Why Can’t You Leave Religion Alone? blog by Seth Andrews

 

 

Why Can’t You Leave Religion Alone?

Seth    Jan 28, 2011 2:00:54 PM | Date Modified: Sep 5, 2012 4:13:14 AM

The protests come every day from the religious, and they go something like this:

* “Why spend your time disproving God?”

* “Why not just let people believe what they want to believe?”

* “Why can’t you leave religion alone?”

As one YouTube commenter said recently, “No one can explain to me why it is so important to convince theists to abandon their beliefs.”

The answer is simple. Pages like this one exist because religion exists.

Religion permeates our culture, shows up on our doorsteps with literature, scriptures and threats of eternal damnation, influences our science books, contaminates our political systems, indoctrinates our children and postulates that its doctrine must be followed, lest we be destroyed in body, in soul, or both.

Non-believers are simply responding to the avalanche of religious messages that bears down upon us daily.

Religion gets carte blanche to be as vocal as it wants, to knock on our doors and accost us in our homes, in our places of work, in our personal and professional lives. Believers are charged with a life mission to preach, teach, disciple, shout it from the mountaintops and to “go ye into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature.” Religion…is everywhere.

Ask yourself. When’s the last time an atheist rang your doorbell with the Good News of Humanism? How often do you find Richard Dawkins books in the dresser drawers of your hotel rooms? When was the last atheist temple erected in your neighborhood? Have you ever attended an atheist revival? Has atheism demanded 10% of your household income? How many dedicated atheist television channels come through your satellite dish? How many atheist verses were you instructed to memorize as a child? When’s the last time someone thanked a FARMER (or even the cook) at the dinner table instead of God?

On a more radical front, what’s the name of the last atheist who sawed the head off of an “infidel?” Or sentenced a shrouded woman to death for displeasing an oppressive husband? Or strapped explosives to his belt in order to kill hundreds in a public square? Or publicly hung a gay person for his lifestyle?

It’s everywhere. Religion is a pounding drum that has gone mostly unanswered for a long, long time. And religion is not satisfied with merely existing quietly in the homes and hearts of the faithful. Its very nature compels the believer to proselytize, preach, promote, convince, convert and prevail. If you play on the team of the religious, your game plan is to stay, always, on offense.

Throughout our history, those who raise a simple hand of protest against these advances have been portrayed as the real problem. Religion has attempted to marginalize and defeat legitimate questions and concerns by indignantly portraying any resistors as misguided, immoral, rudderless, angry, miserable, lost and alone.

And when skepticism challenges wildly improbable (or impossible) stories found in the bible, the Qur’an and other holy books, the religious wail, “Why can’t you just leave us alone?”

The irony is thick.

And religion impedes curiosity and inhibits learning, as the much-maligned Creation Museum proves. It stymies critical thinking. It stretches us to believe the unbelievable. And it poisons the foundational teachings we are using to train up the generations of tomorrow.

Pages like mine exist as a response… a counter-argument to ensure that the cacophony of superstition does not go unchallenged. And if your belief system is so undeniable, so factual, so provable, so real and so true, certainly it can withstand the opposing viewpoints presented here and elsewhere. Certainly, it can survive the acid tests.

Just remember. Religion began the argument. It amplifies itself before the world. And it threatens all mankind with punishment upon its rejection.

We are atheists. We are moral. We are reasonable. We are thoughtful, intelligent, compassionate, happy, fulfilled and well-informed.

And as long as religion insists on fixing human beings who are not broken, we will respond with the evidence that we are not the problem.

-Seth Andrews (The Thinking Atheist, written 01/28/11

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Gentiles = “Dogs” To Jesus

An excellent article I found I think every Christian should read.

https://www.facebook.com/diane.fadden?ref=tn_tnmn#!/notes/the-thinking-atheist/lies-damned-lies-and-the-claim-jesus-would-have-loved-you/470499726313342

Page admin and guest blogger Meg put together a perspective on the beloved Christian “savior” that many haven’t yet heard.  This is her article, entitled:

 

Lies, Damned Lies, And The Claim Jesus Would Have Loved You

Jesus did not want you in his club. Unless you were a Jew, Jesus thought you were a filthy animal. Yes, even if you are Christian. It is all in the Bible.

Unless you spend much time on The Thinking Atheist Facebook page where you might have already seen me discuss this topic, the above statement regarding Jesus is likely surprising even to you as a nonbeliever. To put the issues aside, we will first clarify a couple of the obvious questions before examining what the Bible says on the subject, questions such as:  How could Christianity become the dominate faith of the world if Jesus would have detested nearly every one of his followers? And how could it not be common knowledge that Jesus held such views? And why is an atheist interested in what the Bible says, much less making the effort to tell others about it?

Prior to the Reformation when Protestants began translating Bibles and thus undermined the efforts of the Church, for the first 1,550 years or so of the Christian faith, the Church went to extreme lengths to ensure the average person could not read the texts of the Bible themselves and were forced to rely on Church clergy.

It was not only a crime to translate the Bible from Latin into common languages, it was a crime to even possess a translation of the Bible or to print a Bible in Latin without a license granted by Church authorities, and the Church took the matter seriously.

Not satisfied by his death, the Church had the body of a man who dared to translate the Bible into English, John Wycliffe, dug out of his grave 74 years after his initial burial. Church officials then burned what was left of Wycliffe’s body, dumped his ashes in a river, and decreed the same fate for any of his remaining followers. While that sounds petty to us, the Church had Christians convinced they required their physical bodies for the Second Coming, so no body meant no eternal life in the Kingdom of Heaven for you, a fate far worse than death to their minds.

The few people with the means to obtain an education and become functionally literate generally did not speak Latin, but rather their native tongue, so even the educated were prevented from reading the Bible. With the exception of a few members of the French nobility who had partial texts in their own language, those who could both read Latin and had access to the Biblical texts were typically members of the clergy. Obviously, telling followers what the Bible actually said would have put early Christian leaders and their predecessors out of a job — a job that gave the clergy enormous privilege and power over the illiterate masses.

Contemporary Christians, at least those who actually bother to read their Bible, are aware of the verses we are going to review. What they lack is knowledge on Judaism, the traditional views and culture of the Middle East, and the history behind the writing of the New Testament, knowledge that the Biblical authors and early Church leaders would have taken for granted. Reading the Bible through the filter of a modern mind gives a skewed impression of what the texts intend to communicate.

To read the Bible and truly understand it, you have to keep in mind that Jesus was a Jew of the ancient world, not a modern Christian. And you must read the Bible in context. Not only the verses of the Bible, which must be read in their entire chapter to grasp the actual meaning, but also read in the context of the culture and time in which a particular text was written.

Due to the rise of Christianity, in which, as we have just explored, lack of public education played a tremendous role, humanity has suffered through nearly 2,000 years of innocent lives being destroyed and there is still no end in sight.

2,000 years of witch burnings, Crusades, the subjugation of women, the persecution of homosexuals, genocide, families and societies being torn apart, superstition being taught as truth, and hard-won factual knowledge being sacrificed on the altar of the God of tiny minds.

What people believe informs their actions, such as how they vote and how they treat others. Those who long for the end of the world so they can live on a cloud in the sky, who believe women are lesser beings, who believe being homosexual is unnatural, who believe “The Flintstones” was a documentary series, and people who are willing to throw their fellow human beings, even their own family members, under the bus to score points with a nonexistent deity tend to vote differently than those of us who do not believe those things. It matters what others believe; it affects each and every one of us who lives in a democratic society.  

Education is key to the future well-being of humanity. And we know for a fact that education works, because like the overwhelming majority of those in the TTA community including its driving force, TTA Founder Seth Andrews, I am a former Christian.

So, for those of you plagued by friends and family who insist Jesus loves you, we are going to provide information useful in educating those around you, in this case to explain to them how Jesus felt about non-Jews.   The following is written to address Christian believers.

In the culture in which Jesus lived, the ultimate insult was to call someone a dog. One of dozens of disparaging verses in the Bible which mentions dogs is Job 30:1, which says, “But now those younger than I mock me, whose fathers I disdained to have set with the dogs of my flock.”

That verse is described as the following in “Barnes’ Notes on the Bible”:  “To have set with the dogs of my flock – To have associated with my dogs in guarding my flock. That is, they were held in less esteem than his dogs. This was the lowest conceivable point of debasement. The Orientals (a European term for those from the Middle East) had no language that would express greater contempt of anyone than to call him a dog.”  

In Matthew 7:6 Jesus says, “Do not give what is holy to dogs; do not cast your pearls to pigs. If you do, they may trample them under their feet, and turn and tear you to pieces.”

Jesus is not talking about dogs in the sense of the animal; he is using the term to refer to human beings. In that verse, Jesus is saying to not give what is holy to contemptible, repugnant people.

Of course, that is only one example of Jesus using a particular word or phrase to represent other people or himself. In the Bible, Jesus refers to himself as bread, for example by saying he is the bread of life (John 6:25-59) and to eat bread as his body (Matthew 26:26). And Jesus also used a number of phrases, which he took from the Tanakh (also called the Hebrew Bible or Old Testament) to refer to his fellow Jews, such as the lost sheep of Israel (Matthew 15:24), the children of Israel, etc.

You’re not a Jew? Then you are not a child of Israel.

For the Jesus fans reading this, Gentiles means “white people” and all other non-Jews.  You’re not a Jew? Then you are a Gentile.  So what did Jesus have to say about a Gentile like you?

  • Matthew 10:5 “Go not into the way of the Gentiles”
  • Matthew 15:24 “I am not sent but unto the lost sheep of the house of Israel.”
  • John 4:22 “Salvation is of the Jews.”

In Matthew 15:21-28 (and in Mark 7:25-30) Jesus is in Gentile territory when a distraught mother approaches Jesus and begs him to help her daughter.  Jesus ignores the mother, and his disciples (also all Jews, naturally) complain, “Jesus, that woman is getting on our nerves. Get rid of her.”  

The Gentile woman persists, begging Jesus to heal her sick child. Jesus eventually responds by insulting the woman for being a Gentile. But rather than getting angry, the Gentile woman uses his slur to talk Jesus into healing her daughter.

21 Leaving that place, Jesus withdrew to the region of Tyre and Sidon.

22 A Canaanite woman from that vicinity came to him, crying out, “Lord, Son of David, have mercy on me! My daughter is demon-possessed and suffering terribly.”

23 Jesus did not answer a word. So his disciples came to him and urged him, “Send her away, for she keeps crying out after us.”

24 He answered, “I was sent only to the lost sheep of Israel.”

25 The woman came and knelt before him. “Lord, help me!” she said.

26 He replied, “It is not right to take the children’s bread and toss it to the dogs.”

27 “Yes it is, Lord,” she said. “Even the dogs eat the crumbs that fall from their master’s table.”

28 Then Jesus said to her, “Woman, you have great faith! Your request is granted.” And her daughter was healed at that moment.

 Jesus turned his back on this mother’s child while his disciples complained the woman was being a pain in the ass. It is not until the mother begs and grovels at his feet after being called the most rotten term of contempt possible is his language that Jesus finally caves in and helps the woman’s poor daughter.

In neither version of the story, which appears in both the gospels of Mark and of Matthew, does Jesus even touch the daughter. Perhaps the daughter was menstruating and was “dirty” according to the religion of Jesus, Judaism? Or perhaps the fact she was a filthy dog was bad enough?

And amazingly, after all that, Jesus making it clear he and his disciples had nothing to do with the Gentiles and Jesus slinging the most degrading, hateful insult of his culture at us non-Jews, Christians will read that and say, “yeah, but he did heal the child.”

That’s nice. Is that how you would react if you came across a wounded little kitten that needed your help? Refuse to do anything until someone managed to beg and grovel at your feet until you relented? How would you honestly feel if you saw a doctor refuse to render help because a child was outside his ethnic or religious group until the child’s mother fed the doctor’s bigoted superiority complex?

The only reason you’re a Christian as a non-Jew is that Paul and Luke, who were close friends with each other and not part of the disciple gang, took it upon them to spread their own altered version of the message of Jesus. Paul and Luke never even met Jesus. It was Paul and Luke, along with forged letters attributed to Peter [1][2][3], who changed the message of Jesus to include Gentiles for their own benefit.

Writings attributed to Peter contributed to Gentiles being allowed to join the Jesus club as well, though according to the Bible Peter was illiterate (Acts 4:13 describes both Peter and John as agrammatoi, a Greek word that literally means “unlettered” that is “illiterate”) and even Christian Biblical Historians acknowledge Peter didn’t author the books attributed to him.

It was Paul, Luke, and an unknown individual pretending to be Peter who created Christianity, not Jesus. And Jesus clearly did not intend to change his mind either.

In Revelation 3:9 Jesus says, “I will make those who are of the synagogue of Satan, who claim to be Jews though they are not, but are liars—I will make them come and fall down at your feet and acknowledge that I have loved you.”

Jesus makes no mention of Christians or anyone else. According to his own words (see Matthew chapter 5, along with other comments such as those above), Jesus never intended to begin a new faith; he came to further his own religion, Judaism.

If you’re not a Jew, you’re not a member of his club. In the words of Jesus, you’re the lowest, most contemptible sort of person on the planet.

The reason you think you can speak to Jesus and feel his love is the same reason you can have a conversation in your head with President Obama. We build models of other individuals in our brains to predict their behavior. [4]

That’s what happens when you neglect to read the book by which you supposedly live your life, when you fail to learn its history and objectively investigate what you think you believe — you end up having a fantasy relationship with a bigoted, dead Jew.

[1] Ehrman, Bart D. The New Testament: A Historical Introduction to the Early Christian Writings. Oxford University Press, 2000.

[2] Brown, Raymond E. An Introduction to the New Testament. Doubleday, 1997

[3] Harris, Stephen L. Understanding the Bible. Mayfield, 1985

[4] Thomson, J. Anderson; Clare Aukofer. Why We Believe in God(s): A Concise Guide to the Science of Faith. Pitchstone Publishing, 2011.

 

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The Arrogance of “I Am Right, You Are Wrong” Thinking

Below is an article a church recently posted about former Pastor Jerry Dewitt’s deconversion from Christianity.  I am pasting the article–then inserting my comments in red as it goes:

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Former Pentecostal preacher turned atheist Jerry DeWitt: How Could a former minister of God’s Word Change Into a Nonbeliever?    (My thought is, maybe he took his blinders off???)

 

When we read this article, regarding Jerry DeWitt, we feared for his soul, simply because he once knew the way (the typical Christian assumption that the Christian “way” is THE way and no one else’s “way” can possibly be right), but something must have happened in his life to make him think (my guess is what happened in his life is he stopped ignoring that little voice of reason inside that kept telling him belief & devotion to a genocidal child killer didn’t make sense) God does not exist.  Jerry DeWitt was a Pentecostal preacher for more than 25 years (Well, we all make mistakes in judgement, don’t we?), but eventually became a nonbeliever (like so many of us brainwashed who then finally snapped out of it).  He began ministry when he was 17 years old.  This story is very sad (actually I consider it a huge victory and a triumph–inspiring and very moving), because the Bible (a book of myths and magic very much akin to Harry Potter only instead of a childish, tantrum-prone god we have Voldemort–also very bigoted & having chosen people.  Oh, and Harry is rather the Jesus figure–he more or less dies, then comes back to save the day.  The only difference really is Harry throws away the Elderwand–having no desire to rule over others.) speaks about these sort of individuals (individuals?   We can’t call him a person now or a man?) who once knew the way (the way again.  How arrogant, this “way” of thinking!) but made a choice to turn away from God (that free-will thing Christians like to brag about.  Oh, except if you actually practice it, you get punished and thrown into hell forever). Jerry DeWitt reminds us (us?  Do you have multiple personality disorder?) a lot of Bishop Carlton Pearson, the only difference is Bishop Pearson claims to believe in God, but no Devil and no hell. (oh well, at least Bishop Carlton Pearson is on the right track toward using his brain).  Pearson is yet an unbeliever (how is he an unbeliever for just not believing in god’s creation Satan or god’s creation, hell?   I seem to recall when I was a Christian the only necessary criteria for being saved was belief in the divinity of Jesus and asking him into your heart?) and might as well join atheists in our opinion (and we won’t judge him like Christians do, or threaten him with hell forever for not believing exactly as we do, or tell him he’s an abomination for not believing in a book of fairy tales).  However, we must continue to pray (the Christian’s way of saying fuck you!) for not only Bishop Carlton Pearson, but also this man, Jerry DeWitt. (How patronizing can you get?)

We question any person whom once believed in God, but now is an atheist (I would question too.  I would ask myself, why so many people are starting to actually read the bible and see all those verses you try very hard to steer people away from reading.  Perhaps you should change your approach during your sermons or…rewrite the bible so as to remove all those nasty embarrassing verses about god ordering rape and slavery and the butchery of pregnant women that keep tripping people up?).  If something very bad should happen in Jerry DeWitt’s life, our question is, would he call on God?  (In extreme moments people don’t think rationally so it’s entirely possible he might revert to deeply ingrained supernatural thinking–and then feel embarrassed later that he did.)   We understand there are some backsliders whom once knew God who walked away, because they became bitter (no, that’s not it.  That’s only your assumption of what it is and your assumption is wrong) and felt God did not love them (no, it has more to do with the belief that there is no god and there never was a god and all this bullshit was only contrived to brainwash and rule over people and get their money and not having to pay property taxes) or because maybe God did not give them an answer (it’s really hard for imaginary beings to answer questions.  Santa has tried it, but he hasn’t had much luck either) to their problem or they did not receive a blessing they fasted and prayed for (very hard to receive blessings from Unicorns too, I’ve heard).   However, to not believe in God, after serving him for so long is very scary. (No, it’s called being born again–more born again than the Christian notion of that phrase.  It’s called being liberated from superstition-instilled fear of death, fear of never being good enough, fear of an eye in the sky judging your every mood and policing even your thoughts.)   Then, to invite others to follow your movement (Jerry Dewitt has not invited anyone to become an atheist–that’s what Christians do.  Only Christians go door to door and preach on street corners and try to shove their “way” down other people’s throats) as an atheist is even more scary and also dangerous (dangerous, how?  Oh, you mean that invisible make-believe supernatural being in the sky again?), because people are souls and they have some place to go at the end of their lives (and your proof or evidence of this is where, exactly?)   Here is another interesting question, how would Jerry DeWitt or any other former believer of Christ feel, if they should die and discover their mistake of becoming an atheists?  ( Implying a self-serving reason to be a Christian and love god–so you can go to heaven when you die!   Now that is a kind of love a supernatural being can really respect.  But then that’s what he commands, doesn’t he?  Love me or else burn in hell for ever!   Just what I want to do–love a tyrant and a bully who needs to threaten people to get them to love him.  Personally I would rather go to hell than spend one more minute worshipping a god that did what this monster did as described in the much-ignored (by Christians) Old Testament.)  there would be nothing they can do to save their souls, because God gave them a chance to believe (and this loving god punishes them with an infinite punishment for committing a finite crime!).   Saints, this is a very serious issue, (saints?   LOL!!!!) because after the various testimonies we shared with you on our videos page that revealed people who actually been to heaven and hell (isn’t it funny how, when Catholics die they see Mary, and when Muslims die they see Muhammad and when Christians die they see Jesus?  We never hear about a Muslim who sees Jesus or a Christian who sees Muhammad, no.  It’s always a vision exactly matching that person’s earthly beliefs, no matter what those beliefs are.  Hmmmm…)  , we know God is real.   Although, we cannot see Him, we as true followers of Jesus Christ can feel Him (speaking as a born again Christian for over 30 years I can say I “felt him” too and I can reproduce that feeling right now.  It’s a placebo effect.  Same thing happens to large crowds at rock concerts or football games), and also we know He is real, because of the blessings of being alive (that’s right.  Nature has nothing to do with it!).   Our hearts cannot pump alone (Lol!  Oh, really?  I’m starting to wonder if the author of this article even graduated from High School.)  We cannot wake up without God waking us up (LOL!   And you cannot think without god thinking for you or feel without god feeling for you or move your legs without god moving your legs for you!).   We cannot see, hear or feel things without God.  We cannot walk or move our limbs without God (you actually go on to say this yourselves?  LOL!  Puppets–actually bragging about having strings and a puppeteer controlling them!).   We cannot use our minds and think without God (well, this much IS true for many Christians, unfortunately.)  Those of us whom are born again Christians would not have never been blessed with the free gift of salvation, if Jesus Christ had not of died on the cross (actually I think it happened when Mithras, god’s only son, came into the world and was crucified, dying for our sins and was then resurrected.  Jesus was only a faded copy of Mithras) and took the ridicule.  God gave us a choice to serve His Son (which one again?), if we give up sin (what Christians call doing wrong as opposed to doing right, only “sin” implies consequences that happen in the imaginary world that you live in after this one.   Therefore, God is very real (hmm, maybe if you say it over and over enough it will be true?) and there ought to be nothing negative that happens in our lives to change our belief in Him.   (That’s right.  You want to only surround yourself with happy brainwashed Christians who never challenge your beliefs or pressure you to think on your own!) Yes, we go through pain and cannot understand why there maybe some people that have more than us and  many of us have faithfully been serving the Lord for a longtime, but we cannot risk losing our souls (and um, if you were born in Iran to Iranian parents, for example, would you be saying/believing these same things about Islam?) by making a choice to stop believing in Him.


In the meantime, we will pray that God gives Jerry DeWitt (so magnanimous of you–wow!) and others like him to turn around from atheism (you mean to turn off our brains and blindly believe and follow a god that approves slavery, genocide, infanticide, abortion, etc., etc., )before it is everlasting too late.   We have faith God will reveal to Him, He is real (again!  You keep saying this like you think saying this makes it fact) and loves him very much.   



There was once a true story about an atheist whom went out camping by himself and he fell asleep out in the wilderness and he told the Lord (why would an atheist talk to god?), He said, ‘God if you are real, when I wake up, if that rock is gone, I will believe in you.’  When the man woke up that rock was gone.  (Can you please provide the reference to this “true” story?  Or did it come from Reader’s Digest?) This should reveal to anyone, God exist and has always proved himself to be real (really?  When?  Oh, that’s right.  Before we started actually recording our history in written form).  Therefore, we will have faith for Jerry DeWitt to be proven wrong (yes, when you die and experience the permanent black out that happens after you die I’m sure you’ll have some way of knowing Jerry Dewitt was proven wrong) and return back into the family of God.  (of which I believe Satan belongs to too, doesn’t he?  After all, god made Satan and Satan has carried out all God’s wishes to the letter!)

Note: Since CNN.com did not have a video of Jerry DeWitt explaining why he is no longer a Pentecostal minister and now an atheist, we felt led by God not to post the various videos we found on You Tube.   


If you need God to come into your life, we invite you to go directly to our Salvation page (I have that in my bucket–it’s right up there with stabbing myself in the eye with a knitting needle).  God is real and proved His existence when He created each and every last one of us (actually I think there’s this little fact called evolution…  You know, science?   That thing that requires fact and reproduceable evidence to back it up before it can even call itself a theory).  When He formed the earth, He already had shown us, He is real (did you ever actually take grammar classes in school?).  The sun, moon and the stars cannot hold up in the sky (brilliant display of your knowledge of science here!) without the Lord who created them.   Day cannot turned to night and night cannot change to daytime without God (yes, the creator of all the universe with its billions of galaxies actually hovers above this planet and nudges the planets stars and cosmos to revolve around the earth all just for OUR benefit while he worries about gay people getting married and whether or not so and so will have an abortion.)   We would not have different seasons (this is so incredibly beyond absurd it’s making my brain lock up) and they cannot change without the Lord (says who again?  Oh, yes, the bible.  Written by anonymous men who claimed to have been inspired by god.  Sure, I’ll believe that…)  So, we invite you to make a choice to not only believe in Him, but make a wise (?????) decision and serve Him (and stop thinking for yourself and believe everything we say hook line and sinker and give us your tithe!) before it is everlasting too late.   If after you make a choice for Jesus to come into your life, you are going to have trials (very much like you had before you accepted Jesus, and in fact nothing really changes except that placebo effect I mentioned earlier.  That and the fact that you start thinking that little voice you hear in your head is GOD rather than your own inner dialogue that we all are simply born with!)  God never said our walk as His children would be easy (that’s true, and in fact, God never said anything really because he doesn’t exist), but it does not mean He is not real (actually it does) and it does not mean He does not love you (that’s why he’ll roast you slowly and eternally in hell if you aren’t convinced by us saying he is real over and over and over and over).   Many times, you will go through bad situations, but they happen to make you strong (because god didn’t make you strong enough to begin with, apparently) and so you will have a testimony when you come out.   If you want to be saved (saved from what–oh yes, saved from dying because human beings are so special that they should get to live forever!), you must (absolutely MUST!!!) visit our Salvation page and follow the steps there.  God bless you dear brothers and sisters and welcome to the family of God.

Unbelieving preachers get help to ‘come out’ as open atheists

By Dan Merica, CNN
 

(CNN) – Jerry DeWitt entered the ministry when he was 17, launching a 25-year career as a Pentecostal preacher. He traveled all around his home state of Louisiana, preaching and ministering wherever he could.

All these years later, DeWitt, 42, is still on the road, and now takes his message all over the United States. But the nature of that message, along with his audience, has changed dramatically.

DeWitt is now an avowed atheist, and his audiences are made up of religious “nones,” the growing number of Americans who are atheist, agnostic, humanist or just plain disinterested in identifying with a religion. Today, DeWitt preaches a gospel of disbelief.

During his speeches, he talks about the process of leaving his…Read full article, here.

Source and Photo Courtesy: http://religion.blogs.cnn.com

 

Patriarchal Religion and Star Trek Don’t Mix

Star Trek is a fantasy.  Co-existing with other intelligent alien life forms and accepting them as respected equals is a fantasy.   As long as religion pulls the strings of our thinking, a possible future like we see depicted in the Star Trek universe, cannot be.

If we can’t even accept in our own species, that all of us are created equal, with equal rights over what happens to our bodies and equal rights to pursue our own happiness, how can we possibly embrace and accept the habits and behaviors of other intelligent, sentient cultures?

Because of religion we have sexism.  Because of religion we have bigotry and racism.  Because of religion we have intolerance and eagerness to judge others.  Because of religion we want to think in black in white and absolutes.  Either you are good or evil, followers of either a god or a satan, destined ultimately for either a heaven or a hell.

If some habit or behavior that is perfectly normal and healthy and positive for one group of people seems alien and beyond the comprehension of another group of people, it is regarded with suspicion, as are the people who engage in it.  

Human beings must be the entire reason why the immensity of the universe was created.  Human beings with our massive egos who want to believe we are the reason billions of years of evolution has taken place, and billions of other galaxies, along with ours, were created.

We are the center and everything else spins around us, and more specifically, human males are the center.  Even human females were created simply, just like other life on this planet and the Earth itself, to satisfy the wishes and needs of human men.  And even some races deem themselves superior to other races, god’s chosen people, with people of other tribes or races perfectly okay to overwhelm, invade, enslave, conquer, rape, or exterminate completely if the male made male, patriarchal god so commands it.

It’s a pie in the sky dream that human beings think we can reach out for the stars and co-exist with life elsewhere.  I have always been a devoted Star Trek fan, but at the same time that vision saddens me.  How can we hope to accept cultures so incredibly alien to our own, if we can’t even accept each other as equals?  Accept ourselves?

According To The Natural World — Homosexuality IS Natural

We are by-products of our environment.   I think even the religious minded will agree; what differentiates us from other species of Great Ape: religion.  Because as far as any of us can see, only humans require an explanation for everything, including the great unknown.

Human beings are rather like the Scarecrow, the Tin Man, or the Cowardly Lion from “The Wizard of Oz.”  All three already had what they wanted most,  but still felt they lacked.  This is true too, for humanity.   We already had the same understanding that all or most sentient animals have.  Christians call it “the Golden Rule,” but it’s been around forever, in every human civilization that’s ever been, and in the world of animals too.   Even despite the need to compete for food, we see animals work together, forming families or communities, building connections and bonds.  Elephants grieve their dead.   Many species of whales stay their entire lives in their family pods alongside parents, grandparents, uncles, aunts.  When an animal is sick, often another of its kind, a sibling or friend, stays beside it; even after it dies you might still find its loyal friend at its side, loathe to leave it behind.

Kindness to others, helping others, doing unto others as you would have others do unto you.  This is one of the basic laws of nature.  Not all animals have  it, but many animals do.  It doesn’t come from religion.  It comes from the instinct of knowing what it takes to survive in groups and get along.  Except religion wants the credit.   Without religion we’d all be savages, or so it’s said, murdering each other, not caring for anything beyond meeting our own primal needs.

Other intelligent animals aren’t like this without religion, so why would we be?

But we are conditioned to believe our goodness can’t come from within ourselves.  It must come from without, from above, from something greater than we.  Because we believe that we, unlike every other living thing on this planet, were born broken and in need of repair.  And if we don’t desire after or seek out the one way we can be repaired, we will be punished, forever, by the god who made us broken.

How close are we to other apes?   Very close.  Genetically two genes differentiate us from our closest cousins.  And in fact human beings are more closely related to Chimpanzees (or Bonobos) than Gorillas are.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Third_Chimpanzee   (AKA humans)

http://williamcalvin.com/teaching/bonobo.htm   (Bonobos)

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chimpanzee

The only apes that mate for life–Gibbon Apes and Gorillas.  And yet we are more closely related to the Chimpanzee than we are to either of these.

Animals that mate for life:

Gibbon Apes (nearest relative to humans (that mate for life)

Swans

Gorillas

Black Vultures

Wolves

French Angelfish

Albatrosses

Coyotes

Termites

Barn Owls

Beavers

Bald Eagles

Golden Eagles

Pigeons

Condors

Sandhill Cranes

Red Tailed Hawks

Ospreys

Prairie Voles

Chimpanzees do not mate for life.  Yet humans do.  I believe this is a direct result of religion.  It seems to me that the effort to stay loyal and loving to one partner all your life is a noble one, and in many cases it proves the key to a happy life . But is it natural?   Why is it so hard for 50% or more human couples to make their marriages last?   When did mating for life become the norm for human beings?   Did our prehistoric ancestors stay loyal to their mates?  If so, what encouraged this behavior?  This way of life?

It is a myth that only humans engage in sex for pleasure, just as it is a myth that homosexuality is not “natural:”

http://www.news-medical.net/news/2006/10/23/20718.aspx

1,500 animal species practice homosexuality

Published on October 23, 2006 at 4:28 PM · 290 Comments

Homosexuality is quite common in the animal kingdom, especially among herding animals. Many animals solve conflicts by practicing same gender sex.

From the middle of October until next summer the Norwegian Natural History Museum of the University of Oslo will host the first exhibition that focuses on homosexuality in the animal kingdom.

“One fundamental premise in social debates has been that homosexuality is unnatural. This premise is wrong. Homosexuality is both common and highly essential in the lives of a number of species,” explains Petter Boeckman, who is the academic advisor for the “Against Nature’s Order?” exhibition.

The most well-known homosexual animal is the dwarf chimpanzee (Bonobo), one of humanity’s closes relatives. The entire species is bisexual. Sex plays an conspicuous role in all their activities and takes the focus away from violence, which is the most typical method of solving conflicts among primates and many other animals.

“Sex among dwarf chimpanzees is in fact the business of the whole family, and the cute little ones often lend a helping hand when they engage in oral sex with each other.”

Lions are also homosexual. Male lions often band together with their brothers to lead the pride. To ensure loyalty, they strengthen the bonds by often having sex with each other.

Homosexuality is also quite common among dolphins and killer whales. The pairing of males and females is fleeting, while between males, a pair can stay together for years. Homosexual sex between different species is not unusual either. Meetings between different dolphin species can be quite violent, but the tension is often broken by a “sex orgy”.

Homosexuality is a social phenomenon and is most widespread among animals with a complex herd life.

Among the apes it is the females that create the continuity within the group. The social network is maintained not only by sharing food and the child rearing, but also by having sex. Among many of the female apes the sex organs swell up. So they rub their abdomens against each other,” explains Petter Bockman and points out that animals have sex because they have the desire to, just like we humans.

Homosexual behaviour has been observed in 1,500 animal species.

“We’re talking about everything from mammals to crabs and worms. The actual number is of course much higher. Among some animals homosexual behaviour is rare, some having sex with the same gender only a part of their life, while other animals, such as the dwarf chimpanzee, homosexuality is practiced throughout their lives.”

Animals that live a completely homosexual life can also be found. This occurs especially among birds that will pair with one partner for life, which is the case with geese and ducks. Four to five percent of the couples are homosexual. Single females will lay eggs in a homosexual pair’s nest. It has been observced that the homosexual couple are often better at raising the young than heterosexual couples.

When you see a colony of black-headed gulls, you can be sure that almost every tenth pair is lesbian. The females have no problems with being impregnated, although, according to Petter Boeckman they cannot be defined as bisexual.

“If a female has sex with a male one time, but thousands of times with another female, is she bisexual or homosexual? This is the same way to have children is not unknown among homosexual people.”

Indeed, there is a number of animals in which homosexual behaviour has never been observed, such as many insects, passerine birds and small mammals.

“To turn the approach on its head: No species has been found in which homosexual behaviour has not been shown to exist, with the exception of species that never have sex at all, such as sea urchins and aphis. Moreover, a part of the animal kingdom is hermaphroditic, truly bisexual. For them, homosexuality is not an issue.”

Petter Bockman regrets that there is too little research about homosexuality among animals.

“The theme has long been taboo. The problem is that researchers have not seen for themselves that the phenomenon exists or they have been confused when observing homosexual behaviour or that they are fearful of being ridiculed by their colleagues. Many therefore overlook the abundance of material that is found. Many researchers have described homosexuality as something altogether different from sex. They must realize that animals can have sex with who they will, when they will and without consideration to a researcher’s ethical principles.”

One example of overlooking behaviour noted by Petter Bockman is a description of mating among giraffes, when nine out of ten pairings occur between males.

“Every male that sniffed a female was reported as sex, while anal intercourse with orgasm between males was only “revolving around” dominance, competition or greetings.

Masturbation is common in the animal kingdom.

“Masturbation is the simplest method of self pleasure. We have a Darwinist mentality that all animals only have sex to procreate. But there are plenty of animals who will masturbate when they have nothing better to do. Masturbation has been observed among primates, deer, killer whales and penguins, and we’re talking about both males and females. They rub themselves against stones and roots. Orangutans are especially inventive. They make dildos of wood and bark,” says Petter Boeckman of the Norwegian Natural History Museum.

END OF ARTICLE

So back to the religion thing.  Is homosexuality “unnatural?  NO, it is not.   And the only reason human beings are under the impression that it is– religion.

Whether various religions want to acknowledge this or not, human beings are animals and are a part of nature, part of the natural world.   Religion has taken what is natural for humans and changed the rules, directed the rules, put fear of punishment or hope for reward as motivations to bring about this change, this desire in all of us to shun our natural animal selves and behave contrary to nature.

That’s all fine and well, but not every human is the same as every other human, and not all humans are born homosexual, whereas some humans are.  And of the humans born gay, not all of them are capable of denying what and who they are, to live within the box created for all of humankind by organized religion.

So, for those people, do we have the right to punish them?  To deny them equal rights as human beings?  To judge them, label them “abominations?”  Tell them that their god (if they believe in him), or creator, hates them?  Yes, like any creator would create a thing he hates.

For this reason among many, I disagree that religious dogma and indoctrination has been healthy for humankind.  I submit that this artificial way of living that denies what nature designed us to be, causes hatred, bigotry, sexism–all manner of intolerance for our fellow human beings.   Do Bonobos shun or stone to death members of their tribes for being gay?  No.  Only humans do that.  Only humans stand up behind pulpits and preach that homosexuals are  unnatural and an abomination and evil and should be put behind fences or be killed by their own governments for being born as the natural world intended them to be!   Only humans use religion and made up doctrine as justification to kill or punish or gleefully and indignantly spread the poison of hate.

http://www.hlntv.com/video/2012/05/23/pastor-put-gays-behind-electric-fence

http://www.inquisitr.com/245722/kansas-pastor-curtis-knapp-government-should-kill-gays-audio/

First in Line To Promote Hate

Ah, yes.  Nothing like the kind of Christian love that mirrors the loving god we see in the bible, is there?  The god who puts “thou shalt not kill” far down the list of the Ten Commandments and then repeatedly breaks his own commandment, killing hundreds of thousands of people for being what he made them to be?  No wonder belief in the bible produces such wholesome, stand up guys like, oh I don’t know…Charles Worley: 

http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=ZkcyddD7OpA

Or  hey,  Jesse Lee Peterson (to be fair this man also thanks whites for the hideous crimes against humanity they committed against blacks less than 200 years ago–so clearly the man is insane.), who blames all the troubles of America on “the woman” and the U.S. Government for “allowing” women to vote just as if they should have a say what happens to them or their country too:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NeFhA_sL38c

And now we reach the best example yet of Christianity at its very finest, Pastor Curtis Knapp, who’s approach to Christianity is much like Hitler’s was:

 http://www.rawstory.com/rs/2012/05/30/kansas-pastor-calls-on-u-s-government-to-kill-lgbt-people/#.T8eA89yt81I.facebook

The pastor of New Hope Baptist Church in Seneca, Kansas says President Barack Obama has gone too far in supporting same sex marriage and it’s time for the U.S. government to begin killing gay men and lesbians.

“Terrorists are dangerous, the economy is a real and present danger,” Pastor Curtis Knapp told his congregation on Sunday. “But there is simply nothing other than the holocaust of the unborn which imperils the safety of our country or places our people in jeopardy as does the leader of the Western world publicly raising his fist at the heavens and declaring that the bedrock institution of society, ordained of God and meant to be protected by the state, is little more than a convention of convenience with the children of Sodom to transform the meaning of something, which is precious to Jesus Christ, and a living picture of his love for the church into a legally protected justification for perversion and a vehicle of hatred aimed directly at that love.”

Knapp went on to read from Leviticus 20: “If there is a man who lies with a male as those who lie with a woman, both of them have committed a detestable act; they shall surely be put to death.”

“They should be put to death,” Knapp declared.

(Me interjecting, ah yes, nothing like invoking the bible (or Koran for that matter) whenever it supports personal bigotry or hate.   Cherry picking through the bible–ignoring this verse or that verse but oh here we go, one that says we should kill people we disagree with!)

“‘Oh, so you’re saying we should go out and start killing them, no?’ — I’m saying the government should. They won’t, but they should.”

“You say, ‘Oh, I can’t believe you, you’re horrible. You’re a backwards neanderthal of a person.’ Is that what you’re calling scripture? Is God a neanderthal, backwards in his morality?

(Me interjecting again, YES.  I would say absolutely yes.  God is exactly what his primitive makers were and wanted him to be!)

Is it His word or not?

(Me interjecting–I don’t know, is it?  Says who, exactly?)

If it’s His word, he commanded it. It’s His idea, not mine. And I’m not ashamed of it.”

(Me interjecting again–I would be ashamed of it.  Absolutely I would.  But hey, god also commanded that insolent sons be put before the town and the whole town should stone them to death, and that girls found not to be virgins on their wedding night should be stoned to death.  He commanded a lot of rather horrible things.  Should we also start owning slaves and burning witches (or anyone who seems strange) to death too?)

“He said put them to death,” he continued. “Shall the church drag them in? No, I’m not say that. The church has not been given the power of the sort; the government has. But the government ought to [kill them]. You got a better idea? A better idea than God?”

(Me interjecting again. Yes, how about understanding that if a god exists he made gays too and everything that happens is according to his plan and we need to love and support and encourage each other?  That’s my idea.  Is it better than “god’s?”  I think so.  I also don’t agree that the GOVERNMENT of a secular nation should be the strong arm for religion.  No more separation of church and state, apparently.  What next?   The handicapped?  Jews again?  Blacks?  What other groups do you hate and want disposed of?)

Listen to Knapp’s entire 1-hour sermon on “The Curse of Homosexuality” here.

Calls to the New Hope Baptist Church were not returned by the time of publication.

Listen to this audio of Pastor Curtis Knapp via Good As You, recorded May 26, 2012.

(End of Article)

What I find most ironic.  Christians accuse atheists of being evil, bad, horrible, godless (and happy to be so, thank you very much) people.  And yet people who claim to have god, are always first in line leading the calvary charge against this minority group or that minority group, their bibles in their hands, usually turned to Leviticus, which has a heck of a lot of really ugly ultimatum kind of commandments, and is only referred to when Christians are needing biblical justification to hate.

Any other time, mostly Christians ignore the Old Testament.  But still it comes in handy whenever a new chance comes along to hate people, doesn’t it?  Then suddenly we hear Leviticus quotes.  Nice, wholesome commandments to kill spoken by this loving god.

But remember, it’s atheists who are bad horrible people.  Atheists.  

How funny but I have not heard of one single atheist in the past six months leading the charge to take away human rights from women, or deny equal human rights to gays and lesbians, or suggest that people they don’t agree with be imprisoned, or hey better yet, KILLED by the government.

When I was a Christian this is not how I thought Christianity was supposed to be.  But then again my church never mentioned Leviticus or Timothy or any of these other old testament books where god really spells it out just who the “abominations are,” and how they should be disposed of.   All my church ever did was preach about trying to emulate Jesus.

A MESSAGE TO GIRLS ABOUT RELIGIOUS MEN WHO FEAR YOU by Soraya Chemaly

I found this blog online–I don’t think it can be shared enough:

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/soraya-chemaly/message-to-girls-about-re_b_1518849.html?ref=tw#s327348&title=Dr_Ingrid_Mattson

A Message to Girls About Religious Men Who Fear You

Posted: 05/21/2012 12:31 pm
 
Dear Girls,

You are powerful beyond words, because you threaten to unravel the control of corrupt men who abuse their authority.

In the United States last week there were people who wouldn’t let boys play a baseball championship final because a girl was on the opposing team. She’d already had to sit out two games because of their demands. Why? Did she, a competitive athlete and a member of her team, chose to? Was she being good and respectful when she acceded to their demands? Why were they not asked to forfeit their games? What messages were sent to her and her teammates? This is not complicated. It sent the wrong messages. Confusing messages. Incoherent messages. You need to know that she should have been allowed to play and not have had to sit out two games. These people, and others like them, all over the world, led exclusively by religious men, are scared of you and will not let you be. You worry them constantly.

If you were not powerful, they would not take you so seriously and they take you very, very seriously. You should, too. You can set the world on fire.

It doesn’t feel this way, I know. If that were true, you think, I would not have to sit out baseball games out of respect for religious beliefs that require my subservience and call it a gift. I would not be turned away from serving God with my brothers. I would not be taught that I’m an evil temptress or the virtue keeper of boys. I would not have virginity wielded as a weapon against me and my worth determined by my womb. I would not be spat on and called a whore by men when I am eight because my arms are bare. I would not be poisoned for going to school. I would not be forced, at the age of 9, to carry twins borne of child torture. I would not have to kill myself to avoid marrying my rapist. If this were true, they would pursue my rapists instead of stoning me for their crimes. I, and thousands others, would not be killed for “honor.”

Girls, these things happen because there are men with power who fear you and want to control you. I know that I have equated relatively benign baseball games with deadly, honor killings but, whereas one is a type of daily, seemingly harmless micro-aggression and the other is a lethal macro-aggression they share the same roots. The basis of both, and escalating actions in between, is the same: To teach you, and all girls subject to these men and their authority, a lesson: “Know your place.” I also know that there are places where girls are marginalized and hurt that are not religious. But all over the world these hypocritical, pious men, in their shamefully obvious wrongness, represent the sharp-edged tip of an iceberg, the visible surface of a deep and vast harm. They employ the full range of their earthly and divine influence to make sure, as early as possible, that you and the boys around you understand what they want your relative roles to be. Where there are patriarchal religions girls, in dramatically varying and extreme degrees, disproportionately suffer. Understand these men for what they are: bullies. Do not internalize what they would have you believe.

Your very existence makes them anxious. And their anxiety is particularly high because you have something no generation of girls has had before — globally connected communities of men and women who support your equality and freedom. Like guns, germs and steel, this transformative technology, which enables me to write to you here, alters geography, changes societies and dismantles systems of control — it makes the world a smaller place and it creates, even if slowly in some places, positive change for girls like you. You see, until now, these men could count on, indeed they could ensure, that you and the women around you were house-bound and isolated. Many of you still are. But now, there are millions and millions and millions people who are thinking about you and challenging these men every single day. You have the speed of light on your side and unless someone permanently turns the lights out, those days are gone. So, although you might feel like you are alone, you are not.

How do you threaten them? A girl, alone? By being able, strong, confident and yes, shameless. You may not “naturally” be interested in domesticity, piety, purity and submission, and they rely on your commitment to those things to order their worlds. Their actions, from one end of the spectrum to the other, are designed to fill you with self-doubt and, ultimately, fear — either bodily or spiritual — because otherwise you, and the young boys around you, will be fully aware of your strength and potential.

Because of this, they single-mindedly focus their attention on you, your body, your clothes, your hair, your abilities, your physical freedom. When their “manners” and “morals” are not universally applicable, but different for boys and girls, you can be sure that this is why. They seek to teach you, subtly, through small slights and gendered expectations, that you are “different,” weak, unworthy, incapable. The sadness is that, in their perception, if you are none of these things, then they are not strong, worthy and capable. This is not an excuse, but an explanation. It’s why they find infinite “benevolent” ways to undermine and disparage you, all in the name of “God’s word.” When that fails, they resort to violence. All over the world, their anxiety is manifest in a spectrum of actions ranging from mild paternalism, respectful of “proper boundaries,” to deadly enforcement of their rules.

Fear is why these men “officially” investigate Girl Scouts while perversely shielding child rapists. It’s why they obsess over your “purity.” It’s why they segregate you in public and private spaces. It’s why they instruct girls and boys that girls’ bodies are either shameful and dirty or sacred and belonging to men. Fear motivates them to teach that you pollute others by your very nature. It makes them intent on making sure you stay home and not be fully engaged in the world. It leads them to sanction marriages of 8-year-olds to old men. It convinces them that rape and its consequences are a “gift from God.” It’s why they empower others to stone you to death and disfigure you with acid.

Even “beating the gay” out of children, especially boys who are “more like” you, is aimed at you. Because if boys are “more like girls,” something these men believe is fundamentally inferior, then you can be “more like boys.” That causes ambiguity and destroys their carefully defined hierarchies and that is intolerable to them.

Fear is why they insist there is something fundamentally wrong with you. Don’t believe them. Fear is why they want you to cover your body. There is nothing wrong with your body, and your body is not to blame. Whether you chose to expose your body or to cover it up, consider the degree to which either choice is defined by a reduction of your character to narrow sexuality by a culture that refuses to hold men accountable for their actions and requires you to either radically display ourself for men’s pleasure or withdraw from the world and be held in reserve. Either way, ask who is defining your worth and by what measure. Fear is why they tell you you are so different from boys. You, and the boys you know, understand that your bodies are different, but that you are far more alike than dissimilar. Threatened, insecure, adult men say otherwise. Don’t give in. Even if you’re quiet. The differences these religious authorities exaggerate are simply pillars of oppression used to teach boys and girls that women’s subjugation is “natural” and “divine.” Reject them and their ideas.

This is hard to do. It requires that you, individually, be brave, strong, determined, fearless and confident. It requires that you demand that the adults around you pay attention and change their behavior. This is even harder.

First, and perhaps the most difficult to understand as a girl, is that women who love you and care for you often enable these men. This is what people say, “It’s not JUST men!” And they are right, women support them, individually and in groups, in ways that have private, public, political and societal consequences. But, make no mistake — although women are the enforcers of rules, they have no real, systemic authority in conservative religious hierarchies, and they know this. Yes, without their support these men could not continue, but until these women are truly free — bodily, economically, physically, politically — and their practical and spiritual salvation is no longer mediated by these very men, they will continue to support them. Enforcing the rules is a rational choice that enables them to survive, the world over, in unjust environments. You scare them too, because you call in to question their own complicity and cause conflict within.

Second, it is confusing that these men say they do what they do for your own good. They talk about respecting you and your dignity. You want to believe them; they have power and authority over you, your parents, your community and your access to God. They are often kind and benevolent and they love you. So, they must be right. But they are not. They demonstrate their own hypocrisy over and over and over again. They say they know what is best. They do not. You do. Don’t believe them when they teach you in hundreds of ways, through sacred text, careful words, cherished traditions, hidden threats and frightening examples, that you are inherently more sinful, base and corrupt, less worthy and in need of constant male guidance. Reject them.

The adults around you may not appear to support you when you take your humanity to its logical religious conclusions. Do not let them off the hook. Do not let them use “tradition” as an excuse or say it “really doesn’t matter.” Do not allow them to get away with asking you to “sit out games,” “be a good girl,” “don’t make a fuss,” and “put something on.” These are micro-aggressions that result in macro-aggressions. Adults often don’t think these things through. Sometimes it’s scary to them, too.

You can say: “There is nothing wrong with me. There is something wrong with you and your world.

Otherwise, when you get older, these same men, the ones who fear and hate you, will continue to undermine you. They will seek to control your body, keep you out of the public sphere, subjugate you in the name of a narrowly defined “family,” create impediments to your equality, shame you at every turn and justify your continued oppression in convoluted ways that defy reason and morality. They will investigate you for being strong, violate you, stone you to death, charge you with witchcraft, punish you in every conceivable way to set an example for … your children.

So, know that you are strong and powerful. Use your reason. Trust your instincts. Seek out those that would support you and, yes, know your place: on the field, in the street, on the bus (in the front), in school, at work and in public office.

You are not alone and you are brighter than the sun.

Your Equal Rights? Majority Vote Shall Decide!

I am disgusted and angered at North Carolina and any other State that makes equal human rights for all, subject to a majority vote.   Do straight people have to wait and hope that a majority of the population all agree that they should be able to marry?  No.   So why do gays?  Why do some people have to depend on other people agreeing what their rights should be, while some of us do not?   I thought this was America.  Bad enough that women in this day and age still have to battle every four years to hold on to their right to control their own body.  But to say some Americans have the right to express their love for each other through marriage, and some do not–how absurd.

The “sanctity of marriage” only applies to people who believe in a god.  And as usual, whenever god or religion is added to the mix we get hatred, intolerance, and a complete disregard for the pursuit of happiness for anyone who isn’t the same as we are.

I wrote this story this morning.  Homosexuality is as natural to human beings as it is to any other warm blooded species on this planet.  The very fact some human beings are born with a preference for their own gender proves this is natural because human beings, despite how artificial we’ve made our world, are still very much a part of the natural world.

I just thought–write a story to illustrate this same kind of discrimination toward people born “different” in a more obvious way–a way they obviously can’t help and don’t have any choice about.  Does this scenario seem cruel, unfair and absurd?  Well I know several gay people.  This is not a lifestyle choice.  This is not a choice at all.  It is who they are; how they were born.  For them it is as natural as being straight is for us.  Can a straight person suddenly decide not to be straight anymore?  Then how is it fair to treat gays like simply being who they are is somehow a choice?

Anyway, here’s the story:

 

A whisper of cool air.  I turned my head to see Janie cracking her window.  The old black van was fearsome hot in the blistering sun, the fabric of the front seat sticking to my thighs.  I too, put a hand to the crank and let in some air.  But it was only the van’s speed that made it seem cool.  When I leaned my cheek close to the open air, it was warm.  Easy Bake Oven warm.

“Are we there yet?” Ben asked from the back seat.  I turned to see his flushed face.  He was twisting where he sat, clearly uncomfortable.  Beside him his twin Charlie sat with his eyes closed, his cheek resting on Ben’s shoulder.  Being just twelve, the two boys had little patience for long drives, let alone in the summer heat.

“Almost.”  Janie.flipped on her turn signal.  I could see the kids in the stopped car next to us.  They were bouncing up and down in their seats, obviously headed for the same destination as we.

“It’ll be packed,” Janie said.

“At this point I don’t care!” I returned.  I kept my eye on my two little brothers.  Their life had not been easy; every day I felt more protective of them.  When at last the car crunched its way into the gravel parking lot beside the public pool, I saw Ben give Charlie a poke.  The slightly smaller boy awoke with a jolt, looked to where Ben was pointing and grinned.  As if on cue both boys seized their towels.

Getting out of the car was always awkward, but today it seemed my two little brothers had wings.  I laughed at Charlie when he suddenly lost a flip flop in his haste to get in line.   Ben at once stopped, and lowered himself just a bit so his brother could slip it back on.

The kids in front and behind looked curiously at my brothers.  Ben stuck out his tongue.  He was used to it.  Charlie was luckily turned in such a way that very often he didn’t get to see.   They were conjoined twins, both sharing one heart.  It was possible when they were older and stronger they might be separated; both twins were on the waiting list for a heart.

I came first to the ticket window.   “Three!” I sang out.  From behind the fence I could see the sunlight on the water, the play of its rays across the cool blue surface.  It was as packed as Janie predicted.  In some places kids were shoulder to shoulder.  Behind me I felt Ben pressing against me in his eagerness.  It was almost a hundred degrees and it was Wisconsin.  The heat itself turned to sweat beneath our clothes. 

The balding man behind the window eyed my two brothers.   I saw his eyes fix on the place where the two boys’ ribcages merged together.  A look of disgust raised his upper lip.   “You can go in,” he said curtly.  “But not them.  They’re not… natural.”

I felt a chill in that horrible heat.  Starting at the back of my neck it shot straight through my stomach.  “What?”  I stared at the man, not believing what I’d just heard.

“Sam,” Janie said softly beside me.  “Let’s go.”

“No way!”  I put myself between my brothers and the man’s cruel scrutiny.  “What is your problem?  Who are you to tell us we can’t go in?”

“YOU can,” the man barked.  “But not them.  Not them!   Holy shit, little girl, they’re unnatural.  I don’t want them in the water with my kids.  I don’t want the other kids seeing that!”

I took a step back, put my hands on my hips.  “Look,” I said, trying to suppress the anger in my voice.  I felt my body trembling: rage took me then.  I could hardly form words.  “This is America.  We are Americans.  My brothers have just as much right to go in that pool as anyone else!”

The man glared at me.  A slow cruel smile bent his lips.  He closed the window, came out of his chair; as I watched he came through the doorway to where we stood.  With a rigid set to his shoulders he went to the metal gate and thumbed it open.   “Ok!” he snarled.  “Right!”   I let out a yelp as he grabbed my arm, pushed me aside.  Then his hard hands caught Ben and Charlie by the shoulders.  With rough jerks of his arms he pulled the two boys through the gate, into the hard brightness of the sun.

A silence fell as the kids in the water stopped splashing, as the kids playing in the puddles beside the pool looked up.  Even the boy on the diving board stopped and looked down.  Suddenly everyone was looking at my little brothers as beside Ben, Charlie began to cry.

“Everyone!”  the big man shouted.  “This is America…that means we get a vote!   Who here’s in favor of these two freaks getting in the water with you?”

I stood rooted to the spot. Not a single kid raised their hands.   They stared at the man who they knew owned the pool, his loathing and hatred twisting his face, and not a kid raised their hand.  Even the lifeguards at their various stations were dumbstruck; too afraid of losing their jobs to make a sound.

Finally I found my voice.  “Come on, guys.”  I bit hard on each word.  “We don’t need their stupid pool.  There’s the lake, just down the road and I’m betting no one’s peed in it, either!”

I took Charlie’s hand.  He lurched beside me, hiding his face against my arm.  We turned away from the sight of the water, but then had to stop.  I saw Ben still standing with hope on his face, gazing at the other kids he ached to play with, the cool water he craved.  

“Please,” I heard him whisper.

I looked at the adult who had done his best to humiliate my brothers.   He was grinning now, and with gestures, getting many of the other kids to laugh.

“Come on, Ben,” I said gently.  With a look of pain and confusion, my little brother turned away. 

 

 

 

 

Religion in the Workplace

A recent blogcast put out by The Thinking Atheist.  It’s over an hour, but very good stuff.  For those of you who would like to have some understanding how it feels to be an atheist.  The host describes very well his process of going from a believer to unbelief.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FElstT-s_YM&feature=g-all-u

Actually, after listening about 50 minutes the topic does get into the fact there is no archeological evidence or evidence at all of any of the stories in the bible.  And this podcast was recorded last weeks so…fairly new.

Another great link to learning more about Evolution.  This link provides some of the best vids out there on the subject:

http://whyevolutionistrue.wordpress.com/2012/05/06/the-mother-lode-of-pro-evolution-and-anti-creationist-videos/

 

Mary WHO??? What the First Christians Believed…

http://www.christianitydisproved.com/bible/marcion-of-sinope.html

Who was Marcion? What was Marcionism? Why was he so important in the development of the church in the Second Century?

Who was Marcion?

Marcion: The Gospel of the Alien GodMarcion: The Gospel of the Alien God

Marcion of Sinope was born around 85-100 CE, in the region of Pontus on the Black Sea.1 According to Hippolytus, Marcion’s father was a bishop in Sinope; the young Marcion likely attended his church and became familiar with the Christian scriptures.2 As time progressed Marcion became an educated man, who prospered as a ship-master/shipowner.3 His familial relationships did not share the same prosperous fate as his career; tradition has it that Marcion’s father excommunicated him in Sinope for seducing a young virgin, what is more likely, is that he was excommunicated for his false teachings in relation to his father’s Christianity.4 Marcion had embraced a radical Paulinist theology (see ‘What was Marcionism?’ below), we don’t know how far developed this theology was at the time of his excommunication, but we do know that it was fully developed by 144 CE.5

Undeterred by his excommunication, Marcion travelled throughout Asia Minor seeking recognition for his theology; he was rebuffed by the church leaders of Ephesus, Smyrna and Hierapolis.6 It was probably around this time that Marcion infamously encountered Polycarp and his barbed retort, “I recognize you as the first born of Satan.”7

Undeterred by his rejection in Asia Minor, Marcion travelled to Rome on his own ship with grand plans in mind, upon arrival around 137-139 CE, he donated 200,000 sesterces to the proto-orthodox church.8 It appears that Marcion learnt from his experiences in Asia Minor, rather than submitting his theology to the church in Rome straight away, he probably sequestered himself to five years of private study, from around 139-144 CE.9 At the end of this period, Marcion emerged with Marcionism’s foundational documents; the Marcionite Bible and its commentary the Antitheses.10 He gathered the Roman community, submitted his theology and demanded a verdict from the presbyters in 144 CE.11 There can be no doubt that this action unearths Marcion’s mindset; he saw himself as the literary saviour of the proto-orthodox church, he would have expected the community to read his writings and see the error of their ways. For the third notable time, Marcion and his theology were rejected, he was expelled from the community, branded as a heretic and had his 200,000 sesterces refunded.12

Undeterred by his rejection in Rome, Marcion started his own church; if the proto-orthodox would not propagate his theology, then he would do it himself. The ensuing results were spectacular, by the year 150 CE Justin Martyr wrote: “And there is Marcion, a man of Pontus, who is even at this day alive … And he, by the aid of the devils, has caused many of every nation to speak blasphemies…”13 Tertullian echoed these sentiments: “… [Marcionism] has filled the whole world…”14 as did Epiphanius, “The sect is still to be found even now in Rome and Italy, Egypt and Palestine, Arabia and Syria, Cyprus and the Thebaid – in Persia too, moreover and other places.”15 Marcion’s church was a formidable rival to the proto-orthodox; Marcion lived no more than 15 years after his Roman expulsion, but his efforts influenced Christendom for centuries.16 According to Harnack, “No other religious personality in antiquity after Paul and before Augustine can rival him in significance.”17

What else do we know about Marcion the man? It is clear that Marcion was a great organizer that he was: energetic, intelligent, stubborn, an idealistic reformer, naive, self assured, single-minded, forcible, and resilient, a visionary, sincere, pragmatic, serious-minded and possessed strong convictions.18 He had an aversion to philosophy but was potentially influenced by the ‘problem of evil’ in his younger days, he rejected allegorical interpretation and was not significantly influenced by the Gnostic Cerdo; if he was influenced at all.19 He was an ascetic, a modalist, a dualist, a docetist, a biblical theologian, a biblical literalist, a textual critic/restorer, as well as a man that loved his enemies and embraced the Beatitudes.20 It is highly unlikely that Marcion was a charlatan; he never claimed a religious revelation, he never claimed to have received his scriptures supernaturally and he never claimed authority for himself.21 He could easily have claimed these things; charlatans have done so both before and after him with lasting effects.22 No, Marcion was a genuine believer, he saw himself as a student of Paul, simply following in the apostle’s footsteps.23

What was Marcionism?

Marcionism rested upon two foundational assumptions.24 The first assumption was based upon Paul’s writings in Galatians:

I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting the one who called you in the grace of Christ and are turning to a different gospel – not that there is another gospel, but there are some who are confusing you and want to pervert the gospel of Christ. But even if we or an angel from heaven should proclaim to you a gospel contrary to what we proclaimed to you, let that one be accursed! As we have said before, so now I repeat, if anyone proclaims to you a gospel contrary to what you received, let that one be accursed! … For I want you to know, brothers and sisters, that the gospel that was proclaimed by me is not of human origin; for I did not receive it from a human source, nor was I taught it, but I received it through a revelation of Jesus Christ.25

Marcion interpreted Paul‘s words literally, there was only one gospel not four (or more) and it was the gospel that Paul had received personally from Jesus Christ. The second assumption arose from Marcion’s observation that the Old Testament God was starkly different from Jesus. According to Tertullian, Marcion compared Old Testament verses like:26

He [Elisha] went up from there to Bethel; and while he was going up on the way, some small boys came out of the city and jeered at him, saying, “Go away, baldhead! Go away, baldhead!” When he turned around and saw them, he cursed them in the name of the LORD. Then two she-bears came out of the woods and mauled forty-two of the boys.27

With Jesus‘ loving words toward children:

People were bringing even infants to him that he might touch them; and when the disciples saw it, they sternly ordered them not to do it. But Jesus called for them and said, “Let the little children come to me, and do not stop them; for it is to such as these that the kingdom of God belongs”.28

From such verses Marcion made the relatively logical conclusion, that the God of the Old Testament; the creator-God, was different to the good-God who was the father of Jesus Christ. The creator-God was: inferior and previously ignorant of the good-God, the creator of the physical world, the God of the Jews, in opposition to the good-God, the law-giver, a judge, just, petty, cruel, finite, warlike, jealous, blood-thirsty, severe, fierce, hostile to Christ, responsible for procreation and all other evils of the flesh.29 In stark contrast, the good God was: the God of Marcionism, superior to the creator-God, in opposition to the creator-God, separate from the universe, loving, good, righteous, giving, kind and previously unknown; a stranger/alien from the third heaven.30 The good-God had never produced any flesh, and he was seeking to purchase/steal people from the creator-God to his own heaven through Christ the redeemer.31 Marcion rejected the creator-God, the Old Testament and its prophets; the law and its creator-God were viewed in opposition to the gospel and the good-God.32

In summary, Marcionism was foundationally based upon Paul‘s one gospel and the rejection of the Old Testament, its law and creator-God, in favour of the new good-God.

From this foundation, the Marcionite conspiracy theory was born; Judaism had corrupted the true gospel/epistles throughout the entire apostolic age.33 Marcion therefore would allow no connection between the gospel/epistles; “…anything that purports to be Christian and yet exhibits a connection with the Old Testament is false and forged.34 To rectify this alleged travesty, Marcion set about ‘restoring’ the Pauline texts, excising them to form the first closed canon; the Marcionite Bible which accompanied the Antitheses.35 The excised Bible contained one unnamed ‘authentic’ gospel (Luke), and the epistles: Galatians, Corinthians, 2 Corinthians, Romans, Thessalonians, 2 Thessalonians, Ephesians, Colossians, Philemon, Philippians and parts of the Epistle to the Laodiceans.36 The proto-orthodox destroyed this Bible along with the Antitheses but we can deduce Marcionite teachings from the anti-heretical works that the texts spawned.

On Christ, Marcion denied the virgin birth, instead proposing that Christ had emerged from heaven in 29 CE as the son of the good-God; a stranger to the creator-God.37 Christ didn‘t have a normal physical body but he was not a phantom, he still suffered.38 The purpose of Christ‘s visit was to purchase mankind from the creator-God for the good-God, with Christ‘s blood.39 This act displayed the innate goodness of the good-God, the new reality was love.40 Marcionites were ‘saved’ by faith in Christ, not by observing the creator-God‘s law which Christ abolished.

On Judaism, Marcion saw the Old Testament as a book of literal history; he rejected it but did not see it as a book of lies.41 He believed that the Jewish Messiah was yet to arrive.42

Much emphasis was placed on newness within Marcionism. Marcionites constantly referred to Jesus’ saying:43

And no one puts new wine into old wineskins; otherwise the new wine will burst the skins and will be spilled, and the skins will be destroyed.44

Contrary to the proto-orthodox, Marcionites held that there was no physical resurrection of the dead. They believed that the soul would be saved but that the body, the creation of the creator-God, would be destroyed.45

Marcionites held to the Pauline teaching that, “…all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God…”46 As such, people that rejected Christ were to be punished on judgment day. Since the good-God couldn‘t possibly have his own hell, non-believers would simply be cast away to the creator-God, who does have his own hell and will burn them with fire.47

Marriage was not allowed by Marcion, it was viewed as a corruption. Since the creator-God ordained marriage, the Marcionites believed that they were distressing him by avoiding it; this was a positive thing for they viewed themselves in opposition to the creator-God.48 Sex was prohibited for it engaged the sinful flesh, an additional bonus was that this too supposedly bothered the creator-God.49 This teaching had an enormously negative effect upon the movement‘s demographics; besides the ascetic deterrent, they couldn‘t expand the religious base by indoctrinating children, they had to continually recruit new members.50

Marcionites had special dietary restrictions, they were not allowed to eat meat with the exception of fish and they were not permitted to drink wine.51 Food intake was to be minimized alongside fasting, which was also conducted to spite the creator-God.52 Marcionites also practiced the Eucharist.53

Baptism was practiced, it is possible that women were allowed to conduct the ritual and that it was allowed more than once.54

Whilst Marcion rejected the Old Testament prophets, it is possible that he did not reject the concept of prophecy itself.55

It also appears that Marcionites died for their beliefs in significant numbers; being prepared for martyrdom was encouraged.56

Whilst many of Marcion‘s teachings were irrational by modern standards, there was one teaching that was clearly unethical; it involved the damnation of Abel and Enoch amongst others. It was commonly held in Marcion‘s time that Jesus had descended to Hades, to redeem prior generations.57 Judaism ‘back-sliders’/non-adherents were saved including Cain, Esau, Abiram, Korah and Dathan.58 But, ‘ethical’ people like Abel, Enoch, Abraham, Moses and David were not, for they had followed the creator-God.59 This teaching was clearly immoral; to reward a murderer such as Cain, yet condemn Abel to an eternity of fire was an ethical affront to justice.

Marcionite teachings were propagated within Marcionite churches.60 Their church structure paralleled that of the proto-orthodox involving bishops, elders and catechumens and they observed similar religious events.61 Their services were open to the public; pagans included.62 They had no clear cut doctrinal system which allowed diversity from the beginning, Marcionism would evolve with time; most notably with Apelles.63

Why was he so important in the development of the church in the Second Century?

The success of Marcion and his Marcionite church threatened the proto-orthodox: “Already in the year A.D. 150 Justin could say that his influence extended all over the Empire. A real rival to the growing Catholic Church had sprung into being, and for a few years it must actually have seemed possible that the Marcionite church would become the dominant church.”64 This spurred the proto-orthodox into action, three major developments took place: (1) The proto-orthodox were motivated to clarify their ecclesiastical doctrines; (2) They were forced to create their own Biblical canon, and; (3) They were motivated to include Paul in the newly formed canon. These developments will be analysed in turn.

Prior to Marcion’s emergence, the proto-orthodox lacked conclusive ecclesiastical doctrines; there was no canon besides the Old Testament, there was a lack of meaningful creeds, there were competing interpretations of tradition, there was a reliance on “apostolic men” like Polycarp, and the episcopate was still developing its authority.65 Marcion‘s theological assault spurred them into action; anti-heretical counter literature was profusely written by the likes of Irenaeus and Tertullian forging ecclesiastical doctrines.66 The Old Roman Creed was reiterated to specify the belief, that the creator-God was the Father of Jesus Christ, and the need for their own canon was identified.67

Marcion‘s greatest contribution to the development of the second century church was the Marcionite canon; it was the catalyst and prototype for the proto-orthodox‘s canon.68 Prior to Marcion‘s emergence, Christendom had employed a vast array of literature ranging from the accepted Old Testament, to various gospels, apocalyptic works, epistles and letters.69 There was no consensus on which texts where authoritative, it depended on which church you visited.70 Marcion led the way on enforcing consensus and the proto-orthodox followed suit: It cannot have been twenty years later when authoritative bishops in Asia Minor and Rome proceeded to set in opposition to Marcion‘s Bible a collection that was also in two parts and to designate it as the apostolic catholic New Testament. This work, created in imitation and under the impact of Marcion‘s creation, was hardly felt to be an odd innovation, because the four Gospels had already been in use in those churches for more than a generation.71 Whilst the proto-orthodox would have inevitably developed their own canon, Marcion accelerated the process.72

Finally, the contents of the proto-orthodox canon were influenced by Marcion; specifically the inclusion of Paul‘s writings. Prior to Marcion, Paul had progressively been on the outer of proto-orthodox Christianity; appreciation for his “gospel” had been waning.73 In the words of E.C. Blackman, “It may be that but for Marcion the Catholic Church might have left Paul‘s writings out of its canon, and have left the Apostle with no greater authority than the Apostolic Fathers.”74 Ironically, it seems like Paul‘s real saviour was Marcion.