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The Poisoning of the Well

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Of Paradoxes and Manna from Heaven

The rise of Christian fundamentalism in the United States is a profound paradox, a reality that in the natural evolution of human endeavor should not exist, an anathema to the inevitable progression of humanity and civilization, a manifestation that is at odds with what we would expect to exist in the wealthiest, most open and some would say the most learned nation the world has ever seen. Yet, not only does this variant of extremist religion exist in the land of plenty, it thrives, becoming a growing threat to the continued vitality of the nation.

Indeed, a movement already clandestinely growing and attracting more souls before 9/11 was given a gift from the heavens, quite literally, on that fateful day, creating images and emotions that transformed the way millions of Americans saw the world. Suddenly, and unexpectedly, terror fell from the sky like the vengeance-filled thunderbolts of Zeus, spawning a fear and insecurity never before seen inside a nation that had never been attacked on its continental soil. The world was transformed, along with the psyches of millions of people whose beliefs ratified in their minds that the destruction of the World Trade Center was a religious manifestation conjured up by God himself. Paranoid, afraid, uncertain and insecure, thinking themselves living in a troubled world on the verge of its last throes, millions traumatized by the events of 9/11 turned to fundamentalist religion for the salvation reserved for the end of days, answers to most troubling questions and the false comfort that religion offers in times of cataclysm and need.

The profound psychological shift in the minds of tens of millions in the aftermath of 9/11 cannot be underestimated, and must be seen as a monumental trigger that has unleashed the myriad of problems now afflicting America. The trauma, stress, fear and hatred engendered transformed America and its people in ways that have yet to be fully understood. Images never before seen by a mass population, from every conceivable angle, played and replayed over and over again thanks to the power of television caused a massive paradigm shift the likes of which has never been seen or studied. The gravitational pull towards fundamentalist Christian religion by millions of people is one such reality of the aftereffects of 9/11, as humans tend to seek comfort and answers through religion when the world seems most dangerous and troubled. It is religion, through its myths and fantasies, its gods and parables, that can accommodate the fragile minds inherent in the human condition, offering short-term comfort and security through faith in the invisible and belief in the unknown.

At a time when millions needed to find solace and answers to the evil witnessed on 9/11 Christian extremism opened its doors. When the world was spinning out of control, bursting America's bubble of security, fundamentalist Christianity took full advantage, absorbing those wanting to understand why God had allowed such wickedness upon our shores. Psychologically fragile, weak-minded and made vulnerable by the events of 9/11, millions quickly believed the lies of false prophets and corrupt high priests, the excuses made by fear engendering televangelists, the reasoning as stated by greed mongering evangelists. God allowed 9/11 to happen, millions were told, because America had become a debauched society, threatened by homosexuality, allowing the mass murder of pin-size zygotes and abandoning the ways of the Bible. America had been allowed to fall away from its Christian ways, and so the always psychotic God had, once again, wrought violence, death and destruction upon the lands of those breaking covenants with the Almighty.

The reality of why 9/11 happened was never told those seeking answers; the truth behind the attacks was destroyed in favor of lies of convenience and opportunity, where high priests saw benefit in tragedy, like good snake-oil salesmen ready to take advantage of opportunity, seeing a chance to expand religious belief and personal power in a society turning more secular and progressive every year. Millions were told what they wanted to hear, not what would help shake their foundations. Of course the fictions of false prophets and the reality of truth have always been mutually exclusive, with truth an enemy of those seeking the control of thought.

It is these charlatans that thrive off of the misfortunes, stresses and tragedies of others, waiting, like sharks in open water, for the right moment to strike, knowing exactly when the human mind is at its most vulnerable, weak enough to succumb to the whispered shrieks of false comfort and fictitious security, its trauma making willing servants of millions to institutionalized control. To the false prophets and high priests, 9/11 became the catalyst needed to push the agenda and interests of the extreme Christian right, presenting this group with the wallets, energy and political power of millions of fragile psyches and frightened converts. As a result, the influence of fundamentalist Christianity has only risen exponentially since 9/11, creating a deep rift throughout the nation.

What should have been eroded over time through civilization's natural evolution and progression, with the healthy and continued accumulation of America's wealth, progress, education and an increased standard of living has instead remained strong, in fact gaining numbers and momentum, threatening to help erase centuries of progress and struggle. The prosperity afforded America since its inception, together with its rising secularism, along with the separation of church and state enforced since the nation's founding, should have been enough to sentence fundamentalist theology to the fringes of society. Instead, the opposite seems to be happening. This is the reality of 21st century America, a land modern and progressive yet fighting itself over a return to Middle Ages thought and understanding, with millions of citizens preferring the unenlightenment of Dark Ages rather than the liberation of modern thinking.

Endowed with the greatest level of comfort humankind has ever witnessed, possessing a standard of living never seen in the human condition, addicted to the gluttony of materialism, its citizens living in one of the freest societies ever experienced by any people, able to bask in the riches of the world's best technologies, education, infrastructure and society in general, America and its citizens, logic would tell us, should be headed in the direction of secularism and knowledge, reaching human enlightenment by escaping the shackles of religion and the indigence of ignorance.

Instead, America finds itself unable to exorcise itself from religious fundamentalism, with millions of its citizens refusing to enter the realm of modernity, and reality, preferring instead to remain captive believers in the myths and fables of primitive peoples living thousands of years ago. To tens of millions of Americans, Christian fundamentalism, with the Bible seen as the literal interpretation of humanity, of the planet's creation, and of how civilization is to be managed, remains their idea of truth and of reality, even in the face of incontrovertible scientific truth proving otherwise and even with the accumulated knowledge of an ever-progressing society.

In Human Misery Religion Finds a Nest

American Christian fundamentalism, it seems, refuses to bend to the rules of human progress, becoming the exception, not the rule, of what happens to people's religious beliefs the more education they receive and the better off they become. The more comfortable a life is made the less religious a person tends to become. The more secure a person feels the less religious he will be, and the less miserable her life is the less she will lean on religion for meaning to a life seen harsh and cruel.

The more education one receives, free of the education masking religious brainwashing from birth, has a direct correlation on the level of religious faith one has. Knowledge is power, after all, and education is liberation of free thought, a chance to see the world as it is, not as we are told it should be. There is reason why those seeking control and power consider true education and knowledge the enemy, for free thought, both analytical and logical, with reasoning and open mindedness, invariably leads to questioning of authority, to dissent, protest and debate of myths, beliefs and propaganda, and to thinking outside the box that has for millennia shackled the human mind, rendering us unable to see truth, reality and the possibilities of our own free thoughts and capabilities.

In capturing minds at the earliest possible age, when innocence is tender and naivete' bountiful, those seeking the control of souls, minds and energies know that they are more likely to have loyal slaves for an entire life, for the earlier the brainwashing commences the harder it is for the human mind to later escape its parasitic beliefs. The conditioning must begin early on, therefore, before the mind reaches the age of reason, before free thought can light dark tunnels and black holes, before the myths and fables and gods of religion can be seen for the fantasy they are.

In lives full of suffering, indigence, bitterness, disease, malnutrition and lost ability, where destinies are predetermined and inescapable, where education is nonexistent and anemic, where families are large and immobile, where faith in humanity has been replaced by the dying faith in metaphysical hope, such as those of 3 billion humans living on two dollars a day, or five billion people living on less than ten dollars a day, many living at the margins of human habitation, religion, whether fundamentalist or otherwise, finds its most suitable hosts, jumping, like a virus, from soul to soul, gorging on false faith and in the hope that a better life awaits, if not in the today then certainly in the tomorrow, if not on Earth then in the promised afterlife.

In the minds of those billions not lucky enough to escape perpetual castes of servility, forced to live lives squandered and wasted, becoming the numbers and statistics of the failed human pyramid of hierarchy, unable to ever escape a destiny not of their own making, religion becomes the only mechanism to cope, to find solace in a life rotting away in the shantytowns and shacks in which so much of mankind survives in. It is a modes of escape from the harshness of modern day living. Surviving day to day, meal to meal, rich in honor and integrity but not in material possessions, unable to offer a future to their children, powerless to escape the lives they have been chained to since birth, their innocence destroyed at an early age, their education halted even earlier, billions are forced to believe in and place blind faith in the invisible and unseen, for the visible and seen have failed to bear fruit, becoming utter disappointments to billions of people.

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Manuel Valenzuela is a social critic and commentator, international affairs analyst and Internet essayist. His articles as well as his archive can be found at his blog, as well as at other alternative (more...)
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