The religious narcissists think they have won this round but I guarantee you that this is only temporary. Supreme Court justices die eventually.
When I talk about religious narcissists, I am referring to people who derive their self-worth and sense of superiority from their faith. In this country, we have official separation of church and state but we worship those who worship. Because we have a habit of deferring to the faithful, respectfully allowing them to propound on morality without interruption, religion has become another refuge for scoundrels. Before you faithful go off on a hissy fit, allow me to clarify. The Hobby Lobby case that was decided today does not reflect the views of all people of faith. It reflects the views of a very narrow set of fundamentalist religious adherents whose voices have been magnified.
Let me explain why people who score high on the narcissism scale use religion to hide and how even more powerful narcissists use them to advance their goals. To recap the characteristics of people with Narcissistic Personality Disorder, here they are:
- A grandiose sense of self-importance (may be shown as an exaggeration of abilities and talents, expectation that he or she will be seen as superior to all others).
- Is obsessed with him- or herself.
- Goals are almost always selfish and self-motivated.
- Has troubles with healthy, normal relationships.
- Becomes furious if criticized.
- Has fantasies of unbound success, power, intelligence, love, and beauty.
- Believes that he or she is unique and special, and therefore should only hang out with other special, high-status people.
- Requires extreme admiration for everything.
- Feels entitled – has unreasonable expectations of special treatment.
- Takes advantage of others to further his or her own needs.
- Has zero empathy – cannot (or will not) recognize the feelings of others.
- May be envious of others or believe that others are envious of him or her.
- Behaves arrogantly, haughtily.
If you can’t see how certain fundamentalist religions give the religious narcissist status, you haven’t been paying attention to Anita Bryant, Jerry Falwell, Jim and Tammy Faye Bakker, Pat Robertson and the plethora of mega church pastors and their fan base over the past several decades.
We can argue about what triggered the events that lead to so many people to join fundamentalist religions in the 70’s and 80’s. I think Reagan had a lot to do with it. There was a whole swath of people in the late 70’s who were left out of the social revolutions of the mid-20th century. They just missed the cutoff to join modernity. There are a lot of Betty Drapers out there who were conditioned to accept the limited roles for women that the 50’s relegated them to and a lot of men who started to feel economic pressure and competition from younger women and african americans entering the workforce. Conservatives tapped into that confusion and anger by aligning themselves with the religious right.
I went to an open house type of event sponsored by my brother’s church once and I was at once struck by the amplified emotions. There was a band where the participants became instant rock stars, lots of heart wrenching images flashed on huge projector screens and little children were being led to small above ground pools where they were baptized. It was unnerving. There was too much noise, too much music in just the right major chord progressions, too much stimulation, too much MUCH. The whole effect was like highjacking the sympathetic nervous system, to make the heart beat in time and stimulate the lacrymal ducts. I couldn’t take it. I felt coerced.
But that’s just me.
I walk around with type 4 deflector shields deployed because I know that a religious narcissist does not respect boundaries. It’s part of what makes them so successful. They feel entitled to intrude on your privacy, your morality, your belief system. In our culture, we Americans give the religious permission to do this because we do not feel it is polite to tell them to stop. If you do tell them to stop, you must be persistent and forceful. You must be so persistent and forceful that they take offense. And since they call foul so often and our culture reinforces their superior moral status, they usually get away with what they’re up to. In this manner, the plutocracy is able to use them as an engine to promote their economic agenda by coupling it with social conservatism. I’m sure I am not revealing anything new to readers here.
The introduction of faith based initiatives has exacerbated the problem. Now, the executive branch has the ability to give money without accountability to churches who have the power to shape their congregations’ political views. The Republicans made the churches flush in the Bush administration but, curiously, the Obama administration has done little to dismantle the program.
So, now we have religious institutions crowded with people who do not respect boundaries and feeling their cheerios and unwittingly serving Mammon.
Today, the religious narcissists got another shot of narcissistic supply. They are sitting high and straight and “puffed up”. This won’t be the last time they get their hit as long as this Supreme Court is composed by these members. Note that the three women justices are all on the losing end of each ruling. It should be clear now that the government is being conscripted to dismantle any autonomy that women have. If they can be forced to pay additionally for their reproductive protection, there’s really no limit what can be forced on women in the name of religion. Why are they working outside the home at all? Do they really need as much money as a man? Men support families. Women also support families but only bad women support families on their own. Men have authority, therefore, they should be bosses. Women aren’t supposed to speak in congregation according to Paul. If my corporation is “closely held” and religious, isn’t that like a congregation? Can’t this congregation make rules to suit it without the interference of the government?
But, like I said earlier, it’s not all religions that behave this way. The mainstream protestant churches, especially those who ordain women, don’t seem to behave this way. I hope we hear from them soon. It’s only the fundamentalist sects and fringe elements that attract a disproportionate number of narcissists that we need to worry about. Nevertheless, it’s time we start to take on the religion industry in this country and one of the first places to start is by making a big stink over the faith based initiatives. There’s no reason we need to give the religious narcissists more power with tax payer money. I don’t care who is in the White House. Find another, more ethical way to win elections.
We, on the other hand, must learn to identify the narcissist in religious clothing and make them feel unwanted and unpopular even at the risk of incurring their wrath. And, yes, they will get very, very angry. But better an angry genie in a bottle than a content one on the loose wrecking havoc.
Deploy your shields.
In the meantime, Ruth Bader-Ginsburg writes that the court has “ventured into a minefield” with this ruling. Among her best lines from her dissent are:
“Approving some religious claims while deeming others unworthy of accommodation could be ‘perceived as favoring one religion over another,’ the very ‘risk the [Constitution's] Establishment Clause was designed to preclude.”
“It bears note in this regard that the cost of an IUD is nearly equivalent to a month’s full-time pay for workers earning the minimum wage.”