"The basic test of freedom is perhaps less in what we are free to do than in what we are free not to do." ~ Eric Hoffer
In the Name of the Father
Exclusive to STR
September 25, 2006
Tyranny, like pornography, can be difficult to describe, but as the saying goes, 'you know it when you see it.' It increases your breathing and heart rate and gets your attention whether you like it or not.
Any religion can be adulterated from an inner experience of the heart to a machine of suffering, destruction and even mass death. I don't know anything about Hinduism, Islam, or Wiccanism. I know little about Judaism and Buddhism. I have a lot of personal experience with Christianity, so I'll limit this discussion to it.
Jesus is my favorite historical example of individualism and living free. Besides that, he was the coolest dude I can think of and my personal hero. If I'm so hip to the man, why do I refer to myself as an atheist? Simply put, I do not believe in a deity.
Jesus was a non-conformist who advocated the non-initiation principle and drew followers unto him with love. He was powerful because he didn't buy into the rhetoric peddled by politicians and religious leaders. He was compassionate, intelligent, intuitive, loving and 'honest to a fault,' as my Dad would say. What's not to love?
I can think of one or two things not to love, but they're not about Jesus, at least not directly. One is our topic for today--tyranny. Love was here once two thousand years ago, so some power-mad people, rather than getting the idea, built an enormous altar to the memory of it, co-opted his name ('Christianity') and created a machine that runs on the blood of lambs and promotes the very worst things about humanity in an effort to force it down other people's throats.
There are countless stories of insane things people have done because they were told to do so by 'God.' If you Google 'victims of religion,' you'll find news accounts like these: 'Molester cites God,' or 'Man killed for being atheist' and 'Daughter, 13 months, sacrificed.' To see how globally destructive religion can be, an interesting historical perspective can be had here: 'How many people have been killed by Christians since biblical times.'
My personal experience with religious tyranny was never anything quite so physically dramatic, but violence to the spirit of another human being is just as destructive. Let me flesh it out for you. The following is a slice of what's been demonstrated to me as Christianity today.
'Hairdressers For Christ'
I'm sure these folks mean well. But do they really think a non-Christian might wander into a salon with a name like this to check it out? Perhaps it's a warning and they're hoping to keep out the dregs of humanity of which Jesus was so fond. As I said, he was the coolest non-conformist I can think of, and my all-time hero, but if I wanted a coif like his, I wouldn't have to pay someone to get it. Perhaps these people are simply demonstrating to the world their commitment to their faith ' accent on the 'Christ' rather than the 'Hairdressers.' Fair enough; maybe it'll get them into heaven, if heaven is indeed something that comes only after death. Jesus said the kingdom of heaven was 'at hand,' which to me means handy, right here if you just turn around and open your eyes.
A bizarre business name like this one removes us yet another layer away from what Jesus was actually about, which was love. It's like putting cheap lipstick on a Di Vinci in hopes it'll buy your admission to 'Happy Days' with Richie Cunningham. It might work, but, like most things in life, once you've paid the admission price, you may find that it's not what you thought it was and there are no refunds.
'By Their Fruit You Shall Know Them'
Years ago I attended a born-again Christian church ' strictly biblical. There was an older, married couple and their children who also attended. I never really cared for the man, Rick, but his wife, Dory, was a jewel. One Sunday we had an old-fashioned day of fasting and prayer. The pastor stood up in the middle of the service and announced that God told him to purge sin from the community and to begin with Rick and Dory. He pointed dramatically at them like some prophet of old and claimed they were guilty of the sin of gossip!
The church was hushed in silence. There was no sound of movement other than the soft weeping I heard coming from Dory. Why did no one object? Were they afraid of being targeted next? Maybe they really believed the pastor was God's mouthpiece.
This so wracked my being, and was so against everything I had heard about Jesus and deeply believed, I leaped up out of my seat and ran out, never to return. I went home and talked to some friends about it, people who had actually once been members of that church. In fact, they had been 'elders' once upon a time. They assured me that my horror was an appropriate response.
Later I told a friend who had been there what the former elders had said. He told me I shouldn't have discussed it with anyone, that when the 'purging' was over, the minister instructed the people not to take the church's business outside the congregation. Just like a dysfunctional family who doesn't air their dirty laundry in public. The dirty part, though, was not the alleged gossip that may or may not have happened, it was the self-righteous, judgmental accusation of the pastor. He was actually doing the gossiping, only he did it on a grand scale.
A few years after this incident, Dory died of cancer, without a bitter bone in her body. I wondered how people like that pastor could get away with petty tyranny in a voluntary organization. Are we as a nation so completely cowed by fear into obedience without question? How can such cruelty, which is diametrically opposed to the message of Jesus, earn this man an afterlife in paradise?
The difference between this despot of a minister and George W. Bush is slight, except for the damage toll. Bush stands self-righteously as a man of God, pointing his finger at tyranny on other shores, all the while we're supposed to admire the emperor's new clothes, shed our children's blood on his battlefields, ignore the boot of tyranny lodged firmly on our throats and the marching police-state which shreds our rights daily.
Oh, and we must empty our pockets too, for this leader of ours is appointed by God! It's amazing how tyranny always makes our wallets thinner and someone else's fatter and no one seems to know how or why this is so. Questioning it is like questioning God himself. It's easy to see why Karl Marx said 'religion'is the opium of the people.'
'God Told Me To'
Usually we only hear this phrase following a horrific act of violence against humans. This is one reason why I don't believe in a god, because sooner or later he'd really have to put a stop to that excuse.
Recently, here in metro Detroit , there was a 15-year-old boy, Christopher Dankovich, who stabbed his mother over 100 times because he was told to do so by God. His mother had been a minister who had just reprimanded him for looking at pornography.
I've had several minister's wives tell me of the enormous pressures they bear by being in the spotlight. They are supposed to be shining examples of people who look perfect. I can see that. The wives signed on for that cruise, though, and that's the nature of the beast. I'm sure the children of such unions also feel intense pressure and they are the ones who are victimized by it.
This young man, Dankovich, wasn't born a killer. A boy who wasn't even allowed to go to the restroom at school without a pass has now been sentenced as an adult and will spend at least 22 years in prison. I keep this boy's picture on my bulletin board because he is one of countless victims of the machine of religion and he shouldn't be forgotten.
George W. Bush is, in his own words, 'driven with a mission from God.' He hears voices telling him to attack. J.K. Rowling's book for children, Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, tells us 'even in the wizarding world, hearing voices isn't a good sign.' The Commander In Chief has blood on his hands. He is responsible for the deaths of tens of thousands of people who had absolutely nothing to do with 9/11, all the while making lots and lots of money for his cronies in the military industrial complex and he accomplished it all without lifting a finger. Don't try this at home. This is big magic: voodoo Christianity.
'Losing Weight for Christ'
I know four obese, Christian women who do not know each other. They are from different communities. All four, having assumed I am one of them, described to me a new movement going through the churches a few years ago. This is pure conjecture, and I admit I have a suspicious nature, but I wonder if this bit of drivel was dreamed up by the male establishment as a way to get better looking wives and it appears that the women bought into it.
I don't know what they were thinking or exactly who hatched it, but for it to be understood well enough by four unrelated Christian women for each of them to tell me about it, I think it's safe to assume it made it's way through Christian churches. None of these four ladies have actually lost any weight that I can tell. They probably feel bad about themselves for it. This is the gist of it: 'If I really loved Jesus, I wouldn't over-eat.'
'I never knew you'
I'm sorry, but, if you really loved Jesus, you'd STOP KILLING PEOPLE. You'd stop sending other mother's sons to kill and to die on battlefields for corporate profit. You'd stop accusing their widows of profiteering from those deaths because they have the audacity to speak out against such killing. You'd stop funding and voting for whores in Washington who orchestrate human suffering, torture, theft and death in the name of the Father.
You'd stop casting stones and building prisons. You'd stop having babies you don't really want and can't afford to care for properly. You'd stop forcing those babies to bow down to a religious machine so that you can look like upstanding members of it. You'd stop hitting your children with a spoon to teach them obedience. (In case you didn't know, your children talk to their friends and tell them exactly what's going on at home. If it were love, you wouldn't be feeling shame right now, would you?)
You wouldn't have time to judge other people's clothing, speech or music as immoral, because true love hardly notices when others get it wrong. You'd live from your heart, not your position of judgment in the hierarchal Christian community. You wouldn't have to try to find things in the Bible with which to attack other people who mean you no harm. Life would flow naturally once you are in the place of love. It's what Jesus was telling us over and over. He resisted no evil.
Peace is the thing you would do if you really loved Jesus. A good haircut or weight loss would not even make a top ten list, although nothing improves one's appearance more than living peaceably.
They think I'm a 'good' Christian too?! I'm not! But I can honestly say now, that, among others, I do love Jesus. I could never say it with a clear conscience until I stopped acting like a Christian. If it angers religious fanatics that I also love Gandhi, Yogananda, Sakya-muni and other enlightened beings, they can crucify me for loving too much. It's not a new idea; it's what the religious leaders of the day did to Jesus.