The Hypocrisy of Religious Fanatics

What makes religious fanatics particularly scary is their delusional belief in their own infallibility. See this billboard that was put up in Maryland:

jesus

 

Imagine how lacking in self-awareness one has to be to put words into Jesus’s mouth. I believe that religious fanaticism (irrespective of the religion fanatics claim to uphold) is a refuge for sociopaths. It allows them to do all kinds of horrible things and excuse their actions by claiming that they do the will of God.

The first time I met such a person (or such a person in the making) was at school. We didn’t have many religious people back in the Soviet Union and the ones who existed were considered freaky. In 6th grade, I met the only kid from a religious family a had ever met. Her name was Dasha. I believe that Dasha’s parents were extremely irresponsible in raising her in an ultra-religious environment in a country where that would most certainly make her an outcast. Adults can bear the burden of their choices but imposing that hardship on children is unfair. My deeply anti-Soviet father, for example, made sure I never had any doubts about the veracity of the propaganda I was fed at school. As a result, I was a much happier child than I would have been had he shared his anti-Communist resentments with me on a regular basis.

musik3

I will let you figure out the ideology behind these ugly pinafores on your own. The white pinafore was only worn on festive occasions. On an everyday basis, we wore a black one. That surely looked phenomenal against the background of a dark brown dress.

Dasha, however, soon learned to use religion to her advantage. She realized that fake pseudo-Christian contrition was a great way to manipulate people. Dasha’s “Christian” parents were extremely poor (even by Soviet standards) because they were opposed to contraception and chose to have as many kids as God would give them even when there was nothing to feed the kids. As a result, Dasha was mortally jealous of kids whose families were better off (which would be everybody.)

Once, Dasha’s best friend Anya came to class wearing ear-rings. Those were tiny little ear-rings that were really nothing special. But you know how much it means to 12-year-old girls to be able to look like adult women. Anya was super proud of her ear-rings.

Her happiness lasted for a very short time, though, because Dasha went to the principal and ratted Anya out. The principal marched down to our classroom, lifted Anya’s heavy curls, and discovered the offending pieces of jewelry. Then she dragged Anya away to yell at her for being a “whore in the making.”

After a while, Anya came back to class, shaking and looking terrified. She tried to put a brave face on it and sat quietly down at her desk. We all gathered around, trying to comfort her.

Dasha realized that her scheme was misfiring. Anya was now getting even more attention than before.

“Oh God, oh God,” Dasha suddenly started to vociferate. “What have I done? I am a horrible sinner and there will be no forgiveness for me!”

Of course, everybody abandoned the quiet Anya and rushed to Dasha who was yelping hysterically.

“Why are you crying?” we asked her.

“I betrayed my friend,” Dasha kept wailing. “I have sinned and now I am lost forever!” For the next half-hour, we all comforted Dasha and tried to convince her she was not a horrible sinner, whatever that was.

This was, of course, only one of many stories protagonized by little Dasha who learned to use her fake Christian contrition to manipulate others to perfection. I remember her as the most judgmental, nasty, and self-involved kid I ever met. The scariest kind of evil is the one that is deeply convinced of its divine nature.

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9 comments on “The Hypocrisy of Religious Fanatics

  1. This reminds me of Tartuffe.

    Of course, Moliere wrote far better plays, such as le Misanthrope.

    (I wish I could figure out how to put in diacritical marks without composing in a word processor and then pasting text here.)

  2. There is plenty enough hypocrisy around among atheists as well as the religious of whatever variety. One exampe does not universalize: that is the fallacy of induction. Sociopaths without religion have few benchmarks against which to evaluate their behavior in the unlikely event, of course, that they are capable of any form of evaluation.

    Ratting out someone with respect to wearing earrings is not exactly up there with killing 40 infants with an assault rifle. That individual was not religious by all accounts. Maybe, if he had been, he would have refrained in order to save himself from eternal damnation.

    • Of course, he wouldn’t. I’m researching the Franco dictatorship right now and the intense religiousness of Franco supporters never prevented them from doing really horrifying things to tens of thousands of small children, including tiny babies.

      And we all know that in the US almost every mother who kills her children is a fundamentalist Christian. Andrea Yates is an example.

  3. Nor did the atheism of many French revolutionaries prevent them from recourse to Madame Guillotine and to the splashing of noble blood over the pavements of La Place de La Concorde. Quite a bit of hypocrisy about ‘fraternite’ among those envious murderers, I would suggest. Of course, partly as a consequence, they threw away their ‘liberte’ and ‘egalite’ as ‘le terreure’ replaced ‘le (or la) rationalite’. Ultimately, Napoleon sorted everything out. As he correctly noted, when building his Empire, ‘How many divisions has the Pope’. I admit that in Napoleon there was little or no hypocrisy. He said what he meant and meant what he said. But even this paragon of atheistic virtue met his Trafalgar at the hands of a Christian admiral, Lord Nelson, and finally met his Waterloo, at the hands of a Christian soldier, Sir Arthur Wellesley. Albeit, Wellesley abused his religion by claiming the victory to be ‘a damn close run thing’!

  4. Is it you on the photograph? No, right?

    // I will let you figure out the ideology behind these ugly pinafores on your own.

    Womenly, but modest, young women? Plus, making everybody look the same = appearance of equality in communist culture. Have I missed something?

    Btw, I had uniforms in Israeli school too, and think the idea of some kind of uniform or limits on what wear to school is a right one. Of course, every good idea can be taken too far, but it’s something else.

    • “Is it you on the photograph? No, right?”

      - No, I was too lazy to scan my own photo. :-)

      “Womenly, but modest, young women? Plus, making everybody look the same = appearance of equality in communist culture. Have I missed something?”

      - Also – your life will be spent cooking and cleaning.

      “Btw, I had uniforms in Israeli school too, and think the idea of some kind of uniform or limits on what wear to school is a right one. Of course, every good idea can be taken too far, but it’s something else.”

      - I’m not opposed to school uniforms at all. I think they are a good idea. But not the ones that so obviously mark gender roles as the Soviet ones where girls are positioned as doing household chores and boys as preparing for the work world.

  5. // “What have I done? I am a horrible sinner and there will be no forgiveness for me!”

    Dasha should have asked her, whether without fearing God she would be A-OK with betraying a friend. That was my 1st desire now, but school children often haven’t achieved this perspective yet.

    // Sociopaths without religion have few benchmarks against which to evaluate their behavior …

    False. Sociopaths know what society sees as moral & what not, as well as we do. They simply decide not to care. Which is the same as many not sociopathic criminals. Intellectual evaluation is not the problem here.

    • “False. Sociopaths know what society sees as moral & what not, as well as we do. They simply decide not to care. Which is the same as many not sociopathic criminals. Intellectual evaluation is not the problem here.”

      - Exactly,

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