Religion is inseparable from poverty and that is a demonstrable fact. The dire emotional conditions that excessive poverty causes its subjects ensure that the poor are always vulnerable to ideologies that offer salvation and hope. This includes salvation ideologies that promise hope and reward not necessarily found in this life but in a future life, one conveniently inaccessible by everything but the one-way door of death.
Reflect on the fact that Jesus, instead of going to the rich Pharisees and lawmakers of the time to proclaim his message of hope, went to the poor and panic-stricken masses instead. This was a stroke of genius, of course, but why did Jesus and so many influential people after him direct their instructions to the poor? That is because messages of hope and salvation rarely appeal to the rich and the influential who know nothing of suffering and desperation. Thus, the rich and the influential have never been the target audience of religion; this would be a bad marketing campaign for anyone who wanted a rapid uptake of their preaching.
As I cognitively reverse-engineered religion to see what or whom could have created it and why, I came to appreciate that primitive man’s superstitions are wildly different from religion, which seems to be a structured system dedicated to solving a societal problem. Superstitions are simply errant beliefs that don’t tie in to some grand system. As such, I will refrain from calling religion merely superstition. Religion has superstitious elements in it (like the story of biblical creation, Noah’s flood, etc.), but it is not limited to those. I suspect these popular superstitions of the day were haphazardly woven into the fabric that we presently identify as organised religion. This supposition may also explain the extensive incoherence that plagues the Abrahamic religious texts—all three of which share their vertex of origin.
My own study of religion has led me to tentatively conclude that religion was originally (I’m taking about the post-superstition, pre-messiah era) an attempt at therapy and distraction for the poor. Unlike today, the rich and powerful of 2000+ years ago did not have much more advanced weapons or technology with which to fend off the grasping masses. Today, you can’t riot in a developed country; the police can control practically any riot and they can ramp up the response to senseless lethality, if needed. But masses of yore had those all-important numbers on their side that, when both sides wield bronze-age weaponry, is the true decider of victory.
History is laden with warnings to the rich and powerful about how the poor, if stepped on too indiscriminately, will swarm and exact suicidal revolutions to unseat their overlords.
Ironically, the poor remain poor after each such revolution. Wealth indeed does not multiple when divided. Unfortunately, the poor have no formal history, and thus can never learn from their mistakes.
South Africans should be quite familiar with the unreasonable nature of the poor. There is no way a politician can be elected if they give the masses an honest economic forecast. The poor don’t want to hear that their RDP houses as promised by the previous president need to be put on hold to first stabilize the economy and fix the eroded education system. Then as their children attain literacy from better education, they can continue to gain valuable skills in university, and then they will be able to enter a job market that sustainably creates jobs and opportunity for all the citizens of the republic.
I don’t think leaders past and present so much willfully lied to their electorates. I think they were buckling under the obligation to lie in an attempt to sustain that kernel of hope in the masses that keeps them from swarming and becoming revolutionary. The grab and run mentality of the corrupt elements of society alludes to the fact that they have come to realise that they can’t make good on their promises. It’s too late. As such, they embezzle billions to fortify positions that will allow them to best weather the eventual storm of uprising.
I’m aware that I’m blending histories here, but I trust it will clarify the point I was making about religion and poverty being shackled together. In the present day, the ANC is a miniature religion. A few more generations from now it may very well be that Mandela becomes an economic messiah of his time. The ANC may be seen as Mandela’s posthumous endeavour to emancipate the poor from their historical condition. This is how religions start; from some ‘tribe’s’ suffering and the revolutionary actions of a few critical people who become infinitely powerful and wise when all that remains of them are legends.
The behaviour of the rich and powerful helps maintain the neurosis of the poor and oppressed. Worldwide the rich are trying desperately to ensure that the poor never rival them in wealth and influence. But at the same time the rich don’t want the poor to become envious of their comfortable position in society. The rich will never dispense with luxury to help the paupers feed their families. This is where I think a few rich and clever men (a historically accurate gender bias) came up with a lasting solution:
They would offer the poor hope, salvation, purity, and ultimate victory against the rich (but never in this lifetime)! Of course, the rich can’t do this themselves as the poor already distrust them. But this is where the rich used a tactic that America has become so good at: divide and conquer. The rich will designate lucky peasant (the prophet) whom the masses have no distrust of and give this prophet a new message of hope and salvation to disseminate freely amongst the masses. Of course, the prophet gets his fame and fortune for his allegiance to the rich.
This brings me to a most interesting testimony in support of my hypothesis, which comes from the very lips of Jesus himself. When asked by the Pharisees about his position on taxation, Jesus said “Render to Caesar the things that are Caesar's, and to God the things that are God's.” Therefore, Jesus himself endorses taxation (the main source of currency for the elite).
Some will argue that jesus answered in that way to the query because he sensed deception and wanted to make a hasty retreat while avoiding trouble. However, on occasion, the rich will confront their prophetin public to raise the level of authenticity of the prophet’s message. Such tactics easily convince uneducated people.
This was plainly demonstrated when many of Malema’s followers became convinced of his authenticity and the inevitability of his ambitions when the ANC gave him the boot! Maybe Malema is a prophet that wanted to supersede the rich and got his angelic wings clipped for it; maybe not. Maybe Malema was abandoned by his puppet masters when he had served his purpose. What we as a society gain from these happenings, however pointless they may seem, is an insight into the exposed mentality of the poor—and we clearly see that their mentality remains consistent throughout the ages. The poor, as such, are the only timeless element of human civilization.
So it doesn’t matter if it’s a charismatic Jew 2000+ years ago, the ANC prior to the next general election, or Julius Malema embarking on another of his economic freedom crusades, whenever someone goes to the poor with the promise to alleviate their suffering, the poor masses will blindly give their allegiance to the prophets and carry these ‘messiahs’ on their hands as they have since time immemorial.
Sadly the poor, in the grand scheme of things, are just as much puppets as their prophets, for the salvation and rewards promised to them will only come in a realm where their existence cannot be guaranteed: beyond the door of death from which no commentary reaches the living.
This entire process can span several generations and is known in religious vernacular as the’ age of prophets and messiahs.’ All religions are built on this groundwork. Now all that is left is for the self-appointment leaders of the religion to mix in a bit of history, a few pleasing beliefs of the time, and perhaps a few superstitions and parables to keep things simple, and voila, a new ORGANISED religion has been birthed. Fortifying a new religion’s position and claims is the fact that nobody can peel back the layers of history to see the actual deception, contrivance, and insincerity that took place.
I could stop the article here, but I feel I can amplify the point a bit more with some more modern references.
Why focus on the poor?
Physical and mental handicaps aside, if someone can’t self-sustain financially it is usually because they are uneducated and/or lacking in self-discipline. The uneducated (in third-world countries) and the lesser educated (in first-world countries) have and always will be the majorities of any society.
Modern-day democracy caters to the foolish masses, thus it is actually populism, not true democracy. True democracy is not just about the majority vote; true democracy tries to create a society that self-sustains and gives its citizens the best knowledge and experience so they can collectively make the best decision on who should govern their society and take it to even greater heights. I can count on one hand how many countries actually have this sort of governance in place, and most of them aren’t even true democracies.
Getting back to the point, whenever you have an idea that you need social sponsorship for, the poor, uneducated/lesser-educated masses are your best bet. You don’t need to worry about extensively crafted arguments, for the poor will only analyse the emotional impact of your argument. You don’t need to concern yourself with facts, or research spanning decades; the poor will endorse anything that brings them emotional comfort.
Compounding the above, christianity advocates the ‘virtue’ of being long-suffering. Christianity particularly tries very hard to teach its subjects to turn the other cheek, dispense with mortal luxury, and disregard reverence in the eyes of wicked men of excess.
Everything about the material world and the life of humans is considered wicked. Religion makes poverty an enviable position that oozes with moral superiority.
Granted, there are extremely wealthy, influential, powerful, and famous christians throughout the history of the religion, but many of them got to such a financially comfortable position because they learned how to use religion to access the currency and loyalty of the poor masses. Being religious and wealthy has become a non-objectionable position in today’s society, but in the past, peasantry-class christian reviled such opulence in their peers and religious leaders, for it goes against the minimalistic life that Jesus advocated.
Once the indoctrination is complete, whatever elite group started it will enjoy living in a society where the once threatening hoards of poverty are now passive and distracted tax-paying peasants who want nothing to do with the elite, their lifestyle, and their currency. These impoverished masses are thoroughly convinced that they are better people and will get a reward far greater than the temporary one enjoyed by the elite. Many of these poor peasants even believer that Jesus himself will allow them to judge these wicked, materialistic men. Game. Set. Match!
We may still have old-world poverty with us, but the present middle class is merely the 21st century version of the poor masses.
Therefore, even in today’s world, you may think that you are middle-to upper class. You may think that you could not possibly be the target audience of a system designed to keep you satisfied with less, but you are. Compared to the oil-tycoons and ultra-successful entrepreneurs and politicians, you are much poorer compared to today’s elite than your gruel-fed, desert-wandering peasant equivalent was compared to the elite in Jesus’ time.
Please note, those of you who subscribe to these conspiracy theories about the elite, I am not talking about these fictitious attempts to vilify the modern-day elite by calling them the New World Order or Illuminati. This whole smear campaign is pushed and endorsed by—you guessed it—the impoverished religious masses!
Until the wheels started falling off the cart
This grand plan of organised religion worked perfectly until the charlatanous intermediaries (churches and the popes, preachers, clergy, and pastors that run them) realized that a few pennies gathered from millions of peasants still amounts to a fortune! Even better for them, they sucessfully inverted the standard workweek: working only on Sundays … how convenient.
Ironically, it was at this time that the money filters at the door of every church began to appear. All of a sudden, the god that so reviled money started needing an awful lot of it to futher his machinations in the physical world. Such is not the conduct of a god that works in mysterious ways; such is the misdoings of a human organization that works in very material ways.
Some may submit that this is the conduct of some religious organizations, but not theirs. I will submit that denominations are but the varied personalities that are jockeying about for an optimal position to suck on the financial breast that religion so lovingly exposes.
Religion will die only when poverty is conquered. Nevertheless, in a strange twist of irony, it would require a miracle in either case.
Religion’s claims of fighting poverty
Despite the innumerable charitable efforts of religion organizations, NONE of them have alleviated poverty in any measurable or sustained way. I am not talking about reducing the suffering of the poor! I am talking about eradicating poverty.
Apart from soup-stands and a few cheap handouts (paid for by the charitable nature of the elite, an irony of sorts) religious organizations and their humanitarian operations in places like Africa simply keep the poor from starving to death, and that is so they can continue spreading the word—the primary form of advertising used by religions.
Anyone who thinks a religious organization is there to assist the poor can test their supposition by doing the following: Take a poor person to a church and ask them to clothe, house, and feed the vagabond. No material assistance will be given to preserve the mortal for of the person, but the urgency of offering them salvation and hope will commence with the precision of a thoroughly rehearsed act.
So there we have it; no concerted effort is made by religion to uplift poor in the mortal world. The poor are expected to be content with the reward that awaits them after their lives as word-of-mouth marketers for religion end.
I’ll end off with a thought that we are all (religious or not) guilty of:
The disadvantage’s hatred for the privileged is the predominant emotional callous that one sees forming on the intellect that cannot accept seeing another enjoy, so undeservingly, the existence it seeks for itself: one of excess, comfort, sloth, and influence.
Disclaimer: All articles and letters published on MyNews24 have been independently written by members of News24's community. The views of users published on News24 are therefore their own and do not necessarily represent the views of News24. News24 editors also reserve the right to edit or delete any and all comments received.