In “God’s name” because God is DEFINITELY on OUR side – but which side and which God would that be?
Writing his piece “L’histoire de Juliette” in 1797, the notorious Marquis de Sade (registered in history as the originator of the word “sadism”) included a phrase which described religion as “this opium you feed your people”. Almost at the same time the German philosopher, poet and author of Early German Romanticism, Georg Philipp Friedrich Freiherr von Hardenberg (1772 – 1801) using his pseudonym “Novalis” wrote that “religion acts merely as an opiate”.
However, the much paraphrased statement that “religion is the opium of the people” is rightly attributed to the German economist Karl Marx who together with his compatriot Friedrich Engels provided the basis for Marxism and the Russian revolution that brutally swept aside royalty, the bourgeoisie and religion and gave rise to the Soviet Union. It was a phrase much used by Vladimir Lenin in the early Soviet days to justify the eradication of the Russian Orthodox Church.
The full phrase used by Marx was “Religion is the sigh of the oppressed creature, the heart of a heartless world, and the soul of soulless conditions. It is the opium of the people”.
I quote from Wikipedia what Marx wrote in his justification of this statement:
“Man makes religion, religion does not make man. Religion is, indeed, the self-consciousness and self-esteem of man who has either not yet won through to himself, or has already lost himself again. But man is no abstract being squatting outside the world. Man is the world of man – state, society. This state and this society produce religion, which is an inverted consciousness of the world, because they are an inverted world. Religion is the general theory of this world, its encyclopaedic compendium, its logic in popular form, its spiritual point d’honneur, its enthusiasm, its moral sanction, its solemn complement, and its universal basis of consolation and justification. It is the fantastic realization of the human essence since the human essence has not acquired any true reality. The struggle against religion is, therefore, indirectly the struggle against that world whose spiritual aroma is religion.”
If Marx were alive today he would with smug satisfaction conclude that all he wrote, based on the history of humanity and reflected in what is happening today world-wide, has proved itself to be truthful and correct.
Since first recorded history, humanity has used religion to “justify” that what it has done and what it is doing has either been inspired by a God or Gods or has been ordered by God or Gods. It has been used as the ultimate justification.
This is not an irreligious article nor is it in any way aimed at indicating that religion is a fabrication. It is a reflection on the manner and the ways that humanity has twisted religion and religious means to justify its own ends suiting the means. Nor is it anti-Semitic, or anti-Christian or anti-Moslem, or anti anything else. These and all other religions have purported and continue to purport they are the holders of the “secret” that “their” way is the “way” that has been approved by a God or Gods and all other “ways” are wrong and preferably need to be obliterated, eradicated or suppressed. In addition, alternative claims are a “threat” that must be dealt with in any manner necessary because they are polluting “the true way”.
I was brought up to believe that ONLY Roman Catholics have a chance of making Heaven. All others faced an after-life in hell and ALL other religions were wrong and sinful. This was modulated by the passage of time and today we are told that “even animals make heaven” so the matter is not so absolute.
Judaism claimed and claims it is the true and only way because Israelites are God’s seed and are “a chosen people”. The rise of Christianity, based on Judaism naturally had to expand this to make it more inclusive and less restrictive and as a tool to disclaim the heathenism of multiple Gods because there is obviously “only ONE true God”. Heathenism had to be obliterated by any means possible. Judaism was vilified and made to suffer for the execution of Jesus Christ who Christians recognise as “the Son of God”.
Even in its early days, Christianity began to fragment with respective claims of direct descent from “the true inheritance”, claims still currently made by every sector of Christianity whether Coptic, Orthodox, Roman Catholic and a plethora of protesting factions that broke away from Rome and established their own branch of “the true faith”.
However, in the midst of these developments, many other “external” threats were perceived. One was the rise of Islam but was not the only one. Humanity’s early globalisation made many new discoveries; a “heathen” African continent, Hindu cults in India, Buddhism throughout Asia and many, many other startling discoveries. Without exception, all these claimed “the true path” and ensured centuries of brutality, suppression and bloody warfare.
With the rise of Islam, Christianity was still fairly united and hence the Crusades to “deal” with Islam for its “outrageous” denial of Christ as the Son of God and that truth lay in the Prophet Mohammed and the Koran (Quran). The Crusades were to retrieve and restore the “Holy Lands” to Christianity. This naturally failed and served instead to fortify Islamists more strongly in their beliefs. Several hundreds years later Christianity itself began to fragment in strong movements to break away from what was seen as “corrupt” Rome. The Spanish Inquisition notoriously dealt with “heretics” and “witches”; later Islamic Arabs conspired with white Christians to capture many thousands of Africans to be sold as slaves in the new Americas.
There was also fragmentation in the Church of Rome itself. In South America the Jesuits struggled with the Dominicans for supremacy. White “missionaries” unleashed themselves on the world to “civilise the heathens” and show them the “true path” and “the error of their ways”.
In the Indian sub-continent, Hindus struggled with Moslems and struggled with Christians to maintain supremacy, resulting in the brutality and division of India and East/West Pakistan in 1947 and proving to be a catalyst for the horrendous butchery of respective communities.
In the 17th and 18th centuries Christians in Europe slaughtered each other because each sect held the conviction of “truth” by which conviction everybody else was in the wrong and had either to be “reformed” or failing that, liquidated by fair means or foul.
The “justification” for all these horrors has always been “in God’s name” whether as justification, verification and above all as having been “inspired” by God to carry forward and inflict his Name.
Underlying all of these one finds greed, avarice, imperialism, one-upsmanship and a death-wish to damn or be damned as the real reasons for all the inhumane inhumanity.
Above all the cries have invariably been “God stands with us”, “God is on OUR side” and as the recipients of the “Word of God” this is what “God wants”.
Hence the state the world finds itself in today. Islamic extremists have taken “God’s word” and have made it “their word” because that is the “word” passed on to the Prophet. This state has been further made more complex by rising atheism, agnosticism, indifference, a disbelief in organised religion and that which has always been seen as the prime enemy of religion “liberalism”.
Sadly, one goes back to what Karl Marx wrote: “Religion is the sigh of the oppressed creature, the heart of a heartless world, and the soul of soulless conditions. It is the opium of the people”.
It is what Man has made of Religion and not what Religion has made of Man, because in their basic concepts, most religions profess love, humility, compassion and the supreme belief of a better and more godly way of life.
How sad that humanity has come to this state of affairs.