My wife is a trained cultural anthropologist and mythologist, she reads and watches a lot of books and TV shows on ancient mythology and primitive gods and, mostly through osmosis, I’ve picked up a ton of information on it as well. I started writing this post a couple of weeks ago when she was home from work sick and decided to watch all of the various History Channel material she’s had piling up. I ended up catching a couple of them on the tail end, one on Greek gods and goddesses and another on Egyptian mythology and it’s relation to religious relics.
I forgot all about this post for a while until I saw an odd correlation on a forum thread, someone posted that they think Scientology is worse than all other existing religions because it is clearly out for money and power.
And I had to point out, it’s just like every other religion. What religion isn’t out to scam people out of their money? What religion doesn’t want power? What religion isn’t trying to broker the most favorable political and social terms for itself? They’re all equally corrupt.
So what is the real issue? Interestingly enough, it’s the same reason that people today look at the Greek and Egyptian religions and find them ridiculous. We’re all raised, like it or not, in a religious society, where tales of gods and miracles are told every day even if we’re not specifically raised to believe any of it. As social beings, we adopt a “keep your mouth shut” attitude when we’re young, we don’t go around insulting the social structure, we learn that even if we don’t respect the beliefs themselves, we have to respect the believers to a certain degree, especially if they make up the majority of our contacts.
Christianity and to a lesser extent in the U.S., Islam and Judiasm all get that kind of respect. I suppose it can also extend to religions like Buddhism and Hinduism if they’re extant in your neck of the woods. Where Scientology and the extinct religions lose out is that nobody learns about them through osmosis, they don’t get the automatic respect and intimate knowledge that Christianity and the like get in our society. Greek and Egyptian religions will never have that again, they’re long gone, Scientology will have to wait a generation or two before it’s mythology gets widespread enough to get into the public psyche.
In reality, every religion is the same. The Greek and Roman and Egyptian religions had churches and temples that needed money, they scared people into donating with threats of godly punishment and promises that, by being devout, the religious organization could protect you from their wrath. The modern Abrahamic religions do the same thing, they have a clergy to support and an infrastructure to pay for and political and social power to broker. It’s therefore no surprise that Scientology, one of the newest religions on the block, is doing exactly the same thing. We just haven’t been conditioned to ignore it in the case of Scientology like we have in the case of the Abrahamic religions.
It’s all about money and power. It always has been, it always will be and the sooner we throw off our blinders and recognize that it isn’t just the ones we haven’t been trained to ignore, but the ones that we have, the sooner we’ll be able to shut this whole religious scam down.