Many Christians believe Wilder is now in hell because he was an atheist.
Gene Wilder is spending an eternity in the fires of hell according to some Christians.
Gene Wilder, born Jerome Silberman, died yesterday (August 29) at the age 83. Actor, screenwriter, director, and author, Wilder was beloved by many for for his roles in “Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory,” “Blazing Saddles,” and “Young Frankenstein,” to name but a few.
However, Wilder was also an atheist. In Stars of David: Prominent Jews Talk About Being Jewish, published in 2005, Wilder made it clear that he was an atheist, saying:
I’m going to tell you what my religion is. Do unto others as you would have them do unto you. Period. Terminato. Finito. I have no other religion. I feel very Jewish and I feel very grateful to be Jewish. But I don’t believe in God or anything to do with the Jewish religion.
I’m a Jewish-Buddhist-Atheist.
However, because Wilder identified as an atheist, many Christians and other religious people believe that he will be punished in the afterlife.
Indeed, one Christian blogger devoted a lengthy blog post to explain why Wilder would spend an eternity in Hell. Christian blogger David J Stewart writes:
Sadly Gene Wilder is a professed atheist. This just goes to prove that there are many moral people, good and decent souls, who are still unsaved in their sins and bound for the Lake of Fire for all eternity without Jesus Christ…
Stewart continues with the usual fire and brimstone propaganda:
The Holy Bible is God’s inspired Word. Mr Wilder denies Jesus as His Savior. The Bible warns in 1st John 2:22-23, “Who is a liar but he that denieth that Jesus is the Christ? He is antichrist, that denieth the Father and the Son. Whosoever denieth the Son, the same hath not the Father: (but) he that acknowledges the Son hath the Father also.”
In a moment of profound absurdity, Stewart argues that Wilder will be consumed by the flames of hell, and will be missing out on God’s Great Chocolate Factory in the sky:
Heaven is a real place far greater than Willy Wonka’s chocolate factory. The Bible’s description of Heaven in Revelation 21 far exceeds the fictitious movie … Heaven has gates of pearl and streets of gold (Revelation 21:21). Do you really think that God doesn’t have chocolate in Heaven? … I know that there will be edible things all around us, if that’s what you want, just as in the Willie Wonka factory.
No doubt there are many such absurd declarations being made across social media platforms as theists exploit the death of Wilder to promote their religious superstition. And whether they declare that Wilder is in heaven, or in hell, the mistake is the same.
In a blog post meant to combat the widespread belief that Wilder is now in Hell, the Naked Pastor reports:
I’ve been coming across posts of Christians doing their best to convince everybody that even though Wilder was a good man that brought joy to many people, he was nevertheless a Jewish-Buddhist-Atheist, and because of that won’t be in Heaven.
To be clear, Wilder is not in heaven, nor is he in hell. He is dead. Full stop.
Wilder died Monday at his home in Stamford, Connecticut, due to complications from Alzheimer’s disease. According to a statement from Wilder’s nephew, Wilder died as a recording of Ella Fitzgerald singing “Somewhere Over the Rainbow” – one of his favorite songs – played in the background.
Bottom line: Wilder was right to be an atheist. In the end, of course, there is no heaven, and there is no hell. Death is final, and that is tragedy enough. There is no afterlife. All we can do now is mourn the loss, and celebrate the life.