I was reminded a few weeks ago about another tool religions often use to recruit and keep members: scare tactics. Unfortunately my dad passed away about a month ago. He was spiritual, and somewhat religious, so his funeral was held at the non-denominational church he and his wife favored. A fiery preacher whose book my dad recently read and liked “graced” us with being the keynote speaker at the service. Given that he didn’t actually know my dad, I didn’t expect him to speak long or spend lots of time on my dad, but it was hard to know he was even the reason we were all gathered until the very end. He mainly spent the time promoting his book, the church the service was at, and a soon to come appearance by a very well known and religious football quarterback from Colorado. Then he got to the good stuff: he proceeded to tell everyone that my dad escaped hell and was watching us from above because he believed. It was up to us to decide if we wanted to join him. My dad sure wanted us there. He wanted us to believe, so that we could join him. In addition to disappointing god and not having a great afterlife, we’d be disappointing my dad, at his own funeral no less!
I’m sure fiery preachers and scare tactics are not as foreign to some people, but living all my life in Southern California as opposed to the bible belt, I’d forgotten how people are often convinced that to even consider alternatives means tinkering with eternal damnation. It’s an uphill battle to bring reason to the ignorant, but I’ll keep pushing for it. I was actually called out by an uncle in his eulogy for being an atheist, which I welcomed greatly. Unlike the pastor, however, I took the higher road and chose not to use my dad’s funeral as an opportunity to spread my own agenda.