Sunday, 20 January 2008

Religion: A Soothing Balm for the Masses?

Religious Institutions: A "Soothing Balm" for The Downtrodden?

More often than not, stone-walled religious apologists who argue for the need for religion are apt to use the "soothing balm" theory to justify for the ills of Religion: It makes people feel good!

The down-trodden, the sick, the dying: Every soul in dire straits, it seems, requires the soothing balm of religion and its idiosyncrasies of religious sacraments, bizarre rituals and outlandish beliefs.

It seems that without religion, there is nothing to look forward to, other than the dark abyss of eternal death and endless suffering.

Religion: Rife With Abuse

Because of the herd mentality of Religion, it is imperative that Religion exerts total, complete mind control over its submissive serfs who are known collectively as "sheep" by Christian pastors: Pliable, docile creatures who can hardly be depended to exercise any willpower of their own.

Take a leaf out of most religious texts, and the call for complete mental submission is hard to miss:

For the weapons of our warfare are casting down imaginations ... and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ."

– St Paul, 2 Corinthians 10.4,5.

As religious folks are often taught to be servile and never to question the words and "wisdom" of their sacred scriptures and the religious organizations concerned, when abuse starts to seep in, it is usually harder to detect than in secular institutions.

Take the Catholic Church, for example. For decades, pedophile priests who were accused of molesting or worst, raping children were not reported to the police: In most circumstances of this nature, the alleged offender is handed to the police, who is then subjected to the court of law to be tried via legal, secular proceedings.

Not in the case of the Catholic Church: This barbaric class of priestly hucksters, child rapists and evil bastards commit their dastardly crimes in the name and image of their filthy deity, and are allowed to get away with their crimes scott-free because the offenders have garnered too much undeserved respect from the masses. When these victims, most of them young children who are obviously too traumatized by their experiences, complain to their parents, most of them would refer to Church authorities than the police. The Church, being filthy, ugly institutions unto themselves, sometimes pay up the "hush" money and transfer the rather offending priest into another diocese, when his once-again unblemished record allows him to be in a position to carry out his pervert acts. This vicious cycle has repeated itself for so long and in so many dioceses that by the time the long slew of Catholic churches were revealed to have shady dealings to cover up the dirty acts of the priesthood, most of the victims were already grown-up or nearing their 50s or 60s.

Quite obviously, complete servitude and docility leads to rampant abuse, but that is not all there is to it: The huge, opulent Evangelical Churches, particularly those in the United States, rake in billions of dollars from their huge swamps of sheep who turn up every other weekend for their daily "feel-good" dosage of dancing, speaking in tongues, and all manner of unspeakable nonsenses (In fact, having attended a few sessions myself, I am obliged to comment that these actions are more at home with mental institutions than anywhere else on this puny planet).

"Rave it up for Jebus!", "If I don't raise ten million bucks today God will smite me to death!" and other shameless, huckster-like, bible-spewing vermin are thrown and heaped at the throngs of the faithful, who gratefully lap it up and give their dues to undeserving institutions and pastors of the Benny Hinn and Pat Robertson variety every other Sunday. And if that isn't enough to satisfy these big fat oligarchs, they have to throw in "Healing Sessions", all the more better to reach into the pockets of the sick and the elderly, people who are more in need of medical treatment than the whimsical, theatrical "cast the demons" action-packed chicanery dished out by these poisonous charlatans of their filthy Gods.

Religion: A Self-Delusional Drug?

Drug Abuse: Similar to the Shady and Euphoric Nature of Religion

If a Christian or any other theist for that matter, wishes to justify Religion with the "feel-good" factor, then I would be justified to argue that heroine or other forms of drug abuse is good for us as well: In both cases, you get the feel good factor, but in the long run, one faces mental and eventually, financial ruin.

Sure, Religion does induce the euphoria of a rock concert, but if this is the only reason used to justify against the ills and abuse of Religion and its cohorts of priestly pimps, I will venture to say that Religion has no other useful purpose than a pest is to its human host.

"Religious experiences are like those induced by drugs, alcohol, mental illness, and sleep deprivation: They tell no uniform or coherent story, and there is no plausible theory to account for discrepancies among them."

- Michael Martin
, Atheism: A Philosophical Justification, (Philadelphia: Temple University Press, 1990), p. 159.


john said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
john said...

Sould we abandon Religion or fix it? Religion is simply a means for humans to rationalize the great unknown that confronts and bewilders us. Recently visited a website that casts a new perspective on the issue: Rather than abandon the benefits derived from Religion, perhaps it might be more beneficial to abandon the falisfications and failings of Religion.

Pvblivs said...


What benefits derived from religion? Frankly, I don't worry about people's spiritual beliefs, as long as they don't try to impose them. For that matter, I don't care if people continue to believe in the tooth fairy. It is not particularly harmful to believe there is a god. The problem is the people that pretend to represent him.

handmaiden said...

John says Religion is simply a means for humans to rationalize the great unknown that confronts and bewilders us. So that means, people use religion as an escape from dealing with the problems that come up from just being human.??? I think we'd be much better off dealing with those issues without resorting to fables. But I'm an existentialist.

john said...

Unfortunately we come into this world with no knowledge. We know only what we are taught and learn by experience. Imagine what we would be told if tyrants had their way. The hope of religion is that we will be given a message of individual freedom and worth. While religion has caused much damage, it has kept alive some very important principles for we who appreciate individual freedom and rights protected by the concept of ‘God’. Whether god exists or not, I still enjoy the freedom and support totally the questionable authority that gives them to me.

BEAST said...

Can civilization derive any good out of religion?

The answer is yes: The beauty of the Sistine Chapels, the angelic singings of Monks (I am a fan of the Gregorian chants), etc.

My position with regards to religion is simple: It should be relegated into the annals of history books.


Buffy said...

Just watch the typical religious service and see the way the people behave. Better yet, see what they do if you try to take their religion away. Religion truly is the "opiate of the masses".

john said...

Karl Marx was very effective at framing Religion as a mass opiate – opiate beng a derogative term.

Plato rather noted that such “opiates” are essential in a society. Modern sociologists tend to agree. Communities, societies, and civilizations must have cohesive factors in play or the cohesion will degenerate into anarchy.

Buffys’ comment about the behavior of people in religious services strikes me as odd. While I am not a church person, the few time I have had to sit through services, I find it rather boring and sedate. Of course there are “holy rollers” who jump and shout, but so what?

I would compare religion to another opiate in this country: Sports. Consider how wrapped up in sports many people are. Consider how they act at sports events. And, oh yea, try to take away their sports and see how they act. These people really “believe” in sports!

For me, the way people use Religion socially and Sports socially are very similar and, to me, both equally absurd. Religion and sports serve many of the same functions in society. While some may call me an “antisportist”, to me the way people act and feel about Sports, and Sports Heroes. is beyond reason. To me, people that get involved in Sports are stupid, however, I would not want to take sports away from the “fans”, after all, what else would they have to do or think about? For such people (the mass) opiates are essential.

For me, the practice of what might be called religion is a very personal, private affair that involves only the individual, in solitude, in a relationship with existence. What is derived from the relationship is my business alone. If I am satisfied with the relationship, that is fine for me alone. I could recommend nothing for someone else. If a person is not so inclined, then there is nothing there for them…better they watch TV.

For me most people (the vast majority) are more adept at believing and communing with Sports and social religion. This is exactly what they should be doing…considering the nature of their interests and intellect.

BEAST said...


I find your comparison of religion with sports baffling:

While the adulation of sports heroes are sometimes over the top (or most of the time, depending on your definition), at least we know these sports people are real. They play to entertain the masses. Religion, however, requires the belief of the unseen. Different concepts here.

While I agree with you that Religion is a personal issue, all too often religious people want to impose their beliefs on other people. Like I often say, believe that the moon is made of green cheese for all I care. Just don't force me to eat it.


john said...


One Roman Caesar, Vespasian, built a grand Coliseum to placate the masses with the opiate of games and sports. Another Caesar, Constantine, took the sign of the cross to motivate his army and placate the masses with the opiate of the Christian religion. Most telling is that Constantine was never a Christian. He never took the opiate for himself, knowing it to be so.

In both cases, the Coliseum for the games, and Temples for religion are both places to dispense the opiate. The fact that one opiate is vastly different from another does not exclude both being opiates.

BEAST said...

I will then surmise that sports is a better opiate than Religion.


john said...

...depending on how much control or motivation you want. If you want to motivate in some way, perhaps sports is better: but if you want them to fight and die, no doubt, religion is better.

BEAST said...


Eureka! You have just summed up my disgust for religion.


john said...

Another social opiate is *nationalism*, or more basic *tribalism*. It is just as effective at motivating as sports and just as effective as religion in getting people to fight and die.

There simply has to be cohesive factors for a country or civilization to exist and function. Many of these are dangerous with harmful side effects, yet they are essential.

There are a number of countries and civilizations, held together by nationalism, that are as harmful as religion on the people, yet, except for a few anarchists among us, who would want to discard national boundaries and civilization.

Without civilization we would not have wars, fights yes, but not wars, and no weapons of mass destruction…only civilization can produce such weapons. If fact, if people destroy our current civilization if will likely be over issues of “nationalism”.

In the same sense, without civilization, humans would live in primal environments, likely in small tribal systems, fighting other tribes for territory. Damn, it just occurred to me that it is not actually religion, sports, nationalism, or war that is the problem. It is humans that are the problem. It is the humans that take religion and make something horrible from it…it is humans that kill one another at soccer games. The root cause of all this is actually humans not soccer games!

Eureka! Beast, you have help me see the light. The problem is humans…they create and propagate all this harmful stuff. Humans are simply…disgusting and they create disgusting stuff.

The best way I can think of to get rid of religion is to have a big world wide fight that sends everyone left back to the good old days of swinging in the trees and sniffing each other’s back ends. No need for religion then

BEAST said...


When large numbers of organisms congregate, there is bound to be conflicts and issues.

When large numbers of intelligent mammals congregate, you are bound to get highly structured social hierarchies. Go observe the simian populaces, and you will see more or less the same problems in our civilization, albeit on a more grandiose scale.

Yes, Nationalism can be poisonous, and in the case of Imperial Japan, nationalism became a religious cause, almost akin to the inquisitions during WWII. Hitler manipulated the discontentments of a post WWI Germany (At that time, Germany was brutally victimized by the Vesailles Treaty) and anti-Jewish sentiments to cement his rule.

I don't think the majority of humans should be blamed: Sometimes the real story can be more complex. Nationalism is a very complex theme,and in many ways it helps to galvanize people into action. Without invoking nationalistic ideas, I have little doubt that Stalin could execute his brutal five year plans, which, along with the millions of Russians who died on the war front, kept Germany from swallowing the whole Russian juggernaut.

As for religion, I think I have stated my case: It is not necessary in a 21st century setting.

Anyway, John, you have been a jolly good fellow: While I may not agree with you, you have given me much food for thought. For that, I thank you.


john said...


How refreshing and joyful it is to engage in a discussion/dialectic, without personal emotion, in the sheer pursuit of knowledge and better understanding. In such circumstances, as with you, I am feed with rich new intellectual nutrition. (I learn). I thank you as well, and appreciate your very challenging forum.

As a child, I had the choice of learning from my american *Indian* dad or my very Christian mother. I chose to follow the ways of my dad, so I escaped most of the harm early Christian indoctrination can cause. I became very pagan, in fact as I grew older, a bit too pagan even for myself. I found it easy, however, to switch my attention to Buddhism. I still consider it the best of the religions I sampled along the way. Buddhism was spread like real *a soothing balm* with absolutely no sting. Never has a life been lost in the forced propagation of the Buddhist religion. A few Buddhist monks have burned themselves in protest of wrong, but no force has ever been used to persuade someone to Buddhism (unlike the other religions). It has been suggested to me that this is the ideal religion for the future. Perhaps part of the mix?

Should no response follow, then I would end with the appropriate respect for your opinion regarding religion in the 21st Century. You may well be correct. I am only considering the issue, and hope to participate in a national and global consideration of the issue.

If in the final consideration, it is determined by myself for myself, or by a more global influence, that Religions must go, then I will gladly swing the axe. I have no love for Religion, other than how it might benefit me or my peers. (Once a pagan, one can never cease to be a pagan really in the hidden places. in the daylight, however, personas and intellectual paradigms are like delightful cloaks to wear for public view…so mote it be.)

my regards with high esteme

BEAST said...


The pleasure's mine.