Politics of fear
However, the politics of fear is nothing new, as the Pope reminds us today:
The fear of eternal damnation is probably a large part of the sticky stuff that has held the church together for all these years. I'm sure someone (ChiTom?) will remind me about it if I'm wrong, but I don't recall Jesus spouting off about hell fire and damnation much at all. It seems to me that his message was not the negative, "if you don't do as I say, you'll burn in hell," kind of thing. It was more the "do as I say and you'll earn your reward in heaven."
Hell is a place where sinners really do burn in an everlasting fire, and not just a religious symbol designed to galvanise the faithful, the Pope has said.
Addressing a parish gathering in a northern suburb of Rome, Benedict XVI said that in the modern world many people, including some believers, had forgotten that if they failed to “admit blame and promise to sin no more”, they risked “eternal damnation — the Inferno”.
Hell “really exists and is eternal, even if nobody talks about it much any more”, he said.
Frankly, I'm not that fond of either type of incentive, since I believe you should do right because it's right, not because you'll profit in some way by it.
Of course, that's for you. Me, I'll go ahead and do whatever the hell I want to.