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The Colorado courts have unsealed some documents in the case of Robert Lewis Dear, the Christian terrorist who attacked a Planned Parenthood in Colorado and murdered three people. (Since it seems clear that Dear isn’t denying his guilt, I think we can dispense with words like “alleged”.)

The new documents confirm that Dear’s motivations were explicitly religious. Among other details, we’re told that he repeatedly quoted the Bible, “called President Barack Obama the antichrist” and “thought highly” of executed Christian terrorist Paul Hill. And then there’s this bizarre tidbit:

Dear told one of the detectives interviewing him… that his dream was that when he died, he would be met at the gates of heaven by aborted fetuses. They would then thank Dear for his actions, saying that he saved the lives of other unborn fetuses.

I can’t help but laugh at the mental image this produces. Since the huge majority of abortions happen in the first trimester, most of those grateful heavenly fetuses are going to be tiny if not microscopic. It would probably look like getting swarmed by a cloud of gnats.

But on a more serious note, Dear’s comments unintentionally shed light on an incoherency that lies at the very heart of anti-choice religious beliefs. Fundamentalists like him believe that abortion is the ultimate evil, that ending abortion is a moral crusade of the highest importance, and that doctors who perform abortion are ending human lives and that this justifies any method, up to and including murderous violence, to stop them.

And yet, at the same time, they believe that aborted fetuses go straight to Heaven to enjoy an eternity of bliss. If that’s the case, then why is abortion a bad thing according to them? Is going straight to Heaven an undesirable outcome? Aren’t doctors who perform abortions actually doing those souls a favor by sparing them the pains and dangers of earthly life and guaranteeing their salvation?

As I wrote in “The Blessed Legion“, Christian theology leads inescapably to the conclusion that being born is a terrible misfortune. Most people who are born will be raised in false religions, fall into sin, and wind up in Hell suffering the torments of eternal damnation. By contrast, those who are lucky enough to be aborted, spontaneously miscarried or die in early childhood get an express elevator ride straight to Heaven, without ever having to run the gauntlet of hazards and temptations that mortal life affords.

This illogical scheme makes God out to be like a teacher who gives a final exam so difficult that the vast majority of those who take it will flunk – and yet gives a perfect passing grade to those who never even show up to class. If earthly life is so unimportant that the majority of heavenly residents will be people who never had one, then what’s the point of having an earthly life at all? Why shouldn’t it be avoided wherever possible? The only opportunity it offers, in this theology, is an opportunity for people to damn themselves.

Image: kmf164 via Wikimedia Commons; released under CC BY-SA 2.0 license

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DAYLIGHT ATHEISM Adam Lee is an atheist author and speaker from New York City. His previously published books include "Daylight Atheism," "Meta: On God, the Big Questions, and the Just City," and most...