Thursday, August 31, 2006

Religion, what is it good for?

Religion: we all pay for it in many ways. If you ask me, its part of the reason our children are falling behind intellectually … Its fostering a fatalist attitude in this nation that’s (at least) partially responsible for the populace’s complacence with our foreign policy … It’s a financial drain on government (in terms of lost revenues).

I’m thinking of the subject because of some recent news.

Some of you may have heard that the head of the Fundamentalist Church of Latter-Day Saints, Warren Jeffs, was picked up outside Vegas the other day. What most of you probably don’t know was that this church leader was on the FBI’s top-ten most wanted list.

How can a church leader be on the FBI’s most wanted list you ask? If you think there’s more to it than polygamy you’d be right.

Let me get one thing clear before the bashing begins: I strongly believe in the right of any person to believe in whatever god they want to believe in. If you want to pray to Zeus or the comet kohoutek I don’t care. I think it’s intellectually and spiritually bankrupt to believe in such unsubstantiated non-sense… but it is your right. What I do care about is my tax dollars – and in general – my government -- promoting religion. As Jefferson said:

To compel a man to furnish funds for the propagation of ideas he disbelieves and abhors is sinful and tyrannical.

It seems that far too many people in this world are ready to grasp at the teaching of certifiable loonies – all because they stand up and spew their ridiculous teachings with verve.

Back to Warren Jeffs: here’s what the nice folks up in AZ/UT are up too –

In its spring 2005 "Intelligence Report," The Southern Poverty Law Center named FLDS to its " Hate Group" listing because of the church's racist teachings, which include, among other things a fierce condemnation of interracial relationships. "Prophet" Warren Jeffs has said, among other things, "The black race is the people through which the devil has always been able to bring evil unto the earth."

Ah racism – the refuge of the ignorant. Why blame yourself for your lot in life when you can find an appropriate scapegoat? But hey, it’s church – they can teach whatever mean-spirited, counter-productive trash they like.

Critics claim that Warren Jeffs has indicated his desire to reintroduce the 19th-Century doctrine of "blood atonement", in which serious sins can only be atoned by the sinner's death. Former church member Robert Richter reported to the Phoenix New Times that Jeffs repeatedly alluded to this doctrine in church sermons. Richter also claims that he was asked to design a thermostat for a high temperature furnace that would be capable of destroying DNA evidence if such "atonements" were to take place.

Lovely: our own miniature group of Taliban right here in our own backyard – ready to kill sinners since god doesn’t seem to be doing the job right.

Worse: The local news has reported on the stream of excommunicated boys which flows into Phoenix from northern AZ and southern Utah. You see, “excess” young boy are seen as competition for the young girls by the older men. From the Guardian:

Up to 1,000 teenage boys have been separated from their parents and thrown out of their communities by a polygamous sect to make more young women available for older men, Utah officials claim.

Many of these "Lost Boys", some as young as 13, have simply been dumped on the side of the road in Arizona and Utah, by the leaders of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (FLDS), and told they will never see their families again or go to heaven.

Most of the Lost Boys were between the ages of 13 and 21 when they were banished or pressured to leave.

Isn’t it good to see the caring side of religion come out with such gusto?

On to the more mundane costs of this particular sect’s existence: Because polygamy isn't recognized by law, all "plural wives" are listed as single mothers for tax purposes - almost 50% of the 8000 residents of Hildale and Colorado City are on public assistance.

Talk about your family values: A sanctioned and institutionalized method of bilking the government while simultaneously keeping women in near poverty and financing your operation.

Oh, by the way, members of the 10,000+ member church are expected to deed over all property to the communal organization… so those welfare payments might as well just go into the churches coffers.

While this sect may commit some of the more egregious sins, don’t think the other major religions are immune. Take the Catholics. They enjoy tax exempt status. They reportedly do much for the poor. If that’s true, why is the Catholic Church sitting on more cash, investments and real-estate than Bill Gates? If the function of god’s organization here on earth is to help people why isn’t that money being used to that end?

And who needs to be reminded of the priest sex scandal – where church leaders shuffled known pedophiles from church to church – dealing with a serious crime as if it was an internal matter.

Organized religion: its little more than a series of social clubs where people get together to feel good about the truly least they can do to help humanity.

What percentage of church-goers attend services at “mega-churches”? What percentage drive up in their Mercedes or sporting their latest attire?

Organized religion is a sham. It’s the organization for people who need to be told what their life means… how to live it… and that they are important. It’s packaged and sold just like any other commodity in our society: except those buying have been duped more so than the late night QVC viewer… “You need this” … NOW.

Do I doubt people “find strength” in their religion and beliefs: no … Muslims, Christians, Jews… all attest to the “power of their faith” to help them through tough times in their life. The Christian Scientist (don’t get me started) and the Hindu alike attest to the power of their god(s) to see them thru such times – and they use such evidence as justification for their god’s existence. Well, the opposite is true: since ALL people of faith make this claim we have to look elsewhere for the explanation as frome whence this “inner strength” comes… (giving responsible for your situation over to an all-powerful imaginary friend is apparently a strong tonic).

To such people the thought of living, working and dying in a 100 square mile plot on a tiny planet in the midst of thousands of galaxies -- each beyond our imagination to comprehend – is far too mundane. They must be important… cuz someone says god says so…

And if you’re important in god’s eyes, you can justify almost any behavior, belief or sacrifice (including your or someone else's life). What a bonus.


skip sievert said...

God can only be comprehended personally. Each person has their own god, their own protector and judge. Priests and rituals are only crutches for the crippled life of the soul.

A lie is often an expression of the fear that one may be crushed by the truth.

Decievers always try to solve difficult problems on the cheap.

Everything, even lies advances the truth. Shadows do not blot out the sun.

There is a long line of substitute religions, each one a particular form of illusion and superstition.

The world is not necessarily just. Being good often does not pay off and there is no compensation for misfortune. You have a responsibility to do your best nonetheless.

Reign of Reason said...

Know one knows the nature of god... if one or more exist as we commonly define the concept.

Anyone who claims to "know god" -- or his intentions or teachings is simply an idiot.

I've read the bible -- if Christians did they would be the first to ban it: rape, murder, incest... far from being a moral guide-book I find it paints a completely incomprehensible picture of an entitiy most americans worship.

skip sievert said...

The bible has everything. Rape , murder, incest, blood, guts, mass murder,horrible betrayal, everything. That is why it has remained popular. It covers every damn thing. I like the story about the dad the screws the two daughters in the cave. The daughters get the dad drunk and one does it. then the next night, another gets the dad drunk and does it. Wow. I asked a Rabbi once about it. He said one daughter maybe. Two daughters? Its a strectch. We both laughed.
The bible is clever. A clever betrayal of the human spirit. It was originaly a joke from the area of Babylon. The Hebrews spun their own version, from an adaption of that,and a few other things ,the original Sumerian creation myth , the Egyptian creation myth, Gilgamesh, and a few other things as said. Yahwah is an adaption of the storm god Jupiter of the original family of gods. Baal the Canaanite storm god was kind of the same but a little different than Yahwa. That is where the original unilateral contract with god developed. That happened in 2200 bc. In the original myth they explained that it was actually a lie , that they cooked up to trick people. Really they did. Read it. It was meant to control society. How . ? By tricking , and frightening people to obey. It was then that it was said that god chose us. We have no choice. god wanted to shepherd us , and would not take no for an answer. This was a novel idea at the time. People found it odd and astounding and fell for it. It has worked rather well. The whole thing can be explained. If any one cares to know.

Reign of Reason said...


I know a little of bible history and its ties to more ancient/pagen beliefs -- but if you have specific references I could read I'd be interested.

skip sievert said...

There are a lot, but here are two of my favorites. You should be able to find this on line if its still there. Was last time I looked. A professor from Arizona Richley H Crapo, has a book called, An Anthropologist looks at the Judeo Christian Scripture. It may be listed if you google, Crapos World.-- This guy is brilliant. He does not mince words. A social scientist.
Another and this is a favorite, is from Donald B. Redford. Another professor, and another brilliant scholar. His book Egypt, Canaan, and Israel in Ancient Times, is considered a classic. Not available on line though I don`t think any way. Worth tracking down and buying maybe ordering or finding at a good used book store. Published by the Princeton University Press in `92.

Another what is considered a classic text of translated things from that area is called - The Ancient Near East, volume 1 edited by James B Pritchard. This was published in the late 50`s. It has a translation of the original Mesopotamian , Sumerian creation myths. The Epic of Gilgamesh, and a bunch of other stuff including The Code of Hammurabi, and the original Egyptian creation myth. This is the stuff that our stuff spun down from. They mined this material when they spun the bible . The Jews put their own spin on this stuff. But it is all from this earlier source almost. Some of it is word for word that made it into the bible. Some of it remarkably similiar to what we have today. The most mind blowing one is the Sumerian creation myth. It goes into great detail in a very clever way, to explain that it is actually a poetic lie. That it is a mechanism to divide and conquer. That a false division is going to be created with the tale they are going to spin. ----- It was as mentioned that first time that the unilateral contract was put out. god chose us and we had no choice. It was embraced, and it has been all down hill from there. Now people don`t even know that the people that actually invented the false concept said themselves in a clever way that it wasn`t true.
Funny ha.?
Try googling Crapo first, Crapos world.
If you have a good book store any where near you , a used store they will have copies of part 1, The Ancient Near East edited by Pritchard. Any way those are a few things if your interested in knowing more about our interesting , bazaar, and twisted past as it relates to religion. I could give you some others also. But thats is probably enough. These are all well known and accepted as mainstream works, and are also done well.
Both of these will turn your perspective on your ear, if you are not familiar with the actual history of the people and religions of the area.

Reign of Reason said...

The Jeffs story: from the NYTimes:

Mr. Bateman, 52, was a faithful member of Mr. Jeffs’s Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints and raised his children to obey without question the commands of church leaders. But when the church tried to remove four of his children borne by his second of two wives from his home six years ago, he rebelled.

Mr. Bateman said he had refused to turn over the children to the church for reassignment to another family, a common practice under Mr. Jeffs’s authoritarian leadership that dictates that women and children are the property of the church.

Mr. Bateman’s defiance created a schism in his large family. The three oldest of his 17 children sided with Mr. Jeffs, whom church members consider to be God’s only living prophet, and severed all communication with their father.

skip sievert said...

All victims of belief. The Mormons are a particularly idiotic group. Myterious tablets, caves, lizards, their phony witness`s, its all pretty comical.

The bigger the lie, the more the knave people seem to be able to run with it. Funny. There may be a gene for relgious stupidity. If so it is reinforced often by their breeding the ignorant, that believe in religious clap trap. Ha Ha. ! The recessives always pop up to cause trouble though, now don`t they. They don`t call the others sheep for nothing. They are the Shepherds. Think about it.

The whole religion thing is only , and has only been only a practical joke, meant to be played on the knave and gullible, of which there is no shortage. It is a simple way to make money. It is a simple way to control people. Guilt works wonders with people. They think they have to atone. How to do that.? By paying, and believeing.

Intellectual Insurgent said...

Religion is an institution that has repeatedly failed humanity for thousands of years but, like a drug, still keeps the addicts coming back for more.

skip sievert said...

Nothing sticks in the mind as a groundless sense of guilt; because since it has no real foundation one cannot eliminate it by any form of repentance or redemtion.

That is a quote from my book, Beyond the Cloak of Deception - Politics , Religion & Economics in the Price System - how perceptions are controled, manipulated and why.

I could suggest that, as a read also. It is available as a free download at my site, I get into an examination, exploring these topics of religion , its history, how it operates, etc. I had a lot of fun writing my book this last year. There are currently about 40,000 copies out that I am aware of, and I am very proud of it. It also would be a place to get a history of our Price System, and how it actually works, as it relates to the subject at hand. You can get it using my favorite business plan. Free. Its jumping off point is Technocracy, but there is a whole lot about other things in it also.

Reign of Reason said...

II - right to the point. You too skip -- religion is oldest form of mob-control.

The only thing is: most of Europe seems to be outgrowing it... while we here in the states cling to it -- why, I don't know.

skip sievert said...

If they outgrow the ordinary kind , they will still believe in the underpinning falsehood of the Price System. It is only a substitute for the crooked god stuff then anyway. They will still , and do still subscribe to the economic brain washing. When is the last time you heard someone make fun of Democracy.? They are entralled with it. Even though it doesn`t exist, and the term is meant only to divide and conquer people. Only to keep them in the price system game and in the dark.
As far as creative thinking out there, and thats what is needed , it doesn`t hardly exist. The airwaves are very controled. Thats why this internet stuff is finally making it possible for people to find out about real alternative things and not the fake stuff the establisment puts out.
Believe me the Europeans are in the dark. The Nwtwork of European Techncrats is doing a pretty good job of trying to get information out there. Europeans are just as brainwashed.
Even if religion goes away we would still have the same problem. That is our culture as it relates to money. That is the thing that must be changed. That is the hardest fact to get people to wake up to.

skip sievert said...

I meant to say N.E.T. or Network of European Technocrats , I spelled it wrong.~ ! Their site is interesting.

Gabriel said...

I grew up in a small town in Texas. There was an affulent banker who lived there. His family was Mormon. When I met his first son in kindergarten he was a very smart kid. But as time went on he had a brother. Then another brother. Then another. He and his wife were desperately trying to get a girl. All in all they ended up with 7 boys. No girls. They didn't throw them to the side of the road. However I never understood the motivation of why they so desperately were looking to creat a girl until I learned of the practices you describe in this article. He never did get his girls to indoctrinate into the church leaders harem...It's like the Mormon version of the Job story.

Ha ha ha.

Reign of Reason said...

Thanks for the comment Gabriel ...

Mormonism is a scary system of belief. I often feel that if people can buy into that pile, they'll can buy into any outlandish story you can feed them.

People are beyond gullible: they need to believe...