Organized Religion: A Tool for Ignorance, Power and Control

This post by Allen Clifton originally appeared at Forward Progressives.

I think anyone who follows me even somewhat regularly knows that I’m a Christian. I know that’s not always a popular thing to be as a liberal, but it’s a fact nonetheless. That being said, I detest organized religion.

What “religion” is to me is a human-made concoction meant to promote the personal views of some while degrading the views of others.

Honestly the only reason I call myself a “Christian” is because it’s easier than saying, “I believe in the teachings of Jesus Christ and the values for which he stood. That being said, I oppose most things that have been written in the Bible as it is clear that much of the text has been influenced by the personal views of those in charge of translating the text through time.”

I’ve talked “religion” with Buddhists, Muslims, Hindus, Jews, Atheists (yes I consider Atheism a form of religion) and it’s amazing how personally we’re all pretty much the same. Our core values as human beings are basically identical. Things like being a good person, helping the helpless and defending the defenseless. Generally just being good people.

And isn’t that what life is about? Isn’t that what we should all strive to be as humans?

Why is it so many care so much about the personal religious views of others? If everyone kept their beliefs private (as they should be), practiced them in the appropriate places and didn’t judge others who believed differently – can you imagine how much more peaceful the world would be?

How many murders, wars, acts of terror or any number of other heinous acts have been committed in human history in the name of religion?

Not faith, spiritual guidance or belief in humanity – but human-made religion.

It’s one group of humans telling another that they’re wrong. It’s one group of people using religion to manipulate the masses to oppose another grouping of people based on their own interpretation of a faith.

Because that’s what organized religion is – control.

It’s an easy way to take a group of people with like-minded beliefs, group them together and manipulate them for some kind of ulterior goals.

Heck, just look through history. Religious leaders often perpetuated that specific kings or emperors were “ordained by (fill in whatever God they believe in)” and for the people to rise up against them would be blasphemy. To question their rule was to go against “God,” thus risking damnation.

It’s genius, isn’t it?

You can force people to support leaders who don’t have their best interests in mind by simply evoking the “wrath of … whatever God they worship.”

And this isn’t just a Christian thing. You see this with almost every religion around the world.

It’s why our Founding Fathers had it right by wanting to keep church and state separate. They didn’t put God into the United States – Christians did much later. Phrases like “One Nation Under God” and “In God We Trust” didn’t show up in the United States until long after this nation was founded. How can anyone honestly argue that this country was “founded on Christianity” when the words “Christian” or “Christianity” don’t appear even once within our Constitution?

Not. One. Single. Time.

I believe faith to be a wonderful thing. But by faith I mean spiritual faith. If you want to believe in Jesus Christ or Muhammad I don’t care – as long as you’re not taking that faith, forming it into a belief and then forcing it on others.

Hell, you don’t have to believe in anything at all. Just don’t try to force others to believe in nothing either. I’ve met plenty of atheists who act just as obnoxious as religious radicals about their lack of a belief in a God. If you don’t believe how they do, you’re an idiot.

Because at the end of the day, who really cares?

When we die, something happens to us, and that’s a certainty. Whether we ascend up into some kind of heaven, get reincarnated into something else or simply just cease to exist – something will happen to us when we die.

Our goal as humans should simply be to exist as good people, and that’s essentially what the core of all of these faiths tells us – just be a good person.

But it’s organized religion that has taken that simple goal and twisted it for human-made selfish ambitions, greed and power. Because religion is quite the tool to achieve all three of those things. Like I said earlier, many horrific acts have been committed in human history all in the name of “religion.” Individuals who’ve been convinced that the best way to show the veracity of their faith is by slaughtering those who chose not to convert to it.

Religion is nothing more than a tool that’s been used over centuries to manipulate people, usually for the benefit of a select few.

Heck, just look at this country now. Tens of millions of Americans vote against their own interests on based on essentially two “religious” beliefs:

  • Abortion
  • Same-sex marriage

And that’s about it. I’ve actually met conservatives that say they couldn’t care less about what economic policies either party supports, because those two issues mattered to them most. Basically, they would rather live impoverished by economic policies which hurt them than see a gay couple get married or a woman have control over her own body.

It’s absolutely ridiculous.

Because at the end of the day no matter what we believe, how we’re judged as people (by whomever might judge us, be it a deity or loved ones) will be determined by our actions – not the opinions of strangers who disagreed with our beliefs.

Allen Clifton is from the Dallas-Fort Worth area and has a degree in Political Science. He is a co-founder of Forward Progressives, and author of the popular Right Off A Cliff column.

Animated map shows how religion spread around the world

The Future of World Religion (in 2050)

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  1. I am a 75 year old retired MD. I had measles as a child and over 60 years later I was still immune because I didn't get measles during a major epidemic where I was exposed. During my childhood a girl living nearby died of measles. Later I learned from a friend who was a doctor in West Africa that many children there died from measles. The persons who stated that measles cannot be fatal are simply wrong. They should not be spouting this nonsense. This is a public health matter. During my childhood polio epidemics terrified everyone. Other children in my school wore heavy braces on their legs. The father of one boy survived at home on a respirator. People died. Dr.Thomas Francis, Jr was the first person to isolate the influenza virus and he and his student Dr Jonas Salk developed and tested the the first effective polio vaccine (1955). I caught rubella while in college. It was just a mild illness with a rash. Later in medical school (1964-68) I witnessed "rubella babies". These were children born with brain damage, deafness and physical disabilities because their mothers caught rubella during early pregnancy. Today we know that certain cancers are related to infection with HPV virus and hepatitis viruses. To be effective the HPV virus must be given before puberty. Hepatitis B vaccine should be given to all persons, not just those in high risk occupations or those who engage in risky activities. During my career I had a patient who developed chickenpox while in labor. Fortunately we were able to obtain and experimental Varicella Immune Globulin (VIG) that prevented the baby from getting what probably would have been a fatal infection. There are a few patients who are immune deficient who cannot take live virus vaccines. Persons on chemotherapy or who have had organ transplants are at risk too. Doctors are required by law to report report injuries due to illegal acts, child abuse, etc. to police. They are required to report certain communicable diseases to health authorities. For several decades there has been a system for reporting adverse reactions to vaccines in the US. These anti-vaxx people are ignorant. They will regret their decision to refuse their child MMR when their grandchild is a "rubella baby". They will regret it when they refuse HPV vaccine and their daughter gets cervical cancer at age 30. They will regret it when their child is infected with hepatitis and later gets liver cancer. They will be despised by the parents of the child with leukemia who catches a fatal viral infection from their unvaccinated child.

    • Your not wrong. I’m a very liberal/somewhat conservative,
      pagan, and I’m shocked at those ppl who just ignore science. Ignore the actual numbers(statistics) I believe what in the right to bear arms, but think that there’s tricky ways around these laws that cause school and mass shootings, so things need to be altered, but with a any Tyrant that holds a high position of power, we need to be able to protect ourselves and our families and our nation, thats a major reason why they US was formed. To have religious freedoms.
      Things are complicated, and the schools are dumbing down our kids, how can we expect our future to be bright, when we plop them in front of a screen to babysit, while we carry on with our lives.
      In Texas, minimum wage is $7.25 how can anyone pay rent, let alone feed their kids on that.our environmental issues are no where close to getting fixed, our water has radiation and fluoride in it, animals are going extinct.
      The rich are getting richer, and poor are getting poorer, and the middle class is shrinking.
      The Banking System has been corrupt since the get go. Wars, the murdering in the masses makes money, keeps corrupt politicians in power.
      This country is divided in a really really fucked up way.
      We need to stop, and DO BETTER. For our Children, we really do need to do better.

  2. "Organized Religion" is a bugbear. A vague term that has almost no meaning, but can be used to mean "religious groups whose practices I don't care for."

    Do you prefer DISorganized religion? When two people simply agree to do something together, that's organization.

    The only real non-organized religion is mysticism. And not many people are advanced mystics. And there are few things more insufferable that someone who THINKS he's an advanced mystic, when he's just a guy who can't listen to anybody else, so avoids all churches because other people sometimes make demands on his "spirit."

  3. I admit that I did not have the time to read all the text. I invite you to read the mantra of Beaverton Foursquare church as it (to me) is a stellar example of a correct Christian movement.

    I also want to present an argument as follows

    Everything that has a beginning has a cause

    The universe had a beginning

    Therefore the universe had a cause

  4. The initial premiss was of good heart, but many errors and contradictions. As in Atheism being a religion. that is a contradiction in itself and in terms.

    Another description of chaos and confusion. Comparisons and delusions.
    Humanity does not need religion, any religion, organised or not. The new religion is money and corporate sociopathy. it could not become any worse,or could it ? All seeking an excuse to live and avoid the thought of death while destroying each other and the planet.
    Nature is taking her own hand to remove the cruel sheep like humans an I have no problem with that at al.. wise up and become human beings, empathetic thinkers or perish.

      • Yes, Thank you for saying that. I’m not a fan of organized religion. I believe in One God worthy of worship & praise. Here’s the thing, I actually know God. (I’ve been in so-called religion all my life); Not until now I litally know the Most High God. I had to to hell & back to get here; with crippling anxiety, chronic insomnia that caused me to attempt suicide in 2016. I went back to Yah (God) Today I have No Anxiety At All! I sleep Every Night! I am not on any medications! My point is God is real! Organized religion is not necessarily the path to him but it is possible to have a personal relationship with the Creator.
        ……Just saying

  5. You have made some valid points. It is interesting how we can go out entire life and not really know why we be!

    A true Christian if following the teachings of the Christ would know that they are striving to achieve this state of being. It is baffling that more people do not know that the Christ is a state of being not the being.

    The control mongers have confused the issue by putting int the return of Jesus, when in fact it is the return of the Christ which is a state of consciousness. When we are in this state we transitions from the psychology of belief to knowing. A belief is a thought we keep thinking we either believe something or we know it to be true for us. Truth comes through direct experience. Self realization comes through direct experience of our multidimensional expression. Everything is already programmed into our DNA to allow for the Ascension of our light body.

  6. Religion can be a tool for power and control, but that is not its stated or intended purpose. That control is to be ceded to God.

    The creature we need to be aware of and dubious of is government.

    Government’s sole intention and stated purpose is to maintain power and control. That is its core concept. Keep in mind as an adult, no one ever forced you to accept a religion. You were never given any option when it came to your government. You were indoctrinated from your youth that you lived in the best and freest State the world had ever seen. Even though a cursory review of history clearly demonstrates this is a lie.

    Religion, school, the military, welfare programs, knowledge are the tools government uses to maintain its power and control.

    The most successful government at maintaining its power and control over people are those which claim to be of, for and by the people who worship, learn, fight and die for, eat and are sheltered, and know whatever their government tells them is Truth. The people who believe in the false god of government are the victims and their own abusers.

    If we recognized people for what they truly are, living Acts of God, then our need to manipulate, control, dominate, and fornicate them would disappear. The problem with this is so would our ability to manipulate, control, dominate, and fornicate others out of all the “things and stuff” we wish to steal from them for our own purposes.

    You see, the Truth is Government is an illusion, a total fiction created for the sole purpose of theft on a scale so grand, so unfathomable that the victims believe it to be good.

    Mission accomplished.

  7. I ascribed no more credence to someone who claims they "know" there is no god than I do to someone who insists they "know" there is one (or more), both are delusional, if you make either claim as a certainty you lose credibility. You are certainly allowed to "believe" strongly, but to assert unassailable knowledge, either way, is simply hubris, or gullibility. The only accurate ideology is agnosticism, you don't know, you can't know, and you won't know, either way, not in your lifetime.

  8. I agree with probably 90%+ of this. Absolutely feel that "religion" does not belong in policy- that it can not be manipulated by religious belief. I do vote from my faith but not in the idea of controlling others. I'm on board with being a "Christian liberal."

    My only caveat in all of this would be, do not dismiss all organized religion as 100% evil and unnecessary. Certainly, wars etc could have been prevented… but what about all the basic human welfare needs that were met, and are being met, by organized religion even today? Who ran the orphanages and poor houses before government programs were a thing? Who fed starving children before anyone thought of food stamps? The churches.

    Separation of church and state is absolutely necessary. And so is self-examination and constant questioning of our own beliefs and actions. My only caution would be not to toss the baby with the bathwater.

  9. All of these posts refuse to realize that in this present dispensation of grace ,as revealed to Paul ,the apostle to everyone ,that faith plus nothing is the gospel . 1Cor 15:1-4 ,believing that Christ did it all by dying for us ,being buried and rising again is the totality of it all . Plus nothing . No works . Once God has opened your heart so that you accept him at his word ,you are saved . A supernatural work then begins ( justification) and transforms you . Yes, we will "mess" up ,sin ,etc however as we grow and realize our position in Christ ,( sanctification ) we will change . Eventually we are glorified . The flesh never understands this but our changed heart does . All I see here are conjectures and opinions that are not based on the Book and Pauls Gospel of Grace . Its that simple . Believe it …take God at his word …Faith . Plus nothing . Romans thru Philemon . All of the rest of the book is for our learning but not for our salvation . Do you believe that Christ died ,was buried and rose again ? Then you are saved . Christ did everything . But its to easy you might say …God is sovereign and that's how he does it . As you grow in grace and love for your God ,so it will for your fellow brothers and sisters . Its supernatural . Praise his perfect name forever ! You will find that this relationship which is the opposite of religion is never forceful and always gentle . Look into it for it blows away all other "religions " and your heart will tell you so . Peace in Christ .

  10. There are only a few ineluctable truths regarding our human existence. For one, despite all manners of claims otherwise, no one has solid proof of any sort of afterlife, whether inchoately associated with ghosties, spirits, etc. much less specifically aligned with any particular religious doctrine. Examined dispassionately, all religions evolved to frame social mores and sets of behaviors within which life is supposed to be more ordered, less chaotic, at least for those within that circle. The after death stuff always looks to be an ungainly appendix to the codes, obviously to mollify the dimmer members of the flock, and steer their efforts in more productive directions than whining and moaning about their fate. I was raised into a rather liberal midwestern Presbyterian faith, somehow emerging with a sense of moral responsibility yet ultimately feeling atheism is not any sort of religious practice at all, but rather a letting go of the archaic baggage of all religious tenets. With no hope of clever trickery with which to win "salvation" in one's last breath, despite a life of sin and cruelty (ref: most so-called Evangelical pseudo-christians), atheists who have the capacity to wrestle with moral dilemmas I find live far more "Christian" lives than a majority who proclaim the faith with their flag decals. The most self-identifying "religious" seem the most terrified of death; paradoxically, I have come to expect nothing except what life I have left, and so consider my ability to make some small contribution to humanity a gift. My faith only reflects a general pessimism about humanity, while retaining optimism about the many individuals who nevertheless rise to the needs of specific challenges of the moment, or of the times. I don't "practice" atheism – I just have no interest in practicing any empty ritual or exercise meant to foster devotion to some empty vessel, in the same way that I don't practice deep water free diving. Belief, per se, is irrelevant. I just find it a waste of my time, better spent elsewhere. As Robert Johnson sang: "I don't care where you bury my body, when I'm dead and gone."

  11. I do not all beleieve, for a single instant, that “faith plus nothing” equals salvation. Life is a balancing act of strength vs temptation, salvation vs loss. The second you convince yourself that you are saved and free of sin, simply because you accept that Jesus died for you and God loves you, you are tossing aside every lesson He sends you through trial and temptation. You have truncated rhw possibility of growth.

    It is indeed too easy. The belief that you can be suddenly saved and guaranteed salvation without effort is the basis of immense amounts of evil as people allow their own personal desires for gaming and power to masquerade as the voice of God. It is a convenient fantasy employed to get people to sign on to a particular special club where they can be manipulated.

    People who believe this way are the exact problem with organized religion, as they can justify the most horrific actions based on their “special.relarionship” with God .It is, in my opinion, a prime example of the sin of pride, probably Satan’s most effective tool.

    By your works you shall be known. There is no magical formula of cosmic Simon Says. That is a phony, mental reixk to avoid seeking genuine goodness as a human. There are no shortcuts, and if you believe there are, you are very likely to end up, quite literally, a God-damned fool.


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