Page:Conventional Lies of our Civilization.djvu/45

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The Lie of Religion.




I.

Religion is the most powerful and widely extended of all the institutions bequeathed to us by the past. The entire human race comes under its ban. It binds with the same fetters the highest and the lowest races alike, and its connecting links render the negro of Australia the brother in sentiment and neighbor in civilization of the English lord. Religion penetrates all forms of political and social life, and faith in its abstract dogmas, is the avowed or unexpressed foundation for the rightfulness, or even the possibility of a whole series of actions which form the degrees of critical development, or the turning points, in any individual existence. There are still great many civilized countries, where everyone is obliged to belong to some religion. No one is asked about his faith, his convictions, but every one is obliged to conform to some established form of worship. The world has progressed somewhat since the days of the Anti-reformation under Bloody Mary, of Spain during the Sixteenth Century, and of the Puritan rule in New England, when every citizen was obliged, under the most fearful penalties, to take part in the established worship; but the progress has been slight, taken as a whole. The State no longer drives every individual to mass and confession, it has abolished the penalty of being burnt at the stake for negligence in church attendance; but it requires, at least in