It’s no surprise that there is such an overlap between drug addiction and extreme religious adherence, there are a lot of elements that are similar between the two. People who go to get clean of drugs or alcohol often exchange one addiction for another, either a religion or a religious 12-step program and sometimes, the cure is much worse than the disease.
So are you addicted to religion? The following are symptoms, taken from The Two Faces of Religion: A Psychiatrist’s View, written by N. S. Xavier, M.D. in 1987. How many do you see in yourself?
*Inability to doubt, think, or question information or authority. This cuts directly to the core of any irrational belief, especially when you plug in fanatical attachment to the belief as well. If you cannot doubt your conclusions, if you cannot question your position and critically examine your belief, then you are lost.
*Avoidance of personal responsibility. You really can’t be personally responsible for yourself and your actions if you’re counting on a book of mythology to do it for you. Religion tells you what to think and what to do, it is all too common for people to admit that without religion, they’d be totally amoral animals.
*Black and white, right or wrong, simplistic thinking. I think this is a hallmark of religious thinking, where something is good or bad, based on one’s beliefs, not on one’s critical thinking skills. Believers think gods declare things sins and people embrace that idea without ever bothering to think about it intellectually. The whole of religious thinking is very simplistic, by-the-book faith-based nonsense.
*Obsessive adherence to rules, regulations, routines, rituals; scrupulosity. Lots of theists simply adopt a life of ritual, going to church at a certain time, bowing for prayer at a certain time, they aren’t thinking about what they’re doing, religion encourages a life of habit, not thought.
*Bibliolatry – a worship of spiritual texts often to the point of manipulation or distortion. How many times have you heard “The Bible said it, I believe it, that settles it”? There are tons of theists who have no thoughts of their own, they can only throw around Bible or Qur’an verses to answer any question. They’ve been brainwashed by these books.
*Unwillingness to accept ideas that may present conflicts or challenges to beliefs. How many theists simply reject anything that disagrees with their beliefs out of hand, not because they’ve carefully considered the points, but because it makes them uncomfortable to think they might possibly be real?
*Miraculous (magical) thinking that God will make it right (or fix the problem).
Theists expect God to come along and solve all their problems, how many do you know that are on their knees constantly, praying for everything from winning lottery tickets to finding their missing car keys? God becomes a solution to all problems and if the problems aren’t solved, they will rationalize some reason why God doesn’t want it solved.
*Unrealistic financial contributions. Theists give absurd amounts of money to their churches, the more fundamentalist that you are, the more likely you are to give money above and beyond your financial means. Televangelists are famous for taking advantage of people, encouraging them to send in as much money as they can, all the while living the life of luxury off of the gullible.
*Progressive detachment from the “real” world. I’m sure you’ve seen those stupid “Not of this world” bumper stickers, there are people who seriously think that they don’t belong here, they’re just biding their time until they die and can get on with “real life”. This is a completely delusional position, yet it is incredibly common among the religious.
*Rejection of individuals on the basis of differing beliefs, gender, race, and performance of rituals. Religions, by and large, are xenophobic. They hate those that are different than them and belittle anyone who doesn’t fall into their little clique. Racism, sexism and other forms of irrational hatred and distrust are very commonplace among the religious, not because they have any rational reason to think so, but because they’ve rationalized their way around it by declaring God’s stamp of approval.
*Inability to laugh at religious (or sexual) humor. Shooting cartoonists, burning down abortion clinics, the religious really have no sense of humor when it comes to their religious beliefs. They lack the ability to step back and evaluate things from an outsider’s perspective.
*Believing that physical pleasure is evil and that sex is dirty. The religious are, by and large, afraid of sex, they have wrapped a large portion of their religious beliefs around sex and turned it into a means for control. Some of this comes from the church leadership, people who make a living being a spokesman for God. Some of it comes from a primitive understanding of the world around us. Either way, if your religion tells you sex is horrible and puts a ton of rules on it, you’re probably believing something ridiculous.
If three or more of those apply to you, you are addicted to your religious beliefs in an unhealthy way and probably need to seek professional help.