Friday, May 10, 2013

Sling-Shot Religion

An interesting piece by Athol Kay about a couple where one of the spouses turned "religious" and was born again after 20 years of being anti-religious.  This caused some stress in the relationship, not just because of the philosophical or religious change in the spouse, but because it now brings on the specter of one person having a higher moral authority over the other.

While the piece is one of advice, it also happens to be a perfect example of what I like to call "Sling Shot Religion."

I have not mentioned this term before (because I literally just came up with it in the shower 3 minutes ago), but I have addressed it amorphously across multiple posts in the past.  Namely, it is my complaint against and disgust with people who abuse a religion, joining one not to praise a god or something altruistic as that, as much as it is an ulterior and self-serving purpose (business connections, finding a spouse, etc.).  But what I could not peg down was a term that would describe people who abuse religion to give them presumed "moral superiority" over others.

I was originally intending "leverage," but I liked the phrase "sling shot" because it references how various satellites and space vehicles use the mass and gravity of a planet to "sling shot" and go faster for its own benefit.  i.e.-Voyager 1 didn't go to Jupiter to visit Jupiter (well, it did) as much as it used Jupiter's gravitational force to fling it out into interstellar space.  And there are people in all religions who are "sling shots" and not genuine practitioners. 

The problem with sling-shot religious people though goes beyond merely joining a church or a mosque to make friends or drum up some business.  They are particularly cowardly people, sometimes outright evil, because they crave power AND are willing to resort to hypocritical means to get it.

The church, for example, has trouble with young men becoming pastors because majoring in "divinity" is not only easy, but you immediately get authority as a pastor (whether you believe in the religion or not).  Many pastors abuse their position, not just reveling in their position, but many times using the bible or the religion to excuse unfair behavior against others or preferential behavior towards themselves.

The born-again christian girl is another example.  I don't have to go into the number of girls I dated that would use "Jesus" for any number of non-religious reasons.  "I can't kiss you until we're engaged."  "I can lay here in your bed in just my skivvies but we're not making out."  "Unless you pray with me and go to church, we can't date."  "We can't have sex, but we can do anything else."  Again, these sling-shoters don't really believe in the religion, but enjoy having the benefit of a rationalization hamster in the form of a holy script to lord power over you and excuse their own immoral behavior.

In short, much like "crusaderism" I wanted to point out "sling-shot" religious folk because these are bad people and are a threat to your happiness and freedom.  It's just that in order to avoid the threats these people pose, the first step is in identifying them, explaining what they're doing and how they think, and explaining why they do such things.


Anonymous said...

Where do the guys that partied way too hard for their own good in high school and college, wrapped their car around a tree while drunk, and then found Jesus because God saved them fit in? I know a few of that type, but could never stand their company either then or now.

Scott in Hamilton, Ontario said...

Divinity School is easy?

I had to learn Biblical Greek, Latin, and have passing familiarity with Hebrew, as a minimum requirement! (I was a "B" French student at my Canadian High School).

I did land a job... but then screwed it all up by converting to Catholicism! (happier now, though).

kurt9 said...

All human institutions not built specifically around a productive enterprise (e.g. a business start-up or a scientific organization intended to cure aging) exist for the purpose of seeking power over others. Same is true for all illiberal (classical Lockean definition) worldviews.

handbanana said...

Bert: You know that He died for YOU, absolved you of all your sin!
Frylock: I have read that, yes.
Bert: Then you believe!
Frylock: Well, I believe that I've read it.
Bert: Interesting, interesting. Tell me this: have you read King Kong?
Frylock: Uh, no.
Bert: You have, okay, and you believe THAT, don't you? But before you answer me, just uh... go ahead and pour me a little bit of a full glass of that rum.

[ri-lij-uhs] adjective, noun, plural re·li·gious.
1. an excessively favorable opinion of one's own ability, importance, wit, etc.
2. an elaborate, fanciful metaphor, especially of a strained or far-fetched nature.
3. Psychology . (no longer in technical use; considered offensive) a person of the lowest order in a former and discarded classification of mental retardation, having a mental age of less than three years old and an intelligence quotient under 25.
4. to habituate or abandon (oneself) to something compulsively or obsessively.

Section 8, bedlamite, bigot, crackpot, enthusiast, fanatic, fiend, flake, freak, fruitcake, kook, loon, loony, lunatic, madperson, nut*, nutcase, psycho, psychopath, schizoid, screwball, zealot

Glen Filthie said...

Religion isn't the only means to slingshot yourself into moral and intellectual superiority. My daughter did it with homosexuality and a fine arts degree.

That worked out about as well as you think it would have.

You want to be careful with slingshots and where they're aimed.

August said...

I think moral superiority is just something females tend to do. The movies Dopamine and The Shape of Things show that. I hate those movies, but they sort of kick you in the guts.
I'm sure there are guys like that, but I am an introvert, so I don't even notice they are avoiding me.

Joe Bar said...

There are many paths to this end. However, it sounds like the girls in your example were just using it for a convenient defense mechanism.

In a dating galaxy long, long ago, we knew we could knock those barriers down with persistence and tact.

jonw said...


tz said...

Any true religious conversion results in humility, "there but for the grace of God, go I". This is beyond Christianity. The "saints" don't brag or lord it over others, but are content, peaceful, and even if a Shao Lin monk who can whip your ass, try to enlighten you with words.

The description (I haven't read the linked article yet) sounds more like the 1st church of Dr Phil, or Oprah, not Jesus Christ.

Anonymous said...

I know plenty of sling shot secularists.

Anonymous said...

"But what I could not peg down was a term that would describe people who abuse religion to give them presumed "moral superiority" over others."

I know a fat, smoking, ugly and angry nurse that abused her position as a health care provider to give herself moral superiority and authority over others.

Anonymous said...


I don't know what sort of religious people with whom you've been associating but they have clearly poisoned your views of the faithful. I for one know far more "slingshot atheists" who have abandoned any pretense of a moral code in favor of a modern, truly hedonistic lifestyle. Just like the dark side of the force, it's quicker, easier, more seductive.

I'd be willing to bet that far more marriages are ruined via infidelity and other secular, self-gratifying activities than the commitment of a spouse to religious pusuits.

Anonymous said...

Well said TZ, what's a true believer to do anyways? You can never win around here, I don't give a damn about your human morals (or lack of) You don't know what a person has been through before looking for god and as always it's always the tolerant people who are most often obsessed with Christianity in a negative way. We don't have anything to do with the witch burning, the catholic priest molesters, the idolatry,terrorist attacks because those the real nuts, now do me a favor and stop being a hypocrite!