Religion seems to be a poison in a society. Wait, before you stop reading, I’m not talking about spirituality or personal beliefs. Personal beliefs are fine. Without personal beliefs we could not get around in the world. And, I’m not talking about faith either. Faith is just a belief put into action.
For example, I walk around in my third floor apartment with complete faith that the floor is going to hold me. I believe that I am not going to fall right through. Could I fall through the floor, of course, floors get weak. But if I did not have a belief that the floor would hold me then I could never go home. So, faith and belief are not truth.
Beliefs are normally formed by our personal experience. Since everyones experiences vary, it it obvious that their beliefs will also vary. Personal beliefs are not right or wrong, they are just conclusions that we have formed from our own personal experiences.
When someone holds a belief so tight that they think that people who do not hold the same belief are wrong, then that belief ceases to be a personal belief and becomes religion. Religion does not have to be about mystical realms and gods. One belief that I used to elevate to religion was music. I believed that rock and roll was the only real music and everything else was crap, and everyone was going to hear about it. It was a stupid thing to get so upset about. It hurt me and it hurt my relationship with other people.
Because of my deeply held belief that everything else is wrong except for what I thought was right, I did not expose myself to anything else, which only enforced my belief. By doing this I missed a lot of great opportunities to experience new and wonderful things.
Personal religion is bad enough, it normally only harms the individual and people who come in contact with that one person. However, when religion becomes organized it’s potential to do harm reaches to entire societies, and now with new technologies the entire world.
Most organized religions teach people that they are right and everyone else is wrong. They are going to be rewarded and everyone else is going to be punished. They are better than everyone else, and they are ordained by God to tell everyone else what to believe.
People who belong to organized religions are taught that the heads of these religions are speaking for God, and since they believe that God is always right, then they believe that what they are told is absolute truth.
These beliefs can become dangerous when combined with what social scientists call “herd mentality” or what is commonly referred to in the media as “Mob Mentality”. When people who have a common belief get together they validate those beliefs for each other. If they put those beliefs into action, they validate the rightness of that action as well. This is why people in a group will do things that individuals would never do on their own.
It is herd mentality combined with religion that brought us the Crusades, NAZI Germany, the KKK, and the attack of September 11th. These groups all use religion to justify their actions. These are extreme examples but the same type of dangerous mentality is at play in the American government and society. People all over the country are seriously injured or killed in the name of the Christian God on a daily basis. When religious organizations try to force their beliefs on others against their will, it is a form of tyranny.
But, what are the beliefs of a religion? If a religion has a moral code based on absolute truth, then why are there so many religions? Why are those religions so fractured? Why is there disagreements within those fractured groups?
When people say that we should all live by the moral code of one religion or another, what code are they talking about? There is no single code or belief of a religious organization. Religious organizations are made up of a group of people centered around one idea. But, the particular details tend to differ.
What tends to happen is that someone will take their own personal beliefs and call them the beliefs of the religion. When someone else rejects this belief, then others who identify themselves with this religion will see it as a personal attack.
This is very apparent when, as is usually the case, ignorance is mixed with religion. This is demonstrated most easily by the fact that states keep making laws restricting the rights of gay people in the name of religion. The selling point being that gay people are bad for society and are a bunch of child molesters and dope addicts, which has been proven false. In poll after poll, people state that they want everyone to have equal rights. But, someone can get on television and tell you that everyone else in the religion that you identify with want these laws. And, you believe them, because you don’t know otherwise. In these cases they have also mixed fear and religion, an extremely dangerous combination.
Using this combination of religion, ignorance and fear, people with an agenda can hijack religion and lead a large group of people in a direction that they would not normally go on their own. This is known as a “cult of personality”. Jonestown, Waco and the war in Iraq are extreme examples. Religious people are easily manipulated. All you have to do is tell them that your actions are condoned by the religion they belong to, and they are ready to back you 100 percent.
Another development in American society is the combination of corporatism and religion. Corporations using religion to generate profit. Because religious people are easy to manipulate, they are now the number one group to target for scams. Because of the belief that the church is always right and infallible. Scams by groups claiming to be Christian organizations net billions each year and growing.
So, believe anything you want. But,be very careful when someone tells you that they have a direct line to God, or that they know the truth. Because, someone saying they know the truth is a sure sign that they don’t.