I have often heard evangelical types deliver their testimony, wherein they explain that while they had been raised in a family that attended a conventional mainline church, in all those years they had never had what they call a 'personal relationship with Jesus'. That all changed when they encountered the religious right, and for the first time they experienced what they refer to as 'the power of the Holy Ghost.' Their experience of Jesus suddenly became very real, they say.
There are many people who hear such talk and assume that these evangelicals are deluded. This is an oversimplification. They are describing an experience which is to them very real. The reason for this is found in understanding that 'Christian Theology' is not actually a 'theology', which would be 'the study of God', nor does this system of thought describe 'the divine reality' but rather it encapsulates human psychology, and it is this clever trick that makes the experience of 'conversion' seem so intensely real to the converted.
Human beings are social creatures, and there is nothing more important to a human being that to be accepted by the group. It is for this reason that human beings can find it difficult to accept criticism, and this also explains why people react so negatively to rejection, sonmetimes reacting even with violent anger, for human beings are extremely sensitive to potential rejection by the larger group. It is this facet of human nature that provides the motive force behind the phenomenon known as 'peer pressure' and it is this peer pressure which is the source of all cultural differences on earth as human children learn that in order to be accepted they must conform to all the variants that are seen as cultural norms in different societies in the world, with variations from all sorts of strange habits and customs being viewed as deviant or sinful, and thus worthy of the rejection that human beings cannot tolerate.
It turns out that peer pressure is also the root source of all the variant religions on earth, and what is referred to as 'Christian Theology' is actually a description of the underlying psychological processes of this phenomenon known as peer pressure, and therefore is not a description of some sort of 'divine reality' at all. People speak of being 'convicted of their sin by a Holy Ghost.' This is a mystification of normal human behavior as people attempt to get another human being to conform to conventional norms and do so by threatening rejection which then inspires a feeling quite similar to genuine guilt. When an evangelical speaks about how suddenly the experience of the Holy Ghost became so vivid and real to them once they first encountered the religious right, this is a description of an authentic and deeply felt experience. It was not a divine experience. It was simply the manipulation of one human being by another. Evangelicals then speak of how Jesus developed a personal relationship with them and began changing them from the inside out. Once again they really did experience these things, but what was actually happening is that they were continually being manipulated by the group. Their behavior was frowned upon. They were granted approval or disapproval in all sorts of small and subtle ways. They began to conform to the expected norms, and because this 'theology' is actually a mystification of a normal human experience, the mystification prevents them from understanding that they are actually being manipulated by the other members of the group. They claim that their 'relationship with Jesus' suddenly became vivid and real when they first experienced 'the power of the Holy Ghost', and it is this lived experience produced by this mind fogging mystification which then cements a belief in evangelical doctrine. If you doubt their doctrine they will insist that you have not yet experienced for yourself 'the changing power of the Holy Ghost.' If you resist manipulation by the group they will insist that you are a stubborn sinner and you simply refuse to repent because you know that you must give up certain sins and you don't want to do that.
The mind clouding mystifications of this 'Christian Theology' are not limited to leaving people confused as to the true nature of human interactions, but it also works to mystify social processes, and a study of history demonstrates that this particular form of mystification is even more ruinously disastrous for human societies than simply forcing people to conform to certain cultural and traditional norms. Christianity confuses the human intellect by teaching people that all the problems in the world are caused by something known as 'original sin.' People are trained to self identify by saying 'I am a sinner.' This then means that all the problems in the world can be solved by saving 'sinners' doing so 'one sinner at a time'. When something goes wrong in the world it is a problem of 'moral values' and therefore the political debate in any truly religious culture will become very partisan since it consists for the most part of attacking the ethical values of one politician while extolling the morality and ethics of another politician.
There are obvious 'theological' problems with this doctrine of the originally sinful pig. If God created Armadillos, and then Armadillos were declared to be 'originally sinful' this would mean that God must either be an incompetent manufacturer, who sends out defective appliances and then blames the consumer, or God must be either malignant or prideful and arrogant, for God creates defects and then attempts to shift the blame by blaming the defective. All the tortured attempts to salvage that doctrine of the originally created sinful pig must fail for it cannot be true that God was all powerful and all knowing, another religious doctrine, without it also being true that therefore God created Adam in such a way that Adam could suffer 'the fall'. It must have been that God saw that Adam could fall, and another inconsistent and contradictory religious doctrine teaches us that 'God is very Holy and cannot tolerate the least bit of sin.' This doctrine is then used as the justification for hell fire, so neccesary if adequate force is to be used to force unwilling human beings to wear fig leaves in the Garden. Howeever since God knew that Adam would 'fall' and that Adam would 'sin' and God, who supposedly cannot tolerate any sin at all, nevertheless did not make the required adjustments to ensure that this did not happen, then we can see that truly the 'original sinner' was God, and not Adam at all. Eagles do not choose to fly, and bugs do not choose to crawl, and neither can Adam to choose to sin. If Adam 'fell' and then Adam 'sinned' then it was because Adam was created to sin knowing full well that he would sin since it was God who created sin intentionally and it was God who authorized beforehand that Adam would fall.
None of this makes any sense at all, and the reason for this nonsensical non-philisophy is that the doctrine of 'original sin' is a clever fiction designed to protect the status quo by diverting blame for the world's problems. Protecting the status quo does not mean protecting people, but rather it means protecting systems wherein dominance and power are concentrated, and the doctrine of original sin confuses the intellect by blinding people to systemic problems by encouraging them to blame individual 'sinners' doing so 'one sinner at a time.' Every time something goes wrong in the world it can be blamed on a sinner, and if the whole world becomes screwed up, well that can be blamed on the fall and the fact that everyone in the world is unsaved originally sinful pig.
Now let us assume that an unethical politician pushes buttons or pulls levers. The correct question to be asked is why the human race was so reckless as to leave levers and buttons around so that someone who was immoral could cause disasters for humanity by pushing buttons or pulling levers. These would be criticisms of the system itself, and since religion is determined to protect systems of power and authority, such criticism is taboo. Therefore people must be trained in the religious doctrine of sinful pigs, and therefore in any Christian culture if a politician pulls levers and punches buttons, partisan attacks on the morality or ethics of that politician are the result of the now degraded political discourse in that country.
What makes matters even worse is that there are times when the system demands that a politician punch buttons or pull levers, or otherwise there will be big problems. One simple example of this would the way in which a system based upon fierce competition between human beings, such as capitalism, results in the rise of India and China, as those first few capitalists start the competitive ball rolling by moving to China were they can pay 35 cents an hour, and for a time get the jump on the competition. Naturally it won't be long before everyone jumps on the bandwagon, for the choice is either to go bankrupt or compete. There are those who say, 'yes, but we can put up tarifs and block imports'. This would then mean that we will also not be selling exports, for it is very unlikely that a country will protect itself from cheap imports while other countries graciously agree to continue to accept exports. Therefore if the population was to blame immoral politicians for the erosion of the base of their economy, that would be post-Christian thinking, since it is based upon that erroneous dogma of 'the sinful pig', for actually that was a problem produced by the system and is the end result of simply supporting the status quo. Certain things are just going to happen under that system, and a politician actually has a very narrow range of options. Sometimes evangelicals will make note of that narrow range of options, sigh, and say that heavy on the head of the king lies the crown, for the king must deal with a world full of original pigs. Actually the king must deal with the results of a system that puts in place those levers and those buttons which can then be pushed, and can perhaps even be pushed by a real sinful pig. Even in that case the problem is not the existence of a sinful pig but rather the problem is a society which is so intellectually bankrupt that they cannot even understand the simple concept that when you have a system that puts out levers and buttons which are then available to be pushed by the occassional sinful pig, that means you have a problem with the system.
The politics of 'moral values' which focuses on the 'ethics' of a policitican, which is so typical of American politics, is a backwards perspective which is one of the toxic intellectual residues left over from America's past history as a very religious Christian nation. it turns out that even when religion goes through its historical decay, some of its core ideas survive, since people are the products of thousands of years of accumulated culture. Even those who call themselves 'progressives' and whose boast is that they are 'not religious' may as well be religious for their politics is the politics of moral values, and they blame problems upon unethical politicians. This makes American politics so very partisan and so divisive. America is now a post Christian nation that has not yet matured and grown up politically, and so its poiltics remained bogged down in the left over deterious of a collapsing religious mindset.
Religion survived for such a long time because it took the form of a self fulfilling prophecy. Religion made the human mind stupid by employing that philisophically and theologically bankrupt doctrine of 'original sin' the only purpose of which was to protect the status quo by protecting systems and diverting all attacks into the dead end road of attacking individual sinners for all the problems flawed system of the status quo always produce throughout history. The end result of this practice was to plunge humanity into one ruinous and unchecked and unstoppable disaster after another. Ruinous things would be produced by that system, and if you study history you will see evidence for a psychological feed back loop in operation, in that each time humanity plunged blindly like lemmings over some cliff, the response was repentance followed by a type of 'religious revival', since the disasterous ruin once again produced by their fucked up systems was misinterpreted as being 'the divine punishment for sin'. Naturally the solution was more of that same religion which had caused the disaster in the first place, which then meant more disasters, followed by more repentance and more religious revival. When we understand this correctly we can see that religious doctrine was actually a deadly trap and a snare, a deep pit from which it took a very, very long time to escape. Eventually the unchecked and constantly uncontrolled evil unleashed on the world by the status quo and its systems which provide the powerful tools required to do evil would in the end destroy religion, for people would say, 'if there was a God how could these evil things happen.' For this religion would have no answer at the end of it all and the service rendered to the status quo would destroy the priest at the end of it all. The process would be a long one because of that curious feedback loop which would feed off disaster and instead of destroying religion would empower religion over and over again for a considerable length of time.