There are several kinds of false piety among religious people, betraying and vitiating their witness of God to their fellow humans. Some involve ‘father idolatry’, some involve hiding in the ‘mother church’ in such a way as to evade the real father [Daemonic] God; but the worst involve superstition. The reality of religious superstition is complex and subtle. What is clear is simply and obviously that superstition not only distorts real faith in God but also undermines any redemptive outreach of religious tradition towards the world.
But why? The answer to why superstition is so destructive of religion rests in a more basic question, what is superstition?
Superstition is rooted in the child. It arises from the child’s desire to be specially loved by God, even if in proving or demonstrating such love, the child is led to the conclusion that God does not love the child’s brothers and sisters. In short, superstition allows us to break ranks with our fellow humans in a way that betrays the true basis for our solidarity with and mission to them. As such, it is the worst religious evil.
Here is the extreme example of the danger of superstition; it is from Primo Levi whose experience in the Nazi concentration camp, though he survived, finally led him to commit suicide; none the less he always kept the integrity of his despair.
“I see and hear old Kuhn praying aloud, with his beret on his head, swaying backwards and forwards violently. Kuhn is thanking God because he has not been chosen. Kuhn is out of his senses. Does he not see Beppo the Greek in the bunk next to him, Beppo who is twenty years old and is going to the gas chamber the day after tomorrow and knows it and lies there looking fixedly at the light without saying anything and without even thinking any more? …Does Kuhn not understand that what has happened today is an abomination, which no propitiatory prayer, no pardon, no expiation by the guilty, which nothing at all in the power of man can ever clean again. If I was God, I would spit at Kuhn’s prayer.”
A commentator says of this, one of the most sacred expressions of the human experience, the mystical dialogue with the divinity, has thus been turned into blasphemy against humans.
It is ‘blasphemy against humans’ that should not be tolerated as ‘religion.’
This is why Christianity has betrayed Christ and become ‘comfort for the already comforted’, as a bitter Irishman once said [I do not recall his name, but his words went in and never came out].
Solidarity with humans has a price, for God and for us. Everyone pays.