[cross-posted from A_THEIST Echo] central Florida is sort of bible-beltish; certainly more

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[cross-posted from A_THEIST Echo] central Florida is sort of bible-beltish; certainly more than the metropolis of Miami from which i so recently escaped. [grin] so, imagine my surprise to open up the local paper and find a guest column by one D.K. Harris titled, "Religions can enslave their blind followers." it is a single column cut the length of the editorial page and i reproduce it here without permission. [any typos are mine and not the author's.] Star-Advocate; Titusville, FL; 24 Jun 92; Vol. 27, No. 13; Section A, pg 4: Religions can enslave their blind followers, by D.K. Harris I am worried -- no, I am appalled and disgusted -- at the increasing addiction of our society to religion. Yes, I know that religion has been with us since Homo sapiens first walked upright, and perhaps longer. It is the nature of sentient beings to seek explanations. When we don't know the whys and hows, or when something frightens us, we invent myths to explain it. Thus we have Zeus and Thor, ghosts and vampires, Atlantis, flying saucers, and a plethora of supreme beings in nearly every language on Earth. But we know for a fact that the supreme beings postulated by a dozen wildly different human-invented religions are, at best, a self-indulgent fantasy, and at worst, a mind-destroying addiction as dangerous as cocaine. The very idea that some anthropomorphic supreme being, capable of creating a universe whose size and complexity we can barely imagine, much less comprehend, would also give a hang for our rituals and opinions, is so ludicrous on the face of it that the only wonder is that "believers" aren't immediately put in psychiatric therapy. Add to that the simple observation that each and every one of these religions claims to be the only right way and you have the basis for a consistent and logical proof that religions are nothing more than human-created myths. What, then, are the attractions of religions? For those in power, obviously it is the power itself. There will always be those whose natures compel them to try to control others, and religion provides the easiest way to do that for those who have no other qualifications. You don't have to be smarter, or richer, or better looking, or more popular, to get other people to do what you tell them to do. Money is also a factor, though not a necessary one. A great many religious "leaders" have made their fortunes, as well as satisfied their lust for power, through their charlatan sermonizing. For the followers, the attraction is more insidious. Partly, of course, the appeal is still to that fear of the unknown; of death. Actually, it is not death that humans fear so much as mortality: the loss of influence. Another weapon used by all "creator" religions (those which depend on belief over independent thought) is the appeal to guilt. All humans have something about which they feel guilty; this is the natural result of the conflict between evolution's "hard-wiring" -- that which is responsible for our survival of a species -- and our social training, which is based on whatever concepts happen to be popular in any given culture at any given time. Guilt is both a subtle and powerful motivator, particularly when you are not certain exactly why you are supposed to feel guilty. By doing what someone else tells you to do, however, you absolve yourself of all responsibility -- and therefore, of feeling any guilt. The Nazis called it "just following orders." Religions disguise it in more self-righteous terms, but the same purpose is served. Followers derive such comfort from religions because it frees them from the burden of thinking for themselves, of dealing with problems for which they do not have the mental or emotional strength. It is in this manner that religions exactly parallel drug addiction. It is no coincidence that the number of drug addicts, homeless people, and religion followers all rose sharply when the Reagan administration closed the vast majority of in-patient mental treatment wards and left those without the ability to deal with the real world on their own to their own resources, which, by definition, they did not have. Religious rank is no guarantee of morality: there have been adulterers, thieves, and child abusers among the leaders of all religions. If this doesn't frighten you, then you are not using your mind. Mind control is slavery, no less so when the slaves are willing subjects; far more dehumanizing, in fact, when neither the slaves nor those around them are aware of the existence and extent of their debasement. -30- i can hardly wait for the fallout. [grin]


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