Tag Archive: Humanism

Quote of the Day: The Ugly Side of the Online Atheist Community by Chris Stedman

chris stedman

When I was invited to discuss atheism on “The O’Reilly Factor” four years ago, I initially wanted to turn it down. However, I ultimately realized it was a chance to show Fox News viewers a different side of atheism on a network where atheists are usually talked about rather than with.

It was December, so former Fox News host Bill O’Reilly attempted to paint atheists as bitter anti-religion Grinches on a mission to take Christmas away. I pushed back, emphasizing the value of the separation of church and state as well as atheists’ contributions to the public conversation on religion and ethics.

In an environment that rewards anger and sound bites, I attempted to humanize my community — one of the most negatively viewed in the country. Afterward, strangers from around the country messaged me to say the conversation helped them rethink their views on atheists.

But the chatter online took a different, but sadly familiar, tone.

A number of prominent atheist bloggers criticized my interview, saying I was awful and suggesting I was allying with O’Reilly. The comments were worse. Anonymous posters ridiculed me, saying I should decline future television invitations because I was too “effeminate,” my physical appearance made atheists seem “like freaks” and my “obvious homosexuality” made me an ineffectual voice for atheists.

I had started an atheist blog almost a decade ago to explore the role of the nonreligious in interfaith dialogue. I went on to write for bigger platforms and appear on CNN and MSNBC to defend atheists against our detractors. But even as I spoke up for atheists, a subset of the community attacked me and my work, including a book I wrote about atheism and interfaith activism. There were some legitimate critiques, and I’m grateful for how they challenged me and helped me rethink some of my ideas, but others were petty and vindictive.

One of my most frequent online critics — who posted defamatory and false accusations about me — taunted me in ways that reminded me of the playground bullies who attacked me for being queer. He and his supporters frequently called me wimpy, weak, feeble and pearl-clutching, and characterized my work as “tinkerbellism.” When we faced off in a debate sponsored by humanist groups in Australia, he (hilariously) told me that I “sucked.”

Other bloggers went further, writing posts attacking my personal life; one went after my mother directly. (The author of that post later apologized, thankfully.) While most posts and comments were merely cruel insults, I was also threatened with violence and received death threats.

I was far from the only one targeted. A lot of online discourse can turn vitriolic, but writing on atheism seems particularly so. A study on Reddit found that its atheist forum, probably the largest collection of atheists on the Internet, was the third most toxic and bigoted on the entire site.

I’ve watched as many of the activists and writers I respect most in atheism — especially women and people of color — have left the movement, each expressing (privately, if not publicly) that the state of the discourse among atheists was one of the primary reasons they were leaving.

Beyond the nastiness directed at me, I was even more frustrated with the ways the atheist movement, especially online, has resisted efforts to address racism, sexism and xenophobia among our own.

….

I also felt a gnawing sense of smallness during my years as an atheist writer, exhausted with having to represent a singular identity. When I appeared on “The O’Reilly Factor,” the chyron that appeared below me read, “CHRIS STEDMAN, ATHEIST.” My friends and I had a good laugh about it, but it represented a bigger problem: to be understood as an atheist, I was often asked to reduce myself to just that.

This is a broad problem. When members of misunderstood communities challenge the stigmas placed upon them, we’re often tokenized and flattened out. Our culture is uncomfortable with people possessing a complex mix of identities, so we try to reduce them to the most digestible version of those identities. This feels especially true online.

….

— Chris Stedman, The Washington Post, I’m an Atheist, but I Had to Walk Away From the Toxic Side of Online Atheism, November 7, 2017

What Possible Motive Would I Have For Falsely Claiming to be an Atheist?

easy believismOn occasion, an Evangelical commenter will suggest that deep down in my heart of hearts I KNOW that I am still a Christian; that my claiming to be an agnostic/atheist is a ruse or some sort of misdirection meant to lead people away from finding out the truth about what and who I really am. Such a conclusion is derived from reading my writing through blood-of-Jesus-colored glasses, seeing faith where there is none. Several years ago, one commenter even went so far as to suggest that my capitalization of words such as Bible, Heaven, and Hell was proof that I am, despite my protestations, still a Christian. Taking this approach, of course, allows once-saved-always-saved Baptists to square my past with the present. Once saved by the miracle-working power of Jesus, no matter what I say or do, I cannot be separated from the love of God. No matter how hard I try to divorce myself from God or run from his presence, I remain eternally married to Jesus. Jesus is the epitome of the abusive husband in a no-divorce state. The only way to be free of Jesus is to kill him. I wonder…is it possible to kill Jesus twice?

Most thinking people will recognize that the aforementioned argument is absurd and makes a mockery of what it means to be a follower of Jesus Christ. Salvation is reduced to intellectual assent, to a set of propositional facts about the nature of God, the human condition, the need of redemption, the threat of judgment, and the promise of eternal life. If someone, as I did when a fifteen-year-old boy, sincerely believes these facts, then he or she is instantly and eternally saved. After being instantaneously saved, it matters not how the saved sinners live. They SHOULD desire to live right. Indwelt by the Holy Spirit, those born from above SHOULD desire to attend church, pray, read the Bible, and follow the commands and precepts of God. But if they don’t, they are still saved, no matter what! In other words, a Christian could renounce Jesus, reject the teachings of the Bible, embrace atheism, and live a life of debauchery; it matters not, he is still saved. Supposedly, such a life would bring God’s judgment and chastisement, but if it doesn’t, the Christian is still saved. Several Christians have suggested my health problems are God’s chastisement of me for my rebellion against him. The problem with this line of argumentation is that my health problems started years and decades before I divorced myself my Jesus. What was God up to then?

If I am still, way down in depths of my imaginary soul, a Christian, why would I claim to be an agnostic/atheist? Point to one good thing that comes from me professing to be an atheist. I live in rural Northwest Ohio. The Evangelical Jesus is on public display everywhere I look. In the Williams/Defiance/Fulton/Henry county area, three hundred churches dot the landscape. Almost all of them skew to the right theologically and politically. I am not only an atheist, I am also a pacifist and a Democratic Socialist. I am everything most people in the quad-county area are not. Being an outspoken atheist has resulted in social ostracization. While I have in recent years tried to pick my battles more carefully, I am still labeled by Christian zealots an immoral tool of Satan. I continue to despise the preferential treatment given to Christianity and I deplore attempts to promote theocratic thinking and scientific ignorance. However, I am trying to get a business up and running, so I am not as vocal as once was. I have concluded that locals can live with my godlessness as long as I don’t shove it in their face. Of course, there is this little problem called my blog. Anyone who bothers to do a search on my name — I am the only Bruce Gerencser in the world — will quickly find out my views about God, Christianity, the Bible, Evangelicalism and right-wing politics. I am not hiding my lack of belief as much as I am being more careful in choosing when, where, and how I want to take a stand against God and his anointed ones. That said, I am sure some locals would never hire me to do photography work for them, even if I was an Ansel Adams who charged Walmart photo studio prices. This is the price I pay for being who I am.

eternal securityIt seems to me that it would an easier path for me if I said I was a Christian and lived as most local Christians do — as practical atheists, espousing a cultural Christianity that is trotted out for holidays, weddings, funerals, and periodic outbursts of self-righteousness over perceived secular attacks on the baby Jesus. I would, in effect, live as if God doesn’t exist. Such living is hypocrisy at its best — saying one is a Christian, yet living as if God is a myth. Surely, if people say they are Christians, shouldn’t they make a good faith effort to live according to teachings of the Bible? Shouldn’t their lives reflect their beliefs?

I can’t think of one rational reason for me to still be a Christian, yet claim to be an atheist. Being a Christian, even in name only, is a path of ease, one that requires nothing from me. Atheism, on the other hand, brings social and cultural criticism and attack. I do my best to be an example of a good atheist, someone who lives according to the humanistic ideal. I try to let my good works show the kind of person I am. I want local Christians to know that people can be unbelievers and still live moral and ethical lives. Most of all, I want my life to be glaring contradiction, when how I live is compared to presuppositions about atheists. A Christianity worth having is evidenced not by beliefs, but by how a Christian lives. So it is with atheists. How we live our day-to-day lives is vitally important. People are watching us, trying to figure out what kind of people we really are. I want to be the best atheist in town, one who loves his fellow man and, when needed, lends his care and support to those in need. Surely, atheist and Christian alike should desire what is best not only for his progeny, but also his friends and neighbors.

If you can come up with a reason for someone to still be a Christian, yet claim to be an atheist, please share it in the comment section below.

About Bruce Gerencser

Bruce Gerencser, 60, lives in rural Northwest Ohio with his wife of 39 years. He and his wife have six grown children and eleven grandchildren. Bruce pastored Evangelical churches for twenty-five years in Ohio, Texas, and Michigan. Bruce left the ministry in 2005, and in 2008 he left Christianity. Bruce is now a humanist and an atheist. For more information about Bruce, please read the About page.

Bruce is a local photography business owner, operating Defiance County Photo out of his home. If you live in Northwest Ohio and would like to hire Bruce, please email him.

Thank you for reading this post. Please share your thoughts in the comment section. If you are a first-time commenter, please read the commenting policy before wowing readers with your words. All first-time comments are moderated. If you would like to contact Bruce directly, please use the contact form to do so.

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Where Did God Come From?

where did god come from

One of the questions most asked by children has to do with the existence of God. Children quickly learn that things require a maker/creator. When they sit at the dining table for dinner, they see food on a plate, ready for them to eat. Children know that mommy, daddy, or KFC cooked dinner. The food did not magically appear on a plate. Someone had to prepare and cook the food. The same goes for the dining room table, dinnerware, and eating utensils. Someone, somewhere, designed, manufactured, shipped, and sold these goods. And the same is true for the food itself. A farmer planted crops and/or raised animals to provide the food. From start to finish, we see human choices and actions. This process reminds me of Jimmy Stewart’s memorable (and hilarious) prayer in the movie Shenandoah:

Lord, we cleared this land. We plowed it, sowed it, and harvested. We cooked the harvest. It wouldn’t be here, we wouldn’t be eatin’ it, if we hadn’t done it all ourselves. We worked dog-bone hard for every crumb and morsel. But we thank you just the same anyway, Lord, for this food were about to eat. Amen.

Video Link

Most parents teach their children the basic rules of life, one of which is that if you don’t work, you don’t eat. Food doesn’t magically appear in the cupboards. Having food requires labor, either in a garden or working a job that provides money to purchase it. This is the way it has always worked. Sitting around praying for God to provide only leaves petitioners with growling, empty stomachs. King David, of Biblical fame, wrote one of the biggest whoppers ever told when he stated:

I have been young, and now am old; yet have I not seen the righteous forsaken, nor his seed begging bread. (Psalm 37:25)

Millions and millions of Christians will go to bed tonight hungry. They are the righteous spoken of by David. No matter how much these followers of Jesus pray, seeking God’s providential intervention, their plates will remain empty. God is not going to show up with a grocery truck. Having food requires human work, along with political environments where sustenance farming is valued and supported. In many of the countries facing famine, religion plays a prominent part in the lack of food. Catholicism, in particular, with its anti-birth-control, anti-abortion policies, encourages women to have large families. We see the same insane lack of family planning in Islāmic countries. When there are already too many mouths to feed, does it make any sense to have MORE children, thus exacerbating the lack of food security? Of course not. But, instead of handing out birth control and making abortion services readily available, religious leaders tell their followers to continue fucking for the glory of God, trusting that he will provide for their daily needs. How’s that working out?

Children should be taught when they are young that the only way things get done is if they do it. Parents don’t help their children grow into responsible adults if they continue to do for them what they can do for themselves. Polly and I had many faults when it came to raising our six children, but not when it came to teaching them the value and importance of work. At an early age, our children learned that there was a connection between work and results. Want a weed-free garden? Someone has to weed it. Want a clean bedroom? Someone has to clean it. Parents wrong their children, crippling them as adults, when they do things children can do for themselves. As is typical, when our children reached their teen years, they wanted stuff — cars, clothing, shoes, CD’s, and money to spend on entertainment. Polly and I didn’t give them money, not even an allowance. If they wanted the trappings of our capitalistic society, there was one way to get it — work! And so they did. Learning this has served them well as adults – as a result, our children have often been applauded and rewarded for their work ethic (and been known as no-nonsense workers who give an honest day’s work for their pay).

My point is this: everywhere we look we see human endeavor at the heart of this experience called life. What we have comes not from a dime store deity somewhere who doles out his goodness and blessings according to some sort of mysterious lottery. While we humans fail in many of our endeavors, we know that the only option we have is to try again or try something different. The burden of security, prosperity, and success rests on us, not on a mythical God.

It is for these reasons that it is frustrating to hear parents, when asked by their children, where did God come from? respond with theological mumbo jumbo about God always existing, and that no one created him. History tells us that God — all gods — are of human origin. Take the Christian God. Has this God always existed? Of course not. Humans, attempting to explain the world around them and their place in it, invented Gods to provide a larger-than-life explanation to what, at the time, seemed unanswerable questions. For centuries now, humans have been appealing to the gods as locus of their origin. These appeals were put in written forms such as the Christian Bible. When read with unbiased, uninitiated eyes, the Bible provides a fascinating look at the evolution of God, (The Evolution of God by Robert Wright) from the polytheism of the Old Testament to the monotheism of later Old Testament books and the New Testament (though one could argue that Christianity is still polytheistic based on its trinitarian theology).

When little Johnny asked his mommy or dad, where did God come from? he should be told the truth. Johnny, ancient humans created God (s) as a way to explain their world. Our deity, the Christian God, was brought to life six or so thousand years ago by polytheistic Middle Easterners. Our God has been remade numerous times. Today, our God is very different from the God of Adam and Eve. The same could be said for Abraham’s God and the deity of first century Jews. Humans, as time marches along, tend to shape God in their own image, adapting her to current cultural and tribal norms. While Christians speak of God having supernatural and divine qualities, it is clear to every honest observer that “God” is a human creation, with each worshiper shaping God into a human form that best represents their wants, needs, and desires.

But Bruce, Evangelicals might say, how do you explain the existence of the raw materials used to make things?  They had to come from somewhere, right? Using a variation of the God of the Gaps argument, Christians think anything that can’t be answered or known is God. Since no one can answer the “how did it all begin” question, Evangelicals wrongly assert that it is their God who birthed everything into existence. This, of course, is a faith claim for which there is no evidence outside of the Bible. This still leaves Christians with the question, where did God come from? Well, God exists outside of the space/time continuum. And your evidence for this claim is what? Uh, well, um, (hanging head), the Bible says ____________. And now we are right back to a book that was written by men, not God. The Bible, from Genesis 1:1 to Revelation 22:21 is the creation of humans.

pale blue dot

Perhaps science will one day answer all the questions about our beginning. Maybe not. For me personally it doesn’t matter. While I might wonder about what happened before the big bang, I know post-bang that science gives us a plausible explanation for our universe and our minuscule, insignificant place in it. This is a good place to remind readers of Carl Sagan’s words about our planet:

Look again at that dot. That’s here. That’s home. That’s us. On it everyone you love, everyone you know, everyone you ever heard of, every human being who ever was, lived out their lives. The aggregate of our joy and suffering, thousands of confident religions, ideologies, and economic doctrines, every hunter and forager, every hero and coward, every creator and destroyer of civilization, every king and peasant, every young couple in love, every mother and father, hopeful child, inventor and explorer, every teacher of morals, every corrupt politician, every “superstar,” every “supreme leader,” every saint and sinner in the history of our species lived there–on a mote of dust suspended in a sunbeam.

The Earth is a very small stage in a vast cosmic arena. Think of the rivers of blood spilled by all those generals and emperors so that, in glory and triumph, they could become the momentary masters of a fraction of a dot. Think of the endless cruelties visited by the inhabitants of one corner of this pixel on the scarcely distinguishable inhabitants of some other corner, how frequent their misunderstandings, how eager they are to kill one another, how fervent their hatreds.

Our posturings, our imagined self-importance, the delusion that we have some privileged position in the Universe, are challenged by this point of pale light. Our planet is a lonely speck in the great enveloping cosmic dark. In our obscurity, in all this vastness, there is no hint that help will come from elsewhere to save us from ourselves.

The Earth is the only world known so far to harbor life. There is nowhere else, at least in the near future, to which our species could migrate. Visit, yes. Settle, not yet. Like it or not, for the moment the Earth is where we make our stand.

It has been said that astronomy is a humbling and character-building experience. There is perhaps no better demonstration of the folly of human conceits than this distant image of our tiny world. To me, it underscores our responsibility to deal more kindly with one another, and to preserve and cherish the pale blue dot, the only home we’ve ever known.

— Carl Sagan, Pale Blue Dot, 1994

Our planet, with its seven billion inhabitants, is but a pencil-point of light in the vast expanse of space. We who call this planet home are its caretakers. Our future success, prosperity, and life rests in our hands. God, whomever it might be, if anything at all, is not coming to rescue, bless, or take care of us. All we have is each other, and as Jimmy Stewart made clear, it’s up to us to provide for ourselves and those we love. Children deserve to be told the truth about these things. Telling them that there is some sort of Santa Claus-like God only teaches them a deluded view of the world and their place in it. Perhaps there is some sort of deistic God who set the things into motion. I don’t know, and, quite frankly, it doesn’t matter. It is clear, at the very least, that such a deity is not the least bit interested in that which she has created, and that this God has left it up to us to plot the future of earth and the human race. This is the primary reason I am a humanist. (If you have not read the Humanist Manifesto, I encourage you to do so.) The Humanist Manifesto states:

Knowledge of the world is derived by observation, experimentation, and rational analysis. Humanists find that science is the best method for determining this knowledge as well as for solving problems and developing beneficial technologies. We also recognize the value of new departures in thought, the arts, and inner experience—each subject to analysis by critical intelligence.

Humans are an integral part of nature, the result of unguided evolutionary change. Humanists recognize nature as self-existing. We accept our life as all and enough, distinguishing things as they are from things as we might wish or imagine them to be. We welcome the challenges of the future, and are drawn to and undaunted by the yet to be known.

Ethical values are derived from human need and interest as tested by experience. Humanists ground values in human welfare shaped by human circumstances, interests, and concerns and extended to the global ecosystem and beyond. We are committed to treating each person as having inherent worth and dignity, and to making informed choices in a context of freedom consonant with responsibility.

Life’s fulfillment emerges from individual participation in the service of humane ideals. We aim for our fullest possible development and animate our lives with a deep sense of purpose, finding wonder and awe in the joys and beauties of human existence, its challenges and tragedies, and even in the inevitability and finality of death. Humanists rely on the rich heritage of human culture and the lifestance of Humanism to provide comfort in times of want and encouragement in times of plenty.

Humans are social by nature and find meaning in relationships. Humanists long for and strive toward a world of mutual care and concern, free of cruelty and its consequences, where differences are resolved cooperatively without resorting to violence. The joining of individuality with interdependence enriches our lives, encourages us to enrich the lives of others, and inspires hope of attaining peace, justice, and opportunity for all.

Working to benefit society maximizes individual happiness. Progressive cultures have worked to free humanity from the brutalities of mere survival and to reduce suffering, improve society, and develop global community. We seek to minimize the inequities of circumstance and ability, and we support a just distribution of nature’s resources and the fruits of human effort so that as many as possible can enjoy a good life.

….

Simply put, it’s up to us. Whether it’s avoiding nuclear war or combating the effects of global climate change, it is up to humans, not gods, to change the course of history. Whether we will we do so remains to be seen. As long as humans think God is in charge of everything and that she alone can deliver and save us, there is little hope that we will survive to the days when our sun dies and our species ceases to exist. As things stand now, I wonder if we will even make it to the twenty-second century. Religious tribalism, political extremism, amoral (and immoral) capitalism, poverty and a host of other problems work against our future survival. Our only hope lies in all of us working together for the betterment the human race and the planet we call home.

Nancy Campbell says to Pregnant Women: God is INTERESTED in Every Minute Detail of Your Baby’s Life

nancy-campbell

Maybe you’ve been longing for this day. Or maybe it’s a surprise! Maybe it wasn’t the news you wanted to hear! Whatever the reason, I want to remind you that it is a MIRACLE FROM GOD. God is the author of this life. He destined this child. He has plans and purposes for this precious one. Let’s contemplate on the MIRACLE.

God chose you to be the MOTHER of His child.  God is INTERESTED in every minute detail of your baby, from creating every part of his/her body in the womb to His plans for his/her life in the future

— Nancy Campbell, Above Rubies, It’s a Miracle!, March 13, 2017


If, as Nancy Campbell believes, the Bible is a Christian-God-inspired and inerrant text, and everything found within its pages is true, what can we can conclude about God and his supposed interest in every minute detail of the lives of infants? What conclusions can we come to about God’s love for children? Is God who Campbell says he is? Is God really pro-life? Is he really L-O-V-E?

I agree with Campbell in one respect: women becoming pregnant is quite an event. One might wonder, though, if the God who created this process failed human engineering class. Surely, there are better ways to bring new little humans into the world. God impregnated Mary without Joseph’s sperm and the messy act of sexual intercourse. Why couldn’t God do that for all women? And while he’s at it, why can’t God make sure every fertilized egg implants in the endometrium. Campbell and other Evangelicals rail against abortion, yet God’s inability — he is the First Cause, he who opens and closes the womb, right? — to ensure implantation make him the number one abortionist in the universe. It seems, based on the evidence, that God is one shitty miracle worker.

Campbell says that God has a destiny and a plan for every child — what that plan and destiny is, Campbell does not say. So, we must let the Bible and history tell us God’s wonderful, awesome plan for every miracle child. Can anyone reasonably conclude that God means good for children, that he loves them, and as he does for the sparrow, cares for their every need? In Genesis 6-9, we find the story of Noah and the flood. By Noah’s day, millions of humans lived on planet earth. All of them were the descendants of Adam and Eve and their children’s incestuous relationships. These descendants began having sexual relationships with fallen angels, producing what the Bible calls giants. God became so incensed over this (Why didn’t God kill off the angels instead of killing everyone?) that he decided to kill everyone save Noah, his wife, sons, and their wives. (No children?) Out of the millions of living people, God chose to save only eight. Left to drown were millions of dogs, cats, puppies, kittens, hamsters, guinea pigs, and lots of children and pregnant mothers. If God is pro-life and deeply interested in the welfare of babies, why did he drown countless babies and fetuses in the flood?

How about the story of Moses and the Israelites in Egypt? Let my people go, Moses said to Pharaoh. Using ten plagues to make his point, God:

  1. Caused the waters of Egypt into blood
  2. Caused frogs to inundate Egypt, including their cooking ovens and beds
  3. Caused a plague of lice
  4. Caused flies to swarm the land of Egypt
  5. Caused the cattle to become diseased
  6. Caused the Egyptians to be infected with boils
  7. Caused large hail to fall on Egypt, killing countless people
  8. Caused a swarm of locusts to destroy Egypt’s crops
  9. Caused three days of darkness to fall on Egypt

and — drum roll please — number 10: God killed the first-born child of every Egyptian family (and any Israelites who didn’t put blood above the doorposts of their home).

Who killed these babies and children? God did. The very same God that Campbell says is pro-life and the very same God who has a destiny planned for every baby. I guess being murdered in your home is a “destiny” of sorts, but I suspect Campbell is using the word “destiny” in a positive sense. Wanting to pump pregnant women full of Jesus, Campbell wants these women to know that the awesome God of the universe has a wonderful, super-duper plan for their fetuses.

Everywhere you look in the Old Testament, you see God smiting and killing people for their sins. Some of those who got on God’s bad side were non-combatants and innocent civilians. Did God give them a pass, punishing instead those who actually pissed him off? Nope. On multiple occasions, God commanded men, women, children, and fetuses be killed, regardless of their culpability. Can it really be said that God is interested in the minute details of the lives of babies — or anyone else for that matter?

Well that’s the Old Testament, Bruce. Fine, let’s talk about the slaughter of all the children under the age of two by Herod at the time of Jesus’ birth. Herod did it, not God, Campbell might say. What a minute. I thought God has a divine plan for every baby? Was his plan for these children to be born to loving parents only to have them hacked to death a year or two later?

And what can I say about the book of Revelation, one of the most anti-human, anti-children, anti-babies books in the Bible. Campbell, a Bible literalist, believes that Jesus will one day judge and destroy the human race — except for those who are Christians, of course. Revelation is the script for God’s upcoming horror show. Will pregnant women or children get a pass and escape God’s violent, bloody temper tantrum? Not according to the Bible. Again, how can an honest reader of the Bible conclude that God is the least bit interested in babies and children?

Consider modern history for a moment. Think of all the wars, genocides, famines, and plagues. If the Christian God holds the world in the palm of his hand, and nothing happens apart from his purpose and plan, what conclusion must we come to about God’s actions throughout human history? Does the evidence at hand suggest that God is loving and kind, and, as Campbell implies, has an awesome plan for EVERY baby? I wonder what Nancy Campbell would say to this mother and child:

starving mother and child

Pray tell, exactly what is God’s wonderful plan for this woman and her child? This child had only known suffering and pain. Where is Campbell’s wonderful, action-figure God?

I urge mothers to steer clear of the Nancy Campbells of the world. They are snake-oil salesmen, selling a God that does not exist. There is no God who has a plan for your children. There is no God who has a wonderful destiny for your children. Your children’s futures depend on you and your fellow humans. It’s up to us. We are the only gods who can love and care for children. Surely, this is good news, yes? Imagine how it would be for mothers and their children if Campbell’s God is real? Imagine how awful it would be if the “kind, loving” God of the Bible acted today as he did in the Bible and throughout past human history. Thanks be to the gods, he is not real. We, collectively, hold the future of our progeny in our hands. It is up to us to build a world where love, kindness, and peace provide a foundation for children to grow and mature. The God-sellers have had their day, Time for us to, as John Lennon so wonderfully wrote:

Imagine there’s no heaven
It’s easy if you try
No hell below us
Above us only sky
Imagine all the people
Living for today… Aha-ah…

Imagine there’s no countries
It isn’t hard to do
Nothing to kill or die for
And no religion, too
Imagine all the people
Living life in peace… You…

You may say I’m a dreamer
But I’m not the only one
I hope someday you’ll join us
And the world will be as one

Imagine no possessions
I wonder if you can
No need for greed or hunger
A brotherhood of man
Imagine all the people
Sharing all the world… You…

You may say I’m a dreamer
But I’m not the only one
I hope someday you’ll join us
And the world will live as one

Pray for Bruce Gerencser and the Salvation of His Hell Bound Soul

heaven and hell

Heaven and Hell

Warning! Lots of snark ahead! You’ve been warned!

Yesterday I posted an excerpt from the Spiritual Minefield website. My post was titled Christians Say the Darnedest Things: How to Shield Yourself From Porn and Sexual Excitement.  The author of the excerpt decided today to respond to my posting of the excerpt by writing a post titled, Why Do Atheists Seem To Have The Urge To Always Attack God’s Word?  Here’s what he had to say:

Today I got pingback from an atheist who takes pleasure in maligning believers in Jesus Christ. Here is a quick bio of Bruce which he put public.

Copy and paste from his site

Bruce Gerencser, 59

Bruce pastored Evangelical churches for 25 years in Ohio, Texas, and Michigan. Bruce left the ministry in 2005 and in 2008 he left Christianity. Bruce is now a humanist and an atheist.

The question that enters my mind is why do atheists hate Jesus so much as to go out of their way to attack Him and try to desperately prove that He is false? I think that the answer is because deep down in their spirit/heart they know that the Word of God is true and judgment will come to them but they want to feel better about their sin and rejection of Christ so by trying to disprove Christianity, they are trying to convince themselves, listen closely, “they are trying” to convince themselves of their own lie which Satan has whispered into their ears so that they can’t get saved. When a person is not in any perceivable danger, they won’t call for help and Satan is successful at convincing these atheists that they are not in danger.

The evidence that God exists is so overwhelming that the only way to go against pure evidence is by reprogramming their thoughts to completely bypass logic and reason.

Bruce Gerencser is a sad case of what an apostate is and the reality is that those who are not grounded in the faith will get hit hard by the devil who’s [sic] eyes are constantly on the believers. Saying that, I believe according to 1 John 2:19 that Bruce was never saved but was close and those without the Holy Spirit cannot stand against the pounding of the wind and waves of the enemy according to Matthew 7:26-27 which says, “26 And every one who hears these sayings of Mine and does not do them will be likened to a foolish man who built his house on the sand. 27 And the rain descended, the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house. And it fell. And its fall was great.”

Why have I mentioned this atheist by name? It is because I want all Christians to bring Bruce Gerencser’s name before the Lord for his salvation because the hell that’s waiting for him and all those who believe Satan’s lie is truly and unfathomably horrific.

Where oh where do I begin?

First, I don’t hate Jesus. Hating the DEAD Jesus would be a colossal waste of time. What I do hate is the Fundamentalist ideology advanced by this author and others of his ilk. (Please see Why I Hate Jesus) As I watch Donald Trump dismantle decades of social progress, I am reminded of the fact that it is Evangelicals who put Trump in the White House. Do I hate individual Evangelicals for doing so? I’m tempted to do so, but I am not the type of person who hates people. I do, however hate what Trump’s co-opting of Evangelicalism and its beliefs is doing to America. I focus my hatred on beliefs, not believers. To use the Evangelical mantra: hate the sin, not the sinner, I hate the belief, not the believer.

Second, I don’t hate the Word of God — the Bible. I do, however, hate what is done using Biblical justification. The author appeals to the Bible to justify his judgments of my past and present life. Doing so allows him to escape responsibility for his behavior. I’m just quoting what G-O-D says! Don’t like it, take it up with Him! I would take it up with the Big Kahuna, but he is nowhere to be found. Last I heard, he was on vacation. Since God is AWOL, all I am left with is Evangelicals quoting verses from a book that is very much of human origin. The only reason I bother with such people is because they believe that the Bible is some sort of supernatural book given to them by a supernatural God, and that its words must be explicitly obeyed. Again, look at what’s happening in Washington D.C. Nine members of Trump’s cabinet believe that the Bible is a divine law-book and road map for life. In fox-in-the-hen-house fashion, the theocrats have breached the fence and now the future of our democracy is being threatened. The only way I know to combat such ignorance is to wage war against the notion that the Bible is in any way a divinely written book; that its words are in any way applicable to today. As long as Evangelicals continue to demand fealty to their God and the Bible, they can expect me and other outspoken atheists to marginalize, denigrate, and intellectually destroy the Bible. Until Evangelicals are freed from Bible Brain Rot®, atheists, agnostics, humanists, and progressive Christians must continue to lay an axe to foundation of Fundamentalist Christianity.

Third, the clueless author shows he has little understanding of atheists — how they think and view the world. We don’t deep down believe or not believe anything. Can someone tell me where the hell is “deep down”? I’ve spent all day digging and I still can’t find it.  Atheists do not see any compelling evidence to warrant a belief in the existence of the Evangelical God. Suggesting that the Bible provides such evidence is laughable. (As well, suggesting that the natural world provides such overwhelming evidence that atheists are forced to deliberately ignore it is ludicrous.) Even Evangelicals don’t believe in the Bible God. Whenever I confront Evangelicals with the Bible God — actually a plurality of Bible Gods — they either try to distance themselves from said God or say that I am “misinterpreting” the Bible — misinterpreting, of course, meaning, having an interpretation different from theirs.

Fourth, the notion of “sin” is a religious construct. As an atheist, I don’t believe people are sinners, depraved, evil, or wicked. All of us have the power to do good or bad things. When I do something that hurts someone, I do my best to make things right. No need to pray to a fictitious God and ask for his forgiveness. The only person I need to talk to is the person I have harmed. The humanist system of forgiveness and restitution is much easier and more straightforward. No commands against porn or looking at women and admiring their beauty. No obsession over sex, fornication, or masturbation. Humans are sexual beings. Atheists and other non-Evangelicals are free to embrace their sexuality without fearing a voyeuristic God will judge them for loving the wrong person or using the wrong orifice for sex. Here’s hoping that the author of the post on Spiritual Minefield will one day embrace his sexuality and lustfully enjoy the pleasures that are at his disposal. Until then, let me remind him that what consenting adults do behind closed doors is none of his business. If Evangelicals want to practice “Biblical” sex, by all means do so. But, please let the rest of us masturbate and copulate in peace.

Fifth, I fear what Donald Trump might do far more than I do a nonexistent God. God has neither talked to me or laid a finger on me in almost sixty years. I have zero fear of him. I do, however, fear what people who believe God talks to them might do. I do fear that Trump and his mighty Bible-thumping horde might usher in World War III. I fear what real flesh and blood people might do, not mythical Gods, be they Jesus, Allah, Jehovah, or any of the other Gods of human creation.

Sixth, atheists bypass logic and reason? Really? I have no words for this one. The author believes the earth is 6,022 years old; that God created the universe in six literal 24 hour days; that Adam and Eve are the father and mother of the human race; that God destroyed the world with a flood 4,000 years ago, killing every person save Noah and his family; that a Holy Ghost impregnated a virgin who gave birth to a baby who, as an adult, walked on water, healed the deaf, blind, and sick, walked through walls, made himself invisible, resurrected from the dead, and ascended into “heaven.” Anyone who believes this kind of nonsense is the one lacking logic and reason.

Seventh, I am quite happy to be an apostate, a worker of Satan, a deceiver of immature Christians. By all means, keep praying for me. Every unanswered prayer is a reminder that the heavens are devoid of Gods and that what really matters is how we make life on this planet better for all. Part of making life better is the driving of a stake through the heart of religious Fundamentalism. Fundamentalism — in all its forms — remains the biggest threat to human and planetary existence. Donald Trump’s ascension to the throne is a poignant reminder that people of reason, science, and progress must continue to push back against those who desire to chain us to the Bible and its God. It’s the twenty-first century. It’s high time we remand God to the dustbin of human history; the depository of countless other failed mythical Gods and their “divine” texts. Until this happens, the Internet will be littered with ignorant posts about sex and every other human behavior deemed sinful by Fundamentalist Christians.

Now, get out there and do some sinning!

The Corpsepaint Show Interview of Bruce Gerencser

corpsepaint show

I recently had the privilege of appearing via Skype on The Corpsepaint Show.  Hosted by Satan, The Corpsepaint Show primarily covers the heavy metal music scene, so I can easily understand them wanting to interview a metalhead such as myself. (You should be laughing right now.)

I had a delightful time speaking with Satan. What follows is the audio of the interview. If you want to view the video, please go to The Corpsepaint Show’s website and click on the December 25, 2016 video.

Video Link

Quote of the Day: God is My Bus Driver

john de lancie

Now, let’s jump from my impressionable years to just a few years ago. I was touring the country in a show about the Scopes Monkey Trial. Ed Asner was playing William Jennings Bryan and I played Clarence Darrow.

This was not Inherent the Wind. This was the actual 1925 trial transcript arguing the teaching of evolution in the public schools—an argument, I’m sorry to say, that’s still raging today for all the wrong reasons.

We were on the college circuit, but performances were open to the general public. During our month of touring, we were picketed, yelled at, and booed—most of the time before the show even started. At one of the universities, I was finishing up a Q&A for a group of 100 or so students when the teacher said he’d seen the play the night before and highly recommended it.

Then, with a wink in my direction, he turned and asked the class, “With a show of hands, how many of you believe the earth was created on October 22, 4004 BC?” Seventy-five students raised their hands. I was stunned. Speechless. My head dropped as I silently bore witness to the death of knowledge, the death of curiosity—wiped out in an instant by some religious nonsense—yet these college students believed it. And they were secure in their belief, you could even say smug considering the enthusiasm with which their hands shot up into the air, affirming: “I believe.”

In the green room that evening I told the cast about my experience. There was a young theater “groupie” hanging around, and I asked her if she would have raised her hand like the others.

“Oh yes,” she said.

“Why? In light of everything we know today, why?”

“Because I believe God is my bus driver.”

“I’m sorry,” I said, “I don’t know what that means.”

“That I can sit at the back of the bus and party-hearty because God is driving my bus. And if the Bible says 4004 BC, who am I to disagree?”

“4004 BC is not even in the Bible,” I said.

“Well… I don’t know. That’s what I believe.”

“But that doesn’t make sense, you idiot. Next, you’re going to tell me that you believe vaccines give you autism; or that Obama is a Muslim; or that not having healthcare makes you free; or that AIDS is a punishment for being gay; or that Sandy Hook was staged.”

Of course, I didn’t say any of this. I just looked on in despair and half-heartedly asked her if God required exact change to get on the bus. She didn’t get the joke.

“God is my bus driver” precludes any and all critical thinking. It exposes this young woman to a lifetime of nonsense both benign and dangerous. It typifies the mindset of a segment of our population who can’t tell the difference between truth and fiction because they’ve wasted their formative years focusing on whether Adam wore flip-flops or walked barefoot in the garden—with his dinosaur.

The willingness of these twenty-first-century college students to believe the calculations of a seventeenth-century prelate, in spite of indisputable evidence to the contrary, is astounding. And because they’ve gone down this path, these young people are entering a world woefully unprepared for the challenges they’ll encounter. They will look at a hillside and see, perhaps nothing—certainly not iron ore. In their youth, they’ve not been encouraged to understand the world they live in, but rather have been directed to explore an imaginary world. They will enter adulthood with neither the disposition nor the skill to untangle complex, earthly problems. Healthcare, global warming—too complicated. Same-sex marriage, bathrooms—perfect.

— John de Lancie, The Humanist, Inspiration, Sci-Fi, and the Importance of Driving Your Own Bus, November/December 2016

Quote of the Day: Secular Grief by Greta Christina

atheism death

When someone we love dies, it can intensely undermine our sense of stability and safety. Our lives have been changed forever, generally by forces we had no control over—and it can feel as if nothing’s in our control. It can feel like the ground under our feet, which we once thought was stable, has suddenly gone soft. Our sense of being able to act in the world, and of having some reasonable expectation of what the consequences will be, can be deeply shaken.

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This feeling can be especially strong if the person who died was someone we were exceptionally close with and who had a large presence in our everyday lives, like a spouse or a partner or a child. It can be especially strong if they were someone we knew for all or most of our lives, like a parent or a sibling. And it can be especially strong if the death was unexpected, like an accident, a sudden illness, or death by violence.

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Typically, religion teaches us to cope with these feelings by denying them. It tells us that, no matter how insecure we may feel, in reality we’re completely safe. The people who have died aren’t really dead—we’ll see them again. Their death hasn’t actually changed our lives permanently. In fact, the next time we see them it’ll be in a blissful place of perfect safety. (There are exceptions—many Buddhist teachings, for instance, focus on the inherent impermanence of existence.)

The opposite is true for nonreligious and nonspiritual views of death. Nonbelievers don’t deny this experience of instability. So instead we can try to accept it, and find ways to live with it.

The reality is that safety isn’t an either/or thing. We’re never either entirely safe or entirely unsafe. The ground under our feet is never either totally solid or totally soft. Stability and safety are relative: they’re on a spectrum. We’re more safe, or less safe.

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Coping with grief and moving on with it doesn’t mean that the ground feels entirely solid again. It means that the ground feels more solid. It means we feel more able to make plans, more trusting that our actions will have consequences that are more or less what we’d expect. We still understand that things can come out of left field—terrible things, and wonderful ones. We can go ahead and make plans; and make contingency plans in case those plans don’t work out; and do risk-benefit analysis about possible actions and possible outcomes; and accept the fact that a sudden wind could rise up and radically change everything.

There’s no such thing as perfect safety. That can be difficult to accept. But it can also be a relief. Imagine an existence where there are no surprises, where everything happens exactly as you expect. It would be tedious to the point of derangement. It would be sterile. It would be isolating.

When we let go of the search for perfect safety, it can be frightening and upsetting. But it can also be comforting. Letting go of the struggle for something that can’t be attained, and letting go of the guilt or resentment when we don’t attain it, can be a relief. It can even be liberating.

The fear that grief can bring on, the anxiety about an unstable, unpredictable world, is still frightening. And none of this philosophy makes that pain or fear go away. But it may make that fear more manageable, less overwhelming, and easier to accept.

— Greta Christina, The Humanist, Secular Grief, and the Loss of Stability and Safety, June 28, 2016

Christians Upset Over Satanist Christmas Display

boca raton satanist display

“Tis the season for Christians to be upset over things that they feel profane the “true” meaning of Christmas — the birth of Jesus Christ. A recent scuffle in Boca Raton is case in point. CBS News reports:

A 300-pound metal sculpture of a satanic pentagram, erected as an atheist protest to a public park’s Nativity scene, was severely damaged on Tuesday when it was pulled to the ground by vandals.

Atheist Preston Smith’s 10-foot tall sculpture lay broken in Sanborn Square at noon. Tire tracks led from the twisted metal to the street.

It appeared vandals had attached a chain from a vehicle to the sculpture and yanked it down, dragging it several feet. As local television reporters prepared live broadcasts, two passersby stopped and pushed the sculpture back onto its base before walking away.

The sculpture sits about 20 feet from a traditional Nativity scene of Mary, Joseph and the baby Jesus, and is backed by a banner from an atheist group reading “Keep Saturn in Saturnalias,” a reference to the belief that the early Christian church substituted Christmas for a Roman pagan holiday.

It is the latest Florida protest against manger scenes on public property, mirroring earlier battles inside the state capitol in Tallahassee.

Boca Raton police officer Sandra Boonenberg said the overnight strike was the third attack on Smith’s sculpture and its explanatory banner since he erected the display earlier this month. Someone painted the once-red sculpture black on Monday. Earlier, someone damaged the banner. Detectives are investigating.

Smith, a middle school English teacher, said that as an atheist, he does not believe in God nor Satan, but is using a symbol often associated with devil worship to highlight his belief that religious displays have no place on public property, because they make non-believers “feel like second-class citizens.”

“We are here to call out Christian hypocrisy and theistic bias in taxpayer-funded public arenas while advocating for the separation of church and state,” he told The Associated Press Monday night, before the latest act of vandalism. “Our ultimate goal is to return the government to its viewpoint neutral stance so that when an atheist takes a stroll through the park we aren’t assaulted by Bronze Age mythology.”

He could not be immediately reached Tuesday, but called the earlier acts of vandalism “examples of mob mentality toward minority faiths.”

The U.S. Supreme Court has ruled that government agencies can allow religious displays on public property, but if they do, they cannot discriminate. Both the Nativity scene and the Pentagram were installed with city permits.

A group of local religious leaders — 14 ministers, two rabbis and the president of the local mosque — placed a banner next to Smith’s sculpture criticizing its placement.

“The use of satanic symbols is offensive and harmful to our community’s well-being,” the banner reads. “We find it a shameful and hypocritical way to advocate for freedom from religion.”

The city issued a statement saying that while it respects Smith’s free-speech rights, it doesn’t support his message.

“In years past, the seasonal, religious displays in Sanborn Square have contained messages projecting the themes of peace, forgiveness and harmony,” it said. “This display appears to be more about shock value, attention and challenging our commitment to constitutionally protected free speech rather than promoting goodwill, respect and tolerance during the holiday season.”

Passerby Judy Hill, a retired information technology worker, decried the vandalism but didn’t think Smith should have erected his sculpture next to the Nativity scene.

“I know there is freedom of speech, but there is a time and place for everything,” said Hill, a Methodist. “He just wanted to get publicity and he got it.”

Tina Yeager agreed.

“It is a very precious season and for someone to come and almost make fun of that, to just really negate the time of year, it’s inappropriate,” she told CBS Miami.

In 2013 and 2014, atheists erected protest displays in the Florida capitol after a Christian group placed a manger there. Those displays included a Festivus pole made of beer cans, a depiction of the Flying Spaghetti Monster, a mock god popular among non-believers, and one showing an angel falling into flames with the message “Happy Holidays from the Satanic Temple.” The latter was damaged by a vandal.

The quotes in this story reveal what I have known for a long time: that most Christians do not understand the freedom of speech and freedom of religion protections afforded to Americans by the U.S. Constitution. Most Christians wrongly think that their beliefs and practices should be protected from attack, ridicule, and mockery. This is why Christians get upset over things such as secular, atheist, or Satanist Christmas displays. Thinking that Christianity deserves protected, preferential treatment, followers of Jesus expect non-believers to defer to and respect their beliefs and practices. When non-Christians refuse to genuflect before the One True Faith, Christians often become what millennials call “butt hurt.”  How dare atheists mock Jesus, Christians sayHow dare Satanists put up a sacrilegious display right next to a crèche. How dare you heathens offend the sweet baby Jesus.

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How dare we indeed.

In the aforementioned article, a Methodist woman by the name of Judy Hill stated, “I know there is freedom of speech, but there is a time and place for everything.” What Hill really means is that there is a time and place for displays of Christianity — anywhere, any time. Other expressions of faith or godlessness? Only when Christians say it is okay. I wonder if Hill has bothered to consider that perhaps there is a time and place for expressions of Christianity too. Atheists – and indeed, all Americans – live in a culture where Christianity is frequently shoved in their faces everywhere they go. Atheists endure these public displays of Christianity because that’s the price of admission for living in a country that values freedom of religion and speech. If Hill truly wants public discourse regulated by “time and place for everything,” then how about Christians restricting their overt displays of love for Jesus to their homes and houses of worship. If Christians want atheists to stop hurting their feelings, then shouldn’t non-believers received reciprocal treatment? After all, the inerrant words of the sweet baby Jesus say, do unto others as you would have them do unto you!

The faulty premise of Boca Raton Christians is that Christmas is a sacred Christian holiday. It isn’t. Take a drive through any American community and what you’ll primarily find are Christmas light displays celebrating Santa Claus and generic winter holiday scenes. Yes, there will be crèches here and there, but most displays are secular in nature. Based on the evidence at hand, it is clear that Christmas is mostly a secular (capitalistic) holiday. Christians are certainly free, on their own properties and private spaces, to set up displays that scream to all who will listen, JESUS IS THE REASON FOR THE SEASON! Ironically, most  Santa displays are put up by Christians themselves. It seems that it is really only a small percentage of Christians (mostly Evangelicals and other religious conservatives) who think there is some sort War on Christmas® or concerted attacks on religious freedom.

Secularists want governments to strictly enforce the separation of church and state. This means NO sectarian religious endorsement. If government entities are going to have invocations, benedictions, and public displays, they MUST — according to the U.S. Supreme Court — allow non-Christian groups to participate. This is why Satanists put up Christmas displays and humanists give invocations at government meetings. This is also why Satanists and secular groups are helping students to set up after-school meetings.

The goal is to expose hypocrisy and the preferential treatment given to Christianity. If Christians don’t want secular holiday displays next to their crèches, then all they need to do is take down their displays. Don’t want prayers to Satan or Mother Earth at council meetings? Stop having Christian ministers offer prayers to Jesus. Let’s all agree that government meetings and schools are no place for prayers of any kind, and that government property should be free of ANY displays of religion.

The separation of church and state means just that….a walled separation between government and religion. While government officials may freely live according to their religious beliefs, when it comes time to do the work of the people, religion has no part.  President John F. Kennedy said it best:

These are the real issues which should decide this campaign. And they are not religious issues — for war and hunger and ignorance and despair know no religious barriers.

But because I am a Catholic, and no Catholic has ever been elected president, the real issues in this campaign have been obscured — perhaps deliberately, in some quarters less responsible than this. So it is apparently necessary for me to state once again not what kind of church I believe in — for that should be important only to me — but what kind of America I believe in.

I believe in an America where the separation of church and state is absolute, where no Catholic prelate would tell the president (should he be Catholic) how to act, and no Protestant minister would tell his parishioners for whom to vote; where no church or church school is granted any public funds or political preference; and where no man is denied public office merely because his religion differs from the president who might appoint him or the people who might elect him.

I believe in an America that is officially neither Catholic, Protestant nor Jewish; where no public official either requests or accepts instructions on public policy from the Pope, the National Council of Churches or any other ecclesiastical source; where no religious body seeks to impose its will directly or indirectly upon the general populace or the public acts of its officials; and where religious liberty is so indivisible that an act against one church is treated as an act against all.

For while this year it may be a Catholic against whom the finger of suspicion is pointed, in other years it has been, and may someday be again, a Jew— or a Quaker or a Unitarian or a Baptist. It was Virginia’s harassment of Baptist preachers, for example, that helped lead to Jefferson’s statute of religious freedom. Today I may be the victim, but tomorrow it may be you — until the whole fabric of our harmonious society is ripped at a time of great national peril.

Finally, I believe in an America where religious intolerance will someday end; where all men and all churches are treated as equal; where every man has the same right to attend or not attend the church of his choice; where there is no Catholic vote, no anti-Catholic vote, no bloc voting of any kind; and where Catholics, Protestants and Jews, at both the lay and pastoral level, will refrain from those attitudes of disdain and division which have so often marred their works in the past, and promote instead the American ideal of brotherhood.

That is the kind of America in which I believe. And it represents the kind of presidency in which I believe — a great office that must neither be humbled by making it the instrument of any one religious group, nor tarnished by arbitrarily withholding its occupancy from the members of any one religious group. I believe in a president whose religious views are his own private affair, neither imposed by him upon the nation, or imposed by the nation upon him as a condition to holding that office.

I would not look with favor upon a president working to subvert the First Amendment’s guarantees of religious liberty. Nor would our system of checks and balances permit him to do so. And neither do I look with favor upon those who would work to subvert Article VI of the Constitution by requiring a religious test — even by indirection — for it. If they disagree with that safeguard, they should be out openly working to repeal it.

I want a chief executive whose public acts are responsible to all groups and obligated to none; who can attend any ceremony, service or dinner his office may appropriately require of him; and whose fulfillment of his presidential oath is not limited or conditioned by any religious oath, ritual or obligation.

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But let me stress again that these are my views. For contrary to common newspaper usage, I am not the Catholic candidate for president. I am the Democratic Party’s candidate for president, who happens also to be a Catholic. I do not speak for my church on public matters, and the church does not speak for me.

Whatever issue may come before me as president — on birth control, divorce, censorship, gambling or any other subject — I will make my decision in accordance with these views, in accordance with what my conscience tells me to be the national interest, and without regard to outside religious pressures or dictates. And no power or threat of punishment could cause me to decide otherwise.

But if the time should ever come — and I do not concede any conflict to be even remotely possible — when my office would require me to either violate my conscience or violate the national interest, then I would resign the office; and I hope any conscientious public servant would do the same.

But I do not intend to apologize for these views to my critics of either Catholic or Protestant faith, nor do I intend to disavow either my views or my church in order to win this election.

Christians also need to understand that America is not a Muslim country where freedom of speech is limited, nor do we have religious blasphemy laws as do some European countries. Americans have the right to hold beliefs that others might find silly, stupid, ignorant, profane, or hateful. Some Americans believe that the Moon landing was a hoax, the earth is flat, and the sun revolves around the earth. Other Americans believe that aliens have visited earth, global climate change is a myth, and Caucasians are a superior race.  And still others believe the earth is 6,021 years old, the earth was destroyed by a flood 4,000 years ago, and giant angel-human beings once roamed the earth. Throw in Christian beliefs about the virgin birth of Jesus, his miracles and resurrection from the dead  –  why, if some were so inclined, they could spend their waking hours doing nothing but mocking fantastical, ignorant beliefs.

As long as the U.S. Constitution stands, non-Christians have the freedom to mock, ridicule, and disparage Christian beliefs. They also have the freedom to attack, critique, and discredit such beliefs. While most non-Christians would never violate Christian homes or places of worship (unlike Evangelicals who invade homes to proselytize non-believers), once followers of Jesus engage in public speech (and crèches are public speech) then they should expect their utterances to be challenged. If Christians don’t like people saying things about their beliefs, then they should keep their religion to themselves. As long as Christians continue to demand preferential treatment and attempt to bulldoze the wall of separation of church and state, they should expect pushback from secularists, skeptics, atheists, humanists and those who value freedom of religion and speech.

Christians Say the Darnedest Things: Satanic Atheism is Taking Over the World

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The End Time of the last days is where we believe our present history finds us. The Bible prophetically characterizes this time as a global delusion sent by God whereby He gives the world over to the culminating powers of satanic deception, yet for a season. In the light of the intensifying depravity of mankind, such a season will give witness to the lowest ebb of human history, resulting from the long and persistent investment of Satan’s ploys in his quest to control mankind. The End Time is the prelude to Satan’s greatest and most mature hour. It will mark his collaboration with the leadership of humanity to bring about what he believes to be the overthrow of God on the planet Earth. It will culminate with his ultimate covenant with the Man of Sin, the Antichrist.

In this prelude season, what are the present powers that rest upon contemporary humanity? Two such powers for candid observation and consideration await us in this issue of Straightway. Although they may seem to be contradictory at a glance, from a closer vantage point they are working together toward the same goal. These two powers or forces are New Atheism and Postmodernism. In this article we will examine New Atheism.
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From one perspective, in this tabernacle of humanity’s present dwelling is the obsessive belief of secularism which at its core is the denial of God. Its present appearance in history is the mutation of a mighty force that has steadily risen in the earth, especially in the past 275 years; it is dedicated to the powers of man’s intellect, his “reasoning.” Emerging from the Enlightenment period in European history was its prodigy child Immanuel Kant. Kant stated in the latter part of the 1700s that man had now come “to age.” This acknowledgment by Kant was the belief that man no longer needed religion and the concept of God in order to exist. Man had come to that fourfold power of (1) the inward enabling, (2) the outward ability, (3) the power of authority, and (4) the living performance to do anything he wanted to do. Truly, he believed that man was the measure of all things and that his hour of boast and power had come to maturity.

The world today has accelerated on its information highway to such an overwhelming, staggering proportion that it is believed mankind must not simply be looking for a future, but he must literally create a “new humanity.” This new humanity will demand a new global social change for mankind.

In the sciences there has been an explosion of knowledge in the fields of nanotechnology, biotechnology, info-technology, cognitive technology, genetic technology, and robotic technology. A whole new world of unknown discoveries has now made its debut. With these sciences has been increased interest in the artificial interfacing of technology with humanity, such as finding ways to transfer human personality into an artificial carrier. This is now the aspiration, the hope, and the goal of those controlling governments, the global economy, and many world corporations.

World leadership collectively believes that the “old” mankind must be replaced with a totally new concept of humanity emerging out of the accelerating wonder of multi-technology. Those in power in the world believe that all of this exploding epistemology in technology and science will demand a new global philosophy, new ideology, new ethic, new culture, new psychology, and new concept of metaphysics. The old must go in order to make way for the new. These secularists are looking for a new man, a new birth of man, a new concept of man, and a new reality for this future man to exist. They have convinced mankind to believe that he needs to begin mapping out his own evolutionary path and direction of goals rather than the randomness and “chance” of man’s evolutionary past they once espoused. This new worldview believes it can stop the power of death upon humanity and then soar beyond the solar systems and stars to conquer the universe—mankind becoming God.
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With such hopes by mankind, a new breed of atheism has emerged from the philosophical think tanks of the world. This New Atheism movement swept through Europe and now has arisen here in the United States as both a social and political movement. This movement strongly promotes secularism and atheism through a selected band of atheist writers who believe that “Religion should not simply be tolerated but should be countered, criticized, and exposed by rational argument wherever its influence arises.”

The Christian is not against the term secular, for anything not sacred falls in this category. But secularism is a clear declaration of an intentional rejection of God in acknowledgment, even to the point of being anti-theistic in its identification.
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The New Atheism movement is dedicated to the promotion of the powers of reason found within man, believing that he is no longer to be held captive to the concept of God. This movement believes that science and technology will bring man to his own powers of creation to be his own God. Their hope of the 2045 Initiative is to “create” a “new man” with an enduring body and to place within this artificial “life” a transplanted human thought-life, including its personality and human senses. It is the belief that this artificial life will take the place of the present human body and that the ruling government of the world will be able to select what brains and personalities will be perpetuated in these artificial life forms. With such a “creation” of a new humanity, the population of the earth could drastically diminish. The created avatars would become the servants and workers for mankind. It will be a world of a “new man” without a soul, without accountability to an invisible Supreme Being, and living for “his master,” man himself.

But according to the rising powers of atheism, this will not come about without a “theothanatology,” a death of God in the thinking of man. Though Christianity is the most hated of all the religions by atheists, they are strong in the belief that all religions must be destroyed because all religions believe in some concept of “God.” This neo-humanity must be delivered completely from all concepts of morality, of right and wrong, of ethics, and of predetermined absolutes. Again, to them, only the death of religion can bring this about.
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It is evident that atheism is becoming more and more prominent in the world. It has taken over the governments, the public educational systems, the voice of science, the approach to medicine and suffering, and has caused the denial of definitive morality. America, a nation that was founded upon the belief of God and His Word, has now become the leading nation in attacking God and in following the destructive powers of sin in sodomy and in atheism. Oh, what America could have been today in providential blessings in many ways if we had continued to honor God! But God has given us over to a mood, a spirit, and a mindset that are swiftly creating the tabernacle of evil resting upon us. The very philosophical air we breathe is fathered by the “prince power of the air,” the Devil.

How will America finally fall? Will it be through Islam? An implosion of debauchery and lust? A civil war? An assimilation by other nations? No matter how and when it comes, God’s hand will be upon it, and we will deserve whatever His appointment of judgment will be.

— H.T. Spence, Straightway, May-June 2015, The Powers of an Age Resting Upon Contemporary Humanity: The New Atheism

Do We Need to Believe in the Christian God to Have a Meaningful Life?

jesus all about life

Do we need to believe in the Christian (Evangelical) God for our lives to have meaning? Larry Dixon, professor of theology at Columbia International University in Columbia, South Carolina thinks so. In a post titled Man’s Significance, Dixon stated:

Why does man consider himself such a “big screaming deal”? Is there no basis for our thinking we are unique in the universe, that there is something about man that shouts “You have value! You have worth!”

Evolutionary theory essentially argues that man makes up his own significance. The Bible teaches that we are made in the image and likeness of GOD — and we, therefore, have meaning.

How sad to miss that fundamental truth of our creation, and to simply sit back in despair and entertain ourselves to death with our machines!

Listen carefully to what Dixon is saying: Those who deny that meaning is derived from belief in God, live lives of despair, spending their brief sojourn on this earth entertaining themselves. Dixon, an Evangelical, shows that he is clueless about how secularists, atheists, agnostics, humanists, and other non-Christians find meaning and purpose. One can reject a created by God anthropocentric view of life and still find great satisfaction in living life to its fullest. In fact, it is unbelievers who often value and cherish life the most because they only get one opportunity to walk the path of life. If you have taken the time to read my ABOUT page, you likely read my answer to the question If you had one piece of advice to give me, what would it be?  Here is what I said:

You have one life. There is no heaven or hell. There is no afterlife. You have one life, it’s yours, and what you do with it is what matters most. Love and forgive those who matter to you and ignore those who add nothing to your life. Life is too short to spend time trying to make nice with those who will never make nice with you. Determine who are the people in your life that matter and give your time and devotion to them. Live each and every day to its fullest. You never know when death might come calling. Don’t waste time trying to be a jack of all trades, master of none. Find one or two things you like to do and do them well. Too many people spend way too much time doing things they will never be good at.

Here’s the conclusion of the matter. It’s your life and you best get to living it. Some day, sooner than you think, it will be over. Don’t let your dying days be ones of regret over what might have been.

Another explanation of how non-believers view life can be found in the Humanist Manifesto:

Humanism is a progressive philosophy of life that, without supernaturalism, affirms our ability and responsibility to lead ethical lives of personal fulfillment that aspire to the greater good of humanity.

The lifestance of Humanism—guided by reason, inspired by compassion, and informed by experience—encourages us to live life well and fully. It evolved through the ages and continues to develop through the efforts of thoughtful people who recognize that values and ideals, however carefully wrought, are subject to change as our knowledge and understandings advance.

This document is part of an ongoing effort to manifest in clear and positive terms the conceptual boundaries of Humanism, not what we must believe but a consensus of what we do believe. It is in this sense that we affirm the following:

Knowledge of the world is derived by observation, experimentation, and rational analysis. Humanists find that science is the best method for determining this knowledge as well as for solving problems and developing beneficial technologies. We also recognize the value of new departures in thought, the arts, and inner experience—each subject to analysis by critical intelligence.

Humans are an integral part of nature, the result of unguided evolutionary change. Humanists recognize nature as self-existing. We accept our life as all and enough, distinguishing things as they are from things as we might wish or imagine them to be. We welcome the challenges of the future, and are drawn to and undaunted by the yet to be known.

Ethical values are derived from human need and interest as tested by experience. Humanists ground values in human welfare shaped by human circumstances, interests, and concerns and extended to the global ecosystem and beyond. We are committed to treating each person as having inherent worth and dignity, and to making informed choices in a context of freedom consonant with responsibility.

Life’s fulfillment emerges from individual participation in the service of humane ideals. We aim for our fullest possible development and animate our lives with a deep sense of purpose, finding wonder and awe in the joys and beauties of human existence, its challenges and tragedies, and even in the inevitability and finality of death. Humanists rely on the rich heritage of human culture and the lifestance of Humanism to provide comfort in times of want and encouragement in times of plenty.

Humans are social by nature and find meaning in relationships. Humanists long for and strive toward a world of mutual care and concern, free of cruelty and its consequences, where differences are resolved cooperatively without resorting to violence. The joining of individuality with interdependence enriches our lives, encourages us to enrich the lives of others, and inspires hope of attaining peace, justice, and opportunity for all.

Working to benefit society maximizes individual happiness. Progressive cultures have worked to free humanity from the brutalities of mere survival and to reduce suffering, improve society, and develop global community. We seek to minimize the inequities of circumstance and ability, and we support a just distribution of nature’s resources and the fruits of human effort so that as many as possible can enjoy a good life.

Humanists are concerned for the well being of all, are committed to diversity, and respect those of differing yet humane views. We work to uphold the equal enjoyment of human rights and civil liberties in an open, secular society and maintain it is a civic duty to participate in the democratic process and a planetary duty to protect nature’s integrity, diversity, and beauty in a secure, sustainable manner.

Thus engaged in the flow of life, we aspire to this vision with the informed conviction that humanity has the ability to progress toward its highest ideals. The responsibility for our lives and the kind of world in which we live is ours and ours alone.

That Evangelicals can’t wrap their minds around this fact is their problem, not ours. Perhaps Evangelicals are unable to comprehend a meaningful, purposeful life without God is because life before death is viewed — in theory — as little more than:

I say in theory because — as observers of Evangelicalism know — God’s chosen ones love THIS life as much as atheists do. Christians profess to be ready to go home (Heaven), but few of them are lining up to board the next bus to the pearly gates. Blissful, pain-free eternal life might await Christians once they cross to the other side, but they don’t seem to be in a hurry to experience the pleasures of Club Heaven®.  Simply put, Evangelicals say one thing and do another.

life all about jesusBelievers and unbelievers should alike admit that this life matters, and how each of us finds meaning and purpose is no one’s business but ours. My wife’s parents are 80 years old. Their world revolves around Jesus, the Bible, and their church — the Newark Baptist Temple. Nine months ago, Polly’s father had his hip replaced. The surgery proved to be a disaster and he is now in a nursing home. My in-laws were forced to sell their home — a place they have lived for 38 years. Knowing that they had to move, Polly suggested to her Mom that they move near our home so we could take care of them (We live 3 hours Northwest of their home in Newark, Ohio). Polly’s Mom replied, I can’t. My church is here. I have known Polly Shope Gerencser for 40 years and I have NEVER seen her so devastated as she was by her Mom’s words.

Polly’s sister was tragically killed in a motorcycle accident in 2005. (Please see If One Soul Gets Saved It is Worth it All)  Polly is her parents’ only living child. Both Polly and I thought that they would not only want to be closer to their daughter (we see them 5-6 times a year), but also near our children, daughters-in-law, and grandchildren. When Polly’s Mom said I can’t. My Church is here, Polly heard, My Church is more important than you! My “real” family is my church.

And Polly’s parents have the right to choose what matters most to them. When Polly and I returned to rural NW Ohio, we did so because we made a conscious choice to be near our children and grandchildren — all of whom live less than 20 minutes from our home. Family matters to us. For me personally, I know that chronic illness and pain have likely shortened my life expectancy. Knowing this, I want to spend as much time as I can going to races with my sons, watching my grandchildren’s school and sporting events, and doing all I can to leave those I love with a lasting memory of a husband, father, and grandfather who lived life to its fullest. Some days, all I can do is sit quietly by and watch my grandchildren play. Other days, infused with a false sense of energy and vitality, I play hard, laugh, argue and debate, and remind my children that I am still the intellectual king of the hill (I can hear them snickering). Regardless of how I feel, it is my family that gives my life meaning and purpose. It saddens me that my in-laws have chosen a contrived family — one that will dump them if they ever fail to bow in obeisance to Jesus — over a flesh-and-blood family that loves them. It is, however, their choice, so I must live with it. Their decision is yet another reminder of the fact that Christians often forsake the earthly for what they think will improve their room size in God’s mansion in the sky.

Now, let me get back to aimlessly living a life of despair.