Spirituality is good. Meditation is good. Love and fellowship are good. “Religion” is highly questionable.
Originally published 2000
Question: What do these things have in common?
- Book burnings
- Holy Wars
- Racial Cleansing
Answer: They are all examples of man’s inhumanity to man, characterized by massive violence perptrated on people and their ideas, countenanced and encouraged by religion.
Religions are based on a foundation of spiritual growth and fellowship. But once a religion becomes an organization, it invariably loses touch with its founding ideals. It continues to preach them. And in the individual case, it continues to deliver its message. But at the same time, it becomes capable of unspeakable acts of evil against any who are considered outsiders — and it only takes a word from the religion’s leaders to label some previously accepted group or individual as an “outsider”.
While I believe in spiritual practices and in developing an inner connection with the universal One that is All, I have little but disdain for organized religion. In fact, it is one of the top three most harmful influences in the world today:
- Corporate control of government**
* It’s ok to be proud of being an American. It’s also ok to be proud of your heritage, and to be proud of your community, and your school. But it’s even more important to be proud of being a citizen of planet earth, a human being, a sentient being, a living being, and a part of the universe. Seek to identify with that which unites you with all, rather than that which divides you.
** For a long time, I was big fan of corporate marketing and international commerce. They have had a positive effect in breaking down the nationalistic and religious fervor that produces wars. However, they also have harmful effects on the environment, society, and quality of life. They are swords that need to be wielded carefully, but which at the moment are swinging wildly.
Marx got it partly right when he said that religion is the opium of the people. But he didn’t go far enough — because opium users harm only themselves. Religious fanatics harm a great many others — and many people are more fanatical, or willing to be led by a fanatic, than they realize.
But Lenin, Stalin and company got it wrong when they tried to stamp out religion. A much more subtle approach is needed. Education is a big part of it. The freedom of religion guaranteed by the American Constitution is also important, because it preserves choice, and therefore provides an each individual an opportunity for comparison. Mass media (aka continual brainwashing) also plays a role — but it is best when its excesses can be controlled by government, rather than when corporate advertisers are doing the controlling.
It took a very long time to figure out how to get the money out of politics. Five years, in fact. The only path to creativity I know is to keep asking a question. Eventually, an answer appears — even if it does take five years. I wrote up the solution in the Voting Advice System pages. I’m now engaged in the same process when it comes to religion. The question this time is:
How can we keep religion from dominating mankind?
Religion in general:
- In Defense of Atheism: The Case Against Christianity, Judaism and Islam
- The God Delusion (Dawkins)
- God Is Not Great: The Case Against Religion
Christianity in particular:
- Letter to a Christian Nation
- Christianity: An Ancient Egyptian Religion
- Jesus, Last of the Pharaohs
- 101 Myths of the Bible: How Ancient Scribes Invented Biblical History
- The Christ Conspiracy: The Greatest Story Ever Sold
My articles on spirituality:
- There Is God
- What if Reincarnation is Real?
- Meditation, Happiness, and the Trap of the Intellect
- TV Wisdom: Invest in Your Dreams
- TV Wisdom: Recall Your Loves
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