Religion can promote either love or hate. The tree of religious faith has two main branches. One branch fosters love and peace, the other hatred and violence. Which branch are you climbing? Are you even in the tree?
Our beliefs are the judgments and values about ourselves, everyone, and everything in the world. It is the filter through which we view reality. Some call this filter our worldview or our paradigm. This filter is critical, not only on a personal level because our judgments affect the world. If we base them on bias and prejudice, we are a negative influence.
How Religion is a Weapon
A weapon is an object used in an offensive or defensive manner. When used to defend or protect, we judge this as the lawful and necessary use of a deadly instrument. But, we can also use weapons to commit crimes, and we consider this action unlawful.
So, the problem is what is the right and the wrong way to use a weapon is. It is permissible to cause harm against another who is committing what the culture judges as the greater evil. The traditions of many cultures allow one person to kill another in self-defense. But, what if you could have prevented the attempt against your life without using deadly force? How do we decide? Who gets to decide?
War brings up another ethical dilemma. A declaration of action is the way a country commits mass murder. Those who act on behalf of the government must set aside their moral standards. Some religions declare war. They do this to justify killing in the name of God.
The decision of what is right and wrong is a cultural standard. Religion is a weapon that can distort these standards. The result is a biased and prejudiced society.
Many people are subject to self-hypnosis and group hypnosis, which are the principal tools of Western organized religion; these are the Semitic religions of Christianity, Islam, and Judaism. These religions program negative bias and prejudice. They program us to judge. People will also defend these values, even if they are harmful to themselves or others. They may not make rational sense, but people still protect them. That is how powerful core beliefs are. They can override our sense of empathy and fairness.
The Traditions Become Core Beliefs
We acquire our core programming as we mature. Our families are first to install values of what is right and wrong. We learn to mirror behaviors from family and friends. Other institutions also contribute layer upon layer. They all add to and reinforce our belief system.
When we children, we often have no choice. Our families indoctrinate us into their religion. In many cultures, it is hard to reject the dominant religion—failure to accept the dominant religion results in punishment up to and including death. So religion is a weapon of indoctrination. The question is then, what messages is it programming?
The traditions of ancient cultures used stories ripe with metaphors and analogies to create an oral tradition. It makes the lessons memorable. But it’s important to remember that the stories are metaphors and not real things or events. Once you cross that line, then you mistake metaphors for facts.
Metaphors and analogies are some of the best ways to communicate core beliefs. They take a variety of forms that make the filter of our worldview. These are value-based parameters that color our thinking and behavior. They can be so deep-rooted that we have no conscious awareness of their operation. It makes them powerful motivators.
The Focus of East and West Differ
Western organized religion is the Semitic or Abrahamic faiths of Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. These religions are the rebranding of Egyptian, Babylonian, Persian, and Assyrian mystery religions. They control most of the cultural narrative with over 4 billion members combined.
Eastern religions come from two main lines, India and Asia. The Indian line includes Hinduism, Buddhism, Jainism, and Sikhism. The Asian line includes Taoism, Shinto, Confucianism, and Eastern Asian Buddhism. Pagan religions are the roots of both Western and Eastern traditions. But, most group them with Eastern thought.
The core beliefs of Eastern and Western thought differ a great deal. The traditions of the East focus on self-development. They pioneered tools for expanding and exploring consciousness.
Western organized religion focuses on creating a cash flow system. It does this by selling mythology. These religions and their tactics for gaining and retaining members are not new. These religions are a rebranding of earlier mystery religions of the Mediterranean region.
The Vatican used these tactics to create the wealthiest entity on the planet. Christianity absorbed these money-making tactics from the ancient mystery religions. They absorbed their core beliefs along with the tactics of self-hypnosis and group hypnosis. The goal was to create a cost-effective cash flow machine. Chief among these is selling the Afterlife.
Is Religion a Weapon of Love or Hate?
Religion is a weapon of the dominant cultural narrative. But does the narrative foster love or hate? The easiest way to tell is to look at the facts and results, not the propaganda. Here are some characteristics of belief systems.
1) Inconsistency in Words and Deeds
The first thing to look for is consistency or inconsistencies in the messages and behavior. If the message is inconsistent, this provides cherry-picking arguments to support any action. If the behaviors are inconsistent, this often requires illogical justification.
If it espouses love in one place but in another promotes hate and violence, this is a significant inconsistency.
“Eternal suffering awaits anyone who questions God’s, infinite love.” ― Bill Hicks
“Of all the systems of religion that ever were invented, there is no more derogatory to the Almighty, more unedifying to man, more repugnant to reason, and more contradictory to itself than this thing called Christianity. Too absurd for belief, too impossible to convince, and too inconsistent for practice, it renders the heart torpid or produces only atheists or fanatics. As an engine of power, it serves the purpose of despotism, and as a means of wealth, the avarice of priests, but so far as respects the good of man, in general, it leads to nothing here or hereafter.” ― Thomas Paine, The Age of Reason
2) Denial of Scientific Facts
It is good to be a healthy skeptic. It is not beneficial to deny scientific hypotheses’ validity because you don’t understand science. If you don’t understand something, then seek to improve your knowledge. Do not form an opinion based on political or celebrity opinion.
“By denying scientific principles, one may maintain any paradox” ― Galileo Galilei
“Who is more humble? The scientist who looks at the universe with an open mind and accepts whatever the universe has to teach us, or somebody who says everything in this book must be considered the literal truth and never mind the fallibility of all the human beings involved?” ― Carl Sagan
3) Using Religion to Justify Inhuman Behavior
People use religion to justify destructive behavior. They use it to justify gender, race, and ethnic discrimination. They often point to their holy texts as authority for these actions. There are religious bias and prejudice which provide people with excuses.
People will admit to the past genocides but say that those are things of the past. But, they are not; they continue to this day. They say it’s an extremist sect or denomination, but not their religion. It is the clearest example of how religion is a weapon of hate.
“Religious people claim that it’s just the fundamentalists of each religion that cause problems. But, there’s got to be something wrong with the religion itself if those who strictly adhere to its most fundamental principles are violent bigots and sexists.” — David G. Mcafee
“From the beginning men used God to justify the unjustifiable.” ― Salman Rushdie, The Satanic Verses
Not all religions are contradictory, deny facts, or justify inhuman behavior, but some do. How do your beliefs compare to a weapon of love or hate?
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(1) Joseph Campbell’s book The Hero’s Journey, Wikipedia