So I’m coming to the point where I see organized religion as adult mass dress-up/make-believe, where adherents are tasked to really suspend their disbelief and, if they do, they get all these new playmates to play with.
It’s very important for all of these people to believe the exact same thing. If they do, they can stay and enjoy whatever emotional and social perks (friendship, emotional support, financial help, prestige) come along with this highly complex and sophisticated play.
Like all games, some folks who are involved with the rule-keeping decide for whatever reason that some people just aren’t playing the game right, or that those people shouldn’t even be allowed to play at all. For the ex-communicated and the shunned, this can result in real pain, pain that may be lifelong. This also, unfortunately, can be part of the overall structure of the game.
Things go overboard when those in control of the rule-keeping want to force everyone to play the same game. Just like in real life, some people want to play by house rules (alternative rules); some want to play a different game; and some don’t want to play any game at all. They just want to be left alone.
When the rule-makers / rule-keepers become megalomanical, they get it into their heads that the game is absolutely real, it’s non-negotiable; and they begin to believe they have the right to imitate some of the powers of the divine—that is, they feel they have the right to kill you.
This is a mental disorder. They have suspended disbelief so much that they believe themselves to be almighty.
The problem is, they seek to validate this belief by actually going out and killing people. (See Crusades, Spanish Inquisition, other holy wars.) In reverse logic, to them it makes sense: we kill in the name of God; giving and taking of life is a power we ascribe to God; therefore God exists.
Folks in the eighteenth century thought they had gotten some of that madness behind them by putting up a legal wall between church and state, whereby no one under implied or explicit penalty of death would be forced to play any of these games. This may not have always worked out in practice, but it was a good ideal, and democracies have been getting gradually more and more progressive/lax/understanding as the centuries have moved on.
Times evolve, you might say.
But now we are back in the grip of nationwide madness. True, at the moment only about 1 out of 5 Americans (1 out of 3 conservatives) believe in this new and ultra-fundamentalist point of view, but this extreme version is decked out with the imposition of beliefs on others via normally outside-of-game (secular) means. This historically has led to death by religious means.
No one wants to hear that their most cherished beliefs are a game. But that’s just what they are—beliefs. No one deserves to be oppressed to the point of death just so some insiders can keep pretending there’s just one game.
This is a Creative Commons article. The original version of this article appeared here.