Hell is Unconstitutional – Boycott Heaven

March 22, 2006 | By | 6 Replies More

When my friend Doug wrote that “God loves us like an abusive parent,” it sounded so very harsh, but it then reminded me of that most troublesome of concepts:  hell.

I was raised Catholic, where hell was portrayed to be a very bad place to go.  Many Catholics, however, and many liberal Christians, don’t believe that hell is a place where people are literally tortured.   Check out today’s conservative Christians, however, on your local AM radio station.  You’ll hear them fervently arguing that the version of hell taught by moderate Christians is way off the mark.  Hell is not a metaphor or a mere figure of speech.  Here’s what it is:

The reality of hell is the most horrifying, terror striking, fearful truth known to man. It encompasses the worst possible fear and the meanest conceivable existence, continual never-ending torture. “And they will be tormented day and night forever and ever (Revelation 20:10).”

Therefore, many fundamentalists believe that someone sent to hell will be (literally) tortured (literally) forever.  It will be like being forced to go to Dachau, the Rape of Nanking, Abu Ghraib or worse, for eternity.


Where does our Constitution stand on forcing people to endure such places?  The Eighth Amendment to our Bill of Rights prohibits “cruel and unusual punishment.”  Here’s how the U.S. Supreme Court defined cruel and unusual:

Cases mentioned by the author are, where the prisoner was drawn or dragged to the place of execution, in treason; or where he was embowelled alive, beheaded, and quartered, in high treason. Mention is also made of public dissection in murder, and burning alive . . . It is safe to affirm that punishments of torture, such as those mentioned by the commentator referred to, and all others in the same line of unnecessary cruelty, are forbidden . . .

See Wilkerson v. Utah, 99 U.S. 130, 135 (1878). The concept of hell also raises other constitutional issues, most of them involving the claims that hell involves A) torture and B) forever.  Substantive due process includes an individual’s right to be adequately notified of charges or proceedings involving him, and the opportunity to be heard at these proceedings. In criminal cases, it ensures that an accused person will not be subjected to cruel and unusual punishment.  Procedural due process embraces those fundamental rights that are implicit in ordered liberty. 

People going to heaven are, in theory, supposed to enjoy it.  But how could that be possible as long as hell existed too? If a reasonably decent person were to end up in heaven, how could he or she possibly enjoy their heavenly life knowing that even one of their friends was being tortured “downstairs” forever?  Only a mentally deranged person could stop caring that a friend was suffering greatly. 

To illustrate, try to imagine that nice secular humanist woman down the street (the one that helps tutor disadvantaged children) being sliced by knives, electrocuted, beaten to a pulp and repeatedly thrown hard against a concrete floor. This sort of brutality is exactly what the conservative Christians have in mind to motivate us to “love” God.  For them, this is divinity in action.   It is only while drumming these horrific threats into the heads of other adults (and children), that conservative Christians then “invite” these terrified souls to “freely” come worship the Creator. 

I, for one, won’t stand for this.  I simply can’t give homage to such a Being or to such sick and wacko ideas as hell. The solution is to boycott heaven. We must all agree that we will refuse to go to heaven unless and until that fiery pit (or frozen wasteland, or whatever) is dismantled with a promise from On High that it will never again be used (except, perhaps as a museum or an historical site).  We all need to stick together on this one. 

If you are afraid of what God will do to all of us if we refuse to go to heaven, remember Doug’s comment:  “God loves us like an abusive parent.”

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Category: Good and Evil, Law, Religion

About the Author ()

Erich Vieth is an attorney focusing on consumer law litigation and appellate practice. He is also a working musician and a writer, having founded Dangerous Intersection in 2006. Erich lives in the Shaw Neighborhood of St. Louis, Missouri, where he lives half-time with his two extraordinary daughters.

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  1. What Jesus looks like; what God is like. : Dangerous Intersection | November 19, 2011
  1. Doug says:

    Further on the subject of 'God as abusive parent,' let's consider someone like Saddam Hussein, the person whom George Bush would have us believe is the second most evil person on our planet (after Osama bin Laden). Under Saddam's dictatorship, Iraqis had the following "choice:" they could either unquestioningly obey Saddam, or else he would send them to prison to be tortured and killed, and possibly also the rest of their families. Now, compare this to the Fundamentalist version of the biblical God. You get the following "choice:" you can either unquestioningly obey Him, or else He will send you to Hell to be tortured for all eternity, and possibly also all of your descendants for the next seven generations (see, for example, Leviticus 26:18-28). Now, Fundamentalists, like co-dependent children*, will call this behavior "God's infinite love," but by any objective comparson, the God they describe is using the same methods as Saddam.

    (*Children from abusive families become co-dependent in the sense that they believe that the abuse and brutality they receive from their parents is a sign of "love," so they keep returning for more of the same. Maybe this is why so many abused children become Christians later in life: God exactly fits their image of a "loving" parent, so they become loyal followers.)

    Of course, Fundamentalists will argue that God does these things to us for our own good — that the threat of severe punishment encourages people to avoid sin and "come to God," and thus, to become better people. But Saddam's followers could make the same argument: that the threat of severe punishment enabled Saddam to prevent the widespread sectarian violence that has been raging throughout Iraq since he was deposed. This is not to suggest that Saddam was a good guy; to the contrary, it shows that there are many disturbing similarities between cruel dictators like Saddam (or abusive parents as discussed previously) and the cruel biblical God as described by Fundamentalists. If God's "perfect love" involves threatening you with the eternal hellfires of damnation, then exactly how is God's behavior different from that of any other evil dictator?

  2. Yana Kanarski says:

    Another thing that bothers me about Christian Fundamentalists is that they actually try to justify God's way of dealing with humans by claiming that they deserve it. They say that because no one's perfect, we all deserve to die and go to hell, and Jesus's sacrifice is a huge demonstration of God's mercy. He could have killed us, but He instead decided to let a select few be spared! They say He has every right to condemn us, and it would be arrogant of us to expect anything from Him. He made us prone to sin when He created us, and now we have to pay for that? Oh, how dare I question God's devine mercy? I will surely go to hell.

    To relate this to the "abusive parent" analogy, God (like most abusive parents) blames His children for everything and always puts them down. Children who grow up with abusive parents usually have a very low self-esteem because their parents want them to believe that they're worthless and deserve everything they do to them. This type of reasoning is identical to that of the Christian God.

    By the way, I looked at Josh M.'s blog and found quite a few entries that really angered me. See this one, for instance, which directly relates to the subject at hand. It makes the same claims I just mentioned above and goes as far as to say that children who die before the "age of accountability" do not deserve to go to heaven because of the "original sin" they inherit from Adam. In other words, they're sinful from the moment they're born. This also applies to people who never get a chance to hear the Gospel of Christianity. Allow me to quote from the blog:

    Some may argue, “well it is still unfair because they may never have a ‘chance’ to hear.” But I retort, they don’t deserve a free gift to begin with. You see, with these Natural theology people, and these sentimental people out there, they always look at man from a “birds eye” view. They don’t ever look at the Bible, and what it says concerning man. The Bible states clearly of man’s condition and how we do not whatsoever, in any fashion, deserve anything from God. It is amazing that God chooses to reveal His Truth to some! Why would God, knowing of everything man would do even after He saves some, want a scumbag like you or me?

    So let me ask this question: why would God create humans and give them the temptation to sin (which is impossible for them to withstand, according to the Biblical claim that all men are sinners)? And then he blames us for the human nature He himself has given us! God seems like such a nice, loving father, doesn't He?

    P.S. Josh, if you're reading this, don't take any personal offense at it. In fact, I am glad there is someone else involved with this blog who can actually offer opposing viewpoints. Without them, our posts would just be one agreement after another, which isn't quite as fun.

  3. Erich Vieth says:

    I want to second Yana's note to Josh. He takes deep issue with many of the things many of these authors say–in fact he finds much of what we say deeply disturbing. For instance, here is a note Josh published on June 4, 2006 on myspace bulletins:

    Jun 4, 2006 7:10 PM

    Subject: WHY IS THE BIBLE UNDER ATTACK?

    I find it more prominent in our culture to undermine the Bible's claims of Truth and Inerrancy, mainly because of a post-modern ideology that spawns from a secular worldview, which states that, "All is relatve," "Man is a machine," and "All sacredness is Myth, Non-sense, Religious!!." The problem with these moron's is that, their own premises or views are based out of hot-air that comes from the figment of their imagination…

    Yet Josh returns and continues the discussion with us. I truly do appreciate his willingness to engage with us, for the same reason articulated by Yana.

  4. grumpypilgrim says:

    I wouldn't get too worked up about what Believers such as Josh say. Yes, it is good to get the Believer's perspective, but let's put it in perspective….

    Religion is fundamentall about three questions:

    1) Where did I come from?

    2) Why am I here?

    3) What happens to me after I die?

    Christianity offers the following answers to these questions:

    1) If you get too depressed believing you were not created by a supernatural being, then just believe that you were.

    2) If you get too depressed believing your life is a random evolutionary event, then just believe God has a purpose for your life.

    3) If you get too depressed believing your life will end when you die, then just believe you are going to heaven when you die and you will.

    Obviously, each of the above "answers" is merely an invitation for self-delusion. Listen carefully to any Christian sermon and they will all boil down to one or more of the above "answers." The Josh website that Yana mentions deals with the third item: the only requirement for going to heaven is that you *believe* you are going to heaven. Such assertions were the reason for my query about what it means to "believe" ( http://dangerousintersection.org/?p=218 ). Since "works" do not get people into heaven (though some Christians believe they do), Christians must get nervous wondering if they "believe" fervently enough to pass God's judgment.

  5. Yana Kanarski says:

    Grumpypilgrim brings up some good points about religion. When I looked at these three questions, what first stood out in my mind was how antiquated they all sound. First of all, Question 1 (and possibly 2) can now be addressed by science—namely, evolution and cosmology. Of course it's all speculative because we come up with our theories by using indirect evidence, but that evidence is so strong that an educated person would feel compelled to accept it as truth beyond a reasonable doubt. The answers provided by religion, on the other hand, have little to no evidence and date back from a time when humans based their beliefs on assumptions and arbitrary claims by authority figures (i.e., people claiming to be inspired by God*). Sadly, most modern people all over the world never stop to think about why they believe what they believe, never considering the possibility that what they were taught from early childhood might possibly be wrong. They never use critical thinking to figure out the truths about reality, only taking other people's word for it.

    As far as heaven is concerned, that belief is commonly due to wishful thinking. We have absolutely no evidence for it, and such things as out-of-body experiences (e.g., near-death experiences) can be explained by neuroscience. It turns out that applying electrical stimulation to the right angular gyrus may cause an OBE. Isn't that fascinating?

    *All the historical figures claiming to be inspired by God (Abraham, Moses, Paul, Muhammad, etc.) may either be lying or truly believing they were inspired. If the latter is true, it can result either from wishful thinking (if you claim something, and everyone believes it, you may actually start believing it) or from a real "mystical" or "spiritual" experience. Such experiences have actually been scientifically documented in many individuals suffering from temporal lobe epilepsy (a very intriguing condition), and some have actually been produced in the lab by electrically stimulating the brain. Many people who are not aware of the physiological explanation for such experiences truly believe they were from God, as they are very real to them.

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