Monday, April 23, 2007
A Good Article
By Chris Hedges
"There is a false, but effective, fiction that one has to be born again to be a Christian. The Christian right refuses to acknowledge the worth of anyone’s religious experience unless, in the words of its tired and opaque cliché, one has accepted “Jesus Christ as my personal Lord and Savior.”
The emotional meltdown that leads to the conversion experience—one often induced in crowds skillfully manipulated and broken down by demagogues—is one of the most pernicious tools of the movement. Through conversion one surrenders to a higher authority. And the higher authority, rather than God, is the preacher who steps in to take over one’s life. Being born again, and the process it entails, has far more in common with recruitment into a cult than it does with genuine belief......
The new convert is gradually drawn into a host of church activities by his or her new friends, leaving little time for outside socializing. But the warmth and embrace soon bring new rules. When you violate the rules, you sin, you flirt with rebellion, with becoming a “backslider,” someone who was converted but has fallen and is once again on the wrong side of God. And as the new converts are increasingly invested in the church community, as they cut ties with their old community, it is harder to dismiss the demands of the “discipler” and church leaders. The only proper relationship is submission to those above you, the abandonment of critical thought and the mouthing of thought-terminating clichés that are morally charged. “Jesus is my personal Lord and Savior” or “the wages of sin are death” is used to end all discussion......
And when it is over, the new believers are told, “Welcome to the family of God.” They are told to read a chapter a day in the Gospel of John and that they will be visited again in a week to talk about the Bible. They are encouraged to pray, because God “promised to hear and answer our prayers.” They are told to find “a good Bible-believing church and become a part of it.” They are told to join a Christian fellowship group. And they are told to witness to those in their family. With this, the process of deconstructing an individual and building a submissive follower, one who no longer has any allegiance to the values of the open society and the democratic state, begins."