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Category: Evangelicalism

Ken Ham: Exposure to Young Earth Creationism Caused Atheist to Become Evangelical Christian

nye ham debate

According to Ken Ham’s latest blog post, an atheist woman named Donna became an Evangelical Christian in 1993 after hearing his “Back to Genesis” seminar at Cedarville University. As a skeptic, I find it quite easy to dismiss such claims. I know of no informed, educated atheist who has EVER became a Christian due to exposure to young earth creationist teachings. Such a life trajectory is, in my opinion, nearly impossible. I wrote about this subject the other day in a post titled, Dear Christians: The Word “Atheist” is Not Shorthand for Your Lives Before Jesus.  So, let’s look at Ham’s stupendous claim. As I will quickly show, Ken Ham evidently doesn’t know the definition of the word atheist and neither does convert Donna.

Ham writes:

When I read some of the atheist blogs, Facebook posts, and news articles that display a sheer hatred against Christians (really, it’s a hatred against God), it can seem, humanly speaking, hopeless to try to reach these secularists with the truth of God’s Word and the salvation message it presents.

….

As I read many of the comments by atheists (blasphemous and vitriolic as some of them are), I also understand that they have been indoctrinated in evolutionary ideas. Most of them have probably never really heard a clear, logical defense of the Christian faith that would answer many of their skeptical questions. It’s important to remember that God’s Word commands us to “sanctify the Lord God in your hearts, and always be ready to give a defense to everyone who asks you a reason for the hope that is in you, with meekness and fear.”

At the same time, it’s vital that we never divorce any arguments/defense we could present to atheists from the powerful Word of God: “So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God”

….

There’s no greater thrill in this ministry than to hear how God has used what has been taught by AiG to touch someone’s life—for eternity. Last week, I was introduced to one of our new volunteers, Donna, who is helping sew some of the costumes for the figures that will be placed inside our full-size Ark.

I discovered that she became a Christian in 1993 after attending one of my seminars (called “Back to Genesis” with the Institute for Creation Research ministry) at Cedarville University in Ohio. The Bible-upholding seminar was such an eye-opener to her about the reliability of the Bible that she became a Christian.

Ham asked Donna to share the story of her conversion from atheism to Evangelical Christianity. Here is some of what Donna had to say:

The Lord opened up this atheistic evolutionist’s eyes decades ago, through exposure to Ken’s ministry.

I was a die-hard evolutionist, completely convinced that the fossil finds in Olduvai Gorge supported the “evidence” that we evolved from less-complicated, early hominid creatures, like the so-called “Lucy”.

To keep a long story short: I attended a Creation Seminar at Cedarville College [now Cedarville University], sat in rapt attention as Ken Ham told me “the rest of the story,” and I realized that all of the fossil finds I believed supported evolution were, in all cases, misinterpreted. I was blown away! So, learning the truth about evolution preceded my realizing that God was real (after all!) and that the Bible was His Word. I became a creationist before I became a believer in Christ.

I was raised and educated Roman Catholic. My parents took all seven of us to church every Sunday. And for all that religiosity, we never spoke of Jesus at home.

After twelve years of Catholic schools, and being taught that Noah’s Ark, for example, was just an allegorical way to relay the story that “if you come on board with belief in God, he’ll keep you through the storm,” that there probably was no actual Noah’s Ark, and probably no actual Adam and Eve, it was easy to throw out the Bible as any believable “Word of God.”

I became a non-Christian. I used to say, “How can I believe a book that’s been copied over and over and over, translated in so many different versions, when it probably doesn’t even look like the original, like a Xerox copy of a Xerox copy of a Xerox copy?” It was easy to walk away from what little faith I’d been taught.

But then being exposed to creation science ministries, I had to look honestly at what I’d come to believe about God. I can’t name a specific date that I came to saving knowledge of what Christ had done for me—it was more of a season. I was that thick headed. It took a while for it all to unfold.

Today, I am feasting on apologetics, Christian music, and the inerrant Word of God. I never thought the Bible could make so much sense. Christ has loved and protected me through my years of doubt, even though I never deserved it. I know where I came from, and I know exactly where I’m going. I am free of the fears and superstitions of religion, because I have a deep, personal relationship with the most awesome Creator of the Universe!…

Does Donna’s testimony remotely sound like that of a person who was once an atheist? Of course not. Donna, like her creationist guru, conflated unbelief and being a non-Christian with atheism. Donna was raised in a Catholic home and attended parochial schools from first through twelfth grade. She was no more an atheist than the Pope. That she stopped believing is certainly a possibility, but I doubt that is the case. Donna spent much of her life immersed in Catholic Christianity. It is this exposure that paved the way to her young earth creationism conversion. Countless Evangelicals can give similar testimonies.

Evangelicals such as Ham do not think Roman Catholics are Christians. According to Evangelicals, Catholicism is a works-based religion that is leading hundreds of millions of people astray. Donna’s “unbelief” wasn’t atheism. It was classic false religion unbelief, a way of explaining life before Jesus. As is often the case, Donna is reading her present Fundamentalist young earth creationist beliefs back into the story of her life. What I would love to know is WHY Donna attended Ham’s seminar? What was going on in her life that led her to attend this seminar? Was she attending an Evangelical church at the time?

Of course, Ham will appeal to the supernatural power of the Evangelical God. What seems impossible to us, is possible with God. Ham writes:

At AiG, we know that non-Christians are really walking dead people “who were dead in trespasses and sins” (Ephesians 2:1). Only God’s Word can raise the dead. So when we are witnessing to “dead” people, we do the best we can to give answers (1 Peter 3:15) to defend the faith, and in so doing, point them to the Word of God that saves! God is the One who opens people’s hearts (including atheists) and “who has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ” (2 Corinthians 4:6).

Yes, God’s Word reaches even the most hardened heart. There is hope for every atheist, for the Lord “is longsuffering toward us, not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance” (2 Peter 3:9). And “blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His abundant mercy has begotten us again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead.”

Donna’s story might find a friendly hearing among Ham’s devoted followers, but I find her story lacking in evidence that she was ever an atheist.

Why Evangelical Influence is Diminishing

fear mongers

Evangelicals are having an identity crisis. Sensing that they are losing their grip on the American political and cultural scene, notable Evangelicals increasingly resort to fear-mongering and shrill rhetoric in an attempt to remind the public that they are still alive and kicking. I read a number of Evangelical blogs and news sites. I have noticed in recent months, especially since the legalization of same-sex marriage, Evangelicals have become increasingly agitated over American politics. If I didn’t know any better, I would conclude that, based on their articles and emails, Evangelicals believe that the United States is on the verge of total collapse. Some Evangelicals think secularists and socialists will soon take over America, resulting in civil war.

The recent demise of Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia has stirred up a new round of hysteria. Fearing that President Obama will nominate a left-leaning judge, Evangelicals are asking their congressional leaders to abdicate their constitutional responsibilities and stop the nomination process. Some of the talking heads on the extreme right of Evangelicalism are suggesting that Scalia was murdered by Obama operatives, paving the way for the socialist takeover of the Supreme Court.

Part of me wonders if uproar over Scalia, same-sex marriage, Planned Parenthood, and the 2016 Presidential election is really all about keeping Evangelicals in the fold. People such as Franklin Graham, Tim Wildmon, Tony Perkins, and James Dobson know that Evangelicalism is losing young adults at an alarming rate. Even when young adults remain in the church, they are more likely to support same-sex marriage and abortion rights and are more likely to vote Democrat. These liberal-minded Evangelicals helped put Barack Obama in office in 2008 and 2012. Knowing they cannot retreat from the culture war, Evangelical parachurch groups increasingly resort to using methods meant to keep their supporters in a constant state of spiritual and political agitation. Anything that is perceived as an “attack” on Evangelical Christianity is quickly reported and added to daily email missives sent to supporters. From the war on Christmas to cries of religious persecution, Evangelical leaders paint a dire picture of the future for American Christians. Some even go so far as to suggest that Evangelicals will soon be rounded up and jailed for their beliefs.

One thing is certain, stirring up the faithful is the key to raising money. Evangelical pastors and leaders of parachurch groups frequently remind supporter of the secular/humanist/atheist/socialist/communist/liberal threat. If Evangelicals fail to support these beacons of hysteria, America is doomed. Evangelicals such as Franklin Graham and Tony Perkins are warning supporters that if Bernie Sanders wins the election, the United States will cease to be a democracy and constitutional protections will be lost. Appealing to the Fox News demographic, these preachers of gloom and doom warn that secularists will not rest until they have upended the first and second amendments of the U.S. Constitution.

Evangelicals see groups such as the Freedom from Religion FoundationAmerican Atheists, and the American Humanist Association challenging government’s preferential treatment of Christianity and Evangelicals wrongly think that their rights and freedoms are under attack. They are not, as any constitutional scholar can tell them. What is happening is that secularists, atheists, humanists, Satanists, and other non-Christian groups are no longer willing to let Christianity unduly influence local, state, and federal government. These groups are no longer willing to idly stand by while Evangelicals trample the First Amendment, Establishment Clause, and the separation of church and state. No longer willing to lurk in the shadows of American life, non-Christians are asserting their right to be heard. Thanks to the internet, these formerly marginalized groups have found their voices. Non-Christians, once a scattered demographic, can now join together in the fight against those clamoring for a Christian theocracy.

It should not surprise us then that aging Evangelical leaders are scared by what they see taking place on the American political and religious scene. I am sure that privately some of these leaders are wondering whether Evangelicalism is dying. Can it be resurrected? they wonder. Or is the sun setting on the movement birthed in the fundamentalist-modernist war of the 1920s? I wonder if they will dare to ponder where things went wrong?  Will they conclude that selling their souls to the Republican party and attempting to win the culture war at any price has cost them their future? Or will they continue to demand that people pay attention to them? Dammit! We are relevant! We still matter!  Mess with us and  we will_________. Will what? Send out voters guides that are little more than endorsements of Republican candidates for office? Write blog posts? Write editorials? Hold rallies? Aren’t these the things that Evangelicals have been doing since the days Jerry Falwell birthed the Moral Majority? Yet, their support base continues to erode and grow more gray hair.

Generally, Evangelical pastors and parachurch groups have supported climate change denial, creationism, and racist Republican policies concerning immigration. Their support of these things puts them at odds with younger Evangelicals who think science and social justice issues are important. Younger Evangelicals are increasingly embarrassed by the  political, social, and scientific ignorance of their pastors and leaders. These policies also put them at odds with those who are not Christians — the very people Evangelicals feel duty-bound to evangelize.

So what should Evangelical pastors, parachurch groups, and universities do to stem the decline of Evangelicalism?

It is time for Evangelicals to drive a wooden stake through the heart of the culture war. Evangelical leaders stubbornly refuse to admit  that the 35-year culture war has weakened churches, alienated people, and turned Evangelicalism into a group that is roundly despised by non-Evangelicals. I recently wrote a post titled, The Christian God has an Optics Problem. This optics problem extends to Evangelical churches.

Evangelicals wrongly think that people hate them because of their beliefs. While this perception is to some degree true, what most people despise is how Evangelicals incessantly prattle about homosexuality, same-sex marriage, abortion, fornication, and adultery. In other words, people are sick of Evangelicals sticking their noses in what goes on in the privacy of non-believers’ bedrooms. They are tired of Evangelicals beating them over the head with the Bible, all the while failing to practice what they preach. Non-Christians see daily reports of Evangelical pastors and church leaders who have a problem keeping their pants zipped up. They read reports about Evangelical sex scandals and child abuse problems. They wonder, who are these people who think they have a right to say to Americans, “do as I say, not as I do?”

While some on the Evangelical-left have reinterpreted the Bible, making it more homosexual friendly, most Evangelicals are unwilling to condone same-sex carnal knowledge and marriage. Driven by a pathological fear and hatred of homosexuals, most Evangelicals are incapable of seeing same-sex relationships as loving and life-affirming. Now that most Americans support same-sex marriage and know people who are homosexuals, Evangelicals are forced to either double down and continue to fight against progress or surrender what they consider the moral high ground. Sadly, Evangelicals, for the most part, are unwilling to cede Mount Morality to what they perceive are the whims of American postmodernism. In failing to understand how much American thinking has changed, Evangelicals have relegated themselves to fringes of American society.

Those on the Evangelical left also reject the anti-science views of mainstream Evangelicals. They are increasingly embarrassed by Evangelical monuments to ignorance such as the Creation Museum and The Ark Encounter. These left-leaning Evangelicals, many of whom are under the age of 35, want churches and leaders who embrace science. They want leaders who are willing to banish creationism and its ancient sheepherder ignorance to the dustbin of human history. These modern Evangelicals have embraced evolution and love modern preachers of science such as Neil deGrasse Tyson and Bill Nye. Most of all, these Evangelicals are allies of progress.

I am of the opinion that mainstream Evangelicals will never embrace those on the left of the Evangelical tradition. They can’t. They have too much political, social, and theological capital invested in maintaining the status quo. To move beyond the certainty of their beliefs means admitting that they are wrong. It means admitting that the culture war was as every bit as disastrous as America’s wars in the Middle East. Since it is doubtful that mainstream Evangelicals will admit these things, perhaps it is time for left-leaning Evangelicals to exit stage left and move on to the friendlier confines of liberal and progressive Christianity. While I have numerous problems with how liberal Christians interpret the Bible, I have no doubt that this infusion of young blood into the church will benefit everyone but Evangelical churches, whose favorite hymn is I Shall Not be Moved:

I shall not be, I shall not be moved;
I shall not be, I shall not be moved;
Just like a tree that’s planted by the waters,
Lord, I shall not be moved.

I have no doubt that the next year is crucial for Evangelical culture warriors. Sensing that their grip on American culture is slipping, many Evangelical pastors, parachurch leaders, and government officeholders are calling on Evangelicals to rebel against the federal government, going so far as to encourage people to deliberately break the law. Pastors are being encouraged to endorse specific candidates, putting them in direct conflict with federal laws prohibiting such endorsements. Since the IRS has been obscenely lax in prosecuting pastors and churches who violate the law, these so-called patriot pastors rightly assume that they can violate the laws governing religious nonprofits. While it is likely the IRS will ignore these lawbreakers, their lawlessness could prove to be deadly to Evangelicalism. Surrendering the high moral ground for the sake of political power will only further alienate Evangelical young adults and non-Christians. If mainstream Evangelicals fail to win the presidency and turn America back to the right, their cultural death is assured.

The David of progress and tolerance will slay the Evangelical Goliath of bigotry and extremism. Secularists and non-Christians will rejoice over the giant’s death, ever aware that there will be other fundamentalist warriors to stand in Goliath’s stead. Every generation will have to fight its own Goliath. Those of us who value secular progress and tolerance must always be vigilant. While throwing the last shovel of dirt on Evangelicalism’s rotting corpse, we must be cognizant of other ism’s that threaten our future. We dare not rest, thinking the battle is over.

Let’s See a Movie: Jaws or Emmanuelle?

emmanuelle

In September of 1975, I drove from Sierra Vista, Arizona to Phoenix to visit my girlfriend. Anita, two years older than I, was a sophomore at Southwestern Conservative Baptist Bible College. Anita and I met at Sierra Vista Baptist Church. It was not long before I was head over heels in love with her, an attractive, temperamental woman with much more experience with the things of the world than her younger boyfriend. Our torrid nine-month relationship had all the trappings of a match made in heaven, but by the time my weekend visit was over our relationship was shattered and I was on my way back to Ohio on a Greyhound bus.

I stayed in the men’s dormitory while visiting Anita. One night, we decided to go see a movie, in violation of Southwestern’s code of conduct. We had two movies to choose from: Jaws and Emmanuelle. While most readers are quite familiar with Jaws, they might not be as familiar with Emmanuelle, a French soft-porn movie. Both Anita and I had what church leaders called a rebellious heart. While we attended church regularly, sang in the choir, and taught Sunday school, we loved living on the edge. When presented with the choice of Jaws or Emmanuelle, we briefly considered whether we should give into our rebellious nature and buy tickets to see Emmanuelle. Our Fundamentalist training ultimately won and we spent the next two hours watching a mechanical shark hunt and kill humans.

While our relationship ultimately burned in the flames of my jealousy and immaturity, I still have fond memories of the nine months Bruce and Anita were an inseparable pair. From Anita irritating the hell out of then-deacon Chuck Cofty  (link no longer active) with her miniskirts and employment at an alcohol-serving pizza place, to taking trips to Mexican border towns and hiking the Huachuca Mountains, we had a wonderful time. I still wonder to this day what might have happened had we chosen the other movie.

Note

Anita and I briefly stayed in touch, but a year later I moved to Pontiac, Michigan to begin studying for the ministry at Midwestern Baptist College. I soon met a beautiful dark-haired girl whose beauty and quiet demeanor quickly quashed any thoughts of my nine month relationship with Anita. I have often wondered what became of Anita. Years ago, I heard rumors that she married, had children, and divorced.

Dear Christians: The Word “Atheist” is Not Shorthand for Your Lives Before Jesus

Calvin the atheist

Dear Christians: The Word “Atheist” is Not Shorthand for Your Lives Before Jesus

It is not uncommon to hear Evangelicals claim that they were atheists before they became Christians. Often, their goal is to connect with atheists, hoping to win them to Jesus Christ. These atheists-turned-Christians think if they show that they “understand” atheism, that atheists will more likely accept their evangelistic appeals. Over the years, countless Evangelicals have tried this approach with me: Bruce I understand! I was once an atheist just like you! And then one day I realized I was a sinner in need of salvation and Jesus saved me! See! We are just the same. No. Really we aren’t.

I was a Christian BEFORE I became an atheist. I spent 50 years in the Christian church. I was an Evangelical pastor for 25 years. I was raised, saved, baptized, and trained in the Evangelical church. I attended an Evangelical college. I pastored Evangelical churches in Ohio, Michigan, and Texas. I, at one time, had a library that contained over 1,000 theology books, all of which I read and used in my sermon preparation. I also had Bible and language study programs on my computer. I spent most of my adult life thoroughly immersed in study of the Christian Bible and Christianity. When I deconverted, I did so because I intellectually concluded that the claims of Christianity were false. My unbelief was the result of my painstaking, agonizing deconstruction of Christianity.

Most Christians-turned-atheists, deconvert when they are younger. Rare is the person who is in his fifties before he decides to walk away from Christianity. That I was willing, regardless of the cost, to renounce all that I once believed, doesn’t mean that I am, in any way, unique. While many people embrace atheism in their 20s and 30s, I do know of people who were much older when they lost the ability to believe in the existence of gods. All that being older means is that I had a lot more to lose by publicly announcing my defection from Christianity. I had accumulated a lifetime of experiences and friendships, and losing these was painful. The moment I dropped Dear Family, Friends, and Former Parishioners in the mail and posted it to my blog, I knew that my life, from that point forward, would never be the same.

While my wife came along with me as we walked out the doors of the church for the last time, It was not at all certain that Polly would come to the same conclusions I did. The same goes for my six adult children. I risked losing the love of my life and the six blessings we shared over the course of our marriage. While I can now say that things worked out better than I could ever have imagined, there were times when I wondered if I wasn’t an arsonist who torched his own house.

So, dear atheists-turned-Christians, in what way was your “godless” life like my current life as an atheist? Be honest. Isn’t saying you were an atheist BC (before Christ) really just a generic, meaningless shorthand for life before Jesus? Evangelicals love to claim that there really is no such thing as an atheist, yet, when it suits them they are willing to claim the atheist moniker. If, as Evangelicals claim, everyone knows there is a God and has his law written on their hearts (Romans 1,2), how then is it possible for Evangelicals to be atheists before they became Christians?

Very few people schooled in the nuances of atheism, agnosticism, and humanism ever embrace Evangelicalism. Some might embrace moderate or liberal forms of Christianity or some other religion, but atheism is a sure antidote for Christian Fundamentalism. When it comes to reaching knowledgeable atheists, Evangelicals are batting pretty close to zero.

Instead of saying they were atheists before Jesus, Evangelicals should say they were indifferent to religion. Virtually all religious belief is the result of where and when a person is born, and tribal, social, cultural, and environmental exposure. Very few Evangelicals are willing to investigate why they believe what they believe. Better to make up stories about being atheists before being supernaturally saved by Jesus, than to admit that the reasons for their beliefs are quite human and earthly. In working with people who are in the process of leaving Evangelicalism, I try to get them to look at their lives from a sociological and cultural perspective. Once they are able to see how they became a Christian, sans any claims of supernatural action by the triune God, they will then be able to examine the claims of Christianity without faith getting in the way. It is not enough for people to say, I BELIEVE! Such a faith claim lies beyond investigation. If Evangelicals want their religion to be taken seriously, then they must be willing to expose Christianity to intellectual examination. If they are unwilling to do so, then atheists are free to dismiss their claims out of hand.

If there is one thing Evangelicals love, it is a glorious salvation testimony. Year ago, a young adult Amish-Mennonite man confided in me that he was distressed over the fact that he was not a bad person like many people were before they were saved. This man grew up in the Amish-Mennonite church and never strayed far from its teachings. He told me that he couldn’t remember a time when he wasn’t a Christian. There was almost a yearning in voice, a desire to live a little and experience the sins the world.

This young man, like many Evangelicals, likely heard countless testimonies from people who were (fill in the blank) before they became Christians. In the Independent Fundamentalist Baptist church movement, larger-than-life testimonies of licentiousness and debauchery are quite common. I hate to reduce everything down to the penis size matters metaphor, but in the case of salvation testimonies, it often the case that Evangelicals want to “out–bad” other Evangelicals. If Bro. Joe was a drunk, then Bro. Hank was a bigger drunk and a drug addict too. If Sister Sally lost her virginity to the preacher’s son, Sister Julie lost her virginity to the deacon’s son and had sex with the preacher’s son too. And on and on the dick-waving goes. Result? Fantastical stories of lives before Jesus that are legendary, often admixtures of embellished truths and fantasies.

Having heard hundreds of salvation testimonies, I have concluded that most public declarations of life before Jesus are fabrications built around a kernel of truth. So, when Evangelicals say they were atheists before Jesus, I generally roll my eyes and silently say to myself, sure you were. Many Evangelicals sincerely believe their testimonies are true. They are unwilling or unable to see that their stories are the products of telling the same falsehoods over and over. It is easy for us to convince ourselves of things that have no basis in fact. Atheists are capable of self-deception too. When I read a story about an atheist who says he knew Christianity was false by the time he was five years old, I want to laugh. That five-year-olds can be indifferent to religion is certainly true. But understanding atheism, and intellectually weighing Christianity in the balance by age five? Not a chance.

It is common for atheists and Christians alike to take present experiences and beliefs and read them backwards into their lives. In doing this, the truth becomes stretched, often to such a degree that it distorts reality. When I first deconverted, I wanted people to know that I abandoned Evangelicalism solely for intellectual reasons. While certainly the reasons for my deconversion are intellectual in nature, I am now willing to admit that my loss of faith also has an emotional component. I couldn’t admit this for a long time because Evangelicals used it against me, suggesting that I was angry at God, bitter, jaded, and cynical, and these were the REAL reasons why I am no longer a Christian.

While emotions and bad experiences certainly played a part in my deconversion, the most important factor was that I no longer believed that the claims of Christianity were true. Can the atheists-turned-Christians say the same? As our math teachers used to say, please show me your work. Show us the path that led you to atheism before finding Jesus. Few Evangelicals can show their work. Saying they were atheists before Jesus gives their testimony instant credibility within their houses of worship. Oooh, Bro. Jeremiah was an atheist before he was saved! Instantly, the stereotype which countless Evangelicals have of atheists is applied to the Bro. Jeremiahs of the church. What is that stereotype? That atheists are evil, followers of Satan, immoral, and eat babies for lunch. Rarely do Evangelicals ever bother to investigate whether pre-Jesus claims of godlessness are true.

When Evangelicals tell me they were once atheists, I usually ignore them, realizing that they likely have little to no understanding of atheism. When Evangelicals continue to say that they were once members of the Church of Atheism, I then press them for proof of their claims. Point me to the atheist, secular, or humanist groups you were once a part of. Show me what atheist books you have read. Provide the articles, letters, and term papers you wrote in defense of atheism. Provide names of people who will attest to your claim of atheism. I have yet to have an atheist-turned-Christian provide such proof.

What is ironic is that Evangelicals demand these very things from Christians-turned-atheists. I have spent years proving that I was a bona fide Evangelical Christian and pastor. I have written thousands of words in defense of my testimony. My claims can easily be checked and verified. I have, in every way, proved that I once was a preacher of the Evangelical gospel, a devoted, die-hard follower of Jesus Christ. Surely, I should be able to expect atheists-turned-Christians to give similar proof for their claims. While I am quite willing to accept that there are a handful of people who were once atheists and are now Evangelicals, I am unwilling to accept at face value testimonies that cannot be verified, vetted, or proved. And until these atheists-turned-Christians prove their claims, I hope they will forgive me for not believing a word they say.

Wikipedia has a page dedicated to notable people who were once atheists and are now Christians. Most of the converts are now Roman Catholic, Anglican/Episcopalian, or liberal Protestants.  While I have no interest in going through the list name by name, I think it is safe to assume that there are very few Evangelicals on the list. The most notable Evangelicals are Lee StrobelWilliam Murray (son of Madalyn Murray O’Hair), Jeffrey Dahmer and Kirk Cameron. Boy, there’s a panoply of intellectual greatness. While there are others like Francis Collins, the renowned geneticist, who claim the Evangelical moniker, many Evangelicals doubt evolution-believing people such as Collins are true Christians. Perhaps it is time for Evangelicals to start a Wikipedia page listing the names of atheists who became Evangelical Christians. I hope that, in doing so, Evangelicals will provide verifiable proof for claims of once being atheists. If Evangelicals want people like me to believe they were once atheists, then they are going to have to prove it. Just saying it doesn’t make it so. Just because Pastor John down at First Baptist has a whopper of a before-Jesus testimony doesn’t mean it is true. Preachers know the value of great story, and what better story than that of an atheist who found God. Such claims can open doors to wider ministry opportunities and increased income.

The more bizarre and unbelievable the story, the more likely it is that Evangelicals will believe it. After all, the Evangelical God is a miracle-working deity. If he can raise the dead, heal the sick, walk on water, and turn water into wine, surely he can take a gun-toting, crack-smoking, whoremongering, thieving, hit man for the Mafia and turn him into a Bible-thumping, Jesus-praising, hallelujah-shouting Baptist preacher. With God, all things are possible, right?

Note

I am not using the No True Scotsman argument. I allow for the fact that there are atheists who have become Evangelicals. All I am asking for verifiable proof of such claims.

Air Force Chaplain Jerry Fogltance Reveals How Much He Doesn’t Know About Atheism

closed minded christianity

Air Force Chaplain Jerry Fogltance Reveals How Much He Doesn’t Know About Atheism

In a recent guest editorial in the Colorado Springs Gazette, retired Air Force chaplain Jerry Fogltance regaled readers with how much he doesn’t know about atheism. In fact, I found Fogltance’s screed to be a compendium of virtually every lame Evangelical argument against atheism. Fogltance is a 1968 graduate of Talbot School of Theology, an Evangelical institution associated with the Bible Institute of Los Angeles (BIOLA). His editorial reveals that he has spent little time reading any of the leading atheist authors of our day. Had Fogltance done so, he would not have written this:

Pascal’s Wager

Atheists take pride in claiming that what they believe is based on scientific evidence while religious dogma is based on myth. But the atheist’s position that “I don’t believe in God because science has not proven that God exists” is not a default position. The position that “I believe in God because science has not proven that God does not exist” is just as valid. The question then becomes: Which position carries the greatest risk if in the end proves wrong? Obviously, the atheist takes the greatest risk for the very God he has denied may hold him accountable.

Atheists are Immoral

Larimore Nicholl declares that he does not need God to deal with life’s challenges, i.e., “we never wait for divine intervention to solve our problems.” This statement reflects the atheist’s claim that belief in God is a crutch for the weak and ignorant. But atheism is also embraced as a crutch by those unable to live up to their own moral standards and afraid of being accountable to God.

Furthermore, rejecting belief in God because one cannot explain who created God begs the question. Christians believe God is transcendent; that is, he exists outside the system of the universe, beyond the reach of microscopes and telescopes. That’s not to say that real knowledge about God cannot be known. The complex forms of the universe reveal that he is personal (an intelligent designer) and the immense size of the universe that he is all powerful. But because God is infinite and we are finite, we may never know some of the deepest mysteries of his nature.

There are also things in the universe that cannot be explained apart from the existence and creative power of God. None can explain by natural evolution where the personal qualities of humans came from – like love, creativity, the ability to communicate thought verbally, musical expression, moral motions (sic) and free will. When Nicholl says that “humans were made by the natural forces of genetics,” he infuses the personal into natural forces where it does not exist. He was correct to refer to genetics as natural forces; he was wrong to say that those natural forces can make life as though they possess the ability to think and design.

Atheists Live Meaningless Lives

The worst consequence of Nicholl’s atheism is that it leaves humans without meaning. Exactly how does one actualize all potentialities when human life in the end turns entirely into dust? Israeli professor Yuval Noah Harari, also an atheist, has written a book titled: “Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind.” The title of Chapter 1 reads “An Animal of No Significance.” Harari insists that “human life has absolutely no meaning. Humans are the outcome of blind evolutionary processes that operate without goal or purpose. Our actions are not part of some divine cosmic plan . Any meaning that people ascribe to their lives is just a delusion.” Such is the ultimate outcome of the atheist philosophy of life.

Atheists Killed Millions of People in the 20th Century

Professor Nicholl is quick to blame religious people for killing others while ignoring the fact that atheists like Stalin, Hitler and Pol Pot are responsible for history’s greatest atrocities. These committed atheists get credit for killing millions of innocent people. The atheist idea that death ends it all implies that they will never be brought to justice for their evil, an idea that is morally reprehensible.

Atheists Suppress Their Knowledge of God and His Moral Law

Nicholl says that the ethics and morals of atheists arise from the practical necessity that no society can be run without laws against murder, assault, etc. This is a weak basis for ethics and morals as the law of the jungle has resulted in some tribes eating their neighbors to survive. And modern complex societies have been known to create crematoriums and killing fields to annihilate entire ethic groups. A better basis of ethics is to acknowledge that universal moral laws, some of which Nicholl references, have been written on the heart of every human being by the creator. When, however, humans deny God’s existence, their accountability to him, and suppress the inner witness of his laws, evil then has no constraints.

Atheists are Deluded

My philosophy of life and death is stated in the Bible this way: “For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain.” I have come to know and be reconciled to the God behind my existence through faith in Christ. Every day I experience the grace, forgiveness and love of God. I experience purpose in life by helping those without meaning realize it by also trusting in Christ. Furthermore, there is gain in death. There is the gain of heaven, which means that what I do in this short earthly life has eternal implications and reward. Meaning for the Christian is no delusion.

Jerry Fogltance

Fogltance’s scurrilous claims have been repeatedly and thoroughly debunked over the years. Those of us who are atheists tire of hearing the same lame arguments over, and over, and over again. I am to the point in life where I tell Evangelicals to talk to the hand when they make these kind of claims. Blinded by their religious beliefs and narrow worldview, Evangelicals refuse to accept as valid any viewpoint but their own. Their Fundamentalist intransigence closes their minds to any belief that doesn’t fit in the Evangelical box. Until Evangelicals are willing to truly understand atheism (and agnosticism, paganism, and humanism), philosophical, moral, ethical, social, cultural, and scientific arguments supporting atheism will fall on deaf ears.

 

How to Evangelize Atheists Through Prayer

praying for atheists

Last Saturday, Polly and I traveled to Newark, Ohio to spend the day with Polly’s parents. Physically, the trip was brutal. Three hours down, three hours back, and more potholes than I could count, left me writhing in pain by the time we returned home. For chronic pain sufferers such as myself, this agony is often the price of admission. If I want to venture out among the living, I must endure the bangs and bumps that come my way. On days such as this, pain medications tend to be ineffective, so I grit my teeth and endure. To quote the Bible, he that endureth to the end shall be saved. My salvation came when we arrived home and I went straight to bed. I slept for 14 hours. Today, I finally felt well enough to exit my cave and attend my granddaughter’s basketball game.

Polly’s father had his hip replaced last November. I previously wrote about Dad’s health problems: How Fundamentalist Prohibitions Cause Needless Suffering and Pain. Sadly, this post proved to be prophetic. Dad is now in the nursing home, forced to wear a brace to keep his hip in place. Several days after the surgery the new hip dislocated. It was several more days before the rehab staff figured out that there was something wrong with the hip. If there ever was a circumstance that could be labeled a clusterfuck, this is it. I am sure that if Dad had it to do all over again, he would not have the surgery. Hopefully he will be able to come home in a few weeks, though it is doubtful that he will ever be able to walk normally again.

While we were visiting with Dad and Mom at the nursing home, Polly’s preacher uncle stopped by for a visit. He didn’t know we were going to be there, so he was quite surprised to see us. After twenty minutes or so, it was time for Polly’s uncle to leave. Before leaving, Polly’s uncle offered up a prayer. Recently retired from the ministry and in poor health himself, Uncle Jim launched into what can only be described as a sermon prayer. Those raised in Fundamentalist churches likely have heard many such prayers. These prayer are not meant for God as much as they are for those who are listening, In this instance, the prayer was meant for the two atheists in the room, Polly and Bruce.

The prayer started out with a request for healing and strength for Dad, but quickly moved into a recitation of the plan of salvation. I thought, why is Uncle Jim praying like this? God knows the plan of salvation, as does Dad, so the soteriological utterance couldn’t have been for their benefit. Mom was nearby, but she was one of God’s chosen ones too. The only unsaved people in the room were Bruce, Polly and their daughter. As Polly’s uncle prayed, I looked to Polly, smirked, and shook my head. Here I was, 58 years old, having spent 50 years in the Christian church, and I was being treated like someone who had never heard the Independent Fundamentalist Baptist (IFB) version of the gospel.

If this had happened a few years ago, I likely would have said something. But, as I looked at Polly’s uncle and her Mom and Dad, I thought, soon we will all be dead. Morbid? Sure. But, the truth? Absolutely. I have no desire to fight over religion with Polly’s diehard Fundamentalist Baptist family. I am sure Polly’s preacher uncle thought that putting in a good word for Jesus might somehow, some way, cause us to fall on our knees, repent, and ask Jesus to save us. Regardless of his motivation, it was clear that Uncle Jim did not respect us.

Polly and I, along with our children, are huge disappointments to her family. Since I was once considered the patriarch of our tribe, the blame for our fall from grace rests squarely on my shoulders. It has been seven and a half years since Polly and I darkened the doors of a church. We have attended numerous family functions, and not one person in her family has attempted to understand why we deconverted. Some of them read this blog, and I am sure this post will make its way in printed form to Polly’s parents. Will it finally force an honest discussion about the elephant in the room? Probably not. Better to hope Polly and that $*%$ husband of hers are still saved. Backslidden, but still saved. Anything, but having a frank discussion about why we no longer believe in the existence of gods.

While I would never expect or demand that Polly’s preacher uncle or any of the other preachers in her family stop living out their faith, it would be nice if they respected us enough to accept us as we are. We are ready and willing to share why we no longer believe. If family members want to know, all they have to do is ask. And if they aren’t interested in knowing, the least they can do is refrain from trying to evangelize us. There are no prayers that can be prayed that could possibly cause us to change our minds about God, Jesus, and Christianity. Thousands of prayers have been uttered on our behalf, yet Polly and I remain happy unbelievers.

Polly and I have known each other for almost 40 years. I first met her preacher uncle in December of 1976 at a Wednesday night church service. Uncle Jim let the church know that Polly had a guest with her. As the congregation turned to gawk at the embarrassed redheaded young man, Polly’s uncle said, They have a shirttail relationship. It remains to be seen how long the shirttail is. A day or so later, I spent my first Christmas with Polly’s family, meeting her cousins, uncle, and grandfather for the first time. 40 years have come and gone. Polly and I are now nearing 60, our children have greying hair, and their 12 children call us Nana and Grandpa. We have spent many wonderful moments with Polly’s family, and a few moments we would just as soon forget. I love them dearly, as does Polly. We just wish that they loved us more than they love Jesus.

 

Memo to Christians: Atheists Really Don’t Care if You Put God Bless America Signs on Private Property

wall of separation of church and state

Last week, CHARISMA reported:

An atheist organization targeted a small-town post office to demand they remove their “God Bless America” banner, but that’s not the whole story.

“Employees are free to ask God to bless America all they want on their own time. The problem comes when they ask their government employer to endorse their personal religious beliefs by plastering them on the side of the federal building,” Freedom From Religion Foundation’s Madeline Ziegler said of their campaign.

Though the Pittsburg, Kansas, post office complied with the atheist organization’s demands, residents took Ziegler’s words to heart.

According to The Morning Sun, a local fireworks shop printed 1,500 yard signs and banners, which residents plastered across the city.

“Obviously, we’re among the majority that didn’t agree with the decision to take the sign down (at the post office),” Jason Marietta, retail sales director, told The Morning Sun.

Instead of one big sign at the post office, Pittsburg  now has 1,500 across the town, marking the area for God.

The Freedom From Religion Foundation rightly objected to a God Bless America sign adorning the Pittsburg, Kansas post office. Post offices are government buildings staffed by government employees, and as such they are not permitted to promote religion. It is time for Christians to understand that the wall between church and state defined in the Establishment Clause of the Constitution forbids government from endorsing Christianity. This is the law. Don’t like the law? Work to change it. The fact that violations of church and state have gone unnoticed for years doesn’t mean they are in some inexplicable way legal. Just because drivers routinely break the speed limit and not get caught doesn’t mean that speed laws are invalid.

Supposedly, U.S. congressmen know the Constitution, so it is baffling to hear U.S. Senator Jerry Moran (R-Kansas) say:

It is outrageous that some would aim to divide a community over a banner that has been proudly displayed since Sept. 11, 2001. I commend the Pittsburg community for rejecting this decision and I stand with them. The Constitution guarantees a right to freedom of religion, not freedom from religion. This banner is not only an expression of faith, but of love for country.

Expressions of patriotism, faith, and community should be welcome in our society and I have contacted USPS officials to express my concerns about their decision and to request their reconsideration. If the local post office branch is unwilling to display the banner, then I would be proud to hang it at my own office in Pittsburg.

and U.S. Representative Lynn Jenkins (R-2nd District Kansas) say:

This banner has been proudly displayed in the Pittsburg community for nearly 15 years. Should all the owners (who bought the banner) agree my office would be a fitting place to move it to, I would be honored to hang it outside of my office on Broadway Street. Since the attacks on Sept. 11, 2001, this banner has been a patriotic symbol in the Pittsburg community and I would be proud to continue this great tradition.

Since these Kansas government officials and many of the residents of Pittsburg, Kansas seem to lack basic reading skills and have never taken a civics or American government class (maybe they slept through the class), let me illustrate the issue at hand with pictures:

pittsburg kansas post office
This is the Pittsburg, Kansas Post Office, owned and operated by the U.S. Government. It is illegal to hang sectarian religious banners on this building.
handing out god bless america signs pittsburg kansas
This is a private citizen handing out God Bless America signs to be displayed on private property. This is legal.
jakes fireworks god bless america sign
This is a God Bless America sign hanging inside Jake’s Fireworks, a private Pittsburgh, Kansas business. This is legal.
god bless america sign on pittsburg kansas post office
The former is illegal, the latter is legal, thus the sign on the Post Office has to come down.

Atheists do not care in the least what signs people put on private property. Woo! Hoo! Pittsburg Christians put up 1,500 God bless America signs on private property. I don’t know of one atheist who objects to this. In fact, I suspect groups like the Freedom From Religion FoundationAmerican AtheistsAmericans United for Separation of Church and State, American Humanist Association, and the ACLU would oppose any attempts to restrict the free exercise of religion on private property. What these groups and the atheists and Christians who support them object to is the breaching of the wall of separation of church and state. The Pittsburg post office violated the law and this is the ONLY reason the sign had to come to down.

I wonder what offended Pittsburg Christians would do if these signs were hanging over the local post office:

allah bless america

baphomet bless america

I have no doubt Christians in Pittsburg would demand the immediate removal of these signs. Representative Jenkins and Senator Moran would issue press releases calling for the swift removal of these anti-American, anti-Christian signs. There is one word for such behavior, HYPOCRISY. If it is okay for a Christian sign to hang over the post office, then it should be okay the signs of other religions to hang there too. If there is no separation of church and state, then shouldn’t any and every religion have the right to adorn government buildings with their signs?

The real issue is that Christians wrongly think that their religion deserves preference and special treatment. Decades of illegal government endorsements of Christianity are now being called into question. Christians do not like being treated in the same manner as adherents of other religions. Christians think, due to a poor understanding of American history and the U.S. Constitution, that they should be permitted to adorn public buildings and lands with sectarian signs and crèches (along with opening sessions of government with Christian prayers). It is time for Christians to realize that their religion is no longer the tail that wags the dog. The United States is a secular state, and the sooner Christians realize this the better. The separation of church and state protects not only atheists and non-Christians from government encroachment, it also protects Christians. It is this wall of separation that protects all Americans from the theocratic tendencies of many of the world’s religions. History is clear: once the wall between church and state is breached, freedoms are lost and people die. We dare not trust any religious sect, including the fine Christians of Pittsburg, Kansas, with the keys to our republic. Too much is at stake to let even an innocuous act such as hanging a God Bless America banner on a government building to go unchallenged. Our future freedom depends on us beating back every sectarian attempt to scale the wall of separation between church and state.

 

Dear Evangelical Bible Smugglers and Proselytizers: Don’t Do the Crime, if You Can’t do the Time

tony baretta
Tony Baretta says, Don’t Do the Crime if You Can’t Do the Time

Many Evangelicals have a sense of entitlement. Believing that their God is the one true God, and that their religion is the one true religion, Evangelicals think they have a right to spread their beliefs to the ends of the earth. Many Evangelicals are also flag-waving, right-wing nationalists who believe the United States is a city set on a hill, shining forth the light of Christianity and democracy. Package these things together and what you have are insufferable people who arrogantly think that their beliefs and ideologies are truth and all other beliefs and ideologies are false.

With the above facts in mind, it should come as no surprise that Evangelicals are proselytizers, not only for their brand of Christianity, but also for right-wing American democracy. As people of THE Book, Evangelicals believe they have been commanded by God to take their version of the Christian gospel to every tribe, nation, and tongue. In some corners of Evangelicalism, people believe that the gospel must be preached to the whole world before Jesus can return to earth. This is why Evangelicals are known for their missionary efforts. Thousands of missionaries have spread across the globe hoping to win the lost to Jesus. While most of the missionaries serve in countries that already have established Christians sects such as Roman Catholicism, Evangelicals view non-Evangelical Christians as targets for evangelization. Their goal is not to make everyone Christian as much as it is to convert people to their brand of Christianity.

Proselytizing Evangelicals think that every nation should have the same laws and regulations as the United States. These zealots for Jesus travel to other countries, often smuggling in Bibles and tracts, with the express purpose of preaching the gospel to those they have deemed lost and in need of salvation. If a country’s laws prohibit such things, too bad, the Evangelical says. I’m on a mission for Jesus and his laws are above any earthly laws. Cultural sensitivity be damned, all that matters is spreading the good news of the Evangelical gospel to the ends of the earth.

Every so often, proselytizing Evangelicals are arrested for breaking the laws of the countries they have invaded for Jesus. Most often, these countries are non-Christian, Hindu, or Muslim, nations which have strict laws prohibiting proselytizing. These countries often have laws that prohibit conversion to another a religion. In some instances, Evangelicals find themselves behind bars in countries such as North Korea that prohibit religious worship.

When news of their arrests reach the United States, Evangelicals and their supporters in government quickly claim that the people arrested are being persecuted for their faith. Demands are made for their immediate release. Few Evangelicals seem to understand the idea behind the cliché, When in Rome, do as the Romans do. Sovereign states have a right to have their own laws, and it is the height of arrogance to demand that other countries play by our rules. Yes, North Korea is a totalitarian communist state, but they are an autonomous state, and those traveling within its borders are expected to obey the law.

Evangelicals arrested for proselytizing are not being persecuted for their faith. To quote the famous Tony Baretta, Don’t do the crime, if you can’t do the time. While their arrests are regrettable, their real crime is stupidity. Blinded by certainty and arrogance, Evangelicals think they can break laws and not be held accountable. The issue is not the justness of such laws. Every nation-state, including the United States, has unjust laws. What I find interesting is that many Evangelicals, thinking the United States is a Christian nation, reject the notion of separation of church and state. Yet, they say they are being persecuted for their faith when arrested in countries that don’t have separation of church and state. Since many Evangelicals want a theocracy, shouldn’t other countries have the right to have a different type of God-rule? And if atheism is a religion (and it is not), as many Evangelicals say it is, shouldn’t atheistic states have a right to bar all non-atheistic religions? Shouldn’t these countries be permitted to govern themselves according to their own religious beliefs? Shouldn’t they have the right to ban Christianity and Christian law, just as many American Evangelicals want to ban Islam and sharia law?

I have no sympathies for American Evangelicals who are arrested for breaking the laws of sovereign states. If they are found guilty and either incarcerated or executed, their punishment is not persecution. As long as Evangelicals believe that God’s law supersedes human law, then they are going to find themselves in legal trouble, not only in foreign countries, but here in the United States. Those who recently seized a government building in Oregon, were to the man, Christian.. They and their supporters believe they are being persecuted, when in fact they are being prosecuted. Break the law and you will likely be arrested, prosecuted, and punished. This is the way it works in any nation that has laws (regardless of the rightness or morality of these laws).

If proselytizing Evangelicals arrested for their “faith” want to be true to their Christian beliefs, they should quietly and resolutely bear whatever punishment comes their way. Isn’t this what the Apostle Paul did? And as with Paul, if God wants to free “persecuted” Evangelicals, he has all the power necessary to do so. But what do incarcerated American Evangelicals do? They turn to U.S. government for help, demanding the State Department get them out of prison. Why not just pray and wait on God?

There is real persecution going on in the world. Christians are being executed by ISIS and Boko Haram just because they have the wrong faith. I support our government’s efforts to stop such barbaric and senseless killing. But, this is not same as what imprisoned Evangelicals proselytizers are facing. The former, in most instances, are not trying to force their faith on others. The latter evangelize non-Evangelicals with full knowledge that they are breaking the law. Their punishment is the direct consequence of their actions.

[signoff]

The Independent Baptist War Against Long Hair on Men

gerencser boys 1989
Nathan, Jaime, and Jason Gerencser, Somerset Baptist Church, 1989

Doth not even nature itself teach you, that, if a man have long hair, it is a shame unto him? (I Corinthians 11:14)

According to many Independent Fundamentalist Baptist (IFB) preachers, 1 Corinthians 11:14 is clear: it is shameful and against nature for a man to have long hair. The late Jack Hyles, pastor of First Baptist Church in Hammond, Indiana, made it his life’s mission to rid American men of what he considered effeminate long hair. In a sermon titled, Satan’s Bid for Your Child, Hyles stated:

God pity you people who call yourselves Christians and wear your long hair, beard and sideburns like a bunch of heathens. God, clean you up! Go to the barber shop tomorrow morning, and I am not kidding. It is time God’s people looked like God’s people. Good night, let folks know you are saved! There are about a dozen of you fellows here tonight who look like you belong to a Communist-front organization. You say, “I do not.” Then look like you do not. You say, “I do not like that kind of preaching.” You can always lump anything you do not like here.

In the booklet titled Jesus Had Short Hair, Hyles made the connection between male hair length and homosexuality. In Hyles’ eyes, men with longer hair were more likely to be sissified, weak homosexuals. Hyles wrote:

It is very interesting that as the trend toward long hair increases, the acceptance of homosexuality increases. This is not to say that long hair and homosexuality always go together, but it is to note the fact that both are on the rise in our generation. Several of the major denominations have now accepted homosexuals. In some cities there are churches for homosexuals pastored by avowed homosexuals. At least one major denomination has ordained a homosexual preacher and others are considering following suit.

IFB preaching against long hair on men found its impetus as men began to grow their hair longer in the late 1960s and 1970s. Hippies had long hair and were anti-establishment. IFB preachers viewed long hair on men as a sign of rebellion against parental and religious authority. As anyone raised in the IFB church movement knows, rebellion is considered a grave sin, one that is never to be tolerated by parents or churches. This view of rebellion led to the establishment of IFB group homes, places where frustrated parents sent their children to be cured of rebellion. Sadly, children sent to these homes often returned to mom and dad emotionally and mentally broken. In some instances, these rebellious children had been physically and sexually assaulted.

In the IFB church movement of the 1970s, the four big sins were: long hair on men, short skirts on women, pants on women, and rock music. Youth directors waged holy wars against these sins and pastors frequently excoriated church teenagers over their unwillingness to obey the rules. While the days of hippies, Woodstock, and free love have faded into the pages of American history, many IFB preachers still preach against long hair, short skirts, pants, and rock music.

There are numerous unaccredited IFB colleges and Bible institutes in the United States. With few exceptions, these institutions strictly regulate how  men must wear their hair. I attended Midwestern Baptist College from 1976-79. Midwestern had a strict standard concerning hair: short, off the ears, no long bangs, short sideburns, no facial hair, and a tapered neckline. This standard was strictly enforced, and men who let their hair grow too long were told to get a haircut. Ignoring this demand resulted in suspension.

While some IFB preachers, churches, and colleges have adapted to the times, many have not. Midwestern Baptist College is one such institution that still thinks it is 1976. Here is Midwestern’s male hair standard, as published in their 2013-14 student handbook (PDF):

Men are to be neat in appearance and dressed properly at all times. The hair is to be cut over the ears and tapered at the back above the collar. Sideburns are to be no lower than the middle of the ear. Hair must be no longer than the middle of the forehead in front. Men may not have facial hair unless approved by the Dean of Students. Such facial hair must be neatly groomed at all times. Faddish, worldly hairstyles will not be tolerated. The final decision as to the appropriateness of a hairstyle will rest with the Administration.

As a loyal, faithful son of the IFB church movement, from the time I was a child until the late 1990s, I had short hair. As an IFB preacher, I thought it important to model the hairstyle God approved. While I didn’t preach very often on men having long hair, my short hairstyle made it clear to church members where I stood on the matter. Not only was my hair a testimony to the notion that the Bible condemned long hair, but so was the hair of my three oldest sons. Jason, Nathan, and Jaime spent many years looking similar to children who were either being treated for lice or recently released from a Nazi prison camp. Not wanting to spend money on haircuts, we bought a pair of clippers and periodically gave them buzz cuts. No protestations allowed. Sit down, buzz, next. I am sure, at the time, they hated me and I don’t blame them.

charles spurgeon
Charles Spurgeon, a 19th Century English Baptist Preacher

Over time, my views on hair began to change. In the early 1990s, I grew a beard, much to the surprise of my fellow IFB preachers. By then I had distanced myself from the more extreme elements of the IFB church movement, and I began fellowshipping with Calvinistic-oriented Reformed and Sovereign Grace Baptist preachers. These men, refugees from IFB churches, didn’t have as many social hangups. While they were still quite Fundamentalist, these preachers spent little time preaching on things such as male hair length and facial hair. Charles Spurgeon was one of this movement’s patron saints and he had long hair and a beard. I thought at the time, if Spurgeon had long hair and a beard, it must be okay for me to do the same.

Last Saturday, Polly and I drove to Newark, Ohio to visit her parents. While there, my IFB mother-in-law asked me about my hair. Since last October, I have let my hair grow. It is longer now than it ever has been. Mom, who attends a church that is anti-long hair on men, asked, So you are growing your hair long? I replied, Yes. She responded, Why? And with nary a thought, I replied, Because I can. I am sure she is disappointed that I am letting myself turn into a hippie. She later asked if I planned to put my hair in a ponytail like my former brother-in-law does I told her I didn’t plan to let my hair grow that long.

As it stands now, my hair has quite a bit of curl on its extreme ends, an unexpected result. I am not sure Polly likes my hair this long, but we have a hard, fast agreement: we don’t criticize each other’s hair styles. While we do, at times, defer to one another, both of us are free to wear our hair as we wish. Now that we have cast off the shackles of Fundamentalism, we are free to do what we want. As I have mentioned before, Polly and I missed out on the freedoms of the 1960s and 1970s. Both of us were members of hardcore IFB churches that strictly regulated dress, hair styles, and conduct. Now that we are no longer emotionally and mentally bound in IFB bondage, we are, to some degree, living, for the first time, the 1960s and 1970s. On the plus side, we are much wiser than we were 40 years ago. On the negative side, we also have bodies that are 40 years older. Oh to be wise and young!

How about you? Did you grow up in a church that strictly regulated dress, hair style, and behavior? Were you compliant or rebellious? If you were rebellious, how did the church and your parents respond to your rebellion? Please leave your thoughts in the comment section.

Note

Previous post on this subject, Is it a Sin for a Man to Have Long Hair?

Landon Schott Says Millions of People Celebrated Homosexual “Love” by Watching the Super Bowl

believe in love

Along with tens of millions of Americans, I watched the Super Bowl on Sunday. The Gerencser family has a Super Bowl tradition of gathering at the home of our second-oldest son and daughter-in-law to watch the game. Following the Baptist tradition of our past, we gather together for fun, food, and fellowship. Well, that and lots of beer. All of our children and their spouses were there, as were all our grandchildren. We had a delightful time.

As with every Super Bowl gathering, the women gathered in the kitchen while the men watched the game. The men lamented the fact that our team, the Cincinnati Bengals, should have been the team playing the Carolina Panthers. Thanks to an end-of-game meltdown in the playoffs, the Bengals players were sitting at home watching the AFC-champion Denver Broncos defensively manhandle Panthers quarterback Cam Newton.

We subscribe to the NFL football package, and during the season our sons come over on Sundays to watch the game. This is also the one day in the week when they can enjoy their mom’s cooking. These Sunday gatherings are very much a part of the rhythm of our lives. Cousins get to play with each other while their fathers and uncles drink beer and swear at the TV.

I record part of the games so I can then skip through the commercials and halftime show. On Super Bowl Sunday, things are different. Since companies roll out new commercials for the Super Bowl, and the halftime show features musical performances, we watch the game live. Like millions of Americans, I thought the Doritos/Fetus commercial was hilarious, Lady GaGa’s rendition of The Star Spangled Banner was awesome, and Coldplay/Bruno Mars/Beyoncé put on a great halftime show. Little did I know that by watching the Super Bowl, I was unwittingly celebrating homosexual love.

Are you saying, huh? right now? That is the same response I had when I read Charisma writer Landon Schott’s article, 114 Million Super Bowl Viewers Blatantly Ignore God’s Word.  According to Schott, the Super Bowl halftime show glorified homosexual love:

Last night I was at church watching the Super Bowl with a bunch of young adults in the student ministry. We had a concert planned for the halftime show, and I was in the sound booth watching hundreds of young people enjoy contemporary music that glorified Jesus. My phone started to buzz over and over with friends of mine asking if I saw the Super Bowl half-time show. I knew instantly that it had to do with gay awareness and homosexuality.

The moment I looked at the live TV screen, I saw an entire football stadium designed in rainbow colors that read, “Believe In Love.” Over 114 million people tuned in around the world to be made more aware and celebrate homosexuality from the largest single platform on the planet.

The world is celebrating a definition of love that has no biblical foundation. The Bible tells us that “love does not delight in evil but rejoiced in the truth” (1 Cor. 13:6). If the Bible refers to homosexual practice on all account as evil (ungodly) behavior, then it can’t be love as God defines it or intended it. It’s a carnal love, a deceptive love, a love of the world masquerading as the love of God. They can wrap their slogan of gay awareness in the rainbow, but that doesn’t make their love godly.

Are you still saying, huh? Me too. Evidently, when the stands showed the message Believe in Love with rainbow colors, this was proof to the homophobic Schott that the Super Bowl halftime show was all about advancing carnal, wicked, vile homosexual love. Schott’s reaction to the halftime show is reminder of the fact that McCarthyite Evangelicals see a sodomite under every bed.

Landon Schott has a new book coming out in March titled, Gay Awareness. According to the book’s website, Schott’s book is about:

Homosexuality has taken center stage in our nation, churches, and homes. Everyone knows or cares deeply for someone who experiences same-sex attraction, sexual confusion, or practices homosexuality. While the entire world talks about homosexuality, the subject remains taboo in many churches. The fear of being labeled as hateful, a bigot, or ignorant has kept many Christians out of the conversation. The church remains silent, leaving many people who love God confused about what the Bible really says about sexuality.

Did God make people gay? Does God love homosexuals? Will people have to deal with same-sex attraction their entire lives? Landon Schott brings truth and clarity to sexual confusion, using over 400 scripture references to reveal the heart of the Father and mind of Christ.

Gay Awareness exposes false teaching and deception that have created a false identity through the lens of sexuality instead of the eyes of God’s Word. Gay Awareness will stretch you and challenge you, but with relentless love bring you comfort and healing.

In other words, Schott wrote a book to defend himself against charges of being a hateful, homophobic bigot.

In his Charisma article, Schott repeats the oft-told Evangelical conspiracy that the gay moment chose the rainbow as their banner because they hate God:

Over the years, it has grieved me that the gay community has adopted the rainbow as their emblem. This was the sign to the people of God that He would never again destroy the earth with a flood. Genesis 9:13 says, “I have set My rainbow in the cloud, and it shall be a sign of a covenant between Me and the earth.” The interesting part is the relationship between the rainbow on the banner of the gay community and a sign of the promise of God related to God’s judgment on the world. The people who don’t want to be judged chose the sign of God’s promise against the backdrop of God’s judgment of the world.

I began to pray and ask God to speak to me concerning why the gay community chose the rainbow as their own. One day, in the middle of my daily Bible reading, I came across the reason. Revelation 4:3 says, “And He who sat there appeared like a jasper and a sardius stone. There was a rainbow around the throne, appearing like an emerald.” Follow me on this. In Revelation 4, God was showing the disciple John a vision of heaven and the throne room of God. John puts into words what he saw in the presence of God, and describes it and all of its colors like a rainbow.

I believe the gay community unconsciously chose the rainbow as their banner because, on some level, they desire the presence of God without passing through the judgment of God. The flood of judgment came first. The rainbow of the presence of God followed.

In a previous article titled, Mark Anthony Escalera Follows Dorothy Over the Rainbow Over Gay Pride Flag, I show why such thinking is stupid. All Evangelicals such as Schott need to do is read what Wikipedia has to say about the colors of rainbows:

A spectrum obtained using a glass prism and a point source is a continuum of wavelengths without bands. The number of colours that the human eye is able to distinguish in a spectrum is in the order of 100. Accordingly, the Munsell colour system (a 20th-century system for numerically describing colours, based on equal steps for human visual perception) distinguishes 100 hues. The apparent discreteness of main colours is an artefact of human perception and the exact number of main colours is a somewhat arbitrary choice.

Newton, who admitted his eyes were not very critical in distinguishing colours,[8] originally (1672) divided the spectrum into five main colours: red, yellow, green, blue and violet. Later he included orange and indigo, giving seven main colours by analogy to the number of notes in a musical scale. Newton chose to divide the visible spectrum into seven colours out of a belief derived from the beliefs of the ancient Greek sophists, who thought there was a connection between the colours, the musical notes, the known objects in the Solar System, and the days of the week.

According to Isaac Asimov, “It is customary to list indigo as a color lying between blue and violet, but it has never seemed to me that indigo is worth the dignity of being considered a separate color. To my eyes it seems merely deep blue.”

The colour pattern of a rainbow is different from a spectrum, and the colours are less saturated. There is spectral smearing in a rainbow owing to the fact that for any particular wavelength, there is a distribution of exit angles, rather than a single unvarying angle. In addition, a rainbow is a blurred version of the bow obtained from a point source, because the disk diameter of the sun (0.5°) cannot be neglected compared to the width of a rainbow (2°). The number of colour bands of a rainbow may therefore be different from the number of bands in a spectrum, especially if the droplets are particularly large or small. Therefore, the number of colours of a rainbow is variable. If, however, the word rainbow is used inaccurately to mean spectrum, it is the number of main colours in the spectrum.

The question of whether everyone sees seven colours in a rainbow is related to the idea of Linguistic relativity. Suggestions have been made that there is universality in the way that a rainbow is perceived. However, more recent research suggests that the number of distinct colours observed and what these are called depend on the language that one uses with people whose language has fewer colour words seeing fewer discrete colour bands.

Of course, Evangelicals aren’t known for letting science get in the way of a good conspiracy story. If Schott (and Escalera) had bothered to check the Wikipedia entry for the history of the Rainbow flag, he would have found out:

The rainbow flag, commonly the gay pride flag and LGBT pride flag, is a symbol of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) pride and LGBT social movements. (Other uses of rainbow flags include a symbol of peace.) The colors reflect the diversity of the LGBT community, and the flag is often used as a symbol of gay pride when it comes to LGBTQ+ rights marches. It originated in Northern California, but is now used worldwide.

Designed by San Francisco artist Gilbert Baker in 1978, the design has undergone several revisions to first remove then re-add colors due to widely available fabrics. As of 2008, the most common variant consists of six stripes, with the colors red, orange, yellow, green, blue, and violet. The flag is commonly flown horizontally, with the red stripe on top, as it would be in a natural rainbow.

The original gay pride flag flew in the San Francisco Gay Freedom Day Parade on June 25, 1978. It has been suggested that Baker was inspired by Judy Garland’s singing “Over the Rainbow” and the Stonewall riots that happened a few days after Garland’s death (she was one of the first gay icons). Another suggestion for how the rainbow flag originated is that at college campuses during the 1960s, some people demonstrated for world peace by carrying a Flag of the Races (also called the Flag of the Human Race) with five horizontal stripes (from top to bottom they were red, white, brown, yellow, and black). Gilbert Baker is said to have gotten the idea for the rainbow flag from this flag in borrowing it from the Hippie movement of that time largely influenced by pioneering gay activist Allen Ginsberg. The flag consisted of eight stripes; Baker assigned specific meaning to each of the colors:

colors of gay flag

Schott would also have learned that rainbow flags are/were used by many cultures and movements.

landon schott
Landon Schott

It is clear to all who dare to exercise a modicum of reason and common sense, that the real issue for Schott is that he has an aversion to homosexual sex or he is a closeted homosexual. Despite the first chapter of his book being titled I Love Gay People, Schott loathes those who dare to love someone of the same-sex.

I am sure Schott will object to me labeling him as a hateful, homophobic bigot, but I can easily prove my contention. The Super Bowl halftime show featured songs with  references to illicit sex. Millions of viewers watched Beyoncé and her dancers bumping and grinding along to the song Formation. Yet, out of all that went on during the Super Bowl halftime show, Schott focuses on the rainbow-colored message, Believe in Love. I am certain that the vast majority of Super Bowl viewers failed to see the homosexual agenda behind the halftime show. Schott is so immersed in all things homosexual that he sees male-on-male anal sex, woman-on-woman scissoring, and oral sex galore everywhere he looks. In being so gay-focused, Schott missed the heterosexual aspects of the halftime show. Or perhaps, the married heterosexual Schott felt a bit of stirring as he watch the show, and he dared not admit that he and his student ministry buddies “enjoyed” watching Beyoncé shake her booty. Surely, if Schott is the pillar of moral virtue he says he is, he would have turned off the TV as soon as he saw Beyoncé do her first pelvic thrust. That he didn’t shows that Schott is fine with heterosexual displays of human love, but not homosexual. Schott is not only a bigot, he is also a hypocrite.

The picture above is from Schott’s Twitter page. Evidently, using the rainbow flag to hawk your book is okay. It is only bad when gays and loving same-sex couples use it. Again, Schott is a hypocrite. Besides, to this staunchly heterosexual, same-sex-supporting, man. Schott styled hair seems a bit “gay,” a sure sign that Landon Schott is a closeted homosexual. See how easy it is to make dumbass connections where none exist?

Note

Land Schott is 32 years old, married, and the father of two children. He is the founder of The Rev Ministries. He and his wife Heather are the founders of REVtv.

The Porno Bible: I Bet You Never Heard a Sunday Lesson on Ezekiel 23:18-21

warning label
This Label Should be Affixed to Every Bible

Evangelicals pride themselves on being people of THE Book. The first church I worked in had a roadside sign that advertised the church’s location and service times. At the bottom of the sign was a commonly used Baptist cliché: The Blood, The Book, and The Blessed Hope. Despite their pronouncements about being Bible-believers, Evangelicals aren’t really people of THE Book. Like all Christians, Evangelicals pick and choose which verses they believe or consider important.

For example, how many Evangelicals have ever heard a sermon on Exodus 23? This passage of scripture details the sexual proclivities of two sisters, Oholah and Oholibah. It is quite explicit, and would today be considered pornographic literature. Verses 18-21 state:

KJV
So she discovered her whoredoms, and discovered her nakedness: then my mind was alienated from her, like as my mind was alienated from her sister. Yet she multiplied her whoredoms, in calling to remembrance the days of her youth, wherein she had played the harlot in the land of Egypt. For she doted upon their paramours, whose flesh is as the flesh of asses, and whose issue is like the issue of horses. Thus thou calledst to remembrance the lewdness of thy youth, in bruising thy teats by the Egyptians for the paps of thy youth.

CEV
She let everyone see her naked body and didn’t care if they knew she was a prostitute. That’s why I turned my back on her, just as I had done with her older sister. Oholibah didn’t stop there, but became even more immoral and acted as she had back in Egypt. She eagerly wanted to go to bed with Egyptian men, who were famous for their sexual powers. And she longed for the days when she was a young prostitute, when men enjoyed having sex with her.

ESV
When she carried on her whoring so openly and flaunted her nakedness, I turned in disgust from her, as I had turned in disgust from her sister. Yet she increased her whoring, remembering the days of her youth, when she played the whore in the land of Egypt and lusted after her lovers there, whose members were like those of donkeys, and whose issue was like that of horses. Thus you longed for the lewdness of your youth, when the Egyptians handled your bosom and pressed your young breasts.”

The Message

I turned my back on her just as I had on her sister. But that didn’t slow her down. She went at her whoring harder than ever. She remembered when she was young, just starting out as a whore in Egypt. That whetted her appetite for more virile, vulgar, and violent lovers—stallions obsessive in their lust. She longed for the sexual prowess of her youth back in Egypt, where her firm young breasts were caressed and fondled.

GNT

She exposed herself publicly and let everyone know she was a whore. I was as disgusted with her as I had been with her sister. She became more of a prostitute than ever, acting the way she did as a young woman, when she was a prostitute in Egypt. She was filled with lust for oversexed men who had all the lustfulness of donkeys or stallions. Oholibah, you wanted to repeat the immorality you were guilty of as a young woman in Egypt, where men played with your breasts and you lost your virginity.

Simply put, Oholibah liked having sex with men who were hung like donkeys, men whose ejaculated semen amount was that of horses. Imagine how entertaining church would be if pastors spent time preaching on Oholah, Oholibah, and their lovers. 

One modern Bible translation team, knowing that this passage is pornographic, decided to edit out the explicit sexuality.

Living Bible

 And I despised her, just as I despised her sister, because she flaunted herself before them and gave herself to their lust. But that didn’t bother her. She turned to even greater prostitution, sinning with the lustful men she remembered from her youth when she was a prostitute in Egypt. And thus you celebrated those former days when as a young girl you gave your virginity to those from Egypt.

I am sure an Evangelical will point out that Ezekiel 23 is actually about Israel’s unfaithfulness to Jehovah. Ezekiel 23:1-4 states:

The word of the Lord came to me: “Son of man, there were two women, the daughters of one mother. They played the whore in Egypt; they played the whore in their youth; there their breasts were pressed and their virgin bosoms handled. Oholah was the name of the elder and Oholibah the name of her sister. They became mine, and they bore sons and daughters. As for their names, Oholah is Samaria, and Oholibah is Jerusalem.

So then, to use an oft quoted Evangelical cliché, Ezekiel 23 is an earthly story with a heavenly meaning. Or better put, a pornographic story with a heavenly meaning.  Why use porn to tell a spiritual story? Surely, God, the author of Ezekiel 23, knew that children would some day be reading this passage of scripture. Why didn’t Jesus say to his Father, Dad, think of the children!  I am beginning to wonder if Jesus’ father was addicted to porn. He is, after all, the universe’s biggest voyeur.

The Christian God Has an Optics Problem

richard dawkins quote on the nature of god

Stacy Long, a writer for the American Family Association, admits that when taking the Bible at face value, the Christian God comes off looking more like a murderous psychopath than the loving, doting father Evangelicals say he is. Long writes:

Often we read the Bible and have a hard time making the connection between God’s role in the Old and New Testaments. How do we reconcile Jesus’ teachings of God’s love and longsuffering, of kindness to our fellow man, of redemption and sacrifice for all people with the Old Testament instruction to pillage and conquer the Canaanites with instant death for one who so much as laid a careful hand on the Ark of the Covenant with stoning an entire family because one man went astray.

The Christian God’s optics problem is one of the reasons often given for people leaving Christianity. If the Bible is taken at face value (literally), especially the Old Testament, God is a vindictive, petty, petulant, narcissistic son-of-a-bitch deity who doesn’t deserve one second of obeisance and worship. From the Father God perspective, the Christian God is a father who neglects his children, refuses to meet their basic needs, and physically abuses them when they fail to meet his exacting, perfectionist standard of living.

Even in the New Testament God has an optics problem. What kind of father allows his son to be brutally tortured for the crimes of others? While the Christian God certainly is viewed in a better light in  much of the New Testament, he returns to his Old Testament self in the book of Revelation, a 22-chapter story of God’s slaughter of the human race and the destruction of earth. Perhaps God suffers from multiple personality disorder or is schizophrenic. Perhaps from Matthew to Jude God is well-medicated and refrains from returning to his murderous ways. In Revelation, tired of the calming effects of anti-psychotic medications, God goes off his meds and makes up for lost time by slaughtering billions of people.

While Long recognizes that God has an optics problem, she attempts to rehabilitate God’s psychopathic resume by suggesting that God operates according to a different moral and ethical standards than sinful humans. Long writes:

And so, God’s ways are not our ways. But even when His ways seem strange to us – unlike what we know of Him – His ways are still the same, and He is still good.

….

So, maybe it is not so much that God’s actions are inscrutable, as our understanding of them is precarious. Not that we lack some secret key to biblical exposition, but simply because we are not God. He’s looking at the picture from a whole different angle, and what He sees may be very different from what we see. What He knows and understands may be completely unknown to us. In short, what we may misunderstand and call bad, He may call good.

Over the years, as I have attempted to challenge Evangelical beliefs by pointing out God’s immoral behavior, Christians have reminded me that it is impossible for us to judge God using human reasoning. According to Evangelicals, God’s ways are not our ways. Where do they get such a notion? Right out of the Bible:

For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the Lord. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts. (Isaiah 55:8,9)

According to Evangelicals, God’s behavior can never be questioned because his ways are beyond human reason and understanding. In other words, God can do whatever the hell the wants because he is God. The Apostle Paul, when questioned about God choosing to save some people but not others, wrote:

For the scripture saith unto Pharaoh, Even for this same purpose have I raised thee up, that I might shew my power in thee, and that my name might be declared throughout all the earth. Therefore hath he mercy on whom he will have mercy, and whom he will he hardeneth. Thou wilt say then unto me, Why doth he yet find fault? For who hath resisted his will? Nay but, O man, who art thou that repliest against God? Shall the thing formed say to him that formed it, Why hast thou made me thus? Hath not the potter power over the clay, of the same lump to make one vessel unto honour, and another unto dishonour? (Romans 9:17-21)

Simply put, Paul is saying, Shut up!  How dare you question God! God is God and he can do whatever he wants to do.

Long concludes her defense of the Christian God’s immoral behavior with the Biblical story of Mary, Joseph, and Jesus:

Take the birth of Jesus for instance. Looking at the story from a human viewpoint, it is a completely tragic affair. A girl gets pregnant out of wedlock, her fiancée is compelled to marry her against his own inclination, they are forced into an arduous journey through unfriendly terrain, they are destitute and homeless when it comes to the time for childbirth, and the whole thing ends with a lot of innocent infants being massacred and Jesus’ parents having to flee for their lives to a foreign land not knowing if they will see their home and families again. For a sad tale of a couple who really get their lives messed up, that beats Romeo and Juliet hollow. Oh, and then that baby who came into the world through so much trouble and pain ends up being horrifically executed as a criminal and denied by His closest friends. And yet, from our retrospective understanding of God’s purpose, we celebrate His birth as the sweetest, most joyous event of all time.

Long, as every Evangelical, reads the Bible selectively. When Evangelicals read the story of the conception and birth of Jesus, all they see is the wonderful babe in the manger — God incarnate who came to earth to save sinners. While rose-colored-glasses wearing Evangelicals know that there are morally perplexing and contradictory aspects of the incarnation story, they shut their minds off from reason, believing instead that their God would never do anything that was not for their good.

So then, God raping a virgin teenage girl and making her the surrogate for Jesus is okay because these heinous behaviors led to the birth of Jesus, the savior of the world. Is this not why many Evangelicals believe that there should be no abortion exceptions?  According to Evangelicals, if a woman is violently raped and impregnated by a psychopath, she still should be forced to carry the fetus to term. Why? Well, look at how things worked out for Mary. She carried her fetus to term and that fetus became a miracle-working prophet, a God-man hybrid, who was violently tortured and executed so his blood could be used to wash away our sins. Amazing and wonderful, right?

God, who is all-knowing and all-powerful, could have chosen to impregnate Mary another way (by having Joseph impregnate her and then supernaturally turning the fetus into Jesus, the son of God).  In fact, he could have provided a different method of salvation. But, he didn’t. Evangelicals often focus on the heathen ruler who massacred all the male babies in Bethlehem and the surrounding area under the age of two. What an awful, murderous man, Evangelicals say.  Wait a minute, couldn’t God have stopped Herod’s slaughter?  Shouldn’t God, who is the creator of the universe and the divine human puppet master, be held accountable for what happens on his watch?

Evangelicals argue that God cannot do wrong, and that he is morally pure.  When confronted with Bible stories that suggest otherwise, Christians rush in to defend their God from charges of immorality. I get it–the Christian narrative must be protected at all costs. If God is shown to be culpable for his behavior, why that would mean that he is not a deity worthy of human fealty, fidelity, devotion, and worship. And this is exactly what Evangelicals-turned-atheists such as I believe. Even if the Evangelical God exists, and he doesn’t, he would not be a deity worthy of our devotion and worship. We refuse to bow in worship to a God who has spent the last 6,020 years murderously working its way through human history. We refuse to bow in worship to a God who considers sickness, disease, starvation and war “good.” We refuse to bow in worship to a God who had stood on the sidelines of human history doing nothing as blood flows in the world’s streets.

I know all the excuses Evangelicals give for their God’s behavior. I used them myself in sermon after sermon, and they were little more than defenses of the indefensible. God has the power necessary to radically change life on earth, yet he does nothing. Outside of helping Granny Louise find her car keys and helping Tim Tebow keep his virginity, God is largely AWOL.  When will Christians realize that their God is not who they claim he is? Anyone with a modicum of reason and basic observation skills can conclude that the God being peddled by Evangelicals is a work of fiction.

Evangelicals are forced to ignore or reinterpret vast portions of the Bible in order to main the Christian narrative: that God is a kind, loving, long-suffering deity who desires to save people from their sins, that he is a God personally involved in the affairs of the human race, right down to giving each of us the breath to breathe. I ask, dear Christians, where is this God of yours? Outside of your minds, where can I find this God? Better yet, based on what I read in the Bible, why should I devotedly worship the Christian God? What is there about your God that deems him worthy of my love and devotion? From my seat in the atheist pew, if I knew of someone who behaved in a fashion similar to the Christian God, I would advocate for his immediate incarceration and execution. Such a loathsome creature does not deserve life. In every way, the Christian God is worse than the most vile of humans. Why would I ever want to worship such a God?

Simple, Bruce, if you don’t, God will torture you in hell for eternity after you die.

Thank you for making my point.