Holy War, apparently
Okay, this post will come with a forewarning to any of you who have religous beliefs that actually think it's okay to openly condemn a non-believer to eternal torment. I truly doubt that this would include many (or any) of you, because my understanding is that this kind of hate speak reflects only a very fringe overzealous element in any religion. If taht includes you, though, be forewarned that you probably won't "get" what my probelm could possibly be. But thus far even the most openly religous of you have written here in a way that sounds to me balanced and reasonable enough... Allright, so here's the situation:
I get an email in my inbox this morning from my SM, who has rarely if ever sent me any email. Literally, I can probably count the total number of emails she's ever sent me on two hands, once. This was one of those "forward to many people" emails, but it actually wasn't sent to many people. Pretty much me, her mother, sister, aunt, and ---strangely--- my Dad's lawyer and his wife (the lawyer who he has basically entrusted to handle his affairs at this time of his life, terminally ill, and beyond). Most interestingly, my Dad was not included on the cc list.
In a nutshell, the email "warns" anyone who doubts or "mocks" or questions the existence of Jesus Christ that other people who have done so have died horrible "untimely" deaths. It proceeds to recount stories of John Lennon, Marilyn Monroe and various political and cultural figures who have dared utter words expressing their doubts and who have ended up dying horrible deaths. It goes on to talk about how Jesus is the only God and the only path to salvation, to avoid this fate. The wording is not even possessed of even a faux-compassionate "concern" (as in "just trying to help!"), it's all fire and brimstone and almost triumphantly laughing at the deaths of these people like "they got what they deserved".
Anyway, my SM knows very well and without any ounce of uncertainty that I am an agnostic secular Jew (agnostic by belief, Jewish by culture/heritage on my Mom's side with only marginal religious belief). By nature, agnosticism involves questioning, it basically says "I am open to the possibility of one day discovering that I believe in a God, but basically I think we can't know whether there is one or not so meanwhile I live my life according to other means of determining a moral code and finding fulfillment". It is, pretty much, a "doubting" position. I have lived by this principle for a very long time, and it's not some flavor of the month new thing that she wouldn't know about or would have any reason to think I'm changing anytime soon, especially not just to suit her or because of some hateful-sounding scare tactic. She knows that my mom's side of my family is Jewish and that Jewish belief respects Jesus as a very wise and important prophet but not interchangeable with the idea of "God" himself.
So by implication, her email pretty much condemned me to a horrible death because a) I do not consider Jesus as my God, and b) I am not even sure any sort of God exists at all. I found it hateful and I'm not sure how to handle it or how to respond.
Should I send her a similar "scare tactic" type email but just using made-up "examples" of poor suckers who didn't believe in ***Judaism*** and died horrible deaths, or who didn't watch enough Mel Brooks movies? Should I give her statistics of the many people throughout history who have died horrible deaths in the name of religion (Holy Wars, the Inquisition, etc.)? Or just cite statistics of many people who have died horrible deaths for just no reason at all? Should I simply write her back and say "Since you well know that I don't share your particular religous belief, are you basically trying to tell me that because of that I am going to die a horrible 'untimely' death? Is this some kind of veiled threat?" Should I bring my Dad into it, make him aware of the fact that she sent me something which I am 99% certain he would disapprove of and think was wrong and inappropriate?
I'm just blown away by this, her latest pathetic divisive manouever. Some people are just so freaking desperate to prove their supremacy or to drive a wedge between parent and child that they will even stoop so low as attempting to create some kind of ridiculous "Holy War" when all other tactics fail. Absolutely unbelievable!!!