I think I was around 8 or 9 years old, sitting watching Smokey and the Bandit on TV and my mom walking through the room and telling me how wrong it was to watch these car crashes for entertainment, because the people in those cars were going to die or at the very least, suffer traumatic injuries.
Okay, that makes sense... I guess.
We shouldn't be okay with the pain and suffering of others, I get that.
But then the following Saturday at "church," the 90 minute sermon told us what they almost always told us. The majority of the world's population is going to suffer like no other humans have ever suffered before, while God's chosen (the 144,000 good and faithful members of this cult) are hidden away in a "place of safety" for a few years before Jesus Christ returns to the world.
So then after church I ask the question that I think should be obvious to everyone.
"Why should I care about the pain and suffering of a fictional state trooper who rolls his car in pursuit of Burt Reynolds, but still be okay with the agonizing torture of the entire population of the planet outside of 144,000 people hiding in the caves of Petra (or possibly Vail, Colorado)?"
The answer came back that we (the Worldwide Church of God) were all doing God's work so that we could save as many people as possible. "But there's still only going to be 144,000 people in the 'place of safety,' right?"
"But the minister said we have over 200,000 people attending our church services around the world right now"
Yes. That's right.
"And those who were given the truth and rejected it will burn in the lake of fire?"
"So God's work is to make sure that we tell the truth to as many people as possible who ipso facto will suffer and burn?"
Yes, that's their choice.
So I guess you could say that my sense of empathy comes from Hollywood and the work of Hal Needham rather than "God's Chosen Apostle" and his faithful followers.
Which is pretty good considering that Herbert W. Armstrong managed to convince hundreds of thousands of people to not give a damn about anyone other than him.