Chapter Eight; WHAT ABOUT ALL THE GOOD THEY DO? part twenty-nine

It is fair to recognize the good that the religious adherents do again. After all, my forefathers came to this country to experience and escape
religious persecution of Europe. Religious America has allowed many
sorts of views of religion to live in a relatively peaceful manor. The
Puritans, Quakers, Baptists, Catholics, Presbyterians, Protestants,
Lutheran, Anglicans, Jewish, Friends and many others religions were here
in the beginning and due to the pluralistic society the Founding
Fathers insisted that not one religion over an other be supported or
preferred. This lead to the drafting and ratification of Article I of
the Bill of Rights. This also gave the different religions a peaceful

If the religious adherents in American wanted to say that The United States was founded by a religious people I would agree with them. But I
hear over and over again that America was founded as a religious
nation and that is just plain wrong. When the adherents hear this they
tend to think that what is being put forth to there idea is that the
Founding Fathers were not religious at all. This is not now or ever has
been the case by any non-adherent that I have talked to. As an atheist I
am more than willing to recognize that many of our Founding Fathers
were involved in religion in various degrees. But to say that any of
this was to lead to the country being founded as a Christian nation is
to set up a false causation. It is more accurate that the nation was
founded by religious pluralists and they wanted the freedom to be what
their conscience demanded of them concerning faith issues. Not a nation
requiring a religious test for public office or trust or to establish or
prohibit the right to practice any form of belief even if that belief
is not belief at all. Freedom of religion is a right secured in the Bill
of Rights for the individual and it is not a place for the secular
government to be involved in.

Each denomination was left up to their own devises to recruit adherents. So they began developing organizations to help with community
needs such as feeding the poor, disseminating news to the
congregation, starting hospitals and schools, caring for the cemeteries,
and other community services. Ultimately the idea was to grow the
flock. However one denomination had the strange idea that it's follower
shouldn't marry or have children. This odd group is called the Shakers.
Needless to say they are almost all gone if not gone already.

So there have been many secular positive results of religion in the community. It is part of the discipleship idea of Christianity. It would
be hard to find a hospital in the first 150 years of the country that
was not somehow associated with a denomination. Plus out on the American
prairie, and the west of the United States the Catholic Church was the
first to make schools in many small communities that otherwise couldn't
afford them. Even Today many secular hospitals started out as missions
of a religious organization.

The price a community pays for these positive examples of the good religion does can be high. Let's look at a few.

Feeding the poor

Sounds like a real stand up idea. Even Jesus liked that one. But what is the price? Well for the most part these people are forced to endure the
additional humiliation of being told that they are sinners in need of
God's love and compassion. Any person attending those place are well
aware of the problems in their life and do not need to have a sermon or
even a prayer for the meal they have humbly come to receive. I have
myself gave money to a person that was in need and when they say, “God
bless you” I say, “No need. I am an atheists. I gave this to you because
I care about people not religion.” I have no problem if you have cards
or a sign up sheet for them to ask for help. That would be up to them as
long as it was not coerced.

Religious Hospitals

It is a good thing that the denomination would put their time and money into caring for the people of the community. Having a friendly local
doctor that you know has a eternal view like you must surely be
reassuring. But what if that doctor knows that the treatment is more
difficult than it is worth for you to recover? He has the assurance that
you will be in an eternal peaceful place anyway. Plus, the family and
church could pray for a miracle. What about what your illness may be
viewed as sickness from sin? Such as venereal diseases. Or if a woman
needs to have an abortion. Will they allow her the choice or will dogma

Religious Schools

I think I can clearly show an relationship between the madrasah of the radical Islamist and the faith based schools in America. I want to point
out that I know that the word madrasha is a word for school of teaching
so I am not talking about the ones of moderate or reasonable programs
for education. This may seem like a reach but anyone that has seen the
movie Jesus Camp would know
what I mean. I am not saying that they are teaching them to shoot and
attack others of different beliefs but the radicalism is just as
fervent. It is easy for a child to believe the crazy dogma of an adult
because that is how we are programed to learn. This is where adults of
seeming reasonable behavior think the Earth is 6000 to 10000 years old
instead of 4.0 to 4.5byo. I am not saying that every religious school is
indoctrinating the students to be mind numb and brainwashed but even in
the more moderate ones they insist that the child adhere to a religious
world view in all areas of study.

For the people that push these types of conversions on children it is truly child abuse and coercion. What would a reasonable person say to a child
that claimed that they
are a firefighter,
policeman a doctor, astronaut? I know what they say, because it is what I
would say, Isn't that cute. They aspire to an idea of something they
have no idea what it is. Reasonably we wouldn't think they had any idea
about what they were talking about nor would anyone in need of those
service act as if that child had any way of acting as a person in those
professions. Today it makes the news if a child is able to call 911 in
an emergency regardless of how often it is taught and impressed upon
children to do that in an emergency. So when something as simple as
calling 911 is such a big deal for a child, how much more skeptical
should we as adults be that a child has any clue about what being saved
means at that age. But of course the adherents believe that the Holy
Spirit can convince a child of the “truth” of the scriptures. Likewise,
the constant referral to Santa Claus can convince a child that a fat
Dane in a white and red suit is going to bring them gifts based upon
some goodness scale he has, to determine the level of good and bad they
have been in the past 365 days.

When I was in high school I attended a Catholic High school for several weeks before I got kicked out for alleged marijuana use or drinking or
both. Someone decided that I would be a good scapegoat as I was not a
Catholic. I was a Lutheran at this Catholic school one of a few
non-Catholic students to attend. After that fiasco, I went to a Seventh
Day Adventist school where my behavior was, of course, better but my
grades were not. But at both places I had the opportunity to be an
outsider of a group of adherents. But regardless the influence of the
dogma of the church was present throughout the day. I really had a time
with my questions in the religion class. The Father that taught it would
get frustrated with me to no end. Oddly enough the teacher of the
science class was very good and it was a much better Biology class then
the one at the SDA school were the influence of God in science was
pushed just a bit too hard. With only a 6 month exposure to religious
schooling I saw the futility of trying to get the students to follow a
dogma that only was set in place to control behavior and promote itself.
Luckily, even those students that had gone to religious school all
their life still had a free mind and not all bought into the beliefs
lock stock and barrel. But I am sure if I was to meet some of them
Today, that range of freedom would be gone.

  • Social climbing

It is not an understatement that churches provide a platform for people that would otherwise have nothing to say a platform for them to “shout
it from the rooftop.” A man or woman can find a place of honor in a
church and soon find themselves ordained in some churches. Some
denominations simply requires the “Lord” to show his “spirit” on their
work. I am sure many of you know about the Universal Light Church. You
can become a minister just by signing up on line at their website. [Go
ahead I'll wait.] It is about that easy to have it done too

The same laws that legally let ULC give out ordinations is the same one that lets any denomination give them out. So in many of these churches
there is a shortcut to the top. Why bother with the 2 to 4 years of
seminary or Bible college when you can just be ordained right away? Show
your able to motivate the masses and you will soon be moving up in the
“Jesus club”. People like Ken Ham, Benny Hinn, Joyce Meyers, and many
others just simply “answered” the Lord's calling on their life and began
preaching. I am not saying they haven't had any additional education
but the idea is that they follow the “leading” of the Lord to tell then
what to do. Now they make millions on the backs of the people that they
preach too. It is like what L. Ron Hubbard is credited with saying, If
you want to make a lot of money start a religion.

I have thought about how easy it would be for me to “reconvert” and use my experiences to fleece the flock. It seems no matter how much you lie
or cheat the children of God you can always come back and ask for
forgiveness and begin taking their money once more.

Needless to say even the denominations that have difference among themselves in Christianity make up a powerful force in the United
States. But it is the vocal churches that get the attention of the
national media and the politicians when it comes times to get elected.
It makes good television to have a radical view from either a liberal or
a conservative though most Americans may have little to say about a
particular issue.

While many of the more liberal or mainstream denominations are either shrinking or maintaining the status quo of followers, the fundamentalist
and radical churches are on the rise with growing memberships. But hope
is still alive. According to a recent PEW research study that the only
group to grow in America in the past 15 years have been the section of
non-adherents or non-believing. Interesting enough if it was a single
church denomination then it would be the largest in America behind

Coming Next Time:

Chapter Eight; HUMANIST
POINT OF VIEW part-thirty

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