By A. JAMES RUDIN
c. 2011 Religion News Service
(RNS) It’s hard to escape the barrage of TV ads that praise the benefits of various medications and then conclude with a rapid-fire list of the drug’s potentially harmful side effects.
But one widely used drug needs no advertising. Its use has spiked religious fanaticism throughout the world — an unregulated medication driving people to commit acts of physical and psychological violence in the name of religion.
The pill is called FAITHAGRA.
Produced in shadowy undisclosed locations, the tablet comes in three easily recognizable shapes: a Star of David for Jews, a cross for Christians, and a crescent for Muslims.
Users of FAITHAGRA need to be warned of the risks of this mysterious and dangerous medication.
A tiny dose of FAITHAGRA can cause a decent caring person to suddenly utter selfish prayers demanding material, sexual or professional rewards at the expense of family, colleagues and friends. In some cases, the drug has caused otherwise sensible people to utter a torrent of bigoted and hateful words against members of “spiritually inferior” faith communities.
The risks associated with FAITHAGRA intensify with heavy usage. FAITHAGRA can be habit-forming, and heavy users have publicly hallucinated about being a biblical prophet, or a messianic figure with divine power to reverse the laws of nature, including the ability to levitate.
A person’s immune system of rationality and reason, which usually fights off religious extremism, can be permanently damaged by repeated and unsupervised use of FAITHAGRA. Spiritual ecstasy is another documented reaction to FAITHAGRA including tingling, constant mood changes, physical numbness, and belief in one’s omnipotent power.
Adverse reactions are especially acute when FAITHAGRA is taken during periods of fasting when psychological and physical resistance is at a low point.
Heavy FAITHAGRA users visiting Jerusalem for the first time are sometimes overcome with wild religious fantasies. Such outbursts, called “The Jerusalem Syndrome,” can only be cured by intensive counseling and immediate withdrawal from FAITHAGRA.
Repeated use of FAITHAGRA creates spiritual tyrants who demand total physical and emotional slavery from gullible supporters. Some people, after taking FAITHAGRA in excess, have emerged as violent terrorists who kill and maim innocent people in brutal acts of religious absolutism.
In some cases, large amounts of FAITHAGRA have resulted in: bloody physical torture of people believed to be God’s enemies; murderous suicide bombings of civilians; and attacks fueled by hopes of immediately entering the world to come. There are disturbing reports of the drug being administered in huge quantities to unknowing people by unscrupulous spiritual leaders who seek to dominate a society by creating cadres of loyal followers who will assault apostates.
Mass distribution of the heady pill endangers not only an individual’s spiritual well-being, but has also been shown to energize entire communities and organizations, allowing them to believe their murderous actions committed against others will hasten the onset of the End of Days when their own religious group, will control the world.
If you have concerns about FAITHAGRA, ask your rabbi, pastor or imam. Some professionals have launched public campaigns calling for abstinence from FAITHAGRA. Some reports, however, indicate such campaigns have not been effective as more and more people seek the religious “highs” associated with FAITHAGRA that promise instant contact with the divine, assurances about the absolute truth of one’s faith and the sinful lies of other religious communities.
In extreme cases, FAITHAGRA has been known to result in the justification to use every means necessary to annihilate the wicked enemies of the one true faith.
In most cases, research has indicated that FAITHAGRA is actually a placebo, that is, nothing more than a compound of completely inert ingredients. In many cases, FAITHAGRA users have been found to use the pill to unleash ugly latent beliefs and lethal actions that qualify as a pre-existing condition.
Hatred, bigotry, prejudice and the physical destruction of others are excused and defended by employing the modern medical version of “The devil made me do it!” After taking the pill, religious bullies and bigots believe every transgression is excusable.
Despite warnings from professionals, heavy users have been known to say “I am not responsible for my actions. FAITHAGRA made me do it!”
(Rabbi Rudin, the American Jewish Committee’s senior interreligious adviser, is the author of the recently published Christians & Jews, Faith to Faith: Tragic History, Promising Present, Fragile Future.)