A Glimpse of the Garden

By way of Pandagon, I came across this incredible story from NPR's This American Life, an hourlong report on, and interview with, the evangelical pastor Carlton Pearson.Pearson was once one of the rising stars of the religious right: a hardcore Pentecostal preacher, head of an Oklahoma megachurch, a protege of Oral Roberts and a spokesman for George Bush's faith-based initiatives who had the ear of the White House under three different presidents. He preached alongside Jerry Falwell, Jim … [Read more...]

Open Thread: Battle Royale Edition

This comment was left on a different post by a visitor calling himself Ty:I cannot imagine how you could believe that there is no savior in this world. I am 14, and strongly believe that Jesus Christ died on the cross for the sins of the whole world. I'm almost offended that you could think there is no God. If you really believe that you have evidence that Christ is not the Savior of the world, I'd like to hear your claims. No offense to you or any other atheist, but I believe that they would … [Read more...]

Season’s Warning: The Bowery Mission

The other day, I got this piece of mail soliciting donations for a "Thanksgiving meal ticket" for New York City's homeless, from an organization calling itself the Bowery Mission:I skimmed the letter, which looked like a run-of-the-mill charity solicitation. (I normally give to America's Second Harvest for this sort of thing.) I was about to throw it away when a thought occurred to me: The name "The Bowery Mission" sounds distinctly … [Read more...]

Is Evangelicalism On the Wane?

Is the power of the religious right declining in America? Several lines of evidence would seem to indicate so.Heading into the 2008 election, the evangelical movement is fragmented and leaderless, lacking a clear sense of enthusiasm or a preferred candidate to rally behind. Several important figures, including Jerry Falwell and D. James Kennedy, have recently died. Atheists and nonbelievers are growing in influence. And the religious right's public brand is badly damaged, viewed as … [Read more...]

Vignette from the New York Subway

Presented without further comment:Last night, when I got on the subway, I noticed an older, balding white man wearing a white T-shirt. The front of his shirt read, in multicolored block letters, "I'm so happy I'm saved," and the back read, over a backdrop of flames, "I won't have to spend eternity in the lake of fire. P.S.: There won't be a drink of water there!"As the train pulled away from the station, a young black man entered the car. He announced that he was down on his luck, was trying … [Read more...]

A Letter to Jack Chick

Dear Mr. Chick,You probably don't know me, but I'm writing to send you my thanks. I used to be a hardcore, evil, godless atheist, but after reading some of your wonderful Christian fundamentalist cartoon tracts, I've realized just how wrong I've been. Now I know that there is a God who loves me and who died for my sins, and that his name is Jesus Christ. I also now understand that playing Dungeons & Dragons too much will lead to you being initiated into a witches' coven and taught how to … [Read more...]

The Arrogance of the Miraculous

This past Tuesday, a DC-9 jetliner crashed on takeoff in Goma, in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. After failing to lift off, the plane crashed and burst into flame on the ground. Among the passengers were the Mosiers, a family of Seventh-Day Adventist missionaries. With the help of other passengers, they forced open a door and escaped as smoke filled the stricken plane's cabin. The Mosiers' 3-year-old son Andrew suffered a broken leg, but other than that, they got out with only bruises. … [Read more...]

Magic Spell Jesus

A few weeks back, I was looking through my traffic logs and found someone who came across my article "The Power of Christ Compels You" via the following Google search:http://www.google.com/search?hl=en&q=applying+the+blood+of+jesus+against+evil+peopleI'm guessing my article wasn't what this person was looking for, so I ran the search myself and found the following essay: How to Plead the Blood of Jesus for Deliverance and Protection.This remarkable essay is founded on a deep belief in … [Read more...]

The Witch Children of Nigeria

I've written on several past occasions about how belief in malignant supernatural forces causes real harm to real people. There are examples of this from every region of the world, but some of the most wrenching are from Africa, where Biblical beliefs about demons and evil spirits still run rampant.In January, I wrote about the witch camps of Ghana, where people suspected of using black magic to harm their neighbors are exiled as if they were lepers. In April, there were the Pentecostals of … [Read more...]

Theocracy Watch XIII: Fighting Prison Theocracy

Last year, in a previous installment of Theocracy Watch, I wrote about unconstitutional government-supported prison ministries which target a literal captive audience. Many Christian evangelists view these ministries as a great opportunity to preach to those who can't escape, as if the prisons were their own personal factories for churning out converts. Worse, the Bush administration has been all too willing to let them in, and has cooperated in setting up coercive programs that offer special … [Read more...]


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