Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Religion's Insidious Marketing

When discussing the absurdity of organized religion, it’s important to recognize that while the tenets themselves may be silly, the mechanisms utilized to instill brand loyalty are so skillfully designed that Madison Avenue can only look on in jealousy.


It starts with some form of affirmation of ownership at birth – be it baptism or circumcision – and continues to cement its hold with layer upon layer of ritual until a near-impervious shell forms to protect the fully matured believer from reason and evidence. As the children in this video are shown repeating unnecessary steps to receive their candy reward, children steeped in a religious upbringing are taught that muttering to an invisible man in the sky is part of the being a good person. And instead of a clear box, religion presents them with smoke and mirrors to obscure the truth.

If the vast majority of religious parents weren't themselves the byproducts of this incredibly effective years-long marketing ploy, it would be baffling to me that they would want to steep their child in one religion over another any more than they would demand allegiance to Pepsi over Coke. Most religions make the same promises - moral correctness, eternal salvation, a welcoming community - and it is only through vicious rumors about the quality and efficacy of competing products that brand loyalty is maintained.


Here in Illinois, the grip of this millennia-old campaign remains strong even in the realm of public schools. Just this week, the U.S. Supreme Court refused to hear a case against our mandatory moment of silence, initially passed as the "Silent Reflection and Student Prayer Act" until the state legislature renamed it. Through its elected agents, organized religion attempts to normalize its rituals in every sphere of public life and protect those believers still in development from anything that might sway them from the path that claimed them from birth. No wonder Campus Crusade for Christ representative Josh McDowell recently warned that, “The Internet has given atheists, agnostics, skeptics, the people who like to destroy everything that you and I believe, the almost equal access to your kids as your youth pastor and you have". For the first time, a diffused network of information exists, like a sort of spiritual Better Business Bureau to disseminate complaints and counterclaims against the product of organized religion. As the saying goes, the Internet is where religion goes to die.

I am not familiar with any research which studies child development as it relates to a religious upbringing, but the strong positive correlation between the faith of parent and child suggests just how hard it is to shake this early developmental programming. It is not socially acceptable to teach your child any number of wrongheaded, antiquated notions, but through organized religion's slick consumer management it has gotten a free pass. With the widespread proliferation of Internet availability, could it be that the world's most successful marketing campaign is finally faltering?

This post is an expansion of an entry posted on Skeptic Money.

15 comments:

private label seo said...
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Robert Thorne said...

Honestly, I never thought of things that way. Now I wouldn't be surprised if the local church hired an seo company sydney to boost its online following.

ethant jangamarra said...

I wouldn't be surprised if churches and religious organizations start consulting an iphone application developer. It might just happen one day.

Sally Campbell said...

Religion is just a way of classifying people with different faith. But faith in itself one of the human values that creates a resilient and persevering individual. Without faith, one will not be able to give trust. Religion is not like a product. As we used say back home, unless its a business, we don't need to see seattle signs to know that we're in Seattle. We just know it.

Stephen Sullivan said...

Religion had been historically instrumental in the formation of many present-day professions today - medicine, nursing, philosophy - professions that have shaped many nations (and yes, brought down some nations). At this present day and age, if the practice of this is not detrimental to a child's development, then the church should not be described as a marketing agency. For instance, a family in Long Island believes that they are only comfortable in wearing a particular set of shoes, goes on to buy the same brand of shoes for their children (thereby indirectly influencing their children on their choices), one cannot put a finger to the product company who produces it as insidiously marketing their product to children, right?

Tawana Holly said...

Well, to be honest, I don't think being religious is needed if ever you are applying for an auto loan. I don't know any company that requires someone to be religious before they approve their application.

Beth Sanders said...

Religion is subjective. Later on, the same children will change their beliefs depending on their experience. For now, it is up to the parents, and actually it is part of the parent's responsibility to rear the child according to the set of religious belief that the family has.

Shirley Tanner said...

In trying to understand the implications of religion on legislation, one must ask if the practice of such religion impinges on the rights of others. For instance, does the observance of this particular act, encompasses the rights of the children to tend to their own needs? If not, then there is no logical reason to set one's sight on this aspect. There are many problems that assault children's right that are more worthy of attention and drive.

Darrell Myers said...

I don't know if anything about religion issues will be a factor when it comes to a good marketing strategy.

Laura Fillion said...

It all depends on the perspective of the person that is being influenced. Everyone is entitled to his or her beliefs and opinion. We cannot control posting of these kind, proper guidance is probably the best way to protect our children.

Clay Mendoza said...

Religion is faith-based. In a way, the believers are like consumers - no one will purchase a particular product if they don't have faith on its durability or quality. Like religion, product marketing should not touch on public's morals, else they earn angst instead of patronage.

Madison Hill said...

There are up and coming religions that tend to do marketing to expand their subject. If done correctly, it could attract a number of followers that in the future can be converted to their religion.

Everett Owen said...

That is such a good experiment! But wait, why is there a need for a good marketing when it comes to religion?

Alphonso Rogers said...

Either ways it'll always fall into the basis of a person's judgment into something. I'm not saying that religion or belief can now be marketed by whoever but, as long as a person holds a principle he/she believes is real and reasonable, he/she will depend on that bias. And yes, this means that each and every one of us have developed our own concepts and assumptions towards some things.

Elliot Bruce said...

This is a one good realization for everyone of us that, however effective the marketing strategy a business have their principles and beliefs it will always affect our judgments on things. Therefore, companies should also learn how to fit and mix in with this kind of instances to be able to market their product effectively to these kind of people.

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