A very early memory of mine was the United States' Bicentennial, 1976. I remember feeling so good about this country. A few years later, another prominent memory was created - the Iranian Hostage Crisis.
I will not make a case for the US' installation of the Shah as being just. I will not make a case against Iranians wanting to pursue their own destiny with less Western influence. I will however ask you to consider and also consciously identify the concern that religious fundamentalists seek obliteration of others, and the religious zealots of Iran nearly have the bomb.
I consider myself a philosopher who has identified human life as my top priority. It's easy to quantify human life. It's harder to determine the quality thereof, hard yet workable. An ample supply of clean water, decent health care, freedom to speak and act, and nutrition - all indicative of quality of life.
My nine year old recently asked me if there were dinosaurs in heaven. When I was her age I attended Sunday School; they didn't like my questions anymore than I liked their responses. How come us Presbyterians don't have CCD like all of my Catholic friends? How come all of the other families in our old neighborhood were Jewish? Children understand the lack of not only continuity but also of consensus when it comes to religion.
Isn't the Christian Bible essentially the Jewish Bible plus astrology and Hell? Zeus Krishna = Jesus Christ, right? Jewish rap sheets, hell, thought crime and a personified astrology lesson gone horribly wrong.
I believe that fear (of Hell in particular) and popular tradition motivates most churchgoers. Doesn't the church worm it's way into your most important events, specifically birth, puberty, marriage and death?
What we have here is the professional boogeyman. I'll persuade you first into believing that you have a terrible malady, and then that I can (partially) alleviate things. I've given you a problem, and to solve it you can only follow my specifics when it comes to your devotion of a robust and regular supply of testimony, suffering, work and money. Forever!!
It's perfectly insidious when you think about it.
I'm also not against legislative action to get 'The' Bible rated NC-17, given the genocide, incest and rape. Should anyone ever be allowed to sling this rotten sh*t at children? What if non-clergy want to write and read some other book about incest, rape and genocide to children? Shall we even take up the shameless and abusive teaching of eternal suffering???
Let me close with Hanlon's Razor: "Never attribute to malice that which can just as easily be attributed to stupidity."