A Who’s Who of Heaven and Hell

According to a literalist interpretation of the Bible, there are many things that disqualify people from entering into Heaven. Admittedly this approach to the Bible requires significant mental gymnastics as there are large parts of the Bible that contract other parts but most Christians, even those who claim to be fundamentalists, cite the message of Jesus as the trump card.
Using Jesus’ message as the most important thing, fundamentalist Christians argue that non-Christians will not go to Heaven; indeed these followers of Jesus quote John 14:6 which, in the King James Bible, goes like this: “Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but through me”. With this in mind, lets go through a number of figures of history and ascertain, using this ‘logic’, where they apparently ended up.

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These people are going to lecture us on who is moral. This should be fun. (NY Daily News)
Fundamentalist Christians are fairly strident that those people who accept Jesus into their lives like they do will go to Heaven and sit alongside Biblical figures for the rest of eternity whilst being fed grapes by angels. However this puts these Christians in an awkward situation as this strict adherence to the literal words of the Bible means that, by definition, every Christian, irrespective of what they did whilst on earth, will go to Heaven. Here is a list of people who, according to the logic of these Christians, are now hanging out with Jesus, Moses, and St. Peter:
  • Nathan Bedford Forrest: First Grand Wizard of the Ku Klux Klan and Confederate General.
  • Dr Josef Mengele: Nazi concentration camp doctor at Auschwitz who specialised in human experimentation.
  • P.W.Botha: President of South Africa (1984-89) and strict supporter of Apartheid.
  • Hernán Cortés: Conquistador who massacred and enslaved thousands in modern-day Mexico and Central America.
  • Tomás de Torquemada: Dominican friar and leader of the Spanish Inquisition.
  • Francisco Franco: Authoritarian fascist leader of Spain (1936-75).
  • Peter the Great: Tsar of Russia (1682-1725) who oppressed his people and brutalised serfs in order to keep public order.
  • Augusto Pinochet: Leader of Chilean Military Junta (1974-90) who killed between 1,500 and 2,000 people and committed a plethora of human rights violations.
According to the essence of what fundamentalist Christians believe all the people listed above, provided they said sorry before they died, will be sitting in Heaven alongside the cherubs and angels.
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Josef Mengele, one of the most evil people to have ever lived, is in Heaven according to the logic of some fundamentalists because he was Christian. (BBC/Rex Features) 
However, the following list of people will be tortured for all eternity by Satan in Hell:
  • Albert Einstein: Nobel Prize winning Physicist, civil rights activist, and peace advocate.
  • Franz Kafka: Dystopian author and social commentator most famous as a critic of authoritarianism.
  • Muhammad Ali: Former Heavyweight Boxing Champion, Olympic Gold-Medalist, and political activist.
  • Bertrand Russell: Philosopher, mathematician, and anti-war activist.
  • Benazir Bhutto: Former Prime Minister of Pakistan who was assassinated for promoting women’s rights.
  • Anwar Sadat: Nobel Peace Prize winner for his work on trying to achieve peace in the Middle East.
  • Boutros Boutros-Ghali: Former Secretary General of the United Nations and author of An Agenda For Peace.
  • Thomas Jefferson: Political philosopher and author of the Declaration of Independence.
Indeed by the same logic of these fundamentalists, all the people above, just by virtue of the fact that they were not Christians, are in Hell with demons, paedophiles and blasphemers.
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Apparently winning a Nobel Peace Prize isn’t enough for you to get into Heaven. (Time)
Obviously there have been many Christians that have done wonderful work in the name of their faith, and these people should be acknowledged as they further illustrate my point. How can people like Dietrich Bonhoeffer and Martin Luther King be classed in the same category as those listed above? The answer is obvious: they can’t. The problem with religion is that people can decide whatever ideology they want the religion to support, which is often the reason why fundamentalist Christians are often incredibly right-wing despite the fact that Jesus himself espoused views closer to Karl Marx than Ayn Rand.
It must be said that this is not always be true, for example the Bible explicitly tells people to kill gay people, and there aren’t many ways that this can be taken other than literally. But how can it be the case that the logic of these fundamentalists, that you can get into Heaven by accepting Jesus into your heart, can result in a divine situation whereby Hernán Cortés, Augusto Pinochet, and Nathan Bedford Forrest are sitting in paradise alongside the Christian God. Continuing this metaphor, these three morally reprehensible human beings would be given the moral high ground by a religious interpretation that, when the same logic is applied in the opposite way, would have Bertrand Russell, Albert Einstein, and Benazir Bhutto being tortured until the end of time.
This is just one reason why fundamentalism is intellectually lazy and can lead to a warped view of the world. We need to fight fundamentalism with every tool at our disposal, and hopefully the internet shall be one of those in changing people’s minds.
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