Why Just Blame Religion?

  (05 August 08)
  by Greg Spearritt

Australian anti-religion writer Tamas Pataki has an interesting and compelling take on fundamentalist religion, linking its repressive, violent and destructive nature to unresolved narcissism among adherents.


However, he fails to consider the idea that political and nationalist ideologies that explicitly reject religion can be as much a vehicle for narcissistic expression – and every bit as destructive – as religion. He says:


The idea that people should be killed for holding beliefs that are deemed errant and a threat to the faithful is, I believe, an entirely Judeo-Christian-Islamic conception. (Against Religion, 84)


Surely, however, Stalin, Mao, the Red Army, Kim Jong-Il and Pol Pot – if not many more atheistic and despotic individuals and groups – have provided just as fertile an environment for the kind of infantile urges that Pataki sees as so uniquely satisfied in religion. Absolute and inerrant authority, the demonising of the outsider, the demand for obedience, the illusion of having superior knowledge: all are present.

And if you think it’s perfectly safe to hold any sort of belief in (atheistic) China today, try standing in Tiananmen Square with a placard reading ‘I believe in democracy’.


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