7 Great Lies of Organized Religion
by Perry Marshall.



Lie #1:

  'If you live a moral life, deny yourself pleasure,
follow the prescribed rituals and give us enough money,
you'll have a decent shot at being accepted by God.'



  Remember that scene near the end of the Wizard of Oz,
when Toto is pulling back the curtain?  The sound system
is bellowing, 'Pay no attention to that man behind the
And There's a little man behind the controls, talking into
a microphone.

  Kind of reminds you of certain religious institutions,
doesn't it?  Short little insecure men, hiding behind
names and titles, sending everyone on Mission Impossible
while they themselves indulge in secret sin.  The
preacher stands in front of thousands and shakes his
finger.  Nobody else knows that he had a stripper
in his hotel room last night.

  Somebody tells you, 'Here, follow all these rules and be
the best person you possibly can, and you might have a shot
at being accepted by God someday.'  Then they string you along
and get you under their thumb.

  No wonder people are cynical.

  Well it's no accident that Jesus' own biggest enemies 2000
years ago were precisely those same self-righteous hypocrites.
When Jesus showed up, they were terrified of losing their cushy
jobs and political clout.  Eventually they murdered him for
exposing their racket.

  True spirituality had been buried in a big pile of bureaucracy,
and the religious establishment used it to gain leverage.  To have
power over people, to get priority seating in expensive restaurants,
and to line their pockets with cash.

  They had everyone thinking that pleasing God was a never-ending
performance marathon.

 Well Jesus painted a totally different picture.  He told this

  'Two men went up into the temple to pray, one a holy man and
the other a tax collector.

  The holy man stood and prayed, 'God, I thank you that I am not
like other men, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even like
this lousy tax collector.  I fast twice a week, I give tithes
of all that I get.'

  But the tax collector, standing far away, would not even lift
up his eyes to heaven, but beat his breast, saying, 'God, be
merciful to me a sinner!'

  Jesus explains: 'I tell you, this tax collector went home
forgiven, rather than the holy man; for every one who praises
himself will be humbled, but he who humbles himself will be praised.'

  Beware of the proud holy man who hangs a bunch of rules
around your neck.

  That humble tax collector had it right.  He was doing the only
thing you and I can do to be accepted by God.  He just asked, with

  Tomorrow I'm going to attack Lie #2:

'God is huge and unapproachable, and He wants you to labor, struggle
and live in guilt.'

  Thanks for reading!

  Respectfully Submitted,

  Perry Marshall

CoffeeHouse Theology, 705 Jackson Boulevard
Oak Park, Illinois USA 60304

Lie #2:

  'God is huge and unapproachable, and He wants you to labor,
struggle and live in guilt.'



  2000 years ago, they wouldn't even dare say the word
'God.'  God was distant, remote, and terrible.

  But Jesus had his own words for God, and he used them freely.
They were controversial, even scandalous.

  His words for God:


  And 'Your heavenly father.'

  So when the Religious Gestapo condemned him for hanging out
with ruffians and women of ill-repute, he told an even more
scandalous story:

  'There was a man who had two sons.  The younger one said to
his father, 'Dad, I wish you were dead.  Why don't we pretend you
are dead, and give me my share of the family estate.'  So the
father divided his property between them.

  A few days later, the disrespectful son packed his bags and
headed for a distant land.  He squandered his inheritance on wine,
women and song.  And when he had spent everything, a great famine
arose in that country, and he got hungry.

  So he got a job feeding pigs.  (Jewish people considered pigs
to be utterly repulsive.)

  This young man would gladly have eaten the pods that the swine
ate; but no one gave him anything.

  But when he came to his senses, he said to himself, `How many
of my father's hired servants have bread enough and to spare, but
I'm here starving!  He went back to his father. But while he was
still far away, his father saw him and had compassion, and ran and
embraced him and kissed him.

  The son said, `Father, I have sinned against heaven and before
you; I am no longer worthy to be called your son.'

  But the father said to his servants, `Go get the best robe,
and put it on him; and put a ring on his hand, and shoes on his
feet; and bring the fatted calf and kill it, and let us eat and
have a huge party; for this my son was dead, and is alive again;
he was lost, and is found.'

  Jesus sums it all up like this:  'I tell you, there will be
more joy in heaven over one sinner who comes back than over
ninety-nine people who are already good.'

  The father in the Prodigal Son story was not concerned with
his dignity.  He was not concerned with what was 'fair.'  When
his son wanted to go his own way, he let him go.  But he was
watching out the window the whole time, hoping he would come back.

  That's Jesus' picture of God - just like the father in this
story.  Loving.  Forgiving.  Approachable.  Not distant and

  Tomorrow I'm going to attack Lie #3:

  'You are not smart enough or good enough to think for
yourself.  We will do your thinking for you.'

  Thanks for reading!

  Respectfully Submitted,

  Perry Marshall

  Put a link to the 7 Lies on your website:

CoffeeHouse Theology, 705 Jackson Boulevard
Oak Park, Illinois USA 60304

Lie #3:

'You are not smart enough or good enough to think for
yourself.  We will do your thinking for you.'



 Do you know what the most important invention in the
history of the world was?

 It wasn't the computer.  And it sure wasn't the light bulb
or the telephone.  (Or even the electronic voting machine.)

 It was the printing press.

 In 1445, Johannes Gutenberg invented the world's first movable
type printing press.  He didn't know it, but he was unleashing a
revolution that continues to this day.  Even the mighty Internet
in 2005 is just an extension of Gutenberg's original,
revolutionary machine.

 The first book he printed was the Bible.  And that led
to controversy, too, because Luther translated it into
German, the people's language, instead of Latin, the
lingo of the religious elite.

  Suddenly, ordinary folks could not only afford a copy,
but they could read it for themselves instead of getting
some guy's self-serving interpretation.  Soon the cat was
out of the bag--there were copies scattered all over Europe.

  When people started to read it, they were alarmed at what
they saw, because between the covers of this book was an
amazing story that had seemingly little to do with the politics
and shell games they saw in some corners the church.

  Luther wrote a list of 95 accusations against the church --
priests taking bribes and granting 'indulgences', an
institution setting itself up as a 'middleman' between
man and God.

  He argued that God didn't need a middleman, or a
distributor, or an agent, or a bureaucracy.  People
could go direct to the source.

  This little 'schism' in Wurms, Germany unleashed a
firestorm of protest and permanently changed the way people
approached education.  No longer was a big, faceless institution
responsible for your spiritual progress -- YOU were.  Now that
you had the knowledge in your hands, you were accountable
before God to do something about it.

  I'm not trying to attack the Catholic church, by the
way.  The problem is not institutions per se; it's just
that it's always easier for us to mindlessly follow someone
else than to listen to God and use the minds He gave us.

  It's no coincidence that the scientific enlightenment and
industrial revolution began in earnest within 50 years of this.
Not that it wasn't already underway (it had already gathered
considerable momentum) but now that ordinary folks had access
to knowledge and the freedom to pursue it, the possiblities
were limitless.

 The printing press took the handcuffs off of knowledge and
spirituality, and the world has never been the same.  Equal
access to knowledge empowered people everywhere, and it
was only natural that the Rennaisance, and in time, democracy
too would follow.

  What's troubling now is that most people still don't do anything
with the knowledge that's available to them.  Why would you accept
a 'canned' answer or empty platitude when you can open the book
and read about it for yourself?

 People have debates about Jesus, but most have never read the
real story--they just believe what they're told.  How sad.

  If you want a 'Just the facts ma'am' version of what really
happened, grab a Bible (please -- a modern English version that's
easy to read, not something from the 1600's) and read the book of
Luke.  A truly fascinating story will unfold.

  I dare you to read for one hour and then stop!

  And you know what?  Nobody will need to tell you what it means.
You'll be quite able to figure it out for yourself.

 You can get the book of Luke free online by clicking here:

http://www.blueletterbible.org /cgi-bin/tools/printer-friendl y.pl?book=Luk&chapter=1 &version=nltp&Go.x=18&Go.y=12

  Print it out and take it with you. (I like this
NLT translation a lot, btw.)

  Or, you can listen in MP3 by clicking this link:

http://www.audiotreasure.com /mp3/Luke/Luke.htm

  You might like to burn the MP3 onto a CD and listen to it in
your car.

  Tomorrow I'm going to attack Lie #4:

'Women are spiritually inferior and must submit to the
authority of men.'

  Talk to you tomorrow!

  Respectfully Submitted,

  Perry Marshall

CoffeeHouse Theology, 705 Jackson Boulevard
Oak Park, Illinois USA 60304

Lie #4

'Women are spiritually inferior and must bow to the
authority of men.'



 In the religious bureaucracy of the ancient world, women
were basically property.  If she burned his toast, he could
divorce her and send her away destitute.  If she saw a crime
in progress and reported it to the police, her testimony in
court would be thrown out--simply because she was female.
Women weren't considered smart enough to recount what really

 Isn't that special?

 Get this.  Jesus gets crucified.  His body is taken down and
put in a guarded tomb.

  Three days later, some of his female friends come to the tomb,
the door is wide open, and nobody's inside.  They're shocked.  But
they're even more shocked when Jesus shows up.  He talks to them.
These women are the first people to see this astonishing event and
report it.  The men don't believe it until they see for themselves.

  Well here's the kicker:  Had somebody invented this resurrection
story out of thin air, they would *never* have said that women found
the empty tomb--because women in that culture were considered
inferior and unreliable anyway.

  So what this demonstrates is:

1) It's highly unlikely this story is made up, because no person who
invents such a hoax would ever put women in this role.  The fact
that women are the first witnesses to this event strongly suggests
that Jesus DID actually rise from the dead.  A conclusion that
has staggering implications.

2) This also shows that Christianity considers women to be equal
to men.  Jesus had many women in his inner circle, and there were
female leaders and prophetesses in the early church.

  When religion runs amok, it's always in the interest of one of
three things:


  Don't you agree?

  And what could be more convenient than for selfish men to shove
women around and say it's the will of God?

  You know, the thing about genuine spirituality is that it
isn't used as a weapon to control people.  Yes, Jesus gave
some pretty stern warnings and he talked about some heavy
subjects.  But how often do you see him bossing his followers

  He didn't do that.  Instead, he took off their shoes and washed
their dirty feet to show them how they should serve each other.  His
life and death are the deep irony of God engaged in the
humble service of mankind.

  Tomorrow I'm going to attack Lie #5.  This one may surprise you:

'There is no single truth.  Everyone needs to explore and find a truth
that works for them.'

  Respectfully Submitted,

  Perry Marshall

CoffeeHouse Theology, 705 Jackson Boulevard
Oak Park, Illinois USA 60304

Lie #5:

'There is no single truth.  Everyone needs to explore and find
a truth that works for them.'



  This one's a real hot potato.  And it's not something you hear
so much from ancient religious institutions... rather, it's simply
the 'politically correct' way to talk about spirituality these days.

  It tends to be expressed something like this: 'You've got your
truth, and I've got my truth.  You find a faith that works for
you, and I'll find a faith that works for me.'

  Well here's my question:

  How many conflicting versions of the truth can actually be true?

  I'm not going to use this space to promote an agenda today -- or
to push any specific claim of Ultimate Truth.  I'm just going to
highlight a very simple, logical reality that each of us, in our search
for Truth, must recognize.  Pardon me if I offend you, but I'm
going to put it bluntly.

  It's impossible for all religions to be true.

  In other words, if Islam is essentially true, then Buddhism,
Hinduism and Christianity are not.  If Buddhism is essentially true,
then Islam, Christianity and Hinduism are not.  And so on.

  How can I say such a thing?  Because if you *really* study these
religions, it will become clear that each makes bold, fundamental
assertions about reality that are not compatible with the others.

  For example, Hinduism states that divinity is present in everything.
Christianity, Judaism and Islam all assert that God is distinctly
separate from what he has created.  The implications of these different
views run very deep, and they are fundamentally incompatible.  It's
logically impossible for both views to be true.

  So why bring this up, anyway?

  Well first I have to make a confession.  I would *like* to believe
that all religions could be true.  I would personally *like* to believe
that all paths lead to God.  It feels good.  It's a kinder view of
the world.  It puts everyone on equal footing.

  But it just doesn't make sense.

  Truth is, by nature, exclusive.  There are always more wrong
ways to do just about anything than right ways.  There are always
more wrong answers to any given question than right ones.


  And you know what?  This really raises the stakes.  It puts a
real sense of urgency in our search for truth, because it shows
that if we're not careful, we can fall for a half-truth.

  On the other hand, if you diligently search, seek
out the facts, and your spiritual journey brings you to
a place where the pieces fit in place - if everything makes
logical sense and it feels right in your heart - then you
should not hesitate to share your joy with others.

  OK... now let's stop right now and make something very clear:

  If we possess the truth, it doesn't give us the right to
be unkind to those who disagree.  It didn't give Bin Laden the
right to declare Jihad, hijack airplanes and fly them into the
World Trade Center.  It didn't give so-called 'Christians' the
right to kill people in the Crusades.  It doesn't give us the
right to be disrespectful or violent.

  What it does give us is the right - and the confidence -
to go out into the marketplace of ideas and *see* if our Truth
stands up to hard scrutiny.

  C.S. Lewis was talking about this very thing when he said,
'You don't need to defend a Lion.  You just need to let him
out of his cage.'

  If you really do have the truth, then you have nothing to fear.
You don't need to burn books or censor speech.  Truth is its
own best defense.

  In our modern, sophisticated culture, spirituality gets
locked up in a cage.  It's a taboo subject.  Discussions about
religion are not considered 'polite conversation.'  So nobody
talks about it.

  The result?  People don't talk to each other.  They live in
fear and isolation.

  Some folks harbor ideas and notions that make absolutely no
sense, but because those ideas are never brought out into the
light of day, they're never questioned.

  Others have great wisdom, but they're afraid to share it with

  How sad.

  In your search for the truth, then, know that you're not just
looking for something that sounds good.  As with any other kind
of truth, it may *not* feel good all the time.  Know that you're
looking for something definite, something that will by nature
make some pretty bold claims.

  Also, please understand that if someone tells you they
possess the truth, they're not being arrogant.  Fact is, they're
either sadly deceived or else they're right.  You can't put
someone down for being deceived, and you can't fault someone
for being right!

  The real challenge is to discern the difference.

  Tomorrow I'm going to cover Lie #6:

'The Bible is out of date, inaccurate and over-rated.  People
in the 21st century are way too smart for that.'

  Thanks for sticking with me.

  Respectfully Submitted,

  Perry Marshall

  Add a link to the 7 Lies on your website:

CoffeeHouse Theology, 705 Jackson Boulevard
Oak Park, Illinois USA 60304

Lie #6:

'The Bible is out of date, inaccurate and over-rated.  People
in the 21st century are way too smart for that.'



  At first blush this doesn't seem like an 'Organized Religion'
thing.  The reason I include it here is that many large religious
organizations do teach it today.

  Let me ask you something: Don't you think it's a lot easier for a
leader to sneak in his own agenda when there's no outside authority to
compare it to?

  Mortimer Adler, one of the greatest living literary scholars,
spent decades researching a book called 'The Great Ideas.'  He
read every single major piece of literature in Western history,
and his book explores the 102 most influential ideas that have
defined Western culture.

  In the first chapter, he talks about 'The Twentieth Century
Delusion.'  What's that?  It's the fact modern people *think* that
we are more enlightened about all subjects than people were 1000
years ago.

  Are we more enlightened about science and technology?


  Are we more enlightened about morality, philosophy and politics?


  In college I took a class called 'English Authors Before 1800.'
I was amazed at how sharp those writers were.  Once you get past
the 'old English' language, you discover that Shakespeare's
characters are just like the people you talk to every day.

  The book of Proverbs in the Bible was written 3000 years ago,
but its advice has saved my butt many, many times.

  'A soft answer defuses anger, but harsh words stir up evil.'

  'A friend loves at all times, and a brother is born for adversity.'

  'The fool hates to be corrected by his father, but a wise son
listens to advice.'

  Are we really wiser in the 21st century than people were thousands
of years ago?

  Solomon, the author of Proverbs, said 'There is nothing new
under the sun.'  Many people have laughed at that statement.  But he
wasn't talking about technology.  He was talking about the issues of
the human heart.  Malcolm Muggeridge said, 'News is old things
happening to new people.'

  So is the Bible a translation of a translation of a translation?
Could it be reliable?  Is it worth taking seriously?

  For centuries, the oldest existing copies of the Old Testament
were from 1100 AD.  Because so many prophesies in the O.T. had
come true, many scholars declared that it was written after the

  For example, Isaiah described the cruicifixion of Jesus with
remarkable precision, 700 years before it happened.  Daniel
predicted the rise and fall of the Babylonian, Persian, Greek and
Roman empires, in sequence, including remarkable details - in
550 BC.

  Astonishing stuff.

  The skeptics had the upper hand in this debate until a boy
threw rocks into a cave in the Qumran valley in 1947 and discovered
what are now known as the 'Dead Sea Scrolls.'

  Not only did these scrolls date back to 200BC, proving that these
astonishing predictions were written BEFORE the events took place,
but the text was virtually identical to the later versions.

  Similarly, we have 5,000 ancient manuscripts of the New
Testament, some of them dating back to ~60 A.D.  The text is
unquestionably solid.

  There are plenty of people who say that the Bible is flaky
and full of holes, but honestly, the facts simply don't support
that conclusion.

  Take the 'Gospels' -- same-generation accounts of Jesus' life
in Matthew, Mark, Luke and John.  There are *no* other events
in ancient history that are documented as well as Jesus' life.
If we can't believe those history books, how can we believe
any other ones?

  Of course the only reason anybody doubts this stuff is that it talks
about miracles.  Jesus feeds 5000 people with five loaves of bread
and two fishes.  He heals the blind and the lame.  He himself
rises from the dead.

  Can this be believed?  Or was it just a big conspiracy?

  Well, that is THE question.


  Chuck Colson, a former US Government official who went to jail
for his involvement in the Watergate scandal, tells this story:

  "Watergate was a conspiracy to cover up, perpetuated by
the closest aids to the President of the United States.

  But one of them, John Dean, testified against Nixon, to save his
own skin - only two weeks after informing the president about what
was really going on.  Two weeks!

  The real cover-up, the lie, could only be held together for two
weeks, and then everybody else jumped ship in order to save themselves.  What's more, nobody's life was at stake.'

  Why do I bring this up?  Because conspiracies planned by
big groups of people always fall apart.  Somebody always narks.

  Well in the case of Jesus, eleven disciples were crucified,
tortured, stoned to death and burned to the stake because they
stuck to their story.

  They were all ABSOLUTELY CONVINCED that Jesus rose from the dead.

  The historical narrative reports that the first witnesses to the
resurreciton were women.  Given the legal standing of women at
that time, nobody would have written the story that way had it
been made up.

  What do you think?

  Well, you really can't make an informed decision until you read
the story.

  Fortunately there are four versions of that story -- Matthew's,
Mark's, Luke's and John's.  Read one or all and decide for yourself.

  If you don't read the story, you're not in any kind of position
to decide.  Examine the evidence so you can make an educated decision.

  Tomorrow, in the last installment, I'm going to take on #7:

  'If God was really good and powerful, he wouldn't allow so much
evil and suffering to go on.'

  This is a tough question indeed.  Pat answers and platitudes just
won't do.  I promise to handle this one with kid gloves.

  Respectfully Submitted,

  Perry Marshall

CoffeeHouse Theology, 705 Jackson Boulevard
Oak Park, Illinois USA 60304

Day #7:

  'If God was really powerful and good, he wouldn't allow so much
evil and suffering to go on.'



  This is raised by just about everyone: Priests and ministers,
college students and housewives, butchers, bakers and candlestick

  It's one of the hardest questions anybody ever asks.

  Just a few days ago, a close friend of mine, Laurin, passed
away after a fierce 18 month battle with cancer.  What a horrible
experience this was for him and his wife Diana.

  I've visited the slums of Sao Paulo Brazil, where 500,000
homeless street kids sniff glue and steal for a living.  Sometimes
the police hunt them down and kill them, just to reduce the crime rate.

  Last year my wife spent a week in Mozambique where she saw an
infant in her mother's arms, dying of pneumonia in a hospital waiting
room.  She met hundreds of other kids with malaria and malnutrition.
We've given some money for a medical clinic, and every bit helps.  But
the problems are so huge, what little you try to do still seems like a
teardrop in the ocean.

  If you took all the parties, the humor, the success and happiness
in the world, and put it side by side with the suffering and pain, the
comparison would be almost absurd.

  There's a lot of sickness and sadness in this world.

  How can God let it go on?

  Well, I can't give you an answer.  I can only tell you a true story.


  A certain man threatened the Religious Gestapo, who in
turn convinced the Roman government that He was a threat to
them, too.

  His followers were disappointed that He didn't overthrow
the Romans and declare himself King, like the Messiah was
supposed to do.  So they abandoned Him.

  The ancient Romans pioneered what was possibly the most cruel
form of torture ever devised by man:  Crucifixion.  They would
drive spikes into their victim's ankles and wrists, smashing
his nerves.  He would hang there in blinding sheets of pain,
slowly suffocating and dehydrating for days, until he
finally expired.

  Jesus was whipped and beaten, literally beyond recognition,
then nailed to a cross between two common criminals.

  One of these criminals was cursing and shouting at Him in a
fit of rage: 'HEY! If you're the KING, why don't you get yourself
down from there!  And US, TOO!!!'

  The other guy went along with this... for a little while.

  But he saw that Jesus wasn't hurling insults at his
torturers.  Instead He was asking God to forgive them (?!).

  He sobered up.  He said to the other criminal, 'Hey dude,
you and I are here because we deserve it.  But this man Jesus
has done nothing wrong.'

  Then he said to Jesus, 'Remember me when you take charge of
your Kingdom.'

  Jesus simply replied, 'Today you'll be with me in Paradise.'


  Stop the camera.

  What you have here, in this brief conversation, is a snapshot
of the entire world.

  You have two criminals who have gotten themselves into a
horrendous, awful mess.  And you have the Son of God, who has
not only chosen to live with us in our world of pain and suffering,
but has personally taken all of it upon his own shoulders.
Even though he is completely innocent.

  One thief refuses to accept any responsibility for his actions.
He's unwilling to admit that he created the very mess that he's in.

  He lives in denial until the bitter end.  He grits his teeth and
dies in his sin.

  The other thief comes clean.  He recognizes that Jesus possesses
divine authority.  He admits his guilt.  He is required to do nothing,
other than to let go of his pride.

  He asks for forgiveness.

  Forgiveness granted.

  Jesus' pardon doesn't make the cross or the agony go away.  But
finally the struggle ceases and this man crosses the Great Divide.
The intense pain dissolves and he steps into a New World, designed
by God Himself -- with renewed body and soul.

  Teddy, that's a picture of the entire world, right there.
You and I are in this mess together, and we've all contributed to it.

  We've all rejected God in some way or another, we've all
committed some kind of crime, and we all experience suffering.

  The situation is what it is.

  So we have a simple choice: Accept that fact that God has
suffered with us -- or mock him and be furious because the suffering
exists in the first place.

  Which way do you want it???

  The decision is yours.  You and I will never get a true 'answer'
about the pain and suffering we experience in this life.  But in
the midst of our pain, we have a companion.  You and I can have
the same conversation with Jesus that this criminal had, and we
can experience the same forgiveness.  All we have to do is ask,
just like the thief on the cross did on that sad day.


  This is the last of the Seven Great Lies of Organized Religion.
I pray that I've helped to strip away all the baggage that the Religious
Gestapo adds to the story and reduce it to the bare essentials.  I
hope this has stirred your mind and your heart.

  Do you have any comments or questions?  I'd like to hear from you.

  My email address is perry.marshall@tannah.net.  I often run behind, but
I'll do my best to respond.

  Respectfully Submitted,

  Perry Marshall

CoffeeHouse Theology, 705 Jackson Boulevard
Oak Park, Illinois USA 60304

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