There is at the heart of Christianity a disturbing doctrine that has the uncanny ability to overwhelm cognition, and — when internalized by the believer — the ability to traumatize. I refer to the belief, held by most Christians, that Jesus Christ, the prophetic figure of Christianity, was crucified to redeem the world, and that this plan originated with God.

This belief, central to most forms of Christianity, both Protestant and Catholic, maintains that God allowed Jesus to be tortured to death in public in order to redeem human beings, so that God might reconcile himself to his own creation.

This patriarchal doctrine makes God out to be a vengeful, homicidal deity who can be satisfied only with the death of his son, and portrays the state terrorism of the Roman Empire (the crucifixion) as redemptive. This vision of God is so reprehensible, and sufficiently different from the God...

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