The opiate of the people

| February 10, 2021

The statement: ‘Religion is the opiate of the people’ is accredited to Karl Marx and has been subsumed by many leaders ever since. All major religions teach peace, toleration and acceptance in their adherents and yet many wars have been fought in the name of the various deities. It seems that humans have a need for a concept of the divine, and hence become followers of those who profess to be able to lead us to it.

In the 1950’s, many American universities became interested in the concept of psychological and personality profile testing. During this phase, a number of religious leaders were tested, their profile showing a strong urge to lead as well as a general intolerance of foreign philosophical opinions regarding the nature of the deity.

In the Middle Ages, monarchs, Popes and senior religious folk learned how easy it was to organise people into ways of thought which enabled them to achieve their personal aims – crusades, wars against other leaders, building cathedrals, etc. These leaders were not evil in the general sense, merely incapable of understanding the opposing entity.

At present, we have muslim leaders preaching death to non muslims, Benjamin Netanyahu claiming the Palestinians are dangerous, American television evangelists earning vast sums and, more recently, Malka Leifer, a former principal at a Jewish ultra-Orthodox school accused of child molestation, then helped to flee the country by senior religious leaders, then aided and protected by more religious leaders in Israel before being forced to return to Australia.

These religious leaders must think they are doing the will of their god but they appear to be unable to understand other people’s needs and wishes. Their concept of their religion is not only very narrow by our views, but coloured by their own personality deficits.

My wife came out to Australia in a Landrover, via the Middle East and through countries Europeans would now find dangerous. She found the people generally happy, friendly and generous. This has all changed in one generation, mainly due to the activities of their religious leaders and various local warlords.

We can understand communist leaders being defensive and aggressive because they are looking to their own power and positions, but the religious leaders are claiming divine inspiration. It is, of course possible that they started out wanting the best for their country but absolute power corrupts absolutely and many have travelled that path.

I personally have nothing against religion – it has done a tremendous amount of good, but religious leaders appear to be unable to cope with the power their position gives when that power gives them the ability to dictate to governments.