Hell is for Thought Crimes

Talk about a “seared conscience”.  The level of brain-washing among conservative Christians is truly shocking.  It nauseates me every time I discuss the concept of Hell with a conservative Christian and must listen to his or her pathetic justifications for why it is just, fair, moral, and even good for a “loving Heavenly Father” to burn alive millions of human beings in his eternal torture pit. The same people who decry Muslim fundamentalist terrorists for burning alive their captives, turn around and justify their own God’s thousands of years old habit of burning alive millions upon millions of people who dared to commit a “thought crime” against him.

Conservative Christians will protest this characterization:  “People don’t go to Hell for thought crimes.  They go to Hell for their evil sins against their Creator.”

Really?  Let’s look at that:

General X is a brutal warlord.  He has slaughtered innocent men, women, and children by the tens of thousands.  He has raped and pillaged.  He has committed genocide.  However, on the day he is to be executed for his crimes against humanity, a Christian pastor comes to his jail cell and preaches the gospel of Jesus Christ to him.  The general begins to cry, “I am so sorry for all the horrible things I have done.  Please forgive me, Jesus.  Please be my Lord and Savior.”  Five minutes later he is executed.  Immediately upon his death, his soul ascends to heaven where he enjoys eternal happiness, peace, and untold riches with Jesus, the angels, and the other saints.

Mrs. Wong is your neighbor.  She lives three houses down from you.  The children on the block call her the “Nice Cookie Lady” as she is always very kind to them and always has a plate of cookies set out for them.  She has been a volunteer in the local homeless shelter for more than 30 years, where she cooks, cleans filthy indigent clothing, and scrubs the toilets and floors…for no monetary compensation.  She says she does it because she loves people and enjoys helping the needy.  Mrs. Wong has heard the “gospel” story of Jesus many times, however, she prefers to retain her childhood belief system.  Mrs. Wong is a Buddhist.

Mrs.Wong died last week, and at this very moment, is writhing in horrific agony in the flames of Hell…and she will continue to scream and writhe in horrific agony for all eternity.



Now, dear conservative Christian friend:  Can you really tell me that the above scenario is just, fair, moral, and good?  How can General X commit horrific crimes his entire life and still get into heaven at the last minute simply by a change in belief, but Mrs. Wong is going to be burned alive forever, despite her exemplary life of service and kindness to others, just because she made a mistake in which supernatural belief system to believe?

If the Christian concept of Hell is true, then we should all tremble in utter terror before the Christian God.  But, to call it just, fair, moral, and good is simply delusional, friend.  Let’s be honest and call it what it is:  Evil.

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15 thoughts on “Hell is for Thought Crimes

  1. Freedom is a human right. It is immoral to take the freedom of any person away. Once more it is pathetically horrible to lock a person up in cell and treat them like an animal. It doesn't matter what wrong an individual has done we can be civil and stop locking up wrong doers in prison cells. It is torture to lock someone up! To call putting a person in a cell just, fair, moral, and good simply delusional. Let's be honest and call it what it is: inhumane and evil.

    Sound right Gary?

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  2. To compare putting someone in a jail cell with burning them alive…forever… is ludicrous and demonstrates the complete loss of reason, logic, and common sense that your Superstition has superimposed upon your brain.

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  3. (Apologies if this is a double comment, I tried to post it originally, and it didn't seem to work.)

    These are understandable concerns, and I would like to throw out a few things…I probably won't be offering what you have heard as the conservative perspective, but I believe there's more warrant for it as

    First, a slight adjustment I'd like to make is the assumption that in orthodox Christianity, when one dies, their soul ascends to heaven and eternally dwells there with Jesus. That belief is out there, but I'd consider it far from orthodoxy. The orthodox belief is that the body is raised from the dead at some future point, and then heaven's rule is experienced here on earth. Death and sin are abolished in this resurrection future, and the renewed humanity lives in new embodied life in a perfectly just and peaceful society on earth.

    This may seem like an aside, but bear with me.

    The scenario with General X is of course troubling. For one thing, Christianity actually does admit possibilities like these. Even perhaps looks for them. I don't think they are that common, and a true “last minute salvation” would have to be a lot more than making some show or verbal commitment on your deathbed because your faced with your mortality and now are gunning for a blissful afterlife. For thoughtful believers, that doesn't really compute out to “Christian faith” in any substantive sense.

    Then again the faith hope for the most evil of people. And the most compelling –and most scandalous– thing about the faith is that people don't get what they deserve, and this can even be extreme. That sinners repent and are changed, dramatically, from the inside out, and their future state (although not always their present) is without consequences for wrongdoing. For your fictive scenario, I don't know that a Christian could really argue with you that General X's fate is not “fair.” But it certainly would be “good” wouldn't it? For an evil person to become good? The faith's conception of eternal reward is not one where you simply don't experience consequences. It may very well include real work for the bettering of the new world, in which such evil is unthinkable. In which those that were raped, pillaged, and slaughtered, are now served and provided for by the perpetrator. Strange thought I know, but I'd like to at least imagine the possibility. That the formerly evil take part in the building of the good is perhaps “consequence” enough, if they are truly changed.

    Secondly, Mrs. Wong. She sounds like a lovely lady. There are certainly many Christians, mostly highly fundamentalist ones, who think she is going to hell. I don't actually think that is the orthodox vision of salvation. I don't think the Christian faith has ever demanded that we believe all non-Christians go to hell when they die because they were part of the wrong religion. This is a very destructive theology in my opinion. But it's not like it's the only one out there. Christian universalism has always been an option, though a minority, and most Bible-reading Christians I know would say that they simply don't know about Mrs. Wong's future, or that there's plenty of room in God's Kingdom for people like her.

    I would tend to point out that in the Bible, passages describing judgment are universally based on deeds. Righteous, or just, works. Not what religion you belong to. As I understand it, most practicing Jews believe this too, and early Christianity adopted a lot of the fundamentally Jewish beliefs and reworked them around Jesus.

    If I heard of two people like this in real life, I'd personally react to General X's conversion story with interest but skepticism, unless there was a compelling reason to believe it. I'd react to Mrs. Wong's story with hope and gratitude, and the assumption that there's a place for people like her in the future world of the resurrection.

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  4. If only all Christians believed like you do, Nate!

    If you notice in my posts and my comments, I always try to clarify that my criticisms are directed at fundamentalist/conservative Christianity; the Christianity that believes that everyone but them is going to suffer eternal torment in Hell.

    I have no issue with liberal Christianity. Peace to you, my friend.

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  5. I think you missed the point. You would be outraged if we emptied our prisons and never again confined another person for crimes. Why? Because of our conception of justice. Yet here you are railing against God and thinking that you are better than He. Yes you have raised your own brain to the level of God and you now worship it.

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  6. A thought here is it sure looks like Gary has God over a barrel. How can a loving just God punish evil doers in an eternity of flames?

    What Gary is not recognizing, and which is part of his argument no less!, is nobody knows for certain what hell looks like. We know from the Bible that eternity and flames are involved. However we can't understand what these punishing flames are supposed to be and how they will be met out. Dante wrote his 'Inferno' to give us his idea of hell in which are various 'circles' where some receive greater punishments than others. But Dante's illustrations are fictitious.

    What is Gary so worked up about? He apparently thinks he's won a game of “God gotcha.” And not so much God but fundamentalist “gotcha!” Gary has destroyed his faith and it isn't enough to destroy just his own faith but the faith of all others he has determined are in danger by their faith. Notice that Gary doesn't have an “issue with liberal Christianity” which is telling. No, his issue is with those who really do believe in a literal heaven and hell because that is what he believed at one time.

    Gary's blog appears to be an enterprise in suppressing the law of God written on his heart. Yes Gary is being convicted by that law and knows to repent but he will not due to the hardness of his heart. The problem here is not with God, with hell, or with God's justice as understood from the Bible. No the problem is with Gary's heart and the law of God which tells him that he is a sinner in need of the free grace won for him by Jesus Christ's death and resurrection.

    One other point is that I don't know any Christians who are dwelling on hell. When I do outreach I don't use hell as 'whip' trying to shock the unrepentant into repentance.

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  7. I am fighting against Superstition and Ignorance. Your god does not exist. Just as a square can never be a circle, a Being who says that he is good and yet burns people alive is either nonexistent or liar. All the evidence points to the former conclusion.

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  8. Even though evangelicals and orthodox Christians rarely discuss Hell, they still believe in it. They have decided that their supernatural story sells better with a positive rather than negative spin. However, it is still a superstition based on fear. After telling a “sinner” the hundredth time how much Jesus loves him, when he still refuses to submit to this superstition, he is then threatened with eternal torture.

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  9. Gary opines: “However, it is still a superstition based on fear. “

    Firstly is there something wrong with fear? I don't stick my hand in a live flame because of the fear of being burned. I don't drink battery acid for the fear of death. So what is wrong with fear?

    Secondly you simply balk at God's justice while imposing your own view of justice which isn't even accepted by all your peers. You say that we shouldn't have capital punishment but it is arguable that a society without such punishment is not civilized because they utterly lack compassion for victims. In other words a society without the death penalty is one that has lost the idea of just recompense for crimes.

    The bottom line is all you have managed to articulate is the same old line by anyone convicted of a crime who believes themselves to being treated unjustly, “I am not guilty and don't deserve my punishment.” Protest all you want, but God has the ultimate say in the mater.

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  10. You are begging the question, my friend.

    You have not proven that your god's hell exists, and more importantly, you have not proven that your god exists. Until you can prove that either one actually exist, you might as well be threatening me with being turned into a toad.

    You may believe, by faith (superstition), that something is true, but there are thousands of superstitions in this world, many of them exclusivist and contradictory. Therefore it is IMPOSSIBLE to believe and follow all supernatural beliefs even if the consequence of one of those superstitions actually being true means my eternal doom. You have no more evidence for your supernatural claims than any other supernatural based religion in the world.

    I will follow your beliefs and submit to your invisible Slave Master when you give me tangible evidence that he exists…the same kind of evidence that one would ask to prove that any other object or being in our natural world exists, by using the scientific method, reason, and logic, not appeals to ghosts.

    If you cannot do that, your threats of doom are no more convincing that a witch doctor threatening me with poking needles into a doll that looks like me.

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  11. I looked at your article. I asked for evidence of YOUR god's existence, not of the existence of a Creator God. I am an agnostic. I am willing to concede that there is some good evidence for a Creator.

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