Defending religion from the nutcases
If there's one thing that weighs on the mind of anybody spiritually, it's the extremism and hysteria perverting the major religions in some form or another. The practices of these hyperactive, Holier Than Everyone and entirely unasked-for neophytes and spruikers are basically a form of spiritual molestation.
As most people who have received normal religious education and information are well aware, these practices have nothing to do with religion. The idea of illiterates teaching religion is as appalling as the idea of illiterates teaching languages.
Perhaps even more absurd/obscene are the claims to spiritual authority perpetrated by these groups, usually based on selective interpretation of Scripture. Most people would consider that if God had any real need for raving psychotics, that information would have been mentioned in religious texts. It so happens that in none of the worlds religions is there any mention of a requirement for raving lunatics.
There are no commandments saying, "Thou shalt be a drooling, rabid nutcase". Nor, coincidentally, are there any references to religions becoming hate factories and foundries of bigotry. Still less, miraculously enough, are there any specifications for parasitical franchising out these practices and literally taking the food out of the mouths of parishioners.
Religion is becoming much more like politics, and equally productive. This is almost a direct contradiction of the whole purpose of religion. Religion, unlike politics, is intended to help people. If you're a practitioner of religion, you have the privilege to help others. That's your job.
It follows with a certain brutal inevitability that the hysterical forms of pseudo-religion, which demonstrably help absolutely nobody, do not qualify as religious practices. Practices which harm people, by definition, have nothing to do with religion, either by the intention of the original belief systems or those who promoted them.
Inducing psychosis can hardly be said to be a helpful act. Creating huge stress levels isn't conducive to any spiritual process. These are the acts of perverted cults, not religions. Revelation is one thing, misery is another. There is quite enough insanity in this world without any further assistance from hypocrites.
Abuse of the right of freedom of religion is also not
exactly in the best interests of the public or the society as a whole. The
right to personal belief is critically important to personal spiritual
development and democracy. Martin Luther was basically right in his general
theory that the higher purposes of religion are better served by dissemination
than dictatorship. It prevents the hijacking of religions by political groups. Depriving those groups of their right to claim superior knowledge is a form of insurance against spiritual tyranny.
It is also generally held as a basic human right that belief is voluntary. You cannot be said to believe in anything which you do not understand, and about which you have only been given selective information. Expecting people to become mere tape recordings of religious text does not qualify as a religious education. It doesn't even really qualify as information, if the people receiving it don't understand it.
Belief is personal. To have any value at all, belief must have a personal meaning. Miscellaneous, scrambled rantings are by definition incoherent and disorganized, therefore meaningless. Nobody subjected to the bizarre practices of pseudo-religion could be said to be being indoctrinated into any system of belief.
From my reading of religious materials, a few things are quite obvious:
- God didn't ask for any committees
- Personal beliefs are not based on buzzwords, however loudly screamed
- Religion is not intended to be a synonym for insanity
- True religion is intended to be selflessly beneficial
- Condemnation of anything is confined to things which are harmful to people
- The basis of belief is properly explained and based on philosophical concepts
The world’s religions have the duty to protect those principles from the venal, decadent, facile, selfish madness of the pseudo-religions. If you're a Christian, or a Moslem, a Buddhist, a Jew, aTaoist, a Hindu or a Confucian, you have the right to your beliefs. You also have the right to insist that those beliefs are respected.