mitchellmckain wrote:How many places in America have you lived? I have lived in two rather religious states (Utah and Maryland) and I don't think this is true in either of them - not in the city. I have heard stories about small towns in Utah and stories of the deep south that confirm what you say but then I have heard of many more areas where the opposite it true. Perhaps the difference is in the people and I just never had this kind of herd mentality that makes it difficult for people to make their own choices and decide what to believe for themselves so that they feel all this "pressure" you are talking about. I find it rather difficult to comprehend the many stories and other media that talk about the fight of the teenager to be popular and maybe that has something to do with the so called pressure you are talking about.
Absolutely it depends on the people! I can assure you that in the deep South the default position is Protestant Christianity and when a person reveals that they ascribe to anything different, they are looked at differently from that point on. I have had numerous occasions when a person has said to me, "we are all Christians here, right?", give or take a word or two. In larger cities, even in the South, diversity is allowed to exist, but in smaller towns, the pressure is palpable. But you can even see this pressure in our governmental elections, where each candidate is forced to one-up his opponent in religiosity in order to be an acceptable representative of the people. Is religious belief really necessary for governmental offices? I am certain that pressure to be non-religious likely exists in some parts of the West and perhaps the Northeast. For people to participate in this kind of influence makes no sense to me. Your spirituality should have nothing to do with what your neighbors or co-workers would like you to be.
On the other hand, I have heard quite a large number of stories about youngsters going to colleges all over the U.S. experiencing enormous pressure and prejudice against their religious beliefs. After all that is a place where the professors have a rather unfair lever to apply such pressure in the grades they give.
Yes, that does exist as well, but a very large part of that comes from exposure to new ideas. When children grow up, their parents have close control over what they are exposed to, but when they leave the nest, their experience and knowledge widen and that is often enough to prompt them to seek new life experiences and ideas. University professors may be largely a-religious, but consider this; there is a rather large difference between aggressively influencing someone to abandon religion and someone merely asking difficult questions about why you hold certain religious beliefs. Those questions may not even be allowed in the student's home and church because they are considered blasphemous. And I can assure you that campus religious groups apply ample counter-pressure all the time.
I think this is an interpretation of events in retrospect. At the time they probably did not think of it as resisting God, but rather something more like thinking up excuses why they did not want to change their way o flife. In any case, I don't think that this happens to everyone, and that is a frequent mistake of such religious people in assuming everyone needs to follow the same path that they did. It is not something that I was likely to experience any more than you. There are a lot of things that I can understand of other people as a matter of observation but not that I can empathize with because there are no connections with the way that I think or with the things that motivate me.
You are probably correct and this is what I attribute to "performance art" in their message. Changing one's lifestyle is not absolutely the same thing as changing one's religious beliefs. Of course, in some faiths, the act of influencing others to join their team is of paramount importance and they will often resort to rather unethical and dishonest things to accomplish this.
"mystical trappings"? I am not sure what you mean by that and don't know where you got that from.
I explain below...
To be sure, I reject gnostic legalism and things contrary to scientific discovery, though perhaps the latter does not mean what it does to some people, since I do not see the scientific worldview as the limits of reality itself. I also reject the kind of magical thinking that one can control events by exerting some kind of power and control over supernatural entities or forces.
This is what I was talking about; the dial G for God syndrome that many religious people seem to have.
But that is obviously NOT true. Let's just say that some people see the flaws clearly and the marketing techniques are very uneffective in their case. Since I am generally immune marketing techniques I wonder that isn't true of you also and you are making the same flawed assumption as these religious people previously mentioned that others must think as you do.
No, I am saying that in many cases the promotion of religion is deeply flawed in how and what they present god to be, not to mention how the Bible itself is represented. As an example, I offer the recent add by presidential candidate Rick Perry, who equates the acknowledgement of homosexual people as a natural thing with something vile and un-godly, yet considers the celebration of Christmas (a merchandising enterprise if ever there was one) as a wholly American value. This is false advertisement as far as I'm concerned and if I were a Christian I would reject his rhetoric as not representative of my beliefs. When I say that the product is flawed, I mean that what most often comes from the mouth of Christians does not represent what I understand Jesus to be saying. It's often a distortion of the Bible, couched in their own wishes of how the world should be.