I. Step One in any rebellion

Religious tyranny covers a lot of ground, ha ha, so allow me to clarify. I propose that religion is the root of most, if not all of the problems that threaten our democracy, individual liberties, and planet. And since religion and its weaponization have proven immune to logic and reason for a couple thousand years, I consider that tyranny – of epic proportions.

I can think of no other strategy to end religious tyranny than Scientific Rebellion. For a little more background, you may want to check out this previous post, Four Words to Start the Rebellion: Faith Is Not Fact.” While you’re at it, you may also want to read, Morality from Religion? Nah. I think you’ll get the gist.

So, what do I mean by saying nah to religion? I maintain that it is the first step in any worthwhile rebellion. Why? Because there is great power in saying nah! To begin with, it’s the first act of rebellion that every toddler discovers and learns to master by the age of two.

If that’s not enough, the Power of Nah also refers to Rosa Park’s refusal to move to the back of a bus when a white person demanded her seat. And it represents the spirit of rebellion in all those who stand up to oppression and say nah, no more, regardless of the personal consequences.

Rosa Park’s actions embodied the principle of non-violent direct action as the best way to achieve social transformation. It was a principle that was central to Dr. King’s vision and that Coretta Scott King expanded globally through the King Center. It’s exactly what we need right now.

Just say nah to religious tyranny.

II. Blame it on Eve

To end religious tyranny, we need to first understand how we got to this point. We need to back up about 10,000 years in Christian-time to creation itself.

There are a couple different versions of creation in the original Hebrew manuscript. In one version, the first man was created from dust and called Adam. The first woman was created from a rib of Adam and called Eve. It’s kind of fuzzy if there really was an Adam and Eve and whether God created man first or plants and animals, but since the Adam and Eve version was widely adopted by the Catholic church, we’ll run with that one.

It turns out the adoption of that version had some pretty consequential effects on human history, especially for women. As you may recall, it started when a serpent tempted Eve into eating an apple, which was the source of all knowledge of good and evil – the one fruit that God explicitly said they shouldn’t eat.

Compounding her poor decision making, Eve then tempted Adam into biting the apple, too. It was at this point that God lost it, which if you have kids, dogs, or cats, I’m sure you can relate. I mean the one thing we tell them not to do.

Apparently eating the fruit of all knowledge kind of put Adam and Eve on the same level as God, and let’s just say there was hell to pay. Say goodbye to immortality, being cool with nakedness, and the Garden of Eden. Oh, and your progeny will forever carry this original sin and life was going to be really hard. Really, really hard.

Thank you, Eve.

III. Debacle at the Garden

In the intervening 10,000 years or so, Adam and all his sons were left to deal with the aftermath of the Debacle at the Garden, as it became known. They realized it would fall on them to keep women on a short leash or face the fire-and-brimstone side of God, and no one wanted any part of that.

Life was going to be challenging enough, what with the fallout from original sin, but now men had the added burden of keeping women in line. Not to fear, with their combination of brains and brawn, men found that controlling women came kind of naturally, and was actually kind of fun.

In the meantime, God’s vision for man unfolded quite nicely. With men firmly in charge at every level of the church hierarchy, women could fully focus on their role as breeders – and most importantly, leave the decision making to men, lest a repeat of the Debacle at the Garden.  

It wasn’t all church hymns and baptisms, though. Good Christian men continued to be tempted and tricked into sinful thoughts and deeds by women. Even public stoning and an occasional burning at the stake failed to keep women in line.

Despite being excluded from all decision-making roles and positions of power, women were still finding ways to make men look bad in the eyes of God. The early church was in a bit of a quandary. It couldn’t come down too hard, as Christ was born to a woman after all. Yet it obviously needed to firmly lay down the law.

The solution was as bold as it was immoral and can only be described as transformational. In a strategy still used in Christian schools and conservative think-tanks around the world, the church employed a next-generation gaslighting campaign that took hypocrisy to astonishing new heights: women were at once enshrined and commoditized. And it worked like a charm.

But how, you may ask, could the church possibly pull this off? Mary, mother of Christ, began to be formally honored by the church around the 3rd century, mostly in her depiction in various works of art. Her place of honor in the Catholic church increased over time, which incidentally was not very popular with those who eventually spun-out the protestant denominations.

The Book of Genesis clearly established the pecking order of humanity, given that Eve was made from a rib of Adam and of course didn’t help her case by disobeying the one command God gave them. The New Testament followed that up with many passages specifically requiring women to submit to their husbands, the God-ordained head of the family.

In a stroke of genius, the church realized that a more formal declaration of a man’s ownership of a woman and the terms of that ownership would send just the right message. Marriage, or Holy Matrimony, proved to be the answer.

IV. The institution of marriage, every woman’s dream?

Catholic matrimonial law had its origins in Roman law, which was initially just a way of establishing a contract between families, sealed by the arranged marriage and of course any off spring. Over time, the rules, or canons evolved into a complete system of law under the Catholic church. One that eventually elevated marriage to that of a Sacrament, though no one seems to know exactly when that happened.

In any event, marriage provided the ideal contract to establish women as the property of her husband. A life-long, unbreakable commitment, bound by the law of man and God.

Wonderful traditions sprang up, like the father of the bride handing her off to her soon-to-be husband. In what proved to be a valuable symbolic gesture as well as powerful photo-op, all could witness the father handing off the responsibilities of watching over his daughter, providing a continuous transfer of ownership from one man in her life to the next.

Just as symbolic, a child reveals a ring representing the eternal contract of obedience the woman is making to her husband and the lifelong ownership responsibilities of love and protection that the husband so graciously accepts. One man. One subservient woman. And a very public ceremonial signing of a legal document guaranteeing ownership and obedience of a woman to a man.

V. Is this what you want?

Remind me again how Christians justified treating women as objects, subservient to men, intellectually, emotionally, and spiritually inferior to men, useful only as breeders, sexual servants, and domestic help – as property. And remind me how Christians extended that ideology to rationalize conquering, massacring, enslaving, and segregating Black, indigenous, and people of color. And how they now use the same arguments to dehumanize, vilify, and persecute the LGBTQ community.

Remind me again how these Christian rules evolved from an account of Adam and Eve, Roman law, and an ever-changing set of Catholic laws that are now enshrined in America’s judiciary, from the highest courts in our land on down. Laws that deny a woman’s right to bodily autonomy, define what constitutes life, decides who is worthy of human and civil rights, and who is worthy of existence.

These are the same Christians who blame porn and LGBTQ identities for sexual abuse of women and children while indoctrinating generation after generation of children with criminally misogynistic and toxic views of gender and sexuality.

These are the same Christians who falsely accuse their enemies of pedophilia and child abuse while covering up the most widespread, systemic, and egregious crimes of child sexual abuse and grooming the world has seen.

These are the same Christians who have us begging and pleading, “Please don’t kill our LGBTQ kids, it’s not a choice, they were born that way,” when we should be saying, “Nah, Christians don’t make the rules. I don’t care if a person is ‘born that way’ or just chooses a different gender, sexual orientation, or expression – that is their right.”

These are the same Christians who condemn trans and non-binary children in the name of “common sense” and traditional Christian values, rejecting science, data, and evidence in favor of baseless, unproven, unprovable supernatural beliefs.

These are the same Christians who are whitewashing history and eliminating LGBTQ and Black identities in public schools and businesses, while fighting to use public dollars to fund Christian schools.

These are the same Christians who sanctify insurrection and treason, subvert democracy, and defend any actions that will achieve their goal of establishing a white Christian American Kingdom.

Is this what you want?

Nah. Join the rebellion.

About the authors: Peter Tchoryk is an engineer and dad who decided he had enough of religious tyranny and Jessica Firkins is a born rebel. Together they are committed to turning the tide and ensuring every human has a chance to live authentically. To learn more, check in with us at ScientificRebels.com, listen to our Podcast, or contact the author directly.

I. A Tale of Two Species

White Christian churches are not merely complicit, they are the architects of systemic racism, misogyny, and oppression. It goes without saying that their bigotry naturally extends to people of different faiths, cultures, and of course the LGBTQ community.

In the Judeo-Christian lineage of supernatural beliefs, white men have always been conveniently bestowed with God-ordained power over women and all other lesser, non-white beings. It didn’t take long for a new world order to be established in which Black, indigenous, and nearly all people of color were stripped of their humanity and given the shackles and chains of Christianity in return.

Their reward for submitting to their Christian masters, they were told, would come in the afterlife. In a cruelly ironic twist of fate, some in the BIPOC community now continue to be exploited by the same powers that led to their own culture’s demise.

It certainly has been convenient for men that Christian doctrine has been and still is widely interpreted to give them dominion over women in every aspect of life. It’s only been a little over 100 years since women were granted the right to vote and hold public office.

Women had no representation in government, no rights to property, no say in family decisions and not even a right to their own children – women did not exist as a separate legal entity after they were married. In addition to claims that women did not possess the intellect and were prone to hysteria, suffrage opponents interpreted the Bible to justify why women must remain subservient to men.

Christianity is the tale of two species: the white man and everyone else.

II. Beware of Those Bearing Gifts

In the mid-1200’s, the Catholic church went on a gift-giving colonizing campaign to the far corners of the world. The gift they were giving was of course sharing the Good News of Christianity and the promise of eternal life to the unenlightened.

The gift wasn’t entirely free, of course, but surely the indigenous peoples could understand that their natural resources and slave labor were a small price to pay for eternal life. With this in mind, the Catholic Church sanctioned slavery of anyone who was a non-believer.

By the 1400’s the Catholic church became the first global organization to justify the trans-Atlantic slave trade and authorize permanent enslavement of Africans and indigenous peoples. As Christian countries competed to spread the Good News via conquest and colonization, the natural resources and slave labor they acquired along the way helped fuel the expansion of white European civilizations across the globe.

Judeo-Christian religions gave clear conscience to all those who waged war and enslaved non-believers. It wasn’t until the 1800’s that most of the world began divesting themselves from the slave trade, some willingly, some not so willingly.

In America, while some churches rebelled against traditional doctrine and joined the abolitionist movement, the majority of Southern white churches fought to maintain slavery as one of the pillars of the Confederacy. Theological arguments were used to actively endorse slavery, segregation, and voting restrictions that Black Americans are still fighting against today.

After the Civil War, those same churches vigorously opposed reconstruction. They continued to assure white southerners of their God-given superiority over Black people, free or not. From the Ku Klux Klan to the enshrinement of Jim Crow laws to their opposition of the Civil Rights Movement, white churches continued to provide the biblical justification for segregation and dehumanization of Black communities.

There was no day of reckoning for those churches and congregations that for hundreds of years sanctioned and sponsored some of the worst crimes against humanity. There was no accountability for the genocide, enslavement, and oppression endorsed by religious leaders who proclaimed God’s Will was clear, unchanging, and irrefutable on these matters.

Why would we expect things to be different today?

III. Fast Forward to the 21st Century

When Jason Berry of the National Catholic Reporter first reported on the systemic sexual abuse of children in the Catholic church and the coverup by church hierarchy, he anticipated the story would become international news and finally bring an end to the atrocities. He expected public outrage over the abhorrent nature and Watergate-esque scale of the crimes.

What he did not expect was the story to die on the vine.  The abuse in fact was allowed to continue unabated until the Boston Globe Spotlight investigations finally got the world’s attention 15 years later. It is yet to be seen whether the church is even interested in holding itself accountable for the suicides, pain, and suffering of victims and their families – much less prevent them from happening again.

For a religion that self-identifies as family focused, Christianity has a long and sordid history of child abuse and cover-up by the church hierarchy. The church has an equally sordid history in separating children from their families.

This practice has been the political weapon of choice in destabilizing and disempowering families for centuries. From the slave auctions that separated black children from their parents, to the abusive Christian schools where kidnapped Native American children were either converted or killed. From the separation and caging of children who crossed the border with their parents, to the legislation that calls for separating trans kids from parents who support them with gender-affirming health care.

One of the most sobering realizations of the victims and the journalists investigating the Catholic church was how much power the church wields. There’s not a single branch of government at any level that is immune from that control. But that pales in comparison to the influence the church has over its members, regardless of how strongly they identify with their faith.

IV. But churches are a net positive to the community, right?

Churches and synagogues of course rely on donations, tithes, and offerings, and even non-believers likely assume a large percentage of church donations are used to help the needy. The numbers, however, tell a different story.

In 2016, the Lake Institute on Faith & Giving at Indiana University initiated the National Study of Congregations’ Economic Practices (NSCEP) with the goal of providing a “deeper understanding of how congregations’ receive, manage, and spend their financial resources.” The NSCEP team analyzed financial data and donor participation trends based on data provided by over 1200 Judeo-Christian congregations from 2014-2017.

The first report from the study was published in 2019 and provides the most comprehensive, nationally representative view into congregation finances to date. Results show that after salaries are paid, most of a congregation’s budget is spent on acquiring real estate and property development.

The least funded of its functions are its mission work (11%) and programs for the needy (10%). Essentially 90% of donations taken in by congregations go to supporting operating costs and investments, as opposed to charitable causes in the community.

The Catholic Church, no stranger to scandal and financial corruption, is facing increased scrutiny over its use of donations to cover budget deficits and controversial real estate transactions. As reported in a 2019 Wall Street Journal article, the bulk of the funds collected through the pope’s primary charitable appeal, called Peter’s Pence, were used to pay down the Vatican’s budget deficit.

Though promoted by the Vatican and U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops as largely a fundraising effort for the needy, church records indicate as little as 10% of the funds were used for charitable works.  As charities go, congregations would be ranked among the most egregiously wasteful stewards of donations compared to secular non-profits. Worshippers have the right to know how their donations are used and may be shocked at the inconsistency between their organization’s stated priorities and the reality of where the money goes.

Today churches not only continue to reap the benefits of tax exemptions, but their lobbying is paying off and resulting in direct access to public funds. Entitlement, by any other name, and a blatant violation of our Constitution’s First Amendment.

Conservative judges have cleared the way for publicly-subsidized Christian schools that will further indoctrinate young people. Catholic hospital networks are squeezing out other networks and are free to discriminate, denying medical services based purely on religious reasons.

I say it’s time to end this 2000-year run of religious oppression. Want to be a part of it?

About the author: Peter Tchoryk is an engineer and a dad who discovered he had a lot to learn from his kids. He is committed to making this world safer for all those who are persecuted for trying to live authentically. To learn more, check in with us at ScientificRebels.com, listen to our Podcast, or contact the author directly.