Originally a comment by Gordon Willis on Why the Catholic church is an intrinsically immoral institution.
Let’s look at Christian doctrine. Because of the sin of Adam (he believed a woman who believed a snake) we are fallen creatures, which means that we cannot obey the Law. This means that we are all condemned to eternal torment. But God, in his mercy, sends his only begotten Son to redeem us: his willing self-sacrifice on the cross expiates our sinfulness and makes us one with God, as we were before the Fall. Therefore, whoever believes in Jesus as the Saviour of the world will inherit eternal life. Jesus reduces the Law to two commandments (love God, love your neighbour) and Paul goes on at great length about the impossibility of observing the Law and the consequent necessity of faith in Christ’s sacrifice to attain redemption.
And that’s it. That is what the Church is all about. It is not in the least concerned with rights, with care. Love is of God, it is God who provides it. So however the Church tortures you to recant or believe, God still loves you, while the Church does its holy duty to ensure your salvation, whatever it takes.
This is the mission, the goal, of the Church: that everyone should believe this insidious drivel. You can inculcate belief by force, by fear, by kindness. You can mix up all three, and as far as I can see, the last is what actually happens. The combined result is cruelty.
You can only go so far in reforming this, without doing away with it completely. This is where Christianity sticks, and this is the core that can never be changed, and from which the excesses and the cruelties result.