Look carefully at the image below, taken in Maine on election night in 2009. The people on the right are rejoicing upon learning that they have succeeded in passing a law that denies marriage rights to gay couples. The people on the right consider themselves to be godly, moral, and superior to the people on the left. The people on the right have absolutely no concept of the harm they have inflicted, or they pain they have caused. It does not occur to them that there is anything wrong with taking civil rights away from others. I am not a psychologist, but I can tell you without any hesitation that the people on the right are, in clinical terms, fucked up in the head.
Yesterday I read three separate posts which touched on the psychological (and in some cases psychiatric) issues of religion:
- Facebook Fundies: Gettin’ Crunk with the Lord, about groups of believers who like to work themselves up into a religious hysteria
- Religion and Psychology, which explores the underlying cognitive biases that contribute to religiosity such as confirmation bias which plays a strong role in religious belief.
- Solar Powered Bibles for Haiti: Why Some Christians Feel Compelled to Exploit Disaster**, in which a psychologist explains the underlying issues that would cause people to send bibles in the place of anesthetics for amputations or antibiotics for horrific infections: “First, it can diminish empathy by downplaying the importance of here and now suffering. Second it can make something other than a person’s apparent needs (like food or anesthetics) seem critically important. Third, it can re-direct our mother-bear instincts away from protecting vulnerable individuals and toward protecting the ideology itself. Believers may come to feel more protective of their religion than they are of actual human beings.”
And let’s not forget this guy, whose imaginary friend told him to go shoot a guy in the head in church, or the people who consider him a hero, or any of the other rhetorical extremists, predatory sociopaths whose message *sounds* completely whackadoodledoo, and is often dismissed as such, but it’s a message calculated to reach a very, very small demographic — like a dog whistle for psychotics. For example:
The fundamentally ill do not always present with such exaggerated symptoms, of course. And not all of them choose to use the faithful as their minions, but more and more these days they are the primary target market of anyone seeking to impose an economic or social agenda that runs contrary to the good of the many in favor of the good of the few.
The people who keep track of such things estimate that psychopaths make up 1% of the population, but they tend to wield a great deal of influence over the easily led, since they are master manipulators. Whether they occupy positions within in the evangelical community or simply pull the strings from outside, they exert tremendous influence.
“Faith presupposes that we cannot know. We can never know. Those who claim to know what life means play God. These false prophets—the Pat Robertsons, the Jerry Falwells and the James Dobsons—clutching the cross and the Bible, offer, like Mephistopheles, to lead us back to a mythical paradise and an impossible, unachievable happiness and security, at once seductive and empowering. They ask us to hand over moral choice and responsibility to them. They will tell us they know what is right and wrong in the eyes of God. They tell us how to act, how to live, and in this process they elevate themselves above us. They remove the anxiety of moral choice, the fundamental anxiety of human existence.” — Chris Hedges
To be continued, maybe…
**NOTE: representatives of the electric bible-bringers have responded with reassurances that the bibles are not being transported instead of life-saving supplies, but rather “piggybacking on existing shipments, if there is extra space”. However, the group doing the sending has an ongoing campaign in Haiti to convert Catholics to Evangelical Christianity, and you’d kind of hope that, in times of crisis, they’d set that aside and just help people, but that’s not how it works.