I was once told by a born again Christian that I was going to hell but serial killer Jeffrey Dahmer, who had been “born again” before being killed by a fellow inmate, was going to heaven because he had accepted Christ.
“But I haven’t killed or, you know, eaten anybody,” I said to her.
“Doesn’t matter,” she replied nonchalantly as if sending my soul off to eternal damnation was as simple as throwing away a candy wrapper. “Only those who accept Jesus as the Savior will enter into the Kingdom of Heaven.”
“But what about people who are born into a different religion?” I naively thought that I had her on this point. Throughout history, most people have been content to remain whatever religion their parents happened to be. Surely she couldn’t tell me that all of the Hindus, Buddhists, and people of other religions were going to end up pushing a boulder in Hades because of random chance.
“You must accept Christ to enter heaven and unless those people convert they cannot,” she fired back. Her eyes suddenly lit up when she realized she was talking to a genuine heathen and that she had her chance to play missionary and convert a godless savage like me.
“Hey,” she said with her eyes dancing suddenly as her pupils seemed to take the form of two black crucifixes. “You should come to our bible group someday.” She went on to talk about several of her friends who were born again and went to this bible group. Most of them seem to be recovering from drugs or alcohol and a few of them had been in prison. You name the vice and I am sure there was somebody there recovering from it.
“That sounds like quite the Algonquin Roundtable but I think I am going to pass.”
I left her with a quizzical look on her face that seemed to be wondering who this Al Gonquin is and whether or not he had found Jesus.
Listen, I have nothing but empathy for a person who is recovering from any form of substance abuse. It is a problem that impacts not only the person suffering from the addiction, but also the family members around them. I just find it a bit amusing however when people “find Jesus” after that ordeal and become so self-righteous that they believe that those of us who haven’t been “born again” are wrong and going to hell. I guess those of us who don’t fuck up our lives enough to have to “find Jesus” are going to be at a disadvantage in the afterlife. It just seems like an easy way out to say you are born again, declare the part of your life that you messed up a mulligan and still go to the head of the line when it is time to go through the pearly gates. You can’t even get a mulligan in professional golf! Are the rules for getting into heaven less strict than the rules on the PGA Tour?
Anyway, I am an atheist (blame a decade of catholic school for that) so it doesn’t really matter that much to me. However, being an atheist gives me a license to question my lack of faith. I could be wrong and the born agains could be right so I thought I would make a quick list of the people who I will be spending eternity burning with. This list won’t by any means be complete so feel free to add any ones I miss in the comments. For religions that predate Christianity, let’s just assume that if they don’t worship the Old Testament God they are hell bound.
Neanderthals and Early Hominids – There is some evidence that they may have believed in an afterlife but since they don’t even get a mention on the bible I think it is safe to assume we will see them in hell.
Sumerians– The oldest civilization. They worshipped gods such as An and Nammu, but no Yahweh. Welcome to hell Sargon.
Ancient Egyptians– Osiris, Isis, and Ra pretty much break the Thou Shalt Not Have Any Gods Before Me commandment (check your local courthouse if you live in a red state) and if that doesn’t do it the incestuous marriages would seal the deal. Straight to Hell.
Zoroastrianism– One of the earliest known monotheistic religions. Close but no cigar. Straight to hell spoke Zarathustra.
Greeks– Raping, plundering, murdering, and drinking to excess. And I am talking about their gods! Looks like they are headed to deep in the bowels of Hades!
Romans– Tricky. I guess it depends on which ones agreed with Pontius Pilate.
Buddhists– Buddha once said that life is suffering. This practice will come in handy while burning in hell.
Hindus– Holy cows but no holy spirit. Straight to hell! Now that the Buddhists and Hindus are in hell, we easily outnumber the people in heaven several times over. Do you think we aren’t going to invade?
Aztecs, Mayans, Arawaks, Native Americans, South Pacific Islanders, etc – Some of these people practiced cannibalism like Jeffrey Dahmer but didn’t accept Jesus so we know where they are going. Christians killed a lot of them because they didn’t believe in Jesus so god seems to be fucking them over twice.
Jews– Christians would say that the Jews were on the right path until they kind of killed the Messiah. Oy.
Jews for Jesus– Isn’t this a contradiction. I vote they go to hell for hedging their bets.
George Steinbrenner– For obvious reason!
Ok we can go on and on with this but I am just not buying that all these groups are damned. Even when I was Catholic I never could figure out why you could be a good person and yet still be punished because you happened to have chosen the wrong religion. That kind of thinking just never made sense to me. I always considered the most important lesson of religion was to treat your neighbors the way you would want to be treated. I know Jesus said that but he wasn’t the only one. And if the born again Christians are right, I think I would rather spend eternity burning in hell with all the groups I just mentioned than spend it in heaven with a god who bases his judgement on whom people believed in over what they were actually doing. This still damns Steinbrenner though. No deity can be a Yankee fan.