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Do clothes make the man?

Two of Four

What makes normally intelligent people do stupid things? That is a question that has plagued us all for centuries. Psychologists, parents and other students of human behavior still ponder the causes of stupid behavior, and yet cannot come up with an answer. In Psychology 101, we are told that people do things because we are sex crazed beings abiding by either an instinct to survive or a palpable fear of death. We are also told that as such we behave differently when alone or acting as part of larger groups, which might explain why my friends and I as young boys thought that burning down my father's log pile to impress a girl was a good idea. It wasn't.

On a grander scale, the rules of our civilized culture make us capable of living with one another in relative peace. However, when we reject the cultural restraints in favor of some misguided pursuit, we become prone to acts of inhumanity, especially when we are part of a larger group. If we only heeded the words of advice we often see on bumper stickers, we would less likely do dumb things in large groups. Even our mothers tell us not to hang around with the wrong crowd. Given what we know of the Our Lady of Emmitsburg Cult, this is sage advice.

People doing dumb things in groups is known in Psychology parlance as "group think." Group think is when people in group settings seek to find consensus rather than conflict when confronted by the need to solve a difficult problem. While in most group situations such consensus building is sufficient to resolve a problem without trouble, the introduction of a bad influence say a self-centered charismatic leader, individuals within the group tend to abandon critical thought, social norms and natural skepticism in order to avoid conflict with the others in the group. According to several studies, this "go along to get along" attitude has led many normal rational people, over time, to conclude that an apple was an orange, if the leader and the group say it is. This proves the point that if you are told a lie often enough, you will soon believe it. The same goes for the liar.

Group think may explain why ordinary Germans become Nazi's who helped Hitler commit the worst genocide in history. It may explain why parents forced their children to drink the poisoned Kool Aid at Jonestown. It may even explain why Heaven's Gate victims dressed in matching clothes and committed ritual suicide because a comet happened to fly by. But, what makes otherwise faithful Catholics follow the newest Marian cult in Emmitsburg led by Gianna Talone Sullivan?

As people of faith, we believe in the one true GOD, and in Jesus Christ his Son and our redeemer. We pray as Jesus taught us and attend mass in the very Church Christ himself founded. Yet today, we see many of our brothers and sisters abandon the teachings of the Church in favor of the fanciful claims of Mrs. Sullivan. Why?

In the case of Germany before World War II, Hitler convinced an impoverished, defeated nation that he would lead them back to prosperity. The cost of following Hitler condemned 11 million innocent people to die in extermination camps because they were different than the Nazi "ideal." In the 1960s, Charles Manson convinced his young female followers (The Family) that he would lead them to a sort of Utopia, but first they had to kill the LaBiancas and actress Sharon Tate. In the end, innocent people were killed and the "utopia" Manson promised was a lifetime spent in a small prison cell. Jim Jones, also a utopian reformer, led his followers to Jonestown, Guyana where they fed their children poisoned Kool Aid and then killed themselves upon his demented orders. Congressman Leo Ryan was murdered by the Jonestown Cult while investigating the cult. More recently, the mass suicide of Heaven's Gate followers resulted in the death of 38 people who believed that the Comet Hale-Bop concealed a UFO that would take them to a better place as promised by their leader.

In the case of the Our Lady of Emmitsburg Cult, Mrs. Sullivan is promising her followers that through her relationship with Mary, the Mother of GOD, they will be rewarded with a deeper relationship with GOD, one that will lead them to full union with GOD and ultimate salvation when the end of the world comes, which Sullivan tells them will come soon.

Much has already been written on the inaccuracies, contradictions and the heresy that Mrs. Sullivan is passing off as messages from Heaven. But, like any cult leader, she has reassured her followers that her visitations are genuine and that attacks on her were predicted by Mary. The previous rejection by the Catholic Church and the current critiques of Sullivan on seem to be the impetus for these "revelations of persecution" and the reason the "messages" have grown more hostile to the Church and the faithful. In typical fashion, Sullivan is reinventing herself as a new "martyr" to gain sympathy and to steel her followers resolve to fight her critics.

The followers of Mrs. Sullivan, by their actions are showing clear signs of being in a cult. They hang on every word Gianna says, seldom, if ever contradict her, and like worker bees protecting the queen; they ferociously attack anyone and everyone who criticizes here. Examples of this can be found on the pages of which highlight the ongoing saga of OLOE cult.

But, from where do these people come? They are clearly people who have a deep and abiding faith in GOD, his SON and our Savior Jesus Christ, and a devotion to his Mother, Mary. They share with the rest of us believers the notion that GOD loves us, sent his SON to forgive us for our sins and redeem the world. And like all Catholics, they believe in the Ever Virgin status of Mary and honor her as the mother of us all. However, it is here where they diverge from the true believer.

Followers of Gianna differ from the rest of us in that they seem to have an unhealthy devotion to the so-called messenger of Mary, and not to the true message that she has delivered in previous authentic visions. They so desperately want to hear the word of GOD through Mary, that they fail to discern the content of Sullivan's so-called messages. They fail to use discernment which would enable them to determine whether or not the messages are authentic or even follow Biblical precedent. Although there have been several articles published which disprove the messages that Sullivan tells us come from Mary, and even map out the discrepancies, hard core Sullivan followers still hold to her cult despite the overwhelming evidence against her "ministry" and the conclusions of the Catholic Church.

So while traditional cults wear funny clothes, believe in strange things and follow creepy old men, Sullivan's cult is pulling people from GOD and eternal Salvation by putting on the cloak of heresy disguised as the genuine messages from GOD. As Christians, we must put on the full armor of GOD that has been hammered out for us through the life, death and resurrection of Christ, and reject Sullivan and her cult before they push us from GOD, spilt his Holy Catholic Church and demean the importance of Mary to her true and faithful people.

"No one can go off and start up his own church and call it Roman Catholic."

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