How Hollywood eerily resembles a religious cult
Actor Mark Wahlberg recently stated that religion is “not popular” in Hollywood. And yet ironically, Hollywood feels a lot like a religious cult. You see, Scientology is not the only group in Los Angeles that practices mind control.
Cult leaders manipulate their followers in order to gain total control over them, and the ideological intolerance in Hollywood can feel equally restrictive. Living in such a closed-minded environment can take a serious toll on the human psyche if you let it. Actor Derek Luke said, “Hollywood is a place where if you abide by the rules and laws, you can get depressed. That’s why faith and spirituality is a higher law.”
Unwritten rules in Hollywood, like strict rules within religious cults, are intended to prevent free-thinking and shut down open and honest discussions. Actor Kevin Sorbo recognizes the hypocrisy that permeates Hollywood. “They scream for freedom of speech and they scream for tolerance, yet they have none themselves if anyone has a differing point of view.”
Another similarity between Hollywood and religious cults is the sexual exploitation practiced by its most influential members. The founders of religious cults have a penchant for young women, including teenagers. For example, Warren Jeffs had at least 78 wives, 24 of whom were under the age of 17. Joseph Smith had up to 40 wives, of whom 12 were teenagers; and his successor, Brigham Young, had 55 wives.
Hollywood is equally submerged in sexual sin. As someone observed: “We’ve always heard that Hollywood is about making money, but I think it’s really about an immoral or amoral agenda to promote lifestyles, relativism, compromise and shades of gray with no black and white.” Scripture informs us: “A man is a slave to whatever has mastered him” (2 Peter 2:19).
The casting couch horror stories that emerged about Miramax founder Harvey Weinstein are just the tip of the iceberg in Hollywood. Sexual exploitation is rampant in Tinseltown as aging actors continue to prey on young targets.
Another thing they have in common is their distaste for the Gospel message. Members of religious cults refuse to believe that salvation is a free gift given to those who receive Christ as Savior. (John 1:12) They teach that salvation is earned by good works and that you must belong to their organization in order to possess spiritual enlightenment.
A cult is “a religious group which teaches doctrines or beliefs which deviate from the broad consensus of orthodox doctrine down through the ages. They either distort the truth or focus on half-truths.” And sadly, “People in a cult don’t know they’re in a cult. But everyone else can tell.”
Meanwhile, Hollywood celebrates glamour, riches, fame, and moral relativism. They permit their members to address religion in general, but the minute you start talking about Jesus, you have stepped over Hollywood's line in the sand. You become an instant outcast and will be shunned by many in the group.
But Hollywood's anti-Christian culture didn't stop Jim Caviezel, Kathie Lee Gifford, Stephen Baldwin, Candace Cameron Bure, Chris Pratt, Patricia Heaton, and other Christians in Hollywood from faithfully giving testimony to their faith in the Messiah. Caviezel said, “I don’t want people to see me. I want them to see Jesus.” And Baldwin added: “Jesus isn’t a logo, I’m not promoting some company, some brand. I’m just professing my faith.”
Kirk Cameron has spent several decades in the industry and has witnessed the intolerance in Hollywood firsthand. He said, “In this town, you can be a wife-beating, manic-depressive crackhead and everyone opens their arms to you. They say, ‘Hey, pal, don’t worry about it. We’ll get you into recovery. It’s all part of the journey.’ But if you become a born-again Christian and love Jesus Christ and want to share that with other people, they say, ‘You’ve committed the unpardonable sin.’”
Nevertheless, Hollywood and religious cults can only control you if you allow them to do so. Dylan House was raised in a Jehovah’s Witnesses family and was too afraid to even question the teaching. But after finally leaving he said, “It’s like going from prison to freedom … I absolutely love Jesus. I want to bring everyone to Jesus. I want people to know grace. What I have seen changed my life.”
Many former cult members have been set free by God’s grace and are now enthusiastic followers of Christ. They are no longer in bondage to the oppressive mind control that once dominated their existence, and they are happy to share the good news with others because the truth of the Gospel has set them free.
While discussing his Christian faith, Chuck Norris said, “The thing is, I know a lot of actors, and just look in their eyes. They try to be happy, but you can see that they’re not. And you see them out partying, trying to fill that void. I did it, I was partying myself to death, trying to fill that void.”
Christians in Hollywood will continue to shine the light of Christ into the dark culture that surrounds them. Mark Wahlberg explained, “I don’t want to jam it down anybody’s throat, but I do not deny my faith.” And actor Dean Cain said, “If it changes one person’s heart ... then it’s worth it.”
Dan Delzell is the pastor of Redeemer Lutheran Church in Papillion, Nebraska.