I was watching a movie last night and a “bad guy” was talking to a Catholic priest and referred to him as “Father.” That lead me to think of all of the other Christian terminology designed to put ordinary folks in a subordinate position: terms like Holy Father, Pope (which means “papa”), references to people as “my child” and “my children,” referring to congregations as “flocks” over which the ministers are “shepherds.” Either we are irresponsible children or dumb animals that need the guidance of a parent or a herdsman. Prayers start out “Our Father, who art in Heaven . . .” as if it weren’t enough to have the authority of an all-seeing, all-powerful god, but also having the authority of a parent.
The development of the Christian religion went through an entire phase (roughly 150 BCE-350 BCE) in which the majority of the documents produced focused on establishing the authority of churches and church leaders rather than on real church business.
Where in politics we have “public servants,” in the Christian religion we have parents and lords overseeing us. And don’t you forget that.
And, for some reason, the religious leaders are eschewing one of their greatest tools: Hell. Fear of reprisal by the religious in the afterlife has been a powerful force over the centuries. It was so powerful that even eminent philosophers paid heed. Consider Pascal’s Wager as an example. Pascal basically argued it was better to believe than not, because if you did not and Hell really existed, it was far worse for you that if you did believe and it did not. Can’t get much more cynical than that. As religion slowly loses it’s grip, I expect to see it back. A powerful tool, close at hand, is sure to be wielded.