PTSD

Silenced Fear
Silenced Fear

Mantayosays (over at the False Prophet Ronald Weinland blog):

Douglas Becker, Mr A[valokiteshvara] and others have referred to psychological concepts and models to help explain and understand the steadfastness of their addiction to the PKG and to Weinland. I agree with them, and there are other psychological models and insights that are relevant as well. Even so, I would like to add the following for consideration. I have seen this principle in operation many times over the years although I have seen no formal models based on the observations. It is not offered as a “one size fits all” analysis, obviously.

Many people in difficult situations continue to put up with their torment “simply” because they are even more afraid of what will happen to them if they make a move to change the status quo. A job you dislike with a boss who is a bastard is better than unemployment, living with a violent, abusive spouse is better than being homeless and leaving the children with a violent partner, being in a loveless relationship is better than being alone or joining the ranks of the divorced. Holding onto a belief in Millennial Happiness is better than living in a real world of real problems. I am even persuaded that there would be more suicides if people were not fearful that they might find themselves in an even worse situation as a result of their suicide. Holding on to what you once thought was the true religious faith even though you now entertain reasonable doubts is better than being wrong, and burning in hell if you make the wrong decision. A form of suicide, if you will, in the minds of believers.

Sometimes these fears are realistic and safeguard us: it is better to live consumed by hatred of someone who wronged you than to take revenge, kill the offender and spend the rest of one’s life in jail.

BUT, many battered wives, many abused employees, many former religious believers eventually come to the point where they accept that – quite literally – no matter what happens in the future, it is not going to be worse than this. And that realisation is what sets them free. Free to begin working on learning a new way to live, with no guarantee of where the new path will lead.

To fear what will become of one in the future is a primal response to threat, real or imagined, and the loss of the certainty, the crumbling of the foundations which held up the edifice of one’s whole worldview can be an extremely upsetting and fear-inducing experience.

There are many websites, blogs and forums where these ex-believers work through their changes and are supported by others who have trod the path ahead of them – and survived. I want to emphasise that, by ex-believers I do not assume there will be a loss of religious faith. Some may go that way, others find a different set of beliefs but retain their faith in god.

I would exhort any COG PKG members who recognize the above dynamics in their own lives to take courage, take heart, and take responsibility. Leave Ron, he has no authority whatsoever. That much is certain. Is proven beyond reasonable, and even beyond unreasonable, doubt.

Ron has you believing that you are drinking living waters of truth. You are not. It is as Mike (DDTFA) describes it, it is poisoned Flavor Aid. So come and join the Non-Ron version of life again. It isn’t as bad as you have been persuaded, it isn’t as bad as you may remember, and it certainly isn’t as bad as where you live at present.

This is an important observation about fear and it has been addressed in the last chapter of Take Back Your Life: Recovering from Cults and Abusive Relationships, “Former Cult Members and Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder” which has this to say:

Sociologist Laurie Wermuth notes: “PTSD takes its toll on health by overreacting the body’s alarm system; stress chemicals flood the bloodstream, triggering changes in tissues and organs. Over time, too much of this stress reaction causes increased wear and tear on the body and in particular contributes to plaque buildup on the walls of the arteries.” A variety of adverse physiological and psychological effects may ensue….

Members of violent and extremely abusive cults are likely to be exposed to similar events. Yet even in groups or relationships lacking in overt violence, the constant stress, anxiety, and theats inherent to a cultic environment can have a lasting and traumatic effect on devotees. Counsellors would do well to explore the possibility of PTSD when working with clients who are current or former cult members. Sometimes the client will not make the connection to their cult involvement, so the savvy therapist may have to do some sensitive an careful probing.

The carrot-and-stick manipulation central to cultic social systems carries with it a toll of chronic anxiety and, at times, utter fear. It may be difficult for some mental health (and other) professionals to understand that the threat of spiritual annihilation or group condemnations can be so fierce a psychological danger as to engender physical pain.

The authors go on to quote the National Center for Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder fact sheet:

  • Many people have long-lasting problems following exposure to trauma. Up to eight percent of individuals will have PTSD at some time in their lives.

Many adults who have grown up in the WCG have told me that they have recurring nightmares of suffering the Great Tribulation and being thrown into The Lake of Fire, decades after their childhood. There has been a tremendous impact of those children on their blankets hearing sermons about jack-booted Germans taking over their country, being sold into slavery, tortured, tormented, visions of mushroom shaped nuclear blasts, having their own homes, schools, parents and friends being ripped away, living in poverty and want, living out of garbage cans, sleeping under bridges in a bombed out smoking community being subject to radioactive fallout. It is not beyond imagination that those at 3, 4 and 5 years old, subjected to such virtual horrors are especially vulnerable and the horrors never go away. Meanwhile, those responsible for this trauma have not the slightest idea of the insidious nature of the collateral damage they do — for a life time in the lives of their victims.

I was a participant in the situation where a member was stalking another member in United, all the while the regional pastor was promoting the situation as a revenge against the victim who had offended his sensibilities. I heard the terror and trauma of someone who could never know when the stalker would show up in the parking lot to spy — being vulnerable to this outright outrageous behavior — all the while the Council of Elders would not give one shred of relief, nor obey Scripture to put the man out of the fellowship. I even went to Robert Dick, then, not only the Chairman of the UCG, but also the Chairman of the Ethics Committee, who told me to go to the regional pastor who was responsible for the situation in a “that’s not my department” stance, the ultimate in frustration (yes, go to the fox guarding the chicken house, and don’t bother me!). A restraining order in civil court was the only relief.

I am reminded of Richard Pinelli, at one time, a young man who was a director in the Canadian work giving a sermon in Spokane: He told the story of a farmer on the prairie who had a grass fire headed for his property and called Pinelli. The fire burned his neighbors’ fields, but burned around the farmer’s property line, leaving his farm completely untouched. That year, the harvest yielded a substantial return, since the price of the product was pushed up considerably by demand on a limited supply.

At first, I was inspired by the story of God’s Intervention, but as time went on, something bothered me about that story. I realized that what Richard Pinelli did was commit an act of self-aggrandizement to establish the ministry as a priesthood between the members and God: The real message — don’t talk to God, call us ministers so we can talk to God, because we have the pull, and you don’t.

Saturday, September 9, 2001, Richard Pinelli came to Tacoma to give the sermon. The sermon was about God “tipping over the barrel”. By that he meant that God would be patient with us, but at some time, there would come a time that God would have enough with us, and “tip over our barrel”. The person being stalked and I talked and agreed that he was actually threatening us for trying to stop the stalker! That if we didn’t fall in line with the ministers and cover the whole thing up, God would tip over our barrel and punish us. It was a maddening cringe-worthy sermon.

I personally remember the next two days extremely well: Sunday, a fine technologist from IBM spent the day working with me setting up LINUX on our IBM OS/390 Mainframe. We worked past midnight, so the next morning we were a little late getting into the County-City Building. There were long lines of people. I had to go through security and have my stuff x-rayed, even though I had a security card which should let me in. We didn’t know what had happened until we got upstairs to the Computer Center: People were in the conference room and break rooms watching 9/11 on television. I thought how ironic it was for Richard Pinelli to give a sermon on God “tipping over the barrel”, having a great opportunity to actually predict something that was supposedly fulfilling prophecy, but missing it by a country mile.

These are not the only accounts of Richard Pinelli installing fear amongst the members of the CoGs. He was also responsible for covering up the elder fondling a teenager in the UCG. But not to worry, since he was also behind the split between United and the Church of God, Worldwide Association, where he is now Pastor of the CoGWA .

Sometimes the fear inducing exercises by the ministry of the Armstrongists is subtle, but more often than not, it is PTSD inducing, creating near panic and long term devastating effects — all to keep the members in line.

This blog entry began with an example of fear in the PKG Weinland CoG. Even after Weinland’s 2012 Pentecost prophecy went bust, proving he is certifiably a false prophet, followed by his conviction as a felon for evading the Federal Income Tax, his followers are still… well… following him… mostly because of fear. It may be fear of suffering or the fear of losing out. The bottom line is fear.

 Juror #215 from the Weinland Felony Trial had this to say:

Douglas,
That’s an interesting question and I’m glad that you asked it. As a juror, we had sworn to remain impartial when presented with religious views that were different than our own, and were asked during jury selection if we felt that dealing with a minister of an “alternative religion” would affect our impartiality. So, the different beliefs expressed by Mr Weinland and the PKG members did not affect our consideration of the evidence or the charges.

On a personal level, my own beliefs are more accepting of those with different views. I feel that no one religion has a monopoly on religious truth, rather that each person must make their own choices when searching for meaning in their life, and each religion has validity in its own way. However, the “culture shock” did make me feel sad for these PKG members that instead of spending their time celebrating life, they chose to follow a path that seemed to be concentrated solely on the end of life and waiting around for the end of the world to hurry up and happen. It just didn’t seem like a happy way to live, and I don’t know why someone would choose to do that to themselves.

My favorite line from the movie “Shawshank Redemption” is (paraphrased), “You can get busy living, or get busy dying.” It just seemed like the members we saw (except for Ron and his family) were so busy preparing to die, that they had forgotten how to live . I know that the Judgement Day is important to many people, but if you spend all of your time obsessing over it, you’re missing the boat on why God put you here in the first place. It’s like walking into a concert by your favorite musician or band, and then spending the whole time looking at your watch, wondering when it’s going to be over. Relax and enjoy life a little bit!

Maybe I’m way off base, but that was just my personal impression.

It is the fear that the ACoG church members to concentrate solely on the end of life and waiting around for the end of the world to hurry up and happen, rather than spending their time celebrating life. Janja Lalich and Madeleine Tobias have this to say:

Complex PTSD applies to people who have been subjected to totalitarian control over a prolonged period (months to years), for example, hostages, prisoners of war, concentration camp inhabitants, victims of domestic battering or prolonged sexual exploitation and abuse, and cult members. Symptoms include persistent negative feelings of anxiety and / or sadness, chronic suicidal preoccupation, self-injury, explosive or extremely inhibited anger (may alternate), compulsive or extremely inhibited sexuality (may alternate), reliving or ruminating over experiences, a sense of helplessness or paralysis of initiative, a sense of defilement or stigma, a sense of complete difference from others (specialness, utter aloneness, a sense that no other person can understand, or not feeling entirely human), and preoccupation with the perpetrator *(includes preoccupation with revenge or unrealistic attribution of total power to the perpetrator). Complex PTSD is sometimes called Disorder of Extreme Stress. “As adults, these individuals often are diagnosed with depressive disorders, personality disorders, or dissociative disorders. Treatment often takes much longer than with regular PTSD, may progress at a much slower rate, and requires a sensitive and structured treatment program delivered by a trauma specialist….

Through cult recruitment and indoctrination, a person’s core beliefs are dramitically changed. In some groups, fear tactics and traumatic events (sometimes called “tests”) are deliberately used and even accepted by devotees as necessary for spiritual and psychological growth. Naturally, if a person was born or raised in a group, the cult-shaped belief system and behaviors may be all she ever knew.

The authors of Take Back Your Life conclude:

Perhaps most difficult of all is coming to terms with the idea that when abuse occurs, it is the perpetrator’s fault, and not the victim’s. Yes, cult members have some responsibility for the events and decisions that were made while they were seduced and entrapped in the group or relationship, and yes, some even became perpetrators themselves. In these cases, forgiveness–of others and self–plays and important role in healing.

Presuming, of course, that the perpetrators actually want to change their diabolical methods.

Nothing in Armstrongism is particularly benign.

PTSD is just another trauma from which to recover and we wish those on the path to recovery well and wait for others to begin the journey.

14 Replies to “PTSD”

  1. I speak for myself as to why I got involved with the WCG.

    When I was young, like 10 years old, I used to read the newspapers daily. I studied everything I could get my hands on dealing with communism, politics, wars, economics. I was for all purposes a book worm, the difference being it was newspapers I extracted information from for the most part. A poor way to go about understanding the world.

    As time went by and the fears that came forth from the cold war grew, so did my paranoia. Mind you that my parents were never part of the cults, nor much for religion, but that did not stop me from looking for an answer from above.

    Years later in my late 20’s I meet up with Armstrongism. The old man seemed to know what he was talking about and had a way to subtlety introduce what he called “answers” to the great plaque of problems befalling mankind. Not having been religious, it never occurred to me that people would use religion as their own personal ATM machine. It would be some years later before I grew out of this phase.

    The hook for me was the prophecies of the coming armageddon that was to “soon” sweep the world into the trash bin. I had studied the cold war and when Herbie put it all together for me (did my thinking for me) on his 30 minute info-commercial, I was sold on the idea of the true church having the only way to save my ass. Yes, those marching hordes of Germans, coming to march on my beloved country, America!

    After two or three years of being part of “gods true church” cracks appeared all over the facade of the theology. One question that continued to go through my head was about folks in other religions. How could some religious people I knew outside the cult, who contributed so much to the good of the world, be called “deceived?”

    The works they performed out did anything the WCG ever would for the betterment of the world. It occurred to me that we were just sitting on our ass’s and doing nothing but bitching about world conditions.

    When Tkach announced at the feast in 89 or 90 that the cult was contributing $100,000 to the San Francisco earthquake relief fund I was elated. The church was finally contributing to some good in the world. But not all thought the same way. People grumbled about this act of generosity. The money was for preaching “the gospel.” A gospel that Armstrong used to extract money and property from gullible people.

    In time I noticed that God always needs money. We were told that God uses this method to test our faith. But what about faith being dead without works? Is just giving money an act of faith? No, its an act of bribery. We were paying off God by bribing our corporate priests. We allowed men to intervene between us and God. Intervention: “Action taken to divert a unit or force from its track, flight path, or mission.” If anything, they were leading us astray. They are the Satanic deceivers the bible spoke about.

    In time I began to resent the church for its money grubbing ways and cold handed approach to my fellow human beings both in and out of the church. It seems I was not cut from the same cloth as these church leaders and their lap dog followers. I was destined to relinquish my part in the synagogue of Satan!

    After continuing on for a few more years in despair, out of fear of leaving, I came to a decision. If this church was of God, then God has less moral fortitude then I have. If my morals exceed the WCG god, then he is not worthy of worship or honor. Any god having such a callous approach to humanity cannot be God. Any god that cannot get his “word” out in a simple way for all to understand, then he is not God. Any god who allows suffering on the grand scale we see today is not God.

    So how did I leave?

    One Saturday I decided I had had enough. I went to a bar, watched part of a game and then went home with some apprehension as to how I spent the Sabbath. It was the beginning of freedom and I was afraid to move forward, but forward I did move. It took time for the anxiety to lift and develop my own personal philosophy as to religion and life. After awhile I began to see how I came to the point in life that I would join a religious cult. I understood that is was my lack of courage to face life as it is dished out. I took responsibility for my thoughts and actions. I learned to be courageous. If the world was going to blow up I would die like a man and not some coward.

    I quit giving my lifeblood (monies) to the cult. I began to study on the subject of mind control. I went back to college and studied political science, medicine, mathematics, psychology. I took charge of my fears and my life. Never again will I allow any mans philosophy, any corporation and any “priest” to control my mind or life.

  2. Take Back Your Life “Former Cult Members and Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder” chapter covers the diagnostic criteria and features of PTSD from the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM IV) which may be found at Mental Health Today PTSD / DSM. It notes:

    “In younger children, distressing dreams of the event may, within several weeks, change into generalized nightmares of monsters, of rescuing others, or of threats to self or others.”

    Readers should remember that this kind of fear reaction is not just of the mind: It is visceral, involving body functions and it is involuntary. Sometimes cause and effect may not be clear, such as a man so stressed from trying to provide for his family, but required to pay three tithes on his gross income may experience severe confusion and memory loss — and not just during the “third tithe year” but long after as part of a “foot print” of visceral stress. In a situation like this, it is entirely possible and perhaps likely that there will be flashes of uncontrolled and unexplained anger expressed in both inappropriate ways and to unrelated people, objects or animals.

    A person may have an aggravated inability to fall asleep or stay asleep. There may be difficulty concentrating. There will likely be memory lapses. There can be hypervigilence and / or exaggerated startle response.

    Concerning hypervigilance, Lalich and Tobias have this to say:

    “Many former cult members are on a constant lookout for danger. Many cults control their members by instilling an us-vs-them mentality toward the outside world: ‘The evil outside world is coming to get us.’ Such thoughts linger, especially when the person is out of the cult and facing these terrors alone (inside the cult, members can comfort each other about the paranoid visions imparted by the leader). They may also fear that someone in the cult will see them or come after them. In most cases, such fears are irrational and must be defused.”

    Herb’s version of this was using newspaper headlines to instill fear of the coming nuclear war, devastation and enslavement of United States and British Commonwealth citizens. Reject British Israelism meant to be disfellowshipped and face the horrors of the Great Tribulation and finally, the Lake of Fire. (In some of the sub cults of Armstrongism, there are personal and body threats which accompany those who leave and / or threat of lawsuits to bankrupt former members.) Just the thought of “losing blessings” can roust fears from dormancy, while facing the devastation of extreme personal sacrifice for the leaders of Armstrongism.

    One person has already mentioned leaving the cult and having a kitten to care for. Whether it is a pet (and they can be so comforting in their innocent simplicity) or some other personal interest, a new positive focus can help mitigate some of the worst of the deterioration from PTSD.

    Everyone is reminded that at their core, the leaders of Armstrongism and many of the ministers are bullies and may want to puruse the Bully Online Website to both identify and deal with the bullies.

  3. “Herb’s version of this was using newspaper headlines to instill fear of the coming nuclear war, devastation and enslavement of United States and British Commonwealth citizens.”

    And it was just this, the proof Herbie supplied to believe the lie. Armstrong like Bob Theil besmirched the memory of some genuine historic figures. In doing so they created a enemies list in the mind of the true believer. We hated Germans!

    Now days, for any of these religious hucksters to soliciting democratic input from the public or membership would amount to little more than a giant suggestion box, inside of which lies a forever-churning paper shredder.

    They don’t care about those the besmirch, nor those they tell lies to. It really has gone top far. It is Satanic!

  4. James writes:

    “How could some religious people I knew outside the cult, who contributed so much to the good of the world, be called “deceived?” ”

    Ralph responds: Actually they were and are deceived, the same as we were. Whatever overcomes a man, to that he is enslaved(2 Peter 2:19). That would apply to coercive rules of both church and state.

    James Dale Da vidson in “The Soverei ng Individual” provinde a rather unique explanation of religious evolution: In present tech nological society, we seek not o nly “meaning” but that religion which efficiently allows us to combine a way of life, beliefs, and law in A COMBINED FASHION. It’s basically a form of economizing. People like packages, and they like streamli ned, efficient packatges. For example, when the “new rich” began to emerge in italy from trade and commerce, the protestant churches kicked out “idol worship” i n the form of relics that were collected for the church and used for instruments of worship. Luther, for example, expunged the doctrine of “satisfactions” from the Protestants, which was a ruling by the catholics that members paid to see that their loved ones did not go to hell or purgatory. In mi nd of Romans 6:23, Luther wrote “the dying will pay all their deaths by their deaths”, which allowed for the capital of the protestant believer to be passed on to his heirs. The rule of eating fish on Friday was an eco nomic rules that got in the way of free enterprise, as the Catholic Churxch owned a lot of fisheries in that timwe, and made money by seeing that only fish were ate on Fridays.

    The legal application s of Ro mans 6:23 removed any de bt of the individual either to pay for his own escape from purgatory or hell, as well as any payments for the dead ancestors. Basically, it freed up capital. But it was actually European Jews who were quite influential in this a daptation, since they had banned idol worship fo any form long atgo, and in their theology, hell was merely the grave. Death freed them from any obligations to society.

    The doctrine of “grace” developed by Luther, removed obligations of multiple laws that enslaved church members to confusing rules and rituals of the medieval church, and allowed the wealthy to maintai more of their wealth for investment and expansion. The doctrine of redestiation developed by Calvin as Fromm and others point out, made financial success a “sign” that they were ‘elect” of God, wich had the effect of economizing and streamlining religious doctrine. All Western religio ns were adaptations to change in trade and commerce, leadin g to the industrial era, and deomcracy largely came from the use of gunpowder, which allowed the average man to simply blow up kn ights and the 1600 lbs horses, bringing not only power in war to the common man, but political power as well. It was merely evolution tied to religion.

    “The works they performed out did anything the WCG ever would for the betterment of the world. It occurred to me that we were just sitting on our ass’s and doing nothing but bitching about world conditions.”

    No doubt, but we were also looking for ‘truth” in a fashion that gave mea ning to our lives and allowed us to economize our actions socially and religiously. Actually, it did just that, by showing us we had power to economize our own lives as each saw fit.

  5. Historically, my own personality has always been pretty laid back, unless somebody made the mistake of crossing me. I expected everybody in a normal and sane state to be laid back as I was.

    Unfortunately, there is a certain breed of person, who either knowingly or accidentally, taps into or exploits the PTSD thing. Deliberately keeping people on edge can be a very powerful way of controlling others. I had a long term girlfriend who constantly did this (her mother was the same way, and she resented this in her mother, but played the same game anyway!), I had one or two managers whose managerial style was dominated by this same type of behavior, I’ve known salesmen whose style involved it, and of course we have the king of religious salesmen, HWA, who used it to extreme.

    I’ve found that amongst those once under the influence of Armstrongism, some unfairly stereotype all spiritual teachers and therapists with this same methodology, or character trait, and in extreme cases, even Jesus Himself. I’m subliminally guilty of this myself, which is why I insist on a personal relationship with God, allowing for some additional occasional understanding from others, but in general not allowing any man or woman to insert him or herself between myself and God. Mainstream Christianity does this inserting to a lesser extent from the extremes of Armstrongism, but I’ve found that some believe you need human intercessors, healers, or accountability partners. It’s my opinion that such people are inadvertently quenching the Holy Spirit. If we read Isaiah 1, we can see a very early caution from God that He only values dood action when it comes from a pure part of our hearts, uncoerced, and unmanipulated. It’s not something you can force in yourself, or legislate in others. It’s a gift that facillitates your personal relationship with God. You’ve got to run with, and cultivate that gift.

    BB

  6. OOPS! Typo alert!
    Fourth sentence up from the bottom, that should be “good action”, not “dood” action (for all you doods and doodettes out there!)

    BB

  7. BB writes:
    “Unfortunately, there is a certain breed of person, who either knowingly or accidentally, taps into or exploits the PTSD thing.”

    I think this is, along with the article, a core statement. The PTSD factor is introduced by such teachings as “going to hell if you do not accept Christ”.

    One of the more interesting things is that HWA exploded this idea, freei ng us from the fear inplied in that concept, but traded one fear for another. We were free of the idea of an ever burning hell, but then we had to believe that, due to that very freedom, we were enslaved to the only “true church”. The “White Throne Judgement” was reserved for those of us who rejected the Armstrong doctrine.

    Michael Shermer, one of my favorite writers, has written exte nsively on the emergence of “memes”, coined by Richard Dawkins, as those idea that “parasitize” our brains, and which serve to modify the social behavior of collective units. We search for the “true church” because we need the feeling of security that comes with sharing. We desire to find others like ourselves. The more effective and “unfalsifiable” any doctrine is, the more likely we are to believe it as social units. The “hell meme” is passes successfully from generation to generation because it cannot be disproven, and it canot be proven, so it becomes a matter of faith justified by the collective humans that happen to believe it.

    The “seeds of destruction” were built into Armstrong’s doctrine, because the very act of exploding the “hell meme” taught us, at an unconscious level, that we could disprove other possible myths if we were sufficiently educated. Then came Easter(pagan), Christmas(pagan), Halloween, etc.

    Armastrong’s doctrine was much like our US goverment. It said, in effect, “You are free, I have set you free, but you must now work and sacrifice so that others may be set free”. It’s repeated quite often now, the meme that says “freedom is not free”. In order to be “free’, we must live in fear of the very power that supposedly set us free.

    Like Armstrong, the government tells us that we are free, but that it, the government, like Armstrong, must receive payments in increasing amounts for that freedom. With Armstrong, the world hated our ‘truth’. With governments, the world hates our “freedom”. Both Armstrong and governments told us we must proclaim and support that freedom to the rest of the world, or they will take it away if we are not on our guard.

    So, PTSD sets in because the government says we are free IF we paay for that freedom, and religions say we are free IF we pay for the power of religions to preach that freedom. It boi8lsd down to a simple fact: you can have all the “freedom” you want, as long as you are willing to pay for it, and as long as you’re willing to work so that others may have that same freedom. The next dominant meme: “It doesn’t matter what you believe, as long as you believe”.

    The logical thinker, therefore, goes to the next step, which is either atheism or modified socialism: “Why believe in anything if I can cut out the middle man? I can sae myself a great deal of money, time , effort, and sacrifice, if I simply pay government to do what stupid religions don’t seem to do”.

    Religion, and “one nation under God” is maintained by a simple principle: all money given to the church(approved by law) is tax deductible, so we can maintain the myth of a nation under God by making the worship of God nearly free under state mandate. This, of course, encourages religion, because more religious leaders are attracted to making money tax free.

    The “con”, then, is seized by masters like Herbie, who set us “free” of confusion by giving us something we can collectively believe, and the government is fully willing to prosecute all those whose doctrines are inconsistent with the ‘freedom” given by government. The greater opportunity for fraud, the greater the governments power to prosecute and eliminate all except those who are sufficiently loyal to government, (along with its members). The government expands its power by granting us what we want. A simple con, leadi ng to confusion, anger, resentment, even hatred, but quite effective, and not one in a million can see how its done.

    1. “The logical thinker, therefore, goes to the next step, which is either atheism or modified socialism: “Why believe in anything if I can cut out the middle man? I can sae myself a great deal of money, time , effort, and sacrifice, if I simply pay government to do what stupid religions don’t seem to do”.”

      Your right Ralph. Not a million in one can see how its done but I have been saying this for decades. You replace one drug for another. My background has prepared me for the times we live in and quite by accident. If I never was a communist at one time and if I was never a Christian at one time I would be lost on this most simple concept! But I have experience both of these things first hand.

      My conclusion is to trust neither of these concepts or supposed solutions to what plaques mankind. Liberty and freedom comes from a very limited government and religion is held responsible by both the membership and its critics.

      For those who demand socialism or other types of control over their lives, I can heartily recommend the American communist party. They by the way endorse Barack Obama for president.
      As for a religion I would endorse Gerald Flurry’s cult to experience the heavy hand of Stalinism.

      1. “My background has prepared me for the times we live in and quite by accident. If I never was a communist at one time and if I was never a Christian at one time I would be lost on this most simple concept! But I have experience both of these things first hand. ”

        My response to that is “you have been called”. A “calling’ in the sense taught by Jesus, or even Paul, was one in which we become free, niot enslaved by the idiocy of other humans.
        Your experience is similar to mine, and i don’t think my experience was an accident. Compare your conclusons to the great speech Ayn Rand gave to Howard Roarke at his trial, about those who first walked down new paths, new roads, and the response? Hatred. On studying the history of jews presented by DiMont, I just realized that Ayn Rand, herself a jew by birth , actually “re-judaized’ the planet in its purest form.

  8. Right on Ralph!

    HWA basically pulled a bait and switch with the final effect being that he, a deeply flawed fellow mortal, became supreme arbiter and gatekeeper for those attracted to his church. That’s why the false teaching that he was God’s Apostle is so damaging, and so diffficult to shake.

    BB

  9. Yes, BB, it’s a kind of “tail swallowing” system. A person or government sets you free, but to stay free, you must be loyal to the government that sets you free. If I were a deceiver or tric kster, I would use that as the best possible ploy for deception. “You are absolutely free to believe what you wish, but you MUST believe something, or you will go to hell”. That’s why I keep repeating Matthew 24:23.

    A ploy like that can not be spotted easily. Governments can use it, ideologies can use it, any collective system that needs to “motivate” you can use it. I like Buddha’s solution: do nothing. Time is too important to waste.

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