"Looking back at the worst times, it always seems that they were times in which there were
people who believed with absolute faith and absolute dogmatism in
something. And they were so serious in this matter that hey insisted that the rest
of the world agree with them. And then they would do things that were directly
inconsistent with their own beliefs in order to maintain that what they said
was true", Richard P. Feynman: The Meaning of It All.
...what we are now seeing are the obvious
characteristics of the West after the fall of Rome: the triumph of
religion over reason; the atrophy of education and critical thinking; the integration of
religion, the state, and the apparatus of torture -- a troika that was
for Voltaire the central horror of the pre-Enlightenment world; and the
political and economic marginalization of our culture. Of course, the
Dark Ages were not uniformly monochromatic, as recent scholarship has
demonstrated; but then, neither is present-day America. The point is
that in both cases "dark" is the operative word. Morris
Countries with a high percentage of nonbelievers are
among the freest, most stable, best-educated, and healthiest nations on
earth. When nations are ranked according to a human-development index,
which measures such factors as life expectancy, literacy rates,
and educational attainment, the five highest-ranked countries ---
Norway, Sweden, Australia, Canada, and the Netherlands -- all have high
degrees of nonbelief. Of the fifty countries at the bottom of the
index, all are intensely religious." Greg Graffin and Steve Olson: Anarchy,
Evolution, Faith, Science and Bad Religion in a World Without God
"Independence is my happiness, and I view things as
they are, without regard to place or person; my country is the world, and my religion is to do
good" Thomas Paine, The
Rights of Man
The most important scientific
revolutions all include, as their only common feature, the dethronement of human
arrogance from one pedestal after another of previous convictions about
our centrality in the cosmos. -Stephen Jay Gould, paleontologist,
biologist, author (1941-2002)
Religion is regarded by the common people as true, by
the wise as false, and by the rulers as useful. Lucius
“Tell me your image of God and I’ll tell you your
politics.” - Marcus
..."The meaning of religion is defined by what
religious people actually believe, and the great majority of the
world's religious people would be surprised to learn that religion
has nothing to do with factual reality." Dreams of a Final Theory: Steven
Weinberg (Nobel Prize For Physics)
"Convictions are more dangerous enemies of truth than
lies." Friedrich Nietzsche, Human, All Too Human. Texts in the
History of Philosophy.
The apparent decline in the effectiveness of evidence
and reason in American politics is a direct result of the rise in
political participation by evangelical Christians. Their adherence to
uncompromising sectarian dogma is clearly the origin of their
opposition to L.G.B.T. rights, abortion and the scientific fact of
global warming. Their influence is evidenced by the inability of
Republicans to compromise, leading to the current gridlock in
"The beauty of the religious right as a political
bloc was that it provided a large pool of voters that often acted in
unison, based on a narrow set of issues that had relatively little
to do with actual governance and did not inconvenience the
corporate interests that finance the Republican Party. By and
large, the things that mattered most to these voters mattered least
in the Oval Office. Despite the Bush family's traditional aversion
to its culture, Rove and the other strategists knew that they had
to have that bloc." Russ Baker, Family of Secrets. pg
John J. DiIulio Jr., the former head
of president Bush's
faith-based initiatives, says "What you got is everything, and I
mean everything, being run by the political arm. It's the reign of
"Only 7 percent of the country’s top scientists
(defined for this poll as the members of the National Academy of Sciences) professed a belief
in God, while almost no Nobel laureates are religious. A mere 3 percent
of the eminent scientists who are members of Britain’s Royal Society
are religious. Moreover, meta-analysis has shown a correlation among
atheism, education, and IQ. So there are striking differences within
populations, and it’s clear that degree of atheism is linked to
intelligence, education, academic achievement, and a positive interest
in natural science. Scientists also differ per discipline: Biologists
are less prone to believe in God and the hereafter than physicists. So
it isn’t surprising that the vast majority (78 percent) of eminent
evolutionary biologists polled called themselves materialists (meaning
that they believe physical matter to be the only reality). Almost three
quarters (72 percent) of them regarded religion as a social phenomenon
that had evolved along with Homo sapiens. They saw it as part of
evolution, rather than conflicting with it." D. F. Swaab: We
Are Our Brains
Only the least godly democracies enjoy the best
overall socioeconomic conditions – as measured by the uniquely
Societies Scale – in history, the much more Christian US is
the most dysfunctional 1st world nation according to major indicators.
The primary factor driving the strong correlation between high rates of
popular secularism and better societal conditions is the tendency of
high levels of economic prosperity and low levels of income disparity
and poverty that are created by secular progressive policies to
accidentally but consistently suppresses mass religiosity. The
religious right tends to oppose effective progressive socioeconomic
policies in favor of the socioeconomically Darwinistic dysfunctional
policies that favor popular religiosity. No socioeconomically
successful and highly religious nation has ever existed, and the
antagonistic relationship between benign conditions and the popularity
of religion probably make it impossible for one to come into being." Gregory S. Paul
"Religion is exactly the same kind of thing as
astrology": A. C.
And as the collapse becomes palpable, if human
history is any guide,
we, like past societies in distress, will retreat into what
anthropologists call “crisis cults.” The powerlessness we will feel in
the face of ecological and economic chaos will unleash further
collective delusions, such as fundamentalist beliefs in a god or gods
who will come back to earth and save us. The Christian right provides a
haven for this escapism. These cults perform absurd rituals to make it
all go away, giving rise to a religiosity that peddles collective
self-delusion and magical thinking. Crisis cults spread rapidly among
Native American societies in the later part of the 19th century as the
buffalo herds and the last remaining tribes were slaughtered. The Ghost
Dance held out the hope that all the horrors of white civilization—the
railroads, the murderous cavalry units, the timber merchants, the mine
speculators, the hated tribal agencies, the barbed wire, the machine
guns, even the white man himself—would disappear. And our psychological
hard wiring is no different. Chris
My American friends tell me that you are slipping
towards a theocratic Dark Age. Which is very disagreeable for the
very large number of educated, intelligent and right-thinking
people in America. Unfortunately, at present, it's slightly
outnumbered by the ignorant, uneducated people who voted Bush in.
But the broad direction of history is toward enlightenment, and so
I think that what America is going through at the moment will prove
to be a temporary reverse. I think there is great hope for the
future. My advice would be, Don't despair, these things pass. Richard
Dawkins (See his home page.)
All organized religions abhor creative change.
Catholic priests hated the new cosmology of Copernicus. Muslim Cadis and Mullahs detested the
appearance of a contraceptive pill. Jewish rabbis loathed the arrival
of television. Inventions represent creativity and novelty. They open up the horizon.
They contest existing authority. Their very possibility challenges the church’s exclusive
hold over truth. And that challenge is a cause for panic – for without this
exclusivity, organized religion becomes irrelevant. The
Scientist and the Church, Nitzan and Bichler
It is a truism that almost any sect, cult, or
religion will legislate its creed into law if it acquires the political
power to do so." Robert
Jerry Falwell has already declared, “We absolutely
are going to deliver this nation back to God in 2008!” The
Authoritarians: Bob Altemeyer (Download his Free Book).
“The government of the United States is not, in
any sense, founded on the Christian religion.”
- John Adams
"...the alliance between fundamentalists or
evangelical religion and right wing politics is a very troubling
phenomenon and this is certainly one of the most potent reasons for it. What's
really scary is that a lot of them seem to think that the second
coming is around the corner -- the idea that we're going to have
Armageddon anyway so it doesn't make much difference. I find that
to be socially irresponsible on the highest order. It's scary." Daniel
Dennett interview in Der Speigel. See his home
"Religions, which condemn the pleasures of sense,
drive men to seek the pleasures of power. Throughout history power
has been the vice of the ascetic." -- Bertrand
Russell English philosopher and mathematician
The Gospels are radical pacifist material, if you
take a look at them. When the Roman emperor Constantine adopted
Christianity, he shifted it from a radical pacifist religion to the
religion of the Roman Empire. So the cross, which was the symbol of
the suffering of the poor, was put on the shield of the Roman
soldiers. Since that time, the Church has been pretty much the
church of the rich and the powerful—the opposite of the
message of the Gospels. Liberation theology, in Brazil
particularly, brought the actual Gospels to peasants. They said,
let’s read what the Gospels say, and try to act on the
principles they describe. That was the major crime that set off the
Reagan wars of terror and Vatican repression. The United States was
virtually at war with the Catholic Church in the 1980s. It was a
clash of civilizations, if you like: the United States versus the
Gospels." Noam Chomsky:
What We Say Goes.
Any attempt to hold ideologies accountable for
the crimes committed by their followers must be approached with a great
deal of caution. It is too easy to assert that those with whom we
disagree are not just wrong but tyrannical, fascist, genocidal. But
it is also true that certain ideologies are a danger to the public
and need to be identified as such. These are the closed,
fundamentalist doctrines that cannot coexist with other belief
systems; their followers deplore diversity and demand an absolute
free hand to implement their perfect system. The world as it is
must be erased to make way for their purist invention. Rooted in
biblical fantasies of great floods and great fires, it is a logic
that leads ineluctably toward violence. The ideologies that long
for that impossible clean slate, which can be reached only through
some kind of cataclysm, are the dangerous ones. Naomi Klein
"Africans say that the missionaries came and told
them to look toward heaven and when they looked down again, all their
land was stolen ..." Clark Kerr quoted in Subversives:
One of the greatest challenges facing
the twenty first century is for human beings to learn to speak
about their deepest personal concerns - about ethics, spiritual
experience, and the inevitability of human suffering - in ways that
are not flagrantly irrational. We desperately need a public
discourse that encourages critical thinking and intellectual
honesty. Nothing stands in the way of this project more than the
respect we accord religious faith. Letter to a Christian Nation. Sam Harris
The idea that religion is a separate magisterium
which cannot be proven or disproven is a Big Lie - a lie which is
repeated over and over again, so that people will say it without
thinking; yet which is, on critical examination, simply false. It
is a wild distortion of how religion happened historically, of how
all scriptures present their beliefs, of what children are told to
persuade them, and of what the majority of religious people on
Earth still believe. You have to admire its sheer brazenness, on a
par with Oceania has always been at war with Eastasia. The
prosecutor whips out the bloody axe, and the defendant, momentarily
shocked, thinks quickly and says: "But you can't disprove my
innocence by mere evidence - it's a separate magisterium!" Eliezer_Yudkowsky
"The policies of Nazi Germany were not officially
Christian, but they were the product of a long and deplorable
history of Christians' behavior toward Jews...How could a gospel of
love be connected with such hateful and evil behavior - not once
but consistently for many centuries ?" When Religion Becomes Evil:
When you call yourself an Indian or a Muslim or a
Christian or a European, or anything else, you are being violent. Do
you see why
it is violent? Because you are separating yourself from the rest of
mankind. When you separate yourself by belief, by nationality, by
tradition, it breeds violence. So a man who is seeking to understand
violence does not belong to any country, to any religion, to any
political party or partial system; he is concerned with the total
understanding of mankind.
--J. Krishnamurti, Freedom from the Known, pp.51-52
We are not endeavoring to chain the future, but
to free the present. We are not forging fetters for our children, but
we are breaking those our fathers made for us. We are the advocates of
inquiry, of investigation and thought. This of itself, is an
admission that we are not perfectly satisfied with all our
conclusions. Philosophy has not the egotism of faith. Robert
Freedom of conscience for all — which exists only in
secular democracies — should be at the top of the list of shared
concerns. Candidates who rightly denounce the persecution of Christians
by radical Islamists should be ashamed of themselves for not expressing
equal indignation at the persecution of freethinkers and atheists, as
well as dissenting Muslims and small religious sects, not only by
terrorists but also by theocracies like Saudi Arabia. With liberal
religious allies, it would be easier for secularists to hold candidates
to account when they talk as if freedom of conscience is a human right
only for the religious.
"those who can make you believe
absurdities can make you
commit atrocities" Voltaire
Religion is best when it advocates for high values,
adjusts to new facts, and sets worthy goals.
Mostly, it does none of these. It is authoritarian, enables that kind of politics, and is often self-serving.
It strongly opposes a much needed welfare state. One belief that it generally
shares is hatred of other religions. It is a major contributor fo xenophobia, terrorism,
genocide, and war. It was a major cause of the cold war. The confluence of major religions in the
Middle East make that area the most war torn. It is the cutting edge of empire. the foundation of the Republican Party.
It is a fundamental cause of the gridlock in the U.S.
politics. It is what motivates the
religious right in the U.S. It
does not accept a woman's right to an abortion,
inclusiveness for people of different religions, makes second class
citizens of women, it is sexist excluding LGBT
people and it imprints children at an early age in a way that persists for a
lifetime. It motivates intolerance, discrimination, and racism. It supports the denial of science, our best way to determine fact.
Many religions function for social welfare. Which is why
religion and socialism are like buckets, when one goes up the other goes down.
Politicians enhance their prospects with religion, sometimes even declaring themselves divine. Religion is often
the cutting edge of imperialism.
Monotheism is politically useful because it is authoritarian and
removes the idea that people might be in charge of their own destiny.
We all want to believe the truth. Science and Religion both claim it, but they go about finding it in quite
different ways. Religion is introspective, but often its tenets are dictated from authority.
Dictated beliefs work particularly well for children, who can be imprinted for life with ideas that are
unbelievable. It can be a handicap for them because the
religious right denies science.
Religion is in denial of much of what has become certain to scientists including the creation,
climate change, evolution, population overshoot. It is a danger to education, since the U.S. is
quite religious. The most backward countries (or States) are the most
religious. They are the ones most likely to want to stop immigration.
They tend to be racists, right
wingers, gun lovers, and Republican.
They support Trump.
The advancement of a civilization is only possible when it
Religion was the earliest media.
Gutenberg brought the message to the literate privileged. But art work
told stories, and cathedrals took resources of entire communities.
Belief was enforced by the confessional (the first mass surveillance),
the inquisition, or in the Middle East by Sharia law. Religious war
occurred throughout history. Violence is persuasive. Genocide
effectively silences those with different views.
A belief in great reward in
the after-life justifies suicide
For those who believe in the literal truth of the bible. Adam and Eve populated the earth, the
universe has existed for a few thousand years, evolution
is just a theory, climate change is a hoax, there is life after
death, and if you disagree or behave badly you will burn in hell. Republicans
appointed such people to the
House Science oversight committees, which is why we are
headed for the destruction of the habitability of the planet.
The fossil, geological, DNA, astronomical evidence brings new
light to the story of creation, life, evolution,
and science continues to bring insights that should replace traditional
indicator that someone is a Republican is
whether they are
regular church attendees. Lessons of history, informed opinion, or evidence are
irrelevant to the faithful. This is how the Republican
agenda can be conveyed by misinformation. Don't be surprised that religion is not just an unholy GOP ally, but is, itself, a
large industry, a natural supporter of
plutocracy, a leading purveyor of misinformation, an important political player, an advocate for wealthy interests like the gun
lobby, a powerful force for martyrdom, terrorism, and war, especially
the culture war.
Republicans often proclaim religious zeal. "Red States", like Mississippi, are
our most religious, least educated,
poorest, and "conservative". Our most highly educated, prosperous communities
are also the most liberal.
Notice that the most religious countries are also the most backward.
Countries with a high percentage of nonbelievers are
among the freest, most stable, best-educated, and healthiest nations on earth.
When nations are ranked according to a human-development index, which
measures such factors as life expectancy, literacy rates,
and educational attainment, the five highest-ranked countries ---
Norway, Sweden, Australia, Canada, and the Netherlands -- all have high
degrees of nonbelief. Of the fifty countries at the bottom of the
are intensely religious." Greg Graffin and Steve Olson: Anarchy,
Evolution, Faith, Science and Bad Religion in a World Without God
The belief that religion can heal can be life-threatening
and has been the cause of many unnecessary deaths. These beliefs are
centuries old and, after learning from evidence, we know better
now. Republicans don't support health care for
Science, on the
other hand, painstakingly looks at evidence, discusses issues in peer-reviewed journals,
tests repeatedly. It evolves. As a result we have learned a lot
in the last 2000 years. We are the first generations to see the
earth photographs from space. In several kinds of forensic evidence
there is a record of evolution. The standard model
is remarkably successful describing the natural world..
The 'religious' among us are mostly in
denial of climate change and, with massive
corporate backing have all but declared war on science,
are keen to continue as usual. Their beliefs are a hindrance to education, sustainability, further
progress, and sensible policy. The welfare state infringes church
turf so Republicans oppose it... even
if people suffer.
Culture does not change much
with new knowledge partly due to religious indoctrination of the very
It is not just Muslims who cling to medieval customs,
other major religions have equally unsupportable, and often disgusting
Religion attempts to indoctrinate children in a way that
marks them for life. It denies death, promises reward in the
afterlife for the observant or everlasting agony for non-believers.
Throughout history it has opposed the advance of science.
It pacifies many people faced with poverty
and extreme income inequality., so
it is politically useful for the plutocracy. Like most of our institutions, in spite of the
teachings of the Bible, it favors the wealthy. The Catholic Church
confessional effected broad surveillance, other religions like Scientology
require in depth confessions, and they are the precursors to the modern surveillance state
which we are now experiencing.
Religion seeks to impose its beliefs on hospitals, schools,
it aspires to replace the welfare state. It can not, but it
explains Republican's animosity to social
programs. It has motivated political unrest, racism,
misogyny, homophobia, superstition, willful ignorance, war on science, terrorism, genocide, and war, but no one
seems to blame it for those things.
Religion has gotten a free pass from the press. It is
authoritarian, devisive, tribal, and, not infrequently, prone to
violence. The 'holy land' is usually at war and a major source of
Religion has proven to be a main motivation for terrorism
whether in abortion clinics or middle
east squares. It is too often a pretext for terrorism, opponent of
education especially for women, destroyer of antiquities, murderer of
non-believers, and war. It
operates tax-free, but we need to maintain a large standing military, and strong police forces on account
Overpopulation and overuse of
resources can make the planet uninhabitable
so we are in a race to
become smart enough to overturn religious dogma, begin limiting population and the use of resources, reform dysfunctional institutions, and preserve the planet for
generations to come. We need to wake up, remove the religious blinders, and reject medieval
religions to have any chance at survival.
Now that we know that the earth is
fragile, and that we have plundered it
severely, we should be careful that it remains habitable. That
would be conservative
because there are no other habitable planets anywhere in
Many Republicans favor theocracy. They are the American Taliban.
Things that can't last, won't. We may go the
way of the dinosaurs if we don't grow up and face facts. Muslim
radicals have been responsible for terrorist acts that killed many, but
'Christian' Republican refusal to defend the climate
can lead to extinction.
Scientists View Religion
. . . gazing up at the dark sky spangled with its
signs and stars, for the first time, the first, I laid my heart open to
the benign indifference of the universe.~ Albert Camus
"When it comes to understanding how our universe
evolves, religion and theology have been at best irrelevant. They
often muddy the waters, for example, by focusing on questions of
nothingness without providing any definition of the term based on
empirical evidence. While we do not yet fully understand the origin
of our universe, there is no reason to expect things to change in
this regard. Moreover, I expect that ultimately the same will be
true for our understanding of areas that religion now considers its
own territory, such as human morality."
A Universe From Nothing. Lawrence M. Krause
"Christians have a special knowledge of the
degree to which curiosity is a natural and original evil...that is why ignorance is so strongly
recommended to us by our religion as the appropriate path to belief and
obedience." Michel de Montaigne in his essay Apology
fundamentalists have something in common with the Taliban: they too
would like to take over government so they can have it their
way. They have become an adjunct of the Republican Party and are therefore
complicit in the destruction of US prosperity, civil
liberties, peace, security, and the well-being of the people.
Evangelicals may be in the US, but they are no different than
the Taliban. They condone violence. Their policy is
made by excluding women, and it takes no
account that the earth is unsustainably overpopulated now. Since
mainstream religions do not preach or act in the public interest, their tax
exempt status should be revoked.
We have a healthcare system
that is a major cause of unnecessary deaths, bankruptcies, suffering,
corruption, widespread insecurity, economic dislocation, but
Christian supremacists demand that their objections to abortion (because the unborn are more
important to them than the living) be written into law.
There is a credible argument that the cold war, the wars
in the Middle East, and other American wars, including the continuing
Middle Eastern crusades and the cold war, have been substantially
motivated by religion. (Bush's "Axis of Evil" explanation had
religious overtones. Washington has had plenty of Christian
supremacists at the highest levels.)
Republicans, who claim to be fiscally responsible, authorized
a trillion dollar 'modernization' of the nuclear arsenal. They can
deliver on their promise of a nuclear firestorm
and the end times.
Trinity Broadcasting Network was the Fort Knox of
Christian organizations. No reporter had completely penetrated it; The
ministry is valued at more than $2 billion, generates about $200
million annually and beams its programming for dozens of satellites
into every country on Earth. If a pastor can get a show on TBN (the
waiting list is long), money pours in. What went on behind the
scenes was a closely guarded secret. The network's founders didn't
give media interviews, and their employees were told not to talk to
the press. From Losing My
Religion: William Lobdell
Why shouldn't we treat religions with the same
more, no less—that we accord to, say, the pharmaceutical
industry, or the world of music, or banking? If religions deserve
more respect than that, let those who think so demonstrate it on a
level playing field.
Religion is an industry like any other, albeit tax free,
and should be treated as such. Some may be tax scams.
"The Mormon church owns a $16 billion insurance company,
at least $6 billion in stocks, and $172 million chain of radio
stations, as well as more than 150 farms and ranches, which easily
places the church among the largest landowners in the nation."
Chris Lehmann: How Mormon economics shape the GOP: Harper's October
It is a given that all institutions seek to expand their
turf. The Catholic
Church has always encouraged large families, indoctrinated children early, and defended primogeniture.
Since population now exceeds the carrying capacity
of the planet, Catholic doctrine is increasingly dangerous. Like other major religions,
it also makes second class citizens of women.
Assuming the very altruistic become clergy, isn't it
possible that the Catholic commitment to celibacy can breed that characteristic
out of the population ?
"What poses the greatest threat to our liberty is
"insult fundamentalism." It presupposes that feeling insulted is accompanied by a special right
to react with violence, and it runs all the way through our era's multiple efforts to impose
restrictions of free speech. The time is now ripe to reject this."
Flemming Rose, Tyranny of
Silence, How one cartoon ignited a global
debate on the Future of Free Speech.
Saudi blogger Raif Badawi is currently imprisoned in a Saudi
Arabian jail having received the first 50 of a threatened 1,000 lashes.
If Raif survives these floggings he faces another 10 years in jail. His
‘crime’ was to have set up a website that called for peaceful change of
the Saudi regime away from the repressive and religiously exclusive
regime that it is. (more)
has always been politically useful.
See this note.
It has been a pretext for war, and the destruction
of the (political) opposition. Non believers are heathens and can,
without guilt, be abused or slaughtered. This righteousness
accompanied colonial exploitation, brutal treatment of indigenous
populations, the genocides of the American Indians, and the Jews in
Germany. That's the Christian tradition. Jews are in the process of
ethnic cleansing against the Palestinians.
Muslims have a long history of
It keeps people in their place, promising a glorious next
life in spite of misery they may be experiencing in this one. Thus it
allows economic elites to ignore the poverty stricken even though
biblical texts favor the poor. (About the Inquisition.)
are treated as a lower class. The promise of reward in the after life motivates suicide bombing.
It provides a sense of exceptionalism.
After all, religion promises to convey the ultimate truth and those
who know it will be the chosen ones or the saved ones. It motivates
the strong man dictator to megalomania, divinity, and it enables
the spread of empire. It requires suspension of
critical faculties, and demands unwavering belief on faith. That is why it
is usually in conflict with science.
It confers legitimacy to rulers
who are cloaked in it. George W Bush,
for true believers, was
chosen by God, and it was his right to declare war on his own
initiative. Hitler also made such claims. Many empires have used it
as justification for bloody expansion. (About the Donatists.)
Many heads of state have declared themselves divine.
It indoctrinates and imprints children when they are very
young so that they will absorb
propaganda that is beyond reason. A thorough indoctrination
makes them much less able to do serious scientific work. A country
which is a theocracy
is probably incapable of serious technological development,
civilized behavior, or sensible policy.
As population pressure
causes resource problems, the church simply ignores the situation until
catastrophe occurs. Then it is regarded as the will of God. The
unintended consequence may
True conservatives would be very
careful of this planet because it is the only one that can support
humanity. Because the faithful think the end is near, they are
oblivious to the condition of the environment.
Fundamentalist religion usually has as its unstated goal,
a desire to take over the State, the better to expand and enforce
their views on everyone. It is easy to see that
it is a major cause of terrorism and war. People who believe
in rich rewards in the 'afterlife' have an incentive to become suicide bombers, or, as
seen at abortion clinics, murderers of
people who disagree.
People persuaded to believe based on faith will believe
anything...even if it is
Considering that much war and terrorism
are motivated by religion, should organized religion really be tax exempt ?
An elder Cherokee Native American was teaching his grandchildren
about life. He said to them, "A fight is going on inside me...It is
a terrible fight, and it is between two wolves. One wolf represents
fear, anger, envy, sorrow, regret, greed, arrogance, self-pity,
guilt, resentment, inferiority, lies, pride and superiority. The
other wolf stands for joy, peace, love, hope, sharing, serenity,
humility, kindness, benevolence, friendship, empathy, generosity,
truth, compassion, and faith. This same fight is going on inside of
you and every other person too." They thought about it for a minute
and then one child asked his grandfather, "Which wolf will win?"
The old Cherokee simply replied..."The one I feed."
What’s striking about journalists and intellectuals
today, liberal and conservative alike, is not their mythic Voltairian
skepticism but their deference to belief and utter failure to
criticize, much less satirize, America’s romance with God.
With very few exceptions (like the incisive Katha Pollitt) social
critics have abandoned the tradition of caustic secularism that
once provided refuge for the faithless: People “are all
insane’ Mark Twain remarked in Letters from the Earth.
“Man is a marvelous curiosity. . . he thinks he is the
Creator’s pet. He believes the Creator is proud of him; he
even believes the Creator loves him; has a passion for him; sits up
nights to admire him; yes and watch over him and keep him out of
trouble. He prays to him and thinks He listens. Isn’t it a
quaint idea’ from Sleeping with Extra-Terrestrials: Wendy
The thesis of Kirby's excellent introduction is that the
Cold War was one of history's great religious wars, 'a global conflict
between the god-fearing and the godless'. (p. 1) It was a war in
which 'Christianity was appropriated by Western propagandists and
policy-makers for their anti-communist arsenal' (p. 2), nowhere
more so than in the USA. But in addition, as this volume
demonstrates, Christianity was not simply a tool of psychological
warfare. Church leaders were not merely pawns in a political game;
they were active participants. Their flocks were not only
recipients of propaganda; for millions religious faith was central
to their lives. This fact is most vividly demonstrated in the
several chapters that deal with the Catholic Church and Pope Pius
XII during the early years of the Cold War.