If you question the teaching, you are “backsliding, unbelieving, fallen, demonized.” Speak against the teaching, and you are a “false prophet, an antichrist, heretic, apostate doomed to blackest darkness.” If you merely don’t believe the teaching or fail to hear it, you are a “sinner” and deserve to be burnt with fire forever, because that means you have a “hardened heart” and hate the teacher (god). What kind of madness is this teaching! Would we not cry abuse and cult in any other context besides religion? Why are there so many of these labels? This is all straight out the Bible. These biblical labels are a manipulation to keep those inside from thinking about leaving, and to be afraid of people who tell them different ideas. I for one, won’t be intimidated by childish threats, especially ones that are so clearly maniacal and claim to be made in love or by a god. Give me a break.

If you hold to this as your book, you have to own these words personally, or admit they are manipulations and have no place in any system claiming to be spiritual or loving. It makes it easier for us to dehumanize people and dismiss their beliefs when we call them bad names and label them as evil. War chiefs teach their soldiers to use slurs to describe their enemies so they can think of them as less than human or evil when they’re killing them–for instance Koreans and Vietnamese were called the slur “Gooks” by US soldiers in two of our wars. Maybe these labels like antichrist and backslidden make it easier on your conscience to burn someone? Christians have called each other antichrists and apostates throughout history for having different versions of Christianity, which often later became orthodoxy.