It's hard to be religious when certain people are never incinerated by bolts of lightning.
- Bill Watterson, comic strip artist (1958- ), in his comic strip Calvin & Hobbes
Those who claim that organized religion is on the wane may be correct. A few key reasons come to mind.
First, religion is supposed to benefit the individual believer, yet it more often benefits the leaders of the various segments within each religion. Religion benefits the leaders more than the individual followers.
Second, historically as well as at the present time clerics have been widely known to be among the worst violators of the sins their religions speak against in commandments.
Third, the massive expansion of media coverage of violations of the law among religious leaders among religious leaders has made following some of them like belonging to an organized crime family.
We must be suspicious of any religious leader who claims that what we do on earth is supposed to be solely to please God. While most of us want to be cooperative and follow religious and moral rules, we must question what kind of God had to create humans to be his servants and slaves. Does this sound like the beautiful and beneficent God our clerics tell us about?
Why did God give us free choice so that we could violate what he wanted of us? Isn't that like a master-slave relationship where the master gives the slaves free reign to do what they want, then punishes them with eternal damnation if they do anything other than what they have been commanded to do? That doesn't even make sense.
Clerics have over the centuries attributed every bit of misfortune to breaking of God's commandments, resulting in everything from fires and floods to AIDS, bankruptcies and divorce. Enough people believe this nonsense that the rumour mill keeps churning behind the scenes even when the real causes and sources for natural disasters and personal misfortune can be proven.
It's God's way of paying people back for their sins, say some. But isn't that what the hell they threaten us with is for? Either we should be punished here on earth so that we can all go to heaven cleansed or we should have free reign here and pay for our sins eternally after we die. If we get punished both here on earth and in hell, isn't that double jeopardy?
If the strongly religious people truly believe that their God is all-powerful and will punish sinners accordingly after they die, why do the self-righteous want to punish people here on earth? Are they concerned that God might miss a sinner? Or do they have God-envy?
Let's look at the self-designated upright pillars of society in a different light. If we examine their behaviour carefully, ignoring their message while focussing on what they do, they are really closet bigots. In fact, the self-righteous may be the most prejudiced people we have in our communities. They ignore that part of their holy book that says "Judge not that ye be not judged." They tend to be the most judgmental people we have in our societies. Yet prejudice, they claim, is a sin. One for which they personally have no intention of paying any penalty.
On the surface, every religion is designed to help guide an individual through a complex and confusing life. In practice, most organized religions are tax collecting agencies who want to control the behaviour of their taxpayers so that they will give more.
If God is ashamed of anyone in our society, he could find no better objectives than the highly religious.
Every religion has good at its core. Every religion goes corrupt over time. Every religion has people who profit from donations and who know how to maximize them for their own benefit. Every religion has people whose prime objective is to bend the minds of the followers to do their will.
That's what religions do. Not what they say they do, which is quite different, often quite the opposite.
Attendance at religious services is declining in most parts of the world where people are well educated. Not because the core of religion is at fault--because it isn't--but because educated people understand fraud and choose to avoid it.
This doesn't mean that belief in any doctrine is disappearing. I suspect the opposite. I think that we have more people who believe in what the core of the religion they were born into teaches while attendance at places of worship declines. Of course there will always be places where charismatic speakers can charm large audiences. We also have advertising that sells product well and politicians who can get themselves elected by making all kinds of promises they have no intention of fulfilling once elected. It's hype. It works. It brings in money.
I find it ironic that I have never met an atheist who is anything other than a good person who tries to do his or her best for their family and their community. What they don't believe in is the false gods that organized religions use to manipulate the minds of their followers. Most haven't yet figured out how to find the real God.
The more self-righteous among us rail against false gods. Maybe they should look into a mirror.
Where are those lightning bolts when we need them?
Turning It Around: Causes and Cures for Today's Epidemic Social Problems, a guidebook for parents and teachers who want to grow children who can tell truth from fiction, what is worthy from what is deceptive, what is real from what is devised by the greedy for their fraudulent purposes.
Learn more at http://billallin.com