VirusHead Blog Against Theocracy

VirusHead Blog Against Theocracy

Once again, it’s time for the annual Blog Against Theocracy blogswarm. Thanks to Jolly Roger for reminding me.

Blog Against Theocracy 2008

BAT logo by Tengrain of Mock, Paper, Scissors, who also points out:

The theme [of the blogswarm], like always, is the Separation of Church and State — we are for it. But the variations on the theme are many…This is not a bashing of religion – peeps can believe what they choose, however they choose — but it is a reminder that the Government should keep out of religion, and Religion should keep out of the government.

Last year, I highlighted my favorite bits of the blogswarm. I won’t be doing that this year, but I will make every effort to read every post.

So, what to say? Here is what I say:

The drive to “christian” theocracy is a profoundly destructive force. Participation in it leads to the corruption of one’s individual spiritual path by power-mad group-think.

I believe that such group-think strangles the intellect, encourages hysteria, and promotes cruelty. It creates dynamics that become the very opposite of kindness, humility, ethics, collaboration, and cooperation – the opposite of every virtue, and especially of the virtues we so desperately need in order to confront the actual problems facing the people of this country.

A will to power and domination can never lead to the fruits of the spirit, but can only undermine and finally destroy one of the most beautiful aspects of our country – the freedom of religion (with its corollary guarantees of freedom of expression and freedom from persecution).

There is also the matter of idolatry. Human individuals or groups that insist upon conformity to their own flavor of religious belief attempt to put themselves in the place of God and to claim God’s authority for their own agendas.

Beware of any claim that any group or person represents deity or is the voice of God on this earth. Beware of false prophets. Give unto Caesar only what it Caesar’s. Trust not in the traditions of men. And so on.

The rest of my post is simply to highlight some pertinent quotations:

“Good intentions will always be pleaded for any assumption of power. The Constitution was made to guard the people against the dangers of good intentions. There are men in all ages who mean to govern well, but they mean to govern. They promise to be good masters, but they mean to be masters.” – Daniel Webster

“Freedom is an indivisible word. If we want to enjoy it, and fight for it, we must be prepared to extend it to everyone, whether they are rich or poor, whether they agree with us or not, no matter what their race or the color of their skin.” – Wendell Wilkie

“To put it in a few words, the true malice of man appears only in the state and in the church, as institutions of gathering together, of recapitulation, of totalization.” – Paul Ricoeur

“The Bible tells us to be like God, and then on page after page it describes God as a mass murderer. This may be the single most important key to the political behavior of Western Civilization.” – Robert Anton Wilson

“Therefore, I am convinced that I am acting as the agent of our Creator. By fighting off the Jews, I am doing the Lord’s work.” – Adolf Hitler, Mein Kampf

“The people who have come into [our] institutions [today] are primarily termites. They are into destroying institutions that have been built by Christians, whether it is universities, governments, our own traditions, that we have…. The termites are in charge now, and that is not the way it ought to be, and the time has arrived for a godly fumigation.” – Pat Robertson

“Whoever wants to be a Christian should tear the eyes out of his reason.” – Martin Luther

“Patriotism? Your patriotism waves a flag with one hand and picks pockets with the other” – Ingrid Bergman to Cary Grant in Notorious

“Religion is against women’s rights and women’s freedom. In all societies women are oppressed by all religions.” – Taslima Nasrin

“The secular democratic state is the surest protector of religious and intellectual liberty ever crafted by human ingenuity. Nothing is more fallacious, or inimical to genuine religious liberty, than the seductive notion that the state should “favor” or “foster” religion. All history testifies that such practices inevitably result in favoring one religion over less powerful minorities and secular opinion. In the long run governmental favoritism vitiates the religious spirit itself. Where in the Western world is organized religion stronger than in the United States where the church is a take-your-choice affair? Where is it weaker than in Europe where sophisticated secularists joke that they have been “inoculated” for life against religion by compulsory religious indoctrination in state schools? Preserving the secular character of government and the public school is the surest guarantee that religion in America will remain free, vital, uncorrupted by political power, and independent of state manipulation.” – Edward L Ericson

“It would be good for religion if many books that seem useful were destroyed. When there were not so many books and not so many arguments and disputes, religion grew more quickly than it has since.” – Girolamo Savonarola (of Bonfire of the Vanities fame)

“Faith” is a fine invention, when gentlemen can see / But microscopes are prudent, in an emergency.” – Emily Dickinson

“Minds fettered by this doctrine no longer inquire concerning a proposition whether it is attested by sufficient evidence, but whether it accords with Scripture; they do not search for facts as such, but for facts that will bear out their doctrine. It is easy to see that this mental habit blunts not only the perception of truth, but the sense of truthfulness, and that the man whose faith drives him into fallacies treads close upon the precipice of falsehood…. So long as a belief in propositions is regarded as indispensable to salvation, the pursuit of truth as such is not possible.” – George Eliot

“Truth, in matters of religion, is simply the opinion that has survived.” – Oscar Wilde

“I do not feel obliged to believe that the same God who has endowed us with sense, reason, and intellect has intended us to forgo their use.” – Galileo Galilei

“I do occasionally envy the person who is religious naturally, without being brainwashed into it or suckered into it by all the organized hustles.” – Woody Allen

“The person with B.S. (note: “Belief Systems”) knows the “right answer” at all times and knows it immediately. This makes them very happy – and very annoying – because most of their “right answers” don’t make sense to the rest of us. Common sense and/or science require investigation and revision, etc. B.S. only requires a Rule Book (sacred scripture, Das Kapital, or whatever) and a good memory. People with “faith” represent mental health problem #1, because memorizing rule books cuts you off from sensory involvement with the existential world. It also produces the kind of intolerance that produces witch-hunts, Inquisitions, purges, Bushware 1.0, Bushware 2.0, etc. Belief Systems, “faith,” certitudes of all sorts, result from deliberately forgetting the fallibility of human brains, especially the brains of those who wrote your favorite rule book, and this leaders to a paradoxical rejection of the best functions of the brain – namely, its ability to rethink, revise, and correct itself.” – Robert Anton Wilson

“The man who has never wrestled with his early faith, the faith that he was brought up with and that yet is not truly his own — for no faith is our own that we have not arduously won — has missed not only a moral but an intellectual discipline. The absence of that discipline may mark a man for life and render all his work ineffective. He has missed a training in criticism, in analysis, in open-mindedness, in the resolutely impersonal treatment of personal problems, which no other training can compensate. He is, for the most part, condemned to live in a mental jungle where his arm will soon be too feeble to clear away the growths that enclose him, and his eyes too weak to find the light.” – Havelock Ellis

“Do not believe in anything simply because you have heard it. Do not believe in anything simply because it is spoken and rumored by many. Do not believe in anything simply because it is found written in your religious books. Do not believe in anything merely on the authority of your teachers and elders. Do not believe in traditions because they have been handed down for many generations. But after observation and analysis, when you find that anything agrees with reason and is conducive to the good and benefit of one and all, then accept it and live up to it.” – Siddartha Gautama, the Buddha

“We have just enough religion to make us hate, but not enough to make us love.” – Jonathan Swift


8 thoughts on “VirusHead Blog Against Theocracy

  1. I would only agree with you that Church and State should remain separate.

    I find it odd that you would submit that “This is not a bashing of religion” and then proceed to summarily bash the Judeo-Christian belief system.

    I recognize and respect your right to believe in anything you choose. Why does it seem to be your mission to destroy mine? I offer sympathy for the life experiences that led you to form your opinions and truly hope you can constructively eliminate some of the obvious disdain you still carry.



    Bob Brancato’s last blog post..10 Golf Thoughts for the Weekend

  2. Bob – Can you point me to where you see bashing and disdain from me?

    Dominionism is a pathological manipulation of followers into agendas of power and control. The movement calls forth the worst, not the best, in people.

    I oppose attempted theocracies in all their guises, but I have no mission to erode anyone’s spirituality or their own religious path. Why would I seek to harm you?

    I would argue that there is no such thing as Judeo-Christian tradition. It’s a misleading catch-all.

    Judaism and Christianity are two distinct religions, each with many subdivisions.

    I put “Christian” in quotes because it seems to me that the challenge, if there is a challenge, is for those who have faith to raise themselves to a higher standard of spiritual understanding and faith (one that is at the heart of their own professed message of faith, grace, and love, and one that does not require bowing down to or demonizing any fellow human).

  3. Bob is leaning on the old “persecuted Christian” trick. It is a knee-jerk reaction of those I affectionately term “Jesusistanis,” and reveals everything that we would need to know about what the views are of those who pull it. It is their aim to shut up anything that even QUESTIONS dogma, which they see as “persecution.”

    Well done! I knew it was a good idea to remind you 🙂 If I might, I would like to add one more quote, from a guy I always have dug a lot.

    “The great trouble is that the preachers get the children from six to seven years of age and then it is almost impossible to do anything with them.” –Thomas Edison.

    JollyRoger’s last blog post..Those Who Would Lead Jesusistan

  4. “The Bible tells us to be like God, and then on page after page it describes God as a mass murderer.”

    Must be a Bible other than mine. Mine contains allegory. It pays to discern the difference.

    No” persecution” here JR, just reflecting another point of view. I thought that was still allowed. BTW, that was sarcasm. Many secular progressives paint all Christians with a broad brush. JR even claims to know my thoughts. Some of us believe what we believe and allow you the same latitude.

    Happy Easter!

    Bob Brancato’s last blog post..2008 WGC-CA Championship – The Tournament That Wouldn’t End.

  5. I assume that you are talking about the book of Revelations when you talk about allegory. Are you as confident when it comes to the narratives of Sodom and Gomorrah or the Great Flood of Noah’s time? And as for theocracy-stamped mass murder, try reading some early texts from, say, the Canaanites’ point of view. In any case, the point of the quotation is to lead into the basic thing that happens when leaders in government feel that they represent God’s voice: they feel that they are justified in doing whatever kind of thing they interpret as being something God would approve. Thus, the quote that follows.

    And, I would just note that this is a quotation – and from a pretty eccentric source. It pays to pay attention to who said what here. Google anyone you don’t know.

    I will defend J.R. here on the point that he is talking about dominionists, and takes you to be of that ilk because you seem to have taken my post somewhat personally. I surely hope that all Christians in America have not become dominionists and fighters for theocracy in America (really, it’s a profoundly anti-Christian and anti-American sort of thing).

    If you want to speak of discernment of differences, please take note that I would make a very clean division between people of Christian faith who take to heart Jesus’ message, and the people who are interested in power, control, domination, hatred of outsiders, and greed. Wouldn’t you?

    I am not against authentic expressions of Christian faith. I am against using Christian faith as a weapon.

  6. “If you want to speak of discernment of differences, please take note that I would make a very clean division between people of Christian faith who take to heart Jesus’ message”

    That describes the Christians I know. Anything else would not be very Christian. And yes, I do take offense to people that belittle my religion and look down their pseudo- intellectual noses at people that believe there’s something more to this Universe than just us. I believe there’s an organized secular movement to remove religion from all aspects of society. Conversely, I know there’s the opposite movement as well. I subscribe to neither. Your “Googling” suggestion is neither needed or warranted. It must be lonely on that pedestal.

    I’ve enjoyed your site for the most part, but I’m afraid it’s a little too fringe for my tastes.



    Bob Brancato’s last blog post..2008 WGC-CA Championship – The Tournament That Wouldn’t End.

  7. It’s your choice to read or not, of course. You signaled early on that you didn’t agree with many of my viewpoints. I’m still not sure why you were reading this blog anyway. For whatever reason, it seems to me that you’ve categorized these ideas in a way that doesn’t allow any rethinking or rearrangement. I’m not sure exactly what hot button I pushed for you, but I think that you are reading things into my words and thoughts that aren’t there.

    However, I must admit to being a little taken aback. My pedestal? You wound me, sir. Seriously, that kind of hurt my feelings. Also, there was some minor rocking of my world at the thought of my site being “fringe” – my family would be so amused.

    The Googling suggestion was not a put-down at all. Some of the people are fascinating and little-known and I only meant to suggest that it would put the quotations I selected – in the order I selected them – in a better context for your interpretation.

    The battles between some factions of American Christianity and the so-called “secular humanists” has been going on for a long time now, but I’m not aware of any movement to remove religion from all aspects of society.

    Recently there has been an upswing in ferocious atheists, but I think that’s more a matter of self-defense.

    I do see less knowledge among many American Christians about the history and doctrines of their own religion. I also see more diversity of religion here than in most other countries, partly because of our freedom of religion.

    It’s not a matter of claiming that there’s nothing in the Universe beyond humanity. That’s absurd.

    Of course, I can’t speak for the people I quoted as to their intent. I would hazard a guess that Robert Anton Wilson would see all religions based on a condensed language and set of rules to be a form a mind-control rather than an authentic spiritual path. I tend to agree, but then I also think that Jesus might have thought so too. Some of the more authoritarian flavors of American Christianity these days seem to me to be rather more like the Pharisees that Jesus resisted.

    Several groups in this country claim to be “Christian” – how do they claim the name when so many promote hateful and destructive behavior toward fellow human beings? Such behaviors and hatreds bear no similarity to the teachings of Jesus. Often, they represent the exact opposite of what one might expect his followers to do – sort of an anti-fruits of the spirit, so to speak. How is this to be explained?

    I wonder where is the prophet – in the ancient meaning of someone who calls the people and/or God to accountability – who will name this attempted taking over of the place of God, this claim to speak for God’s will. I would like to see one authentic Christian stand up and call it blasphemy.

    Taking God’s name in vain – more than in vain – to use God’s authority to justify wars and torture and to deny human rights and to dehumanize others and generally to fail to respect the cosmic speak in everyone – all for greed and power – is a travesty. It’s not a new travesty. I’m just surprised to see it rise its ugly serpentine head here and now.

    We seem to see the problem very clearly when it’s a matter of other countries and religions.

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