God is Not Dead and This is Not What Anti-Christian Animosity Looks Like

It is quite dangerous to talk about a movie one has not yet seen. Indeed I want to make very clear that this is not a movie review. I have not seen God is not Dead and I cannot comment on the acting, directing, camera work etc. If anyone wants to say Kevin Sorbo deserves an Oscar for his performance, I have no basis to argue with him/her. The only thing I want to evaluate is the main premise of the movie which has been widely discussed in Christian circles. That premise is in an area of my expertise; thus, I feel comfortable commenting on it.

As you may have heard, the main premise of the movie is that a student is asked by his philosophy professor to write “God is Dead” on a sheet of paper. He refuses. This angers the professor who tells him that if he cannot convince his classmates that God exists then he will fail the course. In the fashion of Hollywood the student triumphs in the end. I am not going to deal with the ending, which is a problem in itself since professors have so much control in their classrooms that a student will not triumph if the professor does not want him to, but I will merely deal with the premise that this Christian kid would put his grade at risk by refusing to deny the existence of God.

The problem with that premise is that it is unrealistic. I am not opposed to suspending reality when watching movies. I saw a couple of days ago the trailer to the upcoming X-Men movie Days of Future Past. I am salivating like Pavlov’s dog waiting for that movie to come out. Yet I know that mutations cannot give us such tremendous superhuman abilities. It is fairly clear to most of us that what happens in X-Men, or just about any other superhero, movie is not possible. I highly doubt anyone leaves the theater of the X-Men movie worrying about Magneto taking over the world. Suspending reality is part of what allows us to be entertained. The problem develops when the movie intends to tell us a story portrayed as realistic when in fact it is not realistic. The way some talk about God is Not Dead is problematic because they talk about it as if the premise really can occur in our contemporary society when I know this is not the case.

Why am I so sure that a professor would not threaten to fail a student who did not affirm atheism? Well, the first reason I am confident this would not happen is because the student would sue the teacher and university. Furthermore, I am pretty certain the student would, and should, win. Cultural progressives have been criticized about caring about freedom of worship and not truly caring about freedom of religion. But even if this criticism is accurate such progressives would defend the right of a student to believe any religion he or she chooses. What good is freedom of worship if a person is not even allowed to accept whatever religious belief he or she wants? So even if a professor wanted to force atheism on students, the legal system would not allow that professor to get away with it.

But there is even a more basic reason why the premise in the movie is not realistic. This premise misunderstands how individuals with anti-Christian hatred tend to think. Such individuals do not engage in overt expressions of religious bigotry. Such expressions would violate their stated values of religious neutrality. Part of their argument against Christians is that Christians are attempting to force others to adopt their religion. An overt attempt to punish those who do not accept atheism would be such a clear case of hypocrisy that they would not be able to maintain claims of religious neutrality. So even if the professor did not fear a legal lawsuit, it would be highly unlikely that the professor would directly tie a student’s grade to religious beliefs. This would rob the professor of a great deal of legitimacy he has for hating Christians and Christianity.

This is not to say that people who dislike Christians are unable to punish Christians. I do not argue that anti-Christian hatred or bigotry is merely the imagination of Christians. I have done the research documenting the reality and nature of this type of religious intolerance (some of which will come out in a book I currently have under contract). The way those with anti-Christian hatred attempt to punish Christians is more indirect than failing those who do not give up their faith. I liken it to a concept in race/ethnic literature known as symbolic racism. This occurs when whites who do not like people of color use an issue with symbolic meaning to punish those people of color as long as the issue contains non-racial justifications. For example, there are non-racial reasons for wanting tough immigration laws. However, those who do not like Hispanics can also desire tough immigration laws simply because of an antipathy towards Hispanics. The nonracial justifications tied to tough immigration laws allow them to support those laws without fears of being labeled a racist. Likewise, antipathy towards Christians can lead to support of legal and public policies with a disparate impact on Christians as long as a non-bigoted reason can be tied to those policies. Support of such policies and engaging in indirect religious discrimination is much more likely from those with anti-Christian disaffection than overt religious discrimination.

I point this out because it is important for Christians to recognize how those who hate them think. I fear that movies like God is Not Dead paint a picture of secular humanists willing to engage in activities such as putting people in jail for their beliefs or closing down churches. That may have happened in certain totalitarian societies but it is not happening here, nor do I see it happening for at least the foreseeable future. Constructing unrealistic boogey men about those with anti-Christian animosity inhibits the ability of Christians to have productive conversations with such individuals and work out solutions that respect the rights of both Christians and non-Christians. These stereotypes also create unnecessary fears about actions unlikely to occur, leading to unfounded claims of persecution, when instead conservative Christians would be better off dealing with realistic problems that anti-Christian antipathy does create.

I suspect that some Christians are pushing this movie because they are tired of being portrayed badly in Hollywood movies. I sympathize with such individuals as I do think there is a fair argument to be made about anti-Christian stereotyping in the media. Having a movie where the Christian is the hero with positive personal characteristics is likely a sight for sore eyes to such Christians. As long as they suspend reality as they watch the film there is nothing any more wrong with Christians cheering on a Christian character in a movie than a black cheering on a black character or a Jew cheering on a Jewish character. Others may argue that Christians should attend this movie because there are so few movies out there that buttress the values of Christians. If Christians do not support movies with a positive Christian theme then we can expect even fewer of these movies in the future. That is a fair enough argument and I would not mind seeing more positive Christian movies. But I fear that such Christians will not see this movie in the way I will watch that X-men movie and will be duped into believing that Christians face as much persecution in society today as they did in biblical times. Atheist professors are not going around intentionally flunking Christian students for their beliefs. I have previously written on the misuse of the concept of persecution by Christians and will not rehash those arguments here. However, it is clear that we do not need more efforts to misled Christians into accepting a persecution belief.

Some Christians have argued that this is a great movie since it will help other Christians to become more involved in apologetics. Seeing a student argue with a professor, and win that argument, may help Christians to more seriously consider the sources of their faith. I would welcome such changes as I believe that Christians, and other individuals, should engage in the cognitive activities necessary to investigate the underpinnings of their epistemological beliefs. Although I have chosen to not engage in theological and apologetic arguments with my blog writings, I am quite intellectually comfortable with my Christian faith and do not fear an honest interrogation of it. That lack of fear comes from truthfully engaging in the presuppositions buttressing that faith. I welcome the message that Christians should engage in a serious, open-minded investigation of their beliefs and if this movie happens to encourage that investigation then it is a message I heartily support.

Right now I am not planning on actually watching this movie in the near future. There are too many other movies (i.e. Days of Future Past) out there or coming out there I want to see. I will probably wait to see the movie when it comes on television or at best when it is at the dollar theater. So there are no plans for me to do a longer movie review that not only looks at the theme discussed in this blog but also evaluates the quality of the movie. There will be plenty of other individuals eager to provide that review. I want my Christian brothers and sisters to enjoy the movie if they so desire. All I ask is that we leave the characterizations of the professor’s actions in the theater and not believe that these actions are likely to happen in real life. Maintaining such a healthy attitude will help them to be prepared to deal with anti-Christian animosity in the real ways it manifests itself in our society.

  • benjdm

    What is animoisty?

    • georgeyancey

      Opps. That is what happens when I throw the title together at the last minute. Correction has been made.

  • DKeane123

    Someone using the legitimacy or power of their position to push either atheism or religion should not be tolerated. Down with special privilege.

    Of course I think we would likely disagree on what constitutes special privilege.

  • Larry Smith

    The Problem, Mr. Author is that you DO have violent professors out there who DO stupid stuff like in this movie. This movie has taken several of these stories and turned it into a single plotline. Example: the Feminist Movement Professor a few months back who attacked a 16 year old girl because she was an abortion protestor. The Professor is currently facing charges of assault. From a personal perspective I intentionally made my English 103 professor madder than hell when I did what was called a “Vertical Challenge”- that is, if I passed 103 she had to give me credit for 101 and 102. I made her life miserable on purpose- she threatened to fail me. “Do you want 6 more months of being ragged on? I suggest you give me a B- and I’ll be out of your hair for the rest of your life” SUPRISE! B- for an average of 3.37 GPA.

    • Sven2547

      Example: the Feminist Movement Professor a few months back who attacked a 16 year old girl because she was an abortion protestor. The Professor is currently facing charges of assault.

      Bolded for emphasis. Yes, Captain Obvious, this person has rightly been charged with assault. I will also add that nobody, anywhere, is defending this person’s attack. This person isn’t some progressive hero or crusader, it’s just some hothead who couldn’t handle what she heard. As much as you would like to project the whole of progressive thought upon this jerk, your example is hollow.

      From a personal perspective I intentionally made my English 103 professor madder than hell when I did what was called a “Vertical Challenge”…I made her life miserable on purpose- she threatened to fail me.

      Every college grad has had bad experiences with professors at some point or another. Mr. Yancey’s column doesn’t claim that petty jerks do not exist, he’s saying the scenario outlined in the movie is an unrealistic straw-man of secular thought.

    • georgeyancey

      May challenge to you is to find a professor who is punishing someone specifically because that person is a Christian. I do not deny that prejudice takes place and lousy professors who are unfair. What I would say is that their reasons are not going to be overt religious bigotry as portrayed in the movie. Are they perhaps covering that bigotry with some other excuse? That is very possible. So a more nuanced movie would have made more sense to me. But not the theme the way plays out in this movie.

      • http://outsidetheautisticasylum.blogspot.com/ Theodore Seeber

        Have you read Professor Richard Dawkins *at all*?

        • georgeyancey

          Yes. He is an idiot in many ways. But I know of no story where he threaten to fail a student because he is a Christian.

          • http://Www.theirishatheist.wordpress.com/ The Irish Atheist

            I disagree with Dawkins in quite a few areas, but the man isn’t an idiot. He is an exceptionally intelligent man.

            It’s interesting that you write about all the subtle ways the non-religious disparage Christians and but have no issue with asserting that people who adamantly disagree with you are idiots.

          • georgeyancey

            Dawkins argues that science can determine all knowledge even whether there is a God. He says that Stalin’s atheism has no impact on his atrocities such as oppressing people of faith. He states that to raise a child in religion is akin to child abuse. He may be a great biologist. I do not have the qualifications to evaluate his biology. He is a capable writer but no great shakes. But he is a lousy as a social thinker.
            My lack of respect of Dawkins thinking is not an attempt to dehumanize him. I do not joke about throwing him to lions nor would I try to silence him. So I am not treating him in ways that I am documenting those with anti-Christian bias will treat Christians. But I reserve the right to point out the stupidity of some of his arguments.

          • http://Www.theirishatheist.wordpress.com/ The Irish Atheist

            You list all these arguments of Dawkins like you expect me to nod my head and agree ‘yes, they’re stupid.’ And yet I agree with two out of three of them. Apparently I’m an idiot as well. You are calling them stupid because you don’t like them.

            And I’m calling you out on your attempts to attack the intelligence of people whose opinions you find detestable instead of engaging them.

            It’s much more a mark on your intellectual capabilities than Dawkins’.

          • Sven2547

            Suggesting Christian opinions are stupid: “anti-Christian animosity” and “bigotry”.

            Suggesting atheist opinions are stupid: totally cool.

          • georgeyancey

            I never defined anti-Christian bigotry as thinking that Christian opinions are stupid. I define it when people stereotype or demean Christians. I do not expect people to agree with me. I am okay living in a world where most people do not agree with me. In fact no one agrees with me on everything. But that does not mean that it is okay to dehumanize and stereotype people because of their religious beliefs.

          • Sven2547

            I define it when people stereotype or demean Christians.

            And how are your comments about Dawkins not demeaning to him? To demean someone is to cause (or try to cause) a great loss of respect for them. That is quite precisely what your paragraph on Dawkins does.

          • http://outsidetheautisticasylum.blogspot.com/ Theodore Seeber

            Dawkins deserves no respect as either a thinker or a philosopher. It’s hard to do worse than The God Delusion at demeaning its author.

          • georgeyancey

            I disagree with many of Dawkins statements. You disagree with many of my statements. That is disagreement and not dehumanizing. However in all honestly I will take one thing back. I said he was an idiot. I should have said he has idiotic ideas. Otherwise nothing I have said is demeaning to him as a person.

          • Sven2547

            I disagree with many of Dawkins statements. You disagree with many of my statements. That is disagreement and not dehumanizing.

            We are in agreement on this point.

            However in all honestly I will take one thing back. I said he was an idiot. I should have said he has idiotic ideas.

            That’s a start, but this is still an attempt to demean, if you ask me. If a professor called the idea of virgin birth “idiotic”, would that not fall under the kind of “bigotry” you are decrying? If someone actually did that, the outrage would be loud and long, I promise.

          • georgeyancey

            Not really. I can understand why people think that a virgin birth is idiotic. If fact if I was not a Christian and had not done some study myself I would think the same way. So I respectfully agree with someone who thinks that way as long as they do not extend that thought to mistreat me.
            Hey I gotta go take the wife to a movie so I will not be able to immediately respond to your next comment. But I will get to it when I get the chance. Have a great Saturday.

          • Asemodeus

            “I can understand why people think that a virgin birth is idiotic.”

            The ironic thing about this is that virgin births can happen quite easily. You don’t need to penetrate a woman in order to impregnate her, you just need to get the semen around the general area.

            A hymen isn’t a barrier to reproduction.

          • Sven2547

            You too

          • georgeyancey

            I stated that the arguments are stupid, not that Dawkins is stupid. Big difference. Since you are an atheist you may think that Christian belief is stupid. I know a lot of atheists think this way. Fair enough. I am a Christian. But I do not assume that you think me to be stupid. I really do not see why it is hard to understand that distinction.

          • Asemodeus

            It isn’t that Christians believes are stupid as much as they are just lazy. There is actual real world wonder in the universe that you can get all the spirituality you want, without having to lie to yourself and take the culturally lazy path of being a christian.

          • georgeyancey

            You see I am not even doing what you are doing. I believe that your arguments are wrong. I make no personal judgment about you as a person. You not only think I am wrong but that I am lazy without even knowing me. You do not know what I have done to look at multiple sides of an issue and yet you stereotype me as lazy.

          • Asemodeus

            ” I believe that your arguments are wrong.”

            What you believe is irrelevant, it is what you can prove is what matters. And what I can prove is that the culturally lazy position in america is to be a christian.

            “You not only think I am wrong but that I am lazy without even knowing me.”

            Which is another categorical error on your part. I said christians as a group are lazy, not you specially. I know you christians love your persecution complexes, but you could stand to clam down a little.

          • http://Www.theirishatheist.wordpress.com/ The Irish Atheist

            “I stated that the arguments are stupid, not that Dawkins is stupid.”

            A few comments above that:

            “He is an idiot.”

            But I won’t accuse you of lying. You probably just had a lapse in memory.

          • Sven2547

            Mr. Yancey addressed that a bit later when I called him out on it. He conceded the following:

            However in all honestly I will take one thing back. I said he was an idiot. I should have said he has idiotic ideas.

          • http://Www.theirishatheist.wordpress.com/ The Irish Atheist

            Taking it back doesn’t mean he didn’t say it, as he falsely asserted above.

          • georgeyancey

            I admit I was being a little flippant so I take that statement back. I have no respect for a lot of Dawkins ideas and that came through. But I am trying to turn a new leaf and engage in these discussions to offer a point of view and understanding other points of view. I do not want to just win debate points. So I will try to be more respectful than I have at previous times. The other side of that coin is that I will not allow my character to be maligned by people who do not know me which is why I am done Asemodeus.

          • Sven2547

            Come on now. Let’s address his present positions, rather than the ones he has voluntarily withdrawn.

          • http://Www.theirishatheist.wordpress.com/ The Irish Atheist

            You’re apparently more forgiving than I.

            What if Mr. Yancey had used a different word instead of ‘idiot?’ What if had said ‘I’m sorry I called Dawkins a faggot. I’m not really a homophobe.’ Would you be so willing to drop the matter as you are now?

            Again, regretting that you said something doesn’t make the words magically disappear. I called Yancey out because he wrote an entire article on Christian persecution but has no problem with asserting that people he doesn’t like are idiots. Until he’s called out on the hypocrisy of his actions. Then we’re all supposed to forget and move on.

            No. If I were that forgiving of a person, I’d still be Catholic.

          • georgeyancey

            If you cannot see the different between using idiot and faggot then that speaks volumes for itself. And by the way do not misrepresent what I have argued. I argued that Christians in the United States do not face persecution although the do face discrimination.

          • http://Www.theirishatheist.wordpress.com/ The Irish Atheist

            Having heard both terms fairly regularly from Christians, I feel I have a basic understanding of the difference.

            One is a slur against intelligence, another is a slur against sexual orientation, both are used as personal attacks, and neither should be acceptable coming from a writer who is hosted by Patheos.

          • georgeyancey

            One is a description and one is a slur. By the way for someone who is not forgiving for another person misspeaking you really should not misrepresent my clear arguments about Christian persecution. It seem hypocritical to me to complain about a statement that I have taken back and then imply that I argue that Christians are being persecuted in the U.S. when I argue the opposite. Just saying.

          • http://Www.theirishatheist.wordpress.com/ The Irish Atheist

            Apparently slurs are never simultaneously descriptions. Wow, there are a lot of demeaning, dehumanising words that I get to use now that I realise they’re not slurs because they’re technically ‘descriptions!’

            Incidentally, point out where I said you argued that Christians are being persecuted. The most I said was that you ‘wrote an article on Christian persecution.’ I never mentioned which way you were arguing. Once again, you’re reading into my words what you want to hear.

            Which is a fine example of a persecution complex.

          • georgeyancey

            You brought up that I wrote about Christian persecution while deriding the fact that I was insulting Dawkins. Why bring it up other to imply that I was being a hypocrite. But you can prove me wrong. Give me another reasonable reason to bring up the fact that I wrote about Christian persecution. I notice that some people like to throw comments out there with strong implications and then deny the implications when they are caught doing it. Prove me wrong and tell me why you brought up that I wrote about Christian persecution while conveniently forgetting to state that I argued that it is not happening in the U.S.
            So what does faggot describe anyway? It is a slur pure and simple. Professionals use the term idiot in a clinical way. Who uses the term faggot in that way. To state that faggot and idiot are the same types of terms really defies understanding of language. If you want to stay on this topic then you need a better example than faggot. I am ready to move away from it and defend my statement that Dawkins made idiotic statements but you seem to be the one to say that faggot and idiot is synonymous. Good luck with that one.

          • Uncephalized

            I do not believe that any professional of any sort in the 21st century would use the term “idiot” as anything but a pejorative, the same way everybody else uses it. It may have been a clinical term at one time but it is not any longer. Again, stop privileging your own bad behavior over that of others. It’s dishonest.

          • georgeyancey

            So are you arguing that idiot is the same as faggot? Look I have already walked back that statement but the comparison of this term to an obvious slur is silly. He wants to harp on a statement I walked back but I am not going to let him imply that I used a slur.

          • Uncephalized

            Yes, I am saying “idiot” should be regarded as a slur, on the same playing field as “faggot”. Neither should be used in civil conversations. I said as much in another comment.

          • georgeyancey

            I am betting you are not an African-American. I can tell you that being called the N word is a slur that is qualitatively different than being called an idiot. Unless you are black I do not think you can understand the difference.

          • http://Www.theirishatheist.wordpress.com/ The Irish Atheist

            My mother was an ethnic Romani. The n-word doesn’t really exist in Ireland, as it has no history, but I’ve been called a gypo for half my life. Race, sexuality, mental capabilities, it doesn’t matter. Slurs are slurs.

          • Uncephalized

            Not that it’s particularly relevant, but yes, I’m white. No, I have never been called by a racial slur that I can recall. Nor can I recall ever being called an idiot, for that matter. Which is a good thing, of course. I fail to see how having been targeted in such a way at some point in your own life gives you any license or justification to behave as such towards others.

            That you find “nigger” more offensive than “idiot” isn’t surprising–that seems to be the default view–but I’m arguing that all such language is inherently abusive; that the relative severity of the effect on the target is not knowable; that one insult or slur is not universally worse or more damaging than another, but depends on context; and that such shaming/dominating/ bullying speech has no place in civil conversation. I hope that makes my position a bit clearer.

          • georgeyancey

            I know you do not think it is relevant to accuse a black man of using a slur but that is part of your race privilege to think as much. If you want to say it was an insult then fine. Slur has a connotation that I do not accept.
            Anyway I walked it back and so the matter should be closed unless you hare like the Irish atheist who has no arguments other than attempt to stigmatize those you disagree with. Once again I walked it back. If you have never said anything that you previously walked back then kudos to you. Otherwise I consider this matter closed.

          • Uncephalized

            “I know you do not think it is relevant to accuse a black man of using a slur but that is part of your race privilege to think as much.”

            So it is racist/privileged of me to oppose the use of the word “idiot” and its synonyms, a standard to which I hold all humans capable of reason and speech, because I am white and you are black? OK…

            I should point out that when I made my original comments, I had no idea of your race. I linked here from another blog and had not previously encountered you. I thought you were just some commenter and didn’t even realize you were connected to the blog. You are the one who brought up race in the first place.

            “If you want to say it was an insult then fine. Slur has a connotation that I do not accept.”

            Well, you’re welcome to lobby for a change in usage if you want. In 2014 American English, “slur” and “racist slur” are not content-identical. Racist slurs are a subtype of “insinuation or allegation about someone that is likely to insult them or damage their reputation.” (Google’s definition). If “slur” and “racist slur” meant the same thing, we wouldn’t need the “extra” adjective.

            “Idiot” clearly fits this definition in many contexts, as do “moron”, “slut”, “fag”, and their myriad ilk. It’s bizarre to me that you would argue otherwise. However, I’m not as interested in the terms you use, or debating their definitions, as I am in actual behavior. Employing “idiot” and words like it (i.e. slurs) as rhetorical weapons is poor behavior, full stop.

            “Anyway I walked it back and so the matter should be closed unless you hare like the Irish atheist who has no arguments other than attempt to stigmatize those you disagree with. Once again I walked it back. If you have never said anything that you previously walked back then kudos to you. Otherwise I consider this matter closed.”

            Excuse me, but disagreeing with your words and giving my reasons is not stigmatization. I have said nothing about you personally. Making this claim comes off as an attempt to shut down the conversation because it is not going the way you would like.

            You “retracted” one slur by saying “I said he was an idiot. I should have said he has idiotic ideas. Otherwise nothing I have said is demeaning to him as a person.”

            You’re right, nothing you said was demeaning or offensive, except for the thing you said that was demeaning and offensive. Good work. You have not, however, given any indication that you a) really understand the content of the objections to your words b) have any desire to change your behavior, or c) are actually contrite that you called Dawkins an idiot. Instead you have vociferously defended your poor behavior and issued a not-pology, while simultaneously demanding a greater degree of deference to your sensitivities than those of others. That strikes me as hypocrisy, and I’ll continue to point it out where I see it.

            On another note, earlier you wrote: “He may be a great biologist. I do not have the qualifications to evaluate his biology. He is a capable writer but no great shakes. But he is a lousy as a social thinker.”

            Dawkins’ biology is exceptional. The Selfish Gene is a masterwork, brilliantly argued, and should be required reading for anyone interested in studying biology. The Extended Phenotype is also highly worthwhile, though it’s more technical and less Earth-shifting than TSG.

            He is a much better writer than you are (or than I am for that matter), so I don’t know where you get off calling him merely “capable”. He writes with a fluidity and command of language, as well as a depth of thought, most of us can only grasp for. I can see why you might not think so if you haven’t read any of his biology, though.

            His arguments against religion, like those of all the New Atheists, are persuasive if you already lean in his direction, probably less so if you don’t. For my part, The God Delusion was an important first step in my deconversion process, as one of the first openly religion/gods-critical texts I had encountered in my life. I have long since moved on from that book as any kind of foundation for my beliefs (lack thereof?), and I’m not defending it as some be-all-end-all of atheism, but it’s hardly trash, contra its reputation in religious circles.

          • georgeyancey

            Apparently you do not understand the difference between racism and racial privilege. At the very least you could look up the Wikipedia definition of it so that you know what I am talking about. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/White_privilege It is a privilege whites have to ignore the racial aspects of their insults. When people bring terms like faggot into a conversation and imply that I would use such a term and that I am a bully – nice way to try to shut somebody up, especially to an African-American has racial implications. You do not understand and you should drop this line of attack on me. It does not make you look good.
            You say you did not say anything personal about me except imply that I am a bully, an insincere and have no scientific integrity. Kinda selective memory on your part. I did not attack you. You choose to attack me for a single statement I walked back. Given the way you are conducting yourself I find it hard to believe that you have not made statements to take back later.
            I stated that he may be a brilliant biologists for all I know. My assessment of his writing is my own. The fact that you disagree with me bothers me not one whit. If you want to keep arguing about slurs you can do so by yourself from this point on. It is a dead issue to me and you seem to want to stay on it as a way of stigmatizing my other arguments which is the three points in his work (and there are more) which I thought were idiotic. But I only do so if you want to proceed logically without useless ad hominems, red herrings or strawman arguments.

          • Uncephalized

            “Apparently you do not understand the difference between racism and racial privilege [...] It is a privilege whites have to ignore the racial aspects of their insults.”

            Who is ignoring the racial aspect of racial slurs? What are you even talking about? Is “idiot” a racial slur? Is “fag”? Neither of these words has anything to do with race as far as I am aware. If I am wrong, I would love to know more, but this is nothing I have ever heard of.

            Multiple times you have complained that someone is conflating “idiot” and “faggot” or “nigger” as though they are synonymous, though I have not seen anyone say that here at all. The claim made was that they are both slurs and should not be used against people, which is supported by a simple check of the dictionary and common courtesy.

            I have plenty of experience with the idea of privilege, in the context of feminism and racial issues both. I think it’s a perfectly valid and useful concept in lots of circumstances. Doesn’t mean I need to agree with you that it applies everywhere you think it does–or that what I think is wrong because I am not black and therefore blinded by it. I simply do not agree with that analysis, because I find it inherently… racist.

            If your argument has some component other than “you are privileged because you are white and I am black and therefore you shouldn’t say such things”, I guess I missed it.

            “When people bring terms like faggot into a conversation and imply that I would use such a term and that I am a bully – nice way to try to shut somebody up, especially to an African-American has racial implications. You do not understand and you should drop this line of attack on me. It does not make you look good.”

            I neither stated nor implied that you would call anyone a faggot, nor did I call you a bully. You are putting words in my mouth. I did use the word “bullying” once in my previous post: “one insult or slur is not universally worse or more damaging than another, but depends on context; and that such shaming/dominating/bullying speech has no place in civil conversation.” Which in context was clearly talking about the general nature of this kind of speech, not the person making it (you, in this case), and was not specifically about this instance of its use.

            I didn’t even state that you were bullying Dawkins, and I don’t think you were–just slurring him. Bullying really requires that the target be aware of your existence IMO.

            “You say you did not say anything personal about me except imply that I am a bully, an insincere and have no scientific integrity. Kinda selective memory on your part.”

            Yes, I did imply that writing in support of the Regnerus study is a serious blow to your credibility, and I’ll stick by that. That study is politically-driven junk science of the highest order, and that it’s being used by the right wing to further drive the marriage debate off the rails is a damn shame. Good thing they’re (you’re?) losing that fight anyway.

            The “bully” misrepresentation I have already addressed above.

            “I did not attack you. You choose to attack me for a single statement I walked back. Given the way you are conducting yourself I find it hard to believe that you have not made statements to take back later.”

            I chose to criticize your blithe use of an uncivil pejorative. I then chose to continue criticizing your extremely defensive reaction to my statement that I find the word “idiot” to be an execrable slur, and that I wish you and others would stop employing it. I don’t feel I’m conducting myself poorly, but apparently neither do you–so where does that leave us?

            As for whether I have ever taken anything back, don’t be ridiculous. Of course I have. I’ve already done so a couple times just today. I meant to say as much in my last reply, but I accidentally deleted my first draft and forgot to add it back in.

            Anyway, I guess I’ll stop pissing you off now (you may not believe me but such is not actually my intent); got some work to do, so have a good day.

          • georgeyancey

            Yes this will be my last response. The focus on a statement that I have taken back seems to go nowhere. Words mean something to me. When I talk of racial privilege I am not talking about racism. You seem not to understand that but I do not have the time to explain to you that a white person dismissing the racial concerns of a person of color is a classical example of privilege.
            You stated that no one has stated the insults as synonymous but I did not bring up the “faggot” slur and you yourself even said that “one insult or slur is not universally worse or more damaging than another,” so you are implying that they are the same. As an African-American I find that offensive but I will leave it at that.
            Finally I it is interesting that people attacking Regnerus work as politically driven do not even consider that the research they favor is also politically driven. I know you will not believe me when I say that what bothers me the most is the lack of scientific rigor that goes into much of the research around same-sex parenting and the political nature of the research before Regnerus and the political nature of the attacks on him. So if my attempts to defend him and desire for honest research makes me have no scientific integrity in the eyes of those who want to do politics instead of science then so be it.

          • Uncephalized

            As a follow-up, browsing around I see you are a defender of the Regnerus study, and that Mark Regnerus himself is an author on this site. That tells me a whole lot more than I knew before, and it’s not flattering to your scientific integrity or understanding.

          • georgeyancey

            I see that ad hominem attacks are in style. Talk about bringing up something irrelevant to the current discussion. I guess you understand how horrible the earlier studies or that some of his findings have been replicated by a Canadian sample. I actually care about science instead of politics. The fact that you bring in this red herring seems to indicate that you have opposite priorities.

          • http://Www.theirishatheist.wordpress.com/ The Irish Atheist

            You called a man an ‘idiot,’ I called you out on it, and how terrible it must be to be held accountable for your words. Poor, misunderstood, innocent Christian.

          • georgeyancey

            I think we are done. If the only thing you have left is a statement I have already walked back then communication is pointless. If you want to try to take me on with my arguments that his statements are idiotic and can do so without calling me a liar then you are welcome to try.

          • http://Www.theirishatheist.wordpress.com/ The Irish Atheist

            I think some of Dawkin’s statements are extremely incorrect and baffling myself.

            I don’t call him an idiot for having different opinions than me.

            Neither do I believe that ‘walking back’ on the use of such words makes it all go away. Of course, I also don’t believe that all crimes can be forgiven by saying a magic spell to Jesus asking for forgiveness, so that may explain the disconnect.

          • http://Www.theirishatheist.wordpress.com/ The Irish Atheist

            I did not say that faggot and idiot are synonymous. I said they were similar types of words. Stop lying.

            I brought up the fact that you were writing about Christian persecution simply to show that while you were exploring one area, you were completely oblivious to the fact that you indulge in another. On the other hand, I don’t need to prove my own motives to you.

            As a pejorative, ‘faggot’ is used to describe someones sexual orientation. “He is a faggot.” “He is an idiot.” Both used in the same way, for different purposes. The fact that you are denying this is mind-boggling. But why would a Christian ever admit that he did something wrong?

            It seems to me that Asmodeus was correct in his analysis of you. You are willing to lie about others to put yourself in a better light. I won’t say I’m even remotely surprised that he has been proven correct.

          • georgeyancey

            You stated “What if Mr. Yancey had used a different word instead of ‘idiot?’ What if had said ‘I’m sorry I called Dawkins a faggot. I’m not really a homophobe.’ Would you be so willing to drop the matter as you are now?” So how are you not saying that the words are basically the same. I did not say that you said that they mean the same thing but why bring them us unless you are implying that they are the same category of words. That is not “lying” but holding you accountable for the implications of your arguments.
            No you do not need to prove motives to me but if you use examples, and you are showing that you are lousy and using examples, then you should have a reason for using them in a discussion and be prepared to explain why you use them. By the way your reason for brining up persecution makes no sense. What area am I not exploring. Are you implying that I am engaging in persecution? You accused me of having a persecution complex. If you are implying that my statement is persecution then why would I not think that you are merely projecting with your comments about a complex on me, the person who has stated that Christians are not being persecuted in the U.S.
            Ah yes the lying charge. This coming from someone who obviously has a hard time articulating arguments with relevant examples. I am sorry because I am trying not to be condensing to you. Really I am. But unless you can express your arguments better it is hard not to do so. Really you and Asmodeus do not do atheists any favors when you go to the lie charge as soon as you start losing an argument.

          • http://Www.theirishatheist.wordpress.com/ The Irish Atheist

            You claimed I said the words faggot and idiot were synonymous. The definition of synonymous is, as defined by Oxford, ‘a word or phrase having the same or nearly the same meaning as another word or phrase in the same language.’ I never once said that idiot and faggot have the same meaning. I said they are used in the same way.

            I did not say they were synonymous. You said I claimed they were synonymous. Therefore, you either lied or used the word ‘synonymous’ in an incorrect manner. It could be the latter, but since you’re the one waxing eloquent on the proper use of language, I chose to believe the former.

            Don’t give me your ‘I’m not trying to be condescending’ tripe. Your condescension started when you called Dawkins ‘an idiot’ for having different opinions than you and it hasn’t stopped from there.

          • Uncephalized

            “Idiot” and “faggot” seem nearly identical in their pejorative connotation, demeaning-bullying use, and intellectual laziness. Both are abusive and neither should be used in a civil conversation. IMO you should quit privileging your own bad behavior; you are just as capable of being a hurtful bully as everyone else.

          • Asemodeus

            “Dawkins argues that science can determine all knowledge even whether there is a God.”

            Perfectly reasonable assumption to make given historical hindsight. You are one of those people that would have had said that calculating the planetary motions was against gods will since the cosmos is outside the understanding of humans.

            “He says that Stalin’s atheism has no impact on his atrocities such as oppressing people of faith.”

            What oppression?

            http://www.patheos.com/blogs/daylightatheism/2009/06/stalin-the-divine-savior/

            What Stalin did was what any self motivated dictator did. He punished anyone that disagreed with him and rewards those that did. That has nothing to do with religious affiliation.

            “He states that to raise a child in religion is akin to child abuse.”

            It is. Calling a 8 year old religious is absurd since a child doesn’t have the intellectual maturity or independence to make that decision for himself. Which is why we need to get passed these gay rights issues, since they are a distraction from the real problem: child indoctrination.

            Make it a human rights issue that a child has the right to come to his own conclusions about spirituality, outside of parental pressures, and we will see organize religion die within 2-3 generations.

          • georgeyancey

            Nice to know that you know what I think about planetary motions. Did not know you could read minds. Okay use the scientific method to prove whether there is a God or not. If you do that then you will have a new adherent to scientism – me.
            if you know anything about Marxism you know that religious is considered part of the false consciousness that is used to exploit the proletariat. To think that Stalin did not use this philosophical underpinning in his persecution of religious individuals is naïve. You can say that he is a dictator doing what dictators do and that means he is oppressing those he disagrees with. Since he was an atheist who he disagrees with is people of faith. That kind of makes my point.
            So when Christian take their kids to church they are doing the same thing as burning a cigarette on their hand. The latter is what I would call child abuse but not the former. It is okay to say that you think that taking kids to church is a bad idea. But to call it child abuse is a misuse of the language beyond all understanding. Do you really think that it is comparable to label someone who is raising a child with different religious values than your own abusive. I am not trying to raise a debate point I just want to know if that is how you think.

          • Sven2547

            if you know anything about Marxism you know that religious is considered part of the false consciousness that is used to exploit the proletariat.

            And if you know anything about Marxism, you’d know that Stalin’s regime didn’t resemble it very much.

          • georgeyancey

            True but that was the philosophy that his regime was based on. That provide insight into his motivations

          • Sven2547

            that was the philosophy that his regime was based on

            That’s an awfully simplistic way to look at it. Marx was just Stalin’s excuse to take things away from people and claim it for the State. Stalin’s philosophy was based on elevating himself.

          • georgeyancey

            Really you have to go back to Lennin who was a true believer in Marxism. Statin was an opportunist. But he was an atheists opportunist and thus scapegoating and eliminating religious people makes sense to him. There are religious dictators who are opportunists who have been abusive as well. I do not defend any of them. But I am realistic when I argue that his atheism was a part of who he decided to oppress. Dawkins wants to blow it off completely and I do not see the evidence to do that.

          • Asemodeus

            “But he was an atheists opportunist and thus scapegoating and eliminating religious people makes sense to him.”

            Do you ever bother to read links? Here, let us try this again:

            http://www.patheos.com/blogs/daylightatheism/2009/06/stalin-the-divine-savior/

            “The enmity between the Russian Orthodox Church and the Soviet state came
            to an official end in September 1943 with the election of Patriarchal
            Locum Tenens Metropolitan Sergii Stragorodskii, de facto leader of the
            church for seventeen years, as Patriarch. The election had been preceded
            by a momentous September 4 meeting in the Kremlin between Joseph Stalin
            and three leading Metropolitans: Sergei, Aleksei Simanskii of Leningrad
            and Nikolai Iarushevich of Kiev. Stalin granted them the right to open a
            limited number of churches and religious schools, and to convene a
            national synod on September 8, which duly elected Sergei patriarch. Upon
            his elevation, Sergei immediately declared Stalin the divinely anointed ruler, initiating an uneasy collaboration between church and state that survived the Soviet system.”

            Stalin welcomed religious leaders in this country just as long as they toed the line and supported his rule. Just like any other dictator would.

          • Asemodeus

            “Nice to know that you know what I think about planetary motions.”

            Christians have a long long history of trying to shoehorn scientific discoveries due to religious bigotries. The only difference this time with current christians is that the gray areas of reality has shrunk so much that they are reduced to absurdities and really bad apologetics. Like trying to claim that science cannot do something, without citation or evidence.

            “Okay use the scientific method to prove whether there is a God or not.”

            First off you use a standard apologetics trick of assuming that your god is the only valid god hypothesis before the argument can even begin. If you were being intellectually honest with yourself you would be open to more than just one narrow definition.

            Secondly, it would be pathetically easy to test for gods. You would just have to look at rates of belief in isolated cultures and see where the overlap is. If several isolated cultures, which had no previous contact, all shared the same idea of the divine, that would be immense proof of something divine.

            How we don’t see that is just a happy coincidence.

            “If you do that then you will have a new adherent to scientism – me.”

            Gotta love false equivalences.

            “if you know anything about Marxism you know that religious is considered
            part of the false consciousness that is used to exploit the
            proletariat.”

            What does this have to do with anything?

            ” To think that Stalin did not use this philosophical underpinning in his persecution of religious individuals is naïve.”

            Where as, Marxist ideology called for the abolition of all states. What Stalin did was create a state, which is contradictory to this ideology you think Stalin adheres too so strongly.

            The only thing Stalin did differently was base a dictatorship around a new philosophical bent and not just using religion to shore up his authority.

            “Since he was an atheist who he disagrees with is people of faith.”

            You clearly didn’t read the link. Come back after you educate yourself.

            “So when Christian take their kids to church they are doing the same thing as burning a cigarette on their hand.”

            I never said that. Next time you lie, lie better. Also there is more to child abuse than physical abuse.
            Any physc 101 student could tell you that.

            “Do you really think that it is comparable to label someone who is
            raising a child with different religious values than your own abusive.”

            I didn’t say that either. Wow you just love to lie. I said that a child should be free to make his own choices on spirituality. If his own research, free of influence, just happens to make him a christian then I am all for it.

            At least he was given the choice to make a choice. Christians parents are so scared of this that they don’t allow their children the freedom of religion. That’s child abuse.

          • georgeyancey

            We are done. I do not discuss with people who accuse me of lying. State that I am wrong or misunderstood something. But I do not make accusations of lying to others and do not accept them. I find that those who start losing arguments quickly use personal attacks to change the subject which is what you are doing. Have a nice day.

          • Asemodeus

            “I do not discuss with people who accuse me of lying.”

            But you did lie, twice. Don’t get all snippy just because I caught you on it.

            “State that I am wrong or misunderstood something. ”

            Where did I say that forcing religion on children was the same as burning them?

            I’ll wait.

            “I find that those who start losing arguments quickly use personal
            attacks to change the subject which is what you are doing. Have a nice
            day.”

            That’s hysterical. It is you that are deflecting by pretending to be outraged over being caught lying. Own up to your mistakes and move on.

          • georgeyancey

            This is my very last message to you. When you said that I would state that calculating plantary motions was against the Gods I could have accused you of lying. That makes as much sense as your accusations of my lying. I preferred to think that you used a bad argument and make an unwarranted assumptions so that we might clarify our conversation. There are atheists that I can have rational conversations with. I love that. But unfortunately there are those who are not interested in rational discourse but instead want to inflame discussion with wild accusations. Your actions have, in my opinion, squarely put you in the latter camp.

          • Asemodeus

            “When you said that I would state that calculating plantary motions was against the Gods I could have accused you of lying.”

            Which is called a historical analogy. Notice how I phrased it in the past tense. In actuality, if we were being honest with ourselves, if you were to be teleported 500 years into the past your current christian faith would have had labeled you a heretic by the locals.

            “But unfortunately there are those who are not interested in rational
            discourse but instead want to inflame discussion with wild accusations.”

            Ignoring the historical reality that christians did oppose science based on religious bigotries. You are really no different from them, the only superficial difference is that you deny yourself the chance to expand your understanding of divinity.

          • Asemodeus

            It is also worth noting that you didn’t answer my question as to where I correlated forcing religion on children with physical torture.

            The longer you take to provide evidence the more funny this gets for me.

          • axelbeingcivil

            I’d actually like a source on the statement that science can determine all knowledge. The man’s usually pretty cautious in his language, though he does slip up now and then.

          • georgeyancey

            Below is a statement from some of the pages of “The God Delusion” where Dawkins claims that the existence of God is a scientific question. Most people who analyze his work agree that he holds to the notions of scientism whether they are supporters or distractors and I have not seen anything by him that disputes this notion.

            Either [God] exists or he doesn’t. It is a scientific question: one day we may know the answer, and meanwhile we can say something pretty strong about the probability. … God’s existence or non-existence is a scientific fact about the universe, discoverable in principle if not in practice. … The presence or absence of a creative super-intelligence is unequivocally a scientific question, even if it is not in practice — or not yet — a decided one

          • axelbeingcivil

            That actually seems to be a pretty reserved and qualified statement, to me. If a being interacts with the material universe in any way, they should be leaving some sort of evidence (barring retroactive elimination of that evidence so as to make it look like what would have happened anyway, in which case its interactions are meaningless). Any claim about the material, observable universe, including that a supreme being of some sort interacts with it, is a scientific and testable claim.

            While the existence or non-existence of a supreme being is something we can’t really test, we can test whether they interact with the cosmos in any way. Similarly, every faith on the planet, bar perhaps a scant few, makes a claim of divine interaction with humanity. As such, while a nebulously defined supreme being may or may not be a scientifically determinable question, the declarations made by the major faiths of the world are eminently testable.

            This is not equivalent to saying that science can determine all knowledge, which you said Dawkins argues (which would require an actual statement as such). This, however, seems to be a pretty reserved statement saying that, in theory, anything that interacts with the observable universe can, in turn, be observed and its truth or falsity determined.

          • georgeyancey

            We will probably agree to disagree on this one. A supreme being is not compelled to act in scientifically predictable ways and I so not see how science can answer the questions of deity. Furthermore I do not know how you test the tenets of the major religious with scientific testing. Can we test to see if our souls are extinguished as the Buddhists state or that Joseph Smith found the golden plates or that Christ rose from the dead and returned to God. These are all claims of how deity interacted with humans but I do not know of the scientific test that can establish any of them as true or false. As to whether Dawkins stated that science can determine all knowledge I remember reading that in his work but unfortunately my “The God Delusion” book is at the office and I am working from home today. I will give it a good look tomorrow.

          • axelbeingcivil

            It’s not so much whether they are scientifically predictable, per se, as much as it is that we can demonstrate their influence on the world.

            To wit, the Buddhist claim of souls being extinguished first requires demonstration of there being a soul to exist. To test the existence of the soul, the obvious place to look is the brain, as all the functions of human behaviour originate there. If there is some extra-material entity acting upon the brain, there should be evidence; a two-way kind of transmission. We should see signals propagate from seemingly nowhere, without stimulus, and transmit to areas that have no apparent use. This would indicate a relation between human behaviour and some ethereal substance.

            Since we find no such thing, the claim of a soul interacting with the human body, at least in terms of interacting with the brain, is falsified (or at least beyond our current limits to test). The soul may exist but it either interacts through some space other than the brain or does not interact at all. In the case of the former, we can keep testing. In the case of the latter, it may as well not exist because, for all intents and purposes, we have no effect on it and vice versa.

            If we did find such a thing, though, then we can start trying to test whatever we might discover further.

            Joseph Smith’s golden plates, the Resurrection of Christ, the flying palaces of the gods in Hindu religion, and similar claims are impossible to test at present. However, we can identify similar beliefs in the modern era; claims of supernatural powers such as precognition, psychic healing, and so on, as well as claims of divine revelation. Thus far, all testing of these particular phenomena have demonstrated only fraud or self-delusion. While this doesn’t act as a test for these specific instances, it does allow us to place a probability by testing similar events to say that the likelihood of them being true is exceedingly low.

            These are all fairly reasonable scientific tests that can be used to demonstrate the presence, or lack thereof, of supernatural phenomena.

            I also feel I should add that you did choose very specific and localized events, but most religions, including Christianity, have descriptions of far larger events, such as the creation of Earth, the Noahic Flood, etc., that could and should leave vast amounts of physical evidence if they occurred as described in their holy texts.

            I want to close off this rather long post by thanking you, though. Your response was swift and much more concise than mine (I plead necessity), and your double-checking is appreciated.

          • georgeyancey

            Hey I thank you for the civil discussion. I like to get into it a bit more but I have some other duties calling my name today. Obviously I disagree about the ability of science to detect something supernatural such as a soul but perhaps we will have that discussion on another day. Have a great day.

          • axelbeingcivil

            You too, Mr. Yancey.

          • georgeyancey

            Just wanted to follow up. I looked though my God Delusion book and for now cannot find a clear statement of science explaining everything. So I will concede that, unless I find evidence later to the contrary, Dawkins only argues that it explains religion and that science and religion are mutually exclusive. Both of which are statements I deeply disagree with. I promised that I would look at the book when I got the chance and wanted to uphold my promise and make my concession to you. Have a good weekend.

        • http://kingscriercommissions.blogspot.com/ thekingscrier

          While Dawkins may not respect his Christian students beliefs, I have serious doubts that he would openly antagonize a Christian student. It would not be professional and the university that employs him would have his ass in a sling.

          I would venture to say that his university keeps a tighter watch on any anti-religious activities in his class precisely because he has been such a vocal opponent to organized religion. Universities are businesses and no business likes scandal and lawsuits, regardless of the celebrity status of a professor in their employ.

        • Sven2547

          Have you?

  • http://adrianwarnock.com/ Adrian Warnock

    Please go and see the movie and then see what you think of it. Movies answer the “What if?” question, and although the pressure felt is not as obvious as the film portrays, subtle pressure is ubiquitous and professors do have power to impose their views on others.

  • http://outsidetheautisticasylum.blogspot.com/ Theodore Seeber

    Have college kids gotten less mouthy since the early 1990s? I knew several students at my secular technical college who could have easily been this kid- including one who often argued with me and eventually convinced me against atheism.

    • georgeyancey

      If any of those student had a professor threaten their grade because of their faith and had evidence for that then they have recourse. But once again I am looking for stories like what is described in the movie where grades are tied to faith. Not professors being jerks but the sort of direct religious bigotry that cannot be denied. That is not how anti-Christian animosity works.

  • http://Www.theirishatheist.wordpress.com/ The Irish Atheist

    False. I spend everyday twirling my mustache and cackling wickedly as I plan to put Christian young people in situations that force them to renounce their faith.

    • Asemodeus

      Do you have a top hat and a cane? Because if you don’t then you are doing it wrong.

      • Sven2547

        Monocle optional.

        • Asemodeus

          Fun fact. When the top hat was invented, the creator put one on and took a stroll. At which point he caused a small riot as people lost their marbles and was eventually arrested for disrupting the peace.

  • Dr Mike

    I have not seen the movie either and so, like Mr Yancey, cannot speak to its merits or shortcomings. But I can make two general points despite my ignorance of this specific event:

    First, there is an unintended consequence to movies, shows, or writings that depict confrontations between Christians and others, i.e., that our battle really is against flesh and blood. But this is not true, as I’m sure everyone on this thread knows. We are no different from non-Christians except at one vital, critical point: we have been recipients of God’s saving grace and they have not – or have not yet been. The “Us Against Them” mentality (thank you Helen Reddy) is not the attitude we should have. Peter tells us to defend the faith with gentleness and reverence, not with an adversarial attitude. We want to draw unbelievers closer, not push them away. Watch Alister McGrath debate Dawkins and observe the former’s respect for the latter.

    Second, many of the comments here reflect the adversarial stance that too many of us have against those that disagree with us. We will never argue people into the kingdom; rather, we will point them to Christ as they detect the love and compassion through His ambassadors that He has for them. It is easier, however, to argue than to love, and therein lies the problem for most of us.

  • axelbeingcivil

    If you wouldn’t mind, could you list some of those issues that people might support because of anti-religious sentiment? I’m not going to disagree that there’s certainly plenty of dog whistle issues out there (need we quote Reagan’s campaign manager on issues like food stamps?), but I’m curious which ones would be encompassed by anti-religious sentiment.

    • georgeyancey

      Like symbolic racism, there are always nonbigoted reasons why people take certain positions. But potential issues where symbolic hostility against conservative Christians include school choice, faith-based initiatives, hate crimes legislation, education curriculum reform, speech codes, public holiday displays, campaign finance reform, Fairness doctrine and sex education. This is likely not an exhaustive list but these are issues that came up from my respondents that I documented as having hostility towards conservative Christians.

      • Hrafn

        George, I would suggest that your list of “potential issues” is merely a grab-bag of paranoia (“Fairness doctrine”, dead for 27 years, and completely-erased for 3 years), wishful thinking (that Abstinence-only sex education actually works), presenting loss of unearned and unconstitutional privilege as ‘persecution’ (“public holiday displays”) and apparent red herrings.

        The United States is a predominantly, often chauvinistically, Christian country. So it is no surprise that Christian persecution of atheists, and other non-Christians, far outweighs ***genuine*** persecution of Christians.

        • georgeyancey

          Actually I did not bring up the Fairness doctrine. My respondents did. They were the ones promoting it. Perhaps they are the ones who are paranoid?

          • Hrafn

            (1) ***You*** brought it up.

            georgeyancey:
            “But potential issues where symbolic hostility against conservative Christians include school choice, faith-based initiatives, hate crimes legislation, education curriculum reform, speech codes, public holiday displays, campaign finance reform, Fairness doctrine and sex education.”

            (2) I would note that this red-herring of a response completely fails to address the main thrust of my response — your complete inability to specify any substantive and ***genuine*** persecution of Christians in the US.

          • georgeyancey

            Here we go again. Why is it when I point out problems of anti-Christian animosity that people like you argue that I am taking about persecution? As I stated several times in my comments in this blog and in another completely separate blog I have never argued that Christians are not persecuted in the United States. Strawman much?
            And to be clear my list came from comments of individuals who indicated anti-Christian animosity. A way that some of them wanted to deal with Christians is through enforcement of the fairness doctrine. I am limited in how much I can talk about that research right now as I have a book under contract. However if you are so inclined you can download the data at http://www.thearda.com/Archive/Files/Descriptions/CHRSTRT.asp
            and do your own search of the data.

          • Hrafn

            Because a degree of “animosity” is a perfectly reasonable response to Christian bullying, arrogance, hypocrisy and faux-martyrdom.

            The public face of Christianity in the US is very frequently profoundly unlikeable. So as long as people are only expressing their (First Amendment-protected) dislike, rather than any actual persecution, I would suggest that Christianity in the US has very little to complain about (at least until it does a better job of marginalising its more bigoted elements).

      • axelbeingcivil

        Thanks for the prompt reply. In response, at looking at those, I can’t deny that I’ve seen a certain amount of bile spewed over things like public holiday displays but I can’t say I’ve seen the same in the others. Maybe it’s just where I’m looking, but, typically, a lot of the upset there seems to be legitimate push-back against abuse of these things. Most of the upset you see is likely not so much a case of people joining these issues because they’re angry at conservative Christians, but being angry at conservative Christians for these being issues.

        Except the Fairness doctrine, which I’ve not even heard anyone speak of except for the odd conservative pundit.

        What I suppose I’m saying is that I think there may be a confusion of cause and effect here, but I admit a certain cautiousness in saying this because I’m hardly omniscient and don’t doubt that there are people who have more hate than sense in every single group. Even the Quakers had Nixon.

        • georgeyancey

          Fair enough. Perhaps when my book comes out and you see the level of vitriol out there that may alter your perspective. Or it may not. This is some of the same difficulty race scholar is dealing with racism. Clearly some people feel the way they feel on these issues due to their political or social beliefs while others feel the way they do because of hatred. And it does not mean that some of the issues are wrongly decided but it just means that some of the sentiment is driven by anti-Christian anger.
          Allow me to use an illustration to show what I mean. There are a lot of people dealing with racial issues who see voter ID laws as racist. Does this mean that there are no groundings for such laws. I saw in the news the other day a few people who were put in jail due to voter fraud. So voter fraud is real and voter ID is meant to deal with it. Nevertheless it seems naïve to think that some of the push for voter ID is tied to hidden hostility some have against Blacks. This illustrations shows the difficulty of tracking what is true belief in an issue and what is driven by hostility. It is a difficulty that social scientists still struggle to deal with.

          • axelbeingcivil

            I don’t disagree with you that this phenomenon exists. I also can’t say I’m unbiased; it is ostensibly “my camp” being talked about here, if one can say such a thing, so I should probably remove myself from this. If I’m still being honest, though, I’m still questioning cause and effect here; are people for these issues because they’re angry at conservative Christians, or are they angry at conservative Christians because they’re for these issues?

            Yet, even as I type that, I apply the same question to the voter ID issue and realize how immensely sticky it is.


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