Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Religion? Just say no

In the '80s, former First Lady Nancy Reagan spearheaded an anti-drug campaign that sported the slogan, "Just Say No." It was ridiculed (and still is today) relentlessly, mostly for being unrealistic and out of touch.

But I'd like to resurrect that slogan for religion. When people try to indoctrinate you, just say no. When they ask if you believe in Bronze Age superstitions, just say no. See where I'm going with this?

But the similarities between drugs and religion are quite remarkable. Let's take a closer look.

Why do people turn to drugs? To escape. They are unhappy with their lives, so they turn to something that can deliver them from reality. Instead of facing their problems head-on, they use drugs to escape. Sound familiar? When times are tough and people can't handle the pressures of life, they often turn to religion, which of course is rooted in fantasy. Instead of facing their problems head-on, they call on an invisible made-up sky king to take away their troubles. The huge gaping hole in these tactics is when you sober up or stop praying the problems are still there, and you have to deal with them anyway. So why not skip the drugs/praying and just be a responsible, rational adult?

Another reason people do drugs? Peer pressure. You're at a party where friends (or people you want to be friends with) are doing drugs. You like these guys, you think they are cool and you want to emulate them. They recognize this and put pressure on you to start using. This is not unlike religion. How many times do people succumb to the pressure of their family to attend church, pray and worship their god? It's called indoctrination. But it doesn't end with the family. The community, in and outside of the congregation, has been known to put pressure on neighbors to abide by their religious beliefs, or to attend services. Even politics. It's a statistical fact that at least 20 percent of all Americans are non-religious, yet not one politician is listed as an atheist, agnostic or non-believer. Why? Political suicide.

When people use drugs, what are some of the possible outcomes? Well, depending on the drug, hallucinations are quite common. People see things that aren't there, believe in things that didn't happen and act differently than how they would when they were sober. Religion has this effect on many believers. YouTube is flooded with charlatan evangelists "healing" parishioners, who faint or fall over from the mere touch of these criminals. Also, many theists believe they've seen and had direct conversations with their god (pretty much the very definition of a hallucination) or believe Jesus has appeared in their morning toast, which is called pareidolia (a psychological phenomenon involving a vague and random stimulus being perceived as significant, such as the Virgin Mary in a water-stained window, the man in the moon and hearing hidden messages on records when played in reverse.)

Those who push drugs don't pay taxes on their product, and neither do churches pay. Of course both drugs and religion will cost you money, and most of the time it's money neither users can afford. And lest we forget about addiction?

If religion is your drug, sober up and face reality. Just say no.

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