By Jeffrey T. Brown at americanthinker.com
Imagine a closed, regressive, sometimes violent culture. Freedom of thought brings punishment. One is not encouraged to consider alternative views. One's place in the culture is determined by circumstances of birth, and he can never be otherwise defined than by such things as race, gender, and social status. Strict adherence to the code is enforced at the risk of severe repercussions. Only carefully cultivated and proscribed beliefs are acceptable, and others are strongly, even violently discouraged. The beliefs are not grounded in truth, and often are the product of bigotry and overt prejudice. Intolerance and self-righteousness are hallmarks of the culture. Only dogmas approved by the hierarchy are permitted to be repeated. Those who chant and believe them, while punishing those who do not, are faithful. They are rewarded with acceptance, financial benefits, and even fame. They are held up as examples of virtue. They are deemed heroic.
Opponents of the closed culture, however, are portrayed as dim-witted and slow-thinking, motivated by malice rather than wisdom or experience. Those who presume to profess a different faith have earned the privilege of being slandered and defamed by the culture. In this culture, religion and law are hopelessly blurred, so that the tenets of the culture's religion become policy. There are core beliefs which cannot be challenged or limited. Nonbelievers are infidels, and those who convert to conflicting beliefs are apostates.
The dishonest beliefs of the culture are forced into the minds of its children from the earliest age. Indoctrination motivates the educational system as well, which encourages prejudice against those who think differently while encouraging self-congratulation for one's own prejudices and false beliefs. The culture has decided it owns the children and will form them as they should be.
Those who do not adapt themselves to the closed culture are shunned, ostracized, publicly humiliated. They are treated as unworthy of existence alongside the virtuous practitioners of the closed culture. They are labeled the cult's "enemy"....
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