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Ignatian Center for Jesuit Education at Santa Clara University


A century ago psychology declared war on religion. Describing religion as "nothing but psychology projected into the external world," Sigmund Freud, the first psychoanalyst, mounted a campaign to expose religion as something far worse than a comforting illusion. He tried to show that religious belief and practice were harmful to both psyche and culture. In his view religion distorted and deformed the mind by demanding that we refrain from thinking deeply or from asking serious questions. Religion forces us, he claimed, to accept the authority of others, and it promotes excessive guilt and shame for transgressions of its mandates. In addition, he argued, it dissuades us from working toward social justice and equality: religion demands that we tolerate suffering and injustice in this life with the expectation of a blissful afterlife as a reward for our obedience.


Reprinted with permission from the author.

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