Opinion: Message to Trump devotees: Cult members don’t often fare well

Donald Trump
President Trump salutes during a welcome ceremony at U.S. Pacific Command in Hawaii on Nov. 3.
(Andrew Harnik / Associated Press)

To the editor: Kudos to Reza Aslan for his insightful column on the cultish faith-focused following that has sustained Donald Trump’s presidency. (“The dangerous cult of Donald Trump,” Opinion, Nov. 6)

Really, has there ever been a time when religious voters have exerted such formidable influence? They seem doubtful of the authenticity and depth of President Trump’s palely professed faith. But all’s forgiven, so long as he pretends to do their God’s bidding.

It’s no mystery why Trump, for all his bungling, has seen his approval ratings stay close to 40%. That’s about the same percentage of Americans who cling to faith-favored creationism. If one disdains evolutionary evidence to believe that the world, including humans and dinosaurs, was created just 10,000 years ago, then he’s credulous enough to believe Trump’s lies.

Like Aslan, I fear that Trump and his cult will encounter a day of reckoning. Let’s pray it doesn’t come too late to save our cherished democracy.


Gary Dolgin, Santa Monica


To the editor: Most of what Aslan depicts as the cult-like behaviors of Trump’s supporters — the “ritualized communal chants” and belief that “competing ideas and facts are not just wrong; they are demonic” — could just as easily be applied to “progressives.”

Except progressives have no single cult figure to rally around, now that Barack Obama has been retired from the presidency.


Patrick M. Dempsey, Granada Hills


To the editor: During the 1970s, my husband and I were members of Synanon, a cult whose leader possessed charisma that Trump can only dream about.

Trump claimed that he could “stand in the middle of 5th Avenue and shoot somebody” and not lose voters. Charles E. Dederich, Synanon’s founder, came much closer than Trump to making it happen.

In 1978, the cult was being sued, and Dederich suggested — in jest, he later claimed — that his followers put a snake in the mailbox of the attorney representing Synanon’s opponents. They complied, the attorney almost died of snakebite, and some of Dederich’s followers went to jail.

Dederich, who was in poor health, got off with probation.

Joan Walston, Santa Monica

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