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This is a question Join us... come join the cult

A friend of mine recently floored me with the admission that he'd spent several years in Eastern Europe with the Moonies. And he seemed so normal. Have you or your mates disappeared into a cult? Now that the brain-washing has worn off, tell us all about it.

(, Thu 26 Jan 2006, 17:46)
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Does Catholicism count as a Cult
It fucking should do...(note; the following rant isn't that funny, but by the sweet zombie Moses, it's accurate and pertinent...)

Something rather surprising happened a couple of weeks ago. A friend of mine announced that she had found God. After the obligatory comments of '...lost him down the back of the sofa did you?' my friend began to gush about her newfound sense of serenity and happiness that Jesus had afforded her. Approximately 20 minutes later she was absolutely horrified at the seemingly never-ending stream of bile that had I had spewed concerning the sheer evil that is organised religion. Anybody who has ever heard me talk about the subject will not exact be taken aback by that, but I rather think that my friend was wrong footed by the amount of venom that I hold for the Church. We agreed to disagree on the subject, though she made the observation "Have you had a bad experience or something...not trying to pry & its really none of my business but you seem so angry... This got me to thinking about just why I hold the Church (and I used 'Church' as a catch-all term for absolutely every organised religion or religious cult, from Anglicans to Zarostranists (sic)) in such contempt.

I've never personally had a bad experience with the Church. I even managed to be in a church choir for a few months when I was 10 and I remained resolutely unbuggered by a single priest (although in fairness I still hold the diocese record for "Longest Maintaining of Anal Virginity in a Church Choir (under 11's section)" for this feat...). Nor have I been denounced as a heretic by any particular religious group (though under the strict definition of a heretic as 'One who questions' I hold up my hand and admit to falling into this category). I've corresponded with the Bishop of Newcastle and he has never been anything less than polite. So what is it that gets my back up? After all I'm not the only vehemently anti-church person that I know. Amongst my friends those who are religious fall into a distinct minority. So why is this?

Firstly I should make clear that I do not bear any grudges against a single individual that I have met who has any involvement in the Church, or at least if I do dislike them it has nothing to do with their religion. I realise that I'm just about to launch into a lengthy tirade about why the Church is an awful thing, but I am a believer in personal freedom within the boundaries of having consideration for how you actions can affect others. If somebody wishes to believe in a 2000 year old fairy tale (well...about 16-1700 years old as the bible was compiled centuries after the death of Christ), or the slickly packaged musings of a former Coventry City goalkeeper who used to wear turquoise shellsuits, or whatever, then that is their prerogative and it's not for me to tell them to stop. I'm going to tell them exactly what I think of it, but I'm not going to ask them to stop.

No, my grudge isn't against individuals but against the organisational aspect of the Church. Simply put, I think that Religion is Totalitarianism for beginners. Both are methods of imposing the will of the few onto the many. Both give absolute control of almost every aspect of a person's life as their stated aim. Both say that they do this for your own good. Both are rife with hypocrisy. Both ensure that those in the upper echelons of the organisation have the opportunity (not always taken) to grow fat, rich, and corrupt.

For example, the Catholic Church states that their priesthood must remain celibate and that it's followers must not use contraception and have sex only to reproduce. Communist rule in Romania dictated that the birth rate must increase and so sex became a patriotic duty. The Party in Orwell's 1984 sought to completely control reproduction via the encouragement of artificial insemination. One's sex life is a pretty damn personal thing yet all of these three bodies want to control it. The only difference that I can see between the 3 is the figurehead that is used. The Church relies on a mythical father figure who is kind and benevolent. The Church is merely an extension of his will. To question the will of the Church is to question the will of God. To question the will of God is to be disobedient, and so the miscreant needs to be gently disciplined as a father would discipline his son when he goes astray. As God is not a tangible being, this discipline is done by the Church on His behalf. Of course, I personally have gone astray from my Father's values on many occasions and he has yet to order me burnt at the stake, pressed by rocks until dead, excommunicated and thus condemned to hell, or even just shunned by himself and his friends.

The Nazi's had Adolf Hitler as their figurehead, which immediately gives them one advantage over the Church; they have a physical, tangible human being as their father figure. Of course, he was elevated to semi mythical status and imbued with all sorts of characteristics that gave would make him superhuman were they all true (this is a trick repeated by cults everywhere; indeed it's possibly the only thing that distinguishes the likes of Icke and L Ron Hubbard's cash-cow sects from mainstream religion). All things done in Nazi Germany were done in the name of Hitler whether he had ordered them (or even heard of them) or not. Whilst I do not doubt that he was a paragon of evil in himself or that he would have approved of 99% of what was done, all sorts of vile acts were done without his consent and in his name. To question any of this was to question the will of Hitler who in turn spoke for the Volk of Germany. As Hitler was unquestionably doing what was right for Germany, to question his will was anti-German and so these people had to be 'corrected' in protective custody. Nazi Germany was a long way advanced of the medieval church and so they could draw on the modern equivalents of burning at the stake etc.

The Party of 1984 had a fusion of the two; Big Brother was a Hitler like figure who was represented as a real person to the masses though the book is ambiguous at best as to whether he really does exist. Senior party members used Big Brother as a mixture of father figure and avenging angel to justify their use and abuse of power. The common thread that runs through all of these is that power is exercised by a few men and women. They justify themselves using a distant figure to whom no right of appeal can be reasonably expected. Therefore all of the decisions that affect the running of the Church/Party are made by those same few. In other words, one of the reasons I hold such hatred for the Church is that it places immense power in the hands of a few people, and as history has shown time and time again, power corrupts. There are few or no checks or balances in place to ensure that power is exercised in a fair way because they are exercising the will of an infallible being so why would they need them?

Which leads us into the heart of just why I have such a problem with the Church; they allow people to believe that by becoming a member of the church they are receiving guidance from God/Alpha Waves/Good Aligned Martian Lizards. They are doing absolutely no such thing whatsoever. They are receiving guidance from men. From human beings. There is nothing divine about the people whom they are handing over control of their lives to. They are just flesh and blood like everybody else. And like everybody else they have their own reasons for doing what they do. I'm not doubting that some do genuinely belief in the unfathomable mystery of the divine, in the rapture, or in whatever piece of mumbo jumbo of variable age and questionable origin that their particular Church espouses. However, as they are all people like any other then they will have the same sense of ambition, the same vulnerabilities, the same irrational likes and dislikes, the same flaws as any one of us. And their all-too-human traits will affect their actions toward their followers. So no one ever receives the undiluted wisdom of the spiritual world. They receive somebody else's interpretation of it. This is the reason for my less than charitable prejudice against the more devout followers of the Church; they don't have the courage to try and come to their own conclusions so they let somebody else do it for them.

Naturally the Church would dispute this. They would point to the Bible, or the Koran, or to a series of Sumerian and Aztec/Inca pictograms, or whatever book contains the teachings and dogma of that Church. They would say that it is the truth and the leaders of the Church simply teach the followers about it and encourage them to live their lives according to it's precepts. If that is so, how on earth is there still war and murder (because after all, Thou Shalt Not Kill) that receives the support of the Church? Why isn't the Church encouraging us to shun menstruating women (as we are told to do in Deuteronomy)? Why are we told to love our fellow man whilst simultaneously encouraged to denounce them if they don't follow the same religious teachings as you?

It's because those books of timeless wisdom are all mired in a particular place both historically and geographically. The Bible is a good textbook on how to live your life in 3rd-6th century Europe. The Koran does the same job for the Middle East of the 6th-7th century. They did not foresee a world that would change quite as radically as it has since then. So these books (that were written by men) are now interpreted by men and women as to how they relate to today's world. Fallible man and women. They may like to kid themselves that they are being entirely objective in their interpretations but this is a self-delusion. No one is completely free of bias, and so the teachings of the Church have been influenced by Byzantine politics, personal grievances, jealousies and petty hatreds.

As a humanist it does seem a little strange to me that the reason I criticise the Church is because it is mortal and not divine. But I hate it because it pretends to be something it is not. It claims higher motivations for seeking base power and it is absolutely no different to any method of controlling or subjugating a populace that has ever been created. People should by all means seek answers for to the divine and to the spiritual (I know I do) but I wish that they would do so without abdicating responsibility for doing so to someone else. Your own personal beliefs are just as valid and far more important than anything that you are encouraged to accept or have imposed on you as the truth. I truly believe that the world would be a better place if more people remembered that.

You can take the piss out of my humourless earnestness now. I know I would.
(, Mon 30 Jan 2006, 16:49, closed)

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