Pastor Robert Jeffress Is Happy to be Featured in American Atheists’ Billboard Campaign

This is one of the billboards American Atheists just put up in Austin:

That’s Pastor Robert Jeffress, a man so vile that Tim Tebow turned down a speaking offer at his church to avoid controversy… only to then turn around and say yes to the late Jerry Falwell‘s university.

The Christian Post spoke to Jeffress about the billboard and it looks like the pastor is thrilled:

“Any day we are being attacked by the American Atheist(s)… we consider it to be a good day… It only proves that we are doing our job.”

Jeffress says the atheist organization accurately quoted him, but they failed to convey his entire message. The quote was taken from a sermon he preached five years ago, he says, in which he described homosexual behavior as “unnatural” based on the teachings of the Apostle Paul found in Romans 1.

“What homosexuals do is certainly filthy, but I never said homosexuals were filthy,” said Jeffress.

“Neither my church nor I hate anyone,” Jeffress said Tuesday. “We are simply preaching the Gospel of Jesus Christ, which says, it doesn’t matter who you are or what you’ve done, by trusting in Christ you can have the forgiveness of sins that we all desperately need.”

Jeffress doesn’t hate anyone… but he’s going to do anything he can to make sure those filthy homosexuals never get the same rights he and his wife have.

You know, since Jeffress doesn’t seem to mind the publicity, I have an idea for the next big atheist billboard campaign.

Forget politicians.

Just put up billboards featuring local pastors saying awful things. It won’t be hard to find quotations and you can do it in damn near every city in America. Let the entire community know what these pastors say to their congregations. Let the pastors defend themselves to the media. Let the parishioners explain to their friends why they attend a church led by such bigoted men.

They’ll all say basically the same thing: I was just preaching the Bible; what’s wrong with that?

Exactly.

About Hemant Mehta

Hemant Mehta is the chair of Foundation Beyond Belief and a high school math teacher in the suburbs of Chicago. He began writing the Friendly Atheist blog in 2006. His latest book is called The Young Atheist's Survival Guide.

  • Hmm

    Considering Christ never mentioned homosexuality, he either has a reading problem or a lying problem.

    • Quintin van Zuijlen

      Given that he’s a pastor, the second is almost necessarily true.

    • Roger

      Why not both?

    • Art_Vandelay

      Being a Christian pastor, you would have to assume that he adheres to the doctrine of the trinity, in which case Jesus is just the human manifestation of Yahweh.

  • Aegis

    “I was just preaching the Bible; what’s wrong with that?”

    Because ‘I vos chust followink mein orders’ totally worked out fine as a defence in the 20th Century.

  • http://squeakysoapbox.com/ Rich Wilson

    He thinks he’s in good company with Rick Perry and the Pope. I’m guessing Rick Perry is still doing well in Texas, but I’m not so sure about Ratzinger’s reputation.

  • http://twitter.com/davemuscato Dave Muscato

    Thanks for your input, Hemant.

    And for the record, I do resent that Jeffress said we “attack”-ed him. We QUOTED him. If he thinks his own words are so shameful that repeating them is attacking him… maybe he should retract his statement? Just a thought ;)

    Good post.
    - Dave Muscato
    (Public Relations Director, American Atheists)

    • named

      I think it’s perfectly reasonable that a pastor who is ashamed of his religion to consider it an ‘attack’ if they are publicly quoted after having preached the content of the Bible.

      It doesn’t make sense if they actually believe what they preach, but I don’t think that’s an issue most preachers have to worry about.

      • http://www.flickr.com/photos/chidy/ chicago dyke

        like most preachers, he’s worried about $$$, and the chance that he could lose some, once some of his dozing parish realizes that it’s just not cool anymore to be associated with haters.

    • Rain

      If he thinks his own words are so shameful that repeating them is attacking him… maybe he should retract his statement? Just a thought ;)

      He thinks that American Atheists think his words are shameful. It’s one of those “he thinks that you think that he thinks that you think that he thinks” scenarios that you find on old TV comedy shows.

      • Randomfactor

        He thinks that we care what he thinks.

    • Notgive_A_Fuck

      i find it humerous that you people take quotes out of context, purposefully, and call it honest reporting. if i were you all i would read the book of romans. i know you all have not read this otherwise you would not be filled with so much hate. and if youre incapable of pointing out where this guy is wrong in any way then i would suggest staying away from the issue.

  • named

    While i don’t appreciate the sentiment of preaching hatred just because the Bible is full of it, I do appreciate more and more priests falling back to the Bible as their only means of justification for their attacks and oppression.

    It makes me think that more people will actually READ the Bible rather than just assuming whatever they preach is true. Maybe then Atheism won’t be in the minority.

  • http://www.facebook.com/travis.myers.102977 Travis Myers

    I’m going to get skewered for saying this, so before I begin let me just say that I fully support gay marriage and believe that all people of any sexual orientation should have the same rights as anyone else.

    That said, I feel like the statement that Hemant made does not accurately describe the position of many Christians like Jeffress: “he’s going to do anything he can to make sure those filthy homosexuals never get the same rights he and his wife have.” Technically, homosexuals already have the same rights as anyone else. Any legal contract, including a marriage contract, can be entered into by any person regardless of the sexual orientation of that person as long as the conditions of that contract are met. In the case of marriage, the condition in most states is that it must involve one man and one woman.

    The usual response to this is that homosexuals are being denied the right to marry the person they want to. This doesn’t work as a good argument, though, if you believe like Jeffress does that homosexual relationships are harmful. After all, there are other contracts which the state does not allow even between consenting adults because of the fact that it is harmful to one or more of the parties. For instance, it is illegal in most places to pay someone for sex, even if both people are consenting adults. We could have a separate discussion about legalization of prostitution, but the fact remains that the reason prostitution is illegal is because society sees it as being either harmful to the prostitute or harmful to the community in general. The same exact argument could be used against gay marriage if in fact you believe that homosexual behavior is harmful to the individuals involved or to the community in general. People like Jeffress believe that homosexual behavior is harmful because it incurs the wrath of God and could lead the community on a path to hell. If you actually believe this, then being opposed to gay marriage is perfectly logical and possibly (in a weird, twisted way) even compassionate.

    Thus, the way to argue against people like Jeffress isn’t to point out that they’re denying homosexuals the same rights as everyone else. Technically, they’re not; and within their worldview, this argument rings hollow in the same way that it would ring hollow if you said that prostitution destroys the rights of prostitutes. The way to argue against them is to show that homosexual relationships are not in any way more harmful than heterosexual relationships. Basically, we need to get them to realize that it’s absurd to think that the creator of the universe cares about what people do in the bedroom (with the body parts that he supposedly gave them), since that is pretty much their only argument that homosexuality is harmful.

    Or else we need to be consistent and legalize prostitution and marijuana for consenting adults. Personally, I don’t think I would mind going this route.

    • http://squeakysoapbox.com/ Rich Wilson

      The same exact argument could be used against gay marriage if in fact you believe that homosexual behavior is harmful to the individuals involved or to the community in general.

      No, that argument would be against gay sex. We had those laws, and the courts have long since recognized that consenting adults have the right pleasure each other in any way they want that doesn’t hurt anyone else.

      Now we’re on to marriage, and whether same sex marriage harms anyone else. If we’ve already decided that the sex part doesn’t, then we’re left trying to act all scared of the fact that our kids will learn that gay people exist.

      • Mike Savino

        I don’t agree. We don’t outlaw sex, we outlaw prostitution. The state sanctioning of gay marriage could be viewed as harmful just as state sanctioning of prostitution. I, of course, don’t agree. But the argument is there.

        • http://squeakysoapbox.com/ Rich Wilson

          But we don’t differentiate between same sex and opposite sex prostitution. When we prohibit or regulate them, we do so equally.

    • more compost

      “I’m going to get skewered for saying this…” … “Technically, homosexuals already have the same rights as anyone else.”

      If you get skewered, it will be rightfully so, since your statement is false. False, that is, unless you twist yourself into a pretzel.

    • curtcameron

      Wait, you’re really using the argument that “gays already have the right to get married, as long as it’s to a person of the opposite sex”?

      Really?

    • Randomfactor

      That same argument was used against interracial marriage, and it rang just as hollow back then.

    • OverlappingMagisteria

      Thanks for that view. I agree that you will get skewered for this comment, but you shouldn’t be. You are not endorsing those views, but explaining the anti-gay point of view. Perspective of the opposing side is always useful.

      I agree that the false notion that “same-sex marriage is harmful” is what is at the root of the problem. It goes beyond just gay sex. Many fundies see that the “redefinition” of marriage harms society because then marriage would no longer promote natural families. This is absurdly wrong, but unfortunately that is how they see it.

      • marilove

        He was very clearly “endorsing” that view.
        And I quote: “Technically, homosexuals already have the same rights as anyone else.”

        He deserves to get skewered. Why is he even entertaining this failed logic? It shouldn’t even be entertained. It’s completely ignorant and, most importantly, WRONG.

    • Daniel_JM

      Travis, your argument that the LGBT community has “technically” the same rights as everyone else is bizarre. I went to Bob Jones University for a year, and they used the exact same logic to justify their ban on interracial dating, which was in place until 2000. They said that banning interracial dating wasn’t discriminatory because technically everyone was treated equally, you had to date within your own race regardless of what it was! Would you say that straight people had “technically” the same rights under the law if only gay marriage was legal, and straight people couldn’t marry and paid more taxes, had a harder time adopting, didn’t have medical power of attorney, could be kicked out of the hospital rooms of their partner, and were able to be fired solely for being straight?

      I hope you see how inane BJU’s argument was, and why you parroting that line of thinking about LGBT relationship recognition by the government is going to get deservedly skewered.

      • http://www.facebook.com/travis.myers.102977 Travis Myers

        Banning interracial dating/marriage is different. In order to enforce the ban, you would need to look at someone’s race to see whether or not they are allowed to date/marry someone else. So that is racial discrimination. In the case of marriage, though, the government never needs to know what your sexual orientation is. A gay woman can marry a man just as easily as a straight woman. The sexual orientation is not used as a factor in determining the legality of the marriage. If anything, it’s gender discrimination.

        • Daniel_JM

          Your response is a total non-sequiter. Your basic argument seems to be that even though the justification you are defending as rational for banning gay-marriage is the exact same logic that BJU used to ban interracial dated there is still some difference, since one is harder to enforce. So what? We are criticizing your premise, not saying that the process for enforcing the ban would use the exact same methods.

          Just because one bigoted law is harder to enforce than another doesn’t excuse it from being bigoted. Both anti-miscegenation and anti-gay marriage laws have used the exact same argument you are defending as rational; yet both are bigoted and irrational.

        • Daniel_JM

          If straight marriage was illegal and gay marriage legal, would you really say I have the same marriage rights as my gay friends, since I would be free to marry a guy despite the fact that I’m straight?

          Somehow I doubt you would make that inane an argument if the situation was reversed.

    • Kat

      “Any legal contract, including a marriage contract, can be entered into by any person regardless of the sexual orientation of that person as long as the conditions of that contract are met. In the case of marriage, the condition in most states is that it must involve one man and one woman.”

      Then that’s still discrimination, isn’t it? You’re saying that a man can marry a woman, but a woman can’t. Likewise, a woman can marry a man, but a man can’t. Framed that way, it’s not really a question of orientation, but it is discrimination on the basis of sex. It’s still not equality in any sense of the word.

      • http://www.facebook.com/travis.myers.102977 Travis Myers

        Yeah, I agree that a prohibition on gay marriage is basically gender discrimination. But sometimes there are good reasons to discriminate based on gender. For instance, it is illegal for a male to use a female locker room and vice versa because we recognize that this leads to very harmful situations. Similarly, if you really believed that allowing two men or two women to marry would put the community on a path to hell, that could be sufficient reason for gender discrimination.

        • Daniel_JM

          You seem to be a lot more comfortable with theocratic thinking than most of us here. I can just hear it now, “Well, someone said we’ll go to hell if we treat women equally, that alone is sufficient reason to deny women equal rights.” Sound familiar?

    • Mike Savino

      Bravo!

      Seriously, I’ve been searching for a legitimate argument against gay marriage and you’ve articulated one. I don’t agree with it as you pretty much rebut the argument later in your comment. But I understand and accept what you’re saying.

      • Daniel_JM

        It’s a “legitimate” argument in exactly the same way that it was legitimate for racists in the 60s to say say anti-miscegenation and pro-segregation laws were fair, because they applied to white people too. The argument is stupid, immoral, and absolutely not legitimate.

      • marilove

        You’ve been “searching” for this stupid argument? Really?! It’s not new. In fact, it’s one of the oldest in the fucking Book of Bigotry.
        And it’s not “legitimate”. How can an argument which is, you admit, REBUTED, be “legitimate”? Doesn’t mke any sense.

  • Rain

    Speaking of “filthy”:

    1 Peter 5:2: “Feed the flock of God which is among you, taking the oversight thereof, not by constraint, but willingly; not for filthy lucre, but of a ready mind;”

    “Filthy lucre” meaning getting rich from fleecing the flocks.

    Interestingly the verse previous to that one says…

    “The elders which are among you I exhort, who am also an elder, and a witness of the sufferings of Christ, and also a partaker of the glory that shall be revealed:”

    …which means that the person writing “1 Peter” was lying his ass off claiming to be Peter the disciple. Boy, there’s just lying and fleecing everywhere isn’t there. Lol.

  • WA

    Is it really “preaching the gospel of jesus”? Does jesus say anything about homosexuality? This isn’t rhetorical, I really don’t know for sure. I don’t recall any quotes from the bible where Jesus condemned homosexuality.

    • trj

      No, Jesus never mentions it. Paul condemns it in his letters (Romans, 1 Timothy, 1 Corinthians, Jude – the last two being open to interpretation). Jesus and Paul seem to disagree on a number of things.

    • r.holmgren

      Well, Jesus didn’t mention offering your children as live burnt offerings either. Jesus did uphold His initial mandate recorded in Genesis that marriage is to be a monogamous, lasting relationship between a man and a woman and any sexual intimacy outside of that context is wrong.

      thesauros-store.blogspot.com

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Chengis-Khan/100003317165064 Chengis Khan

    Almost for ever, they have been ‘attacking’ human intelligence and sanity. They are continuing to to their job quite well and indeed Bob says “It only proves that we are doing our job”. Good job, Bob, Good Job.

  • Randomfactor

    So’s Rick Frothy-Mixture. Wonder if he ever thanked Dan Savage?

    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/03/06/rick-santorum-american-atheists_n_2818599.html

  • C Peterson

    Let’s see… he bases his beliefs about homosexuality on the words of Paul, who was arguably a homosexual himself, and in any case, was a sexually damaged misogynist. A person who apparently didn’t believe that Jesus was an actual person, and had no knowledge of any words attributed to him besides what his own mind supplied via “revelation”.

    On that shaky foundation he condemns the behavior of a substantial minority of humans as “filthy”. Right. Something’s filthy here, and it has nothing to do with homosexuals or homosexuality.

    • Claude

      Let’s see… he bases his beliefs about homosexuality on the words of Paul, who was arguably a homosexual himself, and in any case, was a sexually damaged misogynist. A person who apparently didn’t believe that Jesus was an actual person, and had no knowledge of any words attributed to him besides what his own mind supplied via “revelation”.

      All of this is highly speculative. Paul probably didn’t write the misogynistic passages in the epistles for which he is notorious. The contention that Paul didn’t believe Jesus had been a man is dubious, since Paul makes repeated references to Jesus’s humanity. He also alluded to teachings associated with Jesus, though this is disputed. If you are citing Earl Doherty’s views, they are marginal (even Richard Carrier thinks the celestial crucifixion is out there), and NT scholars, with a few exceptions, think he’s a joke.

      Paul did inveigh against some sort of homosexual activity that he actually invented a word for. So homosexuality seems to have disturbed him quite a bit. That much is certain.

      • C Peterson

        I’m not specifically citing Doherty’s views, although I think they are substantially correct, if somewhat lacking in finer details. There are a growing number of NT scholars (mainly non-religious, as Christian NT scholars are almost universally a joke by any reasonable academic standards) who are developing the idea that Jesus was not based on a real person, and that we can understand how Christianity was influenced in the way it developed by Paul’s writings- which do not, in fact, suggest he saw Jesus as a person. Referring to his humanity is very different from recognizing him as a man, existing in a specific time. From my own reading, I am inclined to believe that there was no historical Jesus at all. Certainly, there is no historical evidence that rises to the quality we demand for other historical assertions. But regardless, much of what now defines Christianity comes from Paul, not Jesus, and while it is certainly true that some of Paul’s writings are not his own, people like Jeffress still see them as the word of Paul, and base their views accordingly. So taking the writings attributed to Paul, it is clear we are looking at a deeply disturbed individual- somewhat fictionalized or not- and not a model of moral correctness.

        • Claude

          We strongly disagree on this subject. I thought Doherty’s book was such bullshit I didn’t even finish it. He seemed to be a man possessed of a big idea who would let nothing get in the way of his argument. The mythicism debate is an interesting one, though, that I follow on and off. About this growing number of NT scholars supporting mythicism. (Doherty is no scholar.) Besides Carrier (not an NT scholar), Robert M. Price, and now Thomas Brodie, who else is on the horizon?

          Christian NT scholars are almost universally a joke by any reasonable academic standards.

          Um, no. Aren’t you a scientist? How about a little regard for accuracy?

          Referring to his humanity is very different from recognizing him as a man, existing in a specific time.

          Come now, I was using the word “humanity” loosely. Paul does refer to Jesus as a man, born of a woman, in the line of David, and so on.

          From my own reading, I am inclined to believe that there was no historical Jesus at all.

          I can certainly understand why someone would take that position. That is one thing. It is quite another to assert as if it were fact that Paul was inclined to believe that there was no historical Jesus at all. Again, that is a highly speculative project and a marginal position among scholars, who actually possess the considerable level of expertise necessary to even start grappling with these texts.

          As for Jeffress and other fools of his ilk, yes, they use Romans, which is thought to be one of Paul’s authentic letters, as grist for their anti-gay agenda. It doesn’t follow therefore that Paul was a “deeply disturbed individual.” It makes him a first century self-described Pharisee with a probably religiously ingrained antipathy to “pederasty,” a Greek practice that would have been offensive to Jews. There’s a lot of speculation about what Paul “really meant,” of course. But unfortunately Paul did write, almost 2000 years ago, that “pederasts,” or whatever his concocted word meant to him, would not enter the Kingdom of Heaven.

  • Joe Zamecki

    It looks like the billboard is trying to say that Atheism is opposite to homosexuality. D’oh!

  • http://www.flickr.com/photos/chidy/ chicago dyke

    really not loving the autotune ads, Hemant. i can’t shut it off. that’s Annoying.

  • roberthughmclean

    I’m pretty sure the baby jesus said nothing, zilch, zero about homosexuality (or about anything at all, in reality) in the new thingy in the bible. This clerical twit is showing his ignorance.

  • r.holmgren

    I’ll say it again. I’ve attended Christian, evangelical, fundamentalist (my definition – not yours) congregations (5 in 32 years) and not once have I heard a sermon on (condemning) homosexuality or abortion or any of the hot button issues. All of the messages have been on our relationship with Jesus and showing our love for Him by obeying Him in our relationships with others.

    What American Atheists are celebrating is 50 years of bigotry, derision and disdain for those who believe something different than they. You’re not doing your movement any favours by emulating the assholes who reside on the fringes of all organizations, philosophies and world-views.

    thesauros-store.blogspot.com

    • blasphemous_kansan

      >>”All of the messages have been on our relationship with Jesus and showing our love for Him by obeying Him in our relationships with others.”

      Okay, so you have an anecdote that says Christians play nice. Why do you think that your anecdote is of greater value than the thousands of people who go to church every week and DO hear idiotic sermons about hot button issues? You are not the One True Christian, and your experience is not the One True Experience. The people on that billboard have just as much of a right to call themselves ‘Christian’ as you do, and they probably believe just as strongly as you. Your anger is misdirected. It should be pointed at the cockroaches on the billboard who are bastardizing your message of Jesus’ love, not those of us who are shining a light on them.

      >>”What American Atheists are celebrating…”

      Maybe I missed something, but where in the article was a celebration mentioned?

      >>”…… is 50 years of bigotry, derision and disdain for those who believe something different than they.”

      I agree. The quotes on the billboard are very nasty, and are indicative of someone who is bigoted, and who reserves much derision and disdain for those who believe something different than they. Good point.

      >>”You’re not doing your movement any favours by emulating the assholes who reside on the fringes of all organizations, philosophies and world-views.”

      Actually, it’s YOUR movement that this billboard does no favors for, since these people are claiming to speak for YOU. Again, your anger appears to be misdirected. If you think the people on the billboard are fringe lunatics who make your faith look bad (as you seem to have implied in your first comment), then why would you direct anger at those of us who simply point at them and highlight the idiocies that they choose to spew in public forums? If you have some bad apples in your batch, then you try to cull out the bad ones before they go to the public and make your store look bad. You don’t get mad at the customer when they point out a rotten one that made it through.

      And I wanted to read your blog, but that bright blue makes it physically painful to stay there for an extended period of time.
      Simple black-on-white works the best, it seems.

    • blasphemous_kansan

      Correction: I did actually make it though a couple of entries on your blog before my eyes forced me to leave (I’m still seeing the after-image of that horrific blue, though).

      I really enjoyed reading your entry about how much you hate talking to people. That whole entry called ‘How I overcame my Hatred’ which is all about how you hate the things you hate a little less than you hated them before thanks to new things you hate was really great. It really seems like you’ve overcome the hatred. Or not.

  • Notgive_A_Fuck

    its funny. a lot of you are quicker to believe paul was gay than to believe christ died for you. and this logic is the reason god warns us to not follow human understanding. you all are clearly not perfect in any sense of the word.


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