A pyramid scheme is one where a person contributes a certain amount of goods or monies into a fund, in the expectation of getting more money from the contribution of the people who follow them in contributing.
In other words, I put in $100. Five other people put in $100, and. I get $500 from their contributions. Each of the other five people will be given $500 when 25 more people have contributed $100. Now, even through this description, the intelligent person will realize there is a point where there are going to be a bunch of people out $100, regardless of how many other people get their pockets filled with their $500. Right?
There has been a religion pyramid scheme being perpetrated in our world for almost a thousand years. In exchange for financial contributions, though, you dont get more money. No, youre promised a life after death instead. You are told that your prior beliefs about how the world worked are wrong -- not only wrong, but will end up dooming you after death. To not change your beliefs will result in an after death existence in hell; a hell you will be unable to escape. You embrace this god and only this god. You honor him with your finest possessions -- including property, a place for worshiping this god and support for those who have brought this religion to you.
Burning traditional charms
Those who spread this scheme are insidious. They have no respect for any other beliefs of the people they invade. They consider all these religions invalid, and to follow them is to follow a pathway to hell. They insist on complete devotion to this god, and only this god. To pay homage to any other god is a sin. There are rules that must be followed. If they are not followed, it is called a sin, regardless of what your tradition and cultural beliefs might be. And to encourage following of this god, the new recruits are given food, clothing, and educated. All in the name of this god. It is never said, of course, that if you do not believe in the god that you wont receive these benefits, but the feeling is there.
Building a church
And there seems no way to stop this religion pyramid scheme. Some countries have even established laws to prevent these people from forcing their religion onto their people but the law is constantly broken. When arrested, they say simply that they are following the law of their god: their god has told them to spread his word.
The most interesting part of this scheme is that no benefits during life are promised. You can pray to this god but he does not always answer your prayers; you dont always get what you want, let alone what you need. No, they dont promise you a good life; they promise you a good death which is once you are dead, this god will take care of you. You will spend eternity in a wonderful place filled with gracious entities. There will be no pain, no want, no sadness, no sin. Who can beat that?
And when you ask them to prove what they say is true, they hand you a book. A book written by men. But they claim their god told the men to write it. They tell you that a man died for the sins of men, and this book says that. And they say that their god is better than all other gods, that he is the real god. That he is the one to be worshiped.
Their only proof is the book. A book written by men. Yes, a man did die. But the account of his death was still just written by men. And anyone can write a book. I could write a book. I could write a book that says that you need to worship my god. I could write a book that says you should give me money and build temples. I could write a book that could tell you that your god is false, that your god is petty, that your god is powerless. I could write that book. And thats what these men did. They wrote a book.
The difference between them and me? I respect the beliefs of others too much to sell them into a pyramid scheme. A scheme that they can never prove the benefits of. A scheme that will strip them of their culture and traditions. A scheme that will strip them of the gods who they served for hundreds of years. A scheme that they will never know is true, until its too late to go back. A scheme that tells them they are bad, and they are being punished for being bad by the misfortunes of disease or famine.
No, I have too much respect to expect you to put out your wealth for nothing more than a book.