Simply put, the belief in Hell as an eternal punishment for others comes from “hate”. It is the ultimate evidence of a complete lack of forgiveness. That is to say, a religion that truly believed in “unconditional” love and forgiveness would obviously not have any “condition” by which such love and forgiveness would be withheld from anyone, and then instead, damn them to not just a period of punishment, but ETERNAL torment.
Love and forgiveness by their very nature CANNOT condemn, they can only love and forgive, allowing others to learn from their mistakes and not damn them forever for their perceived missteps. Such a belief in Hell for the diversity of belief one does not like is entirely hate-based and it is at the core of the problem we need to address with the longstanding man-made lies and misrepresentation of spirituality by both Islam, Christianity (and Judaism to some extent).
I recently had a conversation with a lady at Starbucks. When she at one point revealed she was a Christian, at first she tried as many Christians often do, to hide the fact that she believed all others who were not Christians were damned to Hell for eternity.
Christians are supposed to be honest, but more often than not when I ask them, they are initially rather dishonest, trying to say they don’t believe such a thing. Then as I press them and remind them what their Bible says, they finally get rather intense and make it very clear they in fact adamantly do believe that all others are damned. So why the common deception?
The reason they initially are deceptive is because their conscience is getting the better of them. Deep down, their true spirit is not supportive of such a wrong belief. So they are kind of fighting with themselves. But then as they are pressed and backed into a corner, they remember that they have also been taught that if they don’t believe this, they will also go to Hell. My, what a “loving” God it is that they believe in, isn’t it?
As I spoke with this woman at Starbucks, she became very irritated when I pointed out that to believe members of YOUR belief are “saved”, while all others are “damned” if they don’t convert, is nothing but bigotry and hate. As she started accusing me of “judging” her for saying that about her belief, I reminded her of two important things.(Often when you confront people about such misguided beliefs, they will try to make you feel that you are wrong for doing so by ironically accusing you of “judging” them, and when they do so they are using the word “judge” in the wrong context)
The first thing I explained to her was that there are two kinds of “judging”, and that she was conflating the proper definition of the word in my context. The WRONG kind of judging ironically is the “hate based” kind that condemns another with its judgment, the way the Bible or the Koran does.
The healthy kind of judging is the “discerning” form, which lacks any kind of condemnation of another. We judge things all day long. Are we judging when we tell someone it is wrong of them to use the n-word? Of course, and it is not a condemning thing.
Are we judging when we tell someone we care about, like a friend, co-worker or family member, that they need to stop smoking? Of course, but again, there is no condemnation involved in such a judgment, only healthy and wise discernment.
Am I judging when I say I’ve never found Sarah Silverman’s act funny at all, and that she always tries to get laughs just by coming off as a slut? Maybe, and if so I apologize…But still, c’mon…I’m not condemning her to Hell…I’m just saying I feel like taking a long shower after 2 minutes of her stand-up.
But people whose core beliefs are grounded in such a hate-based conviction that all those who don’t believe like them are damned to Hell ironically always try that tactic when they are challenged. They are made to feel so uncomfortable that they almost always resort to accusing you of the kind of”judging” that they religiously embrace, when you are not condemning them in any way whatsoever by trying to help them open their eyes to real spirituality, which has been hidden from them by the Church for too long.
Secondly, I asked this lady how she would feel if members of another belief treated her in the same way. I asked her specifically if it would be hateful for a Muslim to look down on her, and tell her she was condemned to Hell as a Christian, simply because she did not share their belief. She agreed that would be hateful. So then I asked her how she could clearly see that as hate, but not readily see that her belief that they are the ones who are condemned to Hell was just as rooted in hate.
She again tried to deflect the conversation from that uncomfortable truth to an accusation that something was clearly wrong with me, for taking the effort to point these things out to her, and for my willingness to challenge her on her popularly held idea in America that Christianity is the only true religion.
I conceded that if in fact something IS wrong with me, it likely has something to do with either my new obsession with wondering what else Brian Williams has lied to me about in the news, or having Jello-Pops ruined for me with finding out Bill Cosby, one of my lifelong comedy heroes, is allegedly a serial rapist, and/or with not being able to get that ignorant, stupid song “I’m all about that base, ’bout that base, ’bout that base” out of my head for the last two weeks…DEAR GOD HELP ME MAKE IT STOP!
And if there is something wrong with me, at least it doesn’t result in my condemning other human beings who are different than me. Sometimes it can feel like a curse when you learn what spiritual truth is…when you learn that spiritual truth is not at all what organized religion teaches, and yet the vast majority of others around you are just blindly conforming and following those lies like sheep.
The overall reason for why I share this story is to emphasize that there is a much deeper and more serious universal problem with organized religion, than just the violent extremism we are witnessing from Islamic radicals. It is the scripture-based condemnation that is embraced by BOTH Muslims and Christians…the war-creating hate specifically sustained toward each other for at least two thousand years now, and toward all who don’t believe like them.
President OBama is grossly in error as he continues bending himself into a political pretzel by trying to argue that ISIS, Al Qaeda and other such Islamic radicals are NOT part of Islam. That is not just a laughable lie, it is a hysterical lie. These groups are first and foremost, fundamentally motivated by the teachings of Mohammed and the Koran that demand that ALL MUSLIMS help to create a world wide “caliphate”, which means a world wide theocracy under Sharia Law, where the entire world’s laws are to be governed by the teachings of Islam and the Koran.
That is the obligation of all Muslims as mandated by the Koran. Most Americans haven’t taken the time or effort to familiarize themselves with what the Koran teaches, which results in far left leaning “coexist bumper sticker” liberals running around saying that Al Qaeda and ISIS have “perverted” the religion of Islam.
That is nothing but ignorance, if it isn’t all out political propaganda. If we are going to ever have a hope of creating peace on our shared home we call Earth, we CANNOT AFFORD such ignorance and “intellectual dishonesty”. ISIS and Al Qaeda, and all their ignorant radical splinter groups are not perverting Islam’s religion, they are actively preaching the fundamental teachings found in the Koran…The “radical” is inherent in the fundamental teachings of the Koran. Those beliefs are held, if not acted on, by the vast majority of Muslims.
ISIS regularly announces their efforts to create this mandated world wide caliphate that Mohammed commanded all Muslims to create. This is a large part of the reason you don’t hear of very many large scale protests from Muslims in general. There is a conflict within many Muslims who understand this is what their Koran teaches, while they personally don’t have the “stomach” for the violence. Yet they are aware that the Koran tells them such violence will be required to create such a world wide Islamic caliphate.
The greater problem I mentioned above is the hate that is at the root of all three of the world’s largest organized religions. The problem transcends the violence of fundamentalist Islamic radicals. We’ve seen such radical violence over thousands of years from all of the major religions.
The problem we must begin having a loud, universal conversation about, is the bigoted man-made lies in all of organized religion, not just Islam. We must start talking about how those lies have misled humanity away from real spirituality, that being the understanding that we are all in this together as a spiritual family…we are all an eternal PART of what “God” or “Allah” is.
We must begin raising the awareness that it has been the LACK of understanding this truth that has caused, and continues to cause all the wars and genocide over mankind’s history. Christians and Jews cannot just point a finger at Islam without having three more pointed back at themselves for their own Biblical condemning/exclusionary beliefs. (That expression usually says “four fingers” pointed back, which is kinda silly, because that could only be true if you were pointing with your THUMB!)
I know a lot of you who read this understand the truth I’m sharing. But unfortunately still, not enough people are taking the initiative to join in the discussion. Yet this is what is crucially necessary for us to finally begin creating peace on this planet before this problem ultimately leads to a self-fulfilled “end times” nuclear catastrophe.
If such an outcome were to happen, it would certainly not be far-fetched by any means, and it would most certainly be largely fueled by the combined organized religious hate that has always fueled such conflict for thousands of years. The answer is to begin talking loudly about real spiritual truth, and to begin effectively facing and exposing the man-made lies of not just Islam, but of each of the Big Three Organized religions that share the blame for our planet’s war-scarred, violent history.
Spiritual truth is that we are all spiritual brothers and sisters, and we are all in this together on our temporary physical home we call “Earth”. There is no “savior” coming in the clouds riding a white horse someday, with an army of angels to “fix” everything and “kill” all the “non believers” for us. This is what both Christians and Muslims believe. (If you call yourself a Christian and you don’t believe exactly that, then you don’t know anything about the Bible you claim to believe in. And you can’t “cherry pick” what you want to believe and ignore all the other condemnation either.)
Spiritual truth is that it is up to us to awaken to the knowledge that as we are a part of what “God” is, we have an obligation to BE the love and healing of God that all others need, NOT the CONDEMNATION we conjure up with our hate, that we think others who are different than us deserve.
Spiritual truth is that it is up to us to CREATE heaven on earth for ourselves, and to do so without embracing “conditions” as to who can be included and who is excluded because of their diversity. Spiritual truth understands that DIVERSITY is what “God” is…Creation is diversity…it is artistic design which by nature is diverse in thought, but not diverse in one aspect – that being our universal need for love and forgiveness of our spiritual brother or sister, UNCONDITIONALLY.
(Connie Bryan is a stand-up comedian and editorial writer in Sacramento, CA. Check out her complete editorial blog at http://www.conniebryan.com)