Please begin this blog sesssion by watching this short but powerful presentation by Bishop Robert Barron:
I agree with Bishop Barron entirely, but he has missed an important component which I believe has contributed to the dehumanization of people – the teaching of an eternal, burning hell of torture created by a sadistic God. Such an idea, which was birthed by Augustine and run with by the Western church, could only come from Augustine’s wretched belief that all mankind is worthless dung, a great massa damnata. Once you see mankind in this light of utter worthlessness, rather than being bearers of the image of God and made with inherent dignity, then you lose all sense that people have any value whatsoever. You can see this in how the Western Christians, both Roman Catholic Church and Protestant, treated all those who
disagreed with their doctrines. They murdered them. Despite what people say, what we believe has a profound influence on our behavior. Believing that God has no care for the souls of millions of people gives us the right to treat them with contempt and persecution, especially if we feell, as did Governor John Winthrop, that we are doing God’s work on earth by sending them to the punishment they so richly deserve.
Imagine you have a very dear friend, someone who over the years has been of great comfort and support to you, as well as having spent numerous hours of time together in just relaxing or having fun. One day, you wake up to find that half of your house has been vandalized with spray paint. Upon investigation, it turns out that the culprit is your dear friend’s son.
“Please forgive him.” your friend pleads. “I know he has done wrong, but he is nonetheless my son and I love him.”
For the sake of your friend, would you forgive the child? Of course! But this does not totally make things right, for a month later, the child, seeing you walking in town, strides up to you and launches into a tirade of insults and venom against you, concluding it by taking a swing at you. Again, the friend comes to you and pleads with you to not hold it against the child, that he is working with counseling and trying to heal the child, but the child is very sick and in dire need of more help.
Again you forgive, for the sake of a beloved friend.
This is exactly what Christ has told us to do with our enemies and those who despitefully treat us. We are to love them with a self-sacrificial love, one that looks to the good of the other instead of our own interests. In order to do this, we must see all men and women as children of God and worthy of our respect because of the dignity of their creation and the bearing of the image of God. We forgive them because we see all men as God’s children and refuse to judge anyone as being a “son of the devil,” as the Calvinists so gleefully pronounce on all those who refuse their doctrines and their Christ. The word “pagan” replaced “child of God” in the lexicon of the Puritans, making it easy to pull the trigger and blow their heads off. After all, pagans are hated by God and deserve hell.
The teaching that God burns in hell and torments forever even one human being, much less millions and millions, creates a psychology which says that human beings in and of themselves are worthless. They have no value to God, for if they did, He would certainly do everything possible to repair the damage to them and restore them to the original dignity they held before the fall of mankind. Within the teaching of eternal hell is the concept that since God is going to treat the unregenerate, the pagan, the fallen away Christian, and those who do not accept our beliefs and our church, with an eternal festival of torment, then we here on earth are free to do the same. We are just following our avenging God in giving them what the deserve. They have no value, no dignity, and are worthless.
I will let this article speak for itself.  Yes, I acknowledge that sin and our broken natures contributed greatly to the actions we observe on this page, but at the same time, I cannot help but remember the quote from Queen Mary, who, when speaking of Protestants she executed, said that as heretics they were going to hell anyway and she was just doing the work of God in sending them there. Not brothers and sisters in error in need of counsel and gentle reproof, but heretics in need of being sent to hell and deserving eternal torture. Mary would just get the ball rolling by rolling their heads.
So what I am saying is that while the atheist mindset does indeed contribute to people being regarded and treated as mere objects with no dignity, Bishop Barron needs to wake up and realize that his own church has greatly contributed to this as well by their horrendous teaching of an eternal fiery hell. It may be subconscious within people, but the thought must be that but if human beings had any dignity, God would find every way possible to rescue them from the destruction of sin and would never consider treating them in such a vile manner as to torment them forever without mercy.
After all, if God is going to treat some this way, why shouldn’t I – and get my new Lamborghini?
 How does one, in the widest possible sense of the word, consider himself a Christian and commit the kind of atrocities that Christians have committed over the centuries? I am gobsmacked reading the page I linked. The only possible explanation is that rather than focusing on the Sermon on the Mount and the call of Christ to love our enemies and do good to them, centuries of Christians have focused on the Old Testament and the God who is presented as “the Mighty Smiter,” dealing out judgment and death upon His enemies and sending them to hell forever.
Honest to God, did these people strut around thinking “Jesus is so pleased with me for killing His enemies and sending them to the hell they deserve.”