Russell wrote this, in 1927, in his most wonderful essay, "Why I Am Not A Christian." Although the content of this essay is similar, it is slightly different. Russell answered why he was not a Christian. In this essay, I will answer why I cannot be a Christian. The practices of Christianity and its adherents have always been appalling to humane thinkers. To this extent, myself a Humanitarian, I will explain that I cannot be a Christian. The reason is not so much the lack of physical proof, or the failure for Christians to produce a single argument, or the hundreds of absurdities or contradictions in the Bible -- although such components have played their role in my coming to Atheism -- the reason that I cannot be a Christian is the same reason why I am a Humanitarian.
Slavery is an institution that has long been protected by the Church. The chains of the slave were given the blessings of the clergy and the agonies of the slave were given no weight, no consideration. The blistering skin of a beaten slave held no sympathy with the Christian slave owner. It was a trifle, something to be unconcerned with. With this horrible foundation of the Holy Bible -- a book that may be fit for governing the behavior of barbarians -- with the acceptance of the supremacy of the church and its scripture -- with these things, the world had ushered in a new age of chaos, inhumanity, and brutality that has yet to be paralleled. Ephesians 6:5, "Slaves, be obedient to them that are your masters according to the flesh, with fear and trembling, in singleness of your heart, as unto Christ." Colossians 3:22, "Slaves, obey in all things your masters according to the flesh; not with eyeservice, as menpleasers; but in singleness of heart, fearing God." Titus 2:9, "Exhort slaves to be obedient unto their own masters, and to please them well in all things." Exodus 21:20-21, "If a man beats his male or female slave with a rod and the slave dies as a direct result, he must be punished, but he is not to be punished if the slave gets up after a day or two, since the slave is his property." Leviticus 19:20, "And whosoever rape woman, that is a slave, married to a husband, and not at all redeemed, nor freedom given her; she shall be scourged; they shall not be put to death, because she was not free." These are the brutalities and the cruelties of the Bible, both the Old Testament and the New. I cannot give assent to these barbarous creeds of religion -- what humane man can? If there is a humane man that exists, one thing can be said of his religious opinion: he detests the abomination called religion and holds the church in deepest hatred; or, if a religious man is at all humane, one explanation exists: the reason why a religious man is humane is not because he is at all religious, in fact, quite the opposite; a religious man may be humane but solely for the sake that he ignores and neglects the very brutal doctrines of his religion, giving them no credit.
African men have been turned into slaves by the Christian church. Its dogma and cruelty spreading to even further lands, like a plague. The minds of these Christian slave owners were just as immune to reason as they were to affection. They did not live their lives as thinkers, nor as Humanitarians. They were but one and the same thing: heartless and mindless, cruel and unthinking -- this is the state of Christianity and its adherents.
What, now, can be said of women, those who have only attained their right to property within a century ago? Elizabeth Cady Stanton, who had worked her entire life so that she and her children may enjoy the same rights as men, did not accept the Christian superstition. To quote her, "Through theological superstitions, woman finds her most grievous bondage.... Among the clergy we find our most violent enemies, those most opposed to any change in woman's position." [Views of Religion, by Rufus K. Noyes, (Boston: L. K. Washburn, 1906).] In Matthew 5:32, Jesus says it is permissible for divorce when the wife commits adultery, but makes no mention of any punishment towards a man for committing adultery. (In fact, a true thinker would question the very institution of this abomination called marriage!) Romans 1:27 states that the "natural use" of women is for sex. 1 Corinthians 11:3 states, "But I would have you know, that the head of every man is Christ; and the head of the woman is the man; and the head of Christ is God." Ephesians 5:22, "Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as unto the Lord." Colossians 3:8, "Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as it is fit in the Lord." 1 Timothy 2:11-12, "Let the woman learn in silence with all subjection. But I suffer not a woman to teach, nor to usurp authority over the man, but to be in silence." 1 Peter, 3:1, "Likewise, ye wives, be in subjection to your own husbands; that, if any obey not the word, they also may without the word be won by the conversation of the wives." The Bible has confirmed again and again that it detests females. This sentiment was expressed clearly in the Dark Ages when clergymen took up the task of persecuting any obscure woman, by calling her "witch!" Hundreds of thousands of women were burned at the stake, all for the excuse of this superstitious claim, this bigoted belief that women were inferior, were undeserving of affection, were to be submissive, were not capable. This ethic still perseveres in the Roman Catholic Church today, as women are still not allowed to lead a church as the Bible commands! The Protestants who have thrown off the chains of the triumphant beast -- the Catholic Church -- have allowed their female members to lead churches and congregations. The reason why they have developed into moral, upstanding individuals is not because they followed the Bible, but because they outrightly denied its precepts!
"The parasite of woman is the priest." -- Robert Green Ingersoll, from Men, Women, and Gods, by Helen H. Gardner. The churches have been executing and killing witches for centuries. They have committed more cruelties than those without heart, have debauched more beauty than a tyrant could ever possibly destroy -- they have been living daemons on this planet, spreading fear and hate, fostering prejudice and bigotry. It has been the long-surviving code of Christianity that nothing is to be questioned, and that such questioning is blasphemy, deserving of death. A scientist or philosopher, when asked a question concerning their theory, will answer as best and as simply as they can, sometimes even compassionately. A clergyman, depending on the era, when asked a question, will either kill you are disallow you from his church. So it goes with its moral creed -- those who have questioned the submission of women, those who have defiantly upheld the rights of those the church has been so determined to oppress, these men and women -- heroes in the hearts of Humanitarians -- have been outcast. Little is written of Thomas Paine or Robert Green Ingersoll or Charles Bradlaugh or Giordano Bruno -- yet all of these men have been lovers of life, soldiers in the army of compassion, merciful, kind, revering, affectionate; they have been the men who offered aid in time of need, the men who offered undying passion to the cause that stirred their heart. Pat Robertson of Christian Coalition has said, "The feminist agenda is not about equal rights for women. It is about a socialist, anti-family political movement that encourages women to leave their husbands, kill their children, practice witchcraft, destroy capitalism, and become lesbians." [Pat Robertson, fundraising letter, 1992.] Exodus 20:29 states, "Thou shalt not covet thy neighbor's wife, ... nor his ass, nor any thing that is thy neighbor's." As it goes with cruel and vicious doctrines, monogamy married to religion, women are treated as property. This practice is called marriage and it is sanctioned by the Bible. In Deuteronomy 22:23-34, it states that a rape victim is to be murdered. It provides the reasoning that she did not scream out loud enough. This is but an unspeakable cruelty.
There are numerous reasons for rejecting the Bible. If someone were to ask me why I do not believe the Bible, I could give one of these simple answers: "Because I believe that all humans deserve to be treated equally, and that slavery is an abomination." -- "Because I believe that women are not supposed to be submissive, and that all people, despite gender, deserve equal consideration." -- "Because I am opposed to rape, and feel that a rape victim should not be consumed in fire for being raped." Or, an extremely simplified version, "I disbelieve the Bible because it has condoned every brutality and every heartless action over the centuries of time. It has been the burden of superstition on the minds of men, just as it has been the burden of bigotry on the hearts of men. It has turned cities into chaotic witchhunts where women were sought out to be burned. Women and slaves were denied any rights, and everyone was denied the right to think. When men were denied the right to think for themselves, when women were denied all of their rights, and when slaves were abundant, it was under this state of affairs that the church flourished greatly."
If men have been turned into slaves, women into servants, then it can only be imagined the church's creed towards children. Proverbs 13:24, "He who spares the rod hates his son, but he who loves him is careful to discipline him." Proverbs 22:15, "Folly is bound up in the heart of a child, but the rod of discipline will drive it far from him." Proverbs 19:18, "Discipline your son, for in that there is hope; do not be a willing party to his death." Proverbs 23:13, "Do not withhold discipline from a child; if you punish him with the rid, he will not die. Punish him with the rod and save his soul from death." The god of the Bible, also, was a tyrant who practiced brutality to children just as much as he preached it. In 2 Kings 2:24, god sends two bears to maul 42 children to pieces. For what justifiable reason does he excuse this action? The children had poked fun of a prophet. This god, who the Christians speak so highly of, responded by sending bears to dash children to pieces. The worst nightmares that could plague the world have their root in religion. Robert Green Ingersoll, as much as he hated religion, he held a deeper passion for holding affection to children. Unlike the barbaric code of the Bible that promotes the beating of children, Ingersoll said, "Let us have liberty -- Just a little. Call me infidel, call me atheist, call me what you will, I intend so to treat my children, that they can come to my grave and truthfully say: 'He who sleeps here never gave us a moment of pain. From his lips, now dust, never came to us an unkind word.'" ["The Liberty of All," by Ingersoll, 1877.] What has Ingersoll said of Christians? In the same speech, he declared, "Do you know that I have seen some people who acted as though they thought that when the Savior said 'Suffer little children to come unto me, for of such is the kingdom of heaven,' he had a raw-hide under his mantle, and made that remark simply to get the children within striking distance?" Ingersoll detests Christian morality as it is the debasement of the ethic of compassion, and he detests the beating of children because it is the epitome of brutality...
In a letter to me, several reverends told me the following when I told them how I held hatred for Child Abuse, "However, as you see the Lord declares that we as parents are to chastise our Children, however, we are not to beat them or punish them unrighteously or unworthily, but rather with the admonition of the Lord!" There are Christians to this very day who are so brutal and heartless that they will advocate the beating of children! The justification given is that we are not to do so "unrighteously or unworthily," but with the "admonition of the Lord." These religionists who beat their children, who hold that our offspring are without rights, are cowards and fools -- they are as much malicious as they are without mind. The justification of the Bible has allowed them to commit such brutalities as Child Abuse. To these reverends who sent me this mail, I responded as follows...
To the human race, Christianity has been a plague. Minds have been infected with dogma. As the hearts of men filled with devotion for Christ, they bloodied their weapons and committed great injustices. The enemies of freedom have debauched every liberty and have made it a crime to think. Conscience escaped and was traded for piety -- god was loved more than this world, Jesus held in higher reverence than justice, the Bible embraced more than truth, and religion as a whole was more important than affection. If it is true that Christianity has destroyed the loves of humanity, what has it done to those who are not humans? Take a look at the current plight of society! If an individual is not born with the privilege of a human body, they are abused, beaten, and consumed. The difference between a human being and a cow is quite small -- it is but the body. One walks on four legs while the other on two, one walks upright and the other does not. The important similarity between the two cannot be argued: both are conscious beings, both are equally capable of suffering, and both can feel. This point cannot be argued by any reliable scientist. It has been the creed for ages that if a man was born with a different skin color, he is to be condemned to a life of toil and hardship in slavery. It is still the current creed, however, that if a person is born without a human body, their lives are to be condemned to the dinner plate! This is the current state of affairs and people will justify their diet of creatures by pointing to the Bible, as though the Bible has defended justice for eternity. All animals, despite race, species, gender, or sexuality, are but conscious beings, all capable of feeling pain and suffering, joy and desire. It is for this reason, that they are conscious, that I refuse to take part in their suffering, that I refuse to contribute to an industry bent on unrelenting abuse. Of the rights of animals, Humphry D. Primatt has said...
Romans 14:2, "For one believeth that he may eat all things: another, who is weak, eateth herbs." In Genesis, god gave dominion over animals, women, children, and slaves to man. It was only this century that slavery is truly being eliminated. Some may point to the Civil War, but African slavery was simply replaced with another type of slavery: Capitalism. The rights of women, too, have only been awarded this century, as well, just as the rights of ethnic minorities have only been truly recognized this century. There are still many advocates who will beat their children scornfully because of some religious excuse, but the days of Child Abuse are nearing their ends, with only Conservatives and religionists to mourn the loss of their right to brutality. But where is the end of the exploitation of animals? As long as they are restricted to the plate, as long as the church blesses the meat dinner, all in the excuse of religion, injustice and hypocrisy will forever been in the hearts of these men. It is by the excuse of religion, among other excuses, that men will consume their fellow creatures. Who could ever conceive of the idea of this, of taking an ax or bludgeon to an animal that can think of them, and then slaughtering the creature for the sake of consuming it, when we have a plethora of plants that are incapable of sensation? Only under the brutal, vengeful code of Christianity could such brutalities take place, and -- as I have said numerous times before -- I cannot adhere to Christianity, as I will never adhere to the code of brutality. To quote Henry Stephens Salt...
Henry Louis Mencken, the well acclaimed Rationalist and journalist, once said, "If, after I depart this vale, you ever remember me and have thought to please my ghost, forgive some sinner and wink your eye at some homely girl." ["Epitaph", Smart Set, 1921 Dec, p. 33.] If Jesus Christ were to have made a request on how his soul were to be remember, it easily could have been, "Persecute those who are different, do not think for yourself, and always be filled with a passionate hate for those who bother nobody else." To quote Thomas Paine, "Those who preach this doctrine of loving their enemies, are in general the greatest persecutors, and they act consistently by so doing; for the doctrine is hypocritical, and it is natural that hypocrisy should act the reverse of what it preaches." [The Age of Reason, part II, chapter 3.] Christianity has been the justification of every cruelty and every brutality to plague the face of this planet. It is only human nature for a few individuals to try and persecute others for the sake of profit or sadism, but it is only a cruel and bigoted superstition for Christianity to justify those who take pleasure in persecution. Anyone who studies the Bible is bound to come to the conclusion that it is a mere absurdity, fit for small minds who cannot explain the Universe scientifically. But anyone who studies the history of those who have upheld the Bible will find something more vicious: the brutalities committed by Christians for the sake of what scripture denoted. As I have stated, I am a Humanitarian and I follow humane principles. It is for this reason, the reason that I am a Humanitarian, that I could not possibly follow the brutal, ignorant, and malicious code of the Bible.
An Answer to my Critics
It appears that a particular writer named "Outsider" has made some comments upon my articles that I shall now address...
Some of us have a deep-rooted inclination to seek out truth and to understand the Universe for what it is. Those who are mentally cattle and need the shepherd of the Church will forever been in the abyss of ignorance. I would choose to live truthfully -- with compassion in one hand and affection in the other -- than to live at all.
And so it goes, one notable radio personality today has said, "Religion exists in the cracks." What he meant was that, today, there are only a few small things which people do not understand that they attribute to faith. Outsider, you have made the statement that there are "well documented occurrences in which things have happened that cannot," -- yet you fail to produce a single, solitary piece of evidence of this. Furthermore, I doubt 100% that you could prove that something happened that could not. Are there witnesses of a married bachelor, or a square circle, or a live corpse? Have you seen any of these things? Do any of them exist? Certainly not. The fact that you point to your obscure, unnoticed "well documented occurrences" is ridiculous.
Faith has served those who do not know the truth for thousands of years. The Catholic Church, still embracing this foolish notion that one can know truth without evidence, is but an institution promoting ignorance and foolishness.
The last quote was Jesus Christ claiming that he claim to fulfill the Old Testament's laws.
And, as Matthew 5:17 states, Jesus Christ agreed with the law of the Old Testament.
I am not chastising Christians for writing the Pentateuch -- rather, I am criticizing the Bible, Christianity, and it's adherents for claiming to BELIEVE the Pentateuch.
Matthew 5:19 states, "Anyone who breaks one of the least of these commandments and teaches others to do the same will be called least in the kingdom of heaven, but whoever practices and teaches these commands will be called great in the kingdom of heaven." Whether or not it was to clarify his message, or to take the message of the prophets, or to apply it to living, it all comes down to the same thing: Jesus Christ condoned rape (Deuteronomy 22:28-29), murder (Exodus 22:18; Exodus 22:20; Exodus 31:14-15, Exodus 35:2; Leviticus 20:9; Leviticus 20:10; Leviticus 24:16; Deuteronomy 22:20-21), among other cruelties, as he claimed that we should follow the commands of the Old Testament. If we do not, we will be "called least in the kingdom of heaven." Even so, in this previous essay, I include numerous verses from the New Testament where brutality is encouraged.
I have quoted the Bible, the religious scripture of Christianity. The Old Testament is the foundation of the New, and the only reason why the New Testament has any merit is based on the Old Testament. From these books, the Old Testament condoning numerous brutalities and the New Testament confirming the laws of the Old Testament, I had constructed a rough sketch of Christian morality, as it is based in the Bible. How this is not Christian morality, it must escape the unbelievable genius of Outsider.
Religionists have rarely ever been the friends of infidels. But unlike two hundred years ago, I can speak as I wish without being burned to a crisp, as not only your dogmatic Bible preaches, but as your heartless and brutal ancestors practiced.
This essay is dedicated to two people. The first is Jawbreaker Savior, a warm, kind, intelligent, affectionate, beautiful person.
The second is Giordano Bruno, Rationalist, who was burned at the stake in 1600 by the Catholic Church -- THE TRIUMPHANT BEAST!! When given his sentence of death by his inquisitors, he responded, "Perhaps it is you who give me my sentence with more fear than I receive it." Percival Bysshe Shelley may have been speaking of Giordano Bruno when he wrote this...
George W. Foote was a notable historian who wrote about the deaths of infidels. In one of his books, he describes the death of Bruno...
I have already written at length on Giordano Bruno and his legacy as a Freethinker. But it is important that we do not forget those men who were defiant to the Church, who endeavored to destroy her power and to deliver the rights to the people. Men who cannot think for themselves are only shells of real men, some of them cowards of thought, some of them traitors of thought -- but the Catholic Church, this infamous collective of murderers and religious bandits, has tightened the noose around the neck of Freethought as much as it could. When Giordano Bruno broke free of this noose, of this mental tyranny, he was scorched to death. His life, like a candle had been blown out. Giordano Bruno died and the Catholic Church rejoiced. In 1600, the 20th of February, humanity was defeated by piety, and cruelty had overcome mercy.