Religion As Social Control

Religion is just a form of social control. When man first started settling into communities and gave up hunting and gathering something new arrived. Inequality. All of a sudden there were haves and have nots. Also, one man could not break, till, sow, tend, harvest and store all the crops that came with agriculture. How could the haves not only protect their advantage but also use the labour of the have nots to their gain whilst all the time making sure no uprising occured?

The answer was religion.


What can reach under the into the huts and inside the very thoughts of those to be subjergated? An omnipresent, wrathful god who sees all. Lets take a look at the ten commandments from the point of view of a succesful landowner / farmer in one of these new communities. His problem is to keep his elevated status whilst using the labour of the serfs around him. Always bearing in mind that he is vastly outnumbered and cannot, in the way a hunter would guard his kill, keep hold of his stores of harvested food by his own personal threat.

1. Thou shalt have no other gods before me.

This is the new ****! All you old myths are superceded.

2. Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image, or any likeness of any thing

All your previous icons are superceded.

3. Thou shalt not take the name of the LORD thy God in vain.

All discussion, be it serious, in jest or as a swearword is forbidden.

4. Remember the sabbath day, to keep it holy.

We're going to have one day a week to reinforce this myth. By order!

5. Honour thy father and thy mother.

I've hoodwinked one generation. I don't want to have to keep doing it!

6. Thou shalt not kill.

Read as "Thou shalt not kill me!"

7. Thou shalt not commit adultery.

Could be my daughter / wife. Hands off!

8. Thou shalt not steal.

Read as "Thou shalt not steal my stuff!"

9. Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbour.

Your not to tell people what I actually do. If you do, you're a liar! (& that's a no-no)

10. Thou shalt not covet thy neighbour’s house, wife etc.

Because they may be mine. Hands (and thoughts) off!

OK, so there we are. Now to make all this stick we have stories told around the fire of plagues, storms and tempest, boils and a myriad of other very nasty things. Don't forget the good old work ethic. Your rewards to be reaped in the afterlife. Nauseating! Religion as a social control. Upholding the class structure and promising rewards that never materialise.

Lazarus42 Lazarus42
46-50, M
10 Responses Feb 23, 2009

My thoughts entirely. All those simple primitive people wandering about in the wilderness needed to be kept in line. What better than an invisible god ready to punish any infractions. Just a earlier version of Orwell's Big Brother really. Man made God in his image, not the reverse.

Laz - I think your interpretation is as loose as those who spout them off from the pulpit. Your amoral socialist intentions are showing through a bit there...<br />
Sure its a form of social control, just like any other form of government. But sometimes people have to be told what to do (or not do). Not to keep us from some utopian form of society, but to prevent us from reverting back to barbarism.<br />
At their root, the decalogue is just establishing some basic things people needed to do (or not do) to get along in a non-nomadic civilization. Frankly no one had bothered before that to sit down and say "here are the most important things to living together that we should follow". Yea they were laced with Religious propoganda promoting their monotheistic faith over others (but frankly the Republicans and Democrats do the same thing in our country). They were a basic starting place to keep things from falling apart. We eventually learned exceptions to the rules, for example: Thou Shalt not kill, the exceptions being "in war" or "in the most severe punishments". So laws were formed on those as well. But we had to have someplace to start, and really, thats all the Ten Commandments were.

Proof or no proof is not evidence of God's existance or non-existance. Attacking religion or stating how many people have died in the name of religion is a bigger statement about man than God. We are free to behave as we want.

Keithseeker... many also put their comfort in heroin. Are they right?<br />
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Mind you, at least there is evidence for Heroin. People can study it, it's real, it actually exists.<br />
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There is no evidence whatsoever for any of the many thousands of gods man has invented over the years.<br />
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If i took my comfort from the tooth fairy you'd say I was maybe deluded. But this god thing people talk of and the tooth fairy share the same amount of evidence for their existence, ie; None.<br />
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Perhaps i am deficient in my knowledge and you know differently, i am willing to change my view in the face of evidence, you got any?

everyone has their "gods" I work with a woman who worships money with all her being, and takes advantage of her friends and family to get more of it. having faith in a benevolent biblical god is better than many, although I would say there are better gods.

Predictably, keithseeker only mentions the commandments which actually contribute something to society. How about not worshiping other gods or false idols or graven images? What exactly do those contribute towards a civilized society?

"Religion is what sets people free" <br />
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Excuse me? Religion is about oppression and control through fear and guilt. What religion are you talking about? <br />
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If you want to live in a theocracy, orien, try moving to a different country. I hear there's plenty of room in Saudi Arabia. Oops, they worship a different fairy tale than the one you like. I guess you'll have to convince them that their made-up god is false and yours is real. That might be hard to do, since they have just as much "proof" that their god is real and yours is ridiculous. <br />
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There has never been a national religion in this country. Read the establishment clause. Most of the founding fathers were deists or agnostic and several such as Franklin and Jefferson had terrible opinions of Christianity.

Is religion just a form of social control? Of course not. Does it at times have that function? Of course it does but more because certain people want that control. As was stated above, civilization had been living in comminutes long before the 10 commandments. You may want to at least know your facts before you begin to attack something. Believe it or not, many people find comfort in a religion. It is clear that you do not. You put your own comments to the commandments. They are your opinions that are not shared by many. What a terrible thing it would be to honor your parents. What a terrible thing it would be not to steal. What a terrible thing it would be not to kill. I could go on but what’s the use. Of course something that Karl Marx said must make things right.

Religion is what sets people free. Godlessness kills societies with moral decay, as we see in the USA.

Religion is the sigh of the oppressed creature, the heart of a heartless world, and the soul of soulless conditions. It is the opium of the people. -- Karl Marx