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  •  Karl Marx said something similar... (43+ / 0-)

    As did charles kingsley @1847

    We have used the Bible as if it were a mere special constable's hand book, an opium dose for keeping beasts of burden patient while they were being overloaded, a mere book to keep the poor in order.

    As true now as it was then.

    A learning experience is one of those things that says, 'You know that thing you just did? Don't do that.' Douglas Adams

    by dougymi on Sun Feb 05, 2012 at 10:17:25 AM PST

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    •  Kingsley was a Church of England cleric. (10+ / 0-)

      He had a good understanding of the purpose of institutional religion.

      If the freedom of speech is taken away then dumb and silent we may be led, like sheep to the slaughter. ~ George Washington

      by 4Freedom on Sun Feb 05, 2012 at 11:57:54 AM PST

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    •  Marx's expression of the idea was.... (3+ / 0-)

      .... a little bit different, and I think, more accurate. He saw religion as an opium that the people themselves turned to because of their intolerable conditions of life, not something cooked up by cackling capitalists in cellar rooms lit by guttering candles in Chianti bottles.

      Religion is the general theory of this world, its encyclopaedic compendium, its logic in popular form, its spiritual point d’honneur, its enthusiasm, its moral sanction, its solemn complement, and its universal basis of consolation and justification. It is the fantastic realization of the human essence since the human essence has not acquired any true reality. The struggle against religion is, therefore, indirectly the struggle against that world whose spiritual aroma is religion.

      Religious suffering is, at one and the same time, the expression of real suffering and a protest against real suffering. Religion is the sigh of the oppressed creature, the heart of a heartless world, and the soul of soulless conditions. It is the opium of the people.

      The abolition of religion as the illusory happiness of the people is the demand for their real happiness. To call on them to give up their illusions about their condition is to call on them to give up a condition that requires illusions. The criticism of religion is, therefore, in embryo, the criticism of that vale of tears of which religion is the halo. (from the introduction to Contribution to Critique of Hegel's Philosophy of Right, 1843; my emphasis)

      Wikipedia's entry on the "opium of the people," where I found that quote, also includes a passage from the Marquis de Sade's Juliette that has a much more Republican ring to it:
      Though nature lavishes much upon your people, their circumstances are strait. But this is not the effect of their laziness; this general paralysis has its source in your policy which, from maintaining the people in dependence, shuts them out from wealth; their ills are thus rendered beyond remedy, and the political state is in a situation no less grave than the civil government, since it must seek its strength in its very weakness. Your apprehension, Ferdinand, lest someone discover the things I have been telling you leads you to exile arts and talents from your realm. You fear the powerful eye of genius, that is why you encourage ignorance. This opium you feed your people, so that, drugged, they do not feel their hurts, inflicted by you. And that is why where you reign no establishments are to be found giving great men to the homeland; the rewards due knowledge are unknown here, and as there is neither honor nor profit in being wise, nobody seeks after wisdom.

      When we are no longer children, we are already dead. (Constantin Brancusi) And whoever gave it, thanks for the gift!

      by sagesource on Sun Feb 05, 2012 at 04:04:25 PM PST

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