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Monday, October 24, 2005

Religion as a marketing tool



I never trusted Billy Graham. When I was a child in the 1960s/early 1970s, I remember my aunt listened to him religiously. My first indoctrination into the mainstream church was as a Baptist in central Illinois. I was taken to Sunday School, dropped off and picked up after services. My aunt that listened to Billy Graham would occasionally send him money and she would tell me how it wasn't OK to dance to church music (a sin) or wear red lipstick (another sin).

All I remember is a droning, nasal voice on the radio; a soundtrack to Sundays as my aunts washed dishes, swept the floor or washed clothes. The voice sounded nothing like the boisterous, accidentally profane sounds that came from the throats of my family members.

It took a few more years of life before I realized that he was selling the keys to the Kingdom, divine joy and a nearer place to Him. All in the monotone of an insurance salesman.

And, it took a few years more before I came to the conclusion that he was simply selling his beliefs to as many people as possible -- the multi-level marketing of God.

Having attended C.O.G.I.C, Baptist, AME, Methodist, Lutheran, Presbyterian, Catholic and several more services, usually on the arms of true believers, my perception of mainstream religion is best summed up by the bumper sticker: 'God Save Me From Your Believers.'

I will go on record and say, 'I don't want a religious government.' I don't want prayer in the schools and I don't want to vote for candidates who lead with Jesus.

The liberal in me offers this proviso: 'I'm sure their beliefs are important to them, and I respect their journey.' But, the pragmatist in me says, 'Don't even try and proselytize when you're wrapped in the flag.' I will not respect you; I will not vote for you; I won't trust you.

Blame it on Billy (who actually seems to have avoided controversy) or Pat Robertson or Jim Bakker or Jimmy Swaggart or Bob Jones or Oral Roberts or Reverend Ike. In my opinion, money is not at the core of religion and yet we Americans have made it big business. My belief is that teachers should make a ton of money, while preachers should make next to nothing. If you think I'm placing a value judgement on religion, then you have succumbed to the money uber alles mentality that has become insidious in America.

Quick observations: Money likely will not bring back your health if a company poisons you with its products; it won't bring back a loved one who has been killed by negligence and it doesn't do a damn thing for religion but make for an industry that draws in captains of commerce. If I need Lee Iacocca to tell me how to get into heaven, then prepare the express elevator to hell.

I am being obvious here, but I can't help it. Irony is lost on too many people, nowadays: How can we hate Islamic governments, when a religion-based government is the path we are on? And, every time we have a preacher endorse a Republican or a Democrat, how can that not take him or her further away from the spiritual?

Why must morality be the sole province of mainstream religion? Doesn't the weight of society count for something? As bad as crime has been, it still is representative of only a sliver of a fraction of Americans -- doesn't that speak to a certain amount of "goodness" in secular society? And, organized relgions certainly aren't doing the "goodness" thing as well as they could, witness the legions of abused boys who trusted Catholic priests.

I'm not against religion; people need comforting and succor; they need understanding about what lies beyond. I'm simply against any religion that requires a microphone and spreadsheets.


We are heading down a road that is merging religion and democracy and that is not a proper fit in my opinion. Those in control of the government should have a faith in the system and a respect for the people. When faith in higher powers starts to inform their decisions I am concerned, because that higher power may soon become a fog that makes for some very bad laws, however perfectly divine their rationales may be.


link | posted by Jae at 11:07 AM |


2 Comments:

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Blogger Renegade Eye commented at 4:48 PM~  

If churches get government money for faith based social programs, and they teach intelligent design; shouldn't they be required to teach evolution?

Because humans are the only living form, aware of its own mortality, we have a spiritual instinct. That is what religion exploits.

I guess it is Billy Graham Inc.

I get a kick at how stupid fundamentalists are. They think Republicans will end abortion. Republican women will never allow that. Liberals believe the Democrats, are going to fight for the right to choose. Two sides of the same coin.

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