Religion: Hell of Loneliness

Some Christians and skeptics alike believe that sects which soften the old-fashioned hell are running a considerable risk. Fear of the eternal fire, they hold, helps to make people behave. Last week the powerful United Church of Canada, a union of Canada's Methodists, Congregationalists and some Presbyterians, seemed willing to take this chance. Its Committee on Christian Faith published a booklet, Life and Death, that repudiates the fire and brimstone of the traditionalists' Hell.

"In popular language Hell is the place of dreadful punishment . . . Is this how we should think...

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