Secular Right | Reality & Reason

TAG | hell

May/14

24

Fire, Brimstone, Free Speech and English Law

tall hat 3aHere’s just another reminder that there’s not much in the way of free speech left in David Cameron’s Britain.

The Daily Mail has the details:

A baptist church was at the centre of a police probe after a sign which suggested non-Christians would ‘burn in hell’ was investigated as a ‘hate incident’. The offending sign at Attleborough Baptist Church in Norfolk, pictured burning flames below words which read: ‘If you think there is no God you better be right!!’.

Now the church has been forced to remove the sign after a passer-by complained to police that it could ‘not be further’ from the Christian phrase, love thy neighbour. Robert Gladwin, 20, said: ‘It is my basic understanding that Christianity is inclusive and loving in nature. ‘The message being displayed outside of the church could not be further from the often uttered phrase ‘love thy neighbour’.’

Mr Gladwin said he was ‘astounded’ when he spotted the poster by chance as he was walking home. He said: ‘I was just astounded really. We live in the 21st century and they have put that message – that non-Christians will burn in hell – up to try and scare people into joining their mentality.’

The strongly-worded sign – which was put up next to a notice board which promises that visitors ‘can always be sure of a very warm welcome’ – was taken down by Pastor John Rose, 69, after police launched an investigation into the complaint.

Mr Rose said he ‘regretted’ how the poster could have been interpreted. He said: ‘Attleborough Baptist Church offers a variety of ways in which people are able to engage with the Christian message…Jesus encourages us to love God and to love our neighbour and we therefore regret that the poster has been seen as inciting hatred.

The Eastern Daily Press has more:

A spokesperson for the police said: “Norfolk Constabulary received a report regarding a poster outside a church in Attleborough which was deemed offensive by the complainant.

“National guidance required us to investigate the circumstances and the matter has been recorded as a hate incident. Having spoken to the pastor of the church, it has been agreed the poster will be taken down.”

This is, of course, a ludicrous story, not least the presumption on the part of Gladwin that his understanding of Christianity is superior to that of the pastor. It might be, it might not be (Christianity takes many different forms).

But it is also a sinister story. It is sinister that Gladwin’s response to seeing this poster was to turn to the police. It is sinister that the police chose to investigate the matter on the basis of one complaint (it would have also been sinister had they chosen to investigate after receiving five thousand complaints). It is sinister that this decision was based on (unspecified) “national guidelines”. “Obeying orders”, it seems is no longer enough. It is sinister that there are “national guidelines”. It is sinister that the police then labeled the posting of this entirely unobjectionable poster as a “hate incident”. And it is sinister that the pastor has “agreed” to take down the poster.

A friend who is a Roman Catholic priest once told me that there are more references to Hell in the gospels than to Heaven. If that’s so, let’s hope that Jesus doesn’t show up in Norfolk any time soon. Because if He does, the moment that He starts talking about, oh, the “furnace of fire” or, say, “the fire [that ] is not quenched,” He will probably have to start looking for a very good lawyer.

H/t: Cranmer

For some relief from this nasty tale…

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Feb/14

1

Hell has its Uses

Tito, Marx, Engels, HellCount me skeptical that there is a hell (fingers crossed!), but there are clearly one or two priests in Montenegro who have some good ideas about who belongs there.

The BBC reports:

A church in Montenegro has sparked controversy by displaying a fresco depicting Yugoslav communist leader Josip Broz Tito in the fires of hell with Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels. The newly built Church of Resurrection in the capital Podgorica has already drawn criticism for its lavish design. Critics now say the church should not be interfering in politics. Works by philosophers Marx and Engels were required reading when Montenegro was part of communist Yugoslavia.

One church leader, named only as Dragan, told the Agence France-Presse news agency that Marx, Engels and Tito “personify communist evil in the Balkans” and the artist should be “allowed the freedom to see things as he wishes”.

…The church is not the only religious building in Montenegro to depict figures from 20th Century history on its walls. A monastery in Ostrog shows Hitler, Lenin and Tito together with Judas, who betrayed Jesus.

Seems reasonable enough.

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Dec/08

30

Hell and the scientific method

My good friend OpinionJournal.com blogger James Taranto drops his insistence that there is no tension between American tolerance and a belief in eternal damnation for wrong-believers (not without getting in one last crude mischaracterization of my argument, however). 

Now he says that our disagreement boils down to the following statement of mine, from which he deletes the final clause:

[I]t is an empirical matter, presumably verifiable after the Last Judgment, whether unbelievers and the unbaptised are eternally punished, not just a matter of feeling. 

James pretends that I was proposing a scientific test today for what will transpire after death.  In fact, I was just stating the obvious: If hell is real, we will all find out–some of us directly–after the Last Judgment.  By contrast, the statement which James offers as an analogy to the belief in eternal damnation: “She is the most important thing in the world” is a value judgment that cannot be corroborated by actual experience. 

In an effort to be cute, James states that I “must be the only atheist who thinks [that] the Last Judgment is a real event.”   Earlier James accused me of lacking imaginative sympathy with religious belief; now he accuses me of believing religious doctrine.  I wish he’d make up his mind.

Dec/08

28

America and Hell

A Pew religion survey  supports the hypothesis that American tolerance influences theology.

“We are a multicultural society, and people expect this American life to continue the same way in heaven,”    [Alan Segal, a professor of religion at Barnard College, commented to to the New York Times.]   [I]n our society, we meet so many good people of different faiths that it’s hard for us to imagine God letting them go to hell.

Perhaps it’s not just a “poverty of imagination” that posits a potential tension between secular experience and traditional religious teaching.

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