Tag Archive: Youth for Christ

Do School Shootings Happen Because the Evangelical God is Banned From Public Schools?

god banned atheist pigEvangelicals often claim that the reason for school shootings is that the Christian God has been banned from public schools. According to Evangelicals, all sorts of maladies afflict our society due to the fact that prayer, Bible reading, and the Ten Commandments have been litigated out of public schools. If only people would see the importance of the Christian God (and only the Christian God) in educating children and return him to his rightful place, why all sorts of societal ills would disappear overnight. The same argument is made for banning abortion, homosexuality, same-sex marriage and any of the other hot-button issues Evangelicals deem a threat to their God and way of life.

This argument, of course, is patently false. God isn’t banned from public schools. I attend several local high school girls’ basketball games each week in the winter month. Many of these games have prayer times by led by players before and after the games. Such student-led prayers are legal. I don’t care for the prayers, and I refuse to stand silently in the stands until the prayers are done. Not my God, so I am not going to give my approval to such bawdy displays of religiosity. That said, students are free to pray, read the Bible, and have a Ten Commandments book cover. Teachers are free to do the same during their breaks or other times when they are not teaching their students. What schools and teachers are not permitted to do is advance or evangelize for sectarian religious beliefs.

Most local schools have Christian student groups, including groups associated with the Fellowship of Christian Athletes (an Evangelical ministry whose goal is to “present to coaches and athletes, and all whom they influence, the challenge and adventure of receiving Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord, serving Him in their relationships and in the fellowship of the church”). Youth for Christ has an active presence in many schools. Local churches are free to rent/use school facilities. Over the years, new church plants have used local school buildings as their meeting places. Local school boards are dominated by Christians, and I suspect most teachers profess some form of Christian faith. It seems, then, that the Christian God is alive and well in public schools.

What upsets Evangelicals is that they can no longer demand preferential treatment for their religious cult. If Satanist, atheist, or secular students want to start student-led clubs, they are free to go so. If Satanists on school sports teams want to offer a prayer up to Beelzebub before the start of the game, they are free to do so. Evangelicals want exclusivity and it irritates the heaven out of them that other sects and groups are given equal status.

What kind of God allows children to be murdered, all because his adult followers aren’t allowed to proselytize public school students? What a vindictive, petty God this is, akin to a man who burns down a house with his ex-wife and children in it, all because his ex wouldn’t let him in the door. Such a God is not worthy of worship. Worse yet, are Evangelicals of a Calvinistic bent who believe school shootings are all part of some sort of perverse cosmic plan. According to Calvinists, these children were murdered because God willed it to be done. It is God who ultimately fires the bullet that kills us all.

Such a God is an abomination, one unworthy of worship, love, and devotion. This is one of the things that makes it clear such a God does not exist. A moral, loving God would neither be an instrument of murder, nor would it stand by while children (and teachers) are killed by deranged gunmen. What the school shootings tell us is that the Christian God is either a work of fiction or he is too busy to be bothered with the pain and suffering of his creation. If God has the powers Evangelicals say he does, he could have stopped Nikolas Cruz from killing seventeen and wounding four of his fellow students (including several school staff members). That God did nothing is a sure sign that he doesn’t exist. Evangelicals love to tell us mere humans that we are sinners deserving judgment from their God and eternal punishment in the Lake of Fire. Yet, I suspect many of us sinners, if given the opportunity, would have done all we could to protect children from murder. Unlike God, we value life, especially that of those who are in the early years of this wonderful experience we call life. That it was humans, not God, who tried to protect children from slaughter is yet another reminder of the fact that God is, at best, an absentee father who has no interest in his children.

If the root cause of mass shootings is the Evangelical God being kicked out of our culture and schools, how then do Evangelicals explain the shooting at an Evangelical Baptist Church that claimed the lives of twenty-six God-fearing souls? How then do Evangelicals explain Dylan Roof’s murder of nine Christians while they were praying at church? Surely, the people killed in these shootings were devoted followers of Jesus, yet God, as he does in EVERY case, stood by and did nothing. In fact, based on demographics, it is likely that many of the students murdered in the school shootings over the past three decades were believers in the Christian God. What possible reason could be given for the Christian God — he who holds the keys of life and death — wiping these people off the face of the earth?

Well, you know Bruce, God’s ways are not our way.

No shit, Sherlock. And you wonder why atheism is growing?

God is not going to fix the school shooting problem. It’s up to us, just as is everything else in life. Waiting for God to act is a fool’s errand, one that leads to countless heartaches. We are the Gods in this morality play, and it is time we exercise our divine powers and put an end to gun violence. It’s time to run the NRA and their Republican lackeys out of town. It’s time we recognize that guns are instruments of death, and a country without 300 million of them would be a better place to live. While a total gun ban will never be implemented in the United States, we can ban weapons capable of causing horrific bloodshed in short amounts of time.

Or we can put prayer and Bible reading back in the public schools….

Local Fundamentalist Jack Fetter Objects to My Characterization of the Ark Encounter

ark encounter

The July 31, 2016 edition of the Defiance Crescent-News featured a Letter to the Editor by local Fundamentalist Jack Fetter objecting to my recent letter about Ken Ham’s Ark Encounter. You can read my letter here. Several weeks prior to his Letter to the Editor, Fetter was featured in a puff piece extolling the wonders of Ham’s latest monument to human ignorance — the Ark Encounter. Fetter is quoted as saying (article behind Crescent-News paywall):

They (Answers in Genesis) want people to experience the most authentic reconstruction of Noah’s Ark, with ‘authentic’ being the key word. They really want people to see what life was like in Noah’s day, to get answers about the great flood and to learn that the one door on the ark represents the one and only way to God is through His Son, Jesus Christ. God hates sin, and it was at this point in history that mankind had become so rebellious, that God needed to start over again.

God is a forgiving God, but at the end, there will be judgment. We’re all going to face the Lord one day, and this project is a great reminder of what God did by sending His Son, Jesus, to earth to die for the sins of mankind. They pray this will be a life-changing experience where many will desire to have a personal relationship with Christ and serve Him.

Crescent-News religion writer, Tim McDonough, made no attempt to ask Fetter — a man who spent 42 years working for Youth for Christ — hard questions about his assertions or worldview. You know, questions about the absurdity of building a monument to events that never took place or questions about how geology, archeology, cosmology, and biology thoroughly discredit claims of a universal flood 4,000 or so years ago. Ham’s and Fetter’s irrational Fundamentalist interpretations of Genesis are littered with absurdities, yet the Crescent-News writer allowed their claims to go unchallenged. At the very least, McDonough should have interviewed any of a number local mainline pastors/priests, academics, or scientists who would have presented opposition to Fetter’s literalism. I realize that McDonough’s article was on the Friday religion page, but, my God, sir, think of the children! Surely, poking the Fundamentalist bear a bit won’t cause people to cancel their newspaper subscriptions. But then, maybe it would. Having spent the past eight years drawing the ire and hatred of local Bible-thumpers, I suspect a religious news article challenging the veracity of the flood myth would result in numerous locals throwing conniption fits.

Sunday’s paper — letters to the editor are published on Wednesdays and Sundays — featured the following from Fetter (behind Crescent-News paywall):

A recent letter to the editor on July 20 entitled, “Creation museum draws questions” had an absolute opposite effect on my life. The museum is an awesome experience that answers and defends the Word of God.

In this life when we make decisions there are ultimately two starting points on what we believe. Either we start with God’s Word or you start with man’s word and human reasoning. On the basis of these two starting points we build either a biblical worldview or man’s worldview belief.

Bruce Gerencser, the gentleman from Ney, was critical of both the Creation Museum and the Ark Encounter located in northern Kentucky. As stated by him, the Bible is full of myths. Creationism is a lie and both the Creation Museum and Ark are monuments to ignorance. This is a perfect example of man’s word/human reasoning worldview vs. the biblical worldview.

Another comment was that evangelicals bore easily and few return once they tour the Creation Museum and Ark.

First of all, all Christian growth is not boring. The most purposeful life both here and in eternity is to love and serve Jesus Christ. I have visited the Creation Museum over 30 times and have found the museum to be a treasure chest of biblical truths that will help me deepen and defend my faith. Besides the museum my biggest resource is the huge amount of creation material that can be taken home to study.

People return because even with a two-day pass it can’t be covered, especially if you do the shows, workshops,, planetarium, petting zoo, etc. There’s so much to do that I don’t have the space to share. Most repeaters bring guests and then the guests bring new people to experience the museum. This is the reason revenues have finished in the black every year at the Creation Museum.

It was indicated the Ark was built on speculation. Genesis 6:15 states the exact dimensions of the Ark and that is exactly the measurements of the Ark Encounter. It was also mentioned that it would be doubtful if the Ark would safely float. That is a non-issue because God promised there would never be another judgment by a flood. The rainbow is that reminder. However, there will be another judgment from God in the form of fire.

Jack Fetter

rural Grover Hill

Fetter’s letter is typical of those written in response to my attacks on Evangelical Christianity, Bible literalism, and scientific ignorance. You can read all of them here.  Fetter, now in his seventies, will likely die believing that the words of the Christian Bible are literally the words of God. Having invested his life in promoting Biblical literalism and scientific ignorance, Fetter has traveled too far to turn back now. Convinced that Ken Ham’s wood boat (along with the Creation Museum) will be used by God to save the lost and rebuke the wicked, Fetter has traveled over thirty times to Kentucky to view the “wonders” found within Ark Encounter and the Creation Museum. While Fetter is free to spend his remaining years of life amongst the wonders of bronze age sheepherders, I plan to spend my time making sure that another generation of American children and young adults are not intellectually crippled by Bible nonsense.

Fetter is right about one thing: the difference between him and me is one of clashing worldviews. While I would, if given the opportunity, challenge the idea that Christianity and the Bible are something other than human words and beliefs, I readily admit that the worldviews of Jack Fetter and Bruce Gerencser are poles apart. Fetter begins with faith, believing with great certainty that the Bible is a supernatural book, with a supernatural message, written by a supernatural God. Its words are inerrant, infallible, and true. I, on the other hand, begin with skepticism and reason, both of which insurmountably challenge Fetter’s system of belief. While I am certain Fetter is a decent human being, I certainly don’t want to see local school children exposed to creationism or its gussied-up sister, intelligent design. Both are theological presuppositionalist dogma masquerading as evidence-based science. If Fundamentalists such as Fetter want public school children taught creationist myths, they should be covered in comparative or world religion classes. Doing so would show students that Fetter’s flood/ark myth is just one of many that can be found among earth’s religions. Of course, Fetter and Ham want nothing of the kind. They know that exposing students to a broad spectrum of mythical religious beliefs will destroy Evangelical Christianity and its false, one-true-religion narrative. Study one religion, and you’ll be hooked for life. Study two religions, and you’re done in an hour, atheists, agnostics, and skeptics say. Rational inquiry and intellectual freedom have always been the enemy of faith.

Fetter and I are on opposing fields of battle. Fetter believes that faith in God and the teachings of the Bible will win the day, whereas I believe that skepticism and reason will one day conquer religious ignorance. Our battle is far from over, but, in time intellectual inquiry and freedom will defeat religious certainty and ignorance. I am hopeful that one day history will record that Ark Encounter and whatever other Biblical monuments Ham might erect are considered relics from a day when people naïvely believed the Christian God ruled the universe. The way forward is paved by reason, rationality, skepticism, and scientific inquiry. To reach such a place, those of us who value these things must be willing to wage war against the Jack Fetters and Ken Hams of the world. The future of the human race hangs in the balance (most anti-climate change, anti-global warming thinking is driven by religious belief). We must never waver in our defense of open, rational inquiry. Our enemy is tiring. In another generation/century or two the answer to the question, Is God Dead? will be met with a resounding reply of Yes! Until that day, we must continue to push back every attempt by Fundamentalists to bow the peoples of earth to their worldview.