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This is an abridged version of HOW TO START YOUR OWN PROFITABLE RELIGION which appeared in The TARUK BIBLE, �1988, Ebenezer Scrooge [a pen name for Mike Titus, the webmaster of this website, ATHEIST ALMANAC]. A few copies of Taruk Bible, softcover, are still available.
|How To Start Your Own Profitable Religion|
This essay gives you everything you need to start your own profitable religion or a religious ministry, based on existing religions/cults, with the emphasis on 20th Century Christianity, with a special emphasis on the highly lucrative field of TV Evangelism.
This essay is written from a multitude of viewpoints, including: Atheist, Objectivist, Libertarian, Free Enterprise Capitalist, Anti-communist, Patriotic, Individualist, and Satiric.
Therefore, you will learn not only how to start your own religious career, but you will also gain philosophical insights into how all religions really work.
If nothing else, this essay will show you how to analyze any religion or any religionist you may encounter. This will help you protect yourself against most kinds of Mind Control. Verily we say unto thee, this essay will deliver you from the clutches of all Mooching Mystics promoting Metaphysical Monstrosities.
Caveat Auditor! Caveat Lector!
The first concept you need is a hook, a grabber, a gimmick, an issue, a PROBLEM. Something you can exploit.
Just as very work of fiction needs a conflict, something to be solved, in order to interest the reader or viewer, you also need a PROBLEM...
...A PROBLEM you will resolve so that you will appear as a hero worthy of all the wealth that will be showered upon you.
Mercifully, JRC (Judeo-Romish-Christianity) provides an ideal, ready-made, tool for you: Original Sin!
It can't be just any old garden variety sin. Most people, you see, figure that they lead boring and uneventful lives, and are liable to conclude that never need to cough up cash to you. Similarly, criminals may hope to atone for their earthly sins by someday asking forgiveness to someone else's god, thus short-circuiting your income.
You need something universal and foolproof. You need Original Sin! Who on earth could possibly deny having been born into the human race!
It doesn't matter that Original Sin is an insidiously clever fabrication, based on primitive myth, without scientific validity in nature, and without ethical validity in society.
What matters is that , just as with E F Hutton, when you bring up Original Sin, people listen. Any pay you cash money!
The second concept you need is SOLUTION. A solution to the problem you created in concept number one. Something your flock will pay cold hard cash for.
Most forms of modern Christianity offer SALVATION as the SOLUTION to the problem of Original Sin.
Again, a myth. A mythological solution to a mythological problem. Indeed, a made-to-fit answer to an unasked question. Young children with "tabula rasa" minds seek solutions/answers to many things. Not one has ever worried about Original Sin. They have to be brainwashed to worry about such concepts.
Again, all this doesn't matter to you. What matter is that the money keeps pouring into your, very real, collection boxes.
The third concept you need is AUTHORITY. Even sheep will not follow just anyone. You have to show, even if only in the most illusory terms, that the PROBLEM and its SOLUTION which you are preaching has some validity.
Boy, are you in luck! The Judeo-Christian Bible, The Holy Bible, is all the AUTHORITY you'll ever need.
It doesn't matter that it consists of a variety of arbitrarily chosen writings, partly Jewish history and laws and a lot of poetic babblings (Old Testament), and partly cultist propaganda and correspondence, and later written "historical accounts" (New Testament).
Also, it doesn't matter that its much touted AUTHORITY is based solely on the juxtaposition of historical accidents. That its popularity and inertia derive from being in the right place at the right time, when Roman emperors were jockeying for power, and the inventing of the printing press.
What matters is that all the background work has been done for you, leaving you only the mundane task of counting the loot.
Latin: Populus vult decipi, decipiatur.
The people want to be deceived. Let them be deceived.
Carlo Caraffa (1519-1561), Roman Catholic Cardinal, nephew of a Pope.
The fourth concept you need is DOGMA. Dogma is what you will never back down from, come hell or high water.
Your dogma can consist of nothing more than the first three concepts, Problem, Solution, and Authority, unless you wish to add something else of your own choosing.
The definitions and usages of DOGMA and DOCTRINE are similar and tend to overlap. In general, DOGMATA (plural) are asserted "a priori" without proof, and "held", while DOCTRINES may or may not involve proofs and are "taught".
Your DOGMATA should satisfy at least two criteria. First, they should be general enough to provide you with a large flock, hence a large income. You know, the "appeal to the lowest common denominator" ploy. Second, they should be carefully designed against obsolescence. Note how the Roman Catholicism has painted itself into corners lately by hanging on to outdated ideas on divorce, birth control, abortion, etc.
Yes, verily we say unto thee, stick with abstractions when designing dogmata. Real, temporal, and mundane problems can be exploited in ways which leave you a way out, if necessary.
You could invent your own dogmata, but it would be difficult to improve improve on Original Sin, Salvation, and the JRC Bible, and their proven cash generating ability.
4b. OTHER DOGMATIC SOLUTIONS
Many other attractive solutions could be considered as additional components of your dogma. Life beyond death, creation theory, answers to other fundamental questions, love, altruism, healing, sanctity of life, etc, etc.
While all such concepts seem to satisfy our criteria for abstractness, absolute confidence in their immortality may be ill advised.
The Theory of Evolution, while far from a nailed down science, has greatly diminished the credibility of Christian religionists who have incorporated Creation Theory as an integral part of their dogma.
And, to use the Peoples Republic of China as an example again, their immense overpopulation problem has forced a different on the sanctity of human life.
4c. OTHER DOGMATIC AUTHORITIES
You could try launching a brand new cult by claiming a Vision or an Encounter.
But why waste all that time and energy when you are handed the Holy Bible on a silver platter?
Very few original cults have matured in the last millennium. Incidentally, we define a cult here as the early childhood stage of a full-blown religion.
Mohammed borrowed heavily from the Judeo-Romish-Christian (JRC) Bible. And even Jesus made many references to the Jewish scriptures.
The only original, well somewhat original anyway, modern cult which we can think of which has survived and prospered is that of The Mormons. Even here the originator and his followers suffered greatly before becoming established.
In fact, the history of the Mormons provides an excellent clinic on how not to invent dogmata. Joseph Smith, the founder, found it necessary to add to, delete, and otherwise emend "The Holy Word" he had been "given", by some kind of unseen (to everyone else) angel, before his untimely demise. [Cows never existed in the Western Hemisphere prior to Spaniards after 1492.] But then, he had a way out, sort of. It is claimed, undoubtedly truthfully, that was illiterate. See the beauty of this? He could always claim that any errors were always attributed to the process of transcription by a literate co-conspirator.
You probably couldn't get away with claiming illiteracy (you are reading THIS!). Besides, you probably aren't looking forward anxiously to a whole lot of suffering. Therefore...
Stick with the JRC Holy Bible, and laugh all the way to all your banks, on different continents and off-shores.
4d. CHRISTIAN DOGMA
The only real miracle in the universe is that enough ignorance still exists on a planet of the degree of advancement of Planet Earth that religionists (aka Theologians) can conjure up fictitious problems, answer them with mythical solutions, and back them up with mythological writings, in order to gain economic and social advantages for themselves, without trading true values for real values received. But that is a fact of life. You might as well take advantage of it.
In order to bolster what even to them must have seemed like a house of cards built on quicksand with negative concepts, the Christian religionists, in a show of mercy no doubt, added only, single, positive concept to their dogmata. Everlasting Life, while itself also mythical, at least has the positive aspect that it is something sheeple have a self-generated interest in, or at least curiosity about.
Religionists, however, are always careful not to make people too happy. Can you imagine yourself sitting at the right hand of your old man for all eternity? And, continually telling him, over, and over, and over, and over...what a great guy he is? Boooooooooooooooooooooring!
Sure, you know that the theory of Karma is much more interesting, logical, and symmetrical, not to mention just. For example, it explains the suffering of "good" people without it painting itself into a theological corner like Christianity does. You know, the idea that an all-infinite-everything God that did and knows everything is also RESPONSIBLE for everything, including ALL evils.
Don't even think of getting involved with any of the sheeple discussing this subject. Avoid it like a plague! Tippy-toe around it if you have to. Saying you have a headache probably will not work. As a last resort, feign unavoidable Bowel Moment need.
Anyhoooo...Since you have opted to go with Christianity, you have to go whole hog with it, including a god who hands out Final Exams every day, and whose heaven is below par for any discriminating soul. It is really difficult to reconcile so misguided a god who would create a creature with a brain, then demand that said creature never use this brain, but operate in the Faith Mode instead, for the rest of his life. Hmm...I see that I have transgressed the "don't go off on a tangent" sin again...
Moreover, you must avoid most other ideas. Ideas open up closed minds. Open minds give less. After all, you are after the REALLY BIG BUCKS.
What do you tell your flock about the entrance requirements to heaven? Ninety-nine, out of one hundred*, religionists agree that god gives the maximum number of merit points to those souls who most gleefully and generously and most abundantly shoveled cash toward religionists during their lifetimes and even beyond with wills.
You will agree also, with this giving is better than receiving ploy. With very little practice you'll learn how to work this idea smoothly into every sermon you'll ever preach. Verily we say unto thee: If you do, your rewards will be abundant and predestined.
*) What about the hundredth, you query? He fell asleep...counting his money.
4e. COMMUNIST DOGMA
|7a. THE BUSINESS|
|7b. THE IDEAL INSURANCE BUSINESS|
|7d. RELIGIONIST -- A Ddefinition|
|7e. SOFT-RELIGIONIST -- A Definition|
|11. GOOD DEEDS .....|
|12. HOW TO ASK FOR MONEY|
|12a. PERPETUAL CRISES|
|14. JESUS SAVES AT A BANK IN ZURICH|
|16. ORDAINMENT -- YES OR NO?|
|17. PERSONAL MINISTRY|
|18. PUBLIC RELATIONS|
|18a. SPECIAL RELATIONSHIPS|
|18b. THE FOURTH ESTATE|
|19. GETTING STARTED|
|19a. GENESIS OF RELIGIONS AND RELIGIONISTS|
|20. CONCLUSION -- Lifestyles of the Rich and Sanctimonious|
|21. SUPER-CONCLUSION -- Other Parasites to Watch Out For.|