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Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Executive Order 16661: 7:21 am

It was the day humankind would change forever.
We had received our orders earlier that morning:
You are given full clearance to round up and detain all individuals who attend the targeted houses of worship. Any resistance will be met with force. All pastors are to be executed in front of their congregations as an incentive toward full cooperation.

It was about time those bible thumpers were dealt with. Ever since I went to my first philosophy lecture at college, I knew the only way to effectively deal with religious freaks was to force them to recant or exterminate them. I was big fan of Harris, Dawkins, and my favorite, Nietzsche, all who were serious advocates of the complete public eradication of religion. Their books inspired and enhanced my beliefs and gave voice to all my deep frustrations. I had plenty of them too, mostly involving my religious nutcase parents, my snake-handling church, and the many judgmental glances and comments I received for loving to think, and speak my mind. Such a crime to be able to think; if I think I might not need faith. I might not need them. College was a refuge where I could run to and indulge in my desire to learn. I enrolled in every “thinking course” I could. During those courses, I felt like I was being liberated from years of superstition much like Medieval Europe was delivered by the Renaissance. Still, with all of my great learning I was still constantly bombarded by people and events that just intensified my hatred of religion and its adherents. I was starting to believe that all of my desires would never be quenched or used to make a difference, until I was approached my last semester of college.

I was sitting out around one of the many common areas, when I was approached by an middle-aged, nicely dressed, but inconspicuous man who sat down, smiled, and asked,

“You are Roger Armond, no?”

I looked up, slightly surprised, “Yes, I am…and you are?”

“Oh, my apologies! My name is Gregory, Gregory Bell, but you can call me Greg.”

“Ok, how do you know me, Greg?” I pretended to be annoyed, but I was really curious and wanted the man to keep talking.

The man smiled and gave a small laugh, “Oh, Roger, I have been keeping tabs on you for quite some time. Ever since you published your paper on religious tolerance, I have been extremely interested.”
My curiosity was now raging out of control; who was this guy and how many of my papers had he read?

Why was he keeping tabs on me?

“What is it that you want to discuss with me?”

“Opportunity, Roger, simply opportunity,” he gave another smile, “The world is changing Roger; I was wondering if you wanted to be a part of it?” The question lingered in the air as I stared at Gregory Bell.

“What are you talking about?” I leaned closer to hear the answer that my heart was burning for…

“A world without religion Roger, a world where science and reason are the only faiths men look to for meaning.” Gregory Bell was smiling now and seemed to anticipate my response.

“Wow, that sounds great, but there are billions of problems with that.”

Gregory Bell laughed a different, almost heinous laugh.

“You don’t eat an elephant whole, Roger; you have to eat it one bite at a time. Things have been in motion for quite some time; we have been very patient. You will be surprised to know that we have infiltrated the government and that it won’t be long before we are in the highest reaches of power. I am here…” he paused, and my breath caught, “I am here, Roger, to offer you a job, no, more than a job, a calling.”

“Mr. Armond; we’re almost to the site; eta, about 10 minutes.”

I acknowledged the Lieutenant’s report and continued to ponder the moment that was about to occur. We were one of many teams being dispatched to the churches; the first bite of the elephant of religion was about to be relished. This particular group was the most dangerous type; evangelical Christians who claim they were tolerant and seeking to be of benefit to society. How many religions had claimed to be tolerant and beneficial and would later end up controlling the masses with their irrational, unsupportable dogma. No, there was no “tolerant” religion; especially of the monotheistic type; especially evangelical Christianity. The only religions that were worse were radical Muslims and Mormons.

“Are you sure this is the right decision, sir? I mean, are these people really terrorists?”

“Roger, this is too much.” Christina looked at me with a look of despair, as if there were no hope for me…I hated when she did that.

“Christina, this would be a huge opportunity for me! You just don’t understand the once in a lifetime opportunity that was just offered to me! We would be able to start our lives right!”

Christina was my fiancée of six months and a psychology major; her desire was to work in experimental psychology especially dealing with possibilities in telekinetic manipulation. She was a genius and she was beautiful; I loved both of those qualities.

She was also a Christian, or at least that is what she claimed; I despised that about her.

I had successfully managed to get her to go out with me, despite my anti-religious rhetoric. Her parents did not like me and I honestly did not care; I entertained hopes that I would finally dislodge her from her religious trappings. I did manage to keep her away from any dangerous churches and to get her to attend a Unitarian Chapel down the street from the college. While not overly fond of religion, I knew the Unitarians believed in everything and therefore, believed in nothing at all. If it meant pacifying Christina’s religious leanings; I would attend the meaningless service where the topics were often world peace and kumbiya. I figured with enough time she, like me, would see the stupidity and polarization that was emanated by religion.

I was sure she would choose me.

“Roger, these people actually want to do what you have been ranting about for the last three and half years; they want to eradicate religious people! In case you don’t realize it; that means me!”

“Christina, I don’t think you are as religious as you claim. I mean, hasn’t the Unitarian church’s absurdity helped you to realize just how stupid religion is? I mean, your own parents will tell you the Bible says we should not be married, but you chose to marry me anyway. Stop living a lie Christina, you don’t really believe in God at all.”

Christina gave me a really nasty look.

“You know what, Roger, I have really started to miss going to church. I went to my church back home when I visited my parents last weekend and it was great. There is so much about being in a community with believers that I long for and miss. The Unitarians don’t believe in anything and stand for nothing; I am tired of going to that place.”

My heart sank and I became angry…too angry. My fist pounded the counter.

“Christina, you are not going to one of those churches; my god, why did you go back to that place? Don’t you know that part of their mind control is centered around nostalgia! You are a cognitive specialists, you above all should be aware emotional manipulation! The ‘community,’ you experienced was their way of capturing you with relational bonds and baggage… ”

“Wait, did you just tell me that I am not going back to church? Just who do you think you are?”

Christina’s anger was now matching mine.

“Yes, you will not go back to that church! No wife of mine is going to be involved with a bunch intolerant, fundamentalists snake handlers! You are too smart and…”

“FIRST OF ALL,” Christina was at full volume now, “I am NOT your wife. Second, my church is not intolerant, fundamentalists, and we don’t handle snakes. You are always talking about how ignorant religion is, but have you ever stopped to think that maybe YOU are the ignorant one?”

“Oh, I am sure, soldier. These people are worst than terrorists; they seek to control and terrorize people’s minds and thus deceive them into believing in some god or gods that not only do not exist, but who hamper our existence. You aren’t having second thoughts are you?”

The soldier turned white, much to my pleasure.

“No sir, I know how to follow orders without my conscience. I was just posing a question.”

“Some questions are too dangerous to inquire, remember that.”

The soldier turned white again and nodded. I was satisfied that I had cowed him. If you hesitate even a second to follow your orders, I may have to deal with you rather harshly; that would be…unfortunate.
It was not long before we reached the staging grounds where we would wait for the opportune moment to ambush the assembling believers. Dr. Bell thought it would be best to give the believers a false sense security before crashing their hopes; Dr. Bell was a true Nazi. What a better way to tear apart the illusion of define safety, than by letting the believers think that it was all a hoax and that nothing was amiss. Where will your god be then, hmmm?

“Lieutenant, what time is it?”

“It is eight o’clock sir.” This news did not make me happy.

“Eight o’clock? I thought you said we were ten minutes out?”

“Well, we were sir, but we ran into an accident on the interstate that hampered our progress.”

It was annoying, but I could not fault him for the traffic conditions; I just nodded and headed off to get coffee from the Starbucks we had parked at. I loved a good pumpkin spice latte; coffee was a thinking man’s drink and my heart would ascend to the heights when I partook of it. I walked into the Starbucks; ordered my coffee and went to sit at one of the tables.

Someone had left a newspaper and I picked it up and began to read the day’s headlines. Something about a volcano eruption in Ecuador; thousands of lives lost. There was some sort of new spat between Israel and Hamas on the West Bank; the result, a loss of three Israelis and about a hundred Palestinians. A new malaria epidemic was spreading through the Congo and the death toll was reaching the thousands.

If there is a god, then it is doing a crap-chute job.

I took smug satisfaction knowing that I was about to shatter the faith of so many believers; I was going to show them just how much their god cares about them. Will he stop me from killing their pastor; will he keep me from detaining the faithful? Will he come down from heaven and deliver them out of my hands? Shall the Almighty actually come to the rescue of his faithful for once? Shall the cries of thousands of believers be heard in the throne room of heaven, and if they are, will god even care?

No he won’t.

I took great pleasure at the power that I held in my hands; no the lives I held in my hands.
No, even better, the destinies I hold in my hands.

The latte was just the right temperature and I smiled contentedly. I watched the early morning traffic move lazily down the street; every once in awhile a car would go through the drive-thru and I would stare at the driver as they passed by. They had no idea that they were staring at greatness; that I was about to change the world.

They were ignorant of the glory that was about to be revealed to them.
The massive truck I arrived in was parked around back; we wanted to be as inconspicuous as possible. I made sure that the soldiers remained in the truck until it was time for us to move across the street. We would stay and wait until the majority of the congregation arrived before we embarked on our mission. It would catch everyone completely by surprise and it would give us an extra element of fear and trepidation.

Just wait until I execute their minister.

I looked out of the window and saw a young man sitting with his engine idling staring at the church. Not too long after that a man and woman arrived; the man went into the Starbucks and the woman seems to have known the young man in the other car. They seemed to have a heated conversation. I glanced at her license plate

That is a government plate; must be the FBI,

How did I know that? It was just the intuition I was born with. I had been told that someone had leaked the details of the mission to several of churches’ pastors. Well, isn’t that nice; someone had the heart to warn them. Too bad that means they will be arrested and charged with treason as soon as we find them. I smiled with satisfaction at the thought; it would only be a matter of time before we discovered the identity of the mole, no, the rat.

How unfortunate for the FBI to step in the way of this operation; they must think that it is some sort of terrorist threat.

I did not care if they were government agents; if we had to “remove” them as obstacles, I would have no qualms.

This is a war and in war there is collateral damage.

I continued to savor the pumpkin spice latte; watching as the woman (likely an agent) seemed to rave at the guy in the car, waving her arms wildly. Why was he here, staring at the church? My curiosity was somewhat alerted by the young man being out of place, but I shrugged it off. I wondered what kind of relationship they had; the intensity of her passion seemed to indicate that they had been intimate, maybe by mistake. I just love watching people’s relational drama unfold in public. Her partner, a handsome young man, was ordering coffee, completely oblivious to the situation unfolding in the parking lot. I wondered whether they had been intimate and then smiled as I thought of the “Jerry Springer-like” fiasco that could soon consume the Starbucks.

That is when my phone vibrated.

I looked down at the time; now about 8:13; I smiled realizing that the moment was fast arriving. Service time is at 9:30; I just cannot wait. The message was from Dr. Bell and it read as follows:

Dear friends, today is the day we fire the opening volley in our war against religion. We are so fortunate and lucky to be living in an hour such as this. I trust you will act valiantly, but with discretion and good judgment. Remember all that we have worked for; remember that you hold our future in your hands. – Dr.B

I closed the phone and smiled. Indeed the future is in my hands.

I took one more sip of the pumpkin spice before heading back out.



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