The Sacred Vestments

For a long time now in western countries religion has governed the minds of a multitude of men and women without the need for armies, tribunals and physical constraints.

Church ministers have been wearing the same garments for centuries, ancient liturgical robes of obscure and esoteric significance with arcane and mysterious symbols and head garments.

They celebrate their rituals, which have remained unchanged from time immemorial, in enormous and lavish structures that tower over individuals, on richly decorated altars and they preach unopposed and aloft from pulpits, flanked by choirs and incense.

Excessive recourse to the mysteries of faith, to dogma, to belief, to the flock of faithful meekly following their shepherd, all of this by definition precludes their being any possibility of dialogue or of rational thought processes.

The degree of subjugation engendered by the religious system is such that the faith... _OMISSIS_ ...aged from asking themselves the fundamental question: why?

Sacred vestments bestow upon those wearing them the necessary gravitas to be taken at face value without if's and but's, a phenomenon that is also experienced by the laity in the case of the judiciary where wigs gowns and furs can still be found, or the military with its uniforms and stars.

Bishops, judges and generals: living symbols of power, of unswerving obedience represented by their elitist and greatly symbolic apparel.

The degree of psychological subservience of the more conservative among the faithful is such that whatever pronouncement is made by the church hierarchy, it immediately becomes the accepted precept, despite it being contrary to reality, to reason, to good sense and to common human sentiments or even to what was being preached just the day before.

Fanatical believers are mindless automatons in the hands of their shepherds who manipul... _OMISSIS_ ...y see fit.

The main religious groupings are savvy enough to push the boundaries of accepted principles only rarely and only in relation a few subject areas: their hegemony is skilfully applied to matters of support for popular values, of activities in support of social utility, of the promise of material benefit for the compliant and of disadvantages for the non-affiliated, of social convention, of the careful and skilful management of vast sums money.

Religious hegemony exercises its influence both directly and indirectly on a multitude of lay institutions, schools, kindergartens, universities, colleges, patronages, hospices, clinics, accommodation for the needy, where the concentration of decision making power is absolute and the acquiescence of the lay institutions - with regard to religious hierarchy - blind and absolute.

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