It's Not Heaven Unless Someone is in Hell

What is the point of heavenly bliss if you cannot see the eternal torment of all those unbelievers?

Take the example of the Westboro Baptist Church, those deeply superstitious and obnoxious people who derive pleasure protesting funerals and condemning everyone to hell. Are they just not giving voice to the benefits of belonging to the true religion? After all, Jesus himself threatened non-believers with eternal damnation, along with cursing a fig tree that would not yield anything to eat (out of season, no less).

The religious mind, colonized by superstition and fear, cannot believe otherwise. If you go through life being a believer, then you must pity and condemn those who cannot be brought to the truth. And this truth includes knowing there is eternal torment for those people, those sinners who have rejected God and all his promises. And this truth includes rejoicing in the vanquishing of the wicked and the unbelievers. Since most people are uncomfortable with that thought, they hide behind platitudes about God being the "only one who can judge," when all of our religious texts and doctrines shed no tears for the unrepentant. You may not want to condemn your neighbor to hell, but you must be convinced he's not really going to Heaven.

Eternal happiness depends on not just being close to the presence of God, but also seeing the wicked punished. Who doesn't want the knowledge that Hitler and Stalin are suffering horribly for their crimes, all the while perched safely somewhere in Heaven? What about the people who wronged you? The thief who stole your kid's bike and you uttered an imprecation against him: "I hope he rots in hell for this." What kind of cosmic joke is it that you won't be able to see wrongs finally addressed? That you will not see final justice dispensed against some child molester or killer, whose terrible deeds you read about in the paper and hoped that "he will face God's justice"? Part of our religious convictions carry our vindictive religious streaks, one that can only be satisfied if we know that divine justice has been meted.

But our wishy-washy sentiments don't like to dwell on those things at all. We prefer to be fair, not to be judgmental because that it God's domain. The Church may have long ago stopped dwelling on the torments of hell, but only because congregations are no longer the captive audiences they used to be. Now hell is described as a "spiritual punishment," or detailed in such guilty-conscience language as being a "separation from God" and not an actual physical place. This change in emphasis is only in keeping with the times though, to satisfy the sensibilities of people who prefer to think of themselves as more enlightened, or rather, "agnostic" about the subject as a way out.

We talk about the Kingdom of God, and call God "Lord" giving every aspect of language that extols royalty and authority (but certainly not democracy) to how the Supreme Being deals with the human race. We describe God as "just" and "fair." What we don't express in all these flowery phrases is our need to see him judge. We need to see evil being punished. We need to know that crime has a price to pay in the afterlife. Otherwise, what's the point? Are we going to be denied seeing justice done? We crave it! We need to experience it and understand the final fate of those truly wicked people.

But also, those not-so wicked people. We like to believe that we are far more civilized and enlightened to want revenge, but this is a deep lie. Don't you want to know what happened to the One That Got Away and left you broken-hearted? You may not want to see her burning in hell, but some kind of misery certainly comes to mind. What about your political enemies? Who doesn't want the chance to tell someone, "I told you so!" or see if their ideological positions were actually correct? Heaven cannot be Heaven if we lose all the knowledge and experience we accumulated in our lifetimes as we "served the Lord faithfully" and prove we were right. No matter what anyone says, people always want to see the return on their investment, they want to see the answers to all the questions they ever had. And they want to see their enemies suffering for their stupidity, their laziness, and their "wrongness" all wrapped in one word: wicked.

The members of the Westboro Baptist Church are petty and superstitious, but they've embraced a central tenet of their religion: the wicked suffer and burn in hell. Strip away the viscious need to say these things at funerals for people they do not know, cut out all of the theatrical nonsense and ultimately, they're only saying what believers really think. And this is a direct result of religious indoctrination and the warping of minds by priestly nonsense. God is vindictive, petty and mean, promising salvation to only a few and condemning the rest of humanity to eternal torment. He killed the two sons of Aaron for bringing "strange fire" into the worship service, as well as knocking dead an unnamed individual for merely touching the Ark of the Covenant to prevent it from tipping over. And the ultimate crime: allowing an innocent man, Jesus, to die an unjust death, ostensibly to save the world. What kind if cosmic madness is this? What fiendish, diabolical mind conceives of "salvation" only achievable through the prism of an outrageous criminal act? This is not the behavior of a deity that knows justice and is just. It is the petty invention of cruel, superstitious priests who need to exert power over others with the threat of punishment by an invisible creature. Their id! Their wanton desires under the guise of God's laws! And this pettiness has filtered down as dogma, letting us carry the notion that being vindictive to others is what God needs to defend his honor. Our sensibilities are mocked, so we declare that God is being mocked and thus, your opponent is deserving of eternal torment. And if we can't see that in the here and now, then we can envisage it in the hereafter.

Heaven can never be Heaven unless we know someone we hate is suffering in hell.