When Marx critiqued religion as a way to control people and for the powerful to wield their power over others, I wonder if he knew he was basically paraphrasing the Sermon on the Mount? Jesus slams this all too human tendency in Matthew 5, 6 and 7.
Jesus' audience is not the irreligious in the Sermon, but the very religious. He speaks of prayer, of commandments, of fasting and judges the very hearts of those who do them. He does not condemn prayer, fasting, alms giving or the commandments, but rather the all too human ability- pride, conceit, the will-to-power, unbridled egoism- to take something as beautiful as the authentic worship due to God and turn it in to an opportunity for self-glorification and self-exaltation.
In fact, the Bible is the best place to go if you really want to bash religiously-motivated oppressors. Just spend about 15 minutes with one of the prophets. That which the unbeliever may find repulsive about religious people, apparently God does too. Maybe that's why Jesus hung out with tax collectors, prostitutes and sinners and said to the Pharisees, "These will enter the Kingdom of Heaven before you."
Thank you, Rev. Timothy Keller, for opening my eyes to this.
Jesus Christ, my Savior and my God,
May I cease using my Catholic Faith as a check list of how awesome I am in comparison to others. You never told me that my salvation consists in being "better than" my neighbor. You only told me to love my neighbor. And yet, You know when I'd rather judge them than love them, because judgment apparently lets me off the hook for loving them.
See how much the Pharisee I am. See how much I roll my eyes at those You love so dearly. Purify my heart of my hypocrisy. Let my heart beat at one with Your Sacred Heart. Let me follow You, closer and closer still.