Dr. Moe Unplugged
Religion Doesn't Have a Prayer
Chapter 5. Co-Dependence and Religion
I suggested in Chapter 1 of our series on Religious Abuse that there would be blood on the floor as this dialogue progressed. I was speaking figuratively of course, but I was referring to some very likely opposition and perhaps outright attacks from within the organization of the Catholic Church. Last week it happened; a fight broke out in the parking lot; a full out brawl it wasn't, but a punch-out worthy of mention, nevertheless.
The contents of that scrape are detailed just below this episode of Dr Moe Unplugged. The complainer agreed to have his letter published, having been advised that it would be responded to by me and Trans4mind's webmaster. I suggest you pause here for a moment and have a look... it will help you understand where I'm going next with this new epistle on Religious Abuse. I'm not going to repeat here what was said, but I will refer to it, because at this point in our dialogue, it is eminently important to address these dissenting voices as they arise.
Our complainer lives inside the system of the Catholic Religion. He is content to be a compliant member and has no problems with any of its systemic delusions. He has wrapped himself inside Catholicism's cloak and claims to enjoy the safety and promise of Heaven it provides. He took exception to a number of points I had made and titled his response "Religious Abuse - What Crap." Right away I knew I was in for a street fight, which I welcomed. Guided by my ethereal "support group", I proceeded to handle his complaints with aplomb and an appropriate level of dispatch. I know, I'm bragging. Let's just say his letter gave me the opportunity to solidify my position and thinking.
Recall that there are two responses to the experience of abuse, be it physical, sexual, emotional or religious. The abused individual identifies themselves as either, a victim who slips into self-loathing and despair or, they identify with their abusers to take on the position of strength by becoming a bully themselves. Our complainer belongs to the latter group even though he came to Catholicism as an adult and claims to have made a free choice. Good for him! When you read his letter to me you can see that he is okay with every aspect of this religion's control over him and the power he feels he derives from being a member.
For example, he is content to be defined as a sinner because confession takes care of that. Physical punishment is also acceptable, especially when he deserves it. This has caused him no ill effects that he can detect. Guilt and shame do not exist in his life. "How unfortunate for the rest of us?" He experiences the loving presence of God through this church affiliation and by following the rules. And finally, the science of Psychology means nothing to him, despite the fact that his chosen religion relies on Psychology as a favoured tool for controlling its members. He fell in love with the closed nature of the Catholic system because they take care of him. All he has to do is obey the rules, confess his sins and take a physical blow now and then to be guaranteed a place in their definition of Heaven.
So Why Attack Me?
Given this level of comfort and peace with his chosen religion why would he take issue with my writings on Religious Abuse? Claiming to be fully at ease with his adopted "Parent," wouldn't he just dismiss my words as so much meaningless rambling by a disenchanted former member? You would think so, but that isn't the case at all.
There are flagrant cracks in this man's belief system and that's what he is upset about. He is mad at me because I dared point out the fallacies that support his adopted religion. He is mad at me because underneath, he is scared that his newly acquired woolly blanket called Catholicism may very well be replete with lies, misrepresentations of historical facts and crimes such as the physical and sexual abuse of children, and perhaps even murder. He is mad at me because I exposed the rot in the underbelly of his chosen religion's pretence at piety and holiness, its fake claims to being God's holy representative on this earth and its careful denunciation of other religious factions. In other words, he's upset because I showed him the rot underneath the thin veneer that constitutes his understanding of the Roman Catholic Religion.
My best guess, based on 25 years experience working with individuals cut off from their feelings, and 10 years of University study culminating in a PhD degree in Psychology, what I said precipitated a Spiritual Crisis for him. After all his searching through a variety of religious systems, he came to Catholicism with his arms wide open and his mind emptied of critical thinking, to swallow their message whole. Catholicism provided the exact formula for the ignorant bliss he had been craving. He wouldn't have to engage in any self-examination. He wouldn't have to grow up and be responsible for his life. He wouldn't have to think. Just follow the rules and everything will be fine. Until I came along to shake him out of woolly reverie with my deluge of "crap".
When his letter to T4M arrived early last week, some here wrote him off as one of the occasional crazies that shows up periodically to take issue with T4M's mission. In case you didn't know it "we are all of the devil." I took the same position as they, initially. But then I saw "the gift." And the gift is this: Whenever someone tries to bully you out of your position on any matter, realize that they are doing so out of fear, first and foremost. You have struck a chord within them that they refuse to recognize as their own, since they are in the business of projecting all their uncomfortable feelings away from themselves. After which they get to hang them onto outside groups, individuals or systems of belief they have been conditioned to believe are foul and to be rejected. In complete conformance with his adopted religion he has designated me, as an obvious enemy of his ridiculous faith, to be crazy and misinformed. He has rejected everything I've said about his religion as would any child trying to protect the image of an all powerful parent who is under attack by some insidious outsider. This is called "Co-Dependent Behaviour" and is the subject of this week's chapter on Religious Abuse.
Co-dependence is a term that came into prominence in the early 80s and was used to describe the relationship between an alcoholic and their family members who were being terrorized by his or her erratic behaviour. It described how the alcoholic so dominated the family system that the spouse and children lived in a state of constant stress not unlike that described in the Stockholm Syndrome. The alcoholic's ranting and raving while intoxicated was always out of control, and everyone in the family lived in fear of the next outburst. Children hid in closets while the sober parent tried to act as buffer between them and the raging parent. Verbal and physical abuse of all family members was the norm. The day after an episode, everyone remained quiet and dared not speak about "what happened." The family was in collusion with the alcoholic in this co-dependent relationship. No one could be their true self because they were always on guard for the next episode - ergo, co-dependence became their state of being.
From these beginnings came support groups for Adult Children of Alcoholics (ACOA) along with descriptions of the syndrome and its major features. Other groups, offering support for children and spouses of alcoholics, also came into being through the auspices of Alcoholics Anonymous. As the ACOA syndrome gained a footing in the mainstream's understanding of the phenomenon, its major spokespersons started showing up on Oprah Winfrey and other talk shows devoted to helping people manage such problems.
Melodie Beattie and John Bradshaw were two of the most prominent voices that exposed this caricature of the alcoholic family and invoked the term "co-dependence" to explain its dysfunctional relations. Who coined it originally did not matter as the term gained wide acceptance from those afflicted and from those who claimed to have answers that worked. Everything we know today about dysfunctional families came from this era when a lot of attention was being paid to the alcoholic home and how that one "crazed" individual so controlled the family dynamics that no one dared to speak out against them. When the non-alcoholic spouse tried to placate the alcoholic, they in fact modeled this co-dependent attitude and behaviour for all to see.
Children in the alcoholic home followed suit. They tried to be extra good by remaining quiet and invisible if possible, in order to do their part to short circuit another abusive episode. They essentially learned to repress their own needs while trying to be perfect in their behaviour. Under this state of constant stress, children tried to figure out how to control what the alcoholic parent was doing to them. None of these strategies worked of course, because the alcoholic's behaviour was not contingent on family dynamics. In every case, the behaviour was solely the province of a psychologically dysfunctional individual who used alcohol to dull his or her pain and then used this dependency to excuse their flagrantly abusive behaviour. This family dynamic evolved into a closed system that no one would speak about, principally out of shame. The alcoholic, who was often described as "King or Queen Baby" had their way within the family system while everyone else tried various survival strategies that never worked.
When the term Co-dependence became a part of our everyday language, psychologists and members of the established helping professions quickly came on board. It helped all of us "helpers" give meaning and understanding to a dynamic that was so flagrantly obvious it screamed for recognition. Thanks to the many writers within the "Recovery Movement" we in psychology were given a whole new set of parameters in which to understand this issue and quickly applied our therapeutic strategies to meet the demand.
The writers in the Recovery Movement, who, early on, were not psychologists or psychiatrists, but simply astute observers of the human condition, opened the door for the rest of us to follow. They were likely "Adult Children of Alcoholics" or, "Recovering Alcoholics" themselves, who decided to clean up their act and bring much needed understanding to a systemic disorder that plagued millions of families worldwide. When these writers began to describe the family dynamics associated with creating the co-dependent condition, they opened a major door to our growing understanding of the dysfunctional family. Their methods of investigation and ensuing results became the foundation upon which today's understanding of dysfunctional families was built. They set the table. We, helpers and psychologists alike, came along and feasted on their insights. In my practice alone, a full one third of my clients were reeling from the effects of having grown up in a dysfunctional family. My most recommended reading at the time was John Bradshaw's "Bradshaw: On the Family."
From these early explorations came our understanding of dysfunctional family dynamics as a whole. We therapists immediately recognized that these pathological dynamics were not just the province of the alcoholic family. Any family who had a raging parent fit the bill. Families who were generally dysfunctional without the use of drugs or alcohol fit the bill. For a while it seemed most North American families fit the bill. The most important result came through the term "co-dependence" that clearly described the relationship between family victims and their abuser.
From the outside, it would seem obvious to anyone looking in, that the sober parent should take the children and leave. That never happened unless the sober parent sought treatment for themselves first. This was rare for the simple reason that they were not the obvious problem, their alcoholic spouse was. That's when the term "enabler" also came into the jargon. If an alcoholic went into treatment, his or her spouse had to do so as well. This had to happen for one simple reason: the unconscious enabling behaviour served up by the non-alcoholic spouse helped maintain the dysfunctional family dynamic. Sadly, many spouses of alcoholics enjoyed their role as "victim" for the attention it brought them. If their husband or wife got well, then what?
As for the children of alcoholic parents, they would vacate the home as soon as possible and go off and marry someone whose behaviour very much resembled that of their alcoholic parent. Surprised? It is no surprise when you realize that we all seek to recreate circumstances that are familiar to us, even dysfunctional disabling circumstances. Their new partner may not be an alcoholic per se, but will likely reveal a good number of the psychodynamics they were already used to. Thus was born the need for an independent recovery program for those individuals identified as Adult Children of Alcoholics.
"What does this have to do with Religious Abuse?" You might ask
Restricting myself to what I know about the Catholic system, I will attempt to answer that question now. Children brought up in the Catholic system of religious indoctrination show many of the same symptoms that children brought up in alcoholic homes demonstrated. Catholic children learn to "survive" the system by acquiescing and growing silent. They do this to avoid conflict and to placate the adults who are instructing them. They employ the same methods of survival as our ACOA's - perfectionism, good behaviour, silence and abandonment of their needs for comfort and safety.
As a child, I just tolerated the whole process of indoctrination and gave in to what my religious abusers were imposing on me. The majority of Catholic school children I grew up with did the same. Very few, if any, were engaged in a process of learning as would be the case with an adult who has chosen to become a believer. My classmates and I just tolerated the indoctrination process as something we had to put up with. Our parents were under the same spell, so we had no objective references to draw upon, and no inspiration to challenge the status quo. We were told in no uncertain terms that we must "never doubt" the Catholic Religion's message.
"So how was this Catholic message delivered?" You might ask. Through rote instructions and repetition just like our regular classes, applied with just the right amount of verbal abuse and shaming to make sure we "sinners" got the message. The more we could repeat in turn, the more accolades we received. Just like the children in alcoholic homes, we had to sit there and take it. When we repeated verbatim what they had taught us, we were showered with compliments and approval. What child does not want to gain approval from influential adults? Children want to please, and under stress, they will work doubly hard to do so.
Co-dependence was bred into us. We were not encouraged to evolve or grow. We were encouraged to learn Catechism by rote. In my father's day, Catechism was all they got at school. No maths or sciences, or anything practical that could have served them in life. In my era we were taught all the basics that the educational system required, but only after having the Catechism shoved down our throats with the emphasis on "shoved."
As Catholic children we were taught to avoid sin. We were not encouraged to think for ourselves. Instead, we were taught to adapt. We were never allowed to challenge any of what was presented to us. To do so would have been blasphemous. We were taught to be dependent (co-dependent) on the system and the system would take care of us in turn. Objecting was always met with guilt and shame. We had little to worry about as long as we accepted the party line.
To make sure we really got it, we were also taught to scrutinize our every behaviour for signs of weakness and the influence of the devil. We were taught to loathe any behaviour our nun teachers had deemed "bad." We became self-monitoring self-abusers. We learned to distrust our feelings if they did not fall in line with the prescriptions we were being fed. Many of us became full fledged neurotics as a result.
My Catholic conditioning led to low self-esteem, self-abuse for any behaviour deemed sinful and self-loathing that ensured I would fail at just about anything I tried. The worst result was that we were programmed to not trust ourselves and our inner nature. We were to rely only on the system for whatever we needed to know. Thanks to my opposition to their methods of indoctrination I became a successful psychologist and practicing therapist. I accomplished all this in spite of their programming to the contrary.
How do I know that their methods of indoctrination failed with my generation?
One simple fact! The parish that oversaw my education once boasted 2 priests and offered 3 Sunday masses along with a Saturday evening mass for those who worked on Sundays. There were also early morning masses from Monday to Friday. The local school was run by a contingent of nun teachers and a Mother Superior. Today, in that very same parish, there is 1 mass on Sunday offered by 1 priest who also provides services for 2 other parishes in neighbouring towns. Whenever I have attended any event at that church over the past 40 years I have noticed a steadily shrinking population of members. All I see are the remnants of my parent's generation with the occasional appearance by someone I grew up with. My generation has abandoned the church altogether and the nuns are also gone. The local school continues to provide elementary education under the Catholic umbrella, but is staffed by regular accredited teachers. This is but one example of a growing worldwide phenomenon. Just Google "Religion in Decline" and see for yourself.
Religious co-dependence means you are reliant on someone else's behaviour and demands for your well-being. This would include the beliefs and practices of any religious system. Introductory psychology gives us a good illustration in the form of the following experiment. Two rats are placed in separate cages. Both cages have a lever the enclosed rat can press to either receive food, or stop an unpleasant experience such as mild electrical shock. In this particular experiment both rats were being exposed to electrical shock and they had to figure out how to stop it. Each cage had its own lever, but only one of these worked. Only one of the rats had control over the incoming shock that was being delivered to both of them. The rat with the working lever quickly learned to shut off the electrical stimulus that affected both of them. Guess which rat demonstrated co-dependent behaviour before giving up altogether?
Co-dependence means you believe you are powerless over your own circumstances and only some external authority can relieve you of pain and bring you peace, joy and comfort. You have no control over what comes at you, so you do everything you can to placate the person or system that does have control. That is co-dependence! There are many finer dimensions that also describe the phenomenon, but for the purposes of this discussion what I have offered above will suffice.
The Catholic Church trains its members to be co-dependent on their authority and their interpretation of what is right and wrong in life. Individual members are conditioned to be subservient. They are conditioned to submit. They are conditioned to place their fate in the hands of the religion. This speaks of every generation being indoctrinated into the Catholic system, including those individuals that go on to become priests and nuns in order to identify with the power side of the church while disavowing their own victim experience.
Being conditioned into co-dependence is the opposite of being guided to trust one's self and inner guidance. Religious conditioning stands in full opposition to anything that remotely speaks of independent thinking and action. It is designed to enslave the mind and keep you permanently off balance, making you a compliant member of the system's authority, and a promoter of their way of thinking. Your co-dependent thinking and resulting psychodynamics are a signal to them of a job well done. They now own you and you will pay tribute to them and the religious system they represent in any fashion they order.
Psychologically speaking, this is very effective and very powerful, as I and millions of others have seen with our own eyes. Most of us know someone who has come from an alcoholic family. We certainly know plenty of people who have come from dysfunctional family homes. More than likely, we are also a victim of some religious conspiracy to control the hearts and minds of the innocent. Those of us who were raised Catholic were programmed toward co-dependence as an attitude toward life, guaranteed to maintain our subjugated allegiance toward the religion of our birth and guaranteed to keep us enslaved to their entire system for some time to come.
The worse thing that can happen for any abusive religious system like Catholicism is education. That's what happened in the 80's as the information about the alcoholic family made its way into our mainstream thinking and understanding. "Co-dependent No More" by Melodie Beattie became a rallying cry for those wanting to break free of their enslavement to the alcoholic family system. It then became the rallying cry for anyone trying to break free of their dysfunctional family dynamics. Now we get to see this process in the forum of "Recovery from Religious Abuse."
It is time to bring that form of perverse co-dependence to an end, wouldn't you agree? I certainly think so, which is why I am engaged in this process of revealing to you the very nature of my early co-dependence upon the Catholic religion of my youth and my journey through psychology to find answers to a myriad of questions that I was not allowed to ask as a child. Through education alone I was able to pierce the veil in which I became engulfed in as a child. I was able to see the fabrications and the lies that underscored religious tenets used to indoctrinate, frighten and control myself and my generation of young minds.
"Where is the Love, Catholicism? Where is the Love?
As I proceed through this process of venting and unearthing the poison that was given to me in my youth, the sickness and perversion that underlies this religion becomes clearer and clearer every day. Every chapter, every paragraph, every sentence and every word I write, bring more of this poison to light. I share it with you for only one purpose, so you can ask the very same questions I have been asking all my life, and you can "deliver yourself from this evil" before it takes away any more of your life.
Ask yourself the following questions. Why am I bad? What's wrong with me that I am not like the rest of my religious family? Why do I think so little of myself? Why don't I have any self-esteem? Why do I always feel inferior to others? Why am I riddled with guilt and shame? Why am I a failure at all the things my religion wants me to do and believe in? Now, ask yourself, from a purely intellectual point of view: "Is it possible to have that much wrong with me, as my religion suggests?"
My stumbling through these questions began at age 18 when I was in the Navy after having completed high school and having no clue as to what to do next with my life. I went into the Navy because it had a familiar authoritarian feel to it. People would tell me what to do and I wouldn't have to think for myself. Sound familiar? I could remain a co-dependent child for a little longer and work my way through the system as I had learned in surviving my years of religious education.
Yes, with the Navy, there was the promise of travel to exotic lands, and I took to that straight away. But the rest, the authoritarian nature of the military system, the saluting and bowing you had to do to for your superiors, the catch phrases and rules that kept the system going, they were part of a package I was already familiar with. All I had to do was placate the system and they would take care of me for as long as I chose to stay.
Somewhere near the end of my first year, while I was training to be a radio operator, I started avoiding religious services. On my base, there was a Catholic service offered every Sunday, along with services for most of the religious denominations represented by individuals coming from every part of Canada. The only thing that brought me to church in the first place was the guilt and shame I would experience if I did not attend. I hated going to church and then I hated myself for feeling that way. Brainwashing and co-dependence in action once again!
I didn't see it at the time, but going to church was simply a matter of avoiding unpleasant feelings, as opposed to enjoying a pleasant experience that actually gave me something useful in return. I have no memory of the base priest so I can only assume he was okay and didn't have a great effect on my life at that time. I noticed that an approximately equal number of my fellow recruits attended some kind of church service as there were who had nothing to do with any religion. I didn't pay too much attention to this latter group. I was too busy wrestling with my guilt for not attending church on those occasions I chose stay away. The pangs of guilt and shame about having sinned once again kept me busy for most Sundays.
If the word "co-dependence" had been in our mainstream language at the time, I'm sure I wouldn't have noticed it. I was in no position to challenge the authority of the church; I was simply looking for a way out of having to attend on a regular basis without having to feel guilty. It was like getting into a car in the 80's after seat belts became mandatory. You heard a nagging buzzing sound until you strapped on the belt. It's called negative reinforcement. Initially you do the action to avoid the annoying noise, not because it's good to wear seat belts. You may consider that later, but not in the short run. I only went to church to stop the buzzing noise of guilt and shame that was sure to come on if I didn't. I never got anything of value by being there. The only value I derived was shutting off that damn guilt buzzer for another week.
That in a nutshell explains my relationship to my religion as a young man and how its conditioning prompted me to take remedial action for my own well-being. I entered the profession of psychology to rid myself of their influence and to gain some control over my life which had been spinning out of control in so many ways. Early in my educational pursuits I was still a long way from being able to pursue my doubts about religion as a whole. Their conditioning not to question still held sway over me. What I settled for was a relationship of convenience with my native religion, one in which I could deliberately forget to attend church and say "oh well, missed that one" and that would reduce my guilt associations. It was a game I played with myself. The conditioning of the church was so strong in me I had to literally fool myself to get what I wanted. The fact that I was able to do so was simply the beginning of the end for the Catholic Religion in my life.
What did I want from the Church?
To be left alone primarily. I so despised their heavy handed guilt trips and shaming activities that I could only see one way out - I committed myself to just ignoring them. It was the best I could do at the time. I was never totally guilt free but I was no longer a full fledged slave either. I did what most Catholics of my generation did. I moved away from them, but I never left town completely.
That's my exposure of co-dependence within the religious system I was raised in. Examine your own experience to see if any of this applies to you. My suspicion is there will be more commonality than not. As for those who would condemn us for blogging about religion's insult to our intelligence, let them beware. Their time is at an end. The genie is out of the bottle. Most of the world can read and a large part of the world is Internet savvy.
How long do these promoters of falsified religious dogma think they have before their entire system runs off the cliff? Not much longer I'm happy to say.
No longer is education the privilege of the conspiratorial few. Their days of running things are fast disappearing. Pretty soon we will be visiting their Halls of Shame as Museums dedicated to the repression of man. We will look at their claims etched in some bronze plaque and scratch our heads. "How did people swallow this shit?"
We will ask all kinds of question exactly like these? More importantly, we will admire those who chose to leave and provided a way out for millions to follow. This is our destiny my fellow earthlings, to finally be free of religious tyranny once and for all. We are the generation who gets to witness and accelerate religion's final gasps. Because we want our Freedom now... And:
Now is the Time!
That's it for this edition. See you next time on "Dr Moe Unplugged - Religious Abuse."
Readers Comment...Here is the comment about Dr. Moe Unplugged received by Peter Shepherd from Kobus Otto...
Religious abuse? WHAT CRAP!! I am offended by the message broadcast by Dr. Moe Unplugged. Why let this guy attack my religion from your website?
He clearly displays some remarkable ignorance for someone who grew up Catholic for example "God, who is perfect, and by that definition should only create perfection, screwed up with you and that's why you need to be molded = lie #3" The Church does not teach this. God did not screw up, he created beings with free will and they chose to sin.
I have been a subscriber to your website for quite some time and found it a useful tool for self-improvement and spiritual growth. During this time I also became Catholic after trying out all sorts of things. I was brought up Protestant and have always questioned authority. I don't appreciate some disillusioned person attacking what I feel in my heart is right.
As for shame and guilt, I have no idea what he is talking about. If I feel ashamed of a sin I committed, I confess it to my priest and am forgiven. I don't have to live with shame and quilt. That is Dr. Moe's choice. As for expecting a reaction from the church itself, I doubt there will be one. I'm only reacting to this because I feel a good resource for spiritual growth is being blackened by this anti-religious fervor.
Many of us find growth, sustenance and love in our religions and if doctor Moe doesn't, he's free to believe whatever he wants to believe. I just don't see the value in him trying to take people out of religion.There may be some who could do with questioning what they believe and finding things out for themselves but they won't necessarily come to the same conclusions he has. He also talks about corporal punishment and I cannot relate to his position. I've been beaten for good reason and am yet to feel any ill effects from this as an adult. The so called syndromes invented by psychologists hold no interest for me.
As for religion holding one hostage, I think it's preposterous. Are they chaining you to a chair and forcing you to listen? I can walk out of Catholicism at any time but I won't since I feel the very presence of GOD inside my local parish when I enter, and that is why I chose to stay.
I also read your reply in Rewiring the Soul and simply cannot see where any of the religions (Dutch reformed, Scientology, Catholic, etc.) I have belonged to invalidated my natural feelings. I was simply taught to control them. I also found this comment by Dr. Moe "when your only comfort is the robes that you wear and your homosexual encounters with each other?" extremely offensive. Simply because some priests have been found to do this does not mean you can generalize and apply it to all priests. All organizations suffer from corruption of some kind and take steps to counter this. As you said yourself "I'd also add that wherever there's authority there's corruption and manipulation, with accompanying brainwashing machinery, so effective we don't even notice it."
Fact is, the Catholic church will continue to exist long after you and Dr. Moe have departed. The reason for this is the underlying truths. Yes, there are misconceptions inside the church just as there as misconceptions outside the church about the church. I have encountered several catholics who don't even know what the church's position on things are, or what the actual message of the church is.
I was really disappointed about this and am reconsidering whether I should keep my subscription to your newsletter or visit your website. I simply feel I don't attack your beliefs, don't attack mine. If you had beliefs that were forced on you by a religion and you accepted this authority, the blame lies ultimately with yourself for not questioning them. As for me , my faith is based on my experience and I decide what is truth, not some external authority. This does not mean however, that an external authority such as the Pope cannot be right, just use you own mind too. If you are late in discovering your independence on these matters, don't blame it on religion.
Peter Shepherd replied...
I passed your email onto Maurice and he would like to make a reply on the Unplugged site. Are you willing to have your email published, anonymously if you prefer?
I certainly respect your right to believe in your religion however you wish. The point of Uplugged is to help people who have suffered as a result of their indoctrination, as well as for Maurice to express his own opinions, as he has a right to do. I offered him this platform on Trans4mind because in fact I agree with his conclusions and I believe he will help many people. If you feel have not suffered from religious indoctrination, or you feel you have indeed benefitted from your religious experiences, so much the better.
Of course, these issues are not black and white. I believe in Jesus' teachings, the original version represented by the Gnostics, who were brutally extinguished by the Roman Catholic Church and a totally different religion created with the intention of maintaining the political power of the declining Roman Empire. Not a religion that I support in any way, because of the unbelievable harm they have done over the centuries. That's not to deny that many present-day Christians are caring, loving, peaceful people who identify particularly with Jesus' message of love. This is the true core of Christianity that I fully support and have said so in recent articles in Cultivate Life! emagazine.
Kobus further replied...
You can certainly publish my e-mail. I don't believe in anonymous. I believe in responsibility. I hear what you say, although I do not fully agree. As far as the Gnostics go, I believe they were suppressed due to issues regarding whether the God of Christ and the God of the old testament are the same. Anyhow I tend to think the truth will endure.
A note from Peter Shepherd about the Gnostic religion...
I have explained my views about Gnosticism in the article The Wheel of Life. There have been many Gnostic schools and practices, going back to the dawn of history and forward to my own Insight Project, in which initiates/students seek their own intuitive spiritual knowledge called "gnosis." It comes from the mysterious spiritual Source inside each of us. Acquiring gnosis has been the goal of seekers since time immemorial.
The Christian Gnostics based their teaching on the master Jesus, who himself taught that "the Kingdom of Heaven lies within you." He never taught that it was written in a book - he taught a spiritual practice not an othodox dogmatic religion: the book and religion came later and that institution hated and detested the Gnostic "heretics." The Gnostics disputed the power of the Church to be intermediary between God and the individual Christian; and of course, they disputed "whether the God of Christ and the God of the Old Testament are the same," as would any objective person... love and fear, complete opposites. As a result the Gnostics (like all heretics - people with their own mind) were cruelly exterminated by the Catholic Church and the Kings and barons with whom they were arm in arm.
Dogma is the problem, not religion per se, though the two are usually inseparable. If only Christianity had been about the teachings of Christ, the history of the last 2000 years could have been heaven on Earth, instead of purgatory. But no, the Romans needed the fear-based, patriarchal religious dogma of the ancient Jews to create a religion that could manipulate and suppress the people and so continue their empire based on force and misery. So the Old Testament was included in the Bible, and the New Testament created: a carefully chosen and edited selection from the original 50-odd Gnostic gospels about Jesus' teaching that distorted it almost (but not completely thank God) beyond recognition. Read my article Life is a School of the Spirit to see how this worked out. Yes, the truth does indeed endure. It cannot but.
Maurice Turmel replied...
My dear Mr Otto,
You have delivered a fine collection of thoughts and reactions to my series on Religious Abuse in Trans4mind's new section entitled "Dr Moe Unplugged." Your title "Religious Abuse - What Crap" tells a lot about where you're coming from and that any debate with you will not rise above the level of a street fight. Despite your insistence on reducing this subject to the most base of levels I will attempt to point out to you the many contradictions in your complaints. And in fact, it was at my insistence that your letter to Trans4mind and myself in particular, be published. So now it can sit alongside the other letters we have received on the subject and be subject to the same level of scrutiny you've applied to my postings on Religious Abuse.
I wanted your letter published because you make my case on every aspect of religious brainwashing and mental pollution that I have addressed in that series. And here they are:
"I have been beaten for good reason." You're OK with physical punishment when "you deserve it."
"God didn't screw up, man chose to sin." Does this include Original Sin? You have no feelings of guilt or shame to contend with because when these arise you can take them to the priest and "he'll forgive you for them." So you don't have to think for yourself. You can walk away anytime but you won't because you have freely chosen this religion and you feel God's presence while you're there.
"If people have problems with this religion they should have done their questioning earlier" Even children?
"Religion holding one hostage is preposterous" Do a little reading on Mind Control and see how your religion has lifted it's most cherished control tactics right out of Psychology's Play Book.
"Religion has not invalidated my feelings, I was taught to control them." In psychology, this is called repression. Oh yes, and finally, "I have no use for Psychology."
You have delivered to us the position of a completely indoctrinated individual who has swallowed his chosen religion's belief structure whole, without question, without doubt. Giving yourself over to them has allowed you to wrap yourself in their warm woolly blanket where there is nothing to worry about, because the whole system will take care of you. You no longer have to think for yourself, they will do it for you. And this you have done, despite your protestations that you are Free to leave anytime. But why would you? Wrapped up in this promise of bliss that will carry you through life, why on earth would you object?
But what did you have to give up in exchange for what you perceive to be your religion's blessings? You've had to give up your independent thinking for one, unless you consider giving yourself over to them to be an independent choice. Controlled (repressed) feelings, corporal punishment, sin, confession - these are your rewards for relinquishing your independent thinking. These are the hallmarks of your accepted conditioning. These constitute the main elements of your servitude to the church. In return they promise you their version of bliss as long as you remain a stalwart supporter. Let's not forget their favourite admonition: "do not doubt or question." And you won't because you are satisfied with their claim that the religion stands on the historical remnants of scripture, God's own words, which they claim shores up their foundation. The fact that these books of scripture have been co-opted and corrupted by many generations of so-called religious authorities is not for you to worry about.
So let's get to the bottom line, Mr Otto. Are you angry with me for attacking your religion? The answer is an obvious "Yes." Are you angry with me for attacking your beliefs? Again, the answer is "Yes." Is there something else bothering you, that one can derive by reading between the lines while taking in your message as a whole? "Yes there is!"
Here is what I believe is going on with you, sir. You are scared! You are upset with me because I have shown you the cracks in your religious authority's foundation of lies. These cracks are growing wider every day and you are at a loss as to how to deal with them. You think that by counter-attacking me you are going to protect that woolly blanket of a safe haven you have wrapped yourself in. You are hurt and angry, of that there is no doubt. But the bottom line is "You are Scared." Pay attention to what you are feeling right now, sir, because the louder you want to deny this, the more you make my case. The more vociferously you would like to attack me, the more truth there is to this assessment. Yelling at me, in your mind, or on paper, and using terms like "this is a load of crap" do not offer a convincing rebuttal. The fact is you are at war with yourself! And I am the target of your attacks because I have peeled back your safety blanket and exposed the rot that supports your adopted religion.
If you were truly at peace with your beliefs and your chosen religion, none of this would be happening right now. You wouldn't be upset with Trans4mind and you would not have made me the target of your anger and fear. But you are not at peace, are you? You are riddled with doubt and that's why this crisis has entered your life.
I have punched holes in your thinking, in your wholesale acceptance of Catholic Religion as a bringer of truth. You have long suspected yourself that all was not well here. In your own heart there are rumblings of a different kind of truth emerging, one that you cannot shut away, and one that threatens the very foundation of your belief systems. You have fallen into one of your own traps sir. By virtue of attacking me and my position on your religion you have exposed the flaws within your own system of beliefs. Your ego is hard at work trying to repair the cracks, trying to shore up the foundation, trying to return you to that lovely state of bliss you adopted as part of your deal with the Catholic Religion.
The rumblings in your heart are getting louder. And as you travel around the net under the pretence of mere curiosity you come across materials like mine which, lo and behold, are linked directly to your own growing suspicions. In response, you are doing what you have been taught, you are trying to silence the voice of dissent within your own human / intellectual / emotional system. You are mad at me because I mirrored the very cracks that you have been working hard to repress lately. You are not as convinced about the solidity of your chosen religion as you make out to be. If you were truly at peace, nothing I have said would have touched you. The fact the you have been touched, as revealed in your very emotional outburst to me, shows the flaws in your own beliefs, shows the uncertainty with which you have been living, shows the despair that you will have to contend with if anything I have said is true.
The Law of Attraction says that we draw to ourselves what we need, and what we believe we deserve. You sir have drawn me into your world and my words have disrupted your peaceful co-existence with your chosen religion. I, on the other hand, have done exactly the same thing by drawing you to me. You and I need each other right now so we can come to terms with our individualized belief systems. I want to thank you for this gift. You have given me the chance to really solidify my position on the matter of religion as a whole, and the effects of religious abuse in particular. You have not graduated beyond the level of Kindergarten Christianity, which is right in keeping with your religious authority's version of "don't ask, don't tell." In other words, just do as you're told.
Your objections to my offerings at Dr Moe Unplugged are uniquely your own construction. You have derived from what I said what you find upsetting and frightening. You are dealing with your fear by attacking me, rather than examining what's really bothering you. Your doubts belie your so-called blissful life inside that religion. You sir, are having a Spiritual Crisis, brought on by your own doubts and questioning. I am not your enemy. The truth is your enemy. The lies your religion have fed you are your enemy. I have no power to elicit doubts in anyone. If doubts arise it's because they are already alive inside of you.
So here's my message to you sir. Grow up! Take responsibility for your feelings, doubts, anger and fear. These belong to you. Nobody made you feel anything! Consider moving from Kindergarten Christianity where you accept everything they say and do some adult questioning of your own. I know many Christians who have challenged their faith, faced their doubts, and came back to their faith stronger and more convinced that this was the right place for them. I have enormous respect for individuals who have faced their fears, because what they believe in after self-confrontation, is based in the personal experience of having touched their God Self within. My message to everyone is "find your God Self through your feelings, because Your Heart knows the way. In other words, trust yourself, not some external authority. Face your doubts, sir, they have something important to tell you.
Mr Otto, you are the architect of your own self-doubts. And relying on blanket statements such as "Religious Abuse - What Crap" only serves to reinforce how boorish and intolerant you are in your reactions to ideas that dare challenge your beliefs. Your total rejection of psychology is another demonstration of your ignorance of the facts and your inability to conduct an intelligent conversation. Your religion uses Psychology very effectively to lock you up into their way of thinking and to program you to reject any information that would jeopardize their control over you. That includes the very rejection of the tool they have used so effectively against you. I'll put my 10 years of University training in Psychology and my 25 years experience as a practicing therapist up against "Religious Abuse - What Crap" any day. That statement alone tells us all how intolerant you really are. You are in the right Religion, sir; they too have no tolerance for Science, for Intelligent Debate and for Informed Reasoning. To this day their policies on Religious Abuse, Contraception and Spiritual Freedom remain mired in their unwillingness to progress. They are part of the Religious Ice Age that is now in full retreat.
Thank you again for your comments. You have inspired me to even greater heights in terms of verbalizing my objections to your religion's doctrines and its many abuses which are being exposed daily.
Excerpts from "The Voice - A Metaphor for Personal Development" as compared to our letter from Kobus Otto
As I was considering how to address this man's complaints, it came to me that I had already met a character like him before. In my book The Voice - A Metaphor for Personal Development, there is a character named Ishmal who is completely resistant to New Thought Spiritual ideas, but intrigued at the same time. In his attempts to discredit those who offer such ideas he precipitates his own Spiritual Crisis. What he meets head on are his own doubts about his relationship to scripture and the "old ways" that have always sustained him.
I have injected some of Mr Otto's own comments within the dialogue to demonstrate the parallels. The inset passages in italics are his. The remaining print material is excerpted from The Voice.
He clearly displays some remarkable ignorance for someone who grew up Catholic for example "God, who is perfect, and by that definition should only create perfection, screwed up with you and that's why you need to be moulded = lie #3" The Church does not teach this. God did not screw up, he created beings with free will and they chose to sin.
. . . The resistant ones still held fast to old religious dogma. The ancient teachings they so often referred to came from old scriptures that had been recorded eons ago. These had been re-formulated and re-digested so many times, no one could be sure anymore what the original truths had purported to teach. But the resistant ones held on, because they feared the unknown, and preferred the security of the familiar. The enemy of God's Army was not a particular group of people or their belief systems so much as it was "fear". Fear is what held a man captive and proved to be the most formidable of foes.
As for shame and guilt , I have no idea what he is talking about. If I feel ashamed of a sin I committed, I confess it to my priest and am forgiven. I don't have to live with shame and quilt. That is Dr. Moe's choice. As for expecting a reaction from the church itself, I doubt there will be one. I'm only reacting to this because I feel a good resource for spiritual growth is being blackened by this anti-religious fervour.
. . . The New Thought Movement was nothing more than blasphemy for these resistant ones. It carried the banner of some unholy evil they had to resist at all costs. Being a good resistant one was considered an honour among that group, and they had a wealth of very capable speakers to represent them. But they had lost a lot of their influence over the years. Their numbers had been continuously dwindling, as new generations . . . . rejected their rigid belief structure.
Many of us find growth, sustenance and love in our religions and if doctor Moe doesn't , he's free to believe whatever he wants to believe. I just don't see the value in him trying to take people out of religion. There may be some who could do with questioning what they believe and finding things out for themselves but they won't necessarily come to the same conclusions he has. He also talks about corporal punishment and I cannot relate to his position. I've been beaten for good reason and am yet to feel any ill effects from this as an adult. The so called syndromes invented by psychologists hold no interest for me.
. . . Most young people found The New Thought Movement appealing, even when their parents were confirmed resistant ones. But anyone who became a seeker on Antilles still had a fight on their hands. Many of them felt caught between the lessons and beliefs of their parents, and the powerful draw on their hearts these new ideas provided. Still, they felt compelled to look. And as each of these "curious ones" became a seeker, the Spiritual Tide moved further into the New Era.
. . . Ishmal was not done yet. As a leader among the resistant ones, it was his sworn duty to debunk these young upstarts before they could get a hold on his community. He knew he had a tough battle ahead, but he was up for it. He had succeeded, on a few occasions, in pulling back a curious seeker, before they went over completely to the open ones, who were sometimes referred to as awakened.
As for religion holding one hostage, I think it's preposterous. Are they chaining you to a chair and forcing you to listen? I can walk out of Catholicism at any time but I won't since I feel the very presence of GOD inside my local parish when I enter, and that is why I chose to stay.
Ishmal never liked those distinctions. To him awakened presumed that others, specifically himself, were still "asleep." He did not see it that way at all. He knew he was awake because he respected the ways of the Lord, as these had been traditionally taught on Antilles, over the centuries leading to now.
The Scriptures of his culture, coming from a common ancestry, held those truths in trust, as they had been documented in the sacred recordings of their major religions. Ishmal could not uphold the idea that such "holy words" would be open to challenge. And that is what the so-called awakened ones claimed.
Fact is , the Catholic Church will continue to exist long after you and Dr.Moe have departed. The reason for this is the underlying truths. Yes, there are misconceptions inside the church just as there as misconceptions outside the church about the church. I have encountered several Catholics who don't even know what the church's position on things are, or what the actual message of the church is.
The awakened ones asserted that these ancient Scriptures were no longer useful, that their value had long ago disappeared, since they could not reflect the currents of modern times.
"Modern times, bunk!" Ishmal thought. "Who do they think they are that they can challenge the Scriptures? Why those are God's very own words, given to the leaders of our race many eons ago. They were destined to be passed on from generation to generation, never to be altered nor changed, since those humble beginnings. Why would anyone doubt their veracity?" he continued, speaking only to himself of course. "Bah," he thought, .how will they ever get along without the Scriptures? Why, I would be lost without them." Yet he, too, was intrigued by these new ideas. As hard as Ishmal tried to convince himself otherwise, he knew he was. He kept hoping he would find some flaw upon which to pounce. But invariably, he would come away from such encounters more intrigued and befuddled than before.
. . . . "These people actually believe God resides in them," he went on, shaking his head. "Why that is simply absurd. Well," he hemmed and hawed, "that is, God created us and is part of us, but He doesn't actually live in us. He lives in Heaven and that's where we will meet Him at the end of our days," he stated flatly, recycling that one for the thousandth time.
I was really disappointed about this and am reconsidering whether I should keep my subscription to your newsletter or visit your website. I simply feel I don't attack your beliefs, don't attack mine. If you had beliefs that were forced on you by a religion and you accepted this authority, the blame lies ultimately with yourself for not questioning them. As for me, my faith is based on my experience and I decide what is truth, not some external authority. This does not mean however, that an external authority such as the Pope cannot be right, just use your own mind too. If you are late in discovering your independence on these matters, don't blame it on religion.
"Yes, that's it of course," Ishmal felt convinced. "If these awakened ones realized that and got back to the basics in the Scriptures, they would stop all this foolishness." But even he didn't buy that argument anymore. Ishmal knew there was more to this New Thought movement than the silly idea that it was the devil's influence; or worse - liberals! He no longer believed in the devil, so that was a pretty hard sell, even for an old die-hard like him.
No, Ishmal was no longer convinced. He was a curious seeker now, even though he couldn't admit it. He followed opportunities like this because he hoped to learn something. He still liked to stir things up, since that was expected of him. And his old resistant cronies demanded it, even though it was mostly a performance now. But now he had to face his own spiritual crisis, brought on by his own curiosity and rising doubts . . .
Peter Shepherd further comments...
I would draw an analogy with Hitler's SS - many Germans believed in it due to the brainwashing of the time and some of those people still do even now, but for people to become Nazi's nowadays, with all that history has taught us, betrays either extreme naivety or an evil streak of character.
The behavior of the Catholic Church over 1500 years has included many deeds worthy of the SS. But most people didn't decide to become Catholics, they were indeed naive: they were born into the culture and - like many religious cultures around the world - it is rarely questioned. Very few Catholics are evil, indeed many do sincere work in service to humanity and most try at least a little to emulate Jesus' teaching about love. But in a context of Old Testament fear and intolerance that completely undermines their sacred work and their intentions.
Yes, the ubiquitousness of the Church is gradually becoming history. The tragedy is that Christianity provided a basis of moral teaching (in amongst all the contradictory dogma) that helped people structure their lives with an ethos of love and service. What is there now? With Christianity losing its sermon-giving power we are just left with the residue of a ruthless patriarchal value-system, infused into the Western political and economic structures, that supports rule over the weak by the strong, the destruction of enemies in war as victory, charity as weakness, and non-conforming independent thinkers as fair game.
It is up to open-minded, caring people to find within ourselves a set of meaningful values that express our true loving nature, so hidden in the history of man up until these times. And then to walk the talk: to teach these values to our children, not by sermons but by demonstration of their virtue, so that in a world guided by love, all are winners.
We can pray that God guide our actions into a true and just path, a path such as Christ might have followed. Isn't this Christianity? Yes, but the true version, undistorted by Man's selfish desires. To live guided by Love is indeed freedom and empowerment. And so simple that there is no room for authoritative dogma and manipulation.
Kobus further comments...
Always a pleasure to give my input, although I think I was largely misunderstood. Sorry to hear I have reinforced Dr. Moe's views on the subject. As for the real reason I responded, I was simply concerned for those who may be robbed of their salvation through your efforts. On a side note, Catholicism is not based on scripture alone, but on religious tradition also. This was not mentioned in his reply. To assume that I do not question my beliefs is a mistake one can easily make if you do not know me. Regardless, I wish you both all the love the universe can offer. I am unsubscribing from the newsletter because I feel I would somehow be further supporting your cause by continuing my subscription.
Peace and Love, Kobus Otto.
Peter Shepherd responds finally...
Salvation is found within. That is what Jesus taught and what Trans4mind is all about too.
Peace and love to you too, Kobus.