Organized Religion and the War on Terror
I am not writing this to offend anybody. The only reason I care about organized religion is because of the threat it poses to our survival on planet earth. Even the fact that many people in this country believe in Armageddon, doesn't really bother me. Sure, I think it's defeatist and sort of weird, but what bothers me is that one of them currently has his hand on the nuclear button and could make it happen. I don't think anybody who believes in the fiery end of the planet should be given that power. To me that's like giving an arsonist a can of gasoline and a book of matches. It doesn't help that the person involved - President Bush - has proven to be such a malicious screw-up. When I was young, World War 3 meant the end of the world. We now have a leader who believes World War 3 has begun.
The Religious Right is running the Republican Party, and that's too bad. One of the classic dumb interviews our esteemed President gave was with Tom Brokaw about what Iraq's future government should look like. This was back before the real situation there became apparent. President Bush said that Iraq must have separation of church and state. See how stupid that is? Everyone can spot the dangers in having someone else's religion run the government, but when it comes to theirs, it's just fine. Religion and politics is a lethal mix.
All this is not what has me up so early on this cold Fall morning, with a space heater to warm my basement office. I've been thinking about how the War on Terror uses the playbook of organized religion to manipulate the public. Let's face it, organized religion in most cases is driven by fear. We are not being good for goodness sake, as Santa Claus would want it. No, we are being good because we don't want to spend eternity in hell, and we are warned over and over again that this fate could happen if we're not careful.
Isn't it interesting that a political party dominated by the Religious Right is now using the religious model to sell the War on Terror? First, the public must have the hell scared out of it. If you don't pay attention to this threat we're facing, the evildoers will come to your house and behead you. Second, there is only one way to fight them - and that is with the Republicans. That mirrors the tenet that there is only one way to salvation. Third, to compensate the ones who are going to save you, you must give up some of your money to the collection plate or give up some of your liberty to the authoritarian rulers.
The next comparison might offend some of you, but frankly, some of you offend me. Religion involves a lot of spin. I mean a lot of spin. That is how two different versions of the "truth" often are generated, leading to fun religious differences like with the Shia and the Sunnis. It's always so heart-warming when people who worship the same basic version of God, kill each other over the smaller details. That is evidence of the spin becoming a nasty, lethal reality. The Protestants and the Catholics have a similar dynamic, as seen in Northern Ireland. Spin leads to violence. Spin is used to sell religion, and spin is used to sell the Bush administration.
Now for the truth. It's always interesting when people keep saying they are telling the truth. If it's really true, they shouldn't have to keep insisting on it. I've often felt that when President Bush tells a lie, it is much more than just a simple lie. Somewhere deep down inside, he believes it is actually true, simply because he says it is true. He has that power because he is a godly man. It is very similar to the way religious people believe something, as if the ernest tone with which they say it, and the endless number of times they repeat it, makes it real.
Remember how they sold the need to get Saddam? Endless repetitions about 9/11 and the weapons of mass destruction. To the congregation - in this case, viewers of the FOX network - it became the truth, and remains so to this day. For them, it is true because they believe it. The telling part was the intense way Republicans reacted when they were challenged with the facts. There was an element of "How dare you?" It was like when you challenge someone's religion. These things become true to the person in a similar way as faith. Any implication that the information is not accurate leads to a dramatic outburst. The War on Terror and the War on Iraq were sold with spin, just like an organized religion is sold with spin: "You don't want to spend eternity in hell, do you?" "You don't want the first sign we were right to be a mushroom cloud, do you?"
One final point: When I was young, I would go to a chapel and see an 8-ft crucifix with a realistic, life-sized statue of a human body that was being brutally tortured to death. Isn't it interesting that the people who were raised looking at that every Sunday, have now legalized torture?