I went on one of my usual trundles this afternoon, where I passed a couple of churches. Outside one or two, I noticed signs asking us to ‘Pray for Ukraine’. Now, I realise most people will see this as a good, positive thing – an expression of concern for those currently suffering. But I need to point out that I see it as far more cynical: to me, the church is using the current crisis to try to bring people under it’s power. It’s opportunistically using an issue which we’re all rightly very worried about, telling us that it has the solutions so we should give it our attention and respect. I’ve described here before how I think religion is a form of social control; an undemocratic, unregulated body which uses a set of ancient myths to exert a form of authority over society. I’m afraid catastrophes like the one we’re seeing in Ukraine, which leave people feeling so powerless, give it an opportunity to reinforce that authority. Churches offer people solutions where none exist, and the only result is they gain people’s attentions, which they can go on to manipulate and exploit even further. Thus what might at first glance appear to be something kind-hearted is in fact rather opportunistic and cynical.