Sunday, July 10, 2011

Religion is Manipulative

Secular authorities appear to know little about how religions operate. Aayan Hirsi Ali, political scientist, spoke a universal truth when she said “government seems to feel they must enshrine cultural religions and hold [them] as sacred, no matter how dysfunctional these people act.” (_______, p.__). She has seen religious dysfunction in her life experiences as a Muslim in Africa, Saudi Arabia, Holland and the United States; and I can testify about my experiences with the Jehovah’s Witnesses in Canada.
 
Religious groups keep lobbying for more freedom. They cry “religious discrimination” when someone reacts to an apparent dysfunction. Jehovah’s Witnesses, for example, present to the public the ideal of “respect for family life,” yet their members are forced to shun family members who leave the religion, which is about two-thirds of their flock, according to Time Magazine To me, this reveals an obvious “disconnect.” Many families are broken up as a result of religious dogma. How do families "get taken in" by a shunning rule?
 

No choice but to “shun”

When my mom left the Jehovah’s Witnesses religion I had no intention of shunning her. Next thing I knew, a letter arrived in the mail from an elder in her town. I felt I had no choice if I wanted to continue associating with my friends --- all Jehovah’s Witnesses. I am ashamed to admit, I gave into the religious pressure to conform to the rigid rule: I squirm with discomfort now when I think how I began shunning my mom. Shunning her felt horrendously unnatural. It felt like a self-betrayal of my own principles.
 

Religion is “two-faced”

It seems to me that the Jehovah’s Witnesses have one face for the general public; presenting themselves as a “moderate” religion. However, for their members an entirely “other” face emerges: tyrannical.
 
Why does society continue to enable destructive behaviors like shunning, which takes place according to the direction of their elders?
 
Why do governments continue to give religious organizations money and power to control and manipulate their members?
 

Religion is manipulative of secularism, too

Interesting thought: religions manipulate their members. More importantly, because secular authorities continue to believe religions have members’ best interests at heart, these same secular authorities do not realize they too are being manipulated by the two-faced presentation of religious beliefs. Jehovah’s Witnesses “official” position presented to media regarding shunning is, “We do not interfere with family issues.” Yet, clearly that is not my experience. The Jehovah’s Witnesses split up my family with their harshly-enforced rules.
 

Visit Esther Harrison's main website. Visit website "Phoenix of Faith" the memoir. Follow on Twitter: _Phoenixoffaith Copyright © 2011. Permission is granted to copy and re-distribute this transmission on the condition that it is distributed freely.

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