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OPINION: Religion, Ponzi Schemes, and tribalism

Two recent US news events shed more light on the sociological role of religion as tribal identity in contemporary society.
1) We know that Madoff flogged his ponzi scheme to Jewish investors, in Florida and worldwide, who trusted him. We now learn that "Sir Allen" Stanford and James Davis not only sold his 8 billion security fraud to Southern Christian leaders, but "Mr. Davis was also known as a deeply religious man, opening many Stanford Financial meetings with a prayer that Stanford executives would make the right investment decisions, according to another former financial adviser". It is pointed out that this is probably linked to the "Prosperity Gospel" proponents, such as Creflo Dollar and Joel Osteen. (aka Lottery Ticket Christians - God wants you to drive a gold mercedes.)

2)But the god-fearing seem also spend quite a bit on ungodly things. A Harvard Business Study (analysing credit card receipts) determined more online porn is watched by conservative and religious states. "Some of the people who are most outraged turn out to be consumers of the very things they claimed to be outraged by," Edelman says.

Humanists often have interesting and intelligent discussions about the history of religion, philosophy, ethics and the enlightenment, and other ways to look at religion as a liberal art. But sometimes it's important to note that religion less an intellectual, moral guide, than it is merely a class-based tribal identity, useful for selling insurance, finding a business partner, marrying your children inside the tribe, and selling pesticide; most of the pesticide companies, as well as the MLM home-marketing companies are run by Mormons in Utah - and most of your sushi comes from the Moonies, btw. The massive competing Korean churches in Queens NY are known for their business networking events - with entertainment by the Korean gospel choirs singing black spirituals... This isn't any different than my Irish catholic relatives antics as ward bosses in 1890, of course.

Considering the Christian States addiction to online porn, despite their railing against the decline in 'moral values' among their liberal neighbors, it's useful to examine the treatment of women when you analyse tribal identity among religions. We know that the more conservative religious communities forbid access to sex ed and family planning (but not to Viagra!). This is often a technique to keep women "barefoot, uneducated and poor" - and HOME, of course.

A Chinese muslim was asked on a BBC documentary why the tribe did not apply for electricity, like the city across the river. He answered: "if our women see these things, they will leave us". A secular muslim friend once told me that the utility of hijab is "to save your sister for your second cousin - before anyone on the outside gets a chance". It seems to have worked for few hundred years, and keeps the property in the family, and the women at home. Tidy, that.

However, there are rumbles, even in the cultural/religious tangle of FGM. See this disturbing article on the movement in Sierra Leone to free women from Female Genital Mutilation - and the tribal revenge enacted upon the brave reformers.

Speaking for myself only (SFMO), - the webeditor.

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HAT meetings are free and open to members and the public. Call (416) 966-1361 for location information. ___________________________________________________
The Humanist Forum meets Saturday morning 11am-1pm.
The Monthly Meeting, is usually the second Saturday at 1:30pm; specifics should be found on this blog.
The Steering Committee meets the first Wednesday of each month, at 7pm.
The Book Group usually meets on the first Saturday afternoon of the month.