Religion Can Leave a Bad Taste in Your Mouth
At the end of my final year in high school, the family holidayed at Manly, Sydney. I had put up with an abusive father all my life and by then had learned to fight back. Instead of being able to enjoy an end to the constant tension, his mood turned sour and sullied the holiday for everyone. In an effort to make sense of it all, I took a long walk to the North head until I found a wide-open space to sit and reflect on the situation.
I did not know exactly where I ended up, but recall a large monastic building positioned at the top of the rise behind where I sat down. I remained there for around one hour until a priest (or monk) appeared on the slope between the building and where I sat, making his way directly towards me. At first, I thought there was no need for concern. After all, this was a man of God approaching me.
There was no introduction, or ‘how are you’, or even a ‘who are you’. He asked what I was doing and why I was there. I attempted to explain a little about the problem I was dealing with and that I simply wanted to be alone to work through it. Instead of extending a hand of friendship and a modicum of comfort, he threatened me with police action if I did not leave immediately. Naturally, I left, but the sense of rejection and helplessness stayed with me for some time. I now know the place to be St Patrick’s Seminary, the principle training ground for Catholic priests in Australia since 1889.
My next exposure to religion occurred in the mid-seventies with a group known as the Potter’s House, an evangelical, fundamentalist ‘church’ that had set up in Australia out of the US. Its declared ‘mission’ was to promote the teachings of Jesus Christ and to give the gift of eternal salvation to ‘sinners’ so that they might become dedicated ‘born again’ followers of Christ. The feel-good Christian fellowship did not last long as I quickly realised it was no more than a cult that sought to extract money in return for saving lost souls from an eternity in hell. I witnessed extreme hypocrisy and learned that they had commodified Christianity to fund the lavish lifestyle and financial goals of a privileged few. This was when I came to understand that religious people could not be trusted.
The last ‘religious’ encounter in my life was also with a Catholic priest, which occurred in the mid-nineties. I had approached a nearby church to seek advice about a number of serious and genuine problems. Again, in place of solace and comfort, I met hostility as the priest accused me of being on drugs, something that I never succumbed to throughout my life. As he turned me away, I finally accepted that religious people were not a source of compassion to turn to.
Much less disquieting was the jehovah witness friend who told me I could not continue to visit him unless I joined the kingdom of god. Naturally, I have not gone near his house since then.
These encounters and several others in between prompted me to question the value of religion and eventually to look into its origins.
How Did Religion Begin?
There are many divergent and competing theories on the origins of religion. It is almost impossible to determine exactly how and where it began. Nonetheless, there are common beliefs and practices that present a plausible account of the emergence and evolution of religion.
Ancient people reacted to natural phenomena with fear and awe. In their limited way, they attempted to understand strange events by conceptualising supernatural beings and gods. These gods were anthropomorphic in that they mirrored the values, behaviours, beliefs, and experiences of the cultures and societies that created them. The ‘presence’ of such gods led to the realisation of beliefs that offered a sense of order and explained the incomprehensible.
Many of these early beliefs entailed ritualistic ceremonies of worship. For the most part, early humans relied on their beliefs as a means to understand that they are not alone in their struggles, sufferings, and triumphs. They learned to restrain their instinctive urges and that death is not the end of existence. These beliefs and rituals arose from a desire and need to worship and pray to their gods. That is, religion.
The religions of the ancient world provided answers to people’s questions about life and death. Their concerns stemmed from a spiritual desire to understand the human condition, the creation of the world, a human being’s place in the world, life after death, eternity, to escape suffering in this world or in the next, and to fulfil the innate need for guidance from wiser, stronger, knowledgeable gods.
Over the millennia, humans invented and worshipped many different gods. During that time, they assigned their gods the physical and mental characteristics of human beings such as gender, love, hatred, anger, and violence. As the range of human attributes expanded, they realised that much of what they believed was connected. Their gods displayed multiple attributes from which the ancients construed to be integral parts of a single complete entity. Out of this revelation emerged the notion of a monotheistic god as is widely accepted today.
The Influence of ‘Christianity’ on Western Culture
The history of the ideas and knowledge that shaped Western heritage over the centuries is traceable through the evolution of the arts, the adaptation of Roman law, the application of the Greek concept of democracy, and the progression of agreed views on private and public morality. Of greater significance, there can be no doubt that philosophy, reason, the scientific method of testing truth that arose out of the Renaissance and the Enlightenment, and further back to ancient Greece, all contributed to the unprecedented success of the West’s approach to discovering and applying scientific and technical knowledge.
All the while, the acceptance of the notion of a single ‘god’ enabled humanity to rise above its more basic, instinctive nature. Out of this pivotal insight, a benchmark evolved for gauging and distinguishing between basic moral principles such as right and wrong; good and evil; love and hate; charity and greed; mercy and vengeance; righteousness and corruption; sincerity and hypocrisy; and honesty and deceit.
In addition, the basic tenets of Christianity as practised by the early followers of Jesus Christ and later adapted by the Roman Catholic church gradually established a significant and enduring influence on how western society functioned and prospered. The biblical commandments of ‘do not kill’, ‘do not steal’, ‘do not bear false witness’ and ‘do not commit adultery’ underpin much of the Western legal system, as do concepts such as the sanctity of life, the belief in absolution, redemption, to turn the other cheek, and to love one’s neighbour. Although very little of these ideals were openly practised during the dark years of the Roman Catholic Inquisition (1231 to 1834), nevertheless over the same period they heavily influenced the way western societies established and developed its laws, democracy, capitalism, science, education, marriage, and the family.
The Catholic church held absolute control over knowledge and morality for many centuries. The printing press marked the beginning of the end to this pernicious monopoly. By the end of the 1800’s, its hold over these crucial influences had markedly diminished. During the early part of the 20th century, increasing secularisation became a direct challenge to the power and influence of the church. Ironically, the spread of Protestant missionaries throughout the world significantly transformed the distribution of mass printing, education and literacy, activism, and civic organisation. The missionaries laid down the roots for modern democracy as they had created the conditions, skills, and experience for local populations to manage their own affairs and expand the global presence of Western democratic governance.
As governments (the state) gained greater control over the affairs of nations, the liberalist mindset of the 20th century combined with prolific advances in knowledge and technologies gave rise to a resolve by Western nations to establish national and global networks of scientific institutions, media monopolies, legal courts, and bureaucratised governments.
Then Repugnant Attitudes were Exposed
As the 20th century unfolded, particularly towards the end of the second half, the true nature of religion (in general) became common knowledge. Out of this unwelcome exposure arose an increasing public perception of betrayal and irrelevance that quickly replaced unqualified loyalty and unquestioned belief in the church. The revelations of child abuse and the accompanying hypocritical stance of denial of wrongdoing and cover up accelerated the loss of belief and loosened the scales of blind support, thereby relegating institutionalised religion to a distasteful sense of disappointment and disillusionment for many former faithful.
While the ‘church’ (institutionalised religion) justly earned infamy through their depraved and deceitful actions, self-proclaimed ‘true believers’ of Christ proved themselves no better. These fundamentalist, evangelical followers of Christ attend meeting places that range from factory units through to grandiose crystal ‘cathedrals’ as depicted below.
The Crystal Cathedral Los Angeles
This group of Christians declare the belief that the essence of the Gospel is the doctrine of salvation given by grace and received through faith in the gift of atonement from Jesus Christ. Atonement is the forgiving or pardoning of sin in particular through the suffering, death, and resurrection of Jesus, thus enabling reconciliation between God and humans.
For anyone that has met such individuals, it is not long before the word “Christian” is associated with the word ‘hypocrite’ in that they claim to possess high moral standards, yet none of it applies to their own behaviour. They acknowledge Jesus and his teachings with their words, and then deny him through their lifestyle. Despite such shortcomings, the very same people consider they have the right to impose their beliefs on others. Such impositions quickly tarnish any attempts by outsiders to believe in God or Jesus Christ.
Other examples of their destructive behaviour can be found in the way their time is spent on pointing out the sins of others or condemning people for certain ‘transgressions’ while allowing countless misdeeds in their own lives to go unchecked. There is also the type that displays unkind behaviour towards people they do not agree with.
Paradoxically, the fundamentalist approach to interpreting religious texts elicits intolerance and contempt for differences displayed by outsiders. This attitude is rooted in the conviction that they possess sole access to the truth, which in turn sanctions the conclusion that those who disagree cannot be right. Even more vile are the tele-evangelists, who prey on the vulnerable and the gullible by offering ‘miracles’ and ‘healings’ whilst living lavish lifestyles and justifying their words and actions through claims of receiving instructions and revelations directly from God.
Benny Hinn Heals the Sick
Christianity and Western Society
Australian census figures show that less than half of the population identifies as Christian while nearly a third nominates no religion. The old beliefs are losing support and Australia is becoming a nation of atheists. The concern here is not so much that Australians are losing belief in god, but more that they are discarding basic Christian values in the process. As a result, a vacuum has emerged, which by nature will not remain empty.
Diligently conspiring in the background, the disciples of Marxism seek to invert the accepted definitions of right and wrong, true and false, and good and evil. In their view, absolute truth does not exist and everything external to the individual is in error. That is, your truth is the ‘truth’ whereas other people’s ‘truth’ is untruth, unless of course, the two ‘truths’ align. In essence, moral relativism replaces divine revelation such that no one has the authority to define truth or impose notions of right and wrong upon others regardless of words, deeds, and consequences. It is a world where every moral view, good or bad, is equivalent to every other. Boundaries no longer apply; leaving only the disconcerting ambiguity and ominous disorder that typifies the social and moral tone of todays’ world.
Adding greater uncertainty is the duplicitous intent behind the move to replace the authenticity of individuals, groups, and organisations with the subjective imagery and attendant deception of brand. Just as occurs with the promotion of products and services, fake personas substitute for the original in a premeditated plot to instil bogus impressions in the minds of unwary observers. Marketers refer to this tactic as personality branding and claim it is an acceptable tool for promoting desirable strengths and attributes. This stance of course is fine so long as the claims are genuine. Otherwise, the image portrays lies and deception. Once this line is crossed, the brand denotes the separation of all that is real about the individual and the image presented in his or her place.
The path from soul to individual to brand is a bleak example of the dramatic decline in what it means to be a human being. What we now witness is the disastrous alignment of Marxist debilitated versions of social, historical, technological, educational, and intellectual forces against time tested Christian values and beliefs. In readiness to take its place, is an undeclared religion, a revived socialist engendered atheism that is gradually and surely gaining control by adopting the same distorted persona tactics widely used today by countless individuals, groups, and organisations, including the churches. In this disturbing world, image is paramount, not the truth.
Western society without Christian principles leads to a radically different culture in which its citizens observe values and beliefs that bear no resemblance to anything acceptable in the past. When Christian values disappear, the culture follows, and thereafter the Western world. The consequences are severe and unimaginable.
By casting aside all religious connotations, including the notion of a just and moral God, it is difficult to identify an alternate source from which to define even the most basic of concepts such as good and evil. Even if there is no god, the broad acceptance of a higher power at least encourages society to reach consensus on principles and ideals that serve to define its laws and shape the standards by which it functions. Otherwise, how is it possible to know why Marx’s theory of socialism is wrong, or why Communism and Nazism are evil? Imagine what would transpire should the West accept that Communism and Nazism equates with good. Look around, it is not too hard to see that already there are clear signs of several ‘isms’ influencing and even corrupting the western way of life. Such examples should be obvious to many. To be fair however, evil is not always readily recognisable.
The absence of a universally recognised moral baseline inevitably leads to the blind adulation of power. In a society where no boundaries are established, nothing constrains such ambitions. Consider how politicians and corporations heartlessly exploit the interests and perspectives of individuals and social groups as a means to gain greater control, wealth, and power. This reversed interpretation of identity politics has given license to the merciless exploitation of the vulnerabilities and weaknesses of groups as diverse as religion, race, class, culture, disability, education, language, nationality, gender, sexual orientation, generation, and politics. The sole intent is to seek advantage, not resolution. Sensitive social issues such as victimhood, race, gender, sexuality, environment, and class have become the target of an unbridled pursuit of self-interest, which in turn, is pushing aside basic Christian principles.
A loss of Christian-based principles leads to a decline in the belief in democracy particularly given that even the mildly irreverent tend to favour the socialist mindset. As the pace of decline quickens, the growing vacuum inevitably opens the way for something else to restore the imbalance. Old gods are substituted with new gods.
In a purely secular West, all that is available to fill the vacuum are transient and superficial distractions blindly pursued in a never-ending quest to secure fulfilment and meaning in life. When people stop believing in ‘god’, they do not simply believe in nothing. Consistent with relativist thinking, without god there is no need for guilt and accountability. For some, life quickly becomes no more than what can I / we do in a world where there are no consequences and the tiresome thought of an ultimate price to pay. Others will seek to believe in anything. For them, spirituality, materialism and consumerism, atheism, celebrity worship, green ecoism and environmentalism, and worst of all, encompassing all is marxism / socialism / progressivism, which have become the new gods.
Faustian contracts and images of hell from the past have transitioned from supernatural ethereal malevolent influences into an unrecognisable, cancerous psychological destructiveness that is as subtle as it is overt in its actions and intent to destroy all that remains of positive value within the core beliefs of western thinking. Everything once held worthy and facilitated success is no longer recognisable. A corrosive mindset has taken hold that is systematically degrading, distorting, and devaluing Western culture, and as many now witness, the rapid destruction of all that represented good is commonplace.
Alongside all this, Christianity (the church and the christians) has seen fit to ignore countless occurrences of depravity and licentiousness that it brings into question why they even dare to call themselves Christians. Can anyone point to a church or a professed Christian organisation that has successfully put a stop to any of the moral issues named below, all of which should weigh heavily not only upon our national conscience, but more aptly, the Christian church? Table 1 above and Figure 1 below tell their own story. Keep in mind that most religions would claim in their defence that God will deal with these matters in due course:
FGM; underage marriage; same-sex marriage; terrorism; mass immigration; domestic violence (towards males and females); suicides; the family court and the destruction of children’s lives; paedophilia; child sexual abuse in institutions, homes, and indigenous communities; violent abuse of children, abortion; radical feminism; gay rights and open displays of their ‘rights’; political correction; fake news; government lies; enforced poverty; corporate greed; corruption of unions, government, and corporations.
The Real Value of Religion
Religion is the creation of humans and no one has conclusively proved it is the intention of ‘God’. At best, it is a set of beliefs, traditions, and practices that define the way people worship (their) God. In practice, those in control use religion in an attempt to maintain, increase, or abuse their power over others. Claims of caring for the poor and the unfortunate do not carry much weight when compared to the long centuries of innumerable accounts of hapless victims who have been ‘helped’, tortured, or killed in the name of ‘god’.
The recent inquiry into the deceptions perpetrated by religious institutions against young innocents living throughout the western world has revealed much more than depravity and perversion. It has proven that religion still functions as a feudalistic system that induces fear, hate, and lies to control and manipulate people for the benefit of a select group of individuals. Whilst not wanting to advocate his socialist principles, it is difficult to refute Marx’s assessment of religion. In his Critique of Hegel’s Philosophy of Right, Marx wrote that the ruling classes use religion to delude the masses into relieving their suffering (albeit briefly) through the act of experiencing religious emotions. It is in the interest of the ruling classes to instil the conviction that suffering will lead to eventual happiness.
Unfortunately, instead of using his insight as a starting point for positive change, Marx chose to destroy not just religion, but everything that defined the Western world, both good and bad, especially capitalism. Everything valued by the west would need to be replaced by his vision of a social and economic revolution that calls for work to be performed for the common good and for an equitable redistribution of wealth. In attempting to advance a secular solution to a spiritual problem, he failed to foresee that people in general are not consistently altruistic and that working for the benefit of others over the self does not always harmonise with their innate human nature.
Fundamentally, between Christian hypocrisy (claiming to have higher standards or more noble beliefs and using those standards in judgement of others) and religious corruption (acting in the name of God or on the instructions of God), there is no doubting that both have ruthlessly misled and failed the West, albeit to varying degrees of covertness and overtness.
We live in a time when humanity is witness to a concerted campaign by socialist activists to deny and ridicule the existence of a ‘god’. They falsely promise a world of material abundance at the expense of the demise of western capitalism and its patrons. Deceptive lies that appeal to innate aspirations for equality, fairness, and prosperity incite a misguided belief in a better world and camouflage the planned intention to bring about fear, oppression, poverty, and needless death.
Idealistic disciples of socialism are lured into accepting that moral superiority resides in the uncritical acceptance of irrational beliefs, sexual perversions, theft (through taxes and wealth redistribution), and the violent suppression of free speech and even thought. As moral relativists and secular humanists, socialists substitute any notion of ‘god’ with themselves as the creator of reality and the arbiter of good or evil, where evil is anything that prevents the pursuit of uninhibited hedonism.
Even though religion has lost its power, control, and influence, ironically the socialist movement still views the church as a threat to the fulfilment of their agenda. Why else would they put so much effort into establishing a wide-ranging arsenal of legal embargoes and punitive actions, disguised under the banner of human rights and anti-discrimination laws, if not to constrain the churches and Christian institutions from teaching and practising their beliefs?
Perhaps my early encounters with the church and ‘followers’ of Christ encouraged me to look deeper into what they actually represent. What I have discovered is that all religion has failed to prove they are the true representatives of a just and moral ‘god’, let alone Jesus Christ.
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