(Also titled: The Nonexistent Reward)
No one except the terminally ill, suffering great agony desires death. This nothing, this ending, is a primal fear in humans who have seen people just go away. If some way could be found to continue existence, most would desire it, especially if that extension promised paradise. Imagine regaining total youth and living forever young. This is the lure, the bait, offered by most major religions. They offer continuity, existence beyond this world… but more than that: peace and happiness among those lost relatives.
It is not so much that they offer this, but how they offer this miracle of miracles. You must believe in a certain deity over all others. You must serve that entity and adhere to the doctrine featuring that entity. If you want to obtain the reward you must follow the dictates of that cult… as well as the dictates of that cult’s apostle. Since the deity itself never speaks to the common cult member an apostle becomes necessary to relate the desires of the deity. Without so much as a glance of or a scrap of evidence, the individual member is asked to believe in the existence of this deity. This gives the apostle great power and influence on the members of this cult. By claiming the dictates he/she issues are from the god of interest itself the apostle is able to appear as a mere servant of the deity… when in reality that apostle has taken on the mantle of a god. The unscrupulous individual through interpretations of his/her faith can manipulate the flock, causing them to do things they would never consider on their own.
We are all aware of witch burnings, claims of heresy, and blasphemy. Much was done to get rid of opposition to healing by prayer (witches were sometimes offering natural medicines, herbs). Some claims were made to gain wealth and control. They were very eager to magnify the reverence to whatever deity they offered thereby gaining additional control.
Fear is the basis… fear of death, and then once baited, fear of not going to heaven… and for some faiths, fear of hell.