Is Religion Inherently Authoritarian?

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Adam Lee, AlterNet

Compared to secular reasoning, the religious establishment has been slow to act when it comes to moral progress.

Human history is a story of gradual moral enlightenment. Over the ages, we’ve become less violent, less xenophobic, more tolerant, more committed to the ideals of democracy and equality under the law. Of course, moral progress is painfully slow, with many holdouts and local reversals, and we have a very long way left to go. But it’s hard to deny that the world we live in today is less prejudiced and more peaceful than the world 500 years ago, or even just 100.

Religion is a noteworthy exception to this trend of progress. Secular moral reasoning, founded on considerations of fairness and human good, allows for continual self-questioning and improvement as less-privileged groups speak out to demand justice and call our attention to evils that we’d been overlooking. In sharp contrast to this, the immutable doctrines of religion are supposed to be elevated above skepticism. Even if we know more or see farther than the clerics who once came up with them, many religious authorities tell us we should submit our wills and believe without questioning.

The result is that, in most cases, moral progress has left the churches behind. Like the tide going out and leaving once-submerged rocks high and dry on the shore, the archaic doctrines of conservative religion are increasingly isolated and exposed as the immoral and vicious absurdities they are. This has led to more conflict and dissension within the ranks, as believers who grew up in the modern era see the contradictions between what they’re taught and know to be right, and inevitably come into conflict with religious authorities who are determined to enforce the old rules at any cost.

A case in point is the Mormon church’s excommunication of Kate Kelly, a lawyer and human-rights activist who founded a movement called Ordain Women. Kelly’s crime was calling for the all-male priesthood of the Mormon church to be opened to people of all genders, and doing so loudly and publicly enough to embarrass the church leaders. (Although the LDS church calls it a “priesthood,” it’s not a clerical or ministerial position; it’s a rite of initiation, like a Jewish bar mitzvah or a Catholic confirmation.)

Kelly wasn’t a firebrand atheist. She considers herself a faithful Mormon; she was married in the Salt Lake City Temple and went on an overseas mission trip as Mormonism requires. Yet she refused several orders to take her website down and stop speaking out, and just before her excommunication, she was defiant:

“I am not an apostate, unless every single person who has questions to ask out loud is an apostate,” Ms. Kelly said in a telephone interview on Sunday , just before her disciplinary council met.

While she may have meant this comment as a reductio ad absurdum, I think it hits closer to the truth than she realizes. Almost every religion, throughout the ages, has looked unfavorably on people who have inconvenient questions and who insist on asking them out loud. What Kelly has yet to grasp is that religion is a fundamentally conservative force (unlike, say, science, where those who overturn conventional wisdom are rewarded). To claim that the tenets of some existing religion are wrong is to implicitly claim that you understand the will of God better than the authorities of that religion. Naturally, the people who’ve gained status and power within the existing strictures of the church will always look with extreme disfavor on this.

It’s for this reason that religion is not only fundamentally conservative, but anti-democratic. Aside from a few rare exceptions, religion claims that God’s will is delivered through special revelation: it was given to certain people, at certain times and places, and not others. If that were true—if there were people in possession of special, important truths that no one else could ever discover—then it  would be the case that those people would be uniquely qualified to tell the rest of us how to live.

But that expectation bumps up against the modern world, where divine-right monarchy is a discredited theory and democracy is a nearly universal idea (so much so that even rulers of autocratic states often feel the need to hold sham elections). The clash between these principles is most visible in the religious people who believe their leaders have a specially privileged understanding of God, but who also apparently believe the doctrines of their church should be put to a vote. The lay Mormons petitioning on Kate Kelly’s behalf are an excellent example:

More than a thousand Mormons sent letters of support for Ms. Kelly to the bishop and two of his counselors considering her case in Oakton, Va. Hundreds turned out for a vigil in Salt Lake City while the hearing was underway, and smaller groups of supporters gathered at 50 sites in 17 countries, according to Ordain Women.

Mormonism isn’t the only authoritarian religion whose members incorrectly believe they’re participating in a democracy rather than an oligarchy. Roman Catholicism has the same affliction: for example, when Pope Francis was being selected, the author Anne Rice and others asked Catholics to tell the Vatican what they wanted to see in a new pope, as if such feedback would be welcomed or even acknowledged.

The sharp divide between lay Catholics and hierarchy is perhaps best illustrated by the issue of women as priests. As recently as 2013, 70% of Catholics believe women should be allowed to be ordained even though Pope John Paul II announced that the exclusion of women from the Catholic priesthood was an infallible article of dogma and could never be changed. Kindly, progressive Pope Francis has said the same, stating that the “church has spoken and says no… that door is closed” with regard to women’s ordination.

It happens in Judaism as well, even though that religion has no single central authority. In Israel, Jewish women fought for years for the right to pray at the Western Wall, braving routine threats, abuse and harassment by ultra-Orthodox Haredi Jews who believe the holy site should only be open to men. Finally, the reformers won a ruling in Israel’s courts, opening up a designated prayer section at the wall for women. The ultra-Orthodox responded by ordering their own wives and daughters to show up en masse and pack the women’s section, so that the women who actually want to pray there and who fought for the right to do so couldn’t get in.

Granted, there are some cases where churches have joined the modern world without being forced to. For example, the Presbyterian church now allows its ministers to perform same-sex weddings, joining some other mainline Protestant denominations that have already taken this step. But this is the exception that proves the rule, since most of the tolerant and progressive mainline churches are in the midst of a demographic plummet. (The more conservative and evangelical denominations are also shrinking, just not quite as quickly.)

And on the rare occasions that churches recognize their past errors, they steadfastly refuse to draw any general lessons from the fact. Earlier this year, the Mormon church formally repudiated the racism of its past rules which barred black men from the priesthood until 1978. This would be a laudable step, except that the church is determined to learn absolutely nothing from it. In its ongoing fight against women in the priesthood, not to mention its fervent and continued opposition to same-sex marriage, it is falling into the same mistake all over again, refusing to recognize that its leadership is fallible, and that any rule treating human beings unequally is morally wrong. This will no doubt be viewed as another stain on the Mormon church’s record, just as its history of racism now is.

Ethically speaking, there’s no doubt that reformers like Kate Kelly and the Women of the Wall have their hearts in the right place, but it’s legitimate to question their strategy. As the ex-nun Mary Johnson has said, at some point you have to ask yourself where your energies are best spent.

Is it worth the effort trying to change religion from within, beating your head against the metaphorical brick wall of a church that’s run by an oligarchy of old conservative men who choose their own successors and who are determined never to change anything? Or does it make more sense to leave that frozen and fossilized cathedral, to renounce religion and step out into the wild garden of the wider world, where anyone can speak their mind and no one can cite the will of God as a trump card?

About the Author

Adam Lee is a writer and atheist activist living in New York City. Follow him on Twitter, or subscribe to his blog, Daylight Atheism.

 

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Changing The Planet Through Sexual Healing

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We live in a world that sells through sex and then shames us for it. Women are taught at a young age not to be sexual, and men are taught that women don’t want sex as bad as they do. We are taught that if a man wants to have sex, he needs to work for it, fight for it, or even kill for it. Women are taught not to be sexual, but at the same time, we place absurd standards on ourselves about how sexy they need to look

This is what Sex Shame does to people! We need sex like we need food, water or sleep. It’s in our DNA to ensure reproduction! What will our world look like when everyone is comfortable with their sexuality? What will our world look like when everyone has confidence in the way they look, the words they speak and the beliefs they stand for?

The Neuroscience of the Orgasm

FMRI scans of a woman’s brain in orgasm show that over 80 areas of her brain light up (http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/237976.php), and PET scans show that key areas shut down. What this shows us is that orgasm is the most profound state of natural trance available without the use of drugs or plant medicine. The state of orgasm is an extremely powerful creative force and it’s the highest vibration that we can reach. Humans can manifest through the vibration of orgasm, and for a woman, clearing everything in the way of a full orgasm also clears anything in the way of a woman stepping fully into her true self, and rising to live her purpose.

Orgasm is 90% in the head, and with all the misinformation society teaches us that leaves us anxious in the bedroom, it’s easy to see why there are so many women who are not easily and regularly having satisfying orgasms. The majority of the work that needs to be done to allow a woman to release this way is creating a safe container where she can let go enough to be able to trust you and trust herself to allow her orgasm to come with ease. The female brain during orgasm completely shuts down areas that deal with self-reflection, fear and anxiety, and anything else that isn’t complete ecstasy. The human brain obsesses about what we think of ourselves, what other people think about us, and what we have to do later in the day. Judgment and vigilance centers of the brain keep us alert for survival. These centers need to be relaxed in order for her to orgasm and be 100% focused on her pleasure. When these centers are shut down, it’s like hacking a computer program, and reality as we know it can be completely re-wired and re-invented.

Re-wiring the brain

In Neuro-Linguistic Programming (NLP), they have something called an Anchor, which simply put, is a unique stimulus that creates a physiological response. Everyone has had the experience of being out in public and smelling the same cologne or perfume an old lover used to wear. It brings you right back into the feeling state of being with them. Whether they were a good experience or a bad one, you’re right there all over again.

Our society anchors sex to guilt and shame and this can cause a person to completely disassociate from their body. This is doubly the case when there has been sexual abuse in a person’s childhood. Now, physical touch that should feel loving and stimulating and recharging, can make an adult want to check out, shut down or run away. You can see how this would be detrimental in our interpersonal relationships! So, how do we let people in on an entirely new level? We need to collapse those anchors.

In NLP, they collapse the negative anchor by bringing up the negative emotion or feeling and then collapsing it with a positive emotion or feeling. Orgasm can also be used to collapse all the negative anchors (guilt, shame, resentment, rage, apathy etc).

How to set the intention for sexual healing:

Intention is crucial for the entirety of a sexual healing experience. During the state of Gspot orgasm, the receiver will act as a super-charged antenna to download information and broadcast her desires to the universe. If you’re the receiver, write down what you want out of life. The next step is your life purpose. Write down what’s keeping you from having this – the story, beliefs, and actual physical actions that are not being taken or ones that shouldn’t be taken. Then, write down affirmations that you would need to believe on a deep unconscious body level of being that would shift Everything. There is often a fear present that is causing people to take actions that aren’t useful instead of taking actions that are.

The most powerful affirmations that people need to embody across the board are – I love myself, I am powerful, I trust myself, I forgive myself, my soul mate is here now – state each affirmation as if it had already happened. “I am” statements, or other identity level statements, are the most powerful statements you can make. Speak to your inner child. She is your manifestor.

Avoid deserving statements such as “I am enough,” and “I deserve to be loved,” because although the brain wants to go there, it places your deservingness on a scale, and this scale is created by ego. We want to get off the scale of ego. When you question whether you deserve something, a part of you still doubts you even if you think “yes.” When your identity is no longer on that scale of deserving, you just are.

Beginning the process and creating the container of love:

In order to reach orgasm, a woman needs to be in the parasympathetic nervous system (rest and relaxation) rather than the sympathetic system (fight or flight) which creates stress and releases a chemical called Cortisol. A deep tissue massage can cause the body to snap into the sympathetic nervous system, so instead, a gentle stroke, a relaxing massage, and candle light are all helpful to get her to relax.

Spiritual and Manifestation Benefits of Sexual Healing

If a woman has been looking for her man, the universe can’t give it to her because whenever you want to find something, it’s only because you don’t have it. In other words, when you desire something in the future, you don’t have it in the NOW. The NOW is the only place we can truly manifest from. When a woman uses this practice, she can recalibrate her vibrational compass, and often she brings him in instantly. If she already has the love of her life, she goes deeper. If she is manifesting abundance, it happens just like that. The giver and receiver create a morphogenic field, acting as antennas, to help her manifest love and abundance. Her field before was “I can’t find my man and I don’t know where my man is and I want him to be here now” and we create “This perfect divine pure love is here right now” and she leaves with an entirely different feeling. We anchor body sensation to love and to her man and she magnetizes love externally because she has found it internally.

The population must clear the negative connotations and judgments that have colored their sexual experience for hundreds or thousands of years. We must make peace with sex in order to integrate the frequencies within our identity. Things have been manipulated and given a boundary of limitation so that the truth of sexuality has been kept from you. You have been told that you can procreate with it and have orgasms, but you have not been told that you can open frequencies with it. Sexual healing is re-emerging as a way to dance with the divine and it ushers much-needed hope for the collective healing of our planet.

About the Authors

Ben and Jen Rode are the Twin Flame couple who co-founded Explosive Sexual Healing. Ben has been studying sexuality and relationships for 13 years. He is a certified Sexological Bodyworker, Sex Educator, Hypnotherapist, and NLP practitioner. Jen is a certified Reiki Master, Angel Card Reader, and Clairvoyant Channel. Having experienced sexual abuse as a child, her mission is to help the world release sexual shame & trauma, and to harmonize the divine feminine and masculine energies. Ben and Jen live at their retreat center in Rancho Santa Fe, California with their daughter, where they take sessions, hold workshops, lead retreats and transform the planet’s sexuality.

This article is offered under Creative Commons license. It’s okay to republish it anywhere as long as attribution bio is included and all links remain intact.