Religious Fantics May Believe in the Golden Calf (Money), Not a Deity

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From what I have read, it costs quite a lot of money to participate in the Church of Scientology. Some Hollywood movie stars, most famously, Tom Cruise, it has been well-publicized, are members of this religion, which is often described as a cult. One definition of this is that the activities of the religion are secret, only open to select members, as opposed to having services that anyone may attend. Movie stars are rich and can afford to pay expensive membership fees. Some actors have gotten involved with Scientology, only to have become disillusioned and have terminated their involvement, or perhaps were rejected for raising questions that were deemed too uncomfortable. Some religious do not believe in a deity, a so-called Supreme Being.

When it comes to politics and ecnomics, some extremists are not following any semblance of empirical data. I would say that a reputable economist, concerned about democracy, such as Dr. Joseph Stiglitz, a native of Gary, a professor at Columbia, and a recepient of a Nobel Prize, does emphasis statistics in his research and in those theories and propositions that he puts forward. This is in contrast to those who wrongly believe that they can someone force the data to conform to their prejudgments and prejudices. This kind of approach is sometimes coupled with the constant imposition of articles written by someone else putting forward a certain viewpoint, and disagreeing with people who will never agree with what is being marketed.

The Pew Research Center has come out with a study which shows a small but significant decline in religious identification or "affliation" among Americans, including a decrease in the number of people who identify themselves as being Christians. There are different theories as to why this has occurred, although scholars are not very willing to predict the future of religious participation. I might speculate that our economy has changed so that unless someone is born into a wealthy family or wins the lottery, a person cannot earn an adequate income unless some post-secondary training or education is acquired. Going to college especially for 4 years is expensive, but with the right kind of background, results in higher lifetime earnings than if the education was not received. There is a disconnect between the limited educational background of many people and both the job market and a realistic understanding of many problems and issues. People with a limited educational background may follow a religion that does not necessarily worship a deity, but instead promotes greed and worship of the amighty dollar. They may experience material success, but are not concerned with morality and ethics as they do not believe in reality. Making things up has become more popular than in the past. Again, there are theories as to why Americans have to some extent become more supersticious and irrational. At the same time, this Pew study shows somewhat of a decline in religious affliation overall.

This religion without an interest in having a creator seems like it is especially convenient for people with wealth as a new-found way of manipulating the masses. Scapegoating is a common component of it.

Robindell's picture
Robindell
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Jul. 31, 2007 4:01 pm

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A recent tragedy in Indiana I think shows that most conservatives are actually secular rather than Christian or otherwise religious. A woman who had been released from prison after having served 25 years for murder was found dead of a self-inflicted gunshot wound in Indianapolis. As a child, the woman along with several friends in Gary went to visit an elderly woman who lived in the neighborhood and offered to give Bible lessons to children. They went there with the intent of killing and robbing her, which they did. The woman who was released from prison was Paula Cooper. She was found guilty of having stabbed the woman to death multiple times. She was originally given the death sentence, but several prominent people, including the pope at the time, protested. Indiana was the only state that allowed for the death penalty for minor children. Because of this case, the law was changed. Paula Cooper's sentence was changed to life in prison, but with the possibility of parole. While in prison, she received a college degree and possible more than one degree. I think she also received some additional vocational training and did work in the prison. She was released on good behavior. Looking back on it, the Department of Corrections did not have a realistic psychological evaluation of her ability to live in the community with the guilt of her past crime. The reason I mention this is because a local newspaper over a period of weeks published several letters in which the letter-writers said that they were glad that she is now dead, that they have no sympathy for her, and that she finally got what she deserved. One person suggested that the pope was foolish for having argued against giving a child the death penalty for murder. This to me is an example of how many conservatives -- some of whom, it has to be said in all fairness, oppose the death penalty -- are often diametrically opposed to Christian ideals and teachings, in this instance, that of forgiveness. Paula Cooper came from a severely abusive household. While conservatives may not be in favor of child abuse, and it is the law that you have to report it if you witness such things, in this case, they refuse to believe that abuse can create a child who becomes a monster and who would engage in a violent crime. Sometimes, the line between child abuse and neglect may be somewhat ambigous. I wonder how much of the urban, inner-city violence which exists in American cities could be reduced if we had stepped-up child protection services that would either monitor and control the behavior of abusive parents, or remove the child from the home until such time that the parent or parents can undergo a change of attitude toward the child and the abuse.

The same newspaper that published these letters saying that it is good that Paula Cooper is gone published a guest column by the president of a local charitable foundation. The woman quoted a conservative author who must be a Christian as he talks about churches helping people. He writes basically that you can do more harm than good in giving poor children toys, because the child and the parents will expect more free toys in the future. He claims that helping people by giving them things they cannot afford (say, food) encourages dependency. Church groups should instead help poor people to find jobs. Again, this shows the distorted thinking of someone who is apparently religious. Not all poor people are unemployed. A recent study found that a person making mimimum wage would have to work something like 80 hours a week to be able to live in Denver, not because it is an unusally expensive city, but because that is how much the cost of living is in an city based in average costs. The same news report showed working people who needed to receive food from a food pantry, because their expenses are too great compared to their income to afford enough food for the month. Conservatives would attack the individuals for spending to much, lying (and Christians and Republican Jews, what about "Thou shalt not lie") about the cost of living for things like rent, transportation, insurance, etc.

This same newspaper published a letter-to-the-editor saying that when he went to McDonald's, when he got home and took out the food, they got his order wrong. Therefore, fast food workers especially at McDonald's should have to wait before receiving a wage of $15 per hour until such time that they can get his order right. I have found that occassionally, a fast food worker will have difficulty getting straight what i ordered, but they usually repeat back to the customer what was asked for, and I can easily correct them. After taking order after order for an entire shift, it certainly can get monotonous and confusing.

But has this newspaper printed any letters criticizing big banks for having been found guilty and being fined millions of dollars for interest rate benchmark or index false manipulation, which profited traders who worked for these banks? Not a peep from conservatives on this, or on an oil spill in California, or deceptive behavior on the part of drug companies, such as illegally promoting drugs for off-label use, or covering up studies showing adverse, possibly deadly side effects of certain pharmaceuticals? The fast food workers don't deserve more money, but they are bad people and second-rate citizens even at their present wage, because they are low-wage workers. A lot of conservatives don't want to talk about the low rate of upward mobility which now exists, according to economists, in America, because that would smash the Horatio Alger myth of unlimited opportunity and would make the capitalistic job market look bad. Rising inequality is blamed exclusively, by conservatives, on the individual. No need to mention that many people would have to take out thousands in student loans even to attend a community college, let alone a four-year state university, not to mention a private institution, and that some people as is their right choose not to do that. Some people do not have the prerequisite skills to attend college. Some may be escapting an abusive family background; some may have children. Some workers don't measure up to the standards of Christians because they don't make enough money, while others, such as union workers, are overpaid. The pay of CEOs and other executives, including some college presidents, is never brought up by these same conservatives.

Are these people secular non-humanists, who hate just about everyone except corporate CEOs or other business people, or do they think that their interpretation of religion is superior to that of the supreme being, the deity they profess to believe in?

Robindell's picture
Robindell
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Jul. 31, 2007 4:01 pm

There has been a rise in what is called "The Wealth Gospel" preached by Charismatics, the recent breed prone to megachurch stadium services. They toss out the favorable representation of the poor that the bible presents and promise to help you get rich and it's ok. Instead of laying on of hands to heal they do a sanctifying move that offers the parisioner a blessing from God as they come to the alter and meet the Ordained agent for the wealth gospel. People brought their underwater mortgages to be prayed over and blessed to the alters. Preachers took the papers in their hands, got the congregation to join in blessing the document then I guess God was supposed to get the banks to refinance. They put 20 bucks in the basket for the blessing. I don't remember how much healing required. Most of the healing I heard about was somebody's left leg was shorter then it popped to the same length. (or the one healed took the lift out of his shoe on the longer leg)

A mayor in IN, South Bend I think, came out as gay last week. That's big in the state that approved discrimination against gays if it was religious based. That's also bold of the mayor in light of said discrimination bill.

douglaslee's picture
douglaslee
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Jul. 31, 2007 4:01 pm

It's not just that some of them preach that the Creator wants you to be financially well-off. What I find even more disturbing is their condemnation of the poor or at least justification for allowing such growing inequality in a country that also produces so much financial and material wealth. Jeb Bush said that he didn't want to hear a political message on climate change at church. Bush is Catholic. He was referring to Pope Francis' encylical on the subject. The pope was not being political but was being scientific and humanitarian.

I live in Indiana. At least half and probably a majority of residents of this state were against the RFRA that was passed an then amended. Republican Governor Mike Pence in terms of the poll numbers is deadlocked with Democratic candidates for his job, of which there are three. The newest and possibly most promising of these is the State Superintendent of Public Instruction Glenda Ritz, who beat Tony Bennett for that position. Bennett was later found to have changed the grade of a charter school that was started and is named after a major Republican contributor, who gave to his campaign for state superintendent. Ritz ran a grassroots campaign. She says that she will issue position statements on her views on various state issues as time progresses.

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Robindell
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Jul. 31, 2007 4:01 pm

How Has the Right Wing Takeover of the GOP and the Media Changed America?

Thom plus logo On Tucker Carlson's show, David Horowitz said, "The creation of America was probably the greatest gift given to Black people in 3,000 years..." He added that "the people who hate America on the left, and this embraces so much of the Democratic Party these days, have conducted a 50-year, 60-year attack on Christianity in this country."
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