The Business of Religion
This past week as his political came to a crashing halt; Tom Delay made
some ridiculously silly comments. Among them he claimed that Christians were
the most victimized group in America. He either believes that the 85 percent
of Americans who identify themselves as Christians and hold the majority
representation of every law making body at the state and federal levels is
the most impotent 85 percent of any population in the history of
Homo sapiens, or he is a liar.
This statement got me thinking again about a topic that has long puzzled me.
This is that Christians as a whole show greater animosity towards Atheists
than they do for other religions. I as an Atheist and a Hindu are both
rejecting the same "One True God" aren't we? However a University of
Minnesota study shows that Atheists are the most distrusted group in
America and by wide margin.
As with most puzzling questions about human behavior I have found that
if an explanation is tough to come by, it is best to think of things in
business terms. Christianity is a business and they have a product to sell.
Like most religions they are selling the idea that a happy productive life
is found through a relationship with their invisible friend(s). All other
distracting claims aside, religions share this underlying principle. So
while a Hindu may not be a Christian, a Hindu still believes in the
principle theme that a person needs religion to navigate life.
Atheists who live happy lives are direct evidence to the contrary of this
claim. It is in the best interest of the Christian business plan to do two
things. One is to present the image of Atheists as failures. If a preacher
tells his flock that atheists are lonely cowards who are hateful towards
the world because they lack the love of Jesus then he is reinforcing the
claim that the religion is needed to live a satisfying life.
The second part of the business plan is to react to Atheists in the method
that Tom Delay displayed with his claim. Make Christianity the victim.
The fact is that not everyone has a wonderful life, Christians and Atheists
included. When Christianity doesn't make good on the promise of a fulfilling
life for its parishioners a scapegoat is needed. Christianity does not need
to produce the claimed results if Atheists in league with Satan (whom
Atheists don't believe in) are set on destroying the Christian life style,
committing rape, stealing babies in the night, seducing youth with
homosexuality, polluting the drinking water with doubt inducing chemicals
and wearing white after labor day.
Persons in the business of religion and specifically in this country
Christianity, often communicate these ideas about Atheists as part of their
marketing strategy. They do it because it works. Peace doesn't sell well
but conflict does and if you say that there is a war on Christmas, a war on
Easter and war for your eternal soul it puts people in the pews and money in
the donation baskets.
Does this money keep preachers in fancy suits, fast cars and the company
of ladies of negotiable virtue? I don't really know but I won't accuse them
of anything but having a successful business plan that is based in part on
telling inaccurate stories about outsiders and creating lies to justify their
Being an Atheist does not make a person less trustworthy or less fit to marry
your child, humorless or un-American. We have the same wealth of opportunity
and wonder of human experience as the rest of humanity. We just have in
common the one and only claim of atheism. We don't believe there is a god.
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Posted: April 9, 2006