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Well, that’s not too inflammatory of a title, is it? But it’s true. I’m glad he isn’t. And here is why.

When I was a Christian, I thought of my god as my father–a far better one than the one I currently had. I didn’t realize I was just reading into this concept of “god” what I most wished for, what I most needed in a father. I didn’t realize I was being very selective in seeing what I wanted to see about this god. So for those who still labor under the illusion that this god is their father, and for those who miss having that protection they once envisioned, I present: why you don’t really want the Christian god to be your father.

Fathers are there for their kids. But the Christian god isn’t. If I said that I’d never once seen my father in the flesh or heard his voice with my human ears, people’d rightly say that father had abandoned me. This god once walked with his humans in the garden he’d made for them, but not anymore.

Fathers forgive their kids their mistakes. But the Christian god doesn’t. In the Garden, his children made one mistake and were cursed for all time. Surely a good father would figure out how to help his children learn from that mistake, rather than casting them out of the house. Surely a good father wouldn’t curse his children forever–a curse that would murder millions of innocent women and babies from difficult childbirth as well as condemn humanity to starvation and endless years of wars over scarce resources. That sure doesn’t sound like a good father to me.

Fathers want their kids to grow up and become good adults. But the Christian god wants his children to stay eternally toddler-like. He wants them to be ignorant savages who depend on him for their every single provision. He wants them to accept anything said to them in his name without questions or criticism. And they must always, always, always stay kneeling at his feet–like good little slaves.

Good fathers aren’t threatened when their kids come out with the inevitable “I hate you”s and the demands for privacy. They know it’s part of a child’s establishment of boundaries. But the Christian god not only demands constant love and adoration but condemns any person who dares speak out against him.

When a father must discipline a child, a good one does it in a way that affirms the child’s dignity and helps the child understand what the right way is. But the Christian god either doesn’t discipline his people at all, or else he comes down on them with full force–but nobody knows just why the punishment has arrived, or what can be done to avoid it next time. None of this god’s children understands why he slams a state filled with Christians with tornadoes but leaves the one that just legalized gay marriage alone. None of this god’s children can comprehend why he seems to reward that pastor who preys upon the young girls in his congregation but tortures the lowliest of his children with constant troubles. There’s no way to know why anything happens, and he seems to like it that way or else he’d already have changed it. That’s not discipline. It’s emotional abuse.

A good father does not abandon his children if they stop loving him; he loves his kids no matter what they do. But the Christian god has a place set aside for those children of his who don’t love him. He’s got an eternity of suffering prepared for them. He makes it clear that if one of his children stops loving him, then that child is no longer worthy to be in his exalted presence. (Let’s not forget that the entire reason that child doesn’t love him anymore is because one day in the long-forgotten past, that child’s ancestor ate a fruit that this god put in the garden on purpose.) I hear way too often about parents who disown their kids if those kids deconvert, perpetuating a cycle of cruelty and abuse they learned at the feet of their own divine father.

A good father doesn’t demand his children kowtow to him for their food, shelter, and basic provisions. But Christians delight in praying to their god to thank him for every meal, for every paycheck, for every month they squeak through without something terrible happening. I’ve got news for Christians: no decent father feels comfortable with his children clamoring up onto his lap as they beg for food from his hands. He feeds them without their having to ask–or wonder if food will be provided or not that day. He takes care of their medical needs without them needing tens of thousands of their friends to petition him on their behalf. He does it because that’s what a father does, not because they pleaded and begged for it.

A good father doesn’t stand idly by while his children are abused, hurt, or maligned. A good father doesn’t watch his daughter get raped and do absolutely nothing–and then expect her thanks when a neighbor sees what’s happening and calls the police. A good father doesn’t stand there and watch a tornado rip through his children’s homes and let those children die in terror and pain without making a single move to rescue them. A good father doesn’t let his children starve to death all over the world by the tens of thousands every single day but then do minor little “miracles” for his first-world followers, giving them nice parking spots and healing their acne. A good father doesn’t play favorites like that. A good father tends the greater needs first before the lesser ones.

A good father doesn’t destroy his children’s lives on a bet (see the Book of Job). A good father doesn’t murder other people’s children just for calling his buddy bald (2 Kings 2:23-24). A good father wouldn’t ever let his children be enslaved by another if he had the power to stop it. He wouldn’t demand his daughter be “scourged” or put to death if she got raped (Leviticus 19:20-22, Lev 20:11-12, etc etc etc). He wouldn’t demand his children do horrible things to other people and animals in his name (see: countless genocides he ordered and demands for burnt offerings of innocent animals). He wouldn’t murder an innocent person to assuage his fury with the rest of his children (see: Jesus Christ). He wouldn’t demand one of his children murder his own child just to see if he’d do it (Genesis 22:2-13). He wouldn’t threaten his children with eternal torment for not kissing his butt often enough. A good father would find all of this stuff absolutely unthinkable.

A good father stays on decent terms with his partner when he can, because kids benefit from having their parents be on decent terms even if they’re no longer together. But the Christian god, by marked contrast, abandoned his partner long ago. Did you know about her? I sure didn’t. Asherah was his consort, but you never hear about her. She might even be the mother of these “sons of God” mentioned in Genesis 6:1-4. Whatever the case, she was once very important, but when the Israelites and later the Christians and Muslims needed a monotheistic god, she vanished into the green groves she once took such delight in. Heck, he abandoned all his former pantheon–you did know he was just one of a family of gods in that area, right? And he took their names–El for example–and had his kings destroy the green groves, poles, and golden calves of the competing gods he wanted to supplant. When he couldn’t supplant them, he simply declared them to be evil false gods–as he did in the case of Baal–the son of El, a god Yahweh subsumed into himself–a few times (Judges 6:25-28 just as a start). (Reminds me–I once did a cool Scion game set in that era that involved players fighting to stop Yahweh from taking over the pantheon.)

But most of all, he’d be there for his kids. It shocks me even today that I had this elaborate fantasy relationship with this god I imagined in my head. I prayed to him constantly and said I loved him. I had no idea what love was. I had no idea why what I was doing was so unhealthy. I didn’t understand. I was one of those “relationship” Christians–you know, the ones that brightly parrot in that singsong way “It’s not a religion, it’s a RELATIONSHIP!” like anybody but them buys that rubbish. I just didn’t understand what being a good father was. Once I did know some people who were good fathers, it really made the Christian god look really bad.

How moral can a god be if his children put him to shame in the parenting department?

So to those fathers reading this, and to those who have fathers, Happy Father’s Day. Let’s give the honor where it really belongs: to the men (and the women who have taken on the role as needed) who do so much better than this malicious, capricious, by turns absent and cruel, and abhorrent being I once called “father.” Doing so just demeaned and debased the 24/7 job these real fathers do, and I will not ever make that mistake again.

Happy Father’s Day, world.

ROLL TO DISBELIEVE "Captain Cassidy" is Cassidy McGillicuddy, a Gen Xer and ex-Pentecostal. (The title is metaphorical.) She writes about the intersection of psychology, belief, popular culture, science,...