9/12/2015 | Share this article: View CommentsBy Carl S ~
There's something else about raising children: Researchers report that, "parents who praise kids by constantly telling them they're special or exceptional, may instill a toxic personality trait: narcissism." They found that parents who heaped unearned praise on their children wound up raising self-centered brats. "Children become more narcissistic when they are put on a pedestal - when they are given the feeling that they are more special, more entitled, and more unique than others." They tell us, “Narcissists often demand special treatment and ﬁnd any setback intolerable and humiliating. They are more violent than other people, and are at high risk for drug addiction." (The Week magazine, 3/27/2015).
This is profound and fascinating as it may apply to a religious upbringing. While many will attest to the harm done to them by religious indoctrinations, it seems that nobody has addressed another likely effect, namely, brainwashing which tells the child that: Sure you're a sinner. We all are. But now you have become a new person in faith. You are superior, special, and more entitled to respect because you are chosen by God, and so you're morally better than those who don't believe as you do.“
Could religious narcissism possibly become so ingrained as a personal conviction that the child will believe the "others" are ignorant fools and deserving of hell? Evidence points that way. Pay attention to the adults these children become: Mike Huckabee, Jim Jones, Supreme Court Justice Anthony Scalia, televangelists, Muslim clerics the writers of Crank Mail to the "Freethought Today" newspaper, etc. They are each and every one of them, by their attitudes, self-considered special, unique, and superior. Pay attention to their responses to those who disagree with them. Do they behave as spoiled brats? And, they are all full of...The Spirit.
One conclusion I ﬁnd inevitable: For them, religious belief is just another way to feel superior to the average person. Those people have not only been lied to, but accept the lies, as they are taught to, unquestionably, wholeheartedly, and have embraced them as part of their egos. Why not, since they ﬁt together so well?
Maybe a primary reason for why religious parents would ﬁnd lying okay as a traditional practice is because, according to their scriptures, their god encourages and outright tells his own chosen and special people to lie. For one obvious example: Read the tale of Abraham and his determination to sacriﬁce his son according to his god's command. You will notice that he lies to his wife, servants, and son, who would each, knowing his intention, try to stop him. This story is in all three Abrahamic religions, and is told to children using Abraham as a prime moral example of virtue.
Following their god's lead, clerics through the centuries lie as policy. Bishops lie to protect pedophiles and call the victims liars, all to preserve the status quo. This is survival not just for status, but for their egos. Pastors lie to their audiences by inventing and omitting facts. The worlds of organized religions, the systems, operate on lies. And, by tradition, their indoctrinated children guarantee the contagion continues.
Religious belief is just another way to feel superior to the average person.Humans create their own fantasy worlds because they have the imaginations to change nature itself for their comfort, entertainment, pleasure, and advantage. The trick for success in being human is in staying aware of the difference between fantasy and reality. Religion obscures that difference. (Lying to themselves has become a way of life for the convinced, for example. Ergo, they are convincing in their sincerity.)
Some lies are useful, some would say even necessary, in order to preserve and protect a personal relationship. They're little and even, some might say, self-sacriﬁcing in a pleasant sort of way. No harm done.
On a more serious social level, ﬂattery and praise don't need to be sincere to get their desired effects (they can be lies coming from the mouth of someone who can't stand the recipient), but they may have a placebo effect: even when the motives behind them are suspected, they can still do the trick. Pastors use ﬂattery and praise, especially in front of congregations, to get people to put out more than they’d be willing to. (And, lest we forget, "lying for the Lord" is acceptable for God's agents.)
Lies make life interesting and manageable. Lives need fantasy. And lies work even when a god-chosen clergyman is caught in a lie. The chosen would rather not go there; that's why they avoid being questioned, to avoid getting caught. Whether standing on a pedestal or in a pulpit, there has to be a lot of narcissism in knowing that so many people take your words as God's own indisputable truth, and in being addressed as "reverend" or "his excellency," or, in being "more special, more entitled, and more unique than others," by virtue of being chosen by God.