Reading so much on this site, I have become interested in why a culture of fear and hate seems to be growing in the USA today, and wonder if it could be, because the US is perhaps the most theocratic of developed nations. And if anyone has every wondered why, a religion like Christianity, which outwardly would like to be seen as promoting only altruism, could actually be behind a culture of fear and hate ? Religion needs to fill pews, and it does that almost completely, by promoting fear, the fear of chaos, fear of sin, fear of sinners, fear of foreigners with different values, fear of death, fear of losing familiar tradition, fear of moral uncertainty, and fear of family breakdown etc.
But fear breeds distrust, and distrust creates hate, which breed more reactionary distrust and hate, which makes more fear, that has always been the case with fear. And what happens then ? People then of course, run back to church and temple for reassurance and support. But what in fact happens to them when they get there, is that they get impregnated with yet more fear. Along with some not very convincing reassurances, because if you make them too good, first time, they won't come back. Is this a never ending, vicious feedback cycle, of the worst sort ?
Consider the religions that shaped the USA: the Puritans came to the Colonies for freedom of religion, but only their religion. They persecuted those who did not fall into lines and if you have ever read Jonathan Edward's sermon "Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God," you will know that the god of the Pilgrims/Puritans was not a loving god.
Of course, the Catholic Church was no more loving or kinder than the Protestants. The Inquisition was a hallmark for cruelty. Both sects killed people, mainly women, as witches.
Humans tend to hate what they fear: the Victorians feared the influx of immigrants in their era. The ghettos of Europe were created to keep the Jews corralled. The USA is not the only country that is or has been subjected to such fears and expressions of hate. Why it is so strong in the USA stems from our history, North vs. South and so on. I dunno how it will--or if--it will ever be resolved.
I think part of the problem with religion (really, any flavor of the such) is the ambiguous roots. This game of telephone has been going on for so long that at this point literally no one can know the intentions as stated. Not that it matters (its always been the work of mortal humans with inherently human agendas), but none the less, its still a matter of picking what is right for you. Even if that choice seems more like a prescription depending on where you were born.
Further complicating the matter is the fact that most people don't have the time, energy, care or otherwise don't seem to know the content of the book of which they base their devoted existence on. They only know what is said in the church on Sunday morning, and the rest is spoon-fed from the Christian media and cultural bubble in which they exist. A bubble in which promotes so much easily digestible pablum that the thought of asking a question likely never occurs.
I've been around the type listening to a round of Tucker Carlson, and I can tell you that they take everything people like him say without question. Though presenting anything outside of that bubble will be meet with the opposite reaction.
While religion certainly feeds into the hateful and fearful disaster that is the state of American society, the problem goes far deeper than that. As stated once by George Carlin, the US was essentially founded on slavery. Slave holders running from a territory which was increasingly hostile to their agenda.
While religion certainly plays into this, I would not credit it as a source as many do. Since people can find their way down this rabbit hole following strictly secular paths (such as one of many conspiracy theory black holes), the issue stems much deeper.
It just came to me that the teaching of religion tells one that if not for the fear of gods wrath all would do wrong. So we must fear, all the things you mention.
Perhaps my problem is that I do not fear god, jesus, or whatever other deity I am supposed to fear. If they want me to fear them let them show up and we will have a beer while we conversate.
The problem of course is, that a lot of believers do not truly fear, at least the good parts, of the god they secretly know in their hearts is not that threatening or maybe even real. Yet they still join and spend time in a subculture which teaches the fear of all other cultures, over and over again.
A large share of the mass murder events are in schools. Now what group has sought to defund and undercut public education? Does that group support politicians that prevent gun legislation which would reduce these atrocities? (Pro-life?!!!) And remember that a large share of the other mass murder targets are similarly denounced and hated from the pulpit: Blacks, Gays, Jews,...
These mass murders serve the purposes of the Evangelical White Supremacists, and a goodly share of the shooters are racists or bigots. Christian Nationalists have a stranglehold on the GQP, and these shootings serve their interest in intimidating those deemed as lesser. Even with Biden as president, we have slipped into an authoritarian fascist state so long as the police departments side with the fascists/neo-Nazis (i.e. Kyle Rittenhouse).
I think you answered your own question, and I fully agree with your answer.
I do think that the fact of our being founded, NOT on religious freedom as Ben Franklin, Thomas Jefferson, and a few of their compratriots hoped, but rather on belief in religious exceptionalism, the delusion that we are a chosen people. Theocratic thinking ran DEEP in the colonists fleeing England, and that desire for heavy-handed, authoritarian wedding of religious order and government has passed down generation to generation, despite secularists efforts.
I would just add that our elevation to military superpower status was tragic, because it took the idea of American Exceptionalism (something similar exists in many national cultural identities) and jacked it up to ridiculous levels. American prominence has only cemented in the minds of American fundamentalists the belief we are "God's new chosen people." ...sigh
I haven't read the other comments yet but here's my two-cents worth. Christianity has always been based on fear. From one end to the other preachers have preached and taught followers to fear god, be afraid they're not worthy, etc. These days, however, religious leaders can see the world changing and their gig ending soon. They're going to loose their gravy train. Thus they have taken it upon themselves to whip up their shrinking populations with more rage, more fear and now hatred towards anything not christian. That means us. Sad but true.
I agree with you Fernapple though I don't think this is something new. I think technology (media, internet) have simply made the spread of fear and hate both easier and more obvious. Just looking back through U.S. history and there's plenty of hate and fear prior to the 21st century... Asian-Americans forced into internment camps during WWII, the criminalizing of gays throughout the 20th century, and McCarthyism during the 40's and 50's to name just a few examples.
I do think it's getting progressively worse, fanned by social media and people like Trump and similar politicians.
Hopefully it will bottom out, but the bottom of the pit may not be a pleasant place sadly.
I don't know if this "cycle of fear" applies to ALL Christian sects. I rather doubt it. There is quite a bit of diversity there. (By some estimates, upwards of 40,000 different sects.) But it does seem to be a prominent characteristic in Evangelical Christianity. A giveaway is in the language that they use, e.g. if you "accept Jesus as your savior," being "saved." Saved from what? From eternal damnation. From spending eternity in Hell. That sort of thing. Blah blah blah.
Rational thinking isn't an American trait.
At least not that I've seen.
I know what you're saying: it's a screwed-up country. But there are plenty of rational people here. You and me, and most of the folks on this site, for instance. Let's not paint woth too broad a brush.
@Flyingsaucesir I'm painting with such a broad brush because that is the overall sense that I get.
Sure, there are always exceptions.
However, too many people believe the lies they've been told, and too many of them vote that way.
@KKGator I totally agree that too many people believe the lies. Let's put a number on it. Recent reporting says it's ¾ of Republicans. So that's somewhere south of 50 million, in a country of 330 million. And they're the most mercurial, hot-headed, and well-armed civilians in society. So this isn't just a disgusting rash of stupidity, but a decidedly dangerous one too. It looks like we may be faced with the choice of either successfully disabusing them of their wacko notions or going to war with them. I soooo hope we can manage to do the former.
@Flyingsaucesir Don't get me wrong, I hope they'll wake up and realize they've been lied to.
Realistically, I have no expectations that they will.
They really like the lies.
@KKGator Yes they feed on it...its like candy, except it rots your brain not your teeth.
The Washington establishment people like Joe Biden and the Clinton’s are stoking fear. They hated Trump because they were afraid he was going to mess up their party.
Well, whaddya know?
45 DID mess up the party.
It's so messed up, it needs to go the way of the Whigs.
Among the many many norms that Trump broke was the peaceful transition of power. Now we are in a much more dangerous situation than if Trump had never held office. There was a malignant strain that was mostly tamped down, and Trump let it out of the box, gave it wings.
This is the stupidest shit I have heard in the last half hour. I have no choice to say that it's stupid and antithetical to follow the trumpdog. He's a cowardly, bigoted, racist, self-aggrandizing, idiot. I have more adverbs. Joe Biden is a safe, and happy, fool but at least he isn't trying to take our country away from us like the Prickodent Trunk is still trying to do. His people ARE the people sewing hate and fear. To them this irreligious jerk is a savior, though how they see that is beyond me. Uck.
@TedGresham997 With the runaway inflation and highest fuel prices on record you have to be a raving idiot to continue to support that senile corrupt piece of shit Biden.
@Trajan61 Inflation is just political-speak for corporate greed.
The oil and gas companies are the ones responsible for higher fuel prices, not Biden.
If 45 and his republican minions hadn't bungled the country's response to the pandemic, it wouldn't be this bad now.
As for the increased prices of everything else, also not Biden's fault.
That is also the result of corporate greed.
The government doesn't control the prices of goods, the corporations do.
Have you even wondered why corporate profits are at unprecedented levels?
They're all making money, by charging consumers more.
It's not the government.
It's corporate greed.
@KKGator If you don’t think democrap policies are causing inflation you are badly informed. Hell Biden declared war on oil and gas when he first got in office! And that damn sure caused oil and gas to go up! Higher energy causes a lot of other things to go up like fertilizer which is made from natural gas. It went from 450 per ton to 1,400 per ton in Biden’s first year in office!
@Trajan61, @Flyingsaucesir nothing like jumping from the fire into the frying pan. But after what you've been hatching up (both parties) over the last 20 years you may be experiencing a nuclear inferno before 2024.
@FrayedBear With that senile crooked idiot Biden in charge that is definitely a possibility.
@FrayedBear Sounds like a thinly-veiled threat to me. Well I don't think Putin wants Armageddon any more than we do. There is certainly nothing to be gained by it. And democracy in Europe and America is worth preserving. And we all know that if you don't stand up to a bully he will never quit pushing, and taking, and inflicting himself on the innocent.
@FrayedBear There is no doubt that America has done some very stupid and destructive things. But at least we are free to criticize ourselves, our leaders, and our government. We have a mechanism for self-improvement. Not so in Putin's Russia! Anyway, two wrongs do not make a right. Putin's project in Ukraine is definitely a wrong. He went too far this time. I feel for those poor kids Putin conscripted to carry out his maniacal genocide as much as its victims. But the project is very expensive in rubles as well as lives. Hopefully Putin will go broke soon.
@Flyingsaucesir Hopefully, Putin painfully dies of cancer before the week is out, and his successor doesn't have his same levels of delusion, paranoia, and bloodlust.
@Flyingsaucesir, @Trajan61, @TedGresham997 et al including the blockee kkalligator - you will undoubtedly dismiss this report by an American military analyst because it does not conform to your beliefs:
"By Scott Ritter
Special to Consortium News
Russia’s “Special Military Operation”, which began on Feb. 24, is entering its fourth month. Despite stiffer than expected Ukrainian resistance (bolstered by billions of dollars of western military assistance and accurate, real-time battlefield intelligence by the U.S. and other NATO members) Russia is winning the war on the ground, and in a big way."
"After more than ninety days of incessant Ukrainian propaganda, echoed mindlessly by a complicit western mainstream media that extolls the battlefield successes of the Ukrainian armed forces and the alleged incompetence of the Russian military, the Russians are on the cusp of achieving the stated goal of its operation, namely the liberation of the newly independent Donbass Republics of Lugansk and Donetsk, which Russia recognized two days before its invasion." [consortiumnews.com]
As I try to point out to you as you pull your hair out, gnash your teeth & bemoan the fact that a madman you allowed to be weaponised walked into a school, a church or public place in America and murdered innocent people whether children or adult. That you do the same when someone (Russia), retaliates against a madman (Ukraine) who you not only created but weaponised & financed (as well as recruiting other psycho madmen from around the world to join them in the slaughter) suggests that you need to examine your own insanity.
@FrayedBear I don’t doubt that Russia will be successful in annexing the Donbas region. As far as the crazed shooters there will always be someone who abusing guns as long as we have the right to have them.
@Flyingsaucesir, @Trajan61 Who says Russia annexed Donbass? I suggest that they are allowing the people living there the right to choose not to be part of Ukraine. Why do you & the fascists not wish to allow them that right?
@FrayedBear How come the people fleeing the fighting are going west, away from the Russian army? And why do the Russians have to force any civilians they find there to go east into Russia? The facts on the ground refute your claim. You are failing spectacularly to convince anyone here.
@Flyingsaucesir I do not read minds nor do I know whose propaganda you are being indoctrinated with.
I do know that for everything that I follow\believe in\accept there will be anything up to 99% of people disagreeing with me. There may even be no one disagreeing as in when I make the statement that everyone alive needs oxygen for their continued long term viability.
@FrayedBear I don’t intend on giving up that right especially with a tyrant like Biden in charge!
@Flyingsaucesir "to You are failing spectacularly to convince anyone here." Lol I've never converted a christian, a socialist or communist from their indoctrination either. That is why I largely live the life of a recluse. I notice however that there are more & more people not sharing your insanity. In fact it seems that you and USA with its sycophants are a minority in this world.
@FrayedBear As long as we're quoting one another, heres one of your more lucid moments:
"I do know that for everything that I follow\believe in\accept there will be anything up to 99% of people disagreeing with me."
Why do you suppose that is the case? I'll give you a hint: it's NOT because 99% of people are wrong.
To German nazis the German Lutheran pastor Martin Niemöller (1892–1984) was considered "wrong". He expressed himself & "right" thinking in the following poem (edited).
It is about the silence of German intellectuals and certain clergy—including, by his own admission, Niemöller himself—following the Nazis' rise to power and subsequent incremental purging of their chosen targets, group after group. Even in this revised British version it is incomplete in its truth. Omitted are the mentally challenged, the Roma & the Sinti.
First they came for the Communists
And I did not speak out
Because I was not a Communist
Then they came for the Socialists
And I did not speak out
Because I was not a Socialist
Then they came for the trade unionists
And I did not speak out
Because I was not a trade unionist
Then they came for the Jews
And I did not speak out
Because I was not a Jew
Then they came for me
And there was no one left
To speak out for me
I'm not concerned by your hint - in return I give you one "see a good psychiatrist not infected with your national psychoses.
@FrayedBear The Martin Niemöller quote is quite famous. However, I fail to see how it relates to the topic at hand.
@Flyingsaucesir what part of wrong & right do you not understand? "To German nazis the German Lutheran pastor Martin Niemöller (1892–1984) was considered "wrong". He expressed himself & "right"" and your statement "Why do you suppose that is the case? I'll give you a hint: it's NOT because 99% of people are wrong."
@Trajan61 I don't support Biden. I don't support anyone in DC. I do despise anyone who tramples on the constitution and pisses on this country. I despise any half-baked Mussolini-loving dickhead who will not accept being defeated and wants to create a dictatorship. I am a Texan. I am 100% in favor of secession. Although we'd have to get rid of a lot of right wing assholes afterwards we can and would do that. A Texas Republic would have the US by the balls. Fuck all those morons in DC.
@TedGresham997 There we’re definitely a lot of irregularities in the 2020 presidential election to be concerned about.
Also remember that religions center around their version of truth. It is knowing. If you have the right religion you know the truth. What about the other guy and his religion? He does not have the truth. This also puts those who know as much smarter than you.
It's probably no accident that theocracy and capitalism go hand in hand. I think that in the US, religion is used and promoted by the capitalist ruling class to discourage the people from ever thinking of supporting socialism or revolting against the system here. It's a distraction against class warfare and class consciousness among the peasants and it also encourages obedience to authority, which also comes in handy to the ruling class and the system here.
Much of the rest of the developed world is not affraid of ideas, and so they move forward. The main fear they plant in theocracies is the fear of ideas.
What you suspect has a degree of truth. Religion promotes separation when each religion proclaims it is the only way. That promotes the concept of tribalism.
It's the US Media.
They generate their profits by stoking anger and hatred.
You paint with a broad brush. Not all the media is bad. But there is really a lot of bad stuff to report on. And it should be reported. If we just ignore bad stuff then it just gets worse. So we have to grapple with it. Life is not all butterflies, moonbeams, and fairy tales.
We have nothing to fear from straight, factual reporting. It's the lies that are pavkaged to look light factual reporting thst we have to worry about. The kind of stuff we get from Fox News, Newsmax, One America News, and of course the fulminating demagogues like Alex Jones and Rush Limbaugh (rot his wicked tongue).
@Flyingsaucesir The murder rate has been going down for the past 30 years. Most people are so brainwashed by the media, they believe it is going up.
@BD66 Yes but lately the murder rate has been going up. And sharply up. But is that the main source of fear in America? No. The main fear today, at least among white Republicans, is fear of immigrants, fear of being "replaced." It's a ridiculous fear. It's a manufactured fear. But it's the biggie. It's also a distraction from things that we should really worry about, like fascism, theocracy, climate change...
@Flyingsaucesir The murder rate went up in 2020 and 2021 due to covid lockdowns driving people crazy. It's going down in 2022.
@BD66 Oh nice! And what is your method of prognostication? Crystal ball? Taroh cards? Ouija board? Or are you just pulling this out of your butt?
@Flyingsaucesir Yes there is a lot of bad stuff to report on like Hunter and Joe’s crooked dealings which were disclosed by Hunter’s misplaced laptop. And the attempt by the Democraps to undermine Trump’s presidency with the Russian collusion hoax. But the MSM ignores that and anything else that’s negative to the democraps like the destruction caused by BLM rioting and the mess at the border.
@Trajan61 Hunter's laptop, Hillary's emails, blah, blah, blah. If there was really something there then we would probably have heard SOMETHING definitive. But no, just the same old "Lock her up" refrain from the right. But with Trump and Russia there actually was something there. The Mueller Report detailed many connections/contacts between Russian operatives and the Trump Campaign, but the conversations were all private and those involved lied under oath. Rodger Stone was convicted of perjury and witness tampering, then conveniently pardoned by the Done Cheato. The Report also detailed ten instances of obstruction of justice by Done Cheato himself, and he would have been indicted if not for a Justice Department white paper opining that a sitting president cannot be indicted. By the way, Trump and Kushner and others used private email accounts and cell phones for official US business all the time, and Trump, when he lost re-election, stole 15 boxes of official documents and secreted them away at Mar-a-Lago. In the boxes were many documents labelled Top Secret. Then, we hear that both Kushner and Minuchin secured huge (YUGE) funding from their good buddy MBS of Saudi Arabia, a very generous quid pro quo for the Cheato Administration having looked the other way when MBS murdered a Washington Post journalist and for supporting Saudi Arabia militarily in the war in Yemen. Done Cheato's Administration was not only the most incompetent, but also the most blatantly venal pack of hounds to ever occupy the White House. Luckily, there were a few people who were not total brown nosers and put the brakes on some of His Majesty's more inane ideas (like building a moat at the foot of the would-be border wall, and filling it with snakes and aligators ), or deploying the US Army, with orders to shoot to kill) against Americans protesting in the streets. Jesus, don't get me started. The sheer volume of Cheato's misdeeds is staggering; it boggles the mind. But that's all part of his MO: keep the outrages coming so fast that the public cannot possibly keep up with it all, hoping they will just throw up their hands and give up. It almost worked. But a convincing majority of voters (7 million +) understood the danger he posed and fired his dumb ass. And that is the America that I love and admire.
Be specific. We have a very well defined disinformation industry, possibly supplemented by foreign intelligence psych ops, which serves up compelling nonsense to the gullible and fear motivated. Others of the media actually strive to deal in facts.
@Flyingsaucesir Murder rates year to date are down in 2022 in almost all major cities:
@BD66 Who deals in facts? PBS, Washington Post, New York Times, CNN, Reuters, Al Jazeera, The Atlantic, The New Yorker, Politico, The Week, The Nation, MSNBC,...
@BD66 Oh has murder rate needle moved a few tenths of s percent one one way or the other? So what? Let's at least agree that it is too high, and has been too high, and will probably continue to he too high. But that's not the main issue here. Once again you are deflecting, changing the subject. The real problem we face is the threat to liberal democracy posed by white nationalism, which is based on irrational fear of (non-white) immigrants. White nationalists are increasingly embracing fascism, as demonstrated by their blind support the Done Cheato, who even now continues in his attempt to discredit the core institution of any democracy, the electoral system.
@Flyingsaucesir I will go back to my original comment:
It's the US Media.
They generate their profits by stoking anger and hatred.
They have obviously succeeded with you.
@BD66 Happily, I have always had a natural ability to see right through lying demagogues like Tucker Carlson, Rush Limbaugh, Alex Jones, Newt Gingrich, Steve Bannon, Donald Trump, and others. But I gather that as many as three quarters of Republicans currently buy Done Cheato's Big Lie that the 2020 election was stolen (it was not). And that is worrying. I would not like to see this country become a fascist dictatorship, or have to endure a civil war in order to forestall that eventuality. I have so far managed to get through life without taking anyone else's. I'd like to keep it that way.
@BD66 That list of lying demagogues that I provided earlier, which ended with "and others,"....that includes the right-wing propagandist Dinesh D'Souza.
I think it is perhaps more complex than just religion. My half-baked guess is that a country's leaders have an influence on society. Where leaders embrace pluralism the "fear of the other" becomes less pronounced. Contrapositively, where leaders embrace exceptionalism "fear of the other" becomes more pronounced. William of Orange is example of the former while Adolph Hitler is an example of the latter.
The roots of the modern USA can be traced back to people who went to there as free agents: they went there of their own volition. Australia's roots can be traced back to convicts who arrived against their will. I suspect that difference underlies part of the difference between the two countries. On a personal note, I sense that Australians look at what is happening in the USA astonishment verging on disbelief. While both governments are corrupt in their own different fashion, it seems to me that the screams made by the "pro-lifers" (who are in fact "pro-birthers" ) and the evangelical Christians astonish a significant number of Aussies, and the decline of what might be termed "the fundamentalist brigade" in Australia started perhaps 40 years ago.
Yes you are certainly quite correct, I was just limiting my comments to the one aspect of it, religions share.
Functionalists would argue that macro societies require a stable rock of knowledge and power to believe in - in essence surrendering themselves to a higher authority, even if this authority fails the scientific method.
Part of the problem is, that religion is effectively in many ways merely the same thing as the. "Proof from authority fallacy." In that it is actually an advantage to it, that the original texts or books have been downgraded to meaningless by the game of telephone, and probably were not very rational to start with. Because that means that everyone can find any interpretation they want in them, and easily find something which matches their preformed prejudices.
But then, having found something to match their prejudices, by interpretation, they can then claim the text's or religions authority to support them. In other words. "Because my: holy book, our cultual tradition, the church, the priest, or the word of god, etc. says so. Which is very useful if you want to promote ideas which it is hard to find rational proofs for, or even things which could never gain popular support because most people would find them vile.
Is it any wonder that religion is often the main go to for the anti social.