Religion: A Powerful Manipulation Tool

4 min read

History bears witness that religion has always been used as a tool to manipulate the masses for personal and political gain. Religion has been in the thick of power struggles, wars, and almost every country's political scenes and cross-border conflict. Belief is a powerful concept, and people believing in something greater than them and their world gives them hope for tomorrow. When times are hard, and a person's spirits are in the trenches, he holds onto his belief fast. Though it might seem cruel, people often turn to their God when they are at their lowest in lieu of when they are doing good in life. 

As it turns out, desperation makes people lose their good sense, making killers out of them. Most cults use religion as the core of their ideology, and with a little bit of theatrics, they can convince their followers to do the craziest things possible. Before 9/11 (another catastrophe instigated by religion), the mass suicide of Jonestown held the title of America's largest civilian casualties.

The incident happened in November 1978 under the leadership of Jim Jones in a secluded countryside settlement located in Venezuela. Around 900 Americans drank poison to kill themselves, children, women, and animals included because their deranged leader Jim Jones said so. They were part of a religious group, Peoples Temple, that gained much support and media scrutiny in its early years. Tired of the public’s rising suspicion about his practices, Jim Jones decided to move somewhere else with his trusted followers. The gruesome details of the incident show barbaric hold a religion can hold on its believers that they don't hesitate to take their own lives.

As mentioned before, 9/11 is another historical event that shows the power of religion as a manipulative tool. The scale of that destruction is unfathomable to many even to this day but is just another proof of the power religion holds over us. Even when people say, “not us” or “none can shake our morals,” they end up falling prey to their own beliefs. The Burari Deaths in India is another proof that education and sensibility have little to do with a person's beliefs. A sliver of hope in a time of desperation and a well-planned miracle can make people turn even on their loved ones.

Aside from terror and violence, the flag barriers of many religions have used it to fill their coffers. A person on his knees in the pews will give the last of his money to the church in hopes of gaining God's favor, while the pope and the priest will go from one country to another to "preach" and spread "God's words"—whatever that means. To encompass the title and all that has been said, know that this isn't about or against any religion but rather about the leaders who influence the fragile minds of their believers. The urge to believe in a higher purpose is intrinsic in most humans, and when they see a sign hinting at the truth of their beliefs, they stumble to meet their purpose halfway. A white-collar suddenly comes alive when he realizes he has more purpose in life than going to the office from 9 to 5.

Cletus McMurty raises similar questions in his book, "Is that really in the bible?" and explains his reasoning to hold religious leaders responsible for their many deprecating actions. Cletus unravels the harmful effects of entrusting knowledge in the hands of the few and then blindly following until you meet your end. Time and time again, in his book, McMurty points out why one should invest time and effort in studying the bible for a better understanding of its religion. In a way, he wants to say what has been the core of this piece: choose your religious leaders wisely and never lose sight of your beliefs.

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