April 7, 2007

That scam called Religion - Part II

In my previous post there I have shown how the original message of an extraordinary being gets corrupted over the years into rituals which lose relevance and meaning with respect to the original message.

For me the concepts of 'God' and 'organised religion' are two very different things; the latter being a creation of man to control and exert his power. In the example of Christianity, there were clearly two power centres; that of Constantinople and Rome which subsequently came to be known as the Eastern and Western versions respectively. The Nicene Creed (popularly known as the 'I Believe') is a credo that was the outcome of the Council of Nicea, organised by the Emperor Constantine somewhere around the 4th century AD to unite the Western and Eastern theories. The fallout was that a good many texts which would have been windows to our original doctrines were destroyed by Constantine to ensure success of the Council and the Nicene Creed was made the standard. The common Creed lasted till about 1000 AD when power struggles that ensued between the Bishops of important cities at that time, namely Rome, Alexandria, Constantinople, Jerusalem and Antioch; split the Church in two permanently and have ensured that what we have today is more a result of a patronising Emperor and less of our original doctrines.

Today the Nicene Creed occupies an enviable position in the Catholic Church and is also part of the Holy Mass. Most of what we know about religion is a product of the power struggle between kings, bishops and other rulers and administrators. People who propogated what they wanted to and destroyed evidence that would undermine their authority and status.

Hence religion is all about power. Political, Economical and Social. How does it sustain itself? It builds a culture around itself. People are born into the culture and it becomes a part of their lives. When they grow up and (if) they begin to question their religion they literally have no choice. They will have to renounce a culture that is so much part of them they can't seem to fit outside. Thats the Social ringfence. Economically it collects tithes from its members; those with higher collections getting more attention than others ultimately creating in the minds of such members a feeling of superiority. (Talk to some old parishoners in areas like Orlem, Bandra and IC Colony to get a better understanding) The influence of the Church in Catholic countries / areas like Philipinnes, Spain, Mexico and parts of Latin America are well known. Even in India in the days following the death of missionary Graham Staines the Catholic Church openly encouraged its members to vote for 'secular' parties (read: the Indian National Congress)

I call it a scam because for the most part of it we have allowed rituals and symbolism to rule us. The Christian equivalent of 'jihaad' also known as 'Crusades', killings of women from different cultures in the form of burning at the stakes, selling of Indulgences (absolution in exchange for money), corruption and an attitude of arrogance and superiority characterised the Church. Symbols (eg. the Cross, statues, trinkets and other paraphernalia) are used by religious leaders to rouse public sentiments when these things should not matter. And again the story will not be very different across religions.

That is how Religion and God are vastly different. Two very different concepts often paraded together, sold to us in a packaged deal. Its a pity many of us blindly accept it without question. The Church had a brilliant way of dealing with the problem. A line in the Bible says "Blessed are ye who do not see and yet believe" The line I believe is deliberately inserted to quell any questions and make you feel good. Christ was a man full of wisdom, I doubt He would have said a line like that.

(To be continued)

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