How Many Religions Manipulate Spirituality and What You Can Do About It
There have been many acts of violence done in the name of religion, or more specifically, in the name of God.
I believe it’s important to understand how some religions manipulate spirituality, and to share with you what you can do about such religious manipulation.
This article is not an attack on any specific belief. What this article is all about is a plea for less religious intolerance, and greater freedom to be spiritual.
What Religious Manipulation Means
Do you belong to an organized religion? Or have you ever considered yourself as a true follower of an established church at any time in the past or present?
Many kinds of organized religion have a way of distorting the values held dear by individual members, and using such a distortion for mind control and emotional warping.
Religious intolerance is an offspring of religious manipulation.
When someone is practicing religious intolerance, the beliefs of others are of no importance.
Beliefs other than what the specific group or church believes are seen as false or blasphemous, offensive to the deity or higher being that is worshipped.
Religious intolerance can be cruel, sometimes negatively affecting society to a huge degree, and religiously intolerant people intensely dislike other people who disagree with them.
These same people also become intolerant of the religion or faith of others who are different from theirs, because of having been manipulated.
How Religious Manipulation Happens
Religious manipulation happens when the beliefs of a few leaders in a given religion or church are imposed on their followers.
This is done to the point that anything contrary to such beliefs can set off high levels of negative emotion.
This manipulation can happen in a variety of ways.
The more common means of manipulation used are:
- Through severely structured teaching or learning
- Through strict monitoring, so that opposition is not possible (religious or church members who oppose the beliefs taught by the leaders are punished, or even exiled)
- Through planting fear into the hearts and minds of their believers
Why Religious Manipulation Happens
Each religion or church system has an agenda it follows. Their agenda may include spreading their beliefs to as wide an audience as possible in order to increase their membership through the years,
There are many reasons why they preach hate and manipulation, and these reasons usually have to do with any or all of the following:
- A love of money
- The desire to gain and maintain control
- The intent to be as influential as possible over the greatest number of people
- A strong need stand out uniquely, as “the one, true religion or church”
- The aim to silence or do away with any opposition
Let’s look at each of these reasons more closely.
A Love of Money
Many churches today have become a business in themselves.
Although churches and religions are typically not required to pay taxes, many of them still operate with a business model in mind.
For example, some churches invest in land and buildings.
Some invest in stocks or the money market, and some make it a point to require its members to keep donating to them.
Thus, while preaching about the need to live holy lives, the focus of some church organizations are more on earthly or material matters than spiritual ones.
The Desire to Gain and Maintain Control
Through the ages, religion has been a highly effective tool in keeping certain political and social leaders at the top. For example, kings of the old times used to cooperate with churches and religions, whichever one had the people’s loyalty at the time, so that they themselves would stay in power.
What’s sad is that, then and even now, many religious leaders claim only they have access to the Divine. So therefore,their members must give all control, loyalty, and obedience, to them.
In essence, this simply means that to refuse to follow these religious leaders means a refusal to follow the Divine. They make their freethinking members feel like they are disrespecting of God.
With this kind of set-up, where an invisible wall exists between ordinary people and the Divine, and where the people’s only means of access is through their leaders, spirituality can never have a chance to grow and flourish.
The Intent to Be As Influential As Possible To the Most Number of People
Some religions manipulate their followers because aside from internal control, they also want to have an external effect on others, by influencing people in all aspects of their life.
For example, some religious leaders will impose their own moral standpoint on their members, condemning anyone who refuses to believe them.
When a church or religion is big enough in terms of membership, it will do what it can to influence what the rest of society thinks and does.
An example would be when church leaders lobby and support politicians who support policies these leaders believe in, even if such a policy is contrary to the welfare of society as a whole.
When a religion or church is practicing manipulation, it will do its best to dictate upon society what its leaders want to happen. In such a situation, there is no room for spiritual ideals such as compassion, love, charity, and hope.
A Strong Need to Stand Out Uniquely, As “The One, True Religion or Church” Outside Of Which There Is Only Damnation
Throughout history, many religions have each proclaimed they are “the one, true religion or church” and if you were not their member, then you would be damned.
How can such a thing be possible?
If all of those religions were claiming that salvation and the hope for a better life could only be had through them, then it’s obvious that not a single one of them is correct!
After all, too many claims to the truth invalidate each claim.
Yet, even today, many religious leaders continue manipulating the minds of their followers.
As a result, their followers are scared. Their followers can no longer think or feel freely, and their leaders dictate everything – what the religion’s followers should think, say, do, wear, eat, etc. Any act of disobedience to the teachings can be enough grounds for punishment or exile.
The threat of being kicked out from their religion is a fear for many followers, because they have been brainwashed by their leaders that there is only damnation outside their particular church or religion.
In the eyes of those religious leaders, it’s their way or the highway.
Nothing is spiritual in this way of thinking at all.
The Aim to Silence or Do Away With Any Opposition
Manipulative religions deeply hate any form of dissent, whether such disagreement happens in the form of alternative beliefs or lifestyles.
How many people have been persecuted because of the beliefs they hold, or the lifestyles they live? Too many to mention.
This is tragic, because uncountable families have broken up, careers have been derailed, futures shattered, and lives lost, all because some religious leaders have manipulated spirituality to the point that its followers see those outside of their religion as enemies, and treat them accordingly.
And all because these leaders have taught their followers that only they have ownership of the true spiritual truths, and only their church or religion, and the beliefs that they hold, matter.
This is what I consider to be pure and simple manipulation of spirituality.
What can You Do?
- Stand up against religious intolerance, religious manipulation, and all distortions of spirituality.
- Do not turn a blind eye to abusive leaders, or exploitative beliefs.
- Show concern for those who are placed under pressure by their religious leaders.
- Show love, charity, compassion, and hope to those who have been oppressed.
- Counter abusiveness and exploitation with true spirituality.
It may seem hard to begin, but all things have to start somewhere.
By practicing compassion rather than intolerance, you can make a difference not only in the lives of the individuals you touch, but also in the positive energy you send out into the universe.
What do you think? Share your thoughts and feelings with me in the Comments below!