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. . . we are told, that he "gave his only begotten son" to be tortured and crucified on our "behalf."

If God existed, and wanted me to believe in his goodness, and had he bothered to ask, I would have told him:

"God, if you want me to believe that you're a god of love, a good place to start would be to refrain from ever making anyone available to torture and death on my behalf. I do not regard torturing and killing others -- ANY OTHERS -- EVEN YOURSELF -- EVEN YOUR OWN CHILD -- WORSE YOUR OWN CHILD -- to be an exhibition of love."

The notion that God allowed his own child to be tortured for us reminds me uncomfortably of that Hinckley chap who tried to kill President Reagan to impress Jodie Foster.

The story of the "sacrifice" God made "for mankind" by allowing his son to be tortured and killed to "save us from our sins" is the central feature of Christianity. It is the entire point of Christianity. It is the point of the Christmas story and the point of the Easter story. It is the inescapable assertion of scripture, and it is only of the most immoral stories ever told.

That anyone should wish to "profit" -- even by the "gift" of salvation from hell and eternal life -- from the torture of another is, in my opinion, deeply wicked. In agreeing to "profit" from such an act, one tacitly endorses the act. The "saved" have essentially agreed that the suffering inflicted on Jesus was God's "way" of showing his "love" for mankind.

If the most powerful expression of God's "love" is thought to be an act of such abject cruelty, how is any thinking, feeling person supposed to reconcile the obvious disconnect between "love" and "torture?"

I cannot understand how people can get beyond the inherent evil of the story of God's supposedly most compelling expression of his "love."

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