Christian Minister Who Claimed Atheists Didn’t Help Victims of Oklahoma Tornado Apologizes… Kind Of

A few days ago, I posted about Minister David Brassfield of the Newalla Church of Christ in Oklahoma. Brassfield had given members of his church a handout proclaiming that no atheists were helping victims of the recent tornado… even though we know several atheist groups and individuals have done just that, with their money and their time.

Well, according to Kai Tancredi at Red Dirt Report, Brassfield is about to do what no one expected. Confronted with evidence of just how wrong he was, he’s issuing an apology to his church members this weekend… kind of:

Last week I printed information and deductions that were incomplete, inaccurate, and unfair. That, I freely acknowledge and I apologize for the inadequate research (two websites) that led to all of the above. There were many atheist individuals and groups that helped in the tornado relief efforts and for their work I am thankful.

Another error was taking personal observations as a final say in a matter. In this area, I adopted a method of which I believe some atheists employ: Namely, the “if I don’t see it, it doesn’t exist” attitude. If it is wrong for one to use that approach to determine the existence of God, then it is wrong for me to use it to determine someone’s involvement in relief efforts.

Being human makes us liable to these mistakes. Even atheists can be judgmental and sometimes threatening toward us (in spite of the belief of one blogger who said that it seems that atheists are the ones being persecuted). Reading some of their blogs will easily evidence that. One atheist blogger said, “I am in the camp that wishes to tear down religion. IMHO (in my humble opinion) religion does more harm than good and must be stopped.”

Statements such as that one keeps me from backing down from one comment in my article; that I dread the day if these individuals become the majority in our land.

In short: “I was wrong… but atheists are still horrible people.”

Way to take the high road, Brassfield.

(Thanks to Andrew 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.

  • Art_Vandelay

    Wow! Just…wow.

  • C Peterson

    Apologies in situations like this are rare, but when they occur, the tone here is common. No surprises.

    • observer

      Well fundimentals have to be careful about saying “I was wrong”, because not only does it show humility – which is a prideful sin of humanity…I guess – it’s also risking the fundies to ask themselves “what else could I be wrong about?” And needless to say, it’s a slippery slope towards believing god dosn’t exist.

  • ganner918

    Say that godlessness is the cause of all pain and suffering in the world, and you aspire to see the whole world bend at the knee to the Christian god, and you’re speaking love and truth. Say that you think religion does more harm than good and you aspire to see the whole world move beyond faith, and you’re judgmental, threatening, and scary.

    Right. Makes total sense.

  • Rain

    Namely, the “if I don’t see it, it doesn’t exist” attitude. If it is wrong for one to use that approach to determine the existence of God, then it is wrong for me to use it to determine someone’s involvement in relief efforts.

    Oh yes, another brilliant philosophical proof of god. Please tell us more!

    • JET

      He conveniently overlooked the difference between the “if I don’t see it, it doesn’t exist” approaches. Namely, “Here you go, Reverend. Proof.”

      • kagekiri

        Yeah, geez, and it’s extra insulting, because a decent number of atheists start out looking for truth in the religion they were raised in, and just don’t find it after trying for years.

        He didn’t try looking for evidence of his bigoted claim at ALL. He’s comparing his laziness and obvious lack of a search to us atheists’ negative results during a search.

      • Rain

        In his theology, invisibility is actually the bestest proof ever. It’s such a strong proof that everyone is without excuse and Jesus is obvious to everyone.

        “For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead; so that they are without excuse:”

        –Paul, the bestest Christian ever

        • Space Cadet

          Invisiology? Argumentum ad no-see-um?

          edited for the 2nd bit

          • Mackinz

            Argument ad no-see-em is probably the worse of all logical fallacies.

            It is also quite difficult to argue against, because the opponent will not accept evidence. :(

        • kagekiri

          Haha, oh Paul.

          The whole “Creation proves God is real!” is definitely one of those more deeply embedded reasons that evolution makes literalist Christians squirm (I know it used to make me squirm, at least in private, as a YEC back in the day).

          A lot of Paul’s theology is just so obviously Young-Earth Creationist in nature, and knocking an actual Adam or non-evolutionary Creation out of the realm of possibility messes up his “logical” stuff and his arguments about justice (like original sin, which obviously postulates a real man named Adam).

          • Rain

            Natural theology is kinda excusable in Paul’s case since it was so long ago. It’s a step up from revealed theology and at least it is some type of an empirical/logical proof. I think it might actually be the only proof of its kind in the whole Bible.

            But Paul supposedly got it from divine revelation from the wisest empiricist and logician ever, which is what makes it mockable now in hindsight. Especially since Paul was such a judgemental jerk about it.

    • Jasper

      What a freaking strawman (That statement).

      First, we’re not confined to sight. If it’s empirically demonstrable, is what’s important. We know a lot about the nature of atoms that we can’t see because there are other empirical ways of learning about it.

      Secondly, it’s not that it doesn’t’ exist if there’s no empirical data… it’s that there’s no rational reason to assert it’s true without sufficient empirical evidence.

      Can he get it more wrong?

      • onamission5

        He probably thinks the existence of air is taken on faith, too. “God is like the wind!” and all that.

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/friendlyatheist/ Kevin_Of_Bangor

          A Christian once tried to use the wind game on me as if we don’t understand what makes the wind blow. I asked him if he thought it was God farting, he was not pleased.

      • Gordon

        It’s not all that surprising that a minister doesn’t understand atheism, or the underlying thought processes. If he did, I doubt he’d be a minister. It’s really just a matter of understanding the scientific method and recognizing the significance of it. It’s the same ignorance that leads some to believe that anything labelled a theory must be unproven, or that a hypothesis is the same as a wild guess.

    • http://fractalheretic.blogspot.com/ Fractal Heretic

      If I look in my fridge and don’t find any milk, does that mean that magic fairies have turned it invisible? I can’t prove that that isn’t the case, but I’m still going to the store.

      Likewise, if I look in the sky and in the churches and I find no god, I may not be able prove that he isn’t there. But I’m still going to preserve this planet as if it’s the only world we have, and I’m still going to live this life as if it’s the only one I get. I’ll live as though there is no god, until I see evidence to the contrary, just as Minister Brassfield lives as though there is no Allah.

  • http://www.skeptimusprime.com/ Dylan Walker

    Would it be judgmental of me to not accept this “apology?”

  • JA

    Nice apology, Brassfield. Now try it again without being a condescending dick.

    • phantomreader42

      Not being a condescending dick is clearly against his religion.

  • http://squeakysoapbox.com/ Rich Wilson

    Last time I said:

    Part of the closed world view that lead him to assume that atheists are selfish and never do anything to help anyone else will also lead him to think you’re a degenerate liar working for Satan.

    It would probably take someone he knows coming out as an atheist and confronting him in person to maybe get him to pay any attention whatsoever.

    I really hope he proves me wrong.

    Despite the continued ‘dig’, I am thankful that he at least acknowledges that atheists are capable of good works.

  • Edmond

    “After doing harm with my religious opinion, I am resolved against the people who say that religion does harm.”
    Huh?

  • Noelle

    I don’t like anything prefaced by IMHO either. What follows is rarely humble, and it makes me want IHOP. And there are no IHOPs around me. And that makes me sad.

    • Rev. Achron Timeless

      I feel your pain. I have to drive an hour to the nearest one. It’s getting expensive…

      Can’t resist the IHOP.

      • busterggi

        And they dropped buckwheats from the menu, damned I miss those!

      • tinker

        They just put in a new IHOP down the street, we were so happy that we went there last Sunday, around noon…and realized that it was too small to accommodate all of the Mormon churches (there are at least 8 within 10 miles, plus the new Temple). They were lined up around the block and we ended up going to Dunkin again.

        • Rev. Achron Timeless

          If it’s like the one that opened an hour from me, it’ll be like that for 2 months, then the novelty will wear off for most people. Lines will be shorter after that.

      • http://gamesgirlsgods.blogspot.com/ Feminerd

        Oh big cities, they are so wonderful sometimes. There’s an IHOP not five minutes drive from my house. We usually wind up at the Whataburger instead for 2 am snacks though- it’s cheaper and you can get your own soda instead of waiting on refills.

        • Rev. Achron Timeless

          Once lived in a city with 4 Waffle Houses, 2 of them on opposite sides of a bridge over the highway… never did understand that. Alas, they had no IHOP.

      • DavidMHart

        Being a non-USAian, I had to google that. Turns out it’s either International House of Pancakes, or, in a serendipitous twist, International House of Prayer.

        • Rev. Achron Timeless

          Not sure what amuses me more, the fact that they have an organization with the same name, or the trademark infringement involved.

        • Noelle

          I meant P=Pancakes. I’d be disapointed if I accidentally walked into the prayer version expecting pancakes.

          There are other pancake making restaurants around me, but they usually close at 2 pm. Cannot the market for quality breakfast food handle later hours? I never get up and dressed in time to eat breakfast outside my house in the morning. PJ’s with coffee on weekends, quickly eaten cereal before work on weekdays.

  • kagekiri

    Namely, the “if I don’t see it, it doesn’t exist” attitude. If it is wrong for one to use that approach to determine the existence of God, then it is wrong for me to use it to determine someone’s involvement in relief efforts.

    That’s odd, I could’ve sworn that us atheists have the ‘attitude’ of “If no one has seen it nor any evidence of it, it’s unlikely to exist. Where’s the evidence?”

    Somehow that seems more legit than the Christians’ “No one has seen it and there’s no evidence outside of Scriptures that have little perfection and no evidence of special revelation about the fundamental nature of reality, but I’m TOTALLY SURE IT EXISTS!!!!”

  • http://www.danarel.com/ Dan Arel

    the “if I don’t see it, it doesn’t exist” attitude.

    I believe this is the official Catholic doctrine in child sex abuse.

    • trj

      Combined with “If someone else sees it we will move the predator priest somewhere else so they no longer see it”.

  • Space Cadet

    I’m guessing the two websites he did his research at are therearenoatheistsinoklahoma.com and oklahomaisatheistfree.com.

    • DavidMHart

      Hey, I can’t see those websites. I think maybe they don’t exist ;-)

  • baal

    “I adopted a method of which I believe some atheists employ: Namely, the “if I don’t see it, it doesn’t exist” attitude”

    Only that’s not what ‘the atheists” said (say). We did our reasonable diligence to look for god and found the evidence week and wanting. You (mr. minister) did not do reasonable diligence to look if your primary claim in the pamphlet was true (ex google atheist donation Oklahoma tornado 2013).

  • A3Kr0n

    So Ken Ham is really an atheist with his “if you weren’t there how do you know” speech?

    • trj

      Nah, he’s got this history book called the Bible, authored by God, the most reliable historian ever. God was there, so you know everything’s totally legit.

  • Garret Shane Brown

    I’m surprised you didn’t mention his horrible analogy saying that Atheists have a “I don’t see it so it doesn’t exist” attitude. There is utterly no evidence of god anywhere that we can find. I doubt he even tried to find atheists who helped in the storm relief. When you’re already 100% sure that the god of the bible exists, why bother with looking for the evidence? Bible says atheists are horrible and do no good deeds, so it must be true.

    • JET

      His research was done by reading the Bible. All other sources are irrelevant as they are not The True Word Of God. Silly atheists.

      • The Other Weirdo

        That’s a cumbersome way of putting it. How about, True Lies of Satan?

  • edb3803

    At least he apologized about not recognizing that atheists are capable of doing good deeds. That is something.

    But he doesn’t need to reiterate his intolerant attitude. Of course, if atheists do become a majority in this land, he’s out of a job! And christians love nothing more than other christians enabling their beliefs.

  • Hunter Taylor

    I could kind of understand Mr. Brassfield’s last two paragraphs if someone had written those sentences on his professional or personal website or in an article about this letter and therefore could conceivably be understood to be an attack against Mr. Brassfield and his views. However, the quote came from Reddit (http://www.reddit.com/r/atheism/comments/17emed/i_am_against_religion_because/ about halfway down the page) from 4 MONTHS AGO. While I appreciate Mr. Brassfield’s apology, I have to say that one could find anyone espousing any point of view on any topic imaginable Reddit. All that person on Redit is doing is presenting his or her own point of view: not inciting violence against those who hold religious beliefs. Talk about a weak sauce claim.

  • Michael

    What an ass!

  • Martin Ellacott

    I am an atheist. I am not a horrible person.

  • newavocation

    When does he get to the part about his Xians doing more than praying to their god that messed up and actually lend a helping hand instead of holding a bible?

  • trj

    I dread the day if these individuals become the majority in our land.

    Yeah, just look how bad things are in the godless Scandinavian countries. Complete hellholes all of them.

    • Sean Gossage

      Yes, they, on the other hand, have treated non-believers so well during their majority.

  • sk3ptik0n

    Classy guy. Way to show all of us atheists that our preconceptions about christians are false.
    Thank you for the nopology. Yes, I slandered you, but you are still a piece of shit.

  • Verimius

    The correct phrase is, “The proof of the pudding is in the eating.”

  • eric

    In this area, I adopted a method of which I believe some atheists employ: Namely, the “if I don’t see it, it doesn’t exist” attitude. If it is wrong for one to use that approach to determine the existence of God, then it is wrong for me to use it to determine someone’s involvement in relief efforts.

    Here’s the difference: atheists conclude non-existence of God after they test their hypothesis. Theists conclude non-existence of charitable atheists before they test their hypothesis.

  • LesterBallard

    I don’t need anything from Christians, or any other religious person, except to be treated equally under the law. I don’t need acknowledgement, or thanks or anything else.

  • http://friendlyatheist.com Richard Wade

    This is how bigots operate. When confronted with the inaccuracy of a hateful thing they’ve said about their target group, they acknowledge that they were wrong in some narrow way, but they say they’re still broadly correct in all the other hateful things they say about that group. They use a combination of the exception to the rule rationalization, and the broad brush fallacy:

    “Oh okay, some atheists donated money and effort to help, BUT because one atheist said a rude thing about wanting to destroy religion, all atheists are rude and want to destroy religion.”

    “Oh okay, that Jew donated a lot of money to an orphanage that’s not just for Jewish kids, BUT he’s an exception to the rule. A Jew I know is really cheap and stingy, so almost all Jews are cheap and stingy. After all, it’s even documented. Look at Shylock in The Merchant of Venice.

    Oh okay, that black guy… BUT… all the others…
    Oh okay, those Hispanic people… BUT… all the others…
    Oh okay, that gay couple… BUT… all the others…
    Oh okay, this one woman… BUT… all the others…

    Bigots relinquish their bigotry only one centimeter at a time, and they resist with dug-in heels giving up the next centimeter.

    • Peter

      A friend of mine had a great conversation with his dad like that, except that his dad didn’t even have a single example:

      Dad: The trouble with Jews is that they’re so cheap.
      My friend: Really? Aren’t you friends with Bill at work? You go out with him for lunch once a week. Is he cheap?
      Dad: Oh, Bill’s a Jew? Well, he’s not cheap.
      My friend: You know that my friends Rachel and Lori are Jews, right?
      Dad: Oh! Rachel and Lori are nice. I didn’t mean them.
      My friend: Who did you mean?
      Dad: Um, real Jews. Rachel and Lori aren’t real Jews.
      My friend: Huh? They are Jews.
      Dad: No, real Jews are the ones who are cheap.

      Case closed!

    • kaydenpat

      Exactly. If you’re going to apologize, just do so without trying to excuse your misconduct.

  • Artor

    Too late, tu quoque.

  • kaydenpat

    “Even atheists can be judgmental and sometimes threatening toward us”

    This made me laugh. Some apology.

  • DougI

    So he’s like, “Gee, I called Atheists a bunch of immoral douchebags, so why they gotta persecute me? I’d hate to see these immoral douchebags in the majority because they’re a bunch of immoral douchebags. BTW, sorry about something I said.”

    What an ass.

  • Omega

    Another christard hypocrite. They’re all backstabbers when you least expect it.

    • TCC

      -1 for “christard.” I’d give another -1 for the poor generalization if I could.

  • SeekerLancer

    So basically, “I was wrong because I was thinking like atheists do!”

    Yeah, apology not really accepted.

  • Jim Jones

    > I dread the day if these individuals become the majority in our land.

    Turning the USA into a terrible country like Sweden, Norway or Denmark.

    http://www.vexen.co.uk/countries/scandinavia.html

  • Robster

    This man and his ilk, consider vocal non believers the enemy. It should be expected that bigoted nonsense should fall from his lips, to say something positive about those not gullible enough to fall for the silly stuff he’s fallen for would be an almost admission of failure for his absurd belief system. It offers nothing real of a positive nature, so lies are required to maintain the delusion.

  • Keulan

    He was doing well in the first two paragraphs. If he’d left it at that, I’d have no problems with his apology. Instead he decided to switch to bashing atheists in the third paragraph. Apology not accepted. Try again Minister Brassfield, and try not to attack the group you’re apologizing to halfway through the apology next time.

  • Haypea

    He was wrong, and Christians are horrible people. If they are good Christians, that is, and stick to their teachings.

  • Starstuff

    I’m sorry these things offend you…

  • Michael Lindsay

    Meaning, “yes I was wrong but I’m so pissy about being caught I won’t admit any wrongdoing because I’m infantile.”

  • An Onymous

    If an atheist opens his fridge and sees no milk in there, he believes that milk doesn’t exist.

    Surely, most Christians aren’t that dumb. Just like other people, they only use metaphors that support what they already believe.

    Atheists Are Better People: http://wp.me/p1UwDg-8m

  • Gus Snarp

    Guy’s an idiot. Incapable of basic logical thinking in the first place and completely blinded by his own biases and motivated reasoning.

  • Roger Peritone

    It’d be nice if Ken Ham and the person he quoted in this facebook post of his were to apologize:

    https://www.facebook.com/aigkenham/posts/576076652422695

  • Hopping Mad

    That is not an apology, that’s just an attempt to deflect criticism with another few cheap shots worked in, I have subscribed to time for nearly a decade – but if I don’t see a comprehensive apology and retraction in the next issue I will never read it again.

    What use is a news and opinion magazine if the facts are incorrect and the opinion is hateful?


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