Is the Church Dying?
I sense a new twist in world thinking that seems to be having an impact
on organized religion.
Notice that governments throughout Europe, Asia and even the United States
are assuming an attitude of resistance when dealing with fundamental religious organizations. Surprisingly, this includes
the powerful 15.8 million-member Southern Baptist Church.
Among the more interesting cases in point was a proposed new law in Socialist
controlled France that I suspect is in effect by now. This law bans religious proselytizing and restricts the growth of 173
blacklisted groups, including not only the Southern Baptists, but the Jehovah's Witnesses, Scientologists and Unificationists.
The French law criminalizes any act involving "serious and repeated pressure
on a person in order to create or exploit a state of dependence." If two representatives of any one religious group are found
guilty of this so-called "mental manipulation," the French government would have the power to prohibit further practice of
France is not the only nation considering laws to stop the growth of "sects."
Germany, Austria and Belgium also are considering similar legislation. The Belgium government also is targeting such groups
as the YWCA.
In the U. S., Congress recently passed a bipartisan bill to protect churches
from what one news report said is a movement by community zoning boards to force some churches out of certain neighborhoods,
and prevent others from coming in. The bill was expected to be challenged in appellate court.
In yet another development, the Council of Religious Leaders of Metropolitan
Chicago in 1999 asked the Southern Baptists not to hold a convention in that city. The rebuff was sparked by fears that members
of the church might commit "hate crimes" against minorities, and that such acts might help generate laws restricting First
Amendment rights of free speech.
On the surface this appears to be a reaction to radical cult followers who
conducted despicable terrorist activities. The bombings of U.S. abortion clinics and murders of abortion doctors "in the name
of God" were topped by Benjamin Smith's white-supremacy killing spree in the Midwest. Smith, a member of the radical World
Church of the Creator, apparently killed people of other races because he believed they were "an abomination" to whatever
it was he worshipped.
Overseas the terrorist bombing of Pan Am Flight 103 over Lockerbie, Scotland
in 1988 clearly had origins in religious circles. It was an obvious attack by a radical Moslem group against certain passengers
in that aircraft. Also we remember the deadly nerve gas attack in Tokyo subways by the Japanese cult group Aum Shinri Kyo
that left 12 people dead and thousands hurt.
Consider that the Irish Catholics and protestants have been involved in
open (although deeply political) warfare for years. The radical bombings, murders and open wars between the Jewish people
and the Moslem Arabs in the Middle East have had an impact on people all over the world. The Hindus in India hate the Islamic
people in Pakistan. The world came to the brink of World War III not long ago when the Moslem, protestant and Catholic people
began shooting it out in Bosnia and the other territories that used to be the old nation of Yugoslavia.
Now, while the Hindus and Moslems threaten war at the borders of Indian
and Pakastan, and the Jews and Moslems enter open warfare in the streets of Israel, the Christian led United States battles
the Moslems in the name of a war against world terrorism.
With so much evil committed in the name of God, it is small wonder that
world governments are beginning to question the concept of religious freedoms. Perhaps the Chinese Communists are correct
to ban all forms of open religious practice.
.I also believe the shift in world thinking goes much deeper than
We are living in a time of great social, spiritual and physical change brought
on by what I suspect are powerful outside forces. There is a general awakening transpiring among thousands, if not millions
of people who are seeing the world in a completely different way.
I suspect it was no accident that the so-called psychedelic drugs LSD and
amphetamine were introduced to the world about 60 years ago. They were given to us as a last-ditch effort to snap us awake
before we plunged like blind lemmings over the cliff and into self-destruction.
Because of their popularity among the youth in the 1950's and 60's, these
drugs, popularly called "acid" and "speed," gave a lot of people a charge to the brain that virtually launched this revolution.
They are called psychedelic because they give the user a dramatically different way of looking at things.
Propaganda would have us believe the drugs are dangerous, addictive and
capable of causing a person to go insane. This is a blatant lie. If anything, they have a way of expanding the mind and giving
people the ability to look beyond the plastic structure our society programs us to accept as reality. The drugs are now declared
dangerous and illegal because they are a threat to the people who are controlling us.
LSD generates an explosion of visual observations. With this drug, a person
can look beyond stereotypes and get a glimpse of the world the way it really is.
The hippies of the 1960s, for example, were quick to see through the propaganda
machine that was our nightly television news. They rebelled against the Vietnam War because they saw that it was designed
to feed the nation's industrial machine and make a small number of people wealthy at the expense of thousands of innocent
young American men. They also recognized a sick and dying environment and began sounding an alarm. They also recognized organized
religion as the scam it has always been. Because of LSD a serious revolution was in the works.
Amphetamine sparks the ego, making a person believe he or she can accomplish
anything. Hitler gave his armies amphetamine because it made the German soldiers think they were invincible. And while they
were under the drug's influence, they actually were invincible.
I was a college student during the beat generation years and did my cramming
under the influence of amphetamine. Those were the days when the drug was still legal. In fact, it was promoted in national
magazines as a "sunshine" drug that helped people get an edge on their day. I idolized writers like Jack Kerouac and Allen
Ginsberg, grew a beard, declared myself an atheist and a nonconformist.
I may have been among the early ones
to recognize a need for humans to search for a new spiritual path. I took a lengthy detour, however. I fell in love with a
girl who was deeply involved in fundamental Christianity and followed her into the church after we married. I spent my young
adult years studying the church, attending Bible classes, and learning all that I could about this particular belief system.
I later taught Bible and rose to the ranks of church treasurer and Sunday School Superintendent.
day in about 1994 I woke up. It was a radical awakening that swept both my wife, Doris, and me at about the same time. I am
writing a book about this experience. The story is too complicated to tell in a simple column of a few paragraphs. We both
left the church and are presently "following our bliss." Whether right or wrong, we find it a more interesting road to be
Aleister Crowley (proclaimed the most evil of men by any Christian purist)
described the change occurring in our time as a shift from the age of the Egyptian God Osiris, the father, to Horus, the child.
Prior to that we were under the influence of the mother, Isis. Thus we moved
from a maternal period in which we learned dependence on the Mother Earth for our food, clothing and shelter, to the paternal
period, during which the church taught us that the universe was a catastrophic place. During our passage through this life,
our experiences in love, death and resurrection were taught to be part of our individual learning experience.
Now comes the child, who ushers in a radical new concept. Here the individual
becomes an important unit of society. "Every man and every woman is a star," Crowley explains in his prophetic Book of the
Law. As Crowley perceived it, "each one of us has a universe of his own, but it is the same universe for each one as soon
as it includes all possible experience. This implies the extension of consciousness to include all other consciousness."
Heady stuff isn't it? But bear with me.
Be aware the Crowley wrote these words nearly 100 years ago, after receiving
the Book of the Law through dictation from a spiritual entity named Aiwass. Crowley either was among the great prophets, or
he understood completely the workings of this new age and where it was going to lead.
Crowley claims that Horus began his rule in 1904. In notes written as a
prelude to the text in the Book of the Law, he tells his readers to "observe for yourselves the decay of the sense of sin,
the growth of innocence and irresponsibility, the strange modifications of the reproductive instinct with a tendency to become
bi-sexual . . .with childlike confidence in progress combined with nightmare fear of catastrophe, against which we are yet
half unwilling to take precautions."
He also said: "Consider the outcrop of dictatorships, only possible when
moral growth is in its earliest stages, and the prevalence of infantile cults like Communism, Fascism, Pacifism, health crazes,
occultism in nearly all its forms, religions sentimentalized to the point of practical extinction."
There is much more, but I think by now you get the point. If one is to believe
Crowley, the practice of organized religion is on its way out. People are waking up to the knowledge that we never needed
to worship an invisible external god. This is a binding, enslaving system that robs us of our freedom to discover ourselves
for who we really are.
The great power that we perceive as God exists in all of us. When we pray,
we are praying to ourselves. Answered prayer proves the power of our own minds.