I have often written about how much Deism has to offer people. It is so much more than a mere alternative belief system to the so-called "revealed" religions. Through Deism people can experience what is their birth-right, that is, the opportunity to develop into natural, free, and thoughtful human beings. Dogmatic religious teachings thwart and twist the natural development of a person by instilling fear into the mind at a very early age.
The staggering impact of installing fear into the mind was made even more clear to me last week. I turned on the television to a PBS documentary (already in progress) about a man who was born and raised into a devoutly Catholic family in Boston. The man discussed his childhood, his very close and loving family, and his education in Catholic schools wherein the children were taught to revere priests as being "right next to God."
He then explained the common Catholic practice of going to confession and how he confessed his "sins" of "talking back to his mother," "fighting with his sisters," and then of engaging in a practice that is quite natural for adolescent boys. At once the priest told him that masturbating was a real problem and that he would need special help with this sin. He was told to meet the priest at the rectory (the priest's house). The tragic story of abuse continued to unfold--the man was now well into his 50s and for most of his life he had never been able to tell anyone about what he had suffered. As a boy, he had been afraid and disgusted by what was happening to him but he was unable to tell his own parents! His parents thought the priest was a wonderful person-- so kind for spending so much of his time with the boys of the parish.
When his very elderly parents finally learned the terrible truth, they were heartbroken, both mother and father declared they would have taken the law into their own hands had they known "back then" (the priest in question is now deceased). The parents said priests who do things like that are terrible "hypocrites," but they still consider themselves devout Catholics and were saddened by their son's decision to leave the church!
As Deists, we are well aware of these acts of abuse, but throughout the program, I kept thinking about how this terrible thing could happen in the first place. What prevented the boy from running home and telling his parents? The answer, of course, is feelings of guilt and fear. Guilt and fear are crippling emotions, and the church works overtime to inflict both of these dangerous emotions onto everyone.
An important thing for us to consider as Deists is that even though many people were never physically abused by clerics, everyone is emotionally abused by their teachings! We should consider the consequences of mental abuse on citizens at large. Why do citizens so meekly accept the lies of politicians? Is the root of all this evil the mind abuse of organized, revealed religions? Thomas Jefferson thought so. He warned of the dangerous power of the clergy: "to collect and catechize us, opportunities of delivering their oracles to the people in mass, and of moulding their minds as wax in the hollow of their hands."
Consider, too, that Jefferson scorned the clergy and the church as "those who professed to be his [Jesus] special servants, and perverted into an engine for enslaving mankind, and aggrandizing their oppressors in Church and State."
Jefferson knew well that the secret purpose of the Church was to enslave everyone and see to it that those who do this oppressing are glorified in both the Church and State. When we contemplate this, we can realize how the abuse was enabled in the past and continues to this day. We can then more deeply appreciate our Deist Founders and know that as Deists we are offering more than an alternative religion. We are offering a true process of human emancipation from dogmatic enslavement.