posted on Apr, 14 2007 @ 03:08 PM
I won't argue with any of those examples.
But to put them in context, "social control" is an element of power. Those in power use religion, or any other social organization, to
maintain their control.
Howabout another example from ancient Greece. The cult of Baccus, which was hated and feared by the rulers, because its priests were women.
While they were in an ecstatic trance, they were believed to be acting on behalf of their god, and so were beyond the boundaries of society. Athens
tried to eradicate the Baccae with every bit as much brutality as the Medieval Roman church would later use on other heretics.
If religion is used as a means of social control, so has every other institution in human society. Banks, the family, schools, all of those have been
used just as mercilessly for control as religion has.
And true enough, the rebels against the established order use these selfsame institutions to wrest control. The Hussite movement, while religious,
had definite nationalistic and economic ideals. In the modern era, schools are a political football, tossed about by competing power groups.
If anything, the secular forces like banks, schools, and governments are now aligned against religion, because it makes a competing claim on
The cases in front of the Supreme Court in the past 20 years bear this out. The SC rulings that native Americans have no preemtive claim to various
'sacred sites,' that peyote is not covered by 'freedom of religion,' that mangers cannot be displayed on government owned property, That a rabbi
can be compelled to grant a divorce in violation of Torah, all of these show the SC's view that "God is a hobby" ---that no thinking person would
genuinely order their lives based on supernatural impulses.
If anything, I'd modify your argument to say that religion in the West used to be a mechanism of social control, but is now seen as a personal
Basically, what I'm saying is that Religion used to be a functional institution in western society. As such, the ruling elite often used it
for social control. But just as often, rebellious counter-cultures gained power by claiming the "religious high-ground." i.e., my examples of
abolition, civil rights, etc.
Now, you could argue that in much of middle-class america, religion is still appealed to, in order to affect people's voting habits, music,
art, etc. But you could just as easily make my arguement. you could say that the "christian right" was a marginalized minority, that seized power
by turning religious institutions to their advantage. In a mirror of what the african-american civil rights leadership did in the 1950s-1960s.
The christian right has done so with another institution: the family. hence "family values" as a buzzword. They claim to have appropriated the
family in their political struggle.
In my view, the various religions are simply social institutions, political pawns used by different power-grabbers. Those who cannot use religious
institutions to their advantage become "anti-organized religion;" while those who find religion expedient, become hyper-religious.
In other words, power players treat religion as a tool, rather than as an end in itself.
That's a fairly useful definition of hypocrisy, come to think of it.
Part of it depends on your view of the paranormal. If you believe that the Delphine sybills were just "making stuff up," then it is an obvious
con-job. If, however, you think the oracle may have been using an altered state to access her own subconscious, or the group subconscious, or
something "out there," then it was more than a con-game. In that view, it was a brief, passing chance for humanity to evolve and grow up a
little bit, before her ecstacy was taken over and institutionalized by the power-elite.