Memo to Merrifield on heaven & hell

By Dave Crater (

    “But the cowardly, unbelieving, abominable, murderers, sexually immoral, sorcerers, idolaters, and all liars shall have their part in the lake which burns with fire and brimstone, which is the second death.” - Revelation 21:8

    “And I say to you, My friends, do not be afraid of those who kill the body, and after that have no more that they can do. But I will show you whom you should fear: Fear Him who, after He has killed, has power to cast into hell.” - Christ, Luke 12:4-5

    “Meantime, down here it looks as if our so-called board will vote to turn over Hunt Elem[entary] to C. Chavez for a charter before the evil twins are forced out by recall!! There must be a special place in Hell for these Privatizers, Char[t]erizers, and Voucherizers! They deserve it!” - Former Colorado House Education Committee Chairman Mike Merrifield (D-Manitou Springs), email to Sen. Sue Windels 12/8/06

Rep. Merrifield is in august company: the Apostle John, exiled on the island of Patmos toward the end of the late-first century reign of the Roman emperor Domitian, and Jesus Christ. Talk of hell flows so naturally from the lips of all three.

So does the specific naming of those who stand to be so consigned. Merrifield even capitalizes the surrogate names of his condemned to emphasize their lostness.

The Apostle John, earlier in the Book of Revelation, foreshadows the writings of the Prophet Merrifield by himself forecasting the appearance of a pair who would be thought evil by their generation, but who are righteous ambassadors of God Himself (Rev. 11:10).

The implication is that the appearance of evil to their generation is a result not of the pair’s own evil, but of the evil in the hearts of the generation around them, who as a result view the uprightness of the pair with a jaundiced, unjust eye.

Why would hell occupy such a prominent place in Mr. Merrifield’s thought? The public education establishment to which he is, er, religiously committed, certainly does not teach the existence of such a place. Neither does it teach the existence of heaven.

Both, according to the secular ideology prevailing among Mr. Merrifield’s heroes and allies, are figments of the human imagination – vestiges of folklore from a less enlightened age. Human beings are, we now know, descendants via Darwin’s natural selection of a primordial single-cell organism, but they can go to hell? If so, it is incumbent on Mr. Merrifield to support the addition of robust teaching on hell to our public school curricula – the future of our children demands it. After all, they could very well grow up to be Privatizers, Charterizers, and Voucherizers, guilty of filthiness beyond any hope of forgiveness, their priceless souls lost to the sinister rebellion of those opposing the very Kingdom of God on the earth and her Faithful Stewards in the Public School System.

A particular curiosity on this score is that at least one of the “evil twins” Mr. Merrifield condemns, Mr. Eric Christen of Colorado Springs, also believes in hell. In fact, much of Mr. Christen’s energy while a member of the District 11 School Board in Colorado Springs was devoted to restoring at least a vestige of spiritual context to a public education district that costs residents of the city upward of $300 million a year and delivers test scores among the lowest in the state. Mr. Christen suggested that a little less attention to secular fads and power politics in education and a little more attention to the ancient idea that we humans and our children are spirits, living life on a short and precarious precipice between good and evil, time and eternity, heaven and hell, might better inform and deepen the whole project.

Oh, and the idea that we humans and our children are spirits also means that the state and its public schools are not the only legitimate stewards of education.

Mr. Merrifield opposes this agenda with, er, religious zeal, even consigning Mr. Christen to hell for supporting it. One can imagine the weeping and gnashing of teeth that would have arisen in Mr. Merrifield’s circle of acquaintances, and in the larger political and media class, had Mr. Christen suggested that Mr. Merrifield and Co. have helped turn the latest generation of public school children into unbelieving murderers (Columbine) who are more and more sexually immoral with each passing year (teen pregnancy, abortion, and STDs), dabble not uncommonly in occult spirituality (sorcery), and who easily become accomplished in lying to parents, teachers, and anyone else in legitimate authority over them. Had he said this, we can be certain Mr. Christen would have cemented his already-advanced condemnation beyond even the faintest hope of salvation.

Mr. Merrifield is the worst kind of hypocrite. He uses secular theory and secular language in public to advocate a thoroughly secular education for children under the stewardship of a thoroughly secular education establishment, but uses the most severe religious language in private and when caught, contends in his own defense that he never meant that language to become public.

The episode ought to be instructive for all those who authentically entertain deep convictions about heaven and hell, and who have read the Apocalypse with real understanding. When Christ said elsewhere, “Judge not, and you shall not be judged. Condemn not, and you shall not be condemned,” He was not, as we are so often told by the political left today, contradicting His own teaching on hell and who would end up there, or contending that just judgment between good and evil, wisdom and folly, is not the prerogative of humankind. On the contrary, He was warning us to be on the alert for, and to avoid being like, those who condemn while they themselves do things worthy of condemnation.

Dave Crater is President and Chairman of the Wilberforce Center for Colorado Statesmanship