A Few Thoughts about Religion in America

Posted by Elaine Magliaro

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The biggest threat towards America today is not Communism, it is moving America towards a fascist theocracy . . . . When you have a government that prefers a certain moral code derived from a certain religion and that moral code turns into legislation to suit one certain religious point of view and if that code happens to be very, very right wing, almost towards Attila the Hun . . . .

~ Frank Zappa, 1986

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27 Responses to A Few Thoughts about Religion in America

  1. He was an intellectual and nobody understood it at the time…

  2. mespo727272 says:

    Like conservatism, mainstream religion is facing a crisis of demographics as many of their reliable demographic groups are shrinking. That leads to a persecution complex as power wanes. It also means they cling harder to what they have and try to expand on it: classical will to power. They inevitably fail (and morph) as we’re seeing with changes in societal attitudes about discrimination against LGBT, but until the change is complete they get quite testy. The one thing I learned from my undergraduate studies: demographics are destiny. And I might add, they’re a b*tch when they stack against you.

  3. mespo727272 says:

    Here’s an interesting comment from Neitzsche about the real psychological strut underlying the will to power so evident in conservative/religious mindsets:
    “I have found strength where one does not look for it: in simple, mild, and pleasant people, without the least desire to rule—and, conversely, the desire to rule has often appeared to me a sign of inward weakness: they fear their own slave soul and shroud it in a royal cloak (in the end, they still become the slaves of their followers, their fame, etc.) The powerful natures dominate, it is a necessity, they need not lift one finger. Even if, during their lifetime, they bury themselves in a garden house!”

  4. Mike Spindell says:

    Mark,
    Two very interesting comments which call for my own comments.

    “Like conservatism, mainstream religion is facing a crisis of demographics as many of their reliable demographic groups are shrinking. That leads to a persecution complex as power wanes. It also means they cling harder to what they have and try to expand on it: classical will to power.”

    While I agree that is what is happening and that the demographic trends point to further shrinkage
    of this faction, there is another factor that renders the demographics almost meaningless as far as the power of religious fundamentalism goes. This factor is that various oligarchs of great wealth, like the Koch Bros. and ALEC are funding this movement for their own will to power. These forces, which are almost in control of this country want a “Theocracy” in power. A Theocracy provides them the cover of a “doctrine” that is used to keep people in line. Historically, the Royals and the Dictators with the most success, imposed a “doctrine” that bound everyone but themselves. This is where we are heading. With unlimited campaign funding and being in control of the media’s messages of propaganda, total power can be achieved with only a minority of true believers.

    ” conversely, the desire to rule has often appeared to me a sign of inward weakness: they fear their own slave soul and shroud it in a royal cloak (in the end, they still become the slaves of their followers, their fame, etc.) The powerful natures dominate, it is a necessity, they need not lift one finger. Even if, during their lifetime, they bury themselves in a garden house!”

    Neitzsche has it right. In the book “The Authoritarians” the point was made that most Authoritarian leaders did not have authoritarian personalities. What Neitzsche adds though, is by using their particular dogma to rule, these leaders many times inadvertantly become slaves to it.

  5. Bob Kauten says:

    Regarding the gun store owner…well, yes.

  6. blouise says:

    And to pick up from mespo and Mike … this “crisis of demographics” creates some very dangerous bedfellows. From Moral Majority to the Christian Coalition to Tea Party, they are all the same folk simply taking on a different title depending on which authority figure has decided to use them.

    On another thread one finds the discussion regarding the difference in “wiring” between conservatives and liberals.

    These are all pieces of the same pie.

  7. blouise17 says:

    Regarding the gun store owner…well, yes. – Bob K

    Yep

  8. po says:

    That parallel about the gun seller drives the point home.

    What frustrates me about the believing lot is the inherent hypocrisy in their picking and choosing what to wage war against. Homosexuality seems to be the umbrella under which gather all the finger-pointing religious sensitivities to establish themselves as the last stand between what we have now and complete unraveling of humanity’s moral fabric.
    In a moral and social perspective, homosexuality or gay marriage has a negligible effect on our moral structure, and in a religious perspective, murder, theft, false testimony and general injustice all rank much higher on the scale of what seems to offend God than does homosexuality.

    On the other hand, we must acknowledge that we do not necessarily know what spurs the believer. Though we point the finger at fear or delusion or socialization, we must also entertain the thought that there is a moral code embedded within the human psyche, one that, independent of what society deems moral or amoral, feels profound repulsion towards something that seems to conflict with that moral code.

    One of the points brought forth usually when debating homosexuality is that it is natural, as evidenced by animals in nature who indulge in homosexual behavior. The counter argument to it is that examples of homosexual behavior in nature are first and foremost recreational. We don’t know (at least i don’t) that there are gay animals in the way we imagine gay, that is to be chemically/emotionally and biologically wired to be attracted to males.
    Knowing that the religious structure frowns upon sex outside the aim of procreation (the Christian one that is, Islam does not have such constraint), and gays, naturally,cannot procreate, homosexuality is felt as unnecessary and recreational, outside of the core needs of the human being.
    Additionally, although the moral impetus for homophobia rests on the idea that it goes against God’s law regarding the purpose of sex, the practical/physical impetus is sustained by the imagining of a sexual behavior that revolves around the anus, an area generally accepted as “dirty” or “disgusting”.

    Obviously, if we are discussing this from outside the religious realm, then we cannot entertain any idea of a moral code coming down from above, embedded into the human being as part of his (direct or indirect) creation. We can however, ponder the likelihood that repulsion to gay marriage is part of the evolutionary/societal process. That perhaps as a species, there is concern that gay marriage might threaten the “natural” order of what the species needs to survive, procreation.

    I can see the concern of the religious in being forced to participate in that which offends their religious sensitivities, but I also know that in light of all the steps this country has taken to protect those in need of protection, this is a necessary and unavoidable process.
    It is also true that some in the Christian community have been working hard at subjugating the whole of this nation’s laws, government and people to their religious and moral code, and a blowback is unavoidable.

  9. mespo727272 says:

    Mike S:

    While I share your concern, I find oligarchs are troublesome but their time and scope are limited. Their machinations are transparent and when have you heard of a popular oligarch? Robber Barron has negative connotations. People figure these guys out sooner or later and their influence usually wanes well before their money runs out.

  10. Bob Kauten says:

    pete,
    I thought of that, but if you follow rules of natural selection, the people carrying any gene predisposing toward non-procreation would be out-reproduced by those who didn’t carry that gene. The gene would disappear.
    Not talking about you, Gene.

  11. po says:

    Mespo, I do agree with you that oligarchs are troublesome, I however disagree that their time and scope is limited. I actually believe that their presence is unavoidable across all political and financial systems, and they are likely to grow more powerful socially after having rigged the system to not only allow the acquiring of their vast wealth, but to also allow the taking hold of the reins of that system.
    I believe that every empire that crumbled throughout history did so after some enriched themselves to the gills at the expense of not only the rest of the populace, but at the expense of the health of their nation. The superfluous to them, more wars to profit from, more large scope infrastructure projects to benefit from, had a direct impact on people, whom they refused to see or painted with a brush that sought to render them even more insignificant. They mainly used religion and xenophobia, along with the lining of pockets across all the legislative, judicial and executive halls to achieve financial then societal control, which enabled complete ownership of the coffers, all the coffers.
    It is worse to some extent in this country because the lure of democracy, along with a legislative system that requires congress and senators to spend an inordinate amount of time hunting for reelection funds, enables the “legitimate/democratic” taking over of the country while we, frogs in boiling water, wait for the signs that things have hit a high point. By the time we realize that the oligarchs are in control, they own the media, own the legislative body, have some on the supreme court speaking for them, are too powerful for the executive “IF” it wanted to curtail their power, and the country is rigged such so that every communal step we take benefits them, especially these wars we are engaged in.
    Their current involvement in these social/religious issues are phase two of the process. It is when the arrogance that comes with money leads them to try to cloak their money with the moral sheen of religion, and the population finally realizes that they have been played.I hope.

  12. pete says:

    Bob

    When the Indiana law first blew up I saw where this idea had been put forward at another site. From what I understand you can manipulate hormones to the fetus and make a predisposition towards homosexuality but population pressures won’t generally do it.

  13. mespo727272 says:

    Po:
    Oligarchs have proven to be the demise of some civilizations (Nazi Germany and Mussolini’s Italy, for modern examples) but not the majority of them (the Weimar Republic , Roman Empire, and communist Poland are examples). Usually the problems arise from moral decay, lack of martial vigor leading to conquest, cultural sclerosis, unsettled succession of power, and financial mismanagement. The oligarchs can certainly speed this process but the root causes are factionalism or just plain old societal laziness in not dealing with these issues as they arise. Oligarchs are symptoms of dysfunction and rarely causes themselves. Healthy societies throw them off. The weak ones succumb.

  14. swarthmoremom says:

    http://www.msnbc.com/rachel-maddow-show/week-god-41115?cid=sm_fb_maddow “First up from the God Machine this week is the unexpected argument from a longtime leader of the religious right movement, who raised the prospect of an American “civil war” over marriage equality.

    Focus on the Family founder James Dobson, a pioneer among social conservatives for the last generation, has fiercely opposed equal-marriage rights over decades, so it was all quite routine this week when he said same-sex unions would likely to lead to “a general collapse” of the nation.

    But as Right Wing Watch noted, Dobson went quite a bit further reflecting on the possible consequences of a Supreme Court ruling in support of marriage equality.

    After Janet Porter, the creator of a new “documentary” about how the gay rights movement will outlaw Christianity, discussed her “restraining order” campaign to convince Congress to strip the Supreme Court of its authority to rule on marriage cases, Dobson said that his fellow activists “need to be realistic about what we’re up against here.”

    He said that the gay rights issue has reached an unprecedented “level of intensity” and put the country on the brink of conflict: “Talk about a Civil War, we could have another one over this.” “

  15. I would say that the “religious right” or the move towards an openly “Dominionist” movement in the United States is anything but weak, especially in the these polarized times.
    The stances regarding the LGBT community are simply issues that are represented by voices that can still be heard within our community as a whole and we have loud voices among us and many supporters. But we are not only targets
    I have always been a critic of religion and at this point I am thinking pretty much that I am against organized religion as a whole as an an official organization (eeek I know).
    That sounds awful it seems, but I just just don’t see where religion as an organization goes to a good place in the end in the modern world we live in. I am hoping that it has become a personal thing and that we as a society have socially outgrown religion as a control and need.

  16. Bob Stone says:

    “homosexuality an evolutionary technique to avoid overpopulation”

    A better way to phrase that towards the “religious” opposition would be:

    “How do you know that homosexuality isn’t one of God’s methods of population control and a means to insure more families for orphans?”

    But you still can’t compel people by law to disregard their deeply held beliefs and feelings; i.e. their “‘individual freedom of mind” as discussed in Wooley v. Maynard, 430 U.S. 705 (1977)

  17. Mike Spindell says:

    “I find oligarchs are troublesome but their time and scope are limited. Their machinations are transparent and when have you heard of a popular oligarch?”

    Mark,
    Their popularity doesn’t affect their power.

  18. Elaine M. says:

    I think a lot of Americans are clueless as to what the oligarchs are doing in this country.

    I have a libertarian friend who has defended the Koch brothers because they’ve donated to good causes.

  19. But, but, but . . . Mussolini made the trains run on time, Elaine! :mrgreen:

  20. Elaine M. says:

    Gene,

    Okay…Il Duce had some good qualities. May he rest in peace!

    😉

  21. po says:

    mespo727272 says:
    Usually the problems arise from moral decay, lack of martial vigor leading to conquest, cultural sclerosis, unsettled succession of power, and financial mismanagement. The oligarchs can certainly speed this process but the root causes are factionalism or just plain old societal laziness in not dealing with these issues as they arise. Oligarchs are symptoms of dysfunction and rarely causes themselves. Healthy societies throw them off. The weak ones succumb.
    —————————————————–
    True, Mespo, however, I do think that those issues, lack of martial vigor, cultural sclerosis, unsettled succession of power and financial mismanagement, are very likely the result of the interactive behind the curtain push and pulls that take place in every society, whether in China, Russia or the US. There is no society that ever escaped the dysfunction that arises when some identify means to make (more) big money, and those means always include at best buying those in control (straight up corruption, China, Russia), or at worst pitting the controllers against one another (or buying both sides) so as to come out ahead no matter who remains (US, Britain…)
    Rome’s demise did not happen on its own. The roads being built, the army being clothed and fed, the governorship of provinces…all were fields of battle where the oligarchs made their money, and once the money was made, the political jockeying of betting on horses to insure the steady supply of said money led to the political factionalism, which lays open the political dysfunction and associated corruption, which in turn causes the societal malaise.
    When successful, oligarchs become popular, for they write themselves into the popular narrative. Why do they buy the media? At first it was to keep their hand invisible and manipulate popular opinion. Now that they are fully visible, so they can control their image and through that keep steering popular opinion.
    The Koch bros are popular, the oligarchs who have not fallen out of favor in China and Russia are popular there and sometimes here (the guy who owns the Brooklyn Nets) was feted here.
    That will however be their downfall, when they feel too comfortable going from nouveau rich to king makers and flaunt their power.

  22. did my comment get lost in the filter again?

  23. Elaine M. says:

    Caitlyn,

    I retrieved your comment from the spam filter.

  24. I have no issue with religion generally speaking. The exception to that is how some turbo-Christian types use their religious beliefs and the Bible (which, to the best of my knowledge, contains no verses related to the condemnation of homosexuality) to bash the gay community.

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