive to the neo-fascist element of that not so grand GOP. We are not dealing with the Republican Party; we are dealing with its captors, who have skillfully used what Sheila details today in her blog in the capture of what used to be the Republican Party, captors who have no interest in governing but who are rather consumed in the acquisition of power for its own sake since empowered fascist dictators, having destroyed democracy and assumed all power (and has history informs us), will govern free of public will.

    So what now? Vote! Our democracy is the most precious asset we hold in common, and one of the last few things worth dying for. Fascists, take note.

  11. It’s fine to say that the Republican Party is dead. That may be, but their power and legacy is just beginning to be felt by the rest of us.

    Abortion rights? Gone. Affirmative action? Gone. Wanna discriminate on the basis of sexual orientation? Go right ahead.

    The endgame for many in the conservative movement is complete control of the judicial system. With the appointment of ideologues to the Supreme Court (for life), the right has achieved something they set out to do decades ago, establish a majority in the court system.

    The Republican Party may be tearing itself apart, and Trumpism may be fading, but the game was won when Trump placed 3 new justices in the Supreme Court who rule based on conservative ideals not on the constitution.

  12. With this statement “Many Americans reading about this undoubtedly felt superior, assuming a degree of sophistication that would prevent acceptance of obviously lunatic ideas.” you are giving WAY too much credit to Americans.

    I can quickly count a lot of cults, most with a religious bent, with what I would consider lunacy practices–Jones and the Kool Aid drinkers, Davidians, the Duggar’s and their IBLP religious following and a few others–I also feel there is a significant number of ‘mainline’ religions that are cult like and the only party that you can vote for to get yourself into heaven is Republican. Any commonsense is thrown out the window.

  13. Let us not forget that the not feeling superior crowd includes those who followed
    David Koresh, and the literal Kool-Aid messiah to South America. Then we have
    the Scientologists and the now renewing interest in astrology.
    It may well be that the stress and anxiety of these recent years, inflamed by Don Jr’s
    avowed, and proud of it, cult leader has itself helped bring people to craziness as an
    Let us not forget that Georgia, like DeSantis’ kingdom, was a floridly bigoted place, and
    may well still be.

  14. Cult blindness comes in many many forms. I remember well the cult attitude on 9/11 and the months/years after. A LARGE majority of Americans agreed with Bush Junior’s approach and reaction to 9/11. Unfortunately, his approach had little to nothing to do with the Saudi Nationalist who flew those planes into the twin towers. NOT A SINGLE INVESTIGATION. But what cult following cared to look into that disassociation by our “leaders”??? Bush had a 90% APPROVAL rating after 9/11. I’d say that rates right up there with a cult legion, herd mentality, et al.

    I am one refuse human being veteran of the 2003 Iraq Invasion among many thousands of others who have been brushed aside and largely forgotten by mainstream America. Those of us who screamed “LIE” about the so-called “reasons” for invading two countries who had NOTHING to do with 9/11 were called by Cult America as traitors and worse.

    I would guess most of us are cult followers (or victims) of a political and corporate economic system that are hand in hand. How many of us fuss about buying products that enrich the rich while enabling poverty wage jobs to be the norm in America??? Poverty is a by-product, a symptom, of a system that exist SOLELY to provide profit for the top 10% of the population and to hell with the working peasants. Poverty is estimated to kill 1 in 4 people in America. Yes, good ol’ American Capitalism seems to be VERY cultist about the necessity of poverty wage jobs to make America Great!!!

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