Marketing Religion

It’s 1000 BCE and the tribe living across the mountains is considering its future. It was a simple village that lived in harmony with the seasons and each other. Everyone in the village took responsibility for themselves but was also generous in their support of others. They knew that life had meaning when it was lived in connection to the ‘all.’ An onlooker would have called this balance between the practical and energetic elements a ‘religious way of life.’

But change was afoot…

The executive team over in hut number one felt the responsibility for the survival of the tribe and were wanting to earn some extra cash to support the tribe. They already had corn, fabrics and sheep that they sold to other tribes, but this was dependent on the weather and seasons. They had no control over the seasons, so they looked for something with a more consistent stream of income.

As they looked around, they noticed that some of the tribe were a superstitious bunch, feeling at the mercy of the weather and given to pleading to the gods for their good fortune.

The new product was clear – if they could SELL safety they would be on to a winner, if they could sell external salvation, they would have struck gold.

They dispatched an ox to hut number six, asking the marketing team to find out how to sell salvation in a new form of religion. The team thought it strange to try to replace something that worked, but nonetheless set to crafting a plan…

Stage One – Fear and doubt

The team came up with ways to show the tribe that they didn’t know as much about life as they thought. They played up the fragility of life and the tribe’s lack of security, both now, in the future and of course in the ‘afterlife.’

The focus group testing showed that instilling fear was actually easy because people were innately sensitive, so a big enough outer threat to their security could destabilise people. Add to that the threat of eternal damnation of their Soul in the afterlife and they had people eating out of their hands.

Stage Two – Redirect Responsibility

Everyone knew that whilst working together delivered important dividends, each individual was ultimately responsible for their own lives. Generations had shown them that there is a cause and effect relationship with life. This meant salvation would be trickier to sell if the ultimate responsibility was within.

You can’t sell something someone already owns.

They then got a consultant from hut seven to help them workshop the problem and found their answer – what they needed were experts. If they created experts, their message would be beyond critique. The experts, of course, needed to be skilled at making others feel like they did not know enough.

Interestingly enough, the concept of ‘priesthood’ tested well. Many people were surprisingly keen to hand over the responsibility for their spiritual wellbeing to the direction of others.

Stage Three – Exclusivity and Belonging 

Of course being a tribe, they knew that sticking together was important so they needed to look at how to get people to join this new group.

The subtle approach would be to invent or appropriate holidays and rituals that already existed and assign them importance in this new ‘religion.’ The less subtle but very effective way was to shun, shame and even torture anyone that didn’t want to join.

They knew that someone scared for their own survival would be easily ‘converted’ at the threat of being rejected. Some would just need more convincing than others.

Stage Four – Distribution Channels

This was trickier, as the product would only have a limited financial benefit in this tribe, so they needed to spread the ‘message’ to other tribes. The answer was to develop an emissary programme, where missionaries would be given power to convert, cajole and if need be torture others into ‘believing.’

Proud of their plan, the marketing team despatched the ox back to hut number one and awaited the response.

The executive team looked at the proposal carefully and though they were uncomfortable with the suggestions of force and even torture, they knew they had to pursue it for the benefit of the whole.

Little did they know that the tribe over the mountain had been hatching much the same plan.

For the next few centuries both tribes battled in often bloodied wars to prove whose religion was best at offering salvation.

Some in the tribes preached tolerance, encouraging co-existence of both religions; some got turned off religion altogether. Some felt there had to be more; they felt a there was connection to something within that was more innate and required less external control.

This group was rediscovering the original expression of religion, one which was based on a simple way of living that fostered an inner connection. They worked hard to explore the possibility that the religion that had been sold was very different to what they could feel religion truly was.

Of course this approach of feeling what true religion was, was an inherent threat to the existing powers. Many of this ‘new,’ but in reality, ‘old’ group suffered at the hands of both dominant religions. However they persisted, and whilst their numbers fluctuated, it was the years of bloodshed, abuse, cruelty and killing carried out in the name of ‘salvation’ that led others to ask the same questions and then also explore if there was a simpler ‘way.’

However, there would be no missionaries, and no conversion programs, it could only be a choice. All they needed to do was live The Way they had rediscovered and allow time for others to also remember that being religious was not the problem.

The problem was HOW people had been taught to be religious in life.

By Joel Levin

Further Reading:
Life is religion. What does that mean?
Religion & Religious Re-Defined
Religion is a living connection

322 thoughts on “Marketing Religion

  1. It’s a great way to get anyone to question what they know by giving them something that throws them into fear and doubt. It’s a manipulative way of getting people to buy into whatever is being sold.

  2. Still we are living amongst the dark aftermath of man’s reinterpretation of religion and yet the spark within is forever there to be activated, expressed and moved, the simple in-spiration of true salvation.

  3. What a great sharing with the truth of all that has gone on in history shown so playfully, a joy to read and see the simplicity of it all when really all was known in truth and always has been with the magical religious way of life and living for us all.

  4. A beautiful confirmation that we teach by reflection and lived example, not by preaching. And it is definitely my experience that when I have learnt or realised something if I start zealously espousing about it, it tends to overwhelm or put people off.

  5. Such an amazing parable Joel, if we didn’t give our power away in the first instance we would never have fallen for the lies and fear of organised religion.

  6. It feels very important that, from whichever angle we take it, a different perspective is gathered for how religion has come to be the way it is.

  7. We are lost as soon as we “think” we can bring a fix to alleviate any problem as our body feels more than we are currently aware of. So how we are using our body and mind together makes life simpler as our body is a receiver of energy. Could it be possible when we are aware of how energy works in our body we would all say that that would be the religion for me?? Energy first has always been the tenants of The Way of The Livingness!

  8. It is through the bastardization of the word religion that many are simply put-off for the falsity and cruelty that man-made institutions have caused in the world always looking outside the self for something grander, but we can always find that which is truth within ourselves if we so choose and it is only then that we understand religion starts from within and is always in connection with the all.

  9. Its quite incredible how something outside of ourselves, can take us so much further away – not only from ourselves but our fellow brothers as well. Finding that… ‘…instilling fear was actually easy because people were innately sensitive, so a big enough outer threat to their security could destabilise people.” And yet, if we remain connected within, to that innate knowing within, none of the outer has any influence or impact on us… we can read if something is true or not – we know through our bodies, not through any words or actions offered by another.

  10. The question is why would you have to market something we already have. How can something that is absolute be made new and improved? It is that free will thing again, isn’t it!

  11. Fear and shame are two of the most powerful weapons the church uses to have man eating out of its hands…fear of damnation and shame at being born a sinner….

  12. ‘instilling fear was actually easy because people were innately sensitive, so a big enough outer threat to their security could destabilise people. Add to that the threat of eternal damnation of their Soul in the afterlife and they had people eating out of their hands.’ Beautifully dissected Joel, mainstream religion is fear based on all accounts.

  13. You have exposed how strange and unatural the organized religions feel when we return to our innate knowing which is true religion. What we know as the different religions existing seems to be nothing else than groups with individual interests and who are identified with certain concsiousnesses, having different images of God but lack of connection to truth and love.

  14. “You can’t sell something someone already owns.” to me this says everything, it confirms what i know in truth and exposes the level of manipulation we have to got to in order to get someone to buy into a version of truth that is not truth as the real truth is already with each person.

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