This deserves repeating!
CR> Outside show is a poor substitute for inner worth.
Charlie, is this why so many people put such an emphasis on appearances? and what does that say about what they consider their own inner worth? Why does it seem that most people would prefer to hear that inner worth doesn't count, as long as appearances are maintained? As a minister, I'm sure you know what I mean, and have your own horror stories in this regard, as I do. Is it by any chance possible because we have beaten, threatened, and coerced people into being scared not to think and act for themselves, and to trust themselves to act in their own best interests? Is it by any chance possible that governments, religions, etc. find guilt-ridden, fearful, sheep easier to manipulate and control?
Does it really help to make people feel shitty about themselves for being human? Perhaps. If we've wrongly hurt someone, we deserve to feel this way. This is natural.
It is wrong, though, criminally wrong, to make someone feel this way about something that is not wrong, or even good, or simply a matter of personal taste or preference, simply because it doesn't conform to or threatens religion's comforting fantasies, and the political and social straitjackets churches wish to impose on EVERYONE by force of law, all too typically for the patently self-serving material interests of leaders and members, and just as frequently to the enormous benefit of the truly wicked.
Churches constantly berate people for their failings and abjure them to be responsible and upright citizens, yet at every turn bully and harass them when they put their own responsibilities to themselves first, and generally treat them like little children and try to run their lives for them. If the contradiction is not clear here, it is simply enough to consider the degree to which expectations influence outcomes. And we wonder why people go crazy, kill themselves, get drunk, and indulge in other excesses...
It seems clear enough to me that the religious are simply jealous that the government has invaded the church's turf in this regard. It is unrealistic to hope that war, crime, poverty, etc. will ever be totally eradicated, but a serious dent in the ills that beset us could be made if we stopped treating ourselves helpless sinful creatures who cannot take care of ourselves and cannot be trusted not to do wrong. If the religious right weren't so strident about making the things they disapprove of illegal, I wouldn't be laughing so much about them getting so puffed up and indignant about the crypto-religious left passing a new law every week against some traditional value or custom, many of which I happen to share.
And if you wonder whence the hostility of the less temperate atheists, ask yourself how you feel if you knew that the instituion which taught you that it was wrong to lie, and encouraged you to be honest and truthful in all things, even to your own immediate and certain detriment, was itself based on an enormous lie. A lie that men and women within and without the church have for ages known was an enormous perverted fantasy, yet which they tolerated, accepted, and even embraced, out of fear, expedience, or the desire to exploit it's advantages, and, I will grudginly allow, out of a recognition that at is best, or at least more constructive to fight from within the system sometimes. One wonders about that, though. Fortunately such times no longer prevail.
Anyone who reads the quote from Peter you recently posted reveals much to anyone willing to read between the lines. So do the "Deist" (read: Atheist) leanings of many of this country's founding fathers.