Theocracies are under fire. Why? Because they deserve it. They’re inflexible belief systems that claim the path to righteousness and absolution via the words of their scriptures, via the decrees of their prophets and holy men. Be you a non-this or a non-that and, in their eyes, you’re deemed unworthy, unfit, impure, illegitimate.
The above statement may sound stereotypical or far-fetched. But a look at most theocratic countries or territories says otherwise. Going to these places and paying attention to what is being said, what their populations are taught and made to believe by their religious figures, paints a disturbing picture. Forget the liberal pockets of theocratically-inclined religions here and there, in certain parts of open society, they’re very few and far between; their secularly-oriented and broadminded subscribers constitute only a tiny portion of their given cultures. Beyond that, the followers of religions that work as theocracies across the board are, in their majority, subject to the words of their leaders and their minions – words neither flattering nor favorable toward those unlike them, not because religions are bad per se, but because most religious figureheads have become corrupted.
The terms most theocrats use to rally their people against outsiders and make them feel morally and righteously superior to them vary, but they have one common characteristic: prejudice and discrimination; like kaffir once did in South Africa, like nigger did in America, and jude in Germany. Born out of secular totalitarian regimes – or bigoted communities – these terms were designed to separate the righteous from the “trash,” creating a pure society of “Aryans”.
They call it dehumanization, one of bigotry’s favorite methods.
Theocracies practice the same racist tactics, eager to demean and undermine all those who don’t subscribe to their religion. The terms they use to describe outsiders are dehumanizing, fueled by fear, loathing, disgust, intolerance, ignorance, and moral righteousness over others, branding outsiders with foul labels, unwilling to see people for what they are, as human beings. Theocracies cast out those who don’t fit the bill, as if they were the gatekeepers to righteousness and the rest of the world lepers.
The cause to the problem is ideology. Some people are simply averse to others, period, and they’re sanctimonious about it. It’s not about faith per se, but about what kind of faith. Some theocracies consider all people of faith better atheists and agnostics – which is something, at least there’s no religious sectarianism in play, but a poor consolation in and of itself. Beyond that, deep animosity exists between the faiths, especially among theocracies. There are scores to settle between rival religions, fanatics looking at each other across the river and deeming each other scum, even worse than atheists and agnostics, which says a lot.
Then again, many zealots don’t care either way. Religious or infidel, it doesn’t matter, outsiders are all unworthy and unfit to mingle with. Segregation must take place as far as they’re concerned, if not in body, then in spirit and principle, to create a pure and righteous society.
“My Belief Is Better Than Yours”
Theocracies are, in general terms and overall effect, nothing more and nothing less than intolerant, obstinate organizations. Their hierarchical structures are such, and the power their agents wield so total, that they’re habitually twisted and turned into belief systems that work on self-righteousness and divine racism.
How does it work? In a nutshell, blind faith. No one is allowed to challenge the word of their deity or its emissaries – they’re above everyone, immune to review and criticism, save the deity’s. Only he/she/it can pass judgment and make claims on what is right and wrong.
It’s an all too familiar and dangerous scenario, one we’ve unfortunately dealt with before. Totalitarianism in new guise, expressing itself in the form of reverse religious persecution, whereby instead of people being punished for believing in a specific god, we have people being looked down upon for not believing in a specific god – a setup through which fanatics teach their followers how superior they are to all others.
Allowing this scenario to play out is not an option. We have challenged, criticized, castigated and defeated all belief systems that tried to claim supremacy over others, no matter their creed – especially when those claims were based on divine right or totalitarian demands. From Absolute Monarchy to the Church, to Nazism and Communism, whenever a creed rose up in an attempt to rule over individuals by claim to absolute righteousness, turning out the lights and bringing darkness to human affairs, it was beaten down and ousted like the monstrosity it was. Society has no place for ignorant dictatorships. The only thing fit to reign supreme is knowledge.
The age of science and information has endowed society with a critical mind. Much of today’s “anti-religion” polemic comes from atheists, agnostics and other people of non-religious or idiosyncratic disposition. Some of these people are very radical indeed – almost extremist and intolerant in their views and attitudes toward religious people on the whole – but most of them are reasonable and right on the money. Their criticism of religious dogma is superb and valuable. Being critical doesn’t earn them many friends, but it clears the ludicrous and insane from the picture – unless you’re Jon Stewart, in which case you do both, and make people laugh at the same time.
Whatever the case, the scathing arguments and polemic actions of these critics do humanity a service. They strike at the heart of religious dogmatism, without reservation, ridding the world from outrageous claims to divinity. No belief system, whatever its standing and no matter how fearsome or populous it is, should get away with folly, just because it claims to be divinely guided.
Some people feel that our skeptical/critical approach has gone too far. Followers of religions that work like theocracies are unfairly targeted across the board, in ways that are neither fair nor functional, goes the argument.
They may be right. The faithful are getting a bad name from extremists’ acts, who, in the name of perverted faith in secularism/scientism, give everyone in said religions a bad name, resulting in harsh judgment from the rest of the world. It makes the devout feel targeted, stereotyped against and persecuted, strengthening their resolve. Hounded, they’re disinclined to align themselves to open society, unwilling to embrace universal values, or anything that has to do with human rights. All they care about are their deity’s commands.
It’s a point to consider. If we, humanity as its stands in the era of global openness, want to shave the extremist / intolerant edge off theocracies i.e. be rid of all righteous dogma, religious and secular alike, welcoming the deeply devout to open society, let’s bear in mind how the deeply devout view things.
Easier said than done. It’s hard to woo individuals over, open them up to universal values, when they deem themselves under attack – even though that attack is not personal and has been targeting the preposterous aspects of all totalitarian creeds for some time now. Religious and indoctrinated people don’t know that, they don’t care. They feel discriminated against, period.
Which is why it would be advisable to foment change from within. Let Expose theocracies to knowledge so that their subjects can open their minds to it. Let them rise to the challenge and put their given dogma under the lens, neutralizing the stranglehold it has over them – cutting it down – ousting its corrupt figureheads – opening their faith up – reforming and liberalizing their religion, bringing it in line with the times, with current fact and knowledge. If we really want to delete intolerant theocracy and the vicious and self-righteous agents exploiting it, let’s guide that change and help people rise against oppression through open debate and research. So let’s promote open debate and research, give them the tools that will yank open the horizons, the same tools we’re using.
This debate and research involves neutralizing all claims to divine right, infallibility, righteousness, holy war, violence, control through fear and terror, abuse of multiculturalism, censorship in the name of multiculturalism, censorship in the name of God or other deity, intolerance in the name of tolerance gone awry. All these issues have to be addressed with conviction, if the preposterous parts of religions and their theocratic strong-arms are to be removed from everyday affairs so that the subjugated may take their place among the forward-thinking, data-driven, faith-in-knowledge cultures of the world. Let common sense guide the way.
With that in mind, and without further delay, let the dismantling of theocracy, blind faith, and divine racism intensify.