by Chaz Bufe
Christianity is based on
Christianity preys on the
Christianity is based on
Christianity is extremely
arrogance, a chosen-people mentality
Christianity is cruel
Christianity has a morbid,
unhealthy preoccupation with sex
Christianity produces sexual
Christianity has an
exceedingly narrow, legalistic view of morality
acceptance of real evils while focusing on imaginary
Christianity depreciates the
hierarchical, authoritarian organization
Christianity is misogynistic
Christianity is homophobic
The Bible is not a reliable
guide to Christ's teachings
The Bible is riddled with
Christianity borrowed its
central myths and ceremonies from other ancient
This pamphlet briefly looks at many of
the reasons that Christianity is undesirable from both a personal
and a social point of view. All of the matters discussed here have
been dealt with elsewhere at greater length, but that’s beside the
point: the purpose of 20 Reasons to Abandon Christianity is to list
the most outstanding misery-producing and socially destructive
qualities of Christianity in one place. When considered in toto,
they lead to an irresistible conclusion:
that Christianity must be
abandoned, for the sake of both personal happiness and social
As regards the title, "abandon"—rather than "suppress" or "do away
with"—was chosen deliberately. Attempts to coercively suppress
beliefs are not only ethically wrong, but in the long run they are
often ineffective—as the recent resurgence of religion in the former
Soviet Union demonstrates.
If Christianity is ever to disappear, it
will be because individual human beings wake up, abandon their
destructive, repressive beliefs, and choose life, choose to be here
Christianity is based on fear.
While today there are liberal clergy
who preach a gospel of love, they ignore the bulk of Christian
teachings, not to mention the bulk of Christian history.
Throughout almost its entire time on Earth, the motor driving
Christianity has been—in addition to the fear of death—fear of
the devil and fear of hell. One can only imagine how potent
these threats seemed prior to the rise of science and rational
thinking, which have largely robbed these bogeys of their power
to inspire terror.
But even today, the existence of the
devil and hell are cardinal doctrinal tenets of almost all
Christian creeds, and many fundamentalist preachers still openly
resort to terrorizing their followers with lurid, sadistic
portraits of the suffering of nonbelievers after death. This is
not an attempt to convince through logic and reason; it is not
an attempt to appeal to the better nature of individuals;
rather, it is an attempt to whip the flock into line through
threats, through appeals to a base part of human nature—fear and
Christianity preys on the
If Christian fear-mongering were
directed solely at adults, it would be bad enough, but
Christians routinely terrorize helpless children through grisly
depictions of the endless horrors and suffering they’ll be
subjected to if they don’t live good Christian lives.
Christianity has darkened the early years of generation after
generation of children, who have lived in terror of dying while
in mortal sin and going to endless torment as a result.
All of these children were trusting
of adults, and they did not have the ability to analyze what
they were being told; they were simply helpless victims, who,
ironically, victimized following generations in the same manner
that they themselves had been victimized. The nearly 2000 years
of Christian terrorizing of children ranks as one of its
greatest crimes. And it’s one that continues to this day.
As an example of Christianity’s cruel brainwashing of the
innocent, consider this quotation from an officially approved,
19th-century Catholic children’s book (Tracts for Spiritual
Reading, by Rev. J. Furniss, C.S.S.R.):
Look into this little prison. In the middle of it there is a
boy, a young man. He is silent; despair is on him . . . His eyes
are burning like two burning coals. Two long flames come out of
his ears. His breathing is difficult. Sometimes he opens his
mouth and breath of blazing fire rolls out of it. But listen!
There is a sound just like that of a kettle boiling. Is it
really a kettle which is boiling? No; then what is it? Hear what
it is. The blood is boiling in the scalding veins of that boy.
The brain is boiling and bubbling in his head. The marrow is
boiling in his bones. Ask him why he is thus tormented. His
answer is that when he was alive, his blood boiled to do very
There are many similar passages in this book. Commenting on it,
William Meagher, Vicar-General of Dublin, states in his
"I have carefully read over this
Little Volume for Children and
have found nothing whatever in it contrary to the doctrines of
the Holy Faith; but on the contrary, a great deal to charm,
instruct and edify the youthful classes for whose benefit it has
Christianity is based on
The Christian appeal to fear, to
cowardice, is an admission that the evidence supporting
Christian beliefs is far from compelling. If the evidence were
such that Christianity’s truth was immediately apparent to
anyone who considered it, Christians—including those who wrote
the Gospels—would feel no need to resort to the cheap tactic of
using fear-inducing threats to inspire "belief." ("Lip service"
is a more accurate term.) That the Christian clergy have been
more than willing to accept such lip service (plus the dollars
and obedience that go with it) in place of genuine belief, is an
additional indictment of the basic dishonesty of Christianity.
How deep dishonesty runs in Christianity can be gauged by one of
the most popular Christian arguments for belief in God: Pascal’s
wager. This "wager" holds that it’s safer to "believe" in
(as if belief were volitional!) than not to believe, because God
might exist, and if it does, it will save "believers" and
condemn nonbelievers to hell after death. This is an appeal to
pure cowardice. It has absolutely nothing to do with the search
for truth. Instead, it’s an appeal to abandon honesty and
intellectual integrity, and to pretend that lip service is the
same thing as actual belief. If the patriarchal God of
Christianity really exists, one wonders how it would judge the
cowards and hypocrites who advance and bow to this particularly
Christianity is extremely
The deep egocentrism of Christianity
is intimately tied to its reliance on fear. In addition to the
fears of the devil and hell, Christianity plays on another of
humankind’s most basic fears: death, the dissolution of the
individual ego. Perhaps Christianity’s strongest appeal is its
promise of eternal life. While there is absolutely no evidence
to support this claim, most people are so terrified of death
that they cling to this treacly promise insisting, like
frightened children, that it must be true. Nietzsche put the
It’s difficult to see anything spiritual in
this desperate grasping at straws—this desperate grasping at the
illusion of personal immortality.
Another manifestation of the extreme egotism of Christianity is
the belief that God is intimately concerned with picayune
aspects of, and directly intervenes in, the lives of
individuals. If God, the creator and controller of the universe,
is vitally concerned with your sex life, you must be pretty
damned important. Many Christians take this particular form of
egotism much further and actually imagine that God has a plan
for them, or that God directly talks to, directs, or even does
favors for them.(1)
If one ignored the frequent and
glaring contradictions in this supposed divine guidance, and the
dead bodies sometimes left in its wake, one could almost believe
that the individuals making such claims are guided by God. But
one can’t ignore the contradictions in and the oftentimes
horrible results of following such "divine guidance." As "Agent
Mulder" put it (perhaps paraphrasing Thomas Szasz) in a 1998
In less extreme cases, the insistence that one is receiving
divine guidance or special treatment from God is usually the
attempt of those who feel worthless—or helpless, adrift in an
uncaring universe—to feel important or cared for. This less
sinister form of egotism is commonly found in the expressions of
disaster survivors that,
very difficult to see anything spiritual in such egocentricity.
Christianity breeds arrogance, a
It’s only natural that those who
believe (or play act at believing) that they have a direct line
to the Almighty would feel superior to others. This is so
obvious that it needs little elaboration. A brief look at
religious terminology confirms it. Christians have often called
themselves "God’s people," "the chosen people," "the elect,"
"the righteous," etc., while nonbelievers have been labeled
"heathens," "infidels," and "atheistic Communists" (as if
atheism and Communism are intimately connected). This sets up a
two-tiered division of humanity, in which "God’s people" feel
superior to those who are not "God’s people."
That many competing religions with contradictory beliefs make
the same claim seems not to matter at all to the members of the
various sects that claim to be the only carriers of "the true
faith." The carnage that results when two competing sects of
"God’s people" collide—as in Ireland and Palestine—would be
quite amusing but for the suffering it causes.
Given that Christians claim to have
the one true faith, to have a book that is the Word of God, and
(in many cases) to receive guidance directly from God, they feel
little or no compunction about using force and coercion to
enforce "God’s Will" (which they, of course, interpret and
understand). Given that they believe (or pretend) that they’re
receiving orders from the Almighty (who would cast them into
hell should they disobey), it’s little wonder that they feel no
reluctance, and in fact are eager, to intrude into the most
personal aspects of the lives of nonbelievers.
This is most obvious today in the
area of sex, with Christians attempting to deny women the right
to abortion and to mandate near-useless abstinence-only sex
"education" in the public schools. It’s also obvious in the area
of education, with Christians attempting to force biology
teachers to teach their creation myth (but not those of Hindus,
Native Americans, et al.) in place of (or as being equally valid
as) the very well established theory of evolution. But the
authoritarian tendencies of Christianity reach much further than
Up until well into the 20th century in the United States and
other Christian countries (notably Ireland), Christian churches
pressured governments into passing laws forbidding the sale and
distribution of birth control devices, and they also managed to
enact laws forbidding even the description of birth
devices. This assault on free speech was part and parcel of
Christianity’s shameful history of attempting to suppress
"indecent" and "subversive" materials (and to throw their
producers in jail or burn them alive).
This anti-free speech stance of
Christianity dates back centuries, with the cases of Galileo Galilei and
Giordano Bruno (who was burnt alive) being good
illustrations of it. Perhaps the most colorful example of this
intrusive Christian tendency toward censorship is the
Church’s Index of Prohibited Books, which dates from the 16th
century and which was abandoned only in the latter part of the
20th century—not because the church recognized it as a crime
against human freedom, but because it could no longer be
enforced (not that it was ever systematically enforced—that was
too big a job even for the Inquisition).
Christian authoritarianism extends, however, far beyond attempts
to suppress free speech; it extends even to attempts to suppress
freedom of belief. In the 15th century, under Ferdinand and
Isabella at about the time of Columbus’s discovery of the New
World, Spain’s Jews were ordered either to convert to
Christianity or to flee the country; about half chose exile,
while those who remained, the "Conversos," were favorite targets
the Holy Inquisition. A few years later, Spain’s Muslims were
forced to make a similar choice.
This Christian hatred of freedom of belief—and of individual
freedom in general—extends to this day. Up until the late 19th
century in England, atheists who had the temerity to openly
advocate their beliefs were jailed. Even today in many parts of
the United States laws still exist that forbid atheists from
serving on juries or from holding public office. And it’s no
mystery what the driving force is behind laws against victimless
"crimes" such as nudity, sodomy, fornication, cohabitation, and
If your non-intrusive beliefs or actions are not in accord with
Christian "morality," you can bet that Christians will feel
completely justified—not to mention righteous—in poking their
noses (often in the form of state police agencies) into your
Christianity is cruel.
Throughout its history, cruelty—both
to self and others—has been one of the most prominent features
of Christianity. From its very start, Christianity, with its
bleak view of life, its emphasis upon sexual sin, and its almost
impossible-to-meet demands for sexual "purity," encouraged
guilt, penance, and self-torture. Today, this self-torture is
primarily psychological, in the form of guilt arising from
following (or denying, and thus obsessing over) one’s natural
sexual desires. In earlier centuries, it was often physical.
W.E.H. Lecky relates:
For about two centuries, the
hideous maceration of the body was regarded as the highest
proof of excellence. . . . The cleanliness of the body was
regarded as a pollution of the soul, and the saints who were
most admired had become one hideous mass of clotted filth. .
. . But of all the evidences of the loathsome excesses to
which this spirit was carried, the life of St. Simeon
Stylites is probably the most remarkable. . . . He had bound
a rope around him so that it became embedded in his flesh,
which putrefied around it.
A horrible stench, intolerable
to the bystanders, exhaled from his body, and worms dropped
from him whenever he moved, and they filled his bed...
For a whole year, we are told, St. Simeon stood upon one
leg, the other being covered with hideous ulcers, while his
biographer [St. Anthony] was commissioned to stand by his
side, to pick up the worms that fell from his body, and to
replace them in the sores, the saint saying to the worms,
"Eat what God has given you."
From every quarter pilgrims of every
degree thronged to do him homage. A crowd of prelates followed
him to the grave. A brilliant star is said to have shone
miraculously over his pillar; the general voice of mankind
pronounced him to be the highest model of a Christian saint; and
several other anchorites [Christian hermits] imitated or
emulated his penances.
Given that the Bible nowhere condemns torture and sometimes
prescribes shockingly cruel penalties (such as burning alive),
and that Christians so wholeheartedly approved of self-torture,
it’s not surprising that they thought little of inflicting
appallingly cruel treatment upon others. At the height of
Christianity’s power and influence, hundreds of thousands of
"witches" were brutally tortured and burned alive under the
auspices of ecclesiastical witch finders, and the Inquisition
visited similarly cruel treatment upon those accused of heresy.
Henry Charles Lea records:
Two hundred wretches crowded the
filthy gaol and it was requisite to forbid the rest of the
Conversos [Jews intimidated into converting to Christianity]
from leaving the city [Jaen, Spain] without a license. With
Diego’s assistance [Diego de Algeciras, a petty criminal and
kept perjurer] and the free use of torture, on both accused
and witnesses, it was not difficult to obtain whatever
evidence was desired. The notary of the tribunal, Antonio de Barcena, was especially successful in this.
On one occasion, he locked a
young girl of fifteen in a room, stripped her naked and
scourged her until she consented to bear testimony against
her mother. A prisoner was carried in a chair to the auto da
fe with his feet burnt to the bone; he and his wife were
burnt alive... The cells in which the unfortunates were
confined in heavy chains were narrow, dark, humid, filthy
and overrun with vermin, while their sequestrated property
was squandered by the officials, so that they nearly starved
in prison while their helpless children starved outside.
While the torture and murder of
heretics and "witches" is now largely a thing of the past,
Christians can still be remarkably cruel. One current example is
provided by the Westboro Baptist Church of Topeka, Kansas. Its
members picket the funerals of victims of AIDS and gay bashings,
brandishing signs reading, "God Hates Fags," "AIDS Cures Fags,"
and "Thank God for AIDS."
The pastor of this church reportedly
once sent a "condolence" card to the bereaved mother of an AIDS
victim, reading "Another Dead Fag."(2) Christians are also at
the forefront of those advocating vicious, life-destroying
penalties for those who commit victimless "crimes," as well as
being at the forefront of those who support the death penalty
and those who want to make prison conditions even more barbaric
than they are now.
But this should not be surprising coming from Christians,
members of a religion that teaches that eternal torture is not
only justified, but that the "saved" will enjoy seeing the
torture of others. As St. Thomas Aquinas put it:
In order that the happiness of the saints may be more delightful
and that they may give to God more copious thanks for it, they
are permitted perfectly to behold the sufferings of the damned... The
saints will rejoice in the punishment of the damned.
Thus the vision of heaven of Christianity’s greatest theologian
is a vision of the sadistic enjoyment of endless torture.
For over a millennium Christianity
arrested the development of science and scientific thinking. In
Christendom, from the time of Augustine until the Renaissance,
systematic investigation of the natural world was restricted to
theological investigation—the interpretation of biblical
passages, the gleaning of clues from the lives of the saints,
etc.; there was no direct observation and interpretation of
natural processes, because that was considered a useless
pursuit, as all knowledge resided in scripture.
The results of this are well known:
scientific knowledge advanced hardly an inch in the over 1000
years from the rise of orthodox Christianity in the fourth
century to the 1500s, and the populace was mired in the deepest
squalor and ignorance, living in dire fear of the
supernatural—believing in paranormal explanations for the most
ordinary natural events. This ignorance had tragic results: it
made the populace more than ready to accept witchcraft as an
explanation for everything from illness to thunderstorms, and
hundreds of thousands of women paid for that ignorance with
One of the
commonest charges against
witches was that they had raised hailstorms or other weather
disturbances to cause misfortune to their neighbors. In an era
when supernatural explanations were readily accepted, such
charges held weight—and countless innocent people died horrible
deaths as a result. Another result was that the fearful populace
remained very dependent upon Christianity and its clerical wise
men for protection against the supernatural evils which they
believed surrounded and constantly menaced them. For men and
women of the Middle Ages, the walls veritably crawled with
demons and witches; and their only protection from those evils
was the church.
When scientific investigation into the natural world resumed in
the Renaissance—after a 1000-year-plus hiatus—organized
Christianity did everything it could to stamp it out. The cases
of Copernicus and Galileo are particularly relevant here,
because when the Catholic Church banned the Copernican theory
(that the Earth revolves around the sun) and banned Galileo from
teaching it, it did not consider the evidence for that theory:
it was enough that it contradicted scripture. Given that the
Copernican theory directly contradicted the Word of God, the
Catholic hierarchy reasoned that it must be false. Protestants
shared this view.
John Calvin rhetorically asked,
More lately, the Catholic Church and the more liberal Protestant
congregations have realized that fighting against science is a
losing battle, and they’ve taken to claiming that there is no
contradiction between science and religion. This is disingenuous
at best. As long as Christian sects continue to claim as
fact—without offering a shred of evidence beyond the
anecdotal—that physically impossible events occurred (or are
still occurring), the conflict between science and religion will
remain. That many churchmen and many scientists seem content to
let this conflict lie doesn’t mean that it doesn’t exist.
Today, however, the conflict between religion and science is
largely being played out in the area of public school biology
education, with Christian fundamentalists demanding that their
creation myth be taught in place of (or along with) the theory
of evolution in the public schools. Their tactics rely heavily
on public misunderstanding of science. They nitpick the fossil
record for its gaps (hardly surprising given that we inhabit a
geologically and meteorologically very active planet), while
offering absurd interpretations of their own which we’re
supposed to accept at face value—such as that dinosaur fossils
were placed in the earth by Satan to confuse humankind, or that
Noah took baby dinosaurs on the ark.
They also attempt to take advantage of public ignorance of the
nature of scientific theories. In popular use, “theory” is
employed as a synonym for “hypothesis,” “conjecture,” or even
“wild guess,” that is, it signifies an idea with no special
merit or backing. The use of the term in science is quite
different. There, “theory” refers to a well-developed, logically
consistent explanation of a phenomenon, and an explanation that
is consistent with observed facts. This is very different than a
wild guess. But fundamentalists deliberately confuse the two
uses of the term in an attempt to make their religious myth
appear as valid as a well-supported scientific theory.
They also attempt to confuse the issue by claiming that those
non-specialists who accept the theory of evolution have no more
reason to do so than they have in accepting their religious
creation myth, or even that those who accept evolution do so on
“faith.” Again, this is more than a bit dishonest.
Thanks to scientific investigation, human knowledge has advanced
to the point where no one can know more than a tiny fraction of
the whole. Even the most knowledgeable scientists often know
little beyond their specialty areas. But because of the
structure of science, they (and everyone else) can feel
reasonably secure in accepting the theories developed by
scientists in other disciplines as the best possible current
explanations of the areas of nature those disciplines cover.
They (and we) can feel secure doing this because of the
structure of science, and more particularly, because of the
That method basically consists of
gathering as much information about a phenomenon (both in nature
and in the laboratory) as possible, then developing explanations
for it (hypotheses), and then testing the hypotheses to see how
well they explain the observed facts, and whether or not any of
those observed facts are inconsistent with the hypotheses. Those
hypotheses that are inconsistent with observed facts are
discarded or modified, while those that are consistent are
retained, and those that survive repeated testing are often
labeled “theories,” as in “the theory of relativity” and “the
theory of evolution.”
This is the reason that non-specialists are justified in
accepting scientific theories outside their disciplines as the
best current explanations of observed phenomena: those who
developed the theories were following standard scientific
practice and reasoning—and if they deviate from that, other
scientists will quickly call them to task.
No matter how much fundamentalists might protest to the
contrary, there is a world of difference between “faith” in
scientific theories (produced using the scientific method, and
subject to near-continual testing and scrutiny) and faith in the
entirely unsupported myths recorded 3000 years ago by
slave-holding goat herders.
Nearly 500 years ago Martin Luther, in his Table Talk, stated:
The opposite is
Christianity has a morbid,
unhealthy preoccupation with sex.
For centuries, Christianity has had
an exceptionally unhealthy fixation on sex, to the exclusion of
almost everything else (except power, money, and the infliction
of cruelty). This stems from the numerous "thou shalt nots"
relating to sex in the Bible. That the Ten Commandments contain
a commandment forbidding the coveting of one’s neighbor’s wife,
but do not even mention slavery, torture, or cruelty—which were
abundantly common in the time the Commandments were written—
speaks volumes about their writer’s preoccupation with sex (and
women as property).
Today, judging from the pronouncements of many Christian
leaders, one would think that "morality" consists solely of what
one does in one’s bedroom. The Catholic Church is the prime
example here, with its moral pronouncements rarely going beyond
the matters of birth control and abortion (and with its moral
emphasis seemingly entirely on those matters). Also note that
the official Catholic view of sex—that it’s for the purpose of
procreation only—reduces human sexual relations to those of
brood animals. For more than a century the Catholic Church has
also been the driving force behind efforts to prohibit access to
birth control devices and information—to everyone, not just
The Catholic Church, however, is far from alone in its sick
obsession with sex. The current Christian hate campaign against
homosexuals is another prominent manifestation of this perverse
preoccupation. Even at this writing, condemnation of "sodomites"
from church pulpits is still very, very common—with Christian
clergymen wringing their hands as they piously proclaim that
their words of hate have nothing to do with gay bashings and the
murder of gays.
Christianity produces sexual
In addition to the misery produced
by authoritarian Christian intrusions into the sex lives of
non-Christians, Christianity produces great misery among its own
adherents through its insistence that sex (except the very
narrow variety it sanctions) is evil, against God’s law.
Christianity proscribes sex between unmarried people, sex
outside of marriage, homosexual relations, bestiality,
even “impure” sexual thoughts. Indulging in such things can and
will, in the conventional Christian view, lead straight to hell.
Given that human beings are by nature highly sexual beings, and
that their urges very often do not fit into the only officially
sanctioned Christian form of sexuality (monogamous, heterosexual
marriage), it’s inevitable that those who attempt to follow
Christian “morality” in this area are often miserable, as their
strongest urges run smack dab into the wall of religious belief.
This is inevitable in Christian adolescents and unmarried young
people in that the only “pure” way for them to behave is
celibately—in the strict Christian view, even masturbation is
Phillip Roth has well described the
dilemma of the religiously/sexually repressed young in Portnoy’s
Complaint as “being torn between desires that are repugnant to
my conscience and a conscience repugnant to my desires.” Thus
the years of adolescence and young adulthood for many Christians
are poisoned by “sinful” urges, unfulfilled longings, and
intense guilt (after the urges become too much to bear and are
Even after Christian young people receive a license from church
and state to have sex, they often discover that the sexual
release promised by marriage is not all that it’s cracked up to
be. One gathers that in marriages between those who have
followed Christian rules up until marriage—that is, no sex at
all—sexual ineptitude and lack of fulfillment are all too
common. Even when Christian married people do have good sexual
relations, the problems do not end. Sexual attractions ebb and
flow, and new attractions inevitably arise. In conventional
Christian relationships, one is not allowed to act on these new
attractions. One is often not even permitted to admit that such
As Sten Linnander puts it,
The dilemma is even worse for gay teens and young people in that
Christianity never offers them release from their unrequited
urges. They are simply condemned to lifelong celibacy. If they
indulge their natural desires, they become “sodomites” subject
not only to Earthly persecution (due to Christian-inspired
laws), but to being roasted alive forever in the pit. Given the
internalized homophobia Christian teachings inspire, not to
mention the very real discrimination gay people face, it’s not
surprising that a great many homosexually oriented Christians
choose to live a lie. In most cases, this leads to lifelong
personal torture, but it can have even more tragic results.
A prime example is Marshall Applewhite, “John Do,” the guru of
Heaven’s Gate religious cult. Applewhite grew up in the
South in a repressive Christian fundamentalist family. Horrified
by his homosexual urges, he began to think of sexuality itself
as evil, and eventually underwent castration to curb his sexual
Several of his followers took his anti-sexual
teachings to heart and likewise underwent castration before, at
“Do’s” direction, killing themselves.
Christianity has an exceedingly
narrow, legalistic view of morality.
Christianity not only reduces, for
all practical purposes, the question of morality to that of
sexual behavior, but by listing its prohibitions, it encourages
an "everything not prohibited is permitted" mentality. So, for
instance, medieval inquisitors tortured their victims, while at
the same time they went to lengths to avoid spilling the blood
of those they tortured—though they thought nothing of burning
them alive. Another very relevant example is that until the
latter part of the 19th century Christians engaged in the slave
trade, and Christian preachers defended it, citing biblical
passages, from the pulpit.
Today, with the exception of a
relatively few liberal churchgoers, Christians ignore the very
real evils plaguing our society—
a grossly unfair distribution of wealth and income
ecological despoliation exacerbated by corporate greed
invasive drug laws
an inadequate educational system
—unless they’re actively working to worsen those evils in
the name of Christian morality or "family values."
acceptance of real evils while focusing on imaginary evils.
Organized Christianity is a skillful
apologist for the status quo and all the evils that go along
with it. It diverts attention from real problems by focusing
attention on sexual issues, and when confronted with social
evils such as poverty glibly dismisses them with platitudes such
as, "The poor ye have always with you."
When confronted with the problems of
militarism and war, most Christians shrug and say,
suspects that 200 years ago their forebears would have said
exactly the same thing about slavery.
This regressive, conservative tendency of Christianity has been
present from its very start.
The Bible is quite explicit in its
instructions to accept the status quo:
Christianity depreciates the
In addition to its morbid
preoccupation with sex, Christianity creates social myopia
through its emphasis on the supposed afterlife—encouraging
Christians not to be concerned with "the things of this world"
(except, of course, their neighbors’ sexual practices). In the
conventional Christian view, life in this "vale of tears" is not
important—what matters is preparing for the next life. (Of
course it follows from this that the "vale of tears" itself is
quite unimportant—it’s merely the backdrop to the testing of the
The Christian belief in the unimportance of happiness and
well-being in this world is well illustrated by a statement by
This focus on the afterlife often leads to a distinct lack of
concern for the natural world, and sometimes to outright
anti-ecological attitudes. Ronald Reagan’s fundamentalist
Secretary of the Interior, James Watt, went so far as to
actively encourage the strip mining and clear cutting of the
American West, reasoning that ecological damage didn’t matter
because the "rapture" was at hand.
Christianity models hierarchical,
Christianity is perhaps the ultimate
top-down enterprise. In its simplest form, it consists of God on
top, its "servants," the clergy, next down, and the great
unwashed masses at the bottom, with those above issuing, in
turn, thou-shalts and thou-shalt-nots backed by the threat of
eternal damnation. But a great many Christian sects go far
beyond this, having several layers of management and
bureaucracy. Catholicism is perhaps the most extreme example of
this with its laity, monks, nuns, priests, monsignors, bishops,
archbishops, cardinals, and popes, all giving and taking orders
in an almost military manner.
This type of organization cannot but
accustom those in its sway—especially those who have been
indoctrinated and attending its ceremonies since birth—into
accepting hierarchical, authoritarian organization as the
natural, if not the only, form of organization. Those who find
such organization natural will see nothing wrong with
hierarchical, authoritarian organization in other forms, be they
corporations, with their multiple layers of brown-nosing
management, or governments, with their judges, legislators,
presidents, and politburos. The indoctrination by example that
Christianity provides in the area of organization is almost
surely a powerful influence against social change toward freer,
more egalitarian forms of organization.
Christianity sanctions slavery.
The African slave trade was almost
entirely conducted by Christians. They transported their victims
to the New World in slave ships with names such as "Mercy" and
"Jesus," where they were bought by Christians, both Catholic and
Protestant. Organized Christianity was not silent on this
horror: it actively encouraged it and engaged in it.
friars who enslaved Native Americans in the Southwest and Mexico
to the Protestant preachers who defended slavery from the pulpit
in Virginia, the Carolinas, and Georgia, the record of
Christianity as regards slavery is quite shameful. While many
abolitionists were Christians, they were a very small group,
well hated by most of their fellow Christians.
The Christians who supported and engaged in slavery were amply
supported by the Bible, in which slavery is accepted as a given,
as simply a part of the social landscape. There are numerous
biblical passages that implicitly or explicitly endorse slavery,
such as Exodus 21:20–21:
"And if a man smite his servant, or his
maid with a rod, and he die under his hand; he shall be surely
punished. Notwithstanding, if he continue a day or two, he shall
not be punished: for he is his money."
Other passages that
support slavery include Ephesians 6:5, Colossians 3:22, Titus
2:9–10, Exodus 21:2–6, Leviticus 25:44–46, 1 Peter 2:18, and 1
Timothy 6:1. Christian slave owners in colonial America were
well acquainted with these passages.
Christianity is misogynistic.
Misogyny is fundamental to the basic
writings of Christianity. In passage after passage, women are
encouraged—no, commanded—to accept an inferior role, and to be
ashamed of themselves for the simple fact that they are women.
Misogynistic biblical passages are so common that it’s difficult
to know which to cite.
From the New Testament we find:
"Wives, submit yourselves unto
your own husbands, as unto the Lord. For the husband is the
head of the wife, even as Christ is the head of the
"These [redeemed] are they which
were not defiled with women; . . ."
From the Old Testament we find:
"How then can man be justified with
God? Or how can he be
clean that is born of a woman?"
Other relevant New Testament
1 Peter 3:7;
1 Corinthians 11:3, 11:9, and
1 Timothy 2:11–12 and 5:5–6.
Other Old Testament passages include
Numbers 5:20–22 and Leviticus 12:2–5 and 15:17–33.
Later Christian writers extended the misogynistic themes in the
Bible with a vengeance. Tertullian, one of the early church
In pain shall you bring forth children, woman, and you shall
turn to your husband and he shall rule over you. And do you not
know that you are Eve? God’s sentence hangs still over all your
sex and His punishment weighs down upon you. You are the devil’s
gateway; you are she who first violated the forbidden tree and
broke the law of God. It was you who coaxed your way around him
whom the devil had not the force to attack. With what ease you
shattered that image of God: Man! Because of the death you
merited, even the Son of God had to die... Woman, you are
the gate to hell.
One can find similarly misogynistic—though sometimes less
venomous—statements in the writings of many other church fathers
and theologians, including St. Ambrose, St. Anthony, Thomas
Aquinas, St. Augustine, St. John Chrysostom, St. Gregory of
Nazianzum, and St. Jerome.
This misogynistic bias in Christianity’s basic texts has long
been translated into misogyny in practice. Throughout almost the
entire time that Christianity had Europe and America in its lock
grip, women were treated as chattel—they had essentially no
political rights, and their right to own property was severely
restricted. Perhaps the clearest illustration of the status of
women in the ages when Christianity was at its most powerful is
the prevalence of wife beating.
This degrading, disgusting
practice was very common throughout Christendom well up into the
19th century, and under English Common Law husbands who beat
their wives were specifically exempted from prosecution. (While
wife beating is still common in Christian lands, at least in
some countries abusers are at least sometimes prosecuted.)
At about the same time that English Common Law (with its
wife-beating exemption) was being formulated and codified,
Christians all across Europe were engaging in a
half-millennium-long orgy of torture and murder of "witches"—at
the direct behest and under the direction of the highest church
The watchword of the time was Exodus
22:18, "Thou shalt not suffer a witch to live," and at the very
minimum hundreds of thousands of women were brutally murdered as
a result of this divine injunction, and the papal bulls
amplifying it (e.g., Spondit Pariter, by John XXII, and Summis
Desiderantes, by Innocent VIII).
Andrew Dickson White notes:
On the 7th of December, 1484,
Pope Innocent VIII sent forth the bull Summis Desiderantes.
Of all documents ever issued from Rome, imperial or papal,
this has doubtless, first and last, cost the greatest
shedding of innocent blood. Yet no document was ever more
clearly dictated by conscience.
Inspired by the scriptural
command, "Thou shalt not suffer a witch to live," Pope
Innocent exhorted the clergy of Germany to,
leave no means untried to
detect sorcerers . . . [W]itch-finding inquisitors were
authorized by the Pope to scour Europe, especially
Germany, and a manual was prepared for their use [by the
Dominicans Heinrich Krämer and Jacob Sprenger]
Witch Hammer", Malleus Maleficarum... With
the application of torture to thousands of women, in
accordance with the precepts laid down in the Malleus,
it was not difficult to extract masses of proof...
The poor creatures writhing on the rack, held in horror
by those who had been nearest and dearest to them,
anxious only for death to relieve their sufferings,
confessed to anything and everything that would satisfy
the inquisitors and judges... Under the doctrine of
"excepted cases," there was no limit to torture for
persons accused of heresy or witchcraft.
Given this bloody, hateful history,
it’s not surprising that women have always held very subservient
positions in Christian churches. In fact, there appear to have
been no female clergy in any Christian church prior to the 20th
century (with the exception of those who posed as men, such as
Pope Joan), and even today a great many Christian sects (most
notably the Catholic Church) continue to resist ordaining female
clergy. While a few liberal Protestant churches have ordained
women in recent years, it’s difficult to see this as a great
step forward for women; it’s easier to see it as analogous to
the Ku Klux Klan’s appointing a few token blacks as Klaxons.
As for the improvements in the status of women over the last two
centuries, the Christian churches either did nothing to support
them or actively opposed them. This is most obvious as regards
women’s control over their own bodies. Organized Christianity
has opposed this from the start, and as late as the 1960s the
Catholic Church was still putting its energies into the
imposition of laws prohibiting access to contraceptives. Having
lost that battle, Christianity has more recently put its
energies into attempts to outlaw the right of women to abortion.
Many of those leading the fight for women’s rights have had no
illusions about the misogynistic nature of Christianity. These
women included Mary Wollstonecraft, Victoria Woodhull, Elizabeth
Cady Stanton, and Margaret Sanger (whose slogan, “No God. No
master,” remains relevant to this day).
Christianity is homophobic.
Christianity from its beginnings has
been markedly homophobic. The biblical basis for this homophobia
lies in the story of Sodom in Genesis, and in Leviticus.
Leviticus 18:22 reads: "Thou
shalt not lie with mankind, as with womankind: it is
Leviticus 20:13 reads: "If a man
lie with mankind as he lieth with a woman, both of them have
committed an abomination: they shall surely be put to death;
their blood shall be upon them"
This sounds remarkably harsh, yet
Leviticus proscribes a great many other things, declares many of
them "abominations," and prescribes the death penalty for
several other acts, some of which are shockingly picayune.
Leviticus 17:10–13 prohibits the
eating of blood sausage
Leviticus 11:6–7 prohibits the
eating of "unclean" hares and swine
Leviticus 11:10 declares
Leviticus 20:9 prescribes the
death penalty for cursing one’s father or mother
Leviticus 20:10 prescribes the
death penalty for adultery
Leviticus 20:14 prescribes the
penalty of being burnt alive for having a three-way with
one’s wife and mother-in-law
Leviticus 20:15 declares,
(One suspects that American
Christians have never attempted to pass laws enforcing Leviticus
20:15, because if passed and enforced such laws would decimate
both the rural, Bible-Belt population and the cattle industry.)
Curiously, given the multitude of prohibitions in Leviticus, the
vast majority of present-day Christians have chosen to focus
only upon Leviticus 20:13, the verse calling for the death
penalty for homosexual acts. And at least some of them haven’t
been averse to acting on it. (To be fair, some Christian "reconstructionists"
are currently calling for institution of the death penalty for
adultery and atheism as well as for "sodomy.")
Throughout history, homosexuality has been illegal in Christian
lands, and the penalties have been severe. In the Middle Ages,
strangled gay men were sometimes placed on the wood piles at the
burning of witches (hence the term "faggot"). One member of the
British royalty caught having homosexual relations suffered an
even more grisly fate: Edward II’s penalty was being held down
while a red hot poker was jammed through his rectum and
In more modern times, countless gay people have been
jailed for years for the victimless "crime" of having consensual
sex. It was only in 2003 that the Supreme Court struck down the
felony laws on the books in many American states prescribing
lengthy prison terms for consensual "sodomy." And many
Christians would love to reinstate those laws.
Thus the current wave of gay bashings and murders of gay people
should come as no surprise. Christians can find justification
for such violence in the Bible and also in the hate-filled
sermons issuing from all too many pulpits in this country. If
history is any indication, the homophobic messages in those
sermons will continue to be issued for many years to come.
The Bible is not a reliable guide
to Christ’s teachings.
Mark, the oldest of the Gospels, was
written at least 30 years after Christ’s death, and the newest
of them might have been written more than 200 years after his
death. These texts have been amended, translated, and
re-translated so often that it’s extremely difficult to gauge
the accuracy of current editions—even aside from the matter of
the accuracy of texts written decades or centuries after the
death of their subject.
This is such a problem that the
Jesus Seminar, a colloquium of over 200 Protestant Gospel
scholars mostly employed at religious colleges and seminaries,
undertook in 1985 a multi-year investigation into the
historicity of the statements and deeds attributed to Jesus in
the New Testament. They concluded that only 18% of the
statements and 16% of the deeds attributed to Jesus had a high
likelihood of being historically accurate.
So, in a very real sense
fundamentalists—who claim to believe in the literal truth of the
Bible—are not followers of Jesus Christ; rather, they are
followers of those who, decades or centuries later, put words in
The Bible, Christianity’s basic
text, is riddled with contradictions.
There are a number of glaring
contradictions in the Bible, in both the Old and New Testaments,
and including some within the same books. A few examples:
". . . God cannot be tempted
with evil, neither tempteth he any man."
"And it came to pass after these
things, that God did tempt Abraham."
". . . for I am merciful, saith
the Lord, and I will not keep anger forever."
"Ye have kindled a fire in mine
anger, which shall burn forever. Thus saith the Lord."
"If I bear witness of myself, my
witness is not true."
(John 5:31, J.C.
"I am one that bear witness of
myself . . ."
(John 8:18, J.C.
and last but not least:
"I have seen God face to face,
and my life is preserved."
"No man hath seen God at any
"And I [God] will take away mine
hand, and thou shalt see my back parts..."
Christian apologists typically
attempt to explain away such contradictions by claiming that the
fault lies in the translation, and that there were no
contradictions in the original text. It’s difficult to see how
this could be so, given how direct many biblical contradictions
are; but even if these Christian apologetics held water, it
would follow that every part of the Bible should be as suspect
as the contradictory sections, thus reinforcing the previous
point: that the Bible is not a reliable guide to Christ’s words.
Christianity borrowed its central
myths and ceremonies from other ancient religions.
The ancient world was rife with
tales of virgin births, miracle-working saviors, tripartite
gods, Gods taking human form, Gods arising from the dead,
heavens and hells, and days of judgment. In addition to the
myths, many of the ceremonies of ancient religions also match
those of that syncretic latecomer, Christianity.
To cite but one example (there are
many others), consider Mithraism, a Persian religion predating
Christianity by centuries. Mithra, the savior of the Mithraic
religion and a God who took human form, was born of a virgin; he
belonged to the holy trinity and was a link between heaven and
Earth; and he ascended into heaven after his death.
His followers believed in heaven and
hell, looked forward to a day of judgment, and referred to
Mithra as "the Light of the World." They also practiced baptism
(for purification purposes) and ritual cannibalism—the eating of
bread and the drinking of wine to symbolize the eating and
drinking of the God’s body and blood. Given all this,
birthday should come as no surprise: December 25th; this event
was, of course, celebrated by Mithra’s followers at midnight.
Mithraism is but the most striking example of the appearance of
these myths and ceremonies prior to the advent of Christianity.
They appear—in more scattered form—in many other pre-Christian
A Final Word: These are but some
of the major problems attending Christianity, and they provide
overwhelming reasons for its abandon-ment. (Even if you discount
half, two-thirds, or even three-quarters of these arguments, the
conclusion is still irresistible.)
1. A friend who read the first draft
of this manuscript notes:
“My moronic sister-in-law once
told me that God found her parking spots near the front door
at Wal-mart! Years later, when she developed a brain tumor,
I concluded that God must have gotten tired of finding
parking places for her and gave her the tumor so that she
could get handicapped plates.”
As Nietzsche put it in The
“that little hypocrites and half-crazed people
dare to imagine that on their account the laws of nature are
constantly broken—such an enhancement of every kind of
selfishness to infinity, to impudence, cannot be branded
with sufficient contempt. And yet Christianity owes its
triumph to this pitiable flattery of personal vanity.”
Westboro Baptist Church
directly addresses the question of its hatefulness and cruelty
on its web site (www.godhatesfags.com):
"Why do you preach hate? Because
the Bible preaches hate. For every one verse about God's
mercy, love, compassion, etc., there are two verses about
His vengeance, hatred, wrath, etc."
3. The repeated mention of this
in medieval ecclesiastical writings leads one to wonder how
widespread this practice was among the Christian faithful,
including the Christian clergy. One 8th-century penitential
(list of sins and punishments) quoted in A.A. Hadden’s Councils
and Ecclesiastical Documents states:
"If a cleric has fornicated with
a quadruped let him do penance for, if he is a simple
cleric, two years, if a deacon, three years, if a priest,
seven years, if a bishop ten years."
4. Given his religious background,
and that his cult mixed Christianity with UFO beliefs, Applewhite was quite probably aware of
the divine approbation of
self-castration in Matthew 19:12:
"For there are some eunuchs,
which were so born from their mother’s womb: and there are
some eunuchs, which were made eunuchs of men: and there be
eunuchs , which have made themselves eunuchs for the kingdom
of heaven’s sake. He that is able to receive it, let him