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The Business of Religion

Tim Suto
Posted: April 9, 2006

This past week as his political came to a crashing halt; Tom Delay made some ridiculously silly comments. Among them he claimed that Christians were the most victimized group in America. He either believes that the 85 percent of Americans who identify themselves as Christians and hold the majority representation of every law making body at the state and federal levels is the most impotent 85 percent of any population in the history of Homo sapiens, or he is a liar.

This statement got me thinking again about a topic that has long puzzled me. This is that Christians as a whole show greater animosity towards Atheists than they do for other religions. I as an Atheist and a Hindu are both rejecting the same "One True God" aren't we? However a University of Minnesota study shows that Atheists are the most distrusted group in America and by wide margin.

As with most puzzling questions about human behavior I have found that if an explanation is tough to come by, it is best to think of things in business terms. Christianity is a business and they have a product to sell. Like most religions they are selling the idea that a happy productive life is found through a relationship with their invisible friend(s). All other distracting claims aside, religions share this underlying principle. So while a Hindu may not be a Christian, a Hindu still believes in the principle theme that a person needs religion to navigate life.

Atheists who live happy lives are direct evidence to the contrary of this claim. It is in the best interest of the Christian business plan to do two things. One is to present the image of Atheists as failures. If a preacher tells his flock that atheists are lonely cowards who are hateful towards the world because they lack the love of Jesus then he is reinforcing the claim that the religion is needed to live a satisfying life.

The second part of the business plan is to react to Atheists in the method that Tom Delay displayed with his claim. Make Christianity the victim. The fact is that not everyone has a wonderful life, Christians and Atheists included. When Christianity doesn't make good on the promise of a fulfilling life for its parishioners a scapegoat is needed. Christianity does not need to produce the claimed results if Atheists in league with Satan (whom Atheists don't believe in) are set on destroying the Christian life style, committing rape, stealing babies in the night, seducing youth with homosexuality, polluting the drinking water with doubt inducing chemicals and wearing white after labor day.

Persons in the business of religion and specifically in this country Christianity, often communicate these ideas about Atheists as part of their marketing strategy. They do it because it works. Peace doesn't sell well but conflict does and if you say that there is a war on Christmas, a war on Easter and war for your eternal soul it puts people in the pews and money in the donation baskets.

Does this money keep preachers in fancy suits, fast cars and the company of ladies of negotiable virtue? I don't really know but I won't accuse them of anything but having a successful business plan that is based in part on telling inaccurate stories about outsiders and creating lies to justify their dogma.

Being an Atheist does not make a person less trustworthy or less fit to marry your child, humorless or un-American. We have the same wealth of opportunity and wonder of human experience as the rest of humanity. We just have in common the one and only claim of atheism. We don't believe there is a god.

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