Freethought Today · September 2015

Published by the Freedom From Religion Foundation, Inc.

Breaking satire! Impositional religiosity added to DSM

People largely disturb themselves by believing in absolutistic shoulds, oughts and musts. ... The devoutly religious person tends to be inflexibly closed, intolerant and unchanging. Religiosity, therefore, is in many respects equivalent to irrational thinking and emotional disturbance. — Albert Ellis, Psychotherapy and Atheistic Values (1980)

By Donald B. Ardell

Despite vigorous protests from several Republican presidential candidates, the Vatican, Fox News, Westboro Baptist Church and preachers across the land, a new entry was added recently to the authoritative "Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders" (DSM). Scientists have termed the new disorder, the manual's 298th official entry, Impositional Religiosity (IR).

IR is "the unwelcome application of faith-based beliefs, dogmas, creeds and the like on the rights and preferences of others, particularly those without beliefs in, uses for, or intentions to adhere to, what they perceive as preposterous burdens or obligations based on irrational beliefs."

The DSM, now in its fifth edition, dates to the 1840 census, when efforts were made to collect information about mental health in the U.S. By the census of 1980, seven categories of conditions were established: mania, melancholia, monomania, paresis, dementia, dipsomania and epilepsy. Given that the inclusion of IR brings the list of insanities to almost 300 in 2015, it seems clear the trajectory of mental health in this country over the course of the past 175 years is not encouraging.

IR accounts for the culture war in America, wherein otherwise relatively good and generous people embrace policies that restrict the rights of others. Religious groups seek to deny women full reproductive choices, to discriminate against and/or oppose equal rights for LGBT communities, and to impose supernatural symbols (e.g., crosses, Ten Commandments tablets, baby Jesus statues) and rituals (prayer in public schools, "god language" on currency and the patriotic pledge).

It seems unlikely that such unwelcome forms of imposition, which reflect bullying, indifference to the preferences of others, intolerance, discrimination and/or mean-spirited bigotry, would manifest absent creeds and dogmas that reinforce such undemocratic tendencies.

Recent examples were on display before and after the June 26 Supreme Court ruling that established marriage equality as a legal right across the U.S. While hailed by President Barack Obama as a victory for America ("When all Americans are treated as equal, we are all more free."), many sufferers of Impositional Religiosity appear to be in the throes of mental breakdowns:

• Associate Justice Antonin Scalia railed against an "elitist" court majority, calling the decision a judicial putsch and threat to democracy.

• A month earlier, Anne Graham Lotz, daughter of Billy "Elmer Gantry" Graham, predicted that Jesus would be here any day to escort his followers to heaven. She added that, without authentic Christians around to keep order, you-know-what will hit fans everywhere. (See her "Mayday! Call to Prayer.") Specifically, banks will close, the stock market will plunge, planes will fall from the sky, cars will crash, families will be torn apart and more.

• Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee urged Christians to engage in a massive biblical disobedience campaign against the false god of judicial supremacy.

• Former Florida U.S. Rep. Allen West envisioned that the ruling could lead to civil war.
• Bill Muehlenberg, who runs a Web-based ministry called CultureWatch, said it's officially the End Times because of this "homo-fascist" decision and that the Supreme Court has declared that reality and biology no longer exist.

• Bryan Fischer weighed in from the rabid Religious Right with the discovery that Satan is dancing in the streets of America and, because of the decision, 6/26 will be our nation's moral 9/11, a date that will live in infamy when the twin towers of truth and righteousness were blown up by moral jihadists.

Late-night comedian Conan O'Brien got in the spirit of the moment by noting, tongue in cheek, that, for the first time in 24 years, Jupiter and Venus appeared almost on top of each other in the night sky!

Identifying isn't curing

Unfortunately, including IR in the DSM doesn't mean that a cure has been found. At present, there is no drug known to alleviate, let alone immunize against, the condition. Nor are there counseling or treatment programs in place for egomaniacal and clueless office-holders and their supporters who are afflicted but somehow still believe they're capable of serving as president.

Fortunately, while there is no cure, there are practitioners of alternative and complementary medicine, including homeopaths, psychic surgeons and chiropractors, who insist that their potions, crystals, treatments, astrological charts or other methods can eliminate this dreadful disorder painlessly and quickly. Unfortunately, a conspiracy by the government, the pharmaceutical industry and/or the American Medical Society is suppressing these superior, proven cures in order to protect their monopolies, so they say.

Let us pray, light a candle, do a rain dance, sacrifice an animal (but no virgins, please) or do something known to please the one true god or gods in order to bring relief for those afflicted with Impositional Religiosity and the rest of us imposed upon by them, as soon as heavenly possible.

Be well and look on the bright side of life.

Florida FFRF member Don Ardell, who turned 77 on July 18, is a promoter of REAL wellness (lifestyles guided by Reason, Exuberance, Athleticism and Liberty). He has for the past two years been both the national and the world champion in his division in triathlon and aquathon, as well as national champion for the past three years in duathlon. His latest book is entitled Wellness Orgasms: The Fun Way to Live Well and Die Healthy.

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