Is religion a means of control?
If we analyze the majority of religions, we can see a clear structure. This is a set of rules and requirements, in exchange for benefits after death if they are fulfilled and punishment if they are ignored, written in a certain plot (usually the creation of the world).It turns out that the plot serves as a backdrop for controlling society based on the fear of death and the supernatural.And this is noticeable even in the primitive shamanism of the tribes.
First about the comment under the question, then about the question itself. Such a clear structure is obtained only when religions are viewed through the prism of a Christian template. The ethnographers who described the beliefs of the native tribes of Oceania in the 19th century did so unconsciously. They didn't know anything else, so don't blame them for it. The same applies to European Orientalists. You can draw any parallels, apply templates and everything is easily adjusted to what you need. But alas, even from the Buddhist point of view, you will be reborn until you reach Enlightenment. If you have encountered the Dharma (the Buddha's teaching) in your life, then you must do everything possible to achieve Enlightenment in this life, because in the next you may not meet it. Yes, there is a doctrine of birth in different worlds, but this is not the main thing. And most importantly, it doesn't adapt to your template. You can look at it from the point of view of any non-Abrahamic religion and challenge what you have written.
Now about the control. There are many true believers among the criminals, but the trouble with them is that their passionate desire to get a certain experience turned out to be higher than any prohibitions. Therefore, such a means of control. Another important question is: what is the point of forcing people to observe morality? Deprive them of the opportunity to enjoy life? But in the absence of moral rules, animal rules come into force and there is not much enjoyment going on.
Religion is basically a transition to the next stage of evolution. Biological evolution has already reached a certain limit. The next stage is not a winged monkey, or a bio-cyber brain, but a change of consciousness. From the animal to the Divine. No one really knows what it is. Different religions have different paradigms, although there are many similarities.
In any case, the meaning of religion is to change consciousness.
For example, in Christianity, a person should change consciousness from “I am me” to “I am the whole world”, like I am everything. Roughly speaking, this is the consciousness of God.
So, yes, religion has a strong impact on consciousness.
But what can we do, this is payback for the fact that we are the highest level. We need to move on. Or to remain a vegetable is a voluntary matter. Consciousness can only be changed consciously, voluntarily. The only thing Almighty God can't do is do it under anesthesia.
Therefore, religions come up with all sorts of” sticks and carrots ” to get people to agree to this operation.
In general, a person is a drive, a transition from one level to another, which is why we are so hammered not only by religion, but in general: science invents all sorts of tests, USE, legal profession invents all sorts of prohibitions , and so on. Without all this, we would be happily jumping through the vines.
This is a rather primitive and therefore very popular idea. It can only be reached from the conviction that control, and above all, someone else's control over society, is the most important thing in life. Religions, if you really study them, are based on completely different beliefs.
OK, you've reached this level of conceptualization. Freud and Marx looked at religion in a similar way, but not only, so there are reasons for this way of looking at things, and very strong ones. Control, fear of death-yes, maybe.
The truth is that you can use religious feelings in a way that causes existential horror in people, and then they are easier to manage. And it is also true that no religion was created for this purpose, because any religion in a practical sense is a way to work on yourself and embody in actions the highest values that give life meaning. This is the only way they survived many empires, while the means of control died with them.
So be sure-in the wrong hands, religion turns into a nightmare for any person. Like the energy of the atom, like everything else in this world. Dostoevsky brilliantly showed this in the story of the Grand Inquisitor from The Brothers Karamazov. Both ways of using “faith” and their opposition are described in sufficient detail there.
A set of rules in exchange for benefits, this is a mundane materialistic understanding. Take it higher. Traffic rules are a set of rules and requirements. But not in exchange for benefits, but for your own safety and the safety of others. When a mother forbids a child to open the door to strangers, these are rules and requirements, but not in exchange for benefits (even if they exist), but in the best interests of the child himself. In our case, we have been violating the laws of God and degrading ourselves for so long that we perceive the absolute norm – eternal life in knowledge and happiness – as goods for which they want to buy obedience from us. This is absurd. These are not goods at all, but things that rightfully belong to each of us, just as the father's possessions rightfully belong to the children. All they're trying to tell us is that it's better for us to go back to our Father and take our place with him. But we are also looking for some kind of Jewish Masonic conspiracy here.
Definitely yes, because it shackles a person's freedom, makes them more trusting, imposes meaningless ideas, etc. On the other hand, religion (in particular Christianity) “protects” believers from crimes, forcing them to behave well, which is why religion can be attributed to the good. Through religion, people can gain meaning and confidence in their lives that they didn't have before. A true believer is not afraid of death, but he simply cannot die, because he considers it his duty to serve for the good of peace on the “mortal earth”. Personally, I don't like religions at all, they restrict people too much. I believe that it is better not to believe in anything/anyone, especially now. I'd rather be an atheist than a slave, believing in “the man in the clouds” or something like that. And this does not mean that you should forget about kindness, responsiveness, generosity and other positive qualities! Just don't be so trusting and limit yourself. They didn't give you your life to waste on nonsense! However, this is still my opinion, and your opinion may be radically different from mine.
Any religion is a way of controlling people. And it doesn't matter if it's Christianity, Islam, Protestantism, or any other sect. They all have the same goal-to manage people. In addition to the visible effect, there is also an energy one. After all, it is not for nothing that esotericists distinguish the egregor of Christianity, Islam, etc. That is why prayers help those who really believe, the egregor (=faith) does not understand whether a good person or a bad one. If he puts his “soul” into the request,then the response will be appropriate. Therefore, religion is not a means of control, but much broader.
If you reduce everything to a system of rewards and punishments, then yes. Just shamanism and other pagan religions often consist only of prohibitions-requirements. In a way, they are trading: donate something to get bonuses. Perhaps that is why they remain the lot of a few. If you look at the world's religions, they are not about rewards and punishments, but about improving a person to move on to a better existence than on earth. A person who wants to be perfect cannot be manipulated with threats and praises. He has a specific goal, such as breaking free from the hellish circle of raincorns or becoming like a God…
Religion is training under the guidance of a coach for those who are eager to win an Olympic medal, and a subject that careless schoolchildren shirk for others.