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On Religion

How Religion Disrupts The State

    The problem with religion and the civil state is that religion's got its own chief of state (a god) and its own behavioral code (a holy book) and its own bureaucracy (a church). Religion is an irrational conglomerate contraption that exists in the same space with a (sometimes) rationally conceived civil state and obviously interferes with the civil state by constantly trying to co-opt its function.
-Glen Roberts

The Religion Gene

    Humans must have a religion gene. Whatever process, institution, group, etc. they decide to promote or even just find themselves involved with, they seem compelled by their religion gene to sanctify it.
    Humans tend almost inevitably to treat their diets and diet inventors, their schools and school teams, their business theories and first instances of theory practice, their rule books and legal documents, their old terms or current jargon, almost any tool or method, their favorite cars, shoes, churches, or pizzerias - in a piously religious way.
    A Supreme Court justice nominee described as "brilliant" cannot help validating a legal point on the basis of what "the founders" intended. A fellow grammarian is aghast if I tell him that a particular grammatical rule is logically wrong and should be stricken from the holy rule book. Contemporary environmentalists think me negative or even harsh if I point out that their politically correct use of the word sustainable is illogical.

    In fact, in recent decades a whole new liberal attitude, agenda, and vocabulary has been installed (very well described as "politically correct") which religiously shuns, denies, revises out of existence any position, attitude, phrase, or word not currently sanctified. I am considered heretical for continuing to speak of overpopulation, for using an indelicate phrase like "too many people," and guilty of the sin of pride for supporting the Ehrlichs but positing a better definition of overpopulation than theirs. I'm considered naive for still advocating communism and a loose cannon for calling "the single-payer plan" socialized medicine.
    According to liberals now calling themselves progressives, nothing between the 60's and the fall of the Berlin Wall is supposed to have happened and the only respectable ideals are back to black rights, women's rights, gay rights, democracy, "freedom," nice patriotism, nice capitalism (!?!), and - just sanctified - light-bulb environmentalism. Their own participation in the Sandinista Revolution and the hopeful falling of capitalist dominoes during the too-short 80's have been erased from mentionable history. They'd like to forget Cuba. Of course, my criticism of this tendency is logical, and logic - in word or practice - has been excommunicated, too, because it is elitist and, worst of all, easy to understand and thus, in a politically pious term, reductionist. Wow!

    A lot of communists are like that, too. They sanctify Marx and feel compelled to pay obeisance even to his coincidental choices of words and sentence structure. If anyone strays, then there is a split which is viewed like a religious schism and there is pious rather than intellectual bitterness between the factions. Communists become visibly uneasy, as if they fear lightning might strike, when I tell them I invented communism before I ever heard of Marx and that I think my version is better. I mean better, of course, but they seem to fear I am blaspheming Marx.
    The same thing happens with any political process or theory, already existing or merely proposed. To Americans, democracy is sacred. Even supposedly "free" thinking Americans become visibly uneasy if I dare to point out democracy's flaws. Even though it's been recently sub-sanctified to think "we" shouldn't impose "our" democracy on others, that another country doesn't embrace the religion of democracy is seen as clear evidence that that country is backward (and maybe evil).
    The religion of freedom is so religiously connected to the religion of democracy that they have become a single word - freedomanddemocracy - amazingly ironically, since most Americans reading this page, who are imprisoned by the least important and most abhorent details of "their" own democratic religion, probably can't even conceive that I should feel free to question the religion of freedom. But I do dare - often - only not in this paragraph. I need more space. An adequate discussion of the depth and breadth of that world's-most-stupidly-sanctified word's 95% religious misuse requires another essay.

    The best/worst example of the religion gene in action is the sanctification of states. There is no respectable reason to deify a state. Yet, as far as I know, every political division on Earth is burdened with a flag, an anthem, and an attitude of devotion toward its existence, its methodology, its founders, etc. I'd like to at least think there are in every case at least deviously rational political "leaders" involved who deliberately encourage the religion of patriotism as a practical way to ensure the consistent participation of lumpen who can't be trusted to keep track of their often contradictory obligations to the leaders' state. But I don't think that. I think the leaders are just as knee-jerk religious as the followers.
-Glen Roberts