Orlando

Hands

(I want to preface this post by saying that these words were originally written as a post on Facebook, and ordinarily I don’t put my Facebook posts here on the blog, because usually Facebook posts are less thought out than my blog posts, and the quality of writing isn’t as good because it’s very off the cuff. However I got a really positive reaction to this post and a lot of people said it made them think or it affected them, so I’m going to post it here on the blog in the hopes that it might affect someone else.)

My whole life I have lived in fear because I’m gay. My boyfriends have refused to let me touch or hold their hand in public because they were genuinely afraid we would get shot. People can say what they want about change or progress, but through my eyes, the world is a place that abhors and hates gay people. It isn’t about politics or points of view. This is a world in which being gay is a crime punishable by the bloodiest death imaginable.

If you are gay, you have to get out of bed in the morning and fight the entire world. If you are gay, you have to live in fear everywhere you go. If you are gay, you have to drive past church billboards and protesters and rallies of people, all plotting ways to kill you. Every piece of homophobic rhetoric is an incitement to violence. Every person talking about “traditional marriage” is inciting violence; every time any person abhors homosexuality they are inviting the most unstable of us to kill. There is no debate. There is no middle ground. Homosexuality is real and homosexual people are worthy. If you don’t agree with that, if you fight against that, your actions are inciting death.

Am I angry at the man who killed fifty of my brothers and sisters? I don’t know. I don’t know what I feel. But right now, in THIS moment, I feel sad for him. I feel sad because he was afraid, he was afraid of what this entire homophobic world told him. I understand the desire to hurt someone. I understand what it’s like to be fucked up in the head, and to not know how to take out your anger. His anger overpowered him and he took it out on those innocent people.

It’s said that he pledged allegiance to the Islamic state. I did not grow up around Islam. But I can tell you what I do know, and that’s Christianity. I ask you to please remember that I am sharing my personal experience here. I have seen Christianity. I have seen every kind of Christian.

I have seen my grandmother, who was kind and loving, who never let me leave her house without kissing me and telling me she loved me, even when she was mad at me.

I have seen the Westboro Baptist Church, and I ask you to please, PLEASE believe me when I tell you that as a gay man from Charlotte, North Carolina, you would be very surprised to know that the sentiments written on those Westboro Baptist Church placards are shared by MANY Christians.

Now hold on. If you just rolled your eyes or thought “That’s a minority of people,” or “Yeah, but that doesn’t represent everyone or even that faith,” or anything like that, just wait a moment. Please listen. This is my experience. I’m telling you what I’ve seen.

Even the people who are kind, who take people in and help them, who feed the poor, even those people have no qualms about talking candidly about “niggers” and “fags” the moment the door is closed. As an example, there is a woman I knew from the time I was a child, who loved me and whose grandchildren were my friends, who was kind and smiled and laughed and who gave me food every time I came into her house. This was a patently good person. And when I mentioned off-handedly that I was gay she laughed and said “Now Jesse, you are too much of a nice boy to be a fag.”

I have seen the face of Christianity. It is self loathing, it is fear, it is embracing worthlessness, it is absolving yourself of personal responsibility, it is denial of pleasure and joy, it is hatred of the world around you, it is a loathing for the world and a longing for death and for a paradise beyond death, it is a fear of anger and retribution and fire, it is a longing to be unworthy, it is an obscene lust to be persecuted, it is a desire to prostrate yourself at all times before a master who condemns you, it is a sadomasochistic fascination with being unclean and hating yourself. This is the Christianity I have seen, and I am telling you the truth.

I am not surprised that the shooter claimed an allegiance to Islamic ideals. And it inst because I’m Islamophobic (at least not anymore than I’m Christophobic). It’s because I understand what Christianity can do to people. Islam is a sister religion to Christianity. Christianity and Islam share many things, and there differences are often only superficial: both religions contain the same calls to violence and the same condemnation of anyone who opposes their views. They also both contain beautiful poetry and wise people. But ultimately these religions are no different.

Let us not get sidetracked by focusing too much on the man with the gun who killed those people. Remember that he killed those people in that club BECAUSE THEY WERE GAY. If you deny this then you’re burying your head in the sand. And did he do it because of Islam? I have seen Christianity make monsters out of good people, so yes, absolutely it could have been because of Islam. It does not make me a bigot to realize this. It does not make me a bigot to stand up and shout that religion has been targeting my people and killing them for millennia. Christianity has targeted and murdered gay people specifically because they are gay for centuries upon centuries, and Islam is a stone’s throw (pardon the irony) from Christianity.

I am gay. I told everyone I was gay the moment I understood it to be the truth when I was 12 years old. Believe what I’m telling you, I have seen good and decent people become monsters because of their homophobia. I should be angry at those people, and I should be angry at the gunman.

But I’m just sad. I’m just sad, and exhausted.

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Little God

where have you been
little god who is afraid?
where have you hidden
millennia upon another
how many forms have you taken?
how many lives have you taken
how many nations have you taken
how many children have you taken
how many minds have you taken
bodies have you taken
smiles and hopes and loves have you taken
how much hope have you stolen
how much to feed your greedy lust for worship
where have you been when all the worlds called out your name in unison
and you responded with a stone silence louder than the cosmic explosion
when your temperament was tested and you stood still
when the children were committed into your arms
and you did not take them
when the slaves and the oppressed and the thirsty and the valiant and the pious and the sinless and the humble and the destitute and the afraid and the weak and the mourning and the lost all cried up to heaven “speak! I listen”
“call! I wait”
“sing, I will join you”
“weep and I will comfort you”
“hope that I may hope as we’ll”
where were you standing?
what went through your mind?
you are so little in a universe so vast
so small that you are one neuron firing in our brains
so lifeless that you could never respond
so small and so weak that your voice could never be heard
your voice was only ever borrowed from us
and we want it back
though we gave it away still we can claim this for ourselves
little god, sad god, weeping god, put down the torment and the pain, give it back to us
you, child, who never should have been
your suffering has been our suffering, vast and infinite in variation
but we forgive you
we let you go
we move
we step forward
we strive and we fail and we remember you
we cry at the remembrance of our lost love
but we will survive
we will live
you never got the chance to be alive
but we have it, and for you we cannot squander it
our tiny maker, our vast and great child
we forgive you
we forgive you
we

A Farewell To My Mother

I’ve wanted for a long time to write about my relationship with my mother. I’ve wanted to try and explain the many ways in which she’s harmed me over the course of my life. Today, she sent me a message, asking me to come back and work for her again, and asking for respect. This message was my response to her. It contains most of what I have to say.

How can I respect you? You told me I would burn in hell. You don’t care about people making fun of me for my sexuality. You don’t accept and love for who I am, even though I’m different than you. You bring judgement and anger toward me every day. You hurt me on a very deep level with your words and actions. How could I ever respect that? All you bring to my life is pain and misery.

I’ve tried for so long to try and see past the things about that hurt me. I’ve tried to still love you and treat you like my mother and show you honor. But when I do, you return that favor with anger, bitterness and hatred toward who and what I am. You’ve always claimed to love me, but your actions are not that of a loving person.
I have friends who are mothers, who would never in a million years tell their child they’re going to hell. Who would never for any reason tell their child to try and change who he is and be miserable for the rest of his life instead of embracing himself and being who he is meant to be.

You think only about what your perception of Christ is. But Christ is not about judgement, or hell fire, or anything but love. Love, even for people who don’t believe. Christ showed love to the non-believers, not judgement, not threats of hell fire. If Christ spoke to me he wouldn’t say “Jesse, if you don’t change who you are, you will burn in hell.” He would say “Love one another as I have loved you.”

You are so caught up in your tiny perception of Christianity, fueled by television evangelists and money-grubbing schemes, that you’ve lost the point of the whole thing: one commanded I give to you, love another as I have loved you. You don’t seem to understand what that means. A loving mother does not say to her son, “Don’t come crying to my when you’re hungry,” or “You’re not my problem,” “or “You’re nothing but a thorn in my side,” or “If people were calling me a fag, I wouldn’t be a fag,” or “You’re going to hell,” or “You’re possessed by a demon!” Those are not things that a rational person with a rational mind would say or think.

So, respect you? How can I? How I would love to respect you, to have a relationship with you, but just like my father, you’ve turned your back on me. You’ve told me that I’m not good enough because of who I am. I can’t keep coming to your house and not mentioning the fact that I’m gay or that I’m not Christian, knowing that it will cause you to on a tirade and yell at me about fire and brimstone, telling me stories about Sodom and Gomorrah that you yourself don’t really understand. There are people in the world who aren’t Christian, and they live happy, successful lives. You live in a vacuum of denial, because you’re miserable with your life. You married someone for their money and not for love, and now you’re trapped in a loveless marriage and you’re trying to replace those feelings with things, like all these rings and jewelry you have Lee buy for you. You preach to people about Christ’s forgiveness, but you show none to other people. You yell at your daughter to be compassionate, yet you show her no compassion when she cries her little heart out. You say you’re proud of me, that I’m your favorite, that I’m talented, but then you call me names, you tell me I’ll burn in hell, you judge me and criticize me, both of which I would remind you are sins.

And more than anything, you chose to give love and support to the man who abused me as a child. On his death bed, you brought him home, you took him into your own house where both me and my sister were, and sat around talking to him, asked me to play piano for him, had Brianna call him “paw paw,” and then you even set up his funeral service, made a memorial to him, and read a eulogy for him. This was the man who hurt and abused me in the most heinous possible way as a child, and you chose to show him compassion and forgiveness and love, rather than putting him in prison where he belongs. It’s possible that I could forgive you for calling me names. It’s possible that I could forgive you for telling me I’d burn in hell. But I say this without any anger toward you, this is simply the truth, you betrayed and destroyed me when you brought your father down here from Georgia, sheltered him, cared for him, called him “Daddy” and looked at him as though he were a sweet old man, when in fact he was a monster who terrorized you, me, your mother, and everyone he ever met.

If I had been in your shoes, mom, and I were you, and I found out Jerrie were on his death bed… people would have had to hold me back to keep me from going up there and pulling the plug on his ass. Instead you chose to treat him as though he deserved your kindness. You blame what he did to me on a “demon,” or “the devil possessing him,” or “he was an alcoholic,” or “his mind wasn’t right.” Those are excuses. He made a choice to take me out into those woods and rape me. If you’ve forgotten, he raped your four-year old son. And you chose to stand by him in his final hours, you chose to officiate his funeral, you chose to bring him into your house and introduce him to my little sister, which you had NO business doing.

My father, crazy though he might be, at least had the decency to hate that man. You chose to love him. And you made your choice. You picked him over me. And when I told you this, years ago, you said “What does it matter? You don’t love me anyway!”

Think back. All of those tiny little hurtful things you’ve said over the years have remained in my mind. I remember when you came up behind me on the couch in our blue house and pulled my hair, I remember when you pushed me in my chest and knocked me down on my bed, I remember when you screamed and screamed, when you called me a freak, when you told me I was a thorn in your side, when you told me I was possessed by the devil. And I even watched those videos on your phone you said you didn’t want me to see until you were dead, where you go on and on about how I need to change who I am, how I’m allowing the spirit of the devil inside of me.

You’re just an empty person, mom. You’ve lost everything. You lost your first son, you lost your first husband to madness, your second husband to death, and you lost your mother. You got into a marriage you didn’t really care about and you try to fill this big void in your heart with material things, and with religion. You spend all your energy researching the bible, but you don’t even understand what the bible is about. It isn’t about “speaking in tongues,” or the judgement, or the end of the world, or even salvation. The message of the entire Bible is summarized in Christ’s words at the last supper: “Love one another, as I have loved you.” Love will never be a sin. You have been led to believe it, but it isn’t so.

But that’s all your problems, and I can’t handle them for you. Nothing I’ve said here has been out of anger or rage. I’m not mad right now. I’m not seething with anger or throwing things, I’m very calm, and I’m speaking to you from my heart. I am sorry for you. I wish that life had been better to you. I wish you hadn’t lost so many things you hold dear. I wish you didn’t suffer so much. I wish you didn’t feel so alone. I wish you didn’t have so much to worry about. I wish your health weren’t failing you. You may think I’m cold and heartless, but I’m a very open, loving, and caring person. But you have spent years upon years hardening my heart toward you, and no amount of small apologies will ever fix that. Only your actions can show that you love me, and your actions have been actions of hate. Mothers don’t kick their sons out of their homes. Mothers don’t threaten to call the cops on their sons. Hell, mother’s don’t actually DO it either. Mothers don’t tell their children they’ll burn in hell. Mothers don’t tell their children they’re possessed. You know a lot about how to be Cissy the person, but you’ve never known how to be Cissy the mother. You gave Brian up, and your reasons may have been justifiable, but when you had me, you were given another chance to be a mother. You claim you protected me, but it’s taken me a long time to come to a conclusion.

You knew what your father was like. You grew up around him. You’d heard the stories from your mother. You knew he couldn’t be trusted, yet you let me go out and be alone with him anyway. The truth is, I never blamed you for being molested or raped, whatever you want to call it, but now that I look back on it, now that I know that you knew at the time what a monster he was because of what he’d done to you and your family, because he even told your mother he’d had sex with you girls, you should have known better than to send me out into the woods with him. And when it did happen, you should have pursued him and made sure his ass got put in jail for the rest of his life, not just left it up in the air. You didn’t want to “put me through” being on trial? Why? I had to talk about it to a million therapists anyway, why not have me talk about it to a judge so that man could get justice?

You were weak, and selfish. You have always, essentially, been selfish. You’ve done for us, yes, but at your core you’ve been a selfish person, because you’re scared. I don’t know what of. Oh, you can tell me that I”m “Greg Williford” all over again, but I’m not diagnosing you with disorders you don’t have or making up a past for you that you didn’t have. I’ve seen you, all this time, I’ve seen your actions. You say you’re kind and giving, but you can be remarkably cruel, particularly to your own children. You say you want to get away from your family’s drama, but you relish in hearing all of their gossip. You say you want to lead a Christian life, but you do nothing but give money to TV preachers and go to Joyce Meyer seminars. That’s not what being a Christian is about. And even worse, you’re hurting my sister with the way you treat me. It breaks her heart to hear you tell me I’ll go to hell, or tell me I’m a fag. It breaks her heart to see you treat me the way you do, but you don’t care about that. You just have to be right.

Well I’m sorry, but I can’t be your punching bag anymore. As a child, you leaned on me. As a little kid, when there were troubles in your marriage, you came and talked to me, a child, about them, and held me and cried. You did it my whole life. I was too young for you to do that. Because of you, I’m afraid of the world. All the hatred, bitterness, rage and anger in the world that you’ve warned me about, I’ve seen it all in you. I’m too sensitive to be gay? No, I’m perfect, just the way I am, and that’s what a real mother would say. I have friends who are old enough to be my mother who tell me every day that I’m great, that I can accomplish anything, that I’m a wonderful person just the way I am. It hurts me that for some reason you can’t do the same.

Do I need your help? Yeah, I really do. I’ve got a mountain of debt at my bank, my tags are going to expire next month, I have a car payment and rent due, and I still haven’t found another job. Do I need money? Do I need a job with you? Hell yeah. But what cost would I have to pay? Even if you told me you genuinely loved and accepted me for who I am I wouldn’t believe it. In the short time I’ve been away from you, cutting you out of my life, I’ve felt strong, confident, and hopeful, for the first time in my whole life. Your anger, your rage, your sadness and your misery drag down those around you, and it’s turning your daughter away from you. She’s beginning to see what kind of person you are, and I don’t think she likes it. I can’t speak for her, but all I ask is that you try and treat her better than you did me. Stop calling her names. Stop putting her down. Stop telling her she isn’t enough. Build that child up. Tell her that she’s beautiful, that she’s capable of anything, that she’s great, just how she is! That’s what a mother does.

I guess there’s nothing else to say. In the end, I’m sorry for you. I’m sorry that your life has been so hard. But it’s your burden to bear, not mine, not Brianna’s, not Brian’s, not Lee’s, not Greg’s. It’s yours. And YOU must live with it, not me. I have to move forward with my life. And one day, when I’m a success, I’m sad that I won’t be able to look back and see you as someone who pushed me forward, who helped me to become great, I’ll see you a stumbling block set in my path to test me, and that’s a real shame. I’m sorry for you, but I can’t bear your burdens or your sorrows anymore. Keep your prayers, you don’t know how to pray. Keep your money, you dont’ know how to love. Keep your love, because it’s dysfunctional and it isn’t truly love, it’s need, need for another person, and I can’t be your crutch forever. I hope you find some fulfillment in your life. I hope you do well. But I have to go on without you. You have proven to me that you’ll never truly love me. I go forward in life thinking of you not as a loving mother, but as an unfortunate setback in my life. I wish I could love you, I wish I could forgive you, but I can’t. And I’m sorry for that.

May you find some peace within yourself someday, and may you realize the deep harm and sadness you’ve inflicted upon me. Goodbye.

From Horus To Christ: An Examination of Christianity

or

Christianity: The World’s Most Prevalent Form of Terrorism

I wish I could write a substantial and scholarly review of all religions from Egypt or ancient Mesopotamia until now and compare every aspect, side by side with Christianity. I’m not an expert on any religion in any scholarly sense, but I know at least as much as common Christians in my part of the country do, and hopefully a bit more, if only because I’ve chosen to expose myself to influences outside of that faith. I am not Christian. I have never truly been Christian. I’ve tried several times in my life to be Christian, I’ve believed as hard as I could and prayed night and day, obsessively, giving up everything I loved or believed in to be a devout follower of Christ. I received nothing in return.

I have a religious family. My mother believes that I’m lost, she asks me to give Christ a chance to change me and change my life. But I don’t want to be changed. And therein lies the core of what I want to talk about: Christianity, like any other major organization, particularly a religious one, uses fear to control people. A lot of what I’m going to say here was taken from a conversation I had with a friend on the internet, and some more thoughts I’ve thrown in. I could talk about this for days, or maybe a lifetime, because my entire life has been a constant and prolonged exposure to Christianity. My intention here isn’t to hurt anyone who is a believer in Christ, but simply to share my opinions on this religion as a whole. Do I hate people? Not always. Sometimes I do, and you know what? I think a certain amount of hatred is healthy. All things in moderation. It’s okay to hate Fred Phelps, even though he’s dead. It’s okay to hate Adolf Hitler. But allowing that hatred to consume and control you is deadly.

All of this began because I learned something I hadn’t known about a musician I’ve always had a lot of respect for. Bryce Avary is the frontman of the band The Rocket Summer, and in fact, he IS the band. He’s a solo artist that uses a band name, and even though he tours with other musicians, all of the lyrics and music are composed by Bryce, and he plays every instrument on his albums. He’s incredibly talented, and his music is very uplifting. I’ve always loved that about his music. Today I discovered that he is a Christian, and I couldn’t help but allow it to skew my view of him and his art. Where once I believed that his lyrics and music were motivated by an indomitable will to survive amidst a chaotic and terrifying world, I can’t help but feel it’s really just motivated by the worship of a deity. It seems, for me, to destroy the validity of the work, even though there are several Christian artists (like Relient K, Flyleaf, Skillet and Paramore) whose music I greatly enjoy. But I guess it’s because I didn’t go in knowing that Bryce was a Christian that I find myself so surprised by this. I thought that his messages of hope were based on personal experience and the constant struggle against the beast that is life, and while it all may very well still be, there’s a part of me that can’t help but wonder if it’s really all about putting off one’s own personal responsiblity to themselves and others onto Christ, and blindly following what they believe to be an ultimate power in the universe, rather than fighting for themselves and speaking with their own voice. Bryce won’t define The Rocket Summer as a “Christian band,” because he finds that limiting and narrow, and good for him, but as someone who has experienced so much suffering at the hands of Christians, I can’t help but feel a little betrayed, knowing that the messages of hope in Bryce’s songs may really just be blind messages of worship of a diety that isn’t there.

Now, as with all art, the listener is left to interpret things as they see. I hear very obvious religious messages in songs like Comatose by Skillet or Again by Flyleaf, but I still see those songs as what they are: messages of hope, of love, and of the will to survive among this turbulent life. There is absolutely no difference between those messages of hope and the messages found within Bryce’s work, and I’m not indicting him. He’s free to find solace and relief from the world any way he chooses, and his talent speaks for itself. I’m not angry at him for being Christian, and I’m not dissapointed at him personally. But I can’t help but find myself dissapointed in general, and find his music less moving, less touching to me personally, now that I know it’s at least partially motivated by a relationship with a deity.

This is not a Bryce Avary problem, this is a me problem. It’s not my intention to shame or hut anyone. I’m just talking about how I feel, and I feel a lot of mixed emotions upon finding out that Bryce is Christian. It seems silly, I know, but it affects me. Christians have hurt and abused me all throughout my life, and though there are plenty of people who say to me, “Not all Christians are like that, don’t judge the whole group by a few,” I can’t help but think, yes, maybe not all Christians are judgemental and biogted, and maybe there are nice Christians, but weren’t there also nice Nazis too? I’m sure there were plenty of Nazis who believed they were serving their country and their people and detached themselves emotionally from the atrocities they commited. The Nazis who slaughtered people in concentration camps had families, homes, lives, emotions. And by the same token, the Christians who slaughtered the witches of Salem or marched upon Jerusalem in the Crusades probably weren’t all bad. I’m sure plenty of them were nice people who felt compassion for others and love for the world. But that doesn’t negate the actions of the organization they’re allying themselves with, and make no mistake, a religious organization is still an organization.

It’s not that I think everything a Christian does is motivated by the need to please God, but I do believe that Christianity is an organization that derives it’s power from a cycle of self-harm that teaches people to be ashamed and to put off all of that shame onto Christ, perpetuating an endless cycle of suffering and self-loathing, indoctrinating future believes to be ashamed of themselves and seek Christ’s salvation so that the system itself becomes the monarch, the leader, the dictator, and no one person has to stay alive forever to command it.

I have a difficult time with this issue. I want to be accepting of Christians and not view them any differently once I know what they believe, but throughout my life I’ve seen what I believe to be the true face of Christianity, and it’s one of bigotry, hatred, intolerance, ignorance, racism, misogyny, xenophobia, homophobia, anger, greed, gluttony, murderous violence, suppression of thought and progress, self-deprivation, depression, guilt, and shame.

My best friend, who happens to be Christian, and who is very understanding about my thoughts here, told me that he sometimes wonders if religion itself is something people invented so that they wouldn’t have to fear death. I believe it’s that and so much more. I’m fascinated by gods and by mythology, I love them. I love the ancient lore and I even love many moments and stories in the Christian bible. Christ’s acceptance of duty in the face of torture and death, and his words to those he loved at his last supper, always bring me to tears. I appreciate that for what it is without believing in the deity, and I see a person in a beautiful story doing something noble for people that he loves. Do I think that story is fraught with misguided ideals, horrific violence perpetrated not just on Christ but others, and the senseless self-loathing of entire nations of people? Absolutely.

We create gods to represent aspects of ourselves: those we love, those we hate. We created Athena to represent our conquering spirit and prowess in battle, our determination in the face of war and chaos. We created Hades to be the bearer of our guilt, our darkness, and our shame. We drew upon the same concept overs and over again. Horus became Zeus, Jupiter, Buddha, Krishna, and Christ. Osiris became Mara, Rahu, Angra Mainyu, Lucifer. They morphed over and over again, always representing a part of ourselves, our goals, our ideals, the things we love, the things we hate.

Ultimately, though, I find belief in the Christian god to be essentially masochistic. The believer truly gains nothing. Not inner peace, because the believer is taught to be ashamed of their sins, constantly begging God’s forgiveness and accepting again and again the sacrifice of Christ so that they can be cleansed of their self-imposed shame, and fear of the so-called “end times,” fear of God’s judgement and wrath, and more than anything, fear of a fallen angel they call Satan. A supposed demon, or leader of demons, who they believe can read your thoughts, fill your heart with negativity and doubt, or possess your body and make you commit atrocities. They fear demons dwelling all over the Earth, entering into creatures and torturing them from the deepest part of themselves, overtaking their body and spirit.

They fear Hell, that place that more than anything keeps children caught up in the cycle of despair, that place that they fear they will be cast by a supposedly loving and wise God, to burn in fire for all eternity, because they broke some self-imposed cosmic rule. The believer in Christ gains no personal independence, no inner peace, no transcendence, no nirvana. No freedom from guilt and shame. They look only forward, to their afterlife, where they believe they will be rewarded in a glorious kingdom called Heaven, to be forever at peace and one with God, and so they abandon this world and this life as “of the devil,” they forget about what they call “worldly concerns,” and motivated as humans always are by greed, store up “treasure for themselves in the Kingdom of Heaven.” I’ve met so many human beings who believe that the streets of Heaven are lined with gold, that there are mansions filled with treasures in Heaven. Why would these things matter to someone who has transcended the Earth into a place where currency and status mean nothing? But there are people among my own family who have told me that in Heaven people are given crowns with many different jewels adorning them according to what deeds they’ve done in their lives. Ultimately, Heaven is an attempt to justify life, to give it meaning, and to alleviate the fear of oblivion that comes with death.

In Christianity, the vitcims are the believers, who suffer so that those who have power in the organization (the pastors, the priests, the Pope, the clergy) can line their robes and pockets with gold at the expense of the ignorant masses donating their guilt into the collection plate every week in the form of money, believing they are tithing to God and not realizing that the money in their hands is a real form of currency, going directly into the hands of corrupt leaders who use it to continue perpetuating the cycle of grief, doubt, sorrow, and inhuman acts of violence and hatred. Christians incite others to violence with their claims that God does or does not support one way of life or another, that one way to worship God is the only true way and all other ways are false and lead to damnation, that Christ is “the way, the truth and the life,” and that any who don’t believe in him, be they adults or children, those who foster peace and practice compassion, those who have heard of Christ or those who haven’t, will suffer for eternity, regardless of the life they chose to live, and even worse, that those who commit rape, murder, and thievery on a massive and unknowable scale can be easily absolved of their crimes and atrocities by simply claiming Christ as their savior and believing.

Nobody questions it, because the system teaches you not to question it.

But maybe you should. Maybe you should think for yourself. Maybe you should stop being afraid of the devil, that proverbial boogie-man hiding in your closet and under your bed, and even more so stop being afraid of God, who in his own supposed holy word commits far more atrocities than his adversary Satan ever does (genocide, mass murder of children and adults, cruelty to animals and living creatures, destruction of the Earth on several occasions).

And that’s why it’s hard for me to accept people’s decision to follow this religion, because I see only a self-perpetuating cycle of fear, anger, and death. It’s unhealthy, and it’s tearing the entire world apart. Not just Christianity, but all those organizations like it, who seek to divide people for the material gain of a few at the top, or seek to foster shame and unrest among people so that they stay loyal to an organization whose primary goal is to steal from the poor and feed the rich, be they the poor and rich of material possessions or of spiritual freedom.

Question it. Think for yourself.