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It's All A Choice


Inqui
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I don't know what it's like where you live, but "choice" seems to be the mantra thrown around the Christian church these days.

 

I was arguing with a friend of mine (part of an evangelical church here in Wellington called Arise) and I brought up the topic of a flatmate of mine at the time who also goes to that church. She was almost never at home, and outside work and study these guys managed to take up the vast majority of her free time with meetings, conferences, "fellowship with believers" and the like. After going on a church camp, she came back absolutely buzzing about what God's plan for her life, and surprise surprise, it involved the church. Her plan was to drop out of uni (I believe you yanks call it college), forget the wasted debt she'd accumulated and become an intern at Arise.

 

That, for me looking in from outside, is way too much control. They clearly took her in when she was (very) down, told her she was a worthless sinner but Jesus had a way out for her. They took a leaf out of the Sun Mormon and showed almost deceptive kindness towards her and now they've taken up her entire life (if you were interested, she moved out a couple of weeks ago to join a church flat).

 

So I told this friend of mine about how the church has too much control of her life. His response?

 

She chooses to attend all these meetings. She chose to move out.

 

This isn't an isolated incident here either. A local student magazine posted an article criticising the church and there were two common themes of the respondents who defended their beloved cult: 1) the article's biased; 2) people choose to get involved. One argument went that they are encouraged to tithe, but never forced, with the knowledge that God will bless those who give generously.

 

What I'm observing of this church, and I suspect other churches do this too, is a systematic programme of control which they then cover up as choice. The person chooses to give! They choose to go to church three times a week! They choose to attend every meeting and conference we run!

 

The first analogy I thought of was a magician when they say: "Pick any card [as long as it's this one]". Choice, yes, but misdirected. Today, however, I thought of a more sinister analogy. This one.

 

If you can't be bothered clicking the link, I'm talking about the tobacco industry.

 

It may sound ridiculous, but take a look at the summary on the second page (it's all you'll need to read) and you can see the similarities between the church and tobacco companies.

 

They don't use nicotine, but they do really well in the art of attitude polarisation. Turn up to church, sing with believers, talk with believers, hear some guy prattle on for three hours about how great God is, and the idea has been cemented further into their head.

 

Another thing I want to add is that both interest groups have a strong hold on the legislature. There aren't many politicians who want to piss off the church because doing so would piss off 80% of Americans. Even in a country like New Zealand or Australia, the church is still strong enough to keep a significant part of the population onside even in the face of potentially ungodlike laws. For example, there aren't many places where a government could place a tax on churches.

 

A church and a tobacco company. One uses subtle, underhand techniques to hook its consumers and keep them throwing away money even when they get to the point where they don't want to. If their consumer wants to quit, they enhance their product to make it damned hard to do so. They do this while rallying behind the banner of choice: that their consumer can quit any time they want and they won't stop them. They use their immense cultural and financial power to slow the effects of laws that limit the damage of their product.

 

The other sells cigarettes.

 

If there's enough demand for it, I wouldn't mind writing an article for the main site on this topic.

 

At any rate, it's an interesting thought.

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It is complete mind manipulation. That "choice" is really what the cult wants them to do and will take any step necessary to make you believe you made that "choice". That's what cults do, they find people who are temporarily broken, give them false hope and then break them again so they become dependant on the cult. Cults use guilt and advertising uses the fake promise of giving you a lifestyle you want through a product. Either way you waste your life and then die unhappy and usually unhealthy as well.

 

It's hard to watch someone get sucked into that mess.

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Christians here tell me I am "choosing" hell.

 

So, sure, it's a choice, between suffering for eternity, or letting the cult control her life.

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Abused wife / Stockholm syndrome.

 

Wake up chick!

My thoughts exactly, but when she's surrounded herself by people going on about God's love that idea will drill itself into her head further and further. I did have a talk with her before she moved out (there's not much you can say, but I did tell her the worst thing she can do is isolate herself in that church group).

 

The friend I was arguing with is a similar story. We went to school in Palmerston North together, left school in the same year and moved to Wellington. I got into a university hall of residence (apparently they're pretty close to American frat houses), got a new perspective on life and deconverted. He struggled to meet new people, eventually went along to this church where they greeted him warmly and he's also living with church members. It's kinda chilling to think that could have been me but for a couple of different details.

 

Of course, he'll say he chooses to attend church and surround himself with believers of the same splinter group. But again, a smoker chooses to keep smoking by the same logic.

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It is complete mind manipulation. That "choice" is really what the cult wants them to do and will take any step necessary to make you believe you made that "choice". That's what cults do, they find people who are temporarily broken, give them false hope and then break them again so they become dependant on the cult. Cults use guilt and advertising uses the fake promise of giving you a lifestyle you want through a product. Either way you waste your life and then die unhappy and usually unhealthy as well.

 

It's hard to watch someone get sucked into that mess.

Agree entirely. That's the reason I think this church, while not a cult in the traditional sense, comes mighty close. You're exactly right that it's hard to see someone get caught up in it all when there's not much you can do about it all.

 

Christians here tell me I am "choosing" hell.

 

Sounds like a way they can justify not feeling bad about you going to hell. In fact, I'd say that sounds like a coping mechanism for those who know people "of the world". Make it the other person's fault for not choosing God's infinite love. And you can do it with a sweet smile!

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I don't understand how Christians can believe that and not go insane from the thought of it. As an example I wonder about a mother who's adult son died an atheist and the mother thinks he's burning in hell. How is she supposed to think her son deserves this? How can she ever be happy again when she imagines her son burning in hell? It's VERY cruel.

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Cults that inprison members and deny them contact with outsiders can more easily be exposed as cults. But Christian cults tend to isolate members by fear and guilt. It looks like a choice, but they are skilled in choosing vulnerable targets and manipulating them into thinking there are no choices.

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There is no free choice, or "Free Will", at the point of a gun. The Church's threat of Hell is a classic form of the old Protection Racket. If an armed robber points a gun at you and demands your money, you have a choice, but it's not a free choice.

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Cults that inprison members and deny them contact with outsiders can more easily be exposed as cults. But Christian cults tend to isolate members by fear and guilt. It looks like a choice, but they are skilled in choosing vulnerable targets and manipulating them into thinking there are no choices.

 

Completely agree. Scientology is like that. They use mind games to keep people in. It's like the mafia controlling a population. Although different religions use different techniques, they all manipulate. If there was a god being we humans would know it, and we would not need a church or nuns, priests, ministers or any clergy to profess gods word. These are all parts of the cult set up to keep you in the fantasy world. May as well make a shrine to a #2 pencil, at least that is a real item.

 

I personally don't go out of my way to deconvert people, but I do challenge what they believe. At least make people think about their imaginary friend. I know you can't save everyone.

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I like your comparison. I definitely feel like religion has been an addiction for me. It's a choice just like it's a choice for a crackhead to take that hit.

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That's an arguement I hear in defense of the Catholic Church and their stupid rules. Basically if I don't like a rule I don't have to be a Catholic. But what they fail to mention is all the social pressure for staying with the church.

 

And that's not even counting their biggest gun to your head, HELL. That's like a mobster saying "pay me 10 grand or get a bullet in the head, but it's your choice. No pressure. (I've actually heard Christians say "no pressure" after threatening someone with hell). I've heard some argue that it's like chosing to jump off a cliff and accept your fall, but it's clearly an apple and oranges comparison. One is a clear threat from a diety, the other is a natural consequence. They are not the same.

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One uses subtle, underhand techniques to hook its consumers and keep them throwing away money even when they get to the point where they don't want to. If their consumer wants to quit, they enhance their product to make it damned hard to do so. They do this while rallying behind the banner of choice: that their consumer can quit any time they want and they won't stop them. They use their immense cultural and financial power to slow the effects of laws that limit the damage of their product.

 

The other sells cigarettes.

 

LOL*koffkoff*

 

Okay, so, I'm a smoker. I won't deny that I initially chose to pick up the habit. (I was in a bad place, with a bad boyfriend, and smoking was my way of dealing with the stress of the whole situation.)

 

I also do choose, on some level, to continue smoking. However, that "choice" is now influenced by external factors -- namely, nicotine addiction. That addiction is what pushes me towards "yeah, have another cigarette". More often than not, though, I choose not to. (The fact that I have to go outside, and it rains A LOT up here, well, I have to stop and think, "do I want this badly enough that I'm willing to go outside?")

 

I would, if possible, choose to go back in time and NOT start smoking in the first place.

 

The thing with church is that we, we're exposed to second- and third-hand religion from conception onwards, man. We're inundated with God this, and Jesus that, we have television programs, radio stations, web sites, whole gorram television channels, even, dedicated to spreading the virus. We're told that priests and pastors are to be trusted, while kind old Father O'Malley is quietly shuffled off to yet another parish to victimise more unsuspecting, too-trusting children. We face violence in the name of religion, from bombings to rapes to full-blown genocide. When was the last time someone was bullied, assaulted, or killed for smoking the "wrong" brand of smokes (i.e. a member of any non-Christian religion) or, worse, for being a non-smoker (atheist)?

 

We are drowning in religion... but it's somehow of The Good?

 

EDITED for a minor punctuation error. And a grammar error.

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