My mother is a religious fanatic.
By D. M. Murdock

Over the nearly 15 years I've been online, I've received many emails asking me for advice as concerns religious fanaticism by family members and friends that is detrimental to healthy relationships. As this fanaticism often produces hurtful and disheartening exchanges, these inquirers have asked how they could get their friends and family members either to let go of it or to stop proselytizing and pushing it on others.

A spiritual terrorist?

The one common thread through all of these inquiries is that the individual frequently feels that religious fanaticism is oppressive and malignant, not healthy or virtuous, even if the intentions seem caring and benevolent. The nature of such fanatical extremism, in fact, is often anti-human, cruel and harsh, resulting in what can only be deemed spiritual terrorism, so it is understandable people would object to it. The religious mania in question usually tells us we are "mere" human beings, inglorious and ignominious creatures "born in sin" or otherwise lowly and base, who need constant surveillance, castigation and punishment. (Fanaticism is closely related to Tribalism.)

Is spiritual terrorism godly?

This spiritual terrorism appears to emanate from holy texts and religious scriptures, such as the Bible and Koran, that separate out "God" as wholly other and leave humanity devoid of any divinity or ultimate worthiness—except as servants and slaves who must submit their will to God. This god is depicted in these same scriptures as often cruel, malevolent and brutal—not a "God of Love"—and the fanaticism that frequently expresses itself from people who believe in these scriptures and this god is rarely if ever "loving" in any sense of the word. Indeed, this religious mania frequently manifests itself in sheer hatred and violence.

"The false premise of the religious fanatic is,
'My actions are by God's will, your actions are not.'"

The kneeling sinner

The kneeling sinner

Thus, the person being affected negatively by religious fanaticism in his or her personal life may be correct in supposing that this zealotry represents a form of abuse, an attack on his or her very spirit and soul, because it often does. This religious fanaticism automatically assumes that, by your mere birth, you are bad and foul, and can only redeem yourself by becoming equally as fanatical about upholding the shallow and derogatory view of humanity as depicted in many religious scriptures.

We can identify these human-denigrating scriptures and the pathology they appear to create on a regular basis, but how do we cope with the unpleasant mentalities and end products they produce in our own lives? In dealing with individuals expressing such fanaticism, it may be wise to keep in mind that they themselves may have been abused by these same religious scriptures and ideologies.

The messages in this regard that I have received over the years go something like the following recent heartfelt inquiry from a reader named "Wendy":

"I would like your advice please! Right now, my husband and I are staying with my mother so we can save up to buy our house. That would be great, but she is a Pentecostal holiness crazy lady who loves to make other people miserable. I try to overlook a lot of what she says and does, but sometimes it is hard because she is my mother. I really feel sorry for her—I can't reason with her, because she is too far gone. How can I handle her so we can coexist in the same house for at least 2 months without me going insane? I try going to my happy place, but she drives me to no end. Is there any advice you can give me?"

The first step you might take is to ask yourself if this person's perspective has any merit at all, or is it purely abusive in your estimation? If you are engaging in destructive, unethical or illegal behavior that is harming you and this individual or individuals in question, can the cessation or reduction of that behavior create greater harmony? Or is this person's own behavior the only source of discord, thereby itself essentially being unethical? If you are satisfied that something you are doing is not the cause of this unhealthy and abusive mentality and behavior, then you have a few choices in how to handle it. See Religion Demographics.

Stay tuned.



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