You Wouldn’t Believe How Fast Americans Are Losing Their Religion — But the Fundamentalists Have a Plan

This article originally appeared on AlterNet.

Sometime in 2012, the U.S.A. quietly passed a milestone that demographers had long been predicting: for the first time in its history, this country is no longer majority Protestant. Fewer than 50% of Americans now identify as Protestant Christians of any denomination.

This change has come on surprisingly recently, and from a historical perspective, with breathtaking speed. As recently as 1993, almost two-thirds of Americans identified as Protestants, a number that had remained stable for the several preceding decades. But sometime in the 1990s, the ground started to shift, and it’s been sliding ever since. Whether it’s the “mainline” Protestant denominations like Methodists, Episcopalians, Lutherans or Presbyterians, or the independent evangelical, charismatic and fundamentalist sects, the decline is happening across the board. The rise of so-called megachurches, like Rick Warren’s Saddleback Church in California or Mark Driscoll’s Mars Hill in Seattle, represents not growth, but consolidation.

And what’s happening to these vanishing Protestants? For the most part, they’re not converting to any other religion, but rather are walking away from religion entirely. They’re becoming “nones“, as the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life puts it. It seems likely that this is the same secularizing trend that’s being observed in Europe, as people of advanced, peaceful democracies find religion increasingly irrelevant to their daily lives.

The spokespeople of the religious right have noticed this trend as well, but it’s clear that they have very little idea what to do about it. For example, in a column from 2005, Albert Mohler, the president of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, confidently declared that “theological liberalism” is at fault for Christianity’s decline, and that the only thing they need to do to reverse it is to make “a bold commitment to biblical authority”. Far from it, the evidence is clear that churches clinging to antiquated dogma are part of the problem, as young people turn away from their strident decrees about gays and women.

But the footsoldiers of fundamentalism haven’t been entirely idle these past few decades. As their power declines in America and Europe, they’re increasingly moving abroad, to developing countries not as far along the secularization curve, where they often find a more receptive audience.

The first example is Uganda, where the most despicable kind of American culture warriors have run amok with horrifying results. Since 2009, the country’s parliament has been debating an “Anti-Homosexuality Bill”, which among other things would establish a crime of “aggravated homosexuality”, punishable by life imprisonment or death. What’s less well known is that three American evangelical preachers, Scott Lively, Caleb Lee Brundidge and Don Schmierer, visited the country a month before the bill was introduced, giving talks about how “the gay movement is an evil institution” which seeks to prey on children, destroy “the moral fiber of the people”, and abolish marriage and the family and replace it with “a culture of sexual promiscuity”. Lively boasted that their campaign was “a nuclear bomb against the gay agenda in Uganda”, and later admitted to meeting with Ugandan lawmakers to help draft the bill, although he professed ignorance of the death penalty provision. Other American evangelicals, including Kevin Swanson and Lou Engle, have also expressed their support for the so-called Kill the Gays bill.

It’s not just LGBT people in Uganda who’ve been harmed by the spread of aggressive evangelicalism. American megachurch pastor Rick Warren has a Ugandan protege, a pastor named Martin Ssempa, who’s preached aggressively against contraception (in one bizarre public stunt, he burned condoms in the name of Jesus). Ugandan president Yoweri Museveni had formerly been a staunch advocate of the so-called ABC program which successfully reduced HIV infection rates in Uganda; but thanks in part to Ssempa’s influence and access, the government was persuaded to stop free condom distribution, and as a result, new HIV infections spiked again. (Ssempa, too, has called for the imprisonment of gay people. President Museveni also has ties to the Washington, D.C.-based fundamentalist group “The Family“, which has called him their “key man” in Africa.)

American evangelicals have spread their poisonous influence to other African countries as well. A report by Political Research Associates, “Globalizing the Culture Wars“, chronicles in detail how American religious-right groups, especially the theologically conservative Institute on Religion and Democracy, have worked together with their counterparts in Africa to foment homophobia and oppose feminism and gender equality. Uganda, Nigeria and Kenya, three major English-speaking African nations, have seen the brunt of this effort. As the report says:

In Africa, IRD and other U.S. conservatives present mainline denominations’ commitments to human rights as imperialistic attempts to manipulate Africans into accepting homosexuality – which they characterize as a purely western phenomenon… As a direct result of this campaign, homophobia is on the rise in Africa – from increased incidents of violence to antigay legislation that carries the death penalty.

In part, religious conservatives are doing this as a power play against religious liberals in their own countries. Most of the mainline Protestant churches in America and Europe, particularly the Episcopal, Methodist and Presbyterian denominations, have rival left-wing and right-wing branches, and the conservatives want to enlist the African branch of those churches to help them oppose and undercut liberal efforts for social justice. (For example, conservative Anglicans in America want African Anglicans to help them defeat liberal Anglican proposals to let gay people serve as clergy.) But it’s the African people who bear the collateral damage of this cultural proxy war.

It’s not just Africa where the American religious right is trying to exert influence. Pat Robertson’s legal group, the so-called American Center for Law and Justice, has branches in Russia, France, Pakistan, Israel and elsewhere, and recently opened a branch office in Brazil. If its American counterpart is any clue, the BCLJ will devote its time mainly to fighting against the expansion of rights for gay and lesbian people and advocating laws that give Christianity special privileges. With a booming evangelical population and its rapidly increasing economic and cultural power, Brazil is a natural place for the religious right to take root, if secular humanists and progressives aren’t ready to counter them.

And when they seize the reins of government here in the U.S., religious conservatives haven’t hesitated to spread their views through hard power as well as soft. The most consequential example is the Mexico City policy, also known as the global gag rule. This rule, which was first enacted by Ronald Reagan and since then has been repeatedly reinstated by Republican presidents and canceled by Democratic presidents, states that any group which takes money from American aid agencies can’t perform abortions, refer women to other groups that provide them, or even lobby for more permissive abortion laws in whatever countries it operates in.

Since the U.S. has always been one of the largest supporters of international family-planning efforts, through the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), this puts recipients in an unenviable dilemma: to accept American money, they’d have to turn away women in desperate need of abortion; but if they turned the money down, they’d lose the capacity to serve many more women who need contraception, STD treatment, vaccination, and prenatal care. As Michelle Goldberg writes in her book The Means of Reproduction, the global gag rule has forced the closure of family-planning clinics in Kenya, Ethiopia and elsewhere, depriving women of access to basic health services like Pap smears.

The point of all this is that stopping the religious right is a global issue, and we need to bear that in mind and remember what we’re fighting for. The harm they do in America isn’t trivial, but they do far greater harm in developing countries where constitutional protections aren’t as strong, and where American money exerts an outsized influence. If we can’t stop them here, there are people all over the world who will suffer much worse repercussions.

But the more optimistic way of viewing this is that, when we defeat them at home, we weaken them abroad as well. When they lose elections in the U.S., they can’t control foreign aid money to restrict women’s right to choose. When we expose them as bullying, homophobic bigots, when we chip away at their following, we deny them the flow of donations they use to spread prejudice in developing nations. Whether for better or for worse, what happens in America resonates throughout the world. That’s why standing against the religious right is a moral imperative: not just for the sake of people in the First World, but for the sake of people everywhere in the world. Unless we can chop down the tree of fundamentalism at the trunk, it will send out seeds that will take root elsewhere and grow into the same evils we’ve worked so hard to abolish.

About Adam Lee

Adam Lee is an atheist writer and speaker living in New York City. His new novel, Broken Ring, is available in paperback and e-book. Read his full bio, or follow him on Twitter.

  • cipher

    They’re congenital psychopaths. I’m firmly convinced the answer is not an improved educational infrastructure (which we need anyway, but not for that reason). We are, rather, in desperate need of mandatory testing of intelligence, mental health and developmental level as a prerequisite for voting and holding office.

  • GCT

    Who is the “they” in your first statement? How will you figure out the threshold for your tests and why do you think that it’s a good idea to try and shut religious people out of our democratic process? I’m hoping this is hyperbole.

  • Leeloo Dallas Multipass

    Until one of the congenital psychopaths manages to slip into the right position, and atheism and liberalism are declared evidence of “poor mental health”.

  • Harper Locke

    It is precisely THIS kind of talk that is sending people fleeing from the church. Hypocrisy in not a Christian value.

  • GCT

    What in the world are you talking about?

  • Proudscalawag

    What is and should be a global issue is decoupling state and religion and KEEPING them separate for the better health of both! It seems I can’t say this often enough: A robust, vital faith welcomes questions, can answer criticisms, smile pityingly at mockery ans spurns help from the state. It is a brittle, lifeless faith that fears these things, tries to suppress them and begs the state to use its coercive power to prop them up!!

  • SandDee Bee

    Not sure what your post has to do with folks leaving religion but I’ll share my opinion on your post.
    I can understand wanting this information for a person holding office, which most seem to have educational credentials hanging upon their walls before running for any position, but I would rather see more emphasis put on preventing voter fraud, finding ways for easier, secured, and convenient methods of voting, and spend more on educating voters what they are voting on by (ohmygoodness, hold your breathe) ‘dumming down’ the language on the ballots.I’ve assisted numerous elections in my area over the past several years and the voters would get frustrated over the way the issue would be worded on the ballot. Of course, many times it would be worded to purposely confuse the voter. On a side note, I take personal offense in the suggestion that we should test the intelligence,mental health or development levels of ANY voter. My husband suffered a debilitating stroke which he has overcome to a degree and YES he votes! To humiliate him even more by having him tested in order to vote is something I would put up a fight over.

  • Nancy McClernan

    Congenital psychopaths say all kinds of things, don’t they? I can’t imagine that one of them slipping into “the right position” would be good for anybody.

  • Azkyroth

    Evidence plz.

  • Nancy McClernan

    It’s funny that it’s assumed that if somebody is religious they would be weeded out for office through the administration of intelligence/mental health/developmental tests.

    I’d like to believe that all atheists are smart and awesome, but too many of them worship Dawkins/Hitchens/Harris to maintain that belief. It’s stunning how many atheists have exchanged uncritical reverence for deities for uncritical reverence for the Big Men of Atheism. No, this isn’t about having sufficient intelligence to hold public office.

  • GCT

    A robust, vital faith welcomes questions, can answer criticisms…

    If faith could do these things, it wouldn’t be faith.

  • Dyl

    As despicable as their actions are, the first thing that came to mind upon reading the title is “Threaten us with Double Secret Hell?”

  • Proudscalawag

    Oh yes it would be, oh yes it is! Read Paul Tillich’s “Dynamics of Faith” and get a better idea, friend.

  • Nancy McClernan

    I like the part about “smile pityingly at mockery.” Why pity I wonder.

    Is it because… SATAN?

  • J-D

    Any system that restricts access to voting or the political process generally, no matter what principles it’s conceived on, will rebound against those who currently have little or no power and therefore in favour of the already powerful and privileged. Whatever sort of tests you devise for intelligence, mental health, and developmental level, congenital psychopaths will figure out how to pass them, and so will religious conservatives. But many poor people and members of disadvantaged minority groups will fail the tests or not even bother attempting them. What aids the powerless against the powerful is not narrowing political participation but broadening it.

  • MNb

    “they have very little idea what to do about it”
    If Europe is an example indeed there is nothing they can do about it. Dutch churches have tried everything: becoming more strict, getting looser. The Dutch still don’t go to church.

    “they’re increasingly moving abroad, to developing countries”
    Yes, they are trying to penetrate Suriname as well. Fortunately its inhabitants seem to be up to this challenge. Still my ex-wife has lost a brother who had more faith in praying than in doctors. Thanks, American evangelicals.

  • Thundal Archsys

    “But sometime in the 1990s, the ground started to shift, and it’s been sliding ever since.”

    So… the advent of the internet?

  • Thundal Archsys

    Faith is defined as a belief in something for which there is no evidence. That definition also fits all criteria for delusions, except the religious exception (which was an after-thought).

    Might want to look at your problems here a little more closely.

  • David Liddle

    “I am a conservative Republican and I believe in God first,” Atanus said. She said she believes God
    controls the weather and has put tornadoes and diseases such as autism
    and dementia on earth as punishment for gay rights and legalized
    abortions.” This is beyond any rational or critical thinking,it’s blind faith skewed with hate and intolerance sanctified by there God. Therefore deemed OK tolerable and untouchable she can lead or mislead heard flock of sheep over a cliff and it all seems plausible if you say, In the Name of the Lord,THANK YOU JESUS!!!!” You don’t have to crash a plane into a building or wrap dynamite around your body to see just how dangerous these fundamentalist’s groups really are.

  • rg57

    “stopping the religious right is a global issue,”

    Yes. And it’s not just Protestant. Or even Christian.

  • Leeloo Dallas Multipass

    Could you give us your definition of “faith”? The sense of the word I’m most familiar with is the one from “a leap of faith”, referring to accepting a proposition without sufficient supporting evidence. Such a faith pretty much can’t answer criticisms by definition — it can only ignore them.

    I’m aware this is a definitionally squishy word, and some people use it to mean something more like “trust”, as in “have faith in”. Or some other meaning. Please give further details, otherwise it will just be people talking past each other!

  • GCT

    Going by Tillich’s definition: “Faith is the state of being ultimately concerned,” I’d say we’re in for a rather bumpy ride, seeing as how that definition is incoherent and has nothing to do with the ability to answer questions and criticisms. Tillich rejects the notion that faith is belief for which there is either a lack of compelling evidence, or in spite of contrary evidence, which is the definition of the word. So, he makes up his own definition, which is more woo than anything else, and then goes on for pages making up shit as he goes along.

  • Proudscalawag

    I’m no expert but I’ll try. Faith is something that, unless it’s lived out, is difficult to persuade others to share–and so it should be. One could say that lives lived well according to faith is a sort of evidence. It might also be defined as staying with one’s heart-knowledge as opposed to one’s head–like persisting in treating the earth and other people well when almost everything and everyone else is urging you to take, take, take while you can!
    Faith has little or nothing to do with ‘religious’ prating; the evidence is in the lives lived accordingly.
    The ‘evidence’ for faith may not be in front of us, but it’s usually found down the road. Real faith teaches more of us (or at least it should) to take the longer view of things.

  • Leeloo Dallas Multipass

    What you’re describing sounds more like long-term thinking to me. I don’t have to take it on faith that it’s a bad idea to despoil the earth and to treat other people poorly–I have plenty of evidence that both of those things lead to bad outcomes.

  • GCT

    This is rather incoherent. The best I can make out is that you are begging the question by defining faith as a well-lived life and thus completing your circular reasoning by using this to back up your claims that faith is a good thing. Problem is that the word faith has a definition, and it has to do with belief, not with what you are positing. What you are proposing is nothing more than thinly veiled religious privilege, where we are supposed to just accept that religion and faith are good things, and reject all those that do not act in moral ways who claim to be acting with faith as not true Xians/theists/faithful/whatever.

    The plain fact is that faith is irrational and is not a good thing. It leads to unexamined biases and decisions. For every moral claim that someone may stumble upon, faith didn’t help you be right, and there’s infinite ways to be wrong using faith. It’s inherently faulty and detrimental to humanity, and we’d all be better off not basing our decisions on it.

  • Proudscalawag

    Exactly. Faith IS long-term thinking among other things.

  • Proudscalawag

    Faith DID help me make some right decisions. If faith is of no use to you, well and good. That’s your business, pal. And if you really think I’m advocating religious privilege, I’m not sure you’ve read my previous posts. Didn’t I say, “A robust, vital faith….spurns help from the state”?
    And you reject those who broadcast their religion and then act in immoral ways anyway; so what’s your beef if I disavow them as not my brethren?

  • GCT

    Faith DID help me make some right decisions.

    How? What is the mechanism that made-up beliefs use to influence your decisions that don’t take into account the fact that you made them up?

    And if you really think I’m advocating religious privilege, I’m not sure you’ve read my previous posts. Didn’t I say, “A robust, vital faith….spurns help from the state”?

    Irrelevant. You are advocating religious privilege. You want us to simply agree with you that faith is a good thing. It is not.

    And you reject those who broadcast their religion and then act in immoral ways anyway; so what’s your beef if I disavow them as not my brethren?

    First, it’s logically fallacious. Second, by what mechanism are you rejecting them? They use faith, just as you do. You can claim that you have faith that gays should be treated equally (do you?) and they can claim their faith says gays should not be treated equally. So, how do we tell which is better or more faithful? How do we tell which of you is the real deal? How do you argue with someone who claims their arguments come from their own wishful thinking and that’s all the reason they need? All of these are problems with faith and why it is not a good method of discerning truth or making decisions.

  • kanawah

    The fundie groups should be classified as a terrorist organization.

  • kanawah

    I like Mark Twain’s definition of faith best. That being :
    “Faith is believing what you mind knows ain’t so.”

  • Amon Xepera

    hmmm, maybe people are finally getting an education! it would be good to see this insanity stop and these hateful screeds banished from our world.

  • Proudscalawag

    The ‘mechanism’ is always difficult to articulate, although I can make a start by quoting Niebuhr’s reply to a student who held up a Bible and demanded to knw whether it was God’s word. Niebuhr’s reply was, “That depends on whether it grabs you the way you grab it.” You could say something in me (I was brought up in an agnostic household, btw) grabbed at or was grabbed by something in the narrative. No one this side of death knows ALL about faith, including and perhaps especially me, and anyone who says s/he does is a blasphemous liar! One thing I can say though: BLIND faith does lead into a ditch, but faith is not ipso facto blind. If you’re serious about it, you learn to work doubt through instead of ducking away from it and/or pretending it’s not there!
    And frankly, I don’t give a good goddamn whether you or anyone you know agrees with me about faith or anything else, but if you give yourself the mission to destroy mine, you’re just the other side of the bad fundamentalist coin; and whether you have looks debatable at least.
    Next, I read the text also to figure out how it was used and understood then (and also as many reasons why it might be there at all)–that is, I seek the spirit of the text and carefully avoid using it as an excuse, or excuses, to trample or proscribe whatever might either scare me or I consider icky. They do neither; they act as if the meaning has never changed and as if the reason for it to be there is still active when it may not be and they basically hide their own fears and prejudices behind Scripture; I use Scripture to tear such evils down, move beyond them and do my best to persuade others to do likewise!
    Finally, how do YOU make decisions when your neo-cortical reason draws a blank? That happens, you know. Or could you be the Ubermensch?

  • Leeloo Dallas Multipasss

    If what I just described was faith, then you’re using a meaning of the term which has nothing to do with most people, atheist and theist alike, mean when they say “faith”. It may be useful to you as a label for this other concept, but if you use it without explaining that you’re talking about something different, it’s just going to lead to confusion.

  • GCT

    The ‘mechanism’ is always difficult to articulate, although I can make a start by quoting Niebuhr’s reply to a student who held up a Bible and demanded to knw whether it was God’s word. Niebuhr’s reply was, “That depends on whether it grabs you the way you grab it.” You could say something in me (I was brought up in an agnostic household, btw) grabbed at or was grabbed by something in the narrative.

    That something seems nice to you doesn’t make it true.

    One thing I can say though: BLIND faith does lead into a ditch, but faith is not ipso facto blind. If you’re serious about it, you learn to work doubt through instead of ducking away from it and/or pretending it’s not there!

    Again, faith is believing in things for which no evidence exists or even in spite of contradictory evidence. It is inherently a method of ignoring doubt. All faith is “blind faith.”

    And frankly, I don’t give a good goddamn whether you or anyone you know agrees with me about faith or anything else…

    If you don’t care about using words in the same way as other people, I can only conclude that you don’t care about making yourself understood.

    …but if you give yourself the mission to destroy mine, you’re just the other side of the bad fundamentalist coin; and whether you have looks debatable at least.

    There is nothing fundamentalist about asking for people to be rational and present evidence for their beliefs. This is your religious privilege rearing its ugly head, yet again. The idea that your faith is sacrosanct is simply not true.

    They do neither; they act as if the meaning has never changed and as if the reason for it to be there is still active when it may not be and they basically hide their own fears and prejudices behind Scripture; I use Scripture to tear such evils down, move beyond them and do my best to persuade others to do likewise!

    That’s nice and all, but it doesn’t actually work, else the history of the world wouldn’t be littered with religious schism. Religions don’t tend to come together, they diverge. That’s because you can’t argue someone out of a faith position using other faith positions. You take it on faith that scripture is true and that you have the correct interpretations, and so does the person you are arguing with. Why should they listen to you when you don’t actually have reason and evidence on your side?

    Finally, how do YOU make decisions when your neo-cortical reason draws a blank? That happens, you know. Or could you be the Ubermensch?

    Yes, sometimes we are all faced with difficult decisions. So what? I fail to see how this is relevant to the discussion. If I lack facts and have to make a choice, I try to make the best possible choice based on what I do know. I don’t, however, claim that this is a superior way to go about making choices as you have.

  • Proudscalawag

    It may on occasion be ALL you have to go on, youngster! And you’re twisting and reading your own s**t into my words like nobody’s business! For starters, I’ve never even suggested faith decisions as a ‘superior’ way; that’s you reading into it!!
    Faith actually begins with the biggest question, “Why?” and continues from there. Milton said, if you believe something just because your parson (or the assembly) says so, you are in a sense a heretic. Mind you, I did say JUST because!
    And no, not all faith is blind. Doubt is a necessary part of faith; working through doubt (NOT ducking or squelching it) is one way of strengthening faith. I’m not even sure I agree with your daffynishion of it but I’ll mull that over–later!
    Unless someone’s ‘faith’ tells them to kill, steal, cheat others (good ol’ Joseph Smiff) or enslave them in one way or another, why argue them out of faith at all?
    You sound like an atheist missionary and I’ll leave you with this: faith and reason are, properly, not enemies but partners. Clamp down on freedom of faith and reason will be packing her bags right sharply. Look at the Nazi and Communist states, with their ‘German physics’ and Lysenko’s nonsense! BTW, the replacement of science with ideology is one reason the ‘Christian’ right is such a great danger; not much different than Islamists!
    Religions diverge in their particulars; not so much if at all in their ‘hearts’. Shows you’re nowhere near any such ‘heart’. Like all fundies of any kind, you’re a ‘borderer’. Question is, which do YOU want to play and/or hear played? That’s entirely up to you.
    And what are you telling me about ‘not wanting to be understood’? Examine your own biases and don’t give me crap about ‘you haven’t any’. Bullshit! We all have them; the question is can we recognize them? I write so as to be understood and don’t blame ME for YOUR lack of understanding!
    Finally: without faith there is no ‘why?’. Mull that over for a good long time and see how true it is. Especially, think about what else goes if there is no ‘why?’

  • GCT

    It may on occasion be ALL you have to go on, youngster!

    Don’t be patronizing, for starters. Also, I fail to see how this helps your argument in any way.

    For starters, I’ve never even suggested faith decisions as a ‘superior’ way; that’s you reading into it!!

    Fair enough. However, you still claim that it’s just as good a method, which is still incorrect. Also, one instance does not make it “like nobody’s business.”

    Faith actually begins with the biggest question, “Why?” and continues from there.

    This is just more re-definitional babble. We have “why” questions. People try to employ faith to answer those questions by making up stories that sound good to them.

    And no, not all faith is blind. Doubt is a necessary part of faith; working through doubt (NOT ducking or squelching it) is one way of strengthening faith.

    Repeating yourself doesn’t make you correct. By definition, faith is blind, because it is the abandonment of the principles of reason. Also, I have to ask (something you’ll not answer as you wouldn’t answer it before) by what mechanism one works through doubt. With faith, you have a made up story. How do you determine whether your made up story is correct or not? If one does have a doubt, what method does one use to determine whether their made up story is actually correct?

    Unless someone’s ‘faith’ tells them to kill, steal, cheat others (good ol’ Joseph Smiff) or enslave them in one way or another, why argue them out of faith at all?

    You can’t by simply appealing to a competing faith. But, you aren’t answering the question by simply trying to turn it around. The deficit lies on your side and dodging the question doesn’t help you.

    You sound like an atheist missionary and I’ll leave you with this: faith and reason are, properly, not enemies but partners.

    And, this makes you sound like a bigot. Secondly, faith and reason cannot be partners, since faith is the rejection of reason. Again, you don’t get to make up your own definitions and then claim they are what everyone else holds to.

    Clamp down on freedom of faith and reason will be packing her bags right sharply.

    No one here is talking about “clamp[ing] down on freedom of faith.” But, even if we were, if people stopped trying to come to decisions based on faith (wishful thinking) then I fail to see how that would cause reason to go away. If people started basing their decisions on what is real instead of what is made-up, how would that cause people to be less reasonable.

    Look at the Nazi and Communist states, with their ‘German physics’ and Lysenko’s nonsense!

    Which was unreasonable from the start and based on a lot of faith. Godwinning the thread doesn’t help your case in the least.

    Religions diverge in their particulars; not so much if at all in their ‘hearts’.

    Tell that to all the people killed in holy wars, or by an inquisition, or because they were determined to be apostate/heretical, etc.

    Shows you’re nowhere near any such ‘heart’. Like all fundies of any kind, you’re a ‘borderer’.

    Again, this is just bigoted.

    And what are you telling me about ‘not wanting to be understood’?

    I was trying to be charitable. The alternatives are that you are intentionally misleading or that you have no idea what you are talking about.

    We all have them; the question is can we recognize them?

    You, obviously, do not.

    I write so as to be understood and don’t blame ME for YOUR lack of understanding!

    Then, I suggest you use the actual definition of words instead of making up new definitions (especially ones that beg the question) and stop attempting to bait and switch.

    Finally: without faith there is no ‘why?’. Mull that over for a good long time and see how true it is. Especially, think about what else goes if there is no ‘why?’

    This is utter and absolute nonsense. The “why” questions come first. People don’t have answers, so they make up answers based on wishful thinking, which is the faith part. Faith is an attempt to answer the “why” questions, not the genesis of the “why” questions, except in the case that the made-up non-answer based on faith usually engenders more questions. For instance, the question of how many angels can dance on the head of a pin never would have come up without people making up stories about angels to begin with. Faith is borne of ignorance, ignorance of the answers to “why” questions, but not having the answer and not making up stories to try and answer those questions doesn’t mean the questions don’t exist.

  • Proudscalawag

    It’s you who doesn’t recognize your foibles. And as to your gimcrack daffynishion of faith–well, ‘oo told ya that, guv? It’s a badly mistaken and callow definition of faith: faith is NOT the abandonment of reason nor are they opposites; they complement each other and where reason tapers off, faith takes over. Faith is to varying extents informed by reason; it’s not blind by definition by any means. I DO want to know whence comes your daffynishion.
    You obviously don’t believe that a person can ‘know’ something in his/her heart with scanty, or no, empirical knowledge. And before you snap out, why not–well now, mon petit, imagine if the supernatural WAS empirically provable. Then take the arrogant certitude of those who only THINK they know it all and multiply it by as high a factor as you can think! Think God doesn’t know that?!
    That is where faith is tested: in the heart. That’s why I can only tell you of the answers I’ve found and what I’ve learned over my life, and also why I can say at the very most, I don’t know if this’ll work for you but it might be worth a try. That’s how faith is tested: through inner dialogue, of which prayer can (and, in my opinion, should) be a part. See? Your prodding actually encourages me to articulate these matters, which is a very good thing.
    And another thing: how do you think hypotheses, including scientific ones, start out? As hunches, that’s how–that is, as a specimen of the heart’s knowledge? If we never acted on faith, we might still be little groups of hunter-gatherers if even that and we wouldn’t be arguing like this!
    Those killed and killing in religious wars was because of the shallowness of their religion, not its depth. Think about it, my young would-be apparatchik. And indeed, to me you read like an embryo totalitarian!
    So I’ll be just as patronizing as I see fit as you come across as a callow and sophomoric biped. You seem to think YOU know everything when I’ll put cash on you actually knowing next to nothing. Please note, too, that I make no such claim of all-encompassing knowledge; far from it. One difference between us is, I KNOW I know next to nothing; you don’t seem to yet!

  • GCT

    And as to your gimcrack daffynishion of faith–well, ‘oo told ya that, guv?

    It’s pretty well accepted as a definition. But, let’s take your definition our for a spin for a second. Apparently, faith is long term planning, doing good deeds, being a nice person, etc. By that definition, atheists could be considered faithful, which kinda destroys the meaning of the word. You’re trying to define faith as “something that is good” so that you can claim that it’s something that is good. It’s logically fallacious and not how the rest of us use the word.

    …faith is NOT the abandonment of reason nor are they opposites…

    If you have reason on your side, then you don’t need faith. For instance, I have lots of evidence for evolution, therefore I don’t need to have faith that evolution is true.

    …they complement each other and where reason tapers off, faith takes over…

    IOW, it’s a god of the gaps argument.

    You obviously don’t believe that a person can ‘know’ something in his/her heart with scanty, or no, empirical knowledge.

    Everything that we, as humans, can claim to “know” has come from some variant of the scientific method. Everything. No one has yet come up with a piece of knowledge from prayer or from making up stories that made them feel good.

    And before you snap out, why not–well now, mon petit, imagine if the supernatural WAS empirically provable. Then take the arrogant certitude of those who only THINK they know it all and multiply it by as high a factor as you can think! Think God doesn’t know that?!

    IOW, god keeps himself hidden because the arrogance of people would be worse if he made himself known? This is particularly shoddy reasoning, which is saying something considering your entire argument is based on a conglomeration of logical fallacies, religious privilege, and bigotry.

    That’s why I can only tell you of the answers I’ve found and what I’ve learned over my life…

    You’ve yet to demonstrate anything that you’ve learned from faith, prayer, or making up shit, except that you’re a religiously privilege bigot and an insufferably arrogant one at that.

    And another thing: how do you think hypotheses, including scientific ones, start out? As hunches, that’s how–that is, as a specimen of the heart’s knowledge?

    LOL. No, they start out as unexplained observations. Your ignorance of the scientific method is not at all surprising. Scientists don’t use faith in their work.

    Those killed and killing in religious wars was because of the shallowness of their religion, not its depth.

    This is nothing more than your ugly religious privilege once again coming to the fore, as well as a No True Scotsman fallacy. You don’t get to claim that people who engage in religious wars are not true Xians™ or whatever else.

    And indeed, to me you read like an embryo totalitarian!

    And, here is more of your bigotry. So, I’m a totalitarian because I see no need for wishful thinking in place of reasoned argument? How very abusive and bigoted of you.

    So I’ll be just as patronizing as I see fit as you come across as a callow and sophomoric biped.

    I see. You are patronizing, abusive, bigoted, religiously privileged, arrogant, can’t make an argument without stepping in a fallacy, ignorant, etc, but I’m the one who is callow and sophomoric because I advocate that people use reason?

    You seem to think YOU know everything when I’ll put cash on you actually knowing next to nothing.

    More religiously privileged and bigoted nonsense.

    One difference between us is, I KNOW I know next to nothing; you don’t seem to yet!

    It’s quite apparent that you know next to nothing, yet here you are trying to lecture us atheists on what it is that you claim you don’t know? Oh, no, you’re more arrogant than all that.

  • evodevo

    That is one reason – another is the rise of MTV, shows like Will & Grace, and cable, and now internet, alternatives to the MSM. A whole generation grew up exposed to the idea that there were gay people out there and they weren’t so bad; that having sex, freedom of choice, readily-available contraception, and living together without marriage was normal; and this was unfavorably contrasted with the spittle-flecked invective from the fundie side. The Fundies lost the culture war as far as the younger generation a loooong time ago and have been fighting a rearguard action all along. Hopefully it’s only a matter of time till they become as politically irrelevant as they were when I was growing up.

  • Bryan Richards

    hypocrisy is a cornerstone of religions in general and definitely christianity…

    they may not say they value it, but they continually demonstrate otherwise.


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