Fundamentalists really like the doctrine of hell. Though there is absolutely no evidence for any such thing, and though, in this atheist’s opinion, the idea of a deity sending its own creations to eternal torture is obviously made up, as it is merely a reflection of the worst of human anger and frailty, Fundies cling to it because it gives them license to lord their strange beliefs over everyone else, and it allows them to cloak their irrational prejudices in the language of concern and love.  Here’s Matt Barber over at Peter’s Playland [no link], engaging in Pete and Matt’s annual Easter tradition of complaining about the San Francisco ‘Hunky Jesus Contest':

“While watching this repulsive, Satanic display I was surprised that I didn’t feel outrage – that I wasn’t angry. I felt pity for these poor, lost souls. I felt sorry for them. They were pathetic; sad; empty; foolish. I was embarrassed for them.

“Still, God will not be mocked. As I continued to watch I began to feel fear; not for me, but for them. As they pranced about on stage and the pagan audience reveled in their foolish blasphemy, I thought, ‘These poor souls. Someday they’ll stand before the very Lord they mock to face His judgment.’ In fact, based on the destructive lifestyle they lead, we know that that day will likely come considerably sooner for them than for most. I shudder to think of the literal Hell that awaits them lest they repent, fall to their knees and believe upon Christ Jesus, the Savior of the world; the Master and creator of the universe.

“As Christians we should all pray, as Jesus did, that God ‘forgive them, for they know not what they do.’”

My reaction to the Hunky Jesus Contest is approximately the same as it was last year: “Meh.” The religious pout-rage over it is the usual, as fundies think their beliefs should be above criticism or mocking. It’s obviously a silly, tongue-in-cheek event, some people enjoy it, and no one gets hurt. So, you know, who cares?

But let’s break down Bam Bam’s hateful little whine for a second. He places himself on a pedestal above these people by “pitying” them. There is nothing about Matt Barber that any sane human being would aspire to emulate, so the fact that he’s looking down on them is sad. His labeling of them as “pathetic; sad; empty; foolish” strikes me as projection, since nothing in the video would suggest that the people at the event are any of those things. Perhaps he’s a bit jealous and angry that they seem to be having fun? He then immediately falls onto the Fundie crutch of “God will not be mocked.” Actually, the fundamentalist conception of “god” is mocked all the time, as are other regional deities, and there’s no evidence that any actual deity is bothered by any of this. He then fleshes out the revenge fantasy, with the usual euphemisms: “As they pranced about on stage and the pagan audience reveled in their foolish blasphemy, I thought, ‘These poor souls. Someday they’ll stand before the very Lord they mock to face His judgment.’ In fact, based on the destructive lifestyle they lead, we know that that day will likely come considerably sooner for them than for most. I shudder to think of the literal Hell that awaits them lest they repent, fall to their knees and believe upon Christ Jesus, the Savior of the world; the Master and creator of the universe.”

You see, he may be claiming to feel fear and sadness, but there is absolutely no evidence for his contentions that these people will be sent to any sort of hell, whether literal or poetic. No, these people are out having fun, doing nothing wrong, and Matt knows it. He may even perhaps sense that their lives are more fun than his is. Wingnuts’ criticism of “coastal elites” tends to be tinged with the same kind of thinly veiled jealousy of people who are smarter, more educated, funnier, and more cultured than they are. In order to maintain his very flimsy pedestal, Matt must place himself above these people and express fear and sadness [thinly veiled glee] that, by his estimation, his deity will rise up and destroy these people, if they don’t abandon their authenticity and fulfillment in order to live dull, unfulfilling lives, as Matt and his cohorts do.