The Christian Reward System

"When I was a kid I used to pray every night for a new bicycle. Then I realized that the Lord does not work that way so I stole one and asked Him to forgive me." - Emo Philips

John 1:29 famously tells us "Behold the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world." With more than a billion adherents worldwide, Christianity is the world's largest religion. Nearly one out of every three people walking this planet professes belief in Jesus Christ. With such a large and devoted following, one might be surprised to learn that Christianity is truly one of the most morally-bankrupt belief systems ever created by man. As a former Christian, I can attest to how easily and quickly a Christian either overlooks or through the process of indoctrination simply doesn't realize the implications of vicarious redemption. In fact, this concept is at the very core of the religion. Christianity, a religion built entirely upon a single human sacrifice, would completely be altered if we took away the concept of vicarious redemption, yet it's this immoral belief that is responsible for the faith's complete lack of accountability. This lack of accountability is an unspoken yet desirable quality of a concept that I refer to as the Christian Reward System. As I did with the Omni Paradox, I want to lay out a certain set of conditions - conditions in which we all agree to be true - and then apply them to real life situations to determine their validity.

I refer to the concept of Heaven in Christianity as the reward that all Christians aspire to achieve in the afterlife. If we were to ask a random Christian what it takes to get into heaven, we're likely to hear such answers as "live a good life", "follow the commandments", "believe in God", "go to church", and "don't kill". The Bible can be, and very often is, interpreted in whatever way the interpreter wants it to be. This is evident among the many different denominations of Christianity. It's a telling fact that Christians cannot even agree among themselves on the "correct" interpretations. The Christian Reward System is one thing that is essentially universal to all of these denominations however it remains a concept that often escapes the moral considerations of the common Christian. To get into heaven and enjoy eternal bliss, we need only repent our sins and accept Jesus Christ as our savior. Yes - that's it. We could look at some of the different ways that the various denominations try to interpret the requirements to get the reward, but the acceptance of Jesus Christ as savior is the only true constant.

"For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life." (John 3:16)

"For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast." (Ephesians 2:8-9)

"I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me." (John 14:6)

"For my Father's will is that everyone who looks to the Son and believes in him shall have eternal life, and I will raise them up at the last day." (John 6:40)

"to open their eyes and turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan to God, so that they may receive forgiveness of sins and a place among those who are sanctified by faith in me." (Acts 26:18)

"For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord." (Romans 6:23)

The only way to attain the Christian Reward is through belief. No matter how heroic your deeds as a mortal, you will not be eligible to set foot in Heaven without belief in Jesus. The Christian faith tells us that we are born into sin and are therefore guilty before we've even had the opportunity to take our first breath. No amount of good deeds alone can eliminate the magical curse that was placed upon us. Reread the previous passages and you'll see that the only way to achieve the reward of eternal life is to become a sycophant. Any individual, who believes that Jesus was crucified, buried, and rose again will receive forgiveness for all of their sins. They will receive His gift of eternal salvation through faith in Him.

In our modern world, how do we then reconcile this belief with the reward for it? When I laid out my case for the burden of proof, I demonstrated that belief alone isn't sufficient to make something true. The mere fact that I believe in the invisible pink unicorn living in my backyard doesn't make it so. How can the simple belief in Jesus trump the totality of a person's life and why should a rational person consider that concept virtuous? What about people who have committed actions that are deemed criminal not only by society, but deemed immoral by the Bible itself? If a man has murdered or raped in the past, do those actions prevent him from being able to lay claim to the Christian Reward? Even if they can't name them all, every Christian is familiar with the Ten Commandments, so let's look at this question through the commandments that God considered so profound as to write Himself.

The simplest Commandment from the King James Bible says "Thou shalt not kill". Seems pretty straightforward, doesn't it? I think we would all agree that it doesn't leave much room for misinterpretation. Does violating this or any of the other Commandments mean that someone is destined to spend eternity in hell? If a Christian murders someone, will that person go to Hell? Considering the fact that the Bible never clearly states what the eternal, non-negotiable, long-term consequences are for violating any of the Commandments, it's difficult to make that case. We can find more immediate penalties for these crimes throughout Leviticus and Exodus, but in every case, that immediate penalty is death. For example, blasphemy is punishable by death (Leviticus 24:16) and working on the Sabbath day is punishable by death (Exodus 31:15). Death sentences commanded as punishment by a "loving god" for minor things like uttered words or work conducted on a particular day of the week might seem extreme to modern, rational people, but at least the immediate penalty is clearly spelled out for those offenses. In order to find out what the eternal penalties are we have to look further into scripture.

To highlight a Biblical example of murder and its implications on the Christian Reward System, we do not need to look any further than the apostle Paul. Paul was one of the most influential early church missionaries and one of the most powerful influences on the books of the New Testament. In fact, much of the content from the New Testament is attributed to him. Before Paul became a Christian, he was known as Saul of Tarsus. As Saul, he was responsible for the deaths of many Christians. He was involved in the murder of Stephen (Acts 7 & 8) and actively persecuted early Christians. He doesn't deny any of this as evident from 1 Corinthians 15:9: ("For I am the least of the apostles and do not even deserve to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God") and Galatians 1:13 ("For you have heard of my previous way of life in Judaism, how intensely I persecuted the church of God and tried to destroy it").

In the Bible, Paul is courted by Jesus and goes on to become a pivotal figure in the spread of Christianity. This isn't just amazing by my standards; it's amazing by Paul's as well (1 Timothy 1:12-15). There are many more stories of murder in the Bible, but this one is particularly relevant to our discussion. If Paul, self-admittedly one of the worst sinners, is able to repent, accept Jesus Christ as his savior, and get into heaven, this doesn't preclude others from committing atrocities and still being able to enjoy the Christian Reward System. A murderer can be saved by Jesus so the Ten Commandments ultimately become irrelevant as it relates to murderers and Heaven. Consider the fact that most (if not all) people, Christians included, have lied, cheated, coveted, or stolen during their lives in direct violation of the Ten Commandments. Reading just the first three Commandments should give us cause for worry if these are the most moral lessons God could impart upon us. If the Ten Commandments were truly unbreakable moral "rules" in which we had to live our lives, Heaven would be an awfully empty place. Most Christians would disagree with the concept of an empty heaven, so let's call the Ten Commandments what they really are: the Ten Suggested Guidelines.

It's interesting to note the story in Exodus chapter 32 where Moses comes down from Mount Sinai with the commandments in stone. Moses discovers the golden calf created by the people as a false idol. To punish them, God tells Moses to have the men go through town with their swords and kill their brother, friend, and neighbor. The Levites did as they were told and 3,000 people died that day. Then the Lord "struck the people with a plague because of what they did with the calf Aaron had made." It didn't take God long to deviate from "Thou shalt not kill" lending Biblical evidence to the notion that "guidelines" are perhaps more appropriate than "commandments".

While taking the Lord's name in vain cannot be forgiven (Mark 3:28-29), murder is apparently no big deal when it comes to getting into heaven. Under the basic tenets of Christianity, a murderer need only come to Jesus, ask forgiveness, and find himself ushered into Heaven. If a righteous man who has contributed a great deal of good to those around him merely utters a disapproving word about the Holy Spirit, that kind of transgression is considered unforgiveable. Now I ask you, what is reasonable, equitable, and moral about a belief like this? Acts with life and death consequences are forgivable, but negative words uttered about an invisible spirit are somehow unforgivable and punishable by eternal damnation? If this belief holds even a kernel of truth, we must question the morality of a god whose priorities are arguably both arbitrary and psychotic.

To return to our initial question, it becomes clear that murder does not ultimately prevent someone from entering the gates of Heaven as long as they have taken Jesus Christ as their Savior and have asked for forgiveness.

The other half of the question dealt with rapists. While the Ten Guidelines mention murder, God didn't find rape important enough to include in the Ten Guidelines. Fortunately, we can find many examples of rape within the good book. For example, when God commanded Moses to attack Midian (Numbers 31:7-18), all the men were killed, including the five kings of Midian. The Israelites then burned the towns and villages and rounded up all of the women, children, animals, and valuables. They then took all the people, animals, and valuables to Moses and Eleazar. Moses was furious that his military allowed the women to live. He yelled at his commanders "Now kill all the boys and all the women who have slept with a man. Only the young girls who are virgins may live; you may keep them for yourselves." Here we have Moses, commanded by God, instructing his men to have their way with any young virgin girl. This would appear to be an approval of rape. God will not intervene.

In Judges 21 we are treated to the bizarre story of 12,000 warriors sent to Jabesh-gilead to kill everyone. They are told to "completely destroy all the males and every woman who is not a virgin." There were several hundred young virgins (how they ascertained this is questionable), so the warriors took them and were allowed to make them their "wives". Sadly, there weren't enough women to go around for all of the men, so the rest of the people felt sorry for them. The leaders instructed the remaining men to visit Shiloh during the annual festival of the Lord. The men were instructed to hide in the vineyards, and when the women came out for their dances, they were to kidnap the woman of their choosing. They did this and returned home with their new "wives". These men not only destroyed a town, they took virgin girls as their own. We have to be certifiably insane to think that these women would give into the desires of their new "husbands" willfully. No, these women were raped. What's worse is that the warriors didn't get enough so they had to go to another town to kidnap and rape more women. All of this was done under God's watchful eye. This too would appear to be a tacit approval of rape. God again will not intervene.

Deuteronomy 20:10-15 gives us explicit instructions on what to do when attacking a city and offering peace to the citizens. If they accept the offer of peace, every citizen will live but will be forced to become slaves. If they refuse an offer of peace, God commands that we lay siege to the city. Every man should be put to death, but the women, children, and livestock (notice how they are all neatly grouped together) may be taken as plunder. This is how we are to treat any city that does not belong to a nearby nation. This essentially gave the men a license to take what they wanted by force (plunder). Take anything including women and children. Here God is endorsing the slavery, murder, and raping of anyone who chose to stand and fight these advances. Again, this would appear to be another example where God approves of rape done in His name.

Deuteronomy 21:10-14 appears to show God's restraint in this area. If we are to find ourselves attracted to a beautiful woman that we have taken captive in war, we may take her as our "wife". Before we can do this in the eyes of the Lord, we must first take her to our home, shave her head, trim her nails, and give her a change of clothing. God commands that we give her a month to mourn the passing of her parents. Once that time has passed, she can be our "wife". Somehow I can't imagine many of these women falling in love with their captors and perhaps God agrees with me because He commands us to release her if we are not pleased with the woman. Notice that God doesn't say if the woman is displeased with us - only in the event that we are displeased with the woman. If that happens, we are not to sell her or treat her as a slave. While He doesn't discourage the practice of rape, it would appear that God felt it necessary to wrap some arbitrary moral rules around it.

In 2 Samuel 12, we learn that David has killed Uriah the Hittite and taken his wife. This did not please the Lord who takes David's wives and allow someone close to sleep with the wives (2 Samuel 12:11-14). As additional punishment, the child that David had with his new "wife" was dead seven days later. Because David sinned, his wives were raped in broad daylight. It would appear that God not only approved of rape yet again but actually commands that it be done!

We mustn't overlook the story of Sodom and Gomorrah, Abraham's nephew Lot offers up his virgin daughters for rape as appeasement to a crowd that wants to rape male angels. In Judges 19, a similar story is told of a Levite (priest) traveling with his concubine who is given shelter by an old man. The other men of the city knock on his door demanding the male guest be turned over to them for rape by the crowd. The man pleads to leave the male guest alone and urges the crowd to take not only the man's concubine, but the homeowner's virgin daughter as well. The crowd gang-raped the two women all night long and didn't stop until the sun had risen the following day. The poor concubine stumbled to the doorstep after a vicious night and lied down on the ground. The next morning, the Levite saw her on the ground and patronizingly says "Get up; let's go." There was no answer because the woman had died (Judges 19:25-29). God did not intervene. In fact, it would appear that God watched with complete indifference.

In all of these instances, God is either unconcerned with or explicitly rewarding men with rape, but that doesn't mean that there isn't punishment for "immoral" sex. Deuteronomy 22:23-24 tells us that if a man meets a virgin who is pledged to be married and sleeps with her, both he and the woman should be stoned to death. It is somehow assumed that if the woman doesn't scream for help, she must be a willing participant and therefore guilty of not being faithful to the man she's expecting to marry.

Deuteronomy 22:28-29 actually provides instructions in the event that a virgin girl who is not engaged to be married is raped. If the act is discovered, the rapist must pay the girl's father 50 shekels of silver, marry her, and he can never divorce her. I couldn't make this up if I tried. Not only does the girl get violated, but now she has to wed the very man responsible for raping her. I fail to see anything positive in this scenario for the woman. Now, many religious people will make the case that this passage, along with every other uncomfortable passage in the Bible, is simply taken out of context and that the Bible doesn't actually mean to say any of this. Even if it were possible to explain away the immorality of these passages, the fact that there is dollar value attached to the girl highlights a common misogynistic theme of the Bible. As we have seen, women are held in such low regard that it wouldn't be out of place to have such bizarre rules in the event that such a rape occurred.

Search high and low, but there is absolutely nothing in the Bible to suggest that the despicable act of rape would prevent someone from entering Heaven as long as they accepted Jesus Christ and asked for forgiveness. God is willing to forgive people of their sins (Ezekiel 18:27-28). Based on this information, it's fair to conclude, that according to the Bible, neither murder nor rape are automatic gate closers for Heaven.

At the beginning of this chapter, I likened the Christian Reward System to the Omni Paradox. If we lay out a certain set of conditions, conditions in which we all agree to be true, and then apply them to real life situations, the conditions seem to either contradict themselves or become senseless and moronic. Unlike the Omni Paradox, we only have one condition for the Christian Reward System: accept Jesus Christ as your savior and you will get into heaven. As we did with the Omni Paradox, let's apply this condition to some real world examples.

Joshua Milton Blahyi is a name that most of us in the United States have never heard of. We may not have even heard of his nickname "General Butt Naked", but for people living in the West African country of Liberia, they still fear him. As a former warlord, Blahyi was responsible for the deaths of more than 20,000 people. That's not a typo. Twenty thousand people are dead because of him. He has admitted to regular human sacrifice as part of his pre-battle preparations saying "Usually it was a small child, someone whose fresh blood would satisfy the devil." He admitted to "the killing of an innocent child and plucking out the heart, which was divided into pieces for us to eat." He told the Seattle Post-Intelligencer, "Sometimes I would enter under the water where children were playing. I would dive under the water, grab one, carry him under and break his neck. Sometimes I'd cause accidents. Sometimes I'd just slaughter them." He earned his nickname by going into battle wearing only his shoes and a gun believing that his nakedness would protect him. He believed that he had magical powers that could make him invisible which allowed him to be so successful when capturing towns.

In 1996, Blahyi claimed that Jesus Christ appeared to him as a blinding light during a difficult battle, similar to the Apostle Paul's conversion on the road to Damascus. Jesus apparently told Blahyi that he would die unless he converted and asked forgiveness for his sins. The story continues that Blahyi put down his weapon and converted to Christianity. Later he founded and currently serves as the president of End Time Train Evangelistic Ministries in Ghana where he preaches the Gospel. He is also the subject of a documentary entitled "The Redemption of General Butt Naked" produced by The Economist and PBS NewsHour where he travels the nation preaching the word of God and asking forgiveness from those that he has hurt. "It's the toughest moment in my life to see somebody who I hurt in the past," he says during the film. "There are thousands of people that can stand up here and say, this is what he did to me, this is what he did to my brother. I'm guilty. I'm 100 percent guilty for all the things I did in the past."

I thought the documentary was quite well done and would encourage everyone to watch it. It is important to see for yourself how Blahyi is being held up by some Christians as the ideal example of what redemption looks like. Just like the apostle Paul, Blahyi was responsible for the deaths of many, but was saved by his repentance and conversion to Christianity. This is not a hypothetical situation. This takes the very idea of redemption and puts a face on it! Do you think Joshua Blahyi should go to Heaven? Do you think he should be rewarded with everlasting life? What do you think the families of the 20,000 murdered victims might say? The truth is that your opinion doesn't matter. My opinion doesn't matter. God doesn't care about our opinions. According to Christian doctrine, we have absolutely no influence in whether or not this mass-murderer gets to spend eternity in Heaven.

As we did with the Omni Paradox, when we apply the Christian Reward System to this situation, Blahyi is clearly able to have eternal bliss in Heaven on the basis of belief alone. To be a Christian is to believe that Blahyi has been forgiven of his sins and will not face punishment for them. Just as the apostle Paul before him, Blahyi was responsible for the deaths of his fellow man but found redemption in Jesus Christ. Blahyi himself says "I know that my sins are forgiven if I accept Jesus, because he's already died for my sins."

Here in the United States, Warren Buffett will always be remembered as one of the most successful businessmen and investors of our time. In 2011, the "Oracle of Omaha" was ranked 3rd among the richest people on the planet by Forbes magazine. He has pledged to give away more than 99% of his wealth to philanthropy. Worth a 2011 estimate of $39 billion (that's billion with a "B"); Buffett will leave behind a legacy of being one of the greatest philanthropists to ever exist. His money has been pledged to the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation which is the largest transparently operated private foundation in the world. It is interesting to note that he didn't leave any of his money directly to any church or religious foundation. Like me, Warren Buffett is an agnostic who "did not subscribe to his family's religion. Even at a young age he was too mathematical, too logical, to make the leap of faith. He adopted his father's ethical underpinnings, but not his belief in an unseen divinity."34

Millions of peoples' lives will be positively impacted by what Mr. Buffett has done. Lives will be saved and families strengthened. His positive impact will be felt by millions long after he has left this world. According to the Bible though, Mr. Buffett will spend eternity burning in Hell. His crime: he didn't believe in Jesus Christ as personal savior.

Mentioning the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation leads us to Bill Gates himself. Bill Gates is the former CEO and current chairman of software titan Microsoft. He, along with Paul Allen, delivered the Windows operating system to the world. In 2011, Forbes listed Bill Gates one spot ahead of Warren Buffett at #2 among the world's richest people and #1 among those in the United States. In 2007, the Foundation's founders were ranked as the second most generous philanthropists in the United States. Today, Gates spends much of his time on the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation whose purpose is to enhance healthcare, reduce extreme poverty globally, and to expand education in America.

Because of the time, efforts, and financial contributions made by Bill & Melinda Gates and Warren Buffett, children around the world are being vaccinated where vaccinations weren't available before. Hundreds of millions of dollars have been spent on HIV research. Hundreds of millions of dollars have been spent on tuberculosis research. Millions of dollars have been provided for micro-financing networks in impoverished countries around the world to help lift people up and out of poverty. Millions of dollars have been spent on rice research to help keep up with world demand for a food staple used by so many. Donations are made to charities every year ranging from CARE International to Save the Children. Thousands of students benefit each year through the incredibly diversified network of scholarships.

Move over Mr. Buffett, because according to the Bible, Bill Gates will burn in Hell for eternity alongside you. Bill has not accepted Jesus Christ as his personal Savior, and according to Christianity, that is grounds for eternal punishment. Gates was interviewed in 1995 by David Frost for PBS and said "I'm not somebody who goes to church on a regular basis. The specific elements of Christianity are not something I'm a huge believer in." He continued with "In terms of doing things, I take a fairly scientific approach to why things happen and how they happen. I don't know if there's a god or not, but I think religious principles are quite valid." When asked whether there was something special, perhaps even divine, about the human soul, he responded "I don't have any evidence on that. I don't have any evidence of that." He later comments "Just in terms of allocation of time resources, religion is not very efficient. There's a lot more I could be doing on a Sunday morning."

Conversely, on most Sunday mornings you'll find Pat Robertson, a well-known televangelist and ex-Baptist minister, preaching the virtues of Jesus Christ. You may know Pat Robertson from such ventures as the Christian Broadcasting Network and The 700 Club. He believes in Christian dominionism, which means that he believes that Christians have a right to rule the world. If you are not a regular viewer of The 700 Club, you may have missed some of his more controversial statements regarding the terrorist attacks of September 11th, 2011 or his many failed predictions. After Hurricane Katrina claimed the lives of 1,836 people, Robertson told his audience on The 700 Club that this hurricane was likely a response from God as punishment for our country's stance on abortion. After the 2010 Haiti earthquake, Robertson attributed the devastation to the Haitian founders and their "pact to the Devil". Of course, he has never offered up so much as a shred of evidence to support any of his theories, but the dumbest of the dumb and the most gullible of the gullible believe him. This is the same man responsible for uttering the following statements:

"Just like what Nazi Germany did to the Jews, so liberal America is now doing to the evangelical Christians. It's no different. It is the same thing. It is happening all over again. It is the Democratic Congress, the liberal-based media and the homosexuals who want to destroy the Christians. Wholesale abuse and discrimination and the worst bigotry directed toward any group in America today. More terrible than anything suffered by any minority in history."

"The feminist agenda is not about equal rights for women. It is about a socialist, anti-family political movement that encourages women to leave their husbands, kill their children, practice witchcraft, destroy capitalism and become lesbians."

"I know this is painful for the ladies to hear, but if you get married, you have accepted the headship of a man, your husband. Christ is the head of the household and the husband is the head of the wife, and that's the way it is, period."

"There is no such thing as separation of church and state in the Constitution. It is a lie of the Left."

Robertson has used his extensive religious knowledge and apparent "spiritual connections" to make a number of predictions. Pat apparently has a direct line to God which he has used to predict the end of the world. In fact, he used his TV show to say "I guarantee you by the end of 1982 there is going to be a judgment on the world" - a prediction that Russia would invade Israel. In 2004, Robertson claimed that God Himself told him that President George W. Bush would win re-election in a "blowout". In 2006, he predicted that the Pacific Northwest would be hit by a tsunami. "If I heard the Lord right, about 2006, the coasts of America will be lashed by storms." In 2007, he heard from God again who told him that a terrorist attack on the U.S. would bring about "mass killings". "The Lord didn't say nuclear, but I do believe it will be something like that." In 2008, he predicted that if the U.S. opposed Russia's expansion and future desire to enter the Middle East, nuclear strikes could hit our coastal cities. When he made this prediction, he added that "In conclusion, it is my opinion that we have between 75 and 120 days before the Middle East starts spinning out of control." Demonstrating his superior financial acuity in 2009, he heard from God yet again, "If I'm hearing [God] right, gold will go to about $1900 an ounce and oil to $300 a barrel."

For a man who claims to personally hear from God so frequently, he sure has difficulty understanding Him. The end days promised in 1982 came and went. We're still here. The landslide that George W. Bush was to win by in 2004 ended up being one of the closest large elections in history. A tsunami never came to destroy the coasts of our Pacific Northwest. There was no major terrorist attack on America in 2007, let alone a nuclear attack. The Middle East has always been a political mess, but they didn't spin out of control and our coastal cities didn't experience a nuclear attack. Gold never hit $1,900 an ounce and oil never reached $300/barrel in 2009. In fact, gold opened at $874.50 in 200935 and peaked briefly at $1,212.50 on December 9th. Oil never went above $82/barrel all year. This shouldn't surprise us as this is the same man who went on television, squints his eyes straining to understand what God was telling him, and told his viewers that God was going to provide one million dollars to the lucky 700 Club viewer who was praying at that exact moment for one million dollars. If it were that easy, we'd all be millionaires.

At the risk of offending the estimated 1 million people who tune into this mountebank each day, at what point should a rational person cease giving this man our time and money? It is a far greater likelihood that he is either delusional or lying about God speaking to him than the assertion that he maintains a direct line to the creator of the universe. In any event, enough people believe what this man says to make him one of the wealthiest televangelists in the world. He is a classic example of what makes religion dangerous. Religion allows us to disregard logic and reasoning in favor of faith. Even with apparent direct knowledge provided by God Himself, Robertson has been completely wrong so many times, and unlike science, he has absolutely no burden of proof to bear. When no nuclear terrorist attack happened in 2007, he remarked in January 2008 "All I can think is that somehow the people of God prayed and God in his mercy spared us." This, my friends, is a good example of the Divine Default - the attribution of God where no evidence exists. Robertson could have attributed it to the flying spaghetti monster and the validity of the attribution would be the same.

Charles Taylor, the former President of Liberia, gave Pat Robertson mining rights in Liberia. Robertson used The 700 Club program to show support for Taylor during the Second Liberian Civil War and criticize the United States' role in 2003. As Taylor was being indicted by the United Nations for war crimes, Robertson's investment in the mine had reached a value of $8 million. During all of his public support for President Taylor, Robertson never mentioned his interest in keeping Taylor in power. When Congress passed a bill offering $2 million for the capture of Charles Taylor, Robertson accused then-President George W. Bush of "undermining a Christian, Baptist president to bring in Muslim rebels to take over the country." In hindsight, it's worth remembering that while Robertson was publicly supporting Charles Taylor, Taylor was providing safe haven for the Al Qaeda members responsible for the 1998 bombings of U.S. embassies in Kenya and Tanzania. The stench of hypocrisy should choke his millions of followers, but it doesn't. He may say one thing, but his actions time and time again are 180 degrees different.

Robertson's tax-exempt organization, Operation Blessing, was useful in furthering his interests. Most Americans will understand the concept of a "blood diamond". Perhaps you've seen it referenced in movies or books. It involves the practice of wealthy, powerful people who use slave or near slave labor to extract diamonds from the mines. It is a brutal situation for those who are forced to work in those mines. While Robertson was telling his viewers the planes were taking relief supplies to genocide victims in Rwanda, his planes from Operation Blessing were being used to haul diamond-mining equipment to his mines. Robertson's company African Development Corporation (ADC) was a major beneficiary. ADC is a private venture that involved both Robertson and the cruel dictator of Zaire, Mobutu Sese Seko.

A former pilot of Operation Blessing admitted during an interview in 1996 that perhaps 2 of the 40 flights to Zaire were actually used for the humanitarian work that Operation Blessing was telling its donors that it was doing. The rest of the flights were related to the business of mining diamonds. For an individual who claims to be a moral man of God, Robertson's actions over the course of decades are at odds with the image that he tries to project.

The point behind these stories is to highlight the lives of 4 men and how they ultimately relate to the Christian Reward System. If we apply the Biblical criteria for admittance into Heaven, a mass murderer like Joshua Blahyi and a deceitful, bigoted, homophobic, charlatan like Pat Robertson get rewarded with eternal life in the kingdom of Heaven, while billionaire philanthropists like Bill Gates and Warren Buffett will burn in Hell for eternity. Ask yourself honestly: which of these groups of men you'd rather have more of on our planet?

It seems to me that morality can't exist without accountability. If there is no accountability in the Christian faith, the Christian faith simply cannot be considered moral. When a belief system like this will allow a man who literally cut out the hearts of children to enter the gates of Heaven, but the men responsible for vaccinating children in poverty-stricken parts of the world will face "eternal punishment" in a "lake of fire". To believe in Christianity is to believe that men like Blahyi will never be forced to account for their actions while on Earth. A Christian can preach the virtues of divine forgiveness all day, but it doesn't negate the fact that personal accountability is completely absent in the Christian faith. Is it ethical to believe that the wrongs that you are responsible for could be paid for by someone else? Justice does not prevail over evil in these scenarios because mercy is the suspension of justice. Perfect justice and perfect mercy are contradictory. This critical fact shatters the perception of a religion promoted as moral and honorable. Atonement in Christianity is an illusion.

Atonement was important to the Jewish people. During Yom Kippur for example, we would find goats being sacrificed for this reason. It was common during Jesus' time for Jews to symbolically pass sins onto one of the goats to relieve the people of their sins. One goat would be used as a blood sacrifice. Another would be sent away never to be seen again. This is the very definition of the term "scapegoat". Christianity is a scapegoat religion. It might sound nice if we could take all of our sins and put them onto something or someone else, but by engaging in this primitive practice, we are saying that it's acceptable for another person to be punished for what we do. The totality of one's life becomes completely irrelevant. It doesn't matter whether we are good or bad people. It doesn't matter if we kill people or save lives. Our legacies on Earth do not factor into the Christian Reward System. Jesus is the scapegoat upon which we cast our sins and alleviate any responsibility for them. To refuse this offer of scapegoating is to welcome upon ourselves an eternity of pain and suffering. This is the most basic and central tenet to Christianity...and the most immoral.

Bill Gates and Warren Buffett will leave a far greater and more positive legacy than Joshua Blahyi and Pat Robertson ever will, and yet according to the Bible, these men are destined for an eternity of pain solely because they haven't accepted Jesus Christ. The moral implications are unavoidable. If I commit murder, our legal system will hold me accountable for my actions. If our legal system were like Christianity however, I could commit murder and let you go to prison for my crime instead of me. Vicarious redemption is appalling because there is absolutely no correlation between being a good, moral person and heavenly reward. It's sad really. Other than taking the Lord's name in vain, our actions during our few decades here on Earth ultimately have no effect on our eligibility into Heaven for eternity. Believe and we'll be saved. This type of thinking can (and does) have disastrous consequences. Think about it - Christianity gives us a license to do whatever we want as long as we repent and believe in Jesus. The ultimate importance of our time on Earth is diluted by this faith which is a shame because our time on Earth is the only time of which we can be certain to have.

The Christian Reward System is a morally-bankrupt belief system with no place in today's modern society. To view it any other way is naive, dangerous, and insulting.