According to First Timothy 6:10 the love of money is the root of all evil. This seems to suggest that evil grows – and the last time I checked things that grow - particularly things that grow from roots – they do better with a little fertilizer.
Evil is growing fast. The evil weeds of greed are choking the boardrooms of our corporations. Metaphorical weeds of evil crowd the halls of power in our school boards, state capitols, and even the nation's capitol. All those weeds must be getting an awful lot of fertilizer!
I was hiking one afternoon recently. While hiking, I often ponder things or think about topics about which I might write. This particular day I was pondering whether or not I could support the statement “All evil can be traced to some combination of greed and religion” in an essay. I was having difficulty phrasing the question more narrowly to include only “evil” arising from the conscious actions of mankind. Things like evil arising from addiction were troublesome enough to make me abandon the original line of thought. But I had also been thinking about how extremes of greed are enabled by irrational beliefs. I had recently written an essay regarding how religion spills over to poison the public discourse. That line of thought went something like this: religion needs to protect favored fairytales, so religion conditions people to ignore science and to ignore evidence, and because religion is pervasive it has many opportunities to condition many people to believe what is comfortable rather than to believe what is scientific and factual.
Once people are conditioned to ignore science and facts then they are easy targets for opponents of environmental regulations. The fossil fuel industry is able to leverage people who have been conditioned to believe that which is comfortable to believe. So they are able to get people to believe that there is no global warming, that the Keystone tar sands pipeline will create jobs and lower fuel prices, and that there is such a thing as “clean coal.”
Once people are conditioned to ignore facts and simply believe that which is comfortable to believe then they will choose to believe the propaganda of “income redistribution” and “job creators.” The propaganda says that if taxes are kept low for the rich then the rich will invest and create jobs. The facts are that the alleged “job creators” will create a decent-paying job in this country only after all other options have been exhausted. People who have been conditioned by religion will also believe propaganda about “income redistribution” to lazy welfare recipients. The facts are that the wealthy have already redistributed income – from the poor and middle-class to the burgeoning plutocracy of greed.
People conditioned by religion are also susceptible to propaganda issued by the gun lobby. They are convinced not only of a “God given” right to bear arms, but are additionally convinced that we would all be much safer if more people carried concealed weapons and if military-style assault were more widely available.
Attacks on what is left of our democracy are often aided more directly by religion. Folks conditioned by religion are often single-issue voters. Politicians will leverage this by taking up the causes of protecting everything from “unborn babies” to “traditional marriage” and “traditional family values.” The facts often stand in stark contrast to the claims of the politician. For example if the politician truly cared about “unborn babies” then he would work to assure universal access to neonatal care.These are but a few of the ways in which religion aids and abets evil. If we return to the metaphor then it is clear that the fertilizer of religious delusion has prepared a rich soil in which the love of money has taken root and flourished.