WILL YOU STILL GO TO HEAVEN IF YOU DON’T DRINK THE KOOL AID? by Art Smukler, author and psychiatrist

A patient reminded me about the November 1978 Jonestown massacre. 913 members of The People’s Temple cult committed suicide by drinking grape-flavored Kool Aid laced with potassium cyanide. Their leader, Jim Jones, after a number of practice sessions, ordered the entire cult to drink the deadly mixture. They did exactly what he said!

Psychotic, crazy, mass hypnosis, gullibility? Probably all.

Is it that much different now, 34 years later?

Charismatic preachers, acting like messengers from some crazy god, continue to have enormous religious and political power. In their eyes, birth control and homosexuality are clearly a sin. Now the preaching has taken on an even crazier tempo. Republicans are battling each other to prove who is the “true” conservative.

As a psychiatrist, I often wonder what is really going on. Am I the crazy one? If I don’t believe, will I not get into “The Kingdom”, or wherever religious fanatics go who are true believers? Whatever their fantasy might be, I’m not interested in joining them.

When a patient is overtly psychotic, logic doesn’t help. Talking to rigid evangelicals also won’t help. So what will?

Join groups like Planned Parenthood, work to have all 50 states pass equality laws supporting gay rights, speak out against any school that won’t teach evolution, speak out against any use of violence to advocate a religious belief, and do whatever you can to expose any hint of terrorism that will limit our right to have the freedom to come to our own conclusions about the world.

Because so many people need to drink Kool Aid, doesn’t mean that we have to respect or ignore the dangers that it breeds.

Any thoughts?

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13 Responses to WILL YOU STILL GO TO HEAVEN IF YOU DON’T DRINK THE KOOL AID? by Art Smukler, author and psychiatrist

  1. Hulia says:

    I wonder if there have been studies done on the connection between fundamentalists and their relationship with their parents and family elders? My husband’s brother’s wife and her friend who are born again christians ridicule me often (I’m a christian and rational), for supporting human rights and my educated views of the bible (that it’s not a literal handbook – and stuff was edited and translated a million times over which makes things lost in translation), which I learned from theology scholars in college. They didn’t go to college. They both entered their faiths as adults, and although they belong to a regular catholic parish and their kids go to a regular catholic school, they do things over the top. I wonder if because they both grew up in a family setting whether there was a lack of a nurturing respectful environment, and lack of a loving relationship with their parents who were not christians, if this is their way of getting the feeling of being “structured.” They to this day don’t seem to converse with their parents or siblings and lack any interest in hearing the advice from their elders. I wondered, since we can all learn a great deal about life from our parents and grandparents, that not all, but most people who never had that opportunity, are the ones going koo koo for cocoa puffs as adults with radical organized religion, because it gives them the structure that they never had growing up? What irritates me is seeing my in-laws raising their kids as radicals, because I have a feeling that one day the kids will either rebel in a mean way towards their family and cause further grief, or do something bad in society, and being related to these types of people via marriage it makes me feel like I should step up and confront them on it – but I already tried that in civil discourse, and got a door slammed in my face. I feel lucky to have been brought up in an open minded environment, and learn about the christian faith in an open hearted way. So, when, as a christian, I try to intervene and tell them Jesus’s big picture (love one another, don’t judge, and don’t promote violence), they tell me to “leave Jesus out of it” and that I’m not allowed to go to communion at mass. It’s weird because no one else in their parish is this radical.

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    • artsmuklermd says:

      You are a voice of reason. Much too reasonable for the front- running Republicans. Thanks for your comment? art

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      • Hulia says:

        I’m an independent or moderate voter, especially these days! I usually have voted in the past as a republican, because of not wanting to be taxed a huge amount from my paycheck. But now there are so many crazies in my opinion, on both the far far right, and the far far left, that I’d rather emphasize that I’m moderate or independent. Besides, I know alot of people who vote democrat who are God-fearing christians, don’t mind being taxed alot, and believe in socialized medicine, etc. During elections, I prefer someone who is a well seasoned diplomat, a practical business person, emphasizes higher education, leaves personal faith in a higher being out of the political ring, and keeps big government out of people’s personal life choices. I was brought up with respecting other people’s views and I can’t stand name calling and all this juvenille back and forth between the political far ends. My angry-bitter rigid christian in-laws are driving me nuts because they force-feed their Santorum and holier than though preachings propaganda on me and my husband. They see things as black and white and constantly harrass me for trying to advise them to take a yoga vacation until elections in November. But I do realize I can’t change their views and I guess I just have to put up with it since they are my in-laws. But the thought of changing my last name back to my maiden name has crossed my mind, because I don’t want to be associated with them. And frankly, I’m ashamed that there are crazies in the republican party, and I think they should split from it and form their own official church-state-bigot party. Recently I donated to the Human Rights Campaign, and when my husband’s family found out, they called me a heathen. It’s like they have their own “infidel” rant. I see no different between radicals, whether they be the taliban or fundamentalist christians. Just like the taliban, giving muslims a bad name, the fundamentalist christians give people who believe in Jesus or God a bad name too. 😦 I wish I could run away from all this, but I did make a promise to stick with my hubby for better or for worse, and he is a kind person. Sigh.

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  2. The political climate right now makes no sense at all. It’s times like these I want to buy an island and live away from these “Romanesque” values and standards of living sprouting up in the world. Are we heading for the fall too, following in the Romans’ footsteps? Sure feels like we’ve a birds eye view to the arena right now, even if we don’t want it. Extremism in ANY form is not pretty, no, I’ll be more specific, it’s down right ugly, stupid and dangerous. Can’t we learn from our past and the horrific mistakes already made? Oh, right. Like anyone pays any attention to that! Thanks for the post and giving me a chance to vent!

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  3. Neal Koss says:

    Too many crazies in the world, and far too many of them in the USA. I think a few of them are running for president and hopefully the American people will see through the stupidity of fanatical religious beliefs. It doesn’t matter what the religion is, Jewish, Christian, Muslim or any other. Once it becomes fanatic, the followers are dangerous. Unfortunately, we have this thing called religious tolerance here. That allows cults like Scientology to call themselves a religion and this leads to more fanaticism. I could go on, but I’m beginning to fanatical 🙂

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  4. artsmuklermd says:

    It continues to astound and amaze me how much our lives are influenced by the fantasy of religion. As time passes, my political incorrectness seems more and more appropriate. Maybe in some strange cosmic way I’m distantly related to Bill Maher.

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  5. Carol Hoenig says:

    This is a topic that I find extremely interesting, since I partook in drinking the Kool-Aid for several years and was scared that I was going to go to hell when I realized it no longer satisfied my thirst. Just recently I wrote briefly about my journey from “coming to the lord to eventually coming to my senses” here for The Huffington Post: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/carol-hoenig/santorum-reminds-me-why-i-wrote-of-little-faith_b_1295260.html
    Thank you for a thoughtful article.–Carol

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  6. rich smukler says:

    WQell said and true. Unfortunately, we are mostly lazy and easily led or take a laissez faire posture.

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  7. Gill says:

    Thankfully I live on a much smaller island, although we have our own nutters there are fewer and they are responsible for less people. Saying that ther ewas an item on the radio yesterday about a boy (15) who had been murdered (brutally tortured) by his sister and her boyfriend because they thought he was a witch… they are now suggesting that labelling a child as a witch should be against the law to deter people. And this is the UK 😦

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