In the BBC documentary, “The Power of Nightmares,” and the Kevin Bales novel, Disposable People, the role of religion in each serves both as a justification and a means to rule the people of an area through fear. Sigmund Freud was well known for his view of religion, saying that it was just a means of governing children and people until they had developed to understand their morality themselves. Religion on the individual scale provides hope and comfort, but when it becomes a fad or a movement, religion becomes a tool, allowing justification of the most (to me) immoral convictions. In "The Power of Nightmares," Islam was seperated from the individual and brought into society. There were murders in the streets of children and political leaders, and every death was for their God and a cleaner "public" religion. This is an example when religion escapes into government (not the official government, but the governing of the people). In the United States of America, Christianity is the overarching moral construct of its society. A poll created by the Institution of Social Research said that 44% of Americans go to church or synagogue at least weekly, showing how huge this population is, not even including those who go every once in a while or those who study the Bible on their own. But for this population, the Bible is their symbol of fear in their everyday lives. Many people who follow religion and believe its laws, constantly strive to implement such laws into government. Whether it is by electing a Christian president or Senate members, Christianity dominates many peoples decisions. God is constantly watching, constantly judging, and constantly ordering them to do their duties for the communities which is nice, but in the context of Bilal from Mauritania in Disposable People and “old slavery” in America, religion is a craze that is inadequate and detrimental to the rule of the people in society, providing my conviction for the separation of church and state.
The true power of religion is both its ability to make claims about the existence after death and apply unquestionable moral statements about the interactions between people under constant judgment. The idea of an omniscient being judging every move a person makes allows no room for disobeying his laws, but what about Bilal in Mauritania? For every delivery of water, Bilal received 1 ouguiya (200 ouguiya = 1$). His fear of lying in the presence of Allah prevented him from taking the money he rightfully deserved, keeping him in his place, enslaved and downtrodden. With barely enough food to eat or money to buy it, Bilal will never be able to buy himself out of slavery, and if, through some miracle, Bilal is freed, the possibility of him dying of starvation is disturbingly high. People, when discussing Disposable People, were all morally outraged by the ongoing cycle of slavery in these countries, yet every country had moral justification from their god. No, this religion was not Christianity, but in America, the exact same cycle existed in African and Native American slavery. In the Bible, the Ten Commandments represent the main laws of Christianity or any follower of YHWH, but people seem to ignore the near 390 more commandments immediately following them in Exodus 21 and pick and choose among them. In this chapter, God tells Moses the rules concerning everything, including slavery. “When a slaveowner strikes a male or female slave with a rod and the slave dies immediately, the owner shall be punished. But if the slave survives a day or two, there is no punishment; for the slave is the owner’s property” (Exodus 21: 20-21). In my opinion, I do not see anything about this statement that belongs in a moral standard in governing people's interactions. Whether or not my logic is able to grasp God’s purpose in this statement or the quote was somehow misinterpreted by the writer, this book is the sole foundation of the religion; therefore, it, in my opinion, must be taken at its intended value. . But the Bible is not amendable so where is the room for development? So from this, when communities allow religion to rule them, their moral structure becomes stagnant because of their inability to judge such ethical dilemmas objectively. I think the primary reason that gay marriage is not legalized today is because of this mix of government and religion. Objectively, I really can't think of one thing wrong with it that would label it unjust or unethical besides the Bible's conviction against it.
While religion does provide hope, answers, comfort, and “love,” they all come with this essence of fear, whether of hell or death. Although it is the perfect system for ruling people (implementing rules which are punishable for eternity and the inability to question such rules because of God's sovereignty), it stunts the development of society, creating injustice in society and disrupting our reasoning when faced with this injustice because of mankind's inability to question such things.