Coercion in religion and the falsification of existence
Christo El Morr
Tuesday September 27, 2022 (Arabic Version)
There is no true living of faith without freedom. Coercion, coercion, negates honesty in action and speech and pushes people to falsify their existence, to live in dichotomy, so that they live on the outward level in word and deed in a state imposed by coercion, and on the intellectual and emotional level in an opposite state. Coercion inevitably leads to hypocrisy.
But hypocrisy is not compatible with faith, and how can it be? A person may enter into a religion and follow all the rituals, while their personality remains far from the requirements of faith. The root of faith does not lie in following rituals or entering into a religion, but rather in a sincere relationship with God, and this relationship cannot take place in truth unless it is reflected in a sincere relationship of the person to others, and a sincere relationship to oneself, so that behaviour and internal life are compatible, without duality.
Rituals are an expression of the relationship with God and others, as well as tools to deepen that relatinoship; but it is not the root of faith. The root of faith is in a conversion, and conversion cannot be by coercion, the word conversion itself is contrary to coercion. Conversion means a discovery and personal acceptance of what a person epxriences in their being, that is, by their mind, psyche and emotions, in an atmosphere of respect for their freedom as a human being. With conversion, the relationship with God begins and continues in a many ways, including rituals, but its test is one's relationship with the other persons, and the relationship cannot be healthy if it is not sincere, and it cannot be sincere if it is not free. The relationship with God, the love of God, from which worship stems, presuppposes freedom; there is no love without freedom.
The state is a form of social life whose instruments are coercion (law, police, judiciary, etc.). The problem of the religious state is that it assumes that it has access to the realm of personal faith, and when it enters it, it can only do so with its tools, that is, with the tools of coercion. When the state uses its tools to force a person to refrain from making noise in thier house in the middle of the night, for example, it forcibly limits their freedom to do whatever they want, but it does not interfere in their relationship with God; it only curbs their narcissism and pushes them to consider the lives of others, regardless of their relationship to these others. But when it intervenes to impose on a person a way of clothing, fasting, or prayer, it interferes with that unique person’s relationship with God and in their conviction stemming from their unique existence; the religious state wants- if it can- to force them to act in a certain way according to its interpretations of religion, which are necessarily circumstancial and partial interpretations, as long as they do not represent all of time (e.g., it does not reprepsent future interpretations that may differ or go opposite to today's ones), nor do they represent all sects, nor all interpretations in a certain sect. And in the end, no matter how correct these religious interpretations are, the state with its coercive instruments interferes with a person's relationship with God: it limits one's freedom to believe or not to believe, to live their relatrionship with God in the way they want not in the way others' want, and to bear their responsibility for their own faith before God. No matter what we say and rationalize, the religious state does not acknowledge the existence of the unique individuality of every human being, and tries to crush it. If the coercion comes from the state, or from a group of people, the result is the same: a human being is forced to behave in the matter of faith according to others' views, that is, according to hypocrisy, not according to the truth. And what kind of logic is it that is satisfied with the consolidation of hypocrisy in the middle of a community that wants to be sincere to a faith, and to defend it?
With coercion, hypocrisy rains, and it is no longer possible to distinguish between what is true and what is false in behavior, feelings and relationships. Even the person loses this distinction within oneself, as the threat makes them feel weak and without dignity, which is what pushes them to escape from this feeling by using an external social mask to cover up the loss of their self-dignity. Rather, in his attempt to cover up this humiliation, they may be tempted to increase their ardour in religious mattters, in rituals, and in appearances in order to restore some sense of self-worth through conformity with the religious group, and through adoption of a frenetic fundamentalist defense of the religious appearances that the group defends. This extreme and outwardly integration with the principles of the group is an attempt to drown out the person's real feeling of defeat, fraud, fear and squandered dignity by coercion. At the same time, the integration makes the person feel protected in the midst of a powerful group. In such case, the result is the falsification of existence, as this human being becomes alienated from others: their relationship with others is forged because they are pushed to hypocrical relationship by the rule of oppression, and their relationship with God is forged because it takes place without a free personal conviction; and the end result is the loss of the self.
The state - coercive by default - as well as the coercive groups, when they interfere with a person's relationship with God, can ensure that everyone submits to outward relationships, but it certainly creates an environment that fosters hypocrisy in faith and falsification of existence, and this would spoil faith relationships between people and their Creator, relatrionships that cannot be real unless free. Compulsion in religion produces religious hypocrisy, and this undoubtedly distances people from God.
Compelling groups may be happy with the surface of appearances, and they remain unaware that they created all the circumstances to keep the hearts away from God, and what would benefit a person if they lived all appearances and lost onself in the forgery that emanates from oppression in relationships. Only freedom allows honesty and conviction in relationships, and respects the uniqueness of each person.