Skip to main content

Still Feeling Guilty?

By Carl S ~

Shortly after I entered the monastery to begin a religion-driven life, the abbot told me to go into the church hallway and follow the Stations of the Cross. In Catholic churches today you still find the stations; they are plaques placed in a certain order on the walls depicting the sufferings Jesus is claimed to have endured starting from his sentencing on through his death. There are twelve of them. I was told at each and every step, (flagellation, crowning with thorns, dragging the cross, etc.), to say "And this was for me." (I was also later told that my "sins" put the nails through his hands.)

It was some years later when I thought about this: it came to me that Jesus, according to the gospel texts, was executed not for me, but because he threatened the powers of the high priests and committed blasphemy, among other, say, political reasons. Besides, Christianity blamed the Jews for his death. Nevertheless, I was told he went through all of that for me, and by implication, because of me.

Creating reasons for and feelings of guilt is a method of control over others. Even dogs are made to feel guilty, as when they are called "bad boy;" even chimps exhibit feelings of guilt. Children are sensitive to the emotional atmosphere around them, and can be made to feel guilty for disobeying stupid orders of parents, out of fear of displeasing them. This can take place even when the child is told to do an immoral act.

Many child victims have been warned by their perpetrators not to tell anyone lest those who have been told will be harmed by the perpetrator, and what child wants that guilt on his or her conscience? Frequently, the children themselves feel guilty, suspecting their mannerisms might have caused their rapes.

Guilt is an operating mechanism of religions, the tradition that is never-ending. But it's the guilt of its members, not its leaders or proponents, that keeps this going. There is an actual double standard between God's spokesmen, who are forgiven by their followers because "they're only human," and the rest of us.

Not only does Christianity hold the individual "sinner" responsible for the death of its St. Paul-created Christ, but it implies or outright states, depending on each clergyman, that the sinner may be responsible for the misfortunes or deaths of those the sinner loves and cares about. That's quite a guilt-trip. There are more things to feel guilty about in dogmas than there are to feel good about. In fact, just in being born you are supposed to accept having a nature hell-bent on evil which needs to be curbed; and we don't mean just in one single religion.

The emphasis on guilt as personal enables the guilt-inducers to manipulate the minds and emotions of the indoctrinated. By their methodology, guilty feelings can create a self-sustaining police state within the individual's psyche. One can even be coached into believing that one is responsible for the sufferings and death of a fabricated being who died more than two thousand years ago. We can say "fabricated" because there is little historical evidence that this being existed. In this case, guilt has nothing to do with whether the being existed, only in the belief. Feelings are only feelings, and can be manipulated to create emotional responses such as joy for, happiness in, or sorrow and anger for, the good or bad fortunes of even known fictional characters. And people do develop relationships with fictional characters. So, it makes sense that you might just, after all, feel guilty about what happened to a fictional character. And, judging by the historical evidence, millions do.

just in being born you are supposed to accept having a nature hell-bent on evil which needs to be curbedPay attention to the guilt-inducers who, by their actions or through self-deception, have different standards for what to feel guilty about. Time after time, we see evidence that they themselves are guilty of crimes against humanity, crimes against facts, for which they show no feelings of guilt or remorse. Notice not only recent revelations of traditional cover-ups in religions, but also the perpetrators of witch burnings, torturers of heretics and blasphemers, judges of the Inquisition, and jihadists. We have those in the pulpits who are adulterers, pedophiles, embezzlers, and hypocrites. Obviously, they do not really believe in their god's moral codes and punishments, judging by their actions. They apparently have no guilty feelings about withholding knowledge of the lies their scriptures contain. What they do have is a guilt-free carte blanche club membership exonerating them from guilt. (Yes, there are the few who are publically found out and "repent" afterwards, who ask their God for forgiveness and "save" their asses.) Did any of them feel guilt during all the years they deceived their trusting spouses and congregations?

And why should they? As God's spokesmen, they represent an all-powerful role- model deity who, in the words of the great poet Philip Appleman, "Never apologizes, never explains." Such a god, among other evils, sanctions slavery, orders genocide, drowns mankind, and is prepared to destroy the earth we love and everyone on it with cataclysms and fire; all without a tic of guilty feelings. And of course this god appoints others to represent him and do his bidding.

Have you been made to feel unnecessarily guilty? Like for having sex, or drinking, or choosing someone to love outside of your faith, or of no faith, or for masturbating, or for anything else that you really enjoy? Welcome to the other side of the double-standard. Should we use biblical or religious indoctrination as guidelines for morality? If you still think so, obviously you haven't been paying attention. And there's nothing to feel guilty about for not believing this. If you let facts guide you rather than faith, the faithful might do all in their power to make you feel guilty, but you have no reason to. Before you were born, Galileo found out the consequences of asserting facts over beliefs in front of God's spokesmen. Shame on them. But facts are facts and trump beliefs, even those widely held by millions of believers.

There are moral issues we as humans feel guilty about violating, to different degrees. But morality applies to our relationships to one another. Morality shouldn't be hijacked so that guilt is enforced when it's related to a belief that one is offending an invisible ghost god, or responsible for the ancient murder of an alleged man-god who allegedly existed, allegedly said and allegedly demanded certain things, and allegedly is waiting to judge you after you've died.

These are the facts, but don't take my word for it. You have the internet.