Have you ever heard of someone who's yelled fire in a crowded room in which there was no fire, needlessly causing extreme levels of panic? These people are generally arrested for disturbing the peace. If someone were to get injured during the ensuing chaos, the charges levied against the perpetrator could be even greater, including reckless endangerment, and should someone be killed, it could extend to manslaughter. It goes without saying that the law considers this to be a serious offense because of the great damage it can cause.
But what if the perp claiming that there was a fire actually believed that there was fire? And, I don't mean he smelled smoke in the air, or felt intense warmth beneath his feet. I mean, he had had a vision, or believed that a supernatural power had warned him about this fire, and that it was his duty to proclaim in this crowded room about the imminent fire. But, there was no such fire. Would he still be held accountable for his actions? You better believe he would be. If he wasn't arrested and processed as thoroughly as a normal criminal in this situation, he would at least be detained and admitted for several psychiatric evaluations. Because, again, causing unnecessary mass panic and hysteria is a serious offense. It upsets the peace, can lead to great amounts of properly damage and most importantly, can lead to physical and emotional harm to lots of people.
So, if we all agree that these type of fear inducing tactics are criminal and should be treated thusly, why is it that Christians are allowed to consistently induce such fear and panic in people all over the world through their proselytization, with no consequence? Sure, there are certain establishments that discourage these activities, but the general view is that of an annoyance, not an act with dire consequences, and certainly not construed as a criminal activity in and of itself. The criminal activity is usually the act of disobeying the original ordinance not to proselytize, not so much the proselytizing itself.
To flesh this out, imagine I went around the city of New York and stopped people on the street, warning them that they were going to die within the year unless they began participating in volunteer charity work. I doubt many people would take me seriously, but beyond that, if the authorities got wind of my actions, I'd be stopped immediately. If I persisted, I'd be arrested (if I hadn't been arrested already). This kind of activity is severely frowned upon and rightly so. Now imagine, I out did even this. What if I began posting this message on bulletin boards/bumper stickers/mass e-mails/pamphlets handed out all over the country, etc.? I'd be considered something of a domestic terrorist, and there's no way that the US would stand for this. It'd be ridiculous if they did....
But wait, they do, and all in the name of freedom of speech and religion. Because how often does some unsuspecting person get attacked by a Christian, whether in person or through some literature, telling them that they are going to spend all of eternity in an everlasting torturous chamber of fire and brimstone, unless they surrender themselves to the whims of an insecure God? And how is this type of fear not infinitely worse than the fear induced by yelling fire in a crowded room. This is, without a doubt, the worst fear mongering known to man. And it's done all the time.
Today, I was driving home from my mother's, only to stop at a red light behind a man in a truck with the following bumper sticker. "If you live each day like there's no God, YOU'D BETTER BE RIGHT!", and of course this was complemented with extremely artistic flames bordering the bottom of the bumper sticker, implying that being wrong would be a one-way ticket to Hell. I mentioned at the beginning of this rant that today, I wanted to kill someone. Maybe that makes me as bad as this guy, but he'll never know how I felt. What else he'll never know is the levels of emotional, mental, and yes, physical trauma that can be, and are quite often caused by this ridiculously close-minded dogma.
See, he's so convinced that he's right that his loving God is going to send billions of people to Hell, he believes he is doing the world a favor by warning them about Hell (because obviously God isn't doing a good enough job). What he doesn't consider, is that he is causing fear, panic and unnecessary stress based on an unverified claim, buttressed only by his beliefs. He believes I need to know about Hell so I can avoid it, yet he never stops to think about how negatively he may be affecting my life. He doesn't consider the possibility that I may be so stricken by fear, that I would spend years gripped by the dread caused by Hell, effectively robbing me of my life and sanity, while ostracizing myself from friends and family, eventually leading me to lose hope in my life, the world around me, and all humanity. He doesn't consider how these doctrines of hate can ruin lives, and he obviously doesn't study history, or else he'd know just how cancerous this doctrine has been throughout the last several thousand years.
He doesn't consider these things, because he's a brainwashed drone, who has suspended his ability to think critically, all in an effort to be a better disciple of his lord. Yet, these doctrines continue to be propagated, because freedom of religion is a Constitutional right. Yet, at the very heart of the theory of the American right, is that any man can do anything he wants, so long as he doesn't impinge upon another man's rights. Well, isn't it my right to live out my life without having unfounded claims forced down my throat by overzealous religious nuts, claims that can (and have thus far been able to) ruin my life?
Of course it is, but there seems to be no stopping the religious machine, and so long as they continue to swear on the Bible in court every day, or at Presidential and other inaugurations; so long as they continue to sing God Bless America at every damned sporting event; so long as they continue to elevate "men of the cloth" to levels of esteemed respect and academic reverence; so long as they continue to turn a blind eye to the vitriolic effects that religion is having and will continue to have across the globe, this seemingly innocent practice of fear mongering will go on, unimpeded, and we will continue to have to read these oh-so clever bumper stickers, or observe these make-you-want-to-drive-your-car-into-oncoming-traffic bulletin boards, or handle these nauseous pamphlets until the day we shuffle off this mortal coil.
And I can't stand it anymore...