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Religion is Social Control

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posted on Apr, 9 2007 @ 11:06 AM
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Much has been made of the role that religion plays in the modern world
The "War On Terror", with both sides espousing how god is on their side, yet with both sides going against the teachings of their religions.

I would argue that religion started merely as a form of social control, at a time when there was very little in the way of law and order - as voltaire said "If god didn't exist, it would be necessary to invent him".
It also gave elitists and elitist organizations the excuse of "divine right" to rule, in which people were considered superior merely by an accident of birth, the earliest example of which is that of Hammurabi of Sumer.
In early western civilization, priests and rulers both held enormous power, and were, in some respects almost interchangeable, given that they both wanted the same thing: a respectful, law-abiding populace, dedicated through a system of belief to maintaining the status quo - in short, the privileged used a combination of religion and politics (though to a lesser extent) to retain their status.

When looking through the worlds major religions, many examples of attempts at social control can be seen - in Christianity, the ten commandments and the teachings of jesus can be viewed as attempts to control through fear i.e. fear of divine retribution should an individual err into "godlessness". In Islam, al'quran provides a framework and rules for daily living, and how an individual should behave, in almost every respect.

Speaking as a christian who is opposed to organized religion (due to the massive hypocrisy for one thing), I find it strange that more people do not question their beliefs, or indeed their own spirituality, given the nature of the origins of the belief systems prevalent throughout the world.
Major religions and organizations are not the cause of all the world's troubles, but perhaps they don't always help matters either........




posted on Apr, 10 2007 @ 04:32 PM
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A footnote to this is the thread posted about a child in a U.S. school that was made to remove a magnetic religious symbol from her desk.
More disturbing is that they would not allow her to be photographed (for a class photo) because she was wearing a religious t-shirt.

I may have a problem with organized religion, but I still believe in freedom of speech.

www.abovetopsecret.com...



posted on Apr, 10 2007 @ 04:49 PM
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OK. I'll take up the opposing position and get a good discussion going.


The fact that people in many different organized religions throughout history have done bad things is not proof that organized religion is flawed, it's proof that people are flawed.

Which is the element that is consistent in that picture? There are all kinds of different religions with vastly different beliefs. The only common element is people who screw them up.

What's the solution? No religion? I'll point to secular humanists in the 20th century as proof that doesn't work. They butchered more people than organized religion did for a long time back.

There always seems to be a minority of people, like you mention, who make for dramatic stories and headlines because they abuse organized religion and/or do things exactly opposed to their beliefs.

The vast majority of people who have lived and died passed through life with some set of religious beliefs. Those beliefs created codes of morals and behavior that keep human kind from plunging into total barbary. They just are not so into all that drama. Most people live a quiet life, are kind to others and would like to live a peaceful life coexisting with their neighbors.

Religion is not the problem. Some certain people are the problem.



posted on Apr, 10 2007 @ 05:01 PM
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Originally posted by Perfect Fifth
OK. I'll take up the opposing position and get a good discussion going.


The fact that people in many different organized religions throughout history have done bad things is not proof that organized religion is flawed, it's proof that people are flawed.

Which is the element that is consistent in that picture? There are all kinds of different religions with vastly different beliefs. The only common element is people who screw them up.

What's the solution? No religion? I'll point to secular humanists in the 20th century as proof that doesn't work. They butchered more people than organized religion did for a long time back.

There always seems to be a minority of people, like you mention, who make for dramatic stories and headlines because they abuse organized religion and/or do things exactly opposed to their beliefs.

The vast majority of people who have lived and died passed through life with some set of religious beliefs. Those beliefs created codes of morals and behavior that keep human kind from plunging into total barbary. They just are not so into all that drama. Most people live a quiet life, are kind to others and would like to live a peaceful life coexisting with their neighbors.

Religion is not the problem. Some certain people are the problem.


But surely, all religion IS man made, and therefore imperfect. Ok, this comes down to a matter of faith, when what I am trying to say can be viewed as fact
www.allabouttruth.org...

www.deism.com...

I include a link for each side of the argument about the bible, for one, and I think that this can be equally applied to other religious writings. I do this because I don't feel I'm qualified to argue the nature of the origins of various works.

I am, however, qualified to write about some of the social and political aspects of this - and this is the point I was making: that this (for the powers that be) is more about social control, than any semblance of piety, and that religion may be viewed in some quarters as a tool of oppression, and a particularly effective one at that.



posted on Apr, 11 2007 @ 11:01 AM
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But surely, all religion IS man made, and therefore imperfect. Ok, this comes down to a matter of faith, when what I am trying to say can be viewed as fact


I’m confused. I think we agree here, but not sure. Saying that religion is just something made up by man (and not of divine origin) is an opinion and not a “fact.” You can’t really prove or disprove a matter of faith to another person – like proving that God doesn’t exist or something like that. You can only prove it or disprove it to yourself to your own satisfaction.

I’m familiar with the arguments about and history of the origin of the Bible. Let’s not get off track on that whole world of debate. I agree that the Bible did not magically drop out of the sky in it’s current form. The same goes for other religious texts. Enough said.


I am, however, qualified to write about some of the social and political aspects of this


We’re all a bunch of wierdos surfing the net and belching out our various viewpoints. Hehe, if you’re interested enough to be on this site and reading this forum section, you’re qualified to share ideas :-) and that’s a fact! :-)


and this is the point I was making: that this (for the powers that be) is more about social control, than any semblance of piety, and that religion may be viewed in some quarters as a tool of oppression, and a particularly effective one at that.


I’m glad you gave more clarification on the concept of your main point. People who crave power have often used religion as a tool to convince others to give them power. Nobody, and I mean *nobody* just has power over anyone else. It has to be constantly given to them. It may seem like people wield power sometimes, but that all vanishes the moment everyone around them ignores them. The king becomes a beggar the moment he’s ignored.

I saw you start this thread with the exclamation that religion is false and just a tool to control the masses. I end up with this knee-jerk reaction when I see that hue and cry against organized religion. The people who crave power at all costs, and who abuse religion to get it don’t invalidate religion. They are in fact great examples of the goodness of religion. Yeah, that sounds all twisted up at first, but think about it. When someone uses religion to “control” people and get them to do things against their own religious beliefs, doesn’t that indicate that religion was really the “good” and right thing to begin with? The person in power is making people deviate AWAY from religion to achieve their goals. Religion was working fine until corrupt and evil people put on its false mask and convince people to abandon the principles of their religion (while getting them to *think* they are living the teachings).

(continued on next post)



posted on Apr, 11 2007 @ 11:02 AM
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(continued from prior post)

Sure … point out people like Jim Jones, Osama Bin’Laden or any other “religious leader” in history that caused/causes so much suffering through religion. Those people don’t follow the teachings of their religions.

Here’s a list of people in organized religions that *do* great things because of organized religion. A few are famous, most I only know about because I’ve seen them in action myself. They don’t make the news unfortunately :-(

1. Mother Teresa. She was a Catholic Nun.

2. The Dalai Lama who is constantly working with various “powers that be” to influence peace.

3. My children’s prior pediatrician before we moved. She and the others in her office were devout Muslims. I was out of work for a period of time and had no health insurance. She treated my children when they were sick and refused to charge me (4th pillar of Islam is charity). I know she treated other people at reduced charges that had no other options available.

4. My Catholic neighbors who mentor troubled teenagers.

5. My Baptist friend who volunteers at a ministry to help homeless families (mostly mothers with children) get back on their feet and independent.

6. My younger brother who is a missionary in Mongolia right now.

The list goes on and on and on …



posted on Apr, 11 2007 @ 11:53 AM
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Originally posted by Perfect Fifth

But surely, all religion IS man made, and therefore imperfect. Ok, this comes down to a matter of faith, when what I am trying to say can be viewed as fact


I’m confused. I think we agree here, but not sure. Saying that religion is just something made up by man (and not of divine origin) is an opinion and not a “fact.” You can’t really prove or disprove a matter of faith to another person – like proving that God doesn’t exist or something like that. You can only prove it or disprove it to yourself to your own satisfaction.



The fact that I'm referring to is that throughout the known history of any religion, it has been used to control the populace, and in many instances as a tool of oppression.
I would maintain that ALL religion is man-made to some degree or another, but would accept that this is more about opinion.
I'm not trying to run religion down - it works for an awful lot of people.
What I would re-iterate is that it has been used for millenia as a social control mechanism.
I don't really want to get into the rights and wrongs of various pious historical and contemporary figures - but the bad far outweigh the good.

What I would like, is idea's, and discussions about what forms the various social control mechanisms take, any and all are welcome, as are SERIOUS rebuttals - repetitive arguments about faith etc are not the issue here.
The mechanisms can take many forms: from enriching churches and noblemen, to telling us what kind of food we can/cannot eat.

Thanks




posted on Apr, 11 2007 @ 12:07 PM
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Religion is exploited like anything else from pop-music to politics. All things can be used to control people. An awful ot of people want to be controlled but thats a different topic I think.
Its not like a bunch of people got together and asked themselves how they could best enslave the population and religion came out. Im willing to bet dollars to donuts the neaderthals sitting around a carcass in a cave had some notion of religion or at least a higher power without a gold-laden pontiff dictating how they should behave.

Used properly religion is ultimately freeing in the most absolute sense of the word.



posted on Apr, 11 2007 @ 12:25 PM
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Originally posted by thisguyrighthere
Religion is exploited like anything else from pop-music to politics. All things can be used to control people. An awful ot of people want to be controlled but thats a different topic I think.
Its not like a bunch of people got together and asked themselves how they could best enslave the population and religion came out. Im willing to bet dollars to donuts the neaderthals sitting around a carcass in a cave had some notion of religion or at least a higher power without a gold-laden pontiff dictating how they should behave.

Used properly religion is ultimately freeing in the most absolute sense of the word.



This is my argument - is religion an expression of free choice? or are we indoctrinated (and therefore controlled) from childhood.

Also - ask when the modern version of the bible (for one) was written, by whom and for what purpose........

With primitive (?) forms of religion or spirituality, it was often shamans or "witchdoctors" (to use modern parlance - sorry) who decided what was best, in conjunction with the leader - this begs the question - best for who?



posted on Apr, 11 2007 @ 06:47 PM
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An awful of people want to be controlled but thats a different topic I think.
Its not like a bunch of people got together and asked themselves how they could best enslave the population and religion came out.


That was soooooo perfectly said. Thanks. That’s what I’m talking about. There’s a HUGE population of people who really want to be controlled. That’s a big problem to begin with. Next, there are often a few evil a-holes lurking around who are more than happy to step in and take advantage of those people who want to be controlled. Then there is a small minority -- those of us who will not be controlled and who don’t really want to control anyone else either. We sit on the sidelines and watch all the madness and either weep or get angry about it. Those of us that speak up and oppose the evil a-holes usually end up with an appointment with the gallows (at the hands of the controlled masses). The rest of us stay quiet and do what we can to help where possible, and try to avoid being burned at the stake or some other nonsense.

I come right back to the point that religion is not flawed. The people are flawed. The thing the OP seems angry about is the deviation from religious ideals by so-called pious people, when it is plainly obvious to all us outsiders that they are being complete hypocrites (not practicing their religions).

Are the rules of religions a tools to oppress the masses or are they a methods of ritual to explore personal divinity, spirituality and the divine nature of God?

The answer is both.

Is nuclear power good or evil? It’s very similar. It can be used for good and it can be used for great evil.

To the foolish people who want to be controlled, and to the people who want to dominate and consume other people, religion is a tool of oppression and control.

To those who free themselves from that vicious loop, and you can be free and still enjoy organized religion, the rules of religion are a tool to explore spirituality.

Most religious “rules” are based around a ritual activity or the suppression of an appetite. Some rules even require submission to a religious authority. Accept it or not, I think humility is a personal characteristic that can be explored. It is sometimes learned by submitting to the authority of someone else, even if you think they might be wrong. That is a deep and interesting subject in and of itself though.

Religions have rules, teachings, dogmas, theologies, etc., etc. Those “rules” have valid spiritual value.

Evil people who want to control others see the power of religion. They see what a great hammer it makes to get other people to do things they would not normally do if they had been left alone with the religion they had.

[edit on 11-4-2007 by Perfect Fifth]



posted on Apr, 11 2007 @ 06:56 PM
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everything we know about religion is interpreted by humans. Whether or not they were talking to themselves or a spiritual being is unknown. leaving it impossible to know the truth. but we can fabricate that too.



posted on Apr, 11 2007 @ 06:59 PM
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It all comes back to this basic question:

If religion ends up flawed, in practice, by a lot of people, do you give up on religion?

The alternatives are

1. No Religion. That doesn't seem to work very good. It's also rather gloomy and depressing.

2. Fix Religion. Don't give up.


I say fix it! At least for yourself personally if nothing else.

You can only do this if you are engaged and involved in it. If all the people who understand the problems of religion give up and leave, of course it falls apart and gets all screwed up (the no religion option). It leaves the door wide open for the evil people to step in and turn it into a weapon of oppression. How about instead we get involved and make it better? Don't give up.

[edit on 11-4-2007 by Perfect Fifth]



posted on Apr, 11 2007 @ 07:10 PM
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Originally posted by sanluis
everything we know about religion is interpreted by humans. Whether or not they were talking to themselves or a spiritual being is unknown. leaving it impossible to know the truth. but we can fabricate that too.


It is possible to know the truth. You can know if those people were talking to a spiritual being or themselves. You repeat the religious experiment -- in other words you seek out God and find out yourself.

If someone in the past says "do X and you will receive Y spiritual benefit," you test it out and try it. It's very simple. It's so simple it's scary and most people won't do it, because then they become responsible for the truth and responsible for themselves. Seek out direct communication with God (however you see that) and see for yourself what happens. Pick a path and try it. See where it goes. Does it go where you want? No? Try another path. Rinse and repeat. It's much better to try, fail and get a little bit closer each time than to not try at all.

This is my observation. Success happens much more than many people might think. The people who achieve that divine knowledge aren't looking to get on talk shows or start their own new religion for world domination. They just continue on quietly for the most part and don't make headlines.



posted on Apr, 11 2007 @ 07:11 PM
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I'm a Deist.
Raised Baptist, kind of. Never went to church, but was instilled the values.

My dad was rather open-minded and encouraged me to read and ask
questions. And, I did. With a passion.

I've read the Bible, the Koran, the Torah and Book of Morman.

Each read rather similar in their basic tenets.

Be kind to your fellow men.

Most of the stories followed like scenarios.

My question always was, and is : Why should I proclaim a faith, attend a
church and follow what a preacher says, when I can follow my faith from
my home ?

Never understood paying tithe. Basically the people are providing free
room and board for a charismatic speaker.

Won't my higher power hear me from my home ? Not that I expect any type of intervention, I asked that hypothetically.

Just my thoughts,
Lex



posted on Apr, 11 2007 @ 07:34 PM
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My question always was, and is : Why should I proclaim a faith, attend a
church and follow what a preacher says, when I can follow my faith from
my home ?


I agree that personal spirituality is achievable without all that you list above. Great. You are all taken care of. You will live your life exploring the meaning of God in your life, and you will probably get to a lot of great insights and growth.

Wouldn’t it be great if you got together with some other people and shared all that hard work? :-)

We’re all in another thread that’s complaining about how ignorant people are in organized religions. Share your light and love. :-)


Never understood paying tithe. Basically the people are providing free
room and board for a charismatic speaker.


So don’t give some loud-mouthed fraud free room and board if that is what you see somewhere. Give a tithe to a charity that you think will use it for good. I personally belong to a church with no paid ministry, so the tithe money doesn’t get used by someone to buy fancy suits and a fancy car :-).

I admit that I am not very good at the practice of tithe. It’s very hard for me. I think all about my personal woes and how much I really *need* that money. I can’t give it up. Where I am right now in my understanding and practice of a tithe? I can see that I fail at it. I also personally see for myself how I might really gain great personal insights if I could free myself from the daily worries of bills and the world if I was strong enough to give 10% away. Here I sit typing on a computer. Sitting in a chair most of the day eating too much food. I live in a comfortable house in a place with very few worries and I can’t give up 10% :-). There are billions of people in the world who’d be glad to worry about surviving on just the 10% I can’t give up.

That’s what I see in the concept of a Tithe. That’s where I am at spiritually with that concept. I may know nothing compared to someone else who really understands that idea better.


Won't my higher power hear me from my home ? Not that I expect any type of intervention, I asked that hypothetically.


If you don’t expect any intervention, you will probably get what you seek. Your higher power hears you from your home. I agree. Do you hear your higher power from your home? I bet you could.



posted on Apr, 12 2007 @ 10:27 AM
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Genesis 1:27
God created man in his own image.

Does this mean that because man is imperfect then God must be too?
And if so, is that the reason why religion must always be misused by man?

hmm




posted on Apr, 12 2007 @ 03:21 PM
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Originally posted by budski

Genesis 1:27
God created man in his own image.

Does this mean that because man is imperfect then God must be too?
And if so, is that the reason why religion must always be misused by man?



wait, i thought god created man after that:

Genesis 2:7
And the LORD God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul.

oh wait, i forgot that there are two accounts of creation in the bible, silly me



posted on Apr, 12 2007 @ 03:51 PM
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Originally posted by budski

Genesis 1:27
God created man in his own image.

Does this mean that because man is imperfect then God must be too?
And if so, is that the reason why religion must always be misused by man?

hmm



Just because God created man in his own image - doesnt mean that we are illustrating that image presently. I think we are way of base of being god like.
I believe we were god like in the beginning of time but just lost it over the ages.


I m loving this topic... I dont know if anyone really pays attention to this... but this topic seems to be getting bigger as years pass. Its like with every new generation the belief of orginized religion is declining. This may be due to science and its impact it has on the population. For me it seems like the more we understand the universe/multiverse etc. the less credible/believable religion becomes. Which is kind of true in a sense because if you look back in time the church wanted to kill scholars who claimed the earth was round and not the center of the universe.

But we are long past that time... the new age is here... the age of aquarius will be entered soon. I hope it brings enlightment to all, the good and the bad... for whats the good in loving those you already love.

foreverLOVE

[edit on 12-4-2007 by theTRUTHtheWAY]



posted on Apr, 12 2007 @ 04:06 PM
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a fair point - but i think it's more a turn away from organised religion, whilst retaining individual spirituality



posted on Apr, 12 2007 @ 04:32 PM
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Originally posted by budski
a fair point - but i think it's more a turn away from organised religion, whilst retaining individual spirituality


Yes, you make a good point that i forgot to include. I believe individual spirituality is growing... you can see this even in this thread:

People are posting that they read the bible the quran etc.





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