That is to say, humans are essentially left to their own recognizance. Nobody's keeping tabs of your actions, writing every misstep in some giant book. I've never attended a pagan rite that even mentioned non-believers, let alone detailed some roster of horrors that awaited them.
I was struck by this thought yesterday as I was being told, during a friends marriage ceremony, that I was a withered and unfruitful vine that would be cut down and cast upon the fire. How precarious these people must feel their situation is, spiritually! Even at their moments of greatest joy they must reiterate the terrible fate awaiting those who aren't like them, who don't believe as they do. That looming, perilous doom of the goaty unwashed, all weighted with sorrow and a-crackle with flame! Wouldn't it be enough just to celebrate the decision of these two people to form a loving partnership? How does anyone's unbelief threaten this - what can it possibly have to do with this?
Maybe it's gloating - we're saved, you're not, ha-ha! - or like some people who can't stop talking about their money, taking every opportunity to draw distinction between themselves and those less well off. Maybe it's simply a naive assumption that all present are of the same belief, so it's okay to talk trash about "the others". I don't like those assumptions, because they point to a meanness of character I'm hesitant to (without evidence) ascribe to anyone, especially those I consider friends.
So I'm led back around the circle to thinking it's an inward pointing declaration, a warning to the faithful that they'd better watch their step. Or else. In other words, a threat; words to the wise, the stick of stick-and-carrot. Not a very joyful sentiment.