PZ Myers posted about a public school teacher in North Dakota showing students “A Letter from Hell” – a blatantly pro-Christian evangelism video. He then tried to excuse his action by claiming that it was a video against drunk driving. (Isn’t “thou shalt not lie” one of the Ten Commandments?)
Here’s the video:
I had almost forgotten about that side of Christian evangelism – being guilted into spreading the religion. I remember that happening when I was a kid in church youth group. Either you “witness” to your friends about Jesus Christ in an attempt to “save” them, or you are made to feel responsible for their suffering in hell. If you truly believe in Christian doctrines of heaven/hell based on being saved/unsaved, and you truly care for your unsaved friend, then, logically, you need to spread the religion. I think this is one of the mechanisms by which false religions (e.g. Christianity and Islam) have become major religions.
If you step back and think about it, it’s kind of twisted. Other than the obvious guilt-tripping Christians (and young Christians in particular) into evangelizing, there’s another level to it: the evidence for Christianity is non-existent, or at the very least, highly subjective. This puts Christians into a position of trying to convince people around them (for fear of eternal hell) of a belief that has nothing to back it up. Imagine if God came down from heaven and told you that everyone who eats a red M&M in this life would burn eternally in hell. Now, you’re running around trying to stop people from eating red M&Ms. You have no good evidence to convince people about the horrible fate that awaits them if they eat a red M&M, but because no one else can get verification from God about “red M&Ms = eternal torture in the afterlife”, you end up acting like a crazy person trying to teach people not to eat the red M&Ms – which you think is maniacally important. That’s the position Christian evangelism puts you in: you believe that it’s terribly important to convert everyone to your same belief system, you lack the evidence to actually convince them (because your non-existent God hasn’t provided it), and now you’re running around like a crazy person. Assuming the Christian God exists, it means this situation is caused by the fact that God fails to provide adequate evidence. (Although, Christians have done a pretty good job of convincing themselves otherwise. The problem is that most non-believers see through this bad evidence, and Christians simply can’t understand that – which leads to all kinds of rationalizations.)
I can’t help but be reminded of Carlton Pearson’s comment that, as a preacher, he always felt a need to preach to everyone around him for fear that they would end up in hell – and it was exhausting. He didn’t find peace until he convinced himself that everyone goes to heaven – thereby reducing the dire need to save everyone he talks to.
It’s no wonder that public school teachers who are Christians try to jam this stuff into their classrooms. They are under a belief system that tells them eternal suffering awaits everyone who isn’t saved, so their guilt and concern pushes them to preach to their students. The very idea of keeping religion out of the schools is trashed by the religious right – who are angry that the “secularists” in the country are tying their hands, which will inevitably result in kids who will burn forever in hell. It’s no wonder that so many people are trying to push creationism and Intelligent Design into schools. They’ve got children to save from hell fire, and those damned secularists are stopping them.