I’m an atheist. And I know that posing a question like this is simply an exercise in subjective judgement (I haven’t seen any scientific criteria for what constitutes “terrorism”). But I don’t understand why we shouldn’t acknowledge that inflicting certain myths on children is terrorist behavior. When I was a child my sister took me to a local conservative Christian church, which I then attended on my own for a few years. Of course such churches speak endlessly of “God’s love,” all while also threatening children and adults with eternal damnation in a lake of fire if they don’t accept Christ. At the time, of course, I had no meaningful education in history or science, and was unaware that the myth of judgement and punishment after death was a widely held belief in ancient Greece for hundreds of years before the Hellenes infected other places with this fearful silliness, including Palestine. It not only spread around the Mediterranean but seems to have passed through the Greek kingdoms that existed in northwest India to infect Buddhism! The Japanese Zen master Hakuin (1686-1769) spoke of how this myth terrorized him as a child. I’m not saying the belief started in Greece, just that Greece was a vast repository for this nonsense. Plato and other Greeks spoke about it at length. The Greek philosopher and sceptic Epicurus, who was falsely accused of hedonistic behavior by Christianity, derided this myth as one of the main causes of human suffering (about 300 years before Christ). For my part, I think that this myth, when perpetrated against children in particular, is tantamount to terrorism. It traumatizes children and gullible adults and can be an almost pathological obstacle to understanding and accepting science, rationalism, and the appropriate use of scepticism. The latter is sorely lacking amongst the gullible on the Internet and causes immense damage. There are, I suppose, wonderful Christians. Jimmy Carter comes to mind. But the whole hell and damnation thing is terrorist nonsense which has filled churches and collection plates for centuries, enriched and/or lionized foolish charlatans, and now seems to be a factor driving the new Christian right along with their other myth of the Second Coming. The attack on Congress was perpetrated by many who are driven by this belief. So I ask, Is it fair to call Christianity a terrorist religion? If not, is it simply to avoid offending people?
P.S. I spell the word sceptic in this way in honor of the late scholar Richard H. Popkin, whose landmark works on the history of scepticism adhered to this spelling.