Our sympathizer from Long Beach CA, Chester Dolan, sent us his book entitled :Religion on trial, permitting us to translate it in Slovak.
We want to thank him in this way and at the same tome to publish on this website a chapter which is extremely topical these days in Slovakia
Christianity is not treated gingerly in the quotations that comprise much of Religion on Trial. Most of the authors of the many quotations in this book consider Christianity a complete negation of common sense and sound reason. It would be fine if Christianity were only that. We can live with nonsense. The world is full of it. But Christianity is different, especially when its adherents consider its operating procedures absolutely imperative for running the universe.
When a particular religion decides that it has all the answers and merits the favor of every human being on earth, it has begun its journey to world dominance. The second important phase is for it to become a monstrous moneymaking machine able to finance whatever undertaking that might be a step toward success. Third and most crucial is that it have exceedingly prescient and capable leaders able to keep their gargantuan egos under control and with patience enough to see each project through to completion before starting the next.
Perhaps the best guess as to how Christianity will turn out is that, sooner or later the leaders, not as wise and patient as they need be, will overreach. Misjudging an audience different from their accustomed TV and church trucklers, they will give their hand away before it is defensible - before people have become sufficiently brainwashed to accept their paths to paradise. For a long time yet, many people will not exchange their freedom for slavery no matter how alluringly the slavery is packaged.
Voltaire in Letres Philosophiques said, “In every country the dominant religion, when it does not persecute other religions, in the long run engulfs them all.” The Catholics of Mexico and of Central and South America and the Islam of Southwestern Europe, North Africa, Pakistan, Indonesia, Malaya, India, Egypt, Algeria, and Turkey, are prime examples.
Another country with a state religion is Cambodia, where they have a saying, “If you are not a Buddhist, you are not a Cambodian.” In Cambodia, Theravada Buddhism, the most fundamentalist brand, constitutes eighty-five percent of the population. Mahayana Buddhism, predominant elsewhere, is nonexistent. Catholicism and Islam, and a small contingent of Protestantism make up the rest. In the caste system, still extant, only monks can achieve nirvana, leaving women and those men low on the karma scale out. Reincarnation into a better future state is their only hope. Since the Koran says categorically that only Muslims will end up in heaven, we see again here the kind of egomania that incites religious wars. Both Muslims and Cambodian Buddhists say they would rather die than give up their religions.
Two changes, more than any others, will be required to improve the hegemony of Catholicism and Islam in their respective realms. Both Catholicism and Islam (now a billion members each) have become conspicuously overbearing, so sure of their invincibility that we see them as ever more demanding with respect to their control over the lives of individual parishioners and individual Muslims. Islam will not make inroads much beyond where it now is unless it plays down Koranic acceptance of slavery and its humiliating treatment of women. Catholicism must concede more offices to women and someday agree that women will make excellent priests. They must stop their demeaning treatment of nuns, turning them into virtual slaves.
Robert L. Maddox in Separation of Church and State tells us, “Government and religion can be friends, neighbors, but they must not share the same house and never, never should they get married.” The first amendment to the Constitution is no less adamant, “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religions, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.” Anne Nicol Gaylor said in Free Inquiry, “To be free from religion is an advantage for individuals; it is a necessity for government.” As Jefferson and all signers of the Constitution believed: The first amendment meant building a wall of separation between Church and State. Nothing is left to doubt. Clearly outlawed is public funding of religious schools, or decorating the halls and walls of government buildings with religious symbols.
If they can contrive borderline cases that seem to have merit, various religious groups will try to insinuate themselves into public school systems. Some of their schemes have surfaced: broadcasting student prayers on the public address system, using school property as after-school religious retreats, wearing yarmulkes, chadors, crosses, ashes on the forehead, etc. in classes. The courts will be settling cases for years to come.
Politicians in India and Pakistan called their recent nuclear acquisitions the “Hindu bomb” and the “Islamic bomb,” respectively. The mass-pride reaction in these two adversaries is revealing. It never occurred to the first countries similarly armed to call their artifacts the Protestant, Catholic, Jewish, Anglican, or Eastern-Orthodox bombs.
The line between Church and State in most countries is becoming more and more obscure. The fatwas of Islam, the Hindu bans on American TV programs and CD music covers, and the “conversion manuals” of various sects of Christianity are designed to increase their influence even beyond their borders. Despite professed tolerance, each of the major religions would prefer that all the others disappear from the face of the earth.
Devotion to deity and devotion to country are melding into a kind of sacred succotash that is awesome. If ever a dominant, monopolistic, worldwide religion becomes established as the ruling power, the search will no longer be for truth. The search will be only for ways to establish this religion as the guiding principle of all institutions. Citizens will become subjects, and politicians and even the military will tremble before religion’s awesome power. The world theocracy that some religious leaders aspire to impose on the third rock from the sun would mean the end of anything resembling a sanely operating society.
Marquis de Lafayette, a French statesman and intimate associate of George Washington said, “If the liberties of the American people are ever destroyed they will fall by the hands of the clergy.” This has already happened in many of the theocracies of the world, and that trend is not over. If the Taliban Muslim fundamentalists had taken over in Afghanistan, it would have happened there. If the Dore Shugden god of the Geluk sect of Tibetan Buddhism ever rules Tibet, it will happen there. If the Christian Coalition ever takes over the United States, it will happen here. Religious bigotry in India divided that country into what are now three countries: India, Pakistan, and Bangladesh.
To live in any of the countries of South America where Catholicism is the official religion is to begin to see what happens to liberties in a theocracy. Few people there ever have the opportunity even to consider another religion. In Ecuador, where I lived for eleven years, every rite, ritual, ceremony, nearly every event in people’s lives, almost every thought people dare to express publicly is the de facto property of the church. It is officially stated that other religions have rights to existence in the country, but no “alien” religion has ever made great inroads, and all other religions together have a small fraction of the influence of the Roman Catholic Church. Catholicism, especially in rural areas, may get infused with traces of indigenous religions as long as the infusion is insignificant. If any were to make important changes in Catholicism, they would be suppressed. When the M-19 guerilla group of Columbia murdered the leader of The Instituto Lingüístico de Verano, Ecuadorians used the incident as an excuse for banning the institute from their country. Hospitals and schools that functioned for 30 years are now disappearing into the maw of the insatiable jungle.
Norman Mailer in Cannibals and Christians tells us, “The commercial is the invention of a profoundly Christian nation - it proceeds to sell something in which it does not altogether believe.” The parallel between what media advertising and religions do is indeed remarkable, but Mailer need not have singled out Christianity. It has no monopoly on that idiocy. Another worry is that religionists do often convince themselves to believe the nonsense they proclaim.
I am sorry to be so negative about Mailer’s statement, which has something very important to say. Nevertheless, one more objection: Our first president objected to calling the United States a Christian nation, and that objection is just as valid today. Norman Mailer has company, however. Jerry Falwell, for one, also insists on calling the United States a Christian nation. Whoever says it, it is increasingly not so.
It is fair to call Israel a Jewish nation. It is fair to call Iran and Pakistan Muslim nations. But the United States is well represented by both of those religions and many others. If the Christian Coalition and other Christian organizations could convince the people of the United States that they live in a Christian nation, they know very well that they will have then carried out a strategic coup beyond all others. Declaring the U.S. “Christian” would be a giant step. It would remove official recognition of the rights of all “alien” religions in the United States.
Kaz Dziamka, editor, tells us: Even American democracy is not a finished product, a foolproof formula, but rather an on-going process. The starting point, however, must be separation of political government from institutionalized religion. Without that separation, it would become much easier to insinuate Christian practices and paraphernalia into government buildings and public schools. Turning the United States into a theocracy would suddenly become more than an impossible dream. With Liberty and Regent and other religious “universities” helping, orthodox religiosity will have won, and we will then have lost many of our precious, hard-earned freedoms.
Sir Henry Walton in Panegyric of King Charles says, “The itch of disputation will prove the scab of the church.” Public reaction to disputes between church leaders and secular authorities depends largely on the slant of newspaper reports and editorials describing the conflicts that occur. If newsmen report churches as having constitutionally or morally over-stepped their authority with respect to controversial issues, the churches must back down and restate their positions. Most serious are instances of segregation, homophobia, depreciation of women, lobbying in congress, and the reported dalliances, pedophilia or misuse of funds among priests. Their arrogant identification of themselves with God is another serious imperfection. They will be judged in part by how honest, contrite, or repentant they are when they find themselves in disfavor.
Churches play their role with needle-fine diagnosis of the handwriting on the wall. Careful analysis of feedback to each insinuation into strictly secular territory determines how daring they can be. To listen to the more stable leaders of religion is to observe how carefully words are chosen to conform to their present judgment of where they stand on the favor-disfavor continuum.
Liberty-loving citizens watch expectantly for them to overplay their hand - making it clear that nothing less than a theocracy is their ultimate goal. Strategists for the progress toward theocracy hold their breath each time a Jerry Falwell or a Pat Robertson is on stage, flaunting his excessive conceit and complacence. Their gargantuan egos and misreading of public acceptance of their excesses can at any time incur vehement public disapproval. Their hopes for turning the United States into a theocracy will be over.