A cargo cult is a religious movement that occurred after third world natives had contacts with colonial powers.
The natives believed that various ritualistic acts will lead to a bestowing of material wealth ("cargo")
The most widely known examples of cargo cult activity occurred among the Melanesian islanders in the years during and after World War II.
The natives islanders observed, often right in front of their dwellings, the largest war ever fought by technologically advanced first world nations. First, the Japanese arrived with a great deal of supplies and later the Allied forces invaded the islands.
The vast amounts of materiel were airdropped (or airlifted to airstrips) to troops on these islands. This resulted in drastic changes to the lifestyle of the islanders, Manufactured clothing, medicine, canned food, tents, weapons and other goods arrived. The soldiers, who often shared some of this largesse with the islanders, who were their guides and hosts.
Based on non-traditional interpretations of the Bible, often with emphasis on the Book of Malachi, the doctrine views the Bible as a contract between God and the faithful. If you have faith in God, he will deliver his promises of prosperity.
Bring ye all the tithes into the storehouse, that there may be meat in mine house, and prove me now herewith, saith the LORD of hosts, if I will not open you the windows of heaven, and pour you out a blessing, that there shall not be room enough to receive it. (Malachi 3:10)
A common passage that prosperity Christians will quote is
Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you. (Matthew 7:7)
Tim Tebow is a good example. This theology explains the curious tebowing of Tim Tebow. By publicly displaying his faith in a football stadium, God will empower him to be a better quarterback and bring more victories to his team.
This GOP cargo cult theology is heavily materialist. While conventional Christians often believe their good deeds will lead to heaven, the prosperity cargo cutlers think their faithfulness will benefit them in their daily lives.
The GOP cargo cultists not only hold unconventional theological beliefs, their political though is also centered around conservative ideological beliefs.
This may explain why many think GW Bush was a good president and why conservatives think supply side economics work. The Cargo culters believe they will be rewarded by both God and the rich by being faithful to both. Material rewards will be bestowed to them by the worship of God, guns and the affluent.
This is actually low level pre-conventional moral reasoning according to Lawrence Kohlberg, a developmental psychologist and moral philosopher. Kohlberg described this type of thinking as naive reciprocity,
At this stage of moral development, children and some adults judge actions based on how they serve individual needs. Reciprocity occurs at this point in moral development, but only if it serves one's own interests.
It's a you scratch my back philosophy and I'll scratch yours. A church goer might think by attending church and making donations that God will reward him or her with a prosperous life style.
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