Student Who Dressed Up as Jesus During School’s ‘Fictional Character Day’ Featured on SourceFed

SourceFed featured a nice summary of Jeff Shott‘s story. Jeff is the high school student who dressed up as Jesus for “Fictional Character Day” and got in trouble for it:

(Thanks to Nicholas for the link!)

About Hemant Mehta

Hemant Mehta is the editor of Friendly Atheist, appears on the Atheist Voice channel on YouTube, and co-hosts the uniquely-named Friendly Atheist Podcast. You can read much more about him here.

  • Msteger44

    It makes me nervous when kids are more intelligent than their teachers.  I am impressed with the young man for whom this took courage and critical thinking. I gotta say not a good idea. Too antagonistic. I wonder if the devil would have been less controversial.

    I loved the enthusiastic broadcasters!  

  • Dplaat

    It concerns me to see young presenters making a false equivalence like any network hack out there.  They viewed dressing up as jesus as mean, mocking act by itself, and said there are smart people on the creationist side. What is up with these two? is their show so processed that it delivers a message of confusion

  • Ignatz

    Well, the student succeeded in making atheists look ignorant, since Jesus of Nazareth isn’t a fictional character.

  • cousinavi

    These two kids need to put down the cocaine and stop guzzling coffee before switching on the camera.
    The claim that there are highly intelligent people arguing on behalf of creationism is misleading.   While it may be possible for someone to be a high achiever in some other field while holding creationist beliefs, insofar as an explanation for the diversity of life on this planet or the existence of the universe itself is concerned, creationist belief is, all by itself, sufficient proof of imbecility.

  • cousinavi

    @ Ignatz: Would your evidence that Jesus is not a fictional character be forthcoming?

  • Charles Almon

    Got a pic?

  • nothierthanthou

     Well, just to be clear, I for one will not be jumping to conclusions about the ignorance of Christians in general based on your post.

  • nothierthanthou

     Yeah, their platitudes were quite annoying. I was irritated enough to hear them defending the intelligence of creationism, but got even more pissed when they did the same thing for atheists. So reasonable, …and so mindless.

  • RMasters

    Proof that Jesus is not a fictional character cannot only be drawn from the Muslim and Jewish religions where he is traditionally believed to have been simply a prophet, but also in the writings of Cornelius Tacitus, Pliny the younger, and Suetonius. I am a firm believer in questioning one’s faith and finding the truth, and this is the truth I have found. Something like this happened at the college where I attend; an over-zealous man was yelling about how everyone was going to hell and the resident atheist group on campus decided to mock him and one young man dressed up as Jesus. I was horrified that the group accusing “Brother Jed” of being intolerant were offending me, and other Christians like me by the stunt. Not that I at all agreed with Brother Jed, but the atheist group was certainly not recommending themselves to me.

  • Pseudonym

    While Jesus obviously isn’t a (purely) fictional character, the student only succeeded in looking like a high school student attempting to pull a stupid prank.

    Well, up until the point where the FFRF got involved, but the FFRF already looked stupid.

  • Slugsie

    I’m willing to accept that there was a character wandering around Galilee 2000 years ago by the name of Jesus, and that he may have ‘claimed’ to be a bit more than just a simple human being. But I cannot accept that the character of Jesus as portrayed in the Bibble and the Christian religion is anything other than fictional. Extraordinary claims etc etc.

    Oh, and those two kids in the video need to slow down a touch before they blow a gasket. Even 10% would make it so much easier to follow their point. That video might also be good for a round of ‘Spot the logical fallacy’.

  • Joe Fogey

    Jesus is no more  a fictional character than Robin Hood is.

  • Sindigo

    Well, seeing as the Jewish and Christian peoples were the effectively the same people at the time of Jesus’ claimed existence, you would expect them to share a similar opinion on his hiostoricity. The Muslim faith didn’t appear until several centuries after and then only as an off-shoot of Abrahamic religions so we would expect them to share some myths with their parent religions.

    Also: Tacitus, born: AD 56, Gaius Plinius Caecilius Secundus (Pliny the younger) born: AD 61, Suetonius, born: ca AD 70. None of these men were contemporaries of Jesus so their evidence is second-hand at best. Suetonius in particular talks about the existence of Christians at least as much as the existence of Christ himself. Tacitus talks about Jesus’ execution at the hands of Pontius Pilate but at least 50 or 60 years after it happened. Certainly plenty of time for rumours of his death to to be greatly exaggerated.

    I would question the validity of any of the evidence you put forward for the existence of an historical Jesus. Of course, this says nothing about whether or not an itinerant preacher named “Jesus of Nazareth” did actually live in Galilee some 2000-odd years ago but does suggest that a belief in this fact is more a matter of faith for a questioning individual like yourself than you suggested.

  • Sindigo

    Pics or it didn’t happen.

  • Joe Fogey

     There are more sources for Robin Hood (38+) than for Jesus (16). But no one has any problem in seeing Robin Hood as fictional. Is Thor a fictional character, do you think?

  • jmckaskle

    You have evidence that Jesus was partly a real person that existed? The best evidence that even Bart Ehrman is an argument from incredulity (which isn’t evidence, but a logical fallacy) and the assumption of the prior existence of a currently non-existent source supposedly contemporaneous to Jesus, which sort of begs the question (another fallacy: circular logic). No. There is no actual evidence for Jesus, just assumptions and bad arguments. Jesus is every bit as fictional as you can get.

  • Patterrssonn

    JM you’re arguing with someone who’s level of discourse is; FFR is stupid.

  • BobtheRobot

    If only blacks hadn’t been so mean to whites then the whites never would have murdered and enslaved them.

    Yep, because the onus is on the oppressed to be peaceful and not resist tyranny. I’m not even really doing anything wrong. You are the one who choose to not do what I told you and thus I was forced to kill you. Therefore, really, you were killing yourself.

    And of course, we know this is right, because this is exactly the system that god implemented! So how can it be wrong?

  • RMasters

     You’re right, a degree of faith is necessary in order to “fully accept” that Christ existed, but the evidence given is evidence enough for me to make an educated decision. Although they are hearsay accounts, the fact that they exist is definitely enough to make one consider the possibility that it is true.

  • RMasters

    About as real as the giant flying spaghetti monster.

  • Pseudonym

    The consensus amongst historians of the Ancient Near East, both those who identify as religious and those who are not, is that almost certainly Jesus existed. The simple reason is that a) it fits all of the available evidence, and b) nobody has yet come up with an alternative theory which fits all of the available evidence. Nor is any such theory likely to, because of the extremely high burden of proof.

    To see why, we’ll consider a simplified scenario where we only have the gospels. This isn’t even close to being all of the evidence, but we’ll just think about them for simplicity. The gospels exist. We know they existed at a certain point in history. They therefore constitute evidence which must be evaluated.

    One theory, the theory of the fundamentalist Christian, is that the gospels are 100% journalistically accurate and inerrant. This is a claim about ALL of the evidence. Every single detail in the depictions of Jesus must be correct, otherwise the theory is false. This, therefore, carries a high burden of proof.

    Another theory, the theory of the Richard Carriers of the world, is that the
    gospels (or at least the bits that depict Jesus) are 100% fiction and inerrant. This is also a claim
    about ALL of the evidence. Every single detail in the depictions of
    Jesus must be made up, otherwise the theory is false. This also carries a high burden of proof.

    Yet another theory, the academic consensus theory held by every mainstream historian of the period, is that Jesus was a real person, and that the stories about him vary in accuracy from “pretty accurate” at one end to “completely historically inaccurate” at the other end. This is a claim about SOME of the evidence. Non-existent people do not say things or do things, so even a few pieces of evidence which are better explained by Jesus having existed than Jesus not having existed indicates that he probably existed. This carries a far lower burden of proof.

    The Bible, and especially the New Testament, is the most analysed book in all of history. We know an awful lot about it, and all of the evidence points to Jesus having existed, and the stories about him being more or less accurate in parts, highly exaggerated in parts and flat out false in parts.

    There isn’t evidence that would stand up in court, but the fact is, when you go back 2000+ years, there’s very little which does. If it helps, consider that the evidence for the existence of Jesus is better than or roughly the same as that of people whose existence nobody seriously doubts, such as Pythagoras and Aesop.

  • Pseudonym

     I said the FFRF looked stupid. You saw the slavery billboard, right?

  • Sindigo

    But we can actually speak to the guy who made up the FSM. We can verify his fictional nature. RAmen.

  • Sindigo

    Well, I guess that’s a reasonable position to take. I guess we all have different thresholds for what we’d consider evidence enough to follow a belief system

  • VinnyJH

    Had belief in the resurrection not developed, it is entirely possible that Jesus of Nazareth would have come and gone without leaving any discernible trace in the historical record.  I think that creates unique problems that historical Jesus scholars never seem to deal with. 

    Supernatural stories arose concerning many figures in the ancient world about whose existence historians are reasonably confident such as a Alexander the Great.  However, it was the accomplishments of the person’s life that led to the supernatural stories being perpetuated and preserved.  If you scrape away the supernatural stories about Alexander the Great, you are still left with a substantial historical footprint.

    In the case of Jesus of Nazareth, stories about the man’s earthly life were only perpetuated and preserved because of a belief in his postmortem supernatural accomplishments.   If you scrape away the supernatural stories about Jesus, you scrape away the reason that any stories about the natural man were preserved in the first place.

    I don’t think that the evidence for Jesus’ existence is at all the same as that for other ancient figures.

  • Pseudonym

    Had belief in the resurrection not developed, it is entirely possible
    that Jesus of Nazareth would have come and gone without leaving any
    discernible trace in the historical record.  I think that creates unique
    problems that historical Jesus scholars never seem to deal with.

    I agree with you right up to the last sentence. There are arguably far fewer problems with understanding what the historical figure on which the Jesus stories are based than doing the same for a figure who didn’t attract a long-term following. The more information we have preserved, the more we have to analyse.

    One illustration that Ehrman brings up is the “empty tomb”. Paul of Tarsus knew some of Jesus’ relatives. He also depicted the apparently common belief that Jesus appeared to his followers after his death. However, he doesn’t mention the empty tomb once; this is something that he surely would have mentioned if he knew about it.

    There are a few upshots of this. First off, we have only two degrees of separation between someone we know for certain existed (Paul) and a historical Jesus. Secondly, we know that the idea of Jesus appearing to his followers after death was going around pretty early. But we can also conclude that the “empty tomb” story probably dates from later.

    In this case, the belief in the resurrection doesn’t create a problem, it helps solve a problem.


    I don’t think that the evidence for Jesus’ existence is at all the same as that for other ancient figures.

    Be careful what argument you’re making here. The evidence for Jesus’ existence is not the same as that of all other ancient figures, including many from the Bible itself. A ruler, general or writer is obviously going to have more documentary evidence than someone in Jesus’ position.

    My point is that the evidence for Jesus’ existence is the same or better than that of some other ancient figures whose existence nobody seriously doubts.

    Part of the methodology of history is that you need to work out how much, and what kind of, evidence you should expect to find. An awful lot of Jesus mythicism pseudo-history is based on a non-evidence-based notion of what the evidence of Jesus’ existence should look like.

    Incidentally, on the supernatural legends thing, you should read the legends of Pythagoras some time. Bizarre stuff.

  • VinnyJH

    Part of the methodology of history is that you need to work out how much, and what kind of, evidence you should expect to find.

    That’s exactly the problem.  Had belief in the resurrection not arisen, we probably wouldn’t expect to find much of anything.  So how does the historian go about establishing the existence of a man who wouldn’t be expected to leave a mark in the historical record?

  • PsiCop

    You are aware, I’m sure, that Tactitus, the Yonger Pliny, and Suetonius — not to mention Josephus, whom you left out — were not contemporaries of Jesus and cannot be relied upon as direct historical evidence of his existence? What they say about Jesus is hearsay at best.

  • Charles Honeycutt

    Now see, that context is important. It completely changes the initial post.

  • Ignatz

    You have evidence that Jesus was partly a real person that existed?]

    Yes. Perhaps you should ask historians instead of clowns on the internet, since you’d can hardly find ONE who doesn’t consider the existence of Jesus a settled issue.

    Maybe you should find out why.

  • Ignatz

    The real problem with those who wish to claim that Jesus did not exist is that “There is no contemporary writing” is the TOTAL argument that they have, and it’s not a very good one. You wouldn’t expect there to be. Do you have contemporary writing about any OTHER Galilean preacher? No, you don’t. There must not have been any then.

    A religion that claimed him as its founder was spread all over the Roman Empire within 20 years of his death, and, while there is no contemporary mention of him,there is much contemporary evidence of those who knew him, including his brother. In fact, those who knew him were killed for talking about him.

    Haven’t you ever wondered why “Jesus did not exist” is a fringe of a fringe among historians?

    It’s because the only alternative to his existence is the biggest and stupidest conspiracy theory you ever heard.

    Yes, there is no contemporary writing that mentions him, but

    1) You would not EXPECT there to be. Jesus of Nazareth was not a well-known political figure, he was not a prince or a governor. He was a preacher in a backwater of a backwater of the Roman Empire. If we are to take the Gospels at face value, he did not come to the attention of anybody important until the week he died, and, in fact, he became important only WHEN he died. Why would you expect there to be 2000-year-old writing about a man from Galilee while he was alive who didn’t become important until he died?

    2) “There is no contemporary writing” is the TOTAL argument of the “Jesus did not exist” crowd. There is NOTHING else. ALL other evidence says he existed. Again, there was the church that claimed him as its founder only 20 years later and there is contemporary evidence of his friends and family. For example, Paul wrote that he went to Jerusalem to see James, the Lord’s brother. So, what’s YOUR theory? Was Paul lying about going to see James, or was James lying about having a brother? Because if there was no Jesus, those are your only two alternatives.

    Here are your choices:

    1) Peter, James and John got together and said, “I know! Let’s make up a religion about a fake person who’s supposed to be the Messiah and gets nailed to a stick! THAT’LL go over big!” And, then, of course, they got NOTHING from this bizarre hoax – which they kept up for DECADES – but poverty, beatings, exile and execution. But they kept it up for 50 years anyway.


    2) A guy named Y’shua lived in Galilee 2000 years ago, and his followers started a religion about him after he died.

    Gee, THAT’S a tough call.

    See, whenever I see supposed “skeptics” who pride themselves on their supposed rationality swallowing such total and transparent nonsense as the Conspiracy Theory of Jesus’ Existence, I think it makes them look irrational. There is obviously no reason why an atheist can’t be an atheist and acknowledge that some preacher lived in Galilee 2000 years ago. So why are they so anxious to deny his existence that they gratefully swallow such obvious and total nonsense?

  • Ignatz

    [So how does the historian go about establishing the existence of a man
    who wouldn't be expected to leave a mark in the historical record?]

    You can start with the fact that there is contemporary evidence of his friends and brother, testimony that is second hand, and people who knew him killed for being his followers.

    I DO enjoy so-called “skeptics” inventing their own historical criteria is order to reach a pre-determined conclusion.

  • VinnyJH

    There isn’t contemporary evidence of his friends. At best, there are anonymous writings based on unknown sources which are removed an unknown number of times in an oral tradition spanning decades which may or may not originate with anyone who had any first hand knowledge of any relevant events.

    Historians always have to reason by analogy from knowns to unknowns. Without known cases of historical people whose only historical footprint is the supernatural events that occurred after their death, it is hard to see how a historian could establish the necessity of a historical person behind Paul’s visions. There certainly could have been one, but is highly unlikely that historians can recover him.

  • Ignatz

    [There isn't contemporary evidence of his friends]

    Yes, Paul says he went to Jerusalem to see Peter and James, the Lord’s brother, and almost no scholar doubts Paul’s authorship of Galatians. He also recounts conversations with them. Apparently, the Galatians knew who they were, too.

    I’m sorry that you were ignorant of that.

    So what are you proposing? That Paul was lying about going to see James and Peter, or that James and Peter were lying about his brother? Because if Jesus didn’t exist, those are your only two alternatives.

    By the way Josephus also writes about James, and scholars consider that passage authentic.

    I know you are desperate for Jesus of Nazareth to have not existed, so desperate that you deny historians and the norms of historical scholarship and swallow foolishness.

    I’m just not sure why? Why are you so desperate to pretend that Jesus of Nazareth never existed?

  • Ignatz

    I suggest you actually read the thread.

  • VinnyJH

    Where does Paul say that Peter was Jesus’s friend? Paul does refer to James as “the brother of the Lord,” but every Christian was a brother of the Lord according to Paul so that has never seemed like terribly strong evidence to me.

    I really couldn’t care less whether Jesus of Nazareth existed or not. For the better part of fifty years, the question of his existence never crossed my mind. Then a few years back, a fundamentalist book banner got herself elected to my local school board. Whenever I would argue with her supporters,they would urge me to “Look at the evidence.” Whenever I did, I found that the evidence for their claims sucked. Eventually I realized that even the evidence for his existence wasn’t all that strong. It might be barely enough to say that his existence was more likely than not, but that’s about it.