Such people come into their spirit, so to speak, when they are at home alone and let their thoughts be guided by their pleasure in the evil and the falsity they have conceived and given birth to in themselves. In that state, their thought about God is that he does not exist—God is only a word intoned in the pulpit to constrain the lower classes to obey the laws of justice that are society’s rules. The Word, the source of ministers’ pronouncements about God, they see as a haphazard and fanciful text to which authorities have attributed holiness. The Ten Commandments or the Catechism they see as a little book that is to be tossed aside once it has been worn out by the hands of the young. After all, that book prescribes that we honor our parents, that we not murder, whore, steal, or testify falsely, and who does not know all that from civil law? The church they think of as nothing more than a herd of uneducated, gullible, and timid people, who [think they] see what they do not see. Humans, including themselves, they think of as being much like animals; they think the same fate awaits humans and animals after death.
This is what their inner selves think, no matter how differently their outer selves may talk. For, as I said, all people have an inner and an outer self. Their inner self is their real self, called their spirit. It is the part that lives after death. Their outer self, in which they practice hypocrisy through [apparent] morality, will be buried in the grave. Then because they denied the existence of God they will be condemned.
All of us on earth are associated in spirit with those in the spiritual world who are like ourselves; we are in a sense united to them. Quite often, in fact, I have been allowed to see the spirits of people who were still alive on earth. In some cases the spirits of these people were in angelic communities; in some cases, in hellish communities. I have even been allowed to spend days talking with the spirits of people. It has amazed me that the people themselves still alive in their bodies were completely unaware that this was happening. From these experiences it became clear to me that those who deny the existence of God are already among the damned. After death they are gathered to their people.
from True Christianity, Volume 1, Section 14