Sinclair Lewis’ 1927 novel Elmer Gantry is a satire on fundamentalist religion in 1920s America. The eponymous character is a greedy and debauched womanizer who reinvents himself as an evangelical minister. The Reverend Dr. Elmer Gantry is a carney huckster who weasels himself into becoming the leader of a large Methodist congregation. He organizes crusades against immorality while he himself is amoral. Gantry is an unethical and unprincipled power hungry narcissist who contributes to the downfall, injury and even death of those around him. Lewis’ portrayal of pious hypocrisy and opportunism of fanatical religiosity was denounced from pulpits across the country. The book was banned in Boston and many other cities with official censorship boards. Public libraries and some booksellers refused to stock it and the author was threatened with litigation, jail, injury and even death. The attempts at censorship backfired and the novel quickly went to number one on the fiction bestseller list.
The “religion racket” no longer has the power to determine what we read. Unfortunately, similar groups have gained tremendous sway. The “rehab racket” has erected a scaffold able to remove our constitutionally protected rights and civil liberties not only legally but under the pretense of doing so out of our own best interests. According to Erich Fromm rational authority is based on competence, experience and mutual respect. Irrational authority is often disguised as benevolent paternalism and is designed to perpetuate or intensify conditions of inequality through the use or threat of force, deceptiveness and secretiveness.
This system has unfortunately given power and allowances to unethical individuals who are able to exert control over other individuals under the guise of “treatment” regardless of whether or not those individuals even need it as inherent in the current chronic brain disease model of addiction is the importance of external control.
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