I grew up among only believers and have known very many of them throughout my life. Most are well meaning people, some are brainwashed, some are zealous, and a number struggle to rationalize it all. The Christian Bible includes some pretty horrendous things (e.g. Exodus 11:4-7; Deuteronomy 22:13-21; Numbers 31:13-18; Joshua 8:24-29; 1 Samuel 15:1-3; Psalm 137:9) that serve as embarrassing reminders of the barbaric and uninspired authors who wrote it. Many good natured believers attempt to loosely reinterpret these verses, while some apologists have reluctantly defended child slaughter and genocide. Nevertheless, I think it is quite clear that, if he were tried under the same principles as those used by the Nuremberg Tribunal, the Judeo-Christian god would be found guilty as a war criminal.
Many believers are troubled by this, and so they try to rationalize it. But only recently did I encounter one, who not only defends genocide and torture, but actually fully and eagerly embraces it. That is, I encountered an xian who fully celebrates torture, expresses that he will take pleasure in inflicting it on the day of judgement, and has discussed how he not only supports genocide, but plans to organize and carry it out.
Ladies and gentlemen, I present to you: Clarence “Bro” Cope. I met Clarence about a year ago on Facebook, where he informed me that Jesus has personally appeared him, during which encounter he even physically touched Jesus (Paul only got a shining light from the sky). In meeting Clarence, I met just the delusional and possibly mentally ill kind of person who could have experienced a hallucination of a dead person, only to later report it in letters and even to travel across a broad geographic region to convince gullible people of actually having seeing a resurrected person. Clarence doesn’t convince everyone that he comes across, but he has gathered a small following of self-ostracized people, just like the early Christians, showing how such cults can originate and spread from nothing but subjective, psychological visions (such as a person claiming to have seen a dead person in a resurrected state) without any actual miracle behind them.
Clarence also testifies to having been been raptured to Heaven twice (Paul in 2 Corinthians 12:2 only got to visit “Third Heaven” once), to having killed hundreds of people by praying for natural disasters, and he even claims to have put a killing curse on my friend Michael Torri (we are both still waiting for it to kick in). Clarence also promised me that he will one day physically and bodily drag me and throw me into Hell, while laughing. Too hard to believe? Well, I can show you all of it.
Last November Clarence came to my old campus, the University of Arizona, and my friend Michael Torri videotaped multiple dialogues with him. Michael recorded five video exchanges between him and Clarence: Part 1; Part 2; Part 3; Part4; Part 5. I particularly recommend that people watch part 4 (the sections at 7:35 and 14:25 are especially entertaining):
Now, many believers will respond that Clarence does not represent “true Christianity.” I ask people to go back up and read the Bible links that I posted. In my opinion, Clarence’s beliefs are very consistent with the god of the Bible: a god who murders children, commands genocide, plans to destroy the world, and will send billions of people to eternal suffering. In this way I think that Clarence is truer to his sacred scriptures that most believers out there.
Fortunately, I instead think that most believers are better people than the god they worship. It is unfortunate when diverging from one’s sacred texts becomes a virtue, but that is a necessary consequence for those who still choose to believe in an ancient superstition while remaining civilized. Ironically, I agree with a number of religious leaders who preach that most xians today are hypocritical in being lukewarm and not living up to their religion. Where I differ is in realizing that this reluctance is actually something that makes the world a much more pleasant and decent place.