In-group charity and out-group hostility—we all have felt the warmth of the former and the sting of the later. In-group ethics are characterized by undeserved benevolence, benevolence that is capable of overlooking a multitude of offenses. Out-group hostilities are characterized by an overly critical ability to find fault in heterogeneity coupled with an oft-accompanied fear for the heterogeneous.
Identity with the in-group is cultivated through right and ritual. The right or the right of passage is the means through which one attains a given identity. In the Evangelical Christian community, personal conversion is the primary right of passage. For the “Sacred-Name” communities, recitation of a given name or baptism into that name is the initiation right. For the member of the in-group ritual becomes the rubric of identity, the way to maintain identity with the in-group.
In-group/out-group ethics present themselves strongly in religious contexts; however, such ethics are not inherent to religion. Rather, they are normative to human self-comprehension—a by-product of mammalian evolution. Unfortunately, though, the meme of religiosity is both the historical and modern venue for the nastiest expressions of these ethics.
No one is more despised than the “apostate.” The community fears and deplores her. Though at one time embraced despite her human misgivings, those same misgivings are now used to dress her up in the ghoulish garments of a nefarious knave. The reprobate is spoken of, though not named. She is damned with dour hostility, though no one sheds a tear. She has become the scapegoat, the trash bin of abhorrence. She is thought to be second-rate, undeserving of in-group identity from the start. Through deleterious depictions the dutiful devotes find gratification in her, vindication for their fears of heterogeneity, and justification for their draw to homogeneity.
Why do you fear that which is without? Cast aside your hubris for homogeneity and look reality into the eyes. Can you do this without shame? Is your belief system characterized by self-deception—the self-fulfilling, emotional, and illogical schematic attachments to anomalous aspirations?
If you are a devotee of religious faith, the answer is yes. No exceptions…..
Oh the web we weave when we choose to *believe*