Have a Little Freedom with Your Religion

This essay is from the Christmas 1997 issue of the Loompanics Unlimited catalog. As someone who values things of the spirit–but who got stuck with skepticism when religions were being handed out–I say hooray for Freedonianism! –Claire Wolfe

Have a Little Freedom with Your Religion
By Thomas Ingersoll More

Hey, where have all the churches gone? The government’s rampaging mad with power lust, and the churches are off running bingo games or something. Has anybody heard any protests from the Methodists, the Catholics, or even the redoubtable Mormons, lately?
Why should we expect the churches to protest? We know they’ve done more than their own share of freedom trampling. Torquemada and Cotton Mather wouldn’t exactly be ideal candidates for the Libertarian Party, even if they weren’t busy being dead.

But when governments have gotten out of control, churches have also historically been among the first to oppose them. In America, from pre-revolutionary days, through the fight against slavery, to the modern civil rights movement, churches were in the vanguard in the battle against oppression. Maybe they just resented the competition. But by God, they’ve spoken out.

Not today, though. Unh uh. No sir.

I’ll tell you where the churches are. They’re out covering their butts.

Nearly every church in the U.S. is a 501(c)3 tax-exempt corporation. Corporations, and therefore churches, are creations of the state. Now, guess why they’re keeping their sanctimonious mouths shut. They know down to their last little tax-exempt dollar what they stand to lose if they bite the hand that created them. Get political and out goes that 501(c)3 tax exemption. Whoosh! Zap! Zowie!

So they don’t even say, “Oh, that Waco thing, you know? Um, well, sorry to bother you, but we were just thinking it might not be a very good idea for you to burn little babies.”

Or, “About that compulsory government ID card you passed in ’96? The one that’s based on our social security number? We really don’t like to criticize. It’s just that there’s this thing about ‘The Number of the Beast’ that kind of bothers some of our folks just a little, teensy bit…”

Nope. The money changers run the temple while freedom goes to hell.

So to Hell with Them

A lot of us don’t really care what the churches do, in general. But we do care about freedom. And when people with responsibility for human souls don’t just neglect freedom, but sell themselves to the Anti-Free, we can’t sit still for that.

Reform them? Oh, come on! You can’t reform a sellout. Anyway, reforming something as bland as the Methodists or the Presbyterians would be like reforming the Ladies’ Afternoon Tea & Garden Association. No way. Religions have mostly become ersatz social clubs; having detached themselves from spiritual matters, they are unfit to guide souls or preserve liberty.

It’s time to take religion into our own hands. And it’s time to take both ourselves and our religion out of the hands of government.

Ladies, gentlemen and others, I offer you forthwith, a religion for unfree times and always-free people: Western Sect Freedonianism.

But First

If you believe yours is the only religion, or if you believe there should be no religion, you might just want to leave now and browse the blowgun or bordello sections of our main catalog, instead. This article, and this religion, isn’t for you.

If you’re a skeptic–the type who won’t buy any “truth” until you’ve kicked its tires and taken it for a test drive-hang in.

Western Sect Freedonianism

Western Sect Freedonianism is a religion for people haven’t, until now, been able to buy into any religion. It’s for people whose minds say, “No!” to conventional church dogmas, but whose little inner voices still whisper, “Yes!” to the notion that human life means much more than just getting up in the morning, going to work, coming home, having a brew and sacking out again at the end of another day.

It isn’t for everybody. We’re not going to do a whole lot of proselytizing at the White House, for instance. Congress isn’t exactly fertile ground. We’re not expecting Tammy Faye Bakker to bring her makeup kit and join us, or Oral Roberts to ask his 900-foot-tall Jesus to endorse our program.

But WSF may be for you if you both long to be free and envision your longing as spiritual, as well as intellectual.

The Western Sect Freedonian church is not established, and never will be established, as a 501(c)3 state religion. (Nor will we seek ATF approval, despite the Davidians’ sad example.) Coupling with government is like mating with a charging rhinoceros–perverse, verrrrry uncomfortable, and deadly.

Individual Freedonians may choose to give allegiance to governments, but no Freedonian will willingly surrender self-ownership. And no Freedonian organization will seek government’s permission to exist. To do so would be to violate the highest moral principles.

Freedonianism in Action

To be truly moral, we must have, and make, choices. If a person is “good” merely because she blindly follows orders, or because he doesn’t have any other option, then that person is, in fact, morally null. In depriving people of choices by wrapping them in an ever-tighter web of laws and restrictions, the governments of the world perform one of the most heinous possible crimes. They turn individuals into automatons; they destroy morality; they halt spiritual growth.

Freedonianism stands against this closure of the web.

The core beliefs of Freedonianism are simple: we espouse the principle of self-ownership, believe that the mind and spirit were born to grow, and acknowledge that free choice is the surest path to human intellectual and spiritual growth.

There are no catechisms. No hierarchies. No requirement for obeisance to any gods or goddesses-though you’re welcome to all supernatural beings you personally care to adopt, create or discover off obscure Pacific islands. (Mind you, however, we’re not too wild about Cthulu, who seems to be worshipped by the IRS.)

Freedonianism prescribes no rituals, other than one-time recitation of a simple credo. It doesn’t demand that you fall on your knees.

Quite the opposite! Getting down on your knees is a damn good position for getting your head chopped off (or getting other portions of your anatomy violated).

Freedonianism is for people who want to stay off their knees. And that’s where the hard part comes in. It’s not a religion you can bow to on a slow Sunday. It’s one that doesn’t have any meaning until you live it, every day of the week.

Living it means saying, “Yes” to freedom and responsibility, “No” to many everyday, ordinary and increasing tyrannies. Perhaps it’s all best expressed in the Freedonian Credo:

The Freedonian Credo

The one and only requirement for being a Western Sect Freedonian is to recite this creed (You don’t even have to do it out loud.) and to live by its principles.

Here goes:

I believe in personal freedom. I am the sole owner of my body, mind and spirit.

I will not be numbered, indexed, monitored or cataloged.

I have an eternal responsibility to my own soul to break all bonds ever forged upon me by force. I will repudiate and remove from my life all links in any chain of authoritarian ownership or control.

I believe in freedom for others. I will never initiate any act of force or fraud against another.

To be fully human and fully moral we must be free to dream, strive, explore, experiment, think, travel, believe, speak, risk, fail, succeed, defend ourselves, make choices, accept responsibility, and grow. Always to grow.

I will reach for the future. The only barrier I will permit to stand between my soul and the stars is time.

And One Other Thing

It also helps to be able to laugh.

Frequently Asked Questions about Western Sect Freedonianism

There aren’t any frequently-asked questions about WSF. Nobody every heard of it until today. So let’s ask some.

What is the nature of God? Goddess only knows. And quite possibly, even she isn’t sure. But seriously…many freedom fighters I know, even the non-religious, identify a numinous “something” just out of reach, toward which their hearts and souls strive. Perhaps as we grow in spirit, we’ll one day understand its nature. Perhaps not. To be a Freedonian, it isn’t necessary to espouse any specific belief or non-belief in the nature of God. But Freedonianism isn’t mere humanism, rooted in the mundane. It is, if anything, the belief that to discover any great unknowns of the universe, we must be free to ask the questions, seek the answers and live the reality.

How large is the membership of WSF? About 175 pounds. I’m the only member right now. But think of this! If you join today, membership will double, making WSF the fastest-growing church in the entire world.

Are you serious? You damn betcha.

Is WSF one of those mind-control cults? Western Sect Freedonians believe it would be a good idea if we all controlled our own minds, now and then, by filling them with facts, turning off the TV and performing other useful mental exercises.

Are you aware of what can happen to members of unpopular religions in this country? Yes. Therefore, one of WSF’s goals is to make government the most unpopular religion in the United States, as quickly as possible. Bring on the flame-throwers.

How does Western Sect Freedonianism compare to Discordianism? WSF is sort of like Discordianism for normal people. Or maybe like Discordianism for people who are too inherently organized to really appreciate pure chaos. However, if we ever start an ecumenical movement, Discordians will be the first ones we’ll invite to the party.

Who is the leader of WSF? No one. You. Anyone who subscribes to the WSF credo, above.

How do I join? Recite the credo. Live it. WSF is for people who do, not for people who want to impress their neighbors with superficial shows of piety.

Do I have to tithe? You’re welcome to send any amount of money, in small, unmarked bills or money orders, to Western Sect Freedonian Headquarters, care of this publisher. If you actually do that, you’re probably too gullible to be a good Freedonian. On the other hand, if you do it, but grin wickedly while licking the envelope, you’re probably a born Freedonian.

About the Name

Why Western Sect Freedonianism? Isn’t it kind of clunky and dull? Is there an Eastern Sect Freedonianism?

One question at a time, please.

The name has several derivations. The “Western Sect” part was inspired by Eastern Sect Kyfho, the religion that provides a background for F. Paul Wilson’s science fiction novel, An Enemy of the State. WSF isn’t particularly like ESK, but Kyfho stands for “keep your fucking hands off,” a sentiment to which most Freedonians enthusiastically subscribe.

“Western Sect” is also a statement of sad fact: In the U.S. the love of freedom has nearly disappeared from the Atlantic coast (and large parts of the Pacific coast, as well), leaving the defense of liberty largely to people in the Rocky Mountain West and the South.

No, there is no Eastern Sect Freedonianism. There may well be potential Freedonians in eastern places like New York, New Jersey and Pennsylvania, but the climate isn’t right for the church to thrive there. We will accept interested easterners as honorary Western Sect members.

Anyone wishing to start a Southern Sect Freedonian church is most welcome, as long as they don’t cheat on the principles. It ain’t Freedonian if it doesn’t live by the Credo. (Sorry to sound a bit authoritarian here, but I did invent the thing & feel entitled to be propertarian about the name.)

As to the term “Freedonianism,” devoted Marxists will recognize the source. Freedonia was the land of the brave and free presided over by Rufus T. Firefly in the Marx Brothers’ Duck Soup.

What’s the symbolism here? It isn’t that Freedonianism is a joke. (It’s NOT A JOKE.) The name reminds all Freedonians of two important things: one, that we need a sense of humor to stay sane in trying times; and two, that one of the best ways to bring down the false gods of authority is to laugh at them, loud and hard.

St. Groucho, we salute you! (Besides which, we wanted to demonstrate that it’s possible to be religious and a good Marxist at the same time.)

Yeah, the name’s kind of dull and clunky. Too late to do anything about it now, though.

Organizing Your own Freedonian Congregation

You can organize your own Freedonian congregation if you want. Just as long as you and your members live by the Credo. No fudging! If you want a compromise religion, there are lots of others to choose from.

One good test of a Freedonian’s sincerity is how well and thoroughly the new Freedonian frees him or herself from government citizen-numbering and cataloging schemes. “I will not be numbered, indexed, monitored or cataloged.” If you can achieve that, you can probably achieve anything Freedonian.

(And you might find it’s a bit easier to reject being indexed and databased with the true statement, “It’s against my religion,” than with the equally true statement, “I am not a fucking number.”)

Are You Serious?

Didn’t we ask this already? Yes, but it bears repeating. Western Sect Freedonianism is NO JOKE. I re-state, it is NOT A JOKE. For the benefit of any dim-witted bureaucrats in the audience, once again: WE’RE NOT JOKING.

Western Sect Freedonianism gives voice to the eternal, searching spirit of freedom. Do we also laugh at ourselves and the world’s sometime craziness? You bet we do. It helps keep us alive.

We not only believe in questioning authority, we believe in throwing a pie in its face.

But laughter is the crown upon Freedonianism. Underneath is the meat, the bone, the mind and the heart and soul by which we live. By which we become more human, more alive.

And nothing will stop us.

© Thomas Ingersoll More
Permission to reprint freely granted, provided the article is reprinted in full and that any reprint is accompanied by this copyright statement.

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7 Responses to Have a Little Freedom with Your Religion

  1. TPOL-Nathan says:

    Actually, churches get the “tax exemption” without being registered as 501(c)3 religious organizations; as Mama points out, the 501(c)3 gig isn’t about taxes, it is about control. By signing up for it, a congregation or a church or a “ministry” or whatever is submitting to the control of the State. In my view, they are either replacing their god with the State, or are bigamists (polytheists) with the State as one of their gods. And (unlike in 1997), there are many congregations or churches who are “unregistered” and reject the whole idea. They still don’t pay taxes, or at least no more taxes than they would if they signed up.
    But the 501(c)3 thing is really just an excuse for most of these preachers and their congregations: they don’t want to be free from the State; they are happy, even eager, to support the State and its military and police and everything else. I can’t say for certain about all religions, but anyone who claims to be some kind of a Christian or Jew and does this has completely abandoned the roots of their religion as taught in the Torah (Old Testament) and New Testament.

    Like

    • MamaLiberty says:

      Thanks, Nathan. I was aware that a good number of smaller, independent churches were not participants in the 501(c) thing, and that’s good. I wonder, however, about the amount of tax they pay. I remember the news about an Indiana church that tried to get out of the 501(c) thing, and were then hit with millions of “back taxes” for all their employees. They ran a good sized school, I believe. They were willing to pay all current and ongoing taxes, but being extorted for millions, going back to their original establishment, pretty much shut them down – if I remember correctly.

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  2. neal says:

    One more thing. When short on pies, do not make me angry.
    They will not like it when I am angry.

    Like

  3. Darkwing says:

    If the IRS stopped this tax exempt crap, a lot of these off the wall groups and churches would disappear and that would be a good thing

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    • MamaLiberty says:

      Isn’t that backwards? I mean, for liberty. Eliminate the TAX, all of it. The “off the wall groups” and churches should certainly be free to do whatever they wish, with their own money, property and time, as long as they don’t initiate force against anyone.

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      • Darkwing says:

        Well MAMA, eliminate the taxes, that will never happen but start with the tax exempt will be a start.

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      • MamaLiberty says:

        You seem to miss the point. 🙂 The point of the tax “break” for churches is control, not revenue. The politicians are not going to do anything to relinquish their control.

        It is not the tax that makes the problem, really, but the entire system of supposed government entitlement to our property and the bogus “authority” they claim in imposing their control over everything. It is the system of slavery and control that must be eliminated.

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