Yes, it's true. Well, at least it's true of "dark ages" religion. Spoiler: It's not true about a logical, honest reading of the Bible. Oh man- I just got in trouble with all my fellow evangelicals! Read on and see if you agree....
Wikipedia defines a Protection Racket as follows:
"The best-known is the protection racket, in which criminals demand money from businesses in exchange for the service of "protection" against crimes that the racketeers themselves instigate if unpaid (see extortion)."
So basically, an illegal racket, usually engaged in by the Mob or Organized Crime, involves setting up a system where something bad will happen to you unless you do what they want.
Fortunately, most civilized societies don't allow this. In the United States, we have anti-racketing laws called The RICO Act, passed in 1970. It makes it a Federal Crime to extort money or compel certain behaviors by extortion.
Sadly, for much of the history of the Christian Church, this is exactly the same thing that regular folk were told God did. And they were told it was the right and Holy thing for God to do. And they were told it was in the Bible. Don't believe me? Ok, try this on for size.
God created everything. He created the laws of the universe, he created Justice and Logic and everything in the universe and beyond. On the medeval idea of religion, if you don't do exactly as was said, then the creator of everything condemns you to horrible suffering that can never end. He either has no choice in the matter (which is odd since he created the system) or he chooses to have that expiration date of his "Protection" offer. Sound familiar? It's almost identical to the mob methodology that RICO was enacted to save citizens from. Except that in the medeval plan, the consequences of not playing along with the protection racket are much, much worse. Eternally, unendingly worse. Torture, unabated, unchecked, unsatisfied...forever. In the mob, the goal is to scare the citizen into compliance. Is this REALLY what God must resort to in order to show people his love? Is that even a rational plan?
Ah but good believer, you complain that God is justified in doing so, where the mob is not, because God only condemns those who deserve it. They are sinners. Unrepentant, Unregenrated sinners. Ok, sure. The object of the divine extortion are indeed sinners. But does that make a "Protection Racket" any more just or right, just because those being extorted are not good themselves? Clearly, no.
The better view, and the one supported by the Scriptures, is that indeed life has many very bad things and we, as people who make bad choices sometime or who do evil or crime, are not truly deserving of more than we are given in this short life. But the scriptures do not make the threat of unending torture for failures of this life. Rather, there is a promise of a hand, out-stretched by a loving father, that is never retracted, never closed. A hand up out of the pit of despair, whether in this life or after this life. True, the hand needs to be clasped. There is no price. There is only acceptance of the hand of Jesus and then the promise of learning a better way to live, a better way to love, a better way to enjoy all the boundless opportunities and joys of creation. Instead of a protection racket, based on threats of torture, we have a salvation plan with an open door and a Savior waiting, eternally patient, for his friends, children and enemies to finally walk-in and embrace him.
The true plan of Salvation is one that is both exciting...and legal!! Maybe Jesus is wating to return until a time when he won't be accused of a Federal Crime under the RICO act!