[Written in June, 2011. Note added, 12/27/13: This essay, although serious in some ways, is written with a tongue-in-cheek quality, and I have it categorized under “humorous essays.” Sorry for having not noted that earlier.]
Christianity: Although we say we accept all religions, we believe that if you don’t accept Jesus Christ as your lord and savior, and don’t accept that He died for your sins, you’re on the fast track to hell…for all of eternity. But we love you anyway, because our Holy Book teaches us to love our enemies. But, as the actions of our followers quickly attest, we’ll love you a whole lot more if you see things our way.
Islam: Although we preach respect for other religions, we believe all others to be misguided, because God told this to His final prophet, Muhammed, blessed be His name, and Mohammed, blessed be His name, passed it along to us. But we remain a tolerant people, and even let our male followers marry non-Muslim women, as long as the women believe in just one god and agree to raise their offspring Muslim. Sadly, though, we know that non-Muslims are making a catastrophic error that will reap nothing but misery now and in the Hereafter, but the good news here is that this gives the Muslim child from a mixed religious background the perfect incentive to convert his twisted, backward, deluded, heathen, non-Muslim mommy to the true faith.
Judaism: As a tiny, generally-despised minority, we’re smart enough to realize we can’t get away with proselytizing, even though it pains us to know that this leaves you, the un-Chosen, royally spiritually screwed. As survivors of countless millennia of persecution, we’re experts at putting on a happy public face and pretending to love other religions almost as much as they don’t love us. But oy vey, wouldn’t you do the same if your Holy Land, the hub of all you held sacred, not to mention the homeland of a sizable percentage of your adherents, was small enough to be taken out with a few nuclear warheads? Meanwhile, in our defense, we evolve with the times: some of our softer sects even let gay people become rabbis, despite the fact that our holiest texts make it explicitly clear that death is what those perverts really deserve.
Buddhism: We’ve got the edge on the religious market of cleverness, because we let you be both a Buddhist and a member of another religion simultaneously! Deep down, of course, we pity you for being fool enough to buy the line that you can belong to two mutually exclusive religions simultaneously, but we do let you believe it for the greater good, knowing that your other religion is merely part of the delusion you will shed as you sink deeper into our fold. But we won’t tell you that upfront, because no one likes having the reality of his delusion smeared in his face. Also, we snooker you into joining us by telling you that you don’t even have to believe in God to play in our sandbox, though of course we subliminally let you know that God does exist: God, after all, is the Dalai Lama! And, in case you didn’t notice, His Holiness the Dalai Lama is purely Buddhist, not a pompous Jew-Buddhist or sniveling Christian-Buddhist. And the Dalai Lama, in his infinite compassion, hopes you’ll become a Buddhist now and not recycle your soul throughout the coming ages in perpetual misery, though of course he compassionately respects your right to return in a future life as a mutated cockroach if you so wish. But if you do want enlightenment, and want it now, just remember, we’re always here for you…waiting…smiling.
Scientology: Who the hell knows what we actually believe, or if we actually even believe it, but the fact is, we want you to believe it. And we have advanced psychological tests, verified by some of America’s most famous actors, to prove that you need it! And, if you’re willing to plunk down cash, we’ll gladly guide your path in the right direction, pronto. But let’s not talk money now. Put that out of your mind. Come, sit down, have a free cup of coffee. Please, there’s no obligation. Milk and sugar? Take the test. It’s free too! We’ll even help you analyze it afterward, for free! (Mackler’s admission: I added the Scientologists to this list firstly because I liked their point of view on psych meds, and secondly because I needed a segue into the next religion…)
Psychiatry: Are you dissatisfied with your life? Confused about your path? Feeling some anxiety? Discomfort? Did you have a bad night’s sleep last night? A relationship problem? A work issue? A nagging fear? Come, let us help you! Consult with one of our High Priests, whom we call Psychiatrists, and accept His or Her recommendation for a pill specifically designed to compensate for your particular constellation of chemical deficits, as outlined in our Holy Book, the DSM-V. Meanwhile, we, like the Buddhists, don’t ask that you drop your primary religion in order to join us, but we do admit that if you take your primary religion a little too seriously we have pills for that too. After all, you may not be a sinner, but you are mentally ill.