But if we take an objective look at their world-view, their belief system, we can trace their steps toward despair.
They claim to be ardent Christians. But look at the Christianity they have inherited.
Jesus offered them the infinite abundance of nature and love.
Yet ever since Paul was forced to curry favor with the Roman rulers and Constantine needed a larger army, Christianity has become the reservoir of slavery and military might. Christianity was distorted into a refuge of scoundrels who waved authoritarian banners of salvation only to those who did as they were told. The secrets of divine salvation opened only to those who surrendered curiosity, who accepted the literal word of a document translated from language to language by translators who were paid by a feudal elite.
The kings who dictated the terms of this Christianity had no more patience with the egalitarian pronouncements of Jesus than did Pilate and the Emperors of his day.
Jesus taught that all are welcome in the Kingdom, but Roman society was built on slavery, force, and the subjugation of women.
After Matthew, Mark, Luke and John, the New Testament became an arm of Roman occupation. Women were told to obey. Slaves were admonished to accept their lot. When the first African slaves arrived in North America, it was illegal for them to worship Jesus. They could be killed for stepping out of their religious cage.
In this process, the voices of half of humanity-- women, the loving, creative, intuitive genius of humanity-- those who gave birth to all of us-- were silenced.
Sex became the property of the Church. Outside of the Church's sanction, sex was a crime against heaven. Our natural bodies became a source of shame and forbidden pleasure. That vital energy which created us under heaven's blessing became a wholly-owned subsidiary of a ruling male elite. Unbelievers were burned at the stake, systematically exterminated, dispossessed, enslaved and exploited. No challenge to the brittle veneer of Church authority could be tolerated.
This new Christianity, evolved three hundred years and more after Jesus, claimed control of access to heaven. It exacted payment and homage to the heads of the Church. In a gesture typical of male insecurity, women were forbidden to own property and relegated to second-class status. The pursuit of wisdom and understanding, the tradition under which Jesus was raised and taught, became taboo as Church promulgations attempted to control society's wealth, life and belief.
Western civilization labored under this onerous burden for a thousand years and more. In some places, it still persists.
The male, authoritarian, controlling, condemning strictures of "Christian" belief systems endure to this day. Men control the Church and the home, the banks, politics, commerce and the military. That it is mainly white men is no coincidence. Those whose insecurity is most acute and justifiable naturally try to compensate by most attempting to control others.
But, as Jefferson said, people have inalienable rights.
That idea put a dent in the armor of the Church. People have rights from birth that no Church can deny. To protect those rights governments are instituted among us. Prohibition, proscription, and condemnation are the functions of the individual for herself-- not for anyone to compel others.
Now the old order is faced with apparent chaos.
Those who hold to the old traditions are faced with choosing between their cherished beliefs and moral and spiritual conflict, fragmenting families and social disintegration.
The social order of authority has come in conflict with the abundance and infinity of nature and love. The unity of all life contradicts the dominion of a small-minded Church.
Sterile control and dominion have been replaced by fertile responsibility and stewardship in the opinion of the wider society. People suffering under the burden of authorities which have been branded by crime and corruption have come to the end of blind acceptance of doctrine and the beginning of disorienting moral confusion. Their roles have been made illogical and inhumane.
Their reliance on scripture has been compromised. This brand of Christianity praises wealth, honors the merciless. Yet those who have not strayed do not prosper.
Faced with the infinite truths of the original Christianity Jesus taught, Christian Soldiers are choosing to feed their flocks, to help the least among us, to Love One Another rather than endlessly murdering those who do not bend the knee to control.
Killing the unbeliever has been revealed as just another attempt at control, theft and subjugation and injustice.
The elements of Christianity that actually work for the common good have outlived the power structures of Church authority.
Infinity and abundance have been relocated among the ruins and await repatriation to their rightful home.
Perhaps the suffering Mr. Schmookler sees is the birth pangs of the evolution of humanity and Christianity into their inevitable, inalienable places in an infinite loving universe, as Jesus taught.
Otherwise, in the battle between control and inalienable rights, control lacks the infinite abundance and ingenuity to succeed and must necessarily suffer.
love holds the stars in their courses-- Maya Angelou