Tuesday, July 16, 2013

What does religion hurt? - Christian guilt

I know I skipped last Thursday. I had something I was writing up, but it just wasn't jelling the way I wanted to, and I didn't manage to get something else up in time. Mea culpa.

But the apology does lead into another subject, part of a series of things I was thinking of looking at. Namely, "What does religion hurt?"

Now, I don't mean wars and the like - though it needs to be held accountable for that, and it's very much a problem when people kill each other over ancient stories. I mean everyday life. What does it hurt?

One thing that's a staple of Christianity is guilt. One of the foundations of Christian belief is that you're born a sinner, thanks to Adam and Eve. You deserve punishment. You deserve the bad that comes your way. And you're not good enough, no matter what you do, to deserve heaven. (Whether heaven's an actual reward is another subject all together.)

This message is reinforced every sunday. Christ died for YOUR sins. YOU deserve to go to hell. YOU are unworthy. YOU are born a sinner. "Amazing grace, how sweet the sound that saved a wretch like me."

Watch TV, watch a football game, and what happens? The winners - or even after a good play - point up at the sky, saying "I have no ability to do this on my own, it's God!" (Which, really... how does one not feel worthy of taking credit for their abilities, yet have such an ego that the supposed creator of the universe is that invested in your touchdown?)

This, too, is one of the hardest thing for one of the deconverted to shed, as well. At least, in my experience it is. From childhood, your self worth is beaten down and stripped away - because you, of course, are *unworthy!* And someone gave up their life for you! (Never mind that they're immortal... kind of. Or at least came back from the dead, which kind of cheapens it.... or that they didn't have to in the first place.)

How does this affect your worldview? When you're told, over and over again, that you're not good enough, that you have to carry your guilt over everything - including *perfectly natural, human reactions,* as the Bible does basically legislate thought crime! - until you fall to your knees (or see a priest) and confess it all?

It's like a drug dealer's dream. You get the little high of being "clean" again... but, being human, within the day you've fucked it up. You wanted something that wasn't yours. You had an "impure thought." And so it builds up until you have to go get your confession fix again.

We have whole nations, generations upon generations of people, with this drilled into them. Take only the blame, assign credit and praise to God. How utterly sick is this?

And that's without people taking it to extremes. Fasting to "cleanse" themselves. Or the flagellants of the middle ages. Have you not heard of these people? They went from town to town *whipping themselves.* I've seen images of this from some Islamic countries today, as well (I don't recall what the event was.)

When you're raised on self-loathing and guilt... it's also very easy to turn it outside. Is it any real wonder that so much racial, religious and other hatred (and need for control) is from the religious? That they can't see the worth of each human being (other than someone to be converted or condemned) for what they are, but that all are unworthy?

And, of course, that can feed on itself very nicely, too. "I'm unworthy. They're sinners and unworthy, they don't deserve the good. They deserve that tornado! Oh, I feel guilty for saying that, I'm unworthy..." And on and on the cycle goes, and is passed on from generation to generation.

What does Religion hurt? This kind of guilt is perennial psychological - and, at times, physical - abuse. It's far from healthy to be told you're guilty and unworthy over and over, to be told not to take credit for your accomplishments (pride goeth before a fall!) but assign it to god because you couldn't do it on your own....

It's just sick.

Of course, this also helps keep religion in such strong positions in our society. And discourages people from doing what they need to do, what they should do in every aspect of their life - their finances, government policy, everywhere. Namely, question. I compared it to a drug dealer before. But unlike a drug dealer, what higher power is going to come and arrest it?

Well, that higher power is reason. And reason is discouraged - after all, you need to just "take it on faith!" when it comes to religion. What a racket.

You're not good enough. You're guilty. So you need god. You need to confess, and talk to the priest. While you're there, give money. Since you're not good enough, you obviously can't understand this god's plan for you or anyone else, no matter how good you are, how much you pray or give, something shitty is still going to happen to you. Of course, if it's good - thank god and give some more! But since you can't understand the mind of God (the religious would say because it's vast and unknowable, the skeptic because it's contradictory, insane, schizophrenic thanks to all the authors,) you shouldn't question and should feel guilty if you do... which loops right back to the beginning.

It's a sick, sick racket. And when people do it to other people outside of religion, we call it dysfunctional. Even criminal.

Add a church, and it's religion, and untouchable.

What does religion hurt? Self esteem. Reason. Self worth, and the ability to see the worth in others as fellow human beings.

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