Sjolander Road Fellowship

Declaring the God of Unconditional Love

good and bad manipulation



There is a profound irony demonstrated by religious conservatives. They are quick to denounce governmental manipulation, ever demanding lower taxes and less constraint through public policy and regulation.  At the very same time these folks are the strongest proponents of manipulation by the other equally powerful aspects of our culture and society: the marketplace and the church.


Advertisers endlessly deluge us and our children with million dollar ads prompting an eternal search for purpose, fulfillment, and happiness through materialism. Though they claim allegiance to a non-material reality in the sweet by and by, no group reverences the working of free market capitalism like the American church. Thus they support and even bless all the excess which unrestrained economic competition engenders. It should be obvious from the economic problems of the past few years that our economy is woefully dependent for sustainability on consumers who eagerly spend money they don't even have on every imaginable new product. Without successful marketplace manipulation, enticing people to buy what they don't really need, the economy cannot support employment for a very significant portion of our population. That being the case, marketing and salesmanship become an almost religious enterprise. Many of the churches actually make economic success (materialism) a pronounced mark of God's favor and acceptance. This line of thinking relegates those poor in material things to a poor standing in God's eyes as well.


It is no great stretch to ascribe to the institutional church the practice of manipulation, subjugation, and indoctrination, making it the blood brother of the secular government in many respects. They demand conformity on penalty of hellfire and excommunication. They proclaim an unimpeachable truth, which must be accepted universally and without question. Structurally, the church establishes a rigid hierarchy with certain individuals self proclaiming themselves as appointed by God to lead and instruct the others. In this manmade environment, we witness all the unseemly politics and associated squabbles which taint ever other such organization, especially the secular government.


In pursuing their "mission", the church demands that its adherents provide significant financial support, which amounts to a tax no less so than the levies of the government. Financial contributions to the church are s8upposedly voluntary, but the insistence on a 10% tithe as God ordained and the other systematic pressures of the church to wring money from their members, make such contributions an obligation and not a choice.


The churches further demonstrate their power and financial focus by securing and maintaining a tax exempt status which means that they can accumulate vast wealth in real estate, buildings, and infrastructure under the guise of pursuing a benevolent and divinely sanctioned program. The ability to solicit tax free financial support  and to advertise that support as doing God's Will and gaining His blessings, means that the church garners great sums of money from the most impressionable and emotionally vulnerable of our citizens: the sick, the poor, the aged, and the disheartened.  


In the final analysis, it appears that the religious/political conservatives, who so boisterously oppose governmental taxation and regulation, are nonetheless enamored with the economic burden and manipulations perpetrated by the market place and the church. Apparently crushing economic burdens and the usurpation of personal liberties is only an issue when somebody else is making the rules. If the church and the ever sacred market dictate the rules, then no ill effect is ever admitted.