Dealing with Truth

A couple news stories today show that people can’t handle the truth.

A pastor from Colorado has stepped down from the pulpit because he’s gay.

(Fark headline: “Evangelical megachurch preacher in Colorado admits he’s gay. No, not that preacher, the other one. No, the other other one”)

Rev. Paul Barnes of Grace Chapel in Douglas County says,

“I have struggled with homosexuality since I was a 5-year-old boy… I can’t tell you the number of nights I have cried myself to sleep, begging God to take this away.”

Well, if he understood that being gay is not a choice (an idea Barnes chooses not to accept, opting instead to find the “childhood influences” that lead to his homosexuality), maybe this wouldn’t torment him so much. But still, traditional doctrine can’t change, can it…?

Then again, if he didn’t believe in God, this probably wouldn’t torment him as much either… Incidentally, this is why Richard Dawkins equates religion teaching to child abuse. Thinking at a young age that you’re going to hell because of something you can’t control is akin to mental abuse.

And what “childhood influences” are we talking about? What would influence someone to be gay at the age of five? Sitting on Santa’s lap…?

Speaking of which, a grade school teacher from Britain was fired because she told her nine-year-old students (approximately 4th grade) there is no Santa.

Now, I’m not advocating she should’ve done this. It probably wasn’t in the curriculum. But c’mon. They’re nine. What harm was done? At what age do you tell them the truth?

One student’s mom said, “It’s taken away the magic.”

Yes. That’s exactly what is supposed to happen with magic. Magic looks real, but it actually isn’t. The fun of magic is trying to figure out the secret.

It’s one thing to withhold the secret if people know there’s something behind it. But what good does it do to children to let them think magic is real?

Wouldn’t they be better off in life knowing that there is an explanation for many improbable events and they may just not know it yet?

If anything, this teacher just made her students more intelligent.

This winter, they will be questioning how those presents get under the tree. That kind of critical thinking is essential in life.


[tags]Colorado, pastor, Fark, Evangelical, megachurch, Paul Barnes, Grace Chapel, Douglas County, God, Richard Dawkins, atheism, Christian, Britain, Santa, magic[/tags]

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  • Eliza

    Dave Palmer, an associate pastor…said the church got an anonymous call last week from a person concerned for the welfare of Barnes and the church. The caller had overheard a conversation in which someone mentioned “blowing the whistle” on evangelical preachers engaged in homosexuality, including Barnes, Palmer said.

    Palmer met with Barnes, who confessed. At an emergency meeting Thursday, a board of elders accepted Barnes’ resignation after he admitted “sexual infidelity,” violating the church’s code of conduct. Church leaders also must affirm annually that they are “living the moral and ethical teachings of Scripture in my public and private life.”

    Why is it that these evangelical pastors have “admitted” their “sin” and stepped down only after being “outed”? They are clearly aware that their behavior violates their church’s code of conduct (and of course their “orientation” does too, though that doesn’t have to be acted on, can be kept private – between the individual and God, I guess).

    There have been several pastors (in the United Methodist Church a few years ago, I believe) who took the initiative & came out to their congregations, subsequently facing review & (in some cases) sanction by their church’s overseers (those higher in the hierarchy of their denomination). Seems to me that takes alot more guts…

  • Bobby

    Well, if he understood that being gay is not a choice (an idea Barnes chooses not to accept, opting instead to find the “childhood influences” that lead to his homosexuality), maybe this wouldn’t torment him so much.

    No, it wouldn’t torment him so much if he thought, oh well not my fault. I agree that “childhood influences” aren’t the cause but then who among us can claim we know what is the cause?

    Then again, if he didn’t believe in God, this probably wouldn’t torment him as much either…

    No God…no foul.

    Incidentally, this is why Richard Dawkins equates religion teaching to child abuse. Thinking at a young age that you’re going to hell because of something you can’t control is akin to mental abuse.

    What about teaching about forgiveness? Is that mental abuse? Of course I disagree with the “control” issue but what are the choices: deny any fault in order to find somewhere else to cast blame, then when all else fails say, oh well, guess I was just born that way, or to admit fault and step back from all public duties in order to figure out what to do.

    Since when does “step down” always mean “booted out”?

  • txatheist

    Speaking of which, a grade school teacher from Britain was fired because she told her nine-year-old students (approximately 4th grade) there is no Santa.

    Now, I’m not advocating she should’ve done this. It probably wasn’t in the curriculum. But c’mon. They’re nine. What harm was done? At what age do you tell them the truth?

    When my son asks if Santa is not real I will ask him why he said that and if he has it figured out then I will confirm that Santa isn’t real. Ain’t no way I’m doing it this year. My wife has convinced him to leave a gigantic cookie for Santa and I can guarantee Santa loves cookies.

  • txatheist

    Bobby said

    I agree that “childhood influences” aren’t the cause but then who among us can claim we know what is the cause?

    I don’t think cause is the choice word here. No one person, thing, or event caused me to be an atheist. No one thing, event or person causes someone to be gay.

    How about =I agree that “childhood influences” aren’t the reason but then who among us can claim we know what is the reason?

    Answer: Self-realization
    In other words, I don’t believe in a god therefore I’m an atheist. He is sexually attracted to men therefore gay. I am sexually attracted to women therefore heterosexual.

  • Don Pope

    My kids still believe in Santa Claus. My wife wants to tell them the truth now. I’m more inclined to tell them after Christmas.

    The good part of the story is that I think this would also be a great opportunity to tell them that gods don’t exist either. My wife, who is Catholic doesn’t find that amusing, but so far I have let her bring up the kids Catholic, and at some point I have to give them my point of view.

    Interesting dilemma, ain’t it?

  • txatheist

    Don Pope,
    I had the same dilemma. My wife was Catholic but her, our son and I have found a great home in the UU church. I plan to explain that god is a concept to help people but the bible is just a story. When he asks the literal questions like is god real or is jesus the christ I’ll tell him to keep searching. That’s my plan as of now.

  • HappyNat

    “What about teaching about forgiveness? Is that mental abuse? ”

    Of course that isn’t mental abuse. What does it have to do with god?

  • Bobby

    How about =I agree that “childhood influences” aren’t the reason but then who among us can claim we know what is the reason?

    Answer: Self-realization

    Great clarification and answer tx.

    “What about teaching about forgiveness? Is that mental abuse? ”

    Of course that isn’t mental abuse. What does it have to do with god

    well for starters God is irresistably full of grace. He loves even the most vile of all of humans. Teaching that we are deserving of hell without teaching about forgiveness is child abuse. Forgiveness fills in a little more of the picture of who God is. Christ did not come to condemn the world, but that through Him the world might be saved.

    My wife has convinced him to leave a gigantic cookie for Santa and I can guarantee Santa loves cookies.

    I think that the best thing Santa leaves every year is that plate of cookies. Smile

  • txatheist

    Bobby said

    God is irresistably full of grace

    We disagree and if the bible were correct I’d say drowning the whole earth for not worshipping the way he wants his hardly forgiving and grace. We’ll have to disagree that teaching someone the mere idea of eternal damnation is anything but psychologically dysfunctional. I don’t think Christ came and if you believe he did something important that’s fine. I”m not in needing of saving but you choose to believe you are if you want.

    I was inferring that Santa isn’t real but when someone believes a force will give them a gift they do things to please him. It’s a metaphor.

  • HappyNat

    Bobby,

    My point is asking that question is that teaching forgiveness is great and can be done without god being involved. It is important for people to learn to forgive others, going through life with grudges is a sad way to live.

    I don’t see the god of the bible as full of grace. He himself set up a system where a majority of people on his earth will fail and go to hell. He also changed his grand plan on several occasions in the bible, further confusing his followers. If anyone needs forgiveness it is him.

  • Bobby

    We disagree and if the bible were correct I’d say drowning the whole earth for not worshipping the way he wants his hardly forgiving and grace.

    I’m glad He promised to never do that again. Yet knowing what He is capable of I’d say that (for me) His grace is proven by the fact that I am writing to you right now. (and not being drown or some other thing) Ever think that God (if He exists) may have done that as a favor for future generations, to show us how much it means to Him that we are good to each other and Him?

    I was inferring that Santa isn’t real but when someone believes a force will give them a gift they do things to please him. It’s a metaphor.

    hey great point. Sorry I didn’t catch it before. I thought you were like me: really glad Santa doesn’t come because we would miss out on all those great cookies!

    forgiveness is great and can be done without god being involved.

    I agree…but I think I would rather say it can be done without giving God any credit or glory. (I believe all good things come from God whether we acknowledge Him or not) I agree that everybody is capable of forgiveness.

    I don’t see the god of the bible as full of grace. He himself set up a system where a majority of people on his earth will fail and go to hell.

    I’m sorry you see Him that way. I hope you can see God the way we who love Him do one day. Like anything, in order to really know God, we should study from all different hypothesis. Studying the bible in order to prove a hypothesis is ineffective in finding the truths contained within.

  • txatheist

    I’m sorry you see Him that way. I hope you can see God the way we who love Him do one day. Like anything, in order to really know God, we should study from all different hypothesis. Studying the bible in order to prove a hypothesis is ineffective in finding the truths contained within.

    It’s nothing to be sorry about, I just read the bible for what it is to me, a very vindictive and cruel main character who tortures and kills people. That will never be love but sick and cruel just like drowing and plagues are cruel to do to anyone. False promises are not something I concern myself with. I believe I found the truth to the bible. God is a myth.

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  • Maria

    Then again, if he didn’t believe in God, this probably wouldn’t torment him as much either… Incidentally, this is why Richard Dawkins equates religion teaching to child abuse. Thinking at a young age that you’re going to hell because of something you can’t control is akin to mental abuse.

    I assume you mean the biblical God? In that case I definitely agree.

    As for the teacher, it’s not her place to tell the student whether Santa exists or not. That’s a conversation the child should have with his/her parents.

  • Monkey

    Question for those parents who’s children believe in Santa Claus…

    What prompted you to think “Yeah, we should outright lie to our child, that sounds like a good idea.”

    I would love to know how that justification went down.

    Is getting presents somehow sweeter when the foundation for them is deception?