Posted by: CeCe | April 10, 2013

Poison as a cure

Just a forewarning:  This post is about religion.  I’d warn my atheist friends to proceed with caution, but I think actually I should warn my Christian friends.  This post may make you uncomfortable or angry.  I’m not going to apologize for that.  The reason for this post should be apparent by the time I’m done, and I think that any anger or bewilderment I feel in the writing is justified.

Recently a friend of mine was telling me about the Easter program at the church he attended all his life, until the last couple of years when he began to identify as an atheist. He said that every year, they include a segment that has something to do with hell.  This year’s presentation was no different, only this year it was even more disgusting than usual. In the skit, a mother and her young daughter are killed in a car accident.  The mother was a Christian, but didn’t believe in hell, while her daughter was simply too young to really understand all of it.  The mother wound up getting sent to hell, while the little girl went to heaven.  He said that the little girl collapsed on stage crying.  Think about the implications of that for a moment.

I was absolutely stunned.  Are there churches out there that teach this?  Apparently there are; this isn’t the first time I’ve heard about something like this.  And in fact, I’ve witnessed it myself in churches, where members have this belief that the smallest infractions or doubt can send us to hell.  Oh, you doubt God’s existence?  You’re going to hell!  You watch Harry Potter or read Harry Potter books?  You’re going to hell!  You listen to rock?  Hell!  You’re gay, you struggle with an addiction to alcohol or porn, you smoke cigarettes?  Hell!  You struggle with the doctrine of hell?  Well you should, because that’s where you’re going!

What’s really puzzling to me is that many of the churches who teach this doctrine consider themselves to be sola scriptura, meaning that they believe the Bible alone.  But does the Bible really teach that one must believe exactly the right thing in order to get to heaven?  Because I don’t recall it saying anything like this.  Are we reading the same collection of books?  I do seem to remember Jesus saying something about believing in Him, and following Him, but I don’t remember Him reading out a list of things that one must believe in order to be saved, nor do I recall there being a list of books one is or is not allowed to read, or kinds of music one is allowed to enjoy.

My friend said that the teaching found in the skit is tantamount to child abuse.  I agree fully. What a horrible thing to teach children, or anyone for that matter.  No wonder many atheists see religion as being poisonous.  Can we really blame them?  I hear things like this, and I know that I certainly don’t blame them at all.

Many of us claim that Christianity is the cure for all the ills in the world, but how can we make that claim when sometimes it’s poisonous?  And make no mistake about it, religion can be poisonous.  Christianity doesn’t exactly have a clean record as far as that goes, with the witch hunts and the Inquisitions and persecutions of Jews and homosexuals and the lies we tell ourselves to justify our own depravity.  We tell ourselves, oh, my hands are clean, I haven’t done this, I’m not part of it.  But I can tell you that if you’re not appalled by the denominations who teach that they and only they possess the whole truth, then you are part of it.  If you’ve ever looked at someone and thought, “Now there’s a person who is going to hell!”, then you are part of it.  If you have ever presumed to tell someone that they’re going to hell, you’re part of it.  I know I’ve thought that before, about people who commit evil acts like harming children, rape, or murder, so I’m part of it too.  What gives any of us the right to think that?  Are we God?  Do we presume to sit on His throne and decide how He will judge anyone?

And then we get so defensive when outsiders say that religion is poison, that it isn’t a cure for anything at all, and that it causes more harm than good.  Many of the people who believe that have been shunned by family members and members of the churches they attended as children because they came to believe something different, or nothing at all, or because they’re gay or have some other “flaw” that makes other Christians believe that they’re unworthy of love or compassion.  Can you really look into their eyes, hear their stories, and see their tears and tell them that it’s never poisonous?

And then we have the audacity to tell them that oh, this is the truth, and it’ll stick a big band-aid over everything wrong with you!  Just recite this little prayer, and make sure that you believe exactly the right things, or God will gleefully tell you that you were never His and you’re going to be tortured forever and ever in hell!

No wonder they balk at it.  I would too.  I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again:  The only reason I’m a Christian is because of Christ, not because of other Christians, or because of Christianity as an institution.  The fact is, as an institution, Christianity is extremely flawed, not because of the faith itself, but because of the humans who use it to justify hatred and bigotry, and then disguise that bigotry as love.  Love!  Do they know what love really is?  It isn’t bigotry or hatred, or condemnation, that’s for sure!

I think that we need to pay close attention to how we treat those outside of Christianity, and ensure that the cure we’re trying to “sell” isn’t poison.  But to be honest, it’s far too often that it is.


  1. Cece, I love how you can take any topic and make complete sense of it. As a Christian I have to say that I completely agree with you that this “poison is out there and some of the things that are taught in many churches do not reflect what I think a Christian should be. For this reason I stopped attending church many years ago. I decided that when I stopped attending my church that it was not just my church but many churches that practice some sort of poisoning. One thing that stands out to me with many churches is that they think they are better than everyone else. if your not attending “my church” your not really a Christian because God made this church and no other. Going to one church does not make one better than not going to church at all. I believe if God truly exists. (and yes I believe he does) that he wants people to simply make good choices, be good to others, and live their lives in ways that are honest and not destructive to others. I do not think he is going to dam one to hell because they did not go to church, or they had a period of there life where they said “I am not sure if I believe”. To the people who really think this I say open your eyes, yet I also believe that people have the right to believe what they want and the chose their course they will take without being judged. I love reading your thoughts Cece thank you for sharing even though it is a tough topic of conversation.


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