Isaac Asimov, wrote, “There is a cult of ignorance in the United States, and there always has been. The strain of anti-intellectualism has been a constant thread winding its way through our political and cultural life, nurtured by the false notion that democracy means that “my ignorance is just as good as your knowledge.”
How terribly, awfully true. And some people love it just the way it is. The fundamentalist Christian religion is a great place to find proof. For these folks, religion is an infection that causes delirious behavior, the kind that comes from a very high fever.
Now to be clear that I’m not condemning all religion or all sincere believers. I’m condemning the ignorance that comes from the delirium of those infected with fundamentalism. And I’m sorry. There is no other way to say it. Ignorance!
Ignorance is not stupidity. Ignorance is a choice. All it takes to cure ignorance is a desire to learn something we don’t know. But when we think God told us all we need to know, we have no need to learn anything else.
When you have grown up in an environment that demands obedience and conformity, as much as Christian fundamentalism, you might be suffering RTS, Religious Trauma Syndrome, a process identified by Dr. Marlene Winell.
From the article titled “Religious Trauma Syndrome: How Some Organized Religion Leads to Mental Health Problems” on AlterNet.org by Valerie Tarico, “Dr. Winell is a human development consultant in the San Francisco Area. She is also the daughter of Pentecostal missionaries. This combination has given her work an unusual focus. For the past twenty years she has counseled men and women in recovery from various forms of fundamentalist religion including the Assemblies of God denomination in which she was raised.”
The Christian salvation message is difficult enough to reconcile for sincere adults who remain committed to their religion of origin. But it has even more power to create neurosis in the hands of misguided people whose purpose is to acculturate innocent children.
Think about these teachings from the point of view of a young child who still can’t distinguish fantasy from realty: Being born evil and stained by original sin is just the beginning. Then comes the lifetime of failing to achieve the perfection demanded by an angry and vengeful God. Then the knowledge that Jesus died a bloody, excruciating death because of you. Then believing your natural human thoughts and behaviors are the failings of your weak and sinful character. Finally, knowing “the wages of sin is death” and you can’t stop “sinning.”
As a child, I swallowed this mythology whole. I remember worrying about how bad I was and how much I needed to resist my natural urges to prove myself worthy. I feared I’d never enjoy the afterlife. Instead I would suffer the fires of hell for eternity; a hell of tortures so well described, I lived in constant fear.
The fear that saturated my youth is still being marketed by fundamentalist Christian’s for big money. Here’s a few examples from Rightwingwatch.org: Liberty Counsel Continues to Promote the Latest Fabricated Case of Christian Persecution, Bradlee Dean: Public Schools Evil, Obama Emulating Mao, Heritage Foundation VP Blamed Boston Bombings on ‘Multiculturalism and Diversity’ in Schools, Religious Right Panelists: Gay Rights Activists are Christ-Hating Fascists.
Each of the headlines above is accompanied by a photo of the key people who market this fear. It’s ironic. None of them look fearful to me. In fact, they look quite self-satisfied and –rich.
They don’t show any signs of the fear, with which they quite readily infect others. So I’ll take a guess here. These folks are not the ignorant ones. They’re pretty damned smart. The ignorant are the audience of faithful believers who gobble down their venom and ask for more. It’s these people, capable or not of educating themselves out of their ignorance, who pay the bills and keep these purveyors living a comfortable lifestyle.
Eric Hoffer, the American moral and social philosopher said, “Every great cause begins as a movement, becomes a business, and eventually degenerates into a racket.”
If Christianity was the great cause, fundamentalism is the racket.
Robert De Filippis
Author, columnist and blogger with a long career in business management, management consulting and executive coaching. I am a certified ontological coach. I’ve studied clinical therapeutic practices in Gestalt psychology and am a Certified Birkman (more…)