Leo Tolstoy – Five Tricks of Religious Deception

Truth needs no external justification and is readily accepted by all to whom it is presented; but deception requires special tricks to influence and to get adopted by people; and so to deceive people by faiths they always use the same tricks.

There are five such tricks:

  1. Misinterpreting of the Truth.
  2. Belief in miracles.
  3. Instilling mediators between people and God.
  4. Influencing peoples’ feelings.
  5. Indoctrinating children with false beliefs.

1. The first trick of religious deception consists in

  • not only accepting the authenticity of a prophet in words,
  • but also in making the teacher a holy supernatural deity:
    • attributing him with performing various miracles,
    • while hiding the very essence of his teaching.

This perversion of the truth, instead of exposing the wrong morals and established social order, designed support it.

Such misinterpretation of the truth and deification of the teachers have been applied to all nations with every the advent of a new religious doctrine.

The same way the teaching of Moses and the Jewish prophets was perverted. Christ referred to this falsification when reproached the Pharisees, saying that they were sitting in Moses’ seat, but don’t enter into the kingdom of God and don’t let other to enter.

The teachings of Buddha, Lao-Tze and Zoroaster were misrepresented similarly. The same happened with the Christian teaching since the time of its acceptance by Constantine, when heathen temples and deities were transformed into Christian ones. Mohammedanism appeared as a refusal to accept pseudo-Christian polytheism (=Trinity), but then underwent the same process of perversion and keeps being twisted.

2. The second trick used in religious deception consists in influencing people that any search for truth (by using reasoning given to us by God) is sinful pride, and pushing “more reliable way” of reaching out to God consisting in revelations made to chosen people accompanied by certain visions, miracles, i.e. supernatural events, supposedly proving the reliability of those revelations. People are told to trust not their logical mind but miracles that which is contrary to the logic.

3. The third trick of religious deception consists in persuading people that they cannot have the direct relationship with God although every person feels this connection, and which Christ clearly explained when he proclaimed that every man is a son of God, – but instead claiming that for communion with God people need mediator(s). In this position of intermediary are placed prophets, saints, the Church, Holy Writ, recluses, dervishes, Llamas, Buddhas, hermits and clergy of every description.

No matter which form of intermediary is used, the essence of it is the denial of existence of direct relationship between man and God, but, on the contrary, it’s assumed that Truth is not directly accessible to man but only can be received through intermediaries between him and God.

4. The fourth trick of religious deception consists in the practice of collecting a crowd of people together and, under an excuse of performing actions supposedly demanded by God (prayers, sacraments, sacrifices), submitting these people to various stupefying influences, and thus impressing upon them falsehood presented as truth.

People are entranced by the beauty and grandeur of temples, by the magnificence of ornaments, vessels and vestments; by the lustre of artificial light, the sound of voice and organ, by incense, intonations, pageants, and while under the spell of this fascination, people are impressed upon their souls falsehood presented as truth.

5. The fifth trick is the cruelest of all; it is consists in answering child’s questions about the nature of this world, his life and the relation between the two – answering not what the adults themselves think and know, but what something was thought by people living thousands of years ago, that no one adult with common sense believes and cannot believe anymore.

Instead of the essential spiritual food for which the child asks, he receives a poison destructive to his spiritual health, from the effects of which he can only recover with the greatest efforts and intense sufferings.

A child awakens to conscious life with a clear, unobstructed understanding, even though vaguely but in the depth of his soul conscious of the Truth the Life, his role and duty – and ready to accept it. (The human soul is naturally Christian, according to the early Father Tertullian.) This child asks his adult parent or teacher, “What is life?”, “What is my role in this world and relation to its Source?” And the father or teacher, instead of giving him the simple certain knowledge of the meaning of life he has acquired himself, assures him otherwise, with authority which he, in the depth of his soul, feels as untrue. If he is a Jew, he tells him that God has created the world in six days, and revealed the whole truth to Moses by writing with his finger upon a stone that oaths must be adhered to, the Sabbath kept, circumcision practiced and so on.

If he is an Orthodox Greek, a Catholic or a Protestant Christian, he says that Christ, the Second Person, created the world and descended to earth to redeem Adam’s sin with his own blood and so on.

If he is a Buddhist, that Buddha flew up into the heavens, and taught people to suppress lives in themselves.

If he is a Mohammedan, that Mohamed visited the seventh heaven, and learned the law there, according to which a five-fold prayer and a pilgrimage to Mecca procure for man paradise in the future life!

Parents and teachers, while knowing that other people instill other ideas into their children, pass on each own superstitions, knowing in the depth of their souls that these are only superstitions, and they transfer these to innocent, trustful children, at the age when impressions are so deep that they are impossible to completely erase afterwards.

  • This is the Chapter 35 of “The Christian Teaching”, written by Leo Tolstoy in 1897
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