"[There is a] strong correlation between market freedom and lower government corruption -- not terribly surprising, since the effect of increasing regulatory power is to shift 'cheating' from the private to the public sphere." ~ Julian Sanchez
Church and State
There are many strong parallels between religion and government. Both require unquestioning obedience in order to avoid severe punishment. Both make absurd claims that go against all reason and reality. Both claim to be doing good while they're doing bad. And the cornerstone to both is hypocrisy. Because America is by far a country dominated religiously by Christianity, I will be dealing with this revealed religion instead of the equally carrot/stick reliant revealed religions of Judaism and Islam.
Christianity teaches that the Bible god made the earth and then created Adam and Eve. Eve wanted to eat from the tree of knowledge (largely because of a talking snake/Satan who was hyping up the fruit from that particular tree), a tree they were instructed by the Bible god to avoid. Not only did she eat from the forbidden tree, she got Adam to eat from it too. This was the beginning of the Christian dogma known as original sin. The talking snake, Satan, tricked them into it and at the same time had one up on the Bible god. (For an entertaining look at the Garden of Eden story, visit http://www.deism.com/adamandeve.htm )
Now the Bible god had to save his creatures from eternal damnation. The only way thing he could think of was to get a teenage Jewish girl pregnant and have the resulting baby crucified. Then, whoever believed in the blood of this son of the Bible god would go to heaven, and whoever did not believe in the story would spend eternity burning in hell. As the Bible god's son, Jesus, said in Mark 16:16, 'He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned.'
The government makes it just as clear that people who resist and don't cooperate with Big Brother will pay a price. For example, if you don't pay your taxes, the government will take your home and all of your earthly possessions. If they tell you to go fight a war and you refuse, they'll put you in prison. The similarities between religion and government make you think of the chicken and the egg--which came first?
The Bible expects us to believe some very strange things. The Bible states that known mythical creatures are, in fact, real. Or at least they were real at one time. In Isaiah 13:21 we read, "But wild beasts of the desert shall lie there; and their houses shall be full of doleful creatures; and owls shall dwell there, and satyrs shall dance there." Any thinking person knows that satyrs, a man with a goat's legs, ears and horns, never existed. Yet, it's in the Bible as if it were a fact. Unicorns are also mentioned in the Bible as if they are real, in Isaiah 34:7. The Bible has many other references to mythical creatures.
George W. Bush, a man who reads the Bible every morning, wants us to believe in mythical WMD. He also wants us to believe Iraq and al Qaeda worked together. Of course Bush's statements are as false as the Bible claims of unicorns and satyrs. But the parallels between the government George represents and the Bible he believes in are interesting and speak volumes.
How can a book like the Bible do good? It's based on ancient violent and ridiculous mythology. The only thing it can possibly do is to build fear and credulity in people. Any honest examination of it points out the insane and unreasonable ideas it is full of. The government loves it because it can be used to show the Bible god wants you to kill, while at the same time it can show the Bible god wants you to be peaceful, whatever the government needs at the time.
The ambiguity of the Bible is made clear by the US Civil War. The abolitionist in the North used the Bible to argue against slavery, while the Southerners used it to promote slavery. In fact, the Bible encourages slaves to be obedient to their masters. In Colossians 3:22 we read, 'Servants, obey in all things your masters according to the flesh; not with eyeservice, as menpleasers; but in singleness of heart, fearing God.' Nowhere in the Bible is slavery spoken of as an evil!
Perhaps the biggest service to government is its call to mankind to subject themselves to governmental rule. And not even in a phony democratic government, but to be subject to rulers.
And the Bible openly states that governments and their rulers are ordained by God. This makes me wonder how the Christian fundamentalists and evangelicals can say that America is a Christian nation. If America was based on Christianity, we would never have been born through a violent revolution against the existing government!
Romans 13:1 states, 'Let every soul be subject unto the higher powers. For there is no power but of God; the powers that be are ordained by God. Whosoever therefore resisteth the power, resisteth the ordinance of God; and they that resist shall receive to themselves damnation.' Does this mean that George Washington, Thomas Jefferson and the rest of America's founders are suffering by eternal damnation for resisting the English government and starting and winning the Revolution??? This would really put a damper on the Fourth of July!
Many in the upper echelons of organized religion must know that the Bible is nonsense. How can a reflective mind not, sooner or latter, discover the insanity and unreasonableness of the Bible?
Any Christian leader who does know the Bible is ancient mythology, but continues to teach it as if it were the word of God, is a hypocrite.
Likewise, politicians who pretend to promote American interests while they send young Americans off to war to die and kill for the benefit of a foreign power, who vote themselves raises on a regular basis while denying an increase in income for the poorest workers in the nation, who make secret deals with huge energy companies that result in the rape and destruction of our irreplaceable natural resources and artificially inflate the cost of energy, are hypocrites of the same caliber. Hypocrisy is the tie that binds government to religion.
Reason coupled with action is the only way out. Neither the revealed religions nor the government can stand the test of reason. If each of us that is aware of what's going on points it out to others, we can hopefully get things moving. Make people aware of the facts, and of sources for obtaining the facts. Sources like Strike The Root and the Skeptic's Annotated Bible. The more people we reach with reason and reality, the less time the revealed religions and the government have to ride rough-shod over the minds and lives of individuals and society. Strike the root!