This is a short story that I'm posting here as it is part of a discussion I am having on another forum. Please be aware the story contains strong religious content that most people will find politically incorrect and therefore offensive.
by Alan Loewen
The cell was spacious and large and in shadow due to the one bare electric light bulb that served as the room's sole illumination. People filled the room, some standing, some sitting, none talking. With the exception of one young girl huddled weeping in the arms of another, the room was as quiet as death.
One disheveled young woman, her rumpled dress speaking of a more prestigious time, broke the silence with a cough, the loud noise shattering the silence like a rifle shot. The others jumped. Some stared at her in momentary surprise at being reminded of the presence of others. The rest went back to their isolated musings.
"All they asked me," she said to no one in particular, "was what I thought about Jesus Christ."
All eyes turned to look at her.
"I mean, don't you think that's funny? Of all the questions they could have asked, all they asked me about was my opinion of him." She shook her head sadly.
A man stepped out of the shadows, a clerical collar around his throat. "That's all they asked me, too. They didn't ask me about the Virgin Mary, or the saints, or the Pope."
"Or predestination or tongues or eternal security," added another. His voice faded as he wandered away in his thoughts.
The young girl holding her sobbing companion spoke into the darkness while absent-mindedly stroking her friend's hair. "They didn't care about my stand on hell or my thoughts on feminism or what I thought about politics," she said. "All they asked me was, 'Who is Jesus Christ?'"
Another voice spoke out of the darkness, a man's voice turned old. "The same. Not my view on talk radio or politics or public schooling or anything else."
One by one, they spoke, some in wonder; some in anger; some in bewilderment. For all of them, their entire existence had been boiled down to one simple question whose answer separated them from society and placed them in this dimly-lit room.
The sound of a key turning in the lock made them all jump. The door opened and an elderly man stood framed in its light and smiled benevolently at the people before him.
"Such an inconvenience," he said apologetically. "I'm so sorry. We so wanted you all to rethink your position and take your place in society once again."
He smiled and spread his hands in a placating gesture. "Is there anyone who would like to change his or her mind about this one unimportant subject?"
The sound of a collective sigh filled the room, but no one spoke. The man's face changed from a kind smile to a grim sneer. "As you wish," he said. "Come."
He moved aside. The hallway was lined with soldiers standing silently with rifles at ready.
The people walked out of the room, blinking in the bright light of the hallway. Walking through the gauntlet of soldiers—some walking alone, some supporting others—they went through an open door to a small courtyard.
The far wall was chipped and broken. Dark stains covered the ground.
The soldiers pushed and shoved the group against the brick wall and formed a rough line facing them. The elderly man slammed the door behind him.
"The people," he said, reading from a tattered paper held in his hand, "wish to graciously demonstrate leniency. If anybody, even now, will refute their superstition that the man known as Jesus Christ is the Son of God and that salvation is obtained by faith through his death and supposed resurrection, they will be free to go and take their place once again in civilized society."
They blinked at the man owlishly. At first, nobody spoke.
A voice quietly broke the silence. "Our Father which art in heaven," it started quoting, "hallowed be thy name." The rest of the group slowly joined in, their hands reaching out for other hands regardless of color or gender or age or philosophy or politics or church.
"Thy kingdom come, thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven."
In disgust, the elderly man folded the paper and jammed it back into his shirt pocket. The soldiers looked bored.
"Give us this day our daily bread," the people quoted, some weeping, some smiling; others standing without visible emotion.
"By decree of the will of the people,"
"And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors."
You have been sentenced to death ..."
"And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil;"
"for crimes against mind and reason ..."
"For thine is the kingdom,"
"and against the peoples of this great nation.
"and the power,"
"Firing squad! Attention."
"and the glory,"
There was the sound of angels.