I Still Say the Christian Church is Anti-Gay, Anti-Women, Anti-Science, Anti-Sex-Education, and Anti-Doubt

Last week, CNN posted a column I wrote on how atheists are helping drive young people away from the church.

Christian apologist Robin Schumacher took issue with it and has started to respond at the Christian Post.

Here’s the statement he appears to be most frustrated with:

Articles and books about why millennials are leaving Christianity often focus on what churches are doing “wrong.”

They’re anti-gay, anti-women, anti-science, anti-sex-education and anti-doubt, 
to name a few of the most common criticisms.

Schumacher doesn’t buy that at all:

In today’s culture, to be anti-anything is bad so we see Mehta employ the typical paint-your-opponent-against-something-rather-than-for-something technique right out of the chute. But that aside, the question is, are the claims true? Let’s look at just a couple of them.

This should be fun… especially since I can back up what I wrote:

1) Is the church anti-gay?

Schumacher ignores this point altogether, maybe because the church is so obviously anti-gay.

At worst, there are large, loud factions in the Christian world who believe homosexuality is a disorder or sexual perversion. They believe homosexuality is a choice. They want to fix gay people.

At best, both the Catholic Church hierarchy (including the Pope) and evangelical leaders still believe people who act on their homosexuality (even within the confines of a loving, monogamous relationship) are doing something wrong. They don’t believe a gay couple is as inherently worthy as a straight couple, even when it comes to raising children. They have fought against federal recognition of same-sex marriage and they certainly won’t allow it in their own churches. They have started to proclaim how much they “love” gay people, but treating them with respect while still working to deny them equal rights makes absolutely no sense to most millennials.

2) Is the church anti-women?

Schumacher writes:

Evidently Mr. Mehta is unaware of how Christianity elevated womanhood in the first century… He also must not know that the Bible specifically states that men and women are equal in their nature…, from a life/value perspective…, redemptive status…, and in their abilities… Contrast that with other faiths such as Islam.

His argument to support Christianity’s treatment of women is that “we’re better than Islam”? Talk about setting the bar low…

He continues:

If Mehta is referring to the normal critique of a woman submitting to a man, then he’s incorrect on at least two fronts. First,the Biblical passage usually referenced is speaking about men/women in marriage only. Second, that submission goes both ways — a fact conveniently omitted by Christian opponents who never read the beginning of the famous ‘submission section’ in Ephesians, which starts with Paul saying: “Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ” (Eph. 5:21, my emphasis). Only after that does Paul go on in detail, telling both men and women how to submit to each other (with the man getting most of the lecture).

To summarize, men and women are totally equal, but in the context of marriage, a woman must submit to her husband.

That doesn’t make it any better.

There are well-defined gender roles within the Christian church and we all know it. The man works, the woman takes care of the children, and you will upset God if you do it any differently.

But I wasn’t just talking about the submission thing. Evangelical church leaders are overwhelmingly male, even though they say women are perfectly capable of taking on those roles. (The Catholic Church, of course, doesn’t believe women should be in leadership positions at all.)

There’s reproductive rights, too. The Catholic Church and evangelical-owned businesses are fighting to make sure they don’t have to cover their employees’ contraception. That’s anti-woman (though it also affects men).

What about forcing women to go through with a pregnancy no matter her circumstances? That’s anti-woman.

And when a Christian bookstore won’t sell a book written by a woman because it includes the word “vagina” (in a harmless context) but sells a book written by a man that includes references to oral and anal sex? That’s anti-woman.

Oh! Can’t forget the whole “purity” thing where women are taught to be chaste and modest in a way that Christian boys never experience, in part because men can’t help their desires. Never the other way around.

The church can talk about how much it supports gender equality all it wants, but its actions and positions scream otherwise.

3) Is the church anti-science?

Schumacher writes:

… in short, good science and good religion walk hand in hand just fine. Further, if anything, science is bolstering the arguments for God, not eliminating them.

The evidence showing that our universe most certainly had a beginning and is not eternal…, the proof of intelligence and specified complexity running through life itself…, and the fine tuning of our cosmos… all make for excellent scientific data points favoring a Creator

Moreover, the legion of brilliant scientists who are Christians that exist today as well as those in the past demonstrates the false dichotomy that Mr. Mehta offers millennials of either science or Christianity.

Look, there’s definitely no shortage of brilliant scientists who happen to be Christian. But even they take off their God Helmets when they walk into a lab. Francis Collins will be the first to tell you that his faith is emotional, not scientific.

Intelligent Design, irreducible complexity, and the fine-tuning argument are the sorts of things they teach you in Jesus Camp, but no real scientist takes them seriously. They’ve been debunked repeatedly.

And I would still argue that “good science” and “good religion” are just not compatible. Religion relies on faith and emotion. Science relies on observable facts. They’re two different worlds. Yes, some Christians accept evolution while believing that God started the process, but they have nothing to back up that claim other than their ignorance of other possibilities. And what about climate change? Evangelicals (and their friends in the GOP) have denied what the majority of scientists understand as truth. Only recently is that starting to change (PDF).

It’s not just me saying that Christianity is anti-science either. When Christian researcher David Kinnaman wrote his book You Lost Me, he said that the opposition to science was one of the key factors young Christians cited when talking about why they were put off by the church. Kinnaman wrote, “What’s more, science seems accessible in a way that the church does not; science appears to welcome questions and skepticism, while matters of faith seem impenetrable.” Kinnaman also quoted a scientist he met who said, “Every week, I am contacted by young Christians who tell me that their faith cannot survive their interest in science. They feel the church has forced them into an either-or decision — they can either stay true to the Christian faith or become an intellectually honest scientist.”

Even if that’s an anecdote, there’s no doubt that what science classes teach often contradicts what you learn in Sunday school. Rather than reconciling the differences — which may be impossible — the evangelical church has pretty much said science is wrong.

Also: Creation Museum. (Need I say more?)

4) Is the church anti-sex-education?

Schumacher doesn’t address this bit. But we know the Catholic Church doesn’t promote birth control or condoms while evangelical leaders are almost entirely in the “abstinence-only” camp. They don’t want kids educated about anything involving healthy, safe sex.

They encourage sex only after marriage, which means you have to find a partner without ever considering your sexual compatibility. The requirement to wait also pushes a lot of Christians to get married when they’re very young (and not necessarily ready or mature enough for marriage).

The Christian Post cited a study that said “88 percent of those who pledge to be abstinent reported having had sexual intercourse before they married.” So not only does abstinence-only sex education not work, it throws kids into a world where they’re completely unprepared for dealing with sex and its physical and emotional consequences.

Young Catholics know that, too. The Barna Group noted that 40% of millennial Catholics “said the church’s ‘teachings on sexuality and birth control are out of date.’”

On a side note, it seems like churches don’t even mention pornography without following it with the word “addiction,” as if it’s never okay to watch it. There are some valid arguments against porn, sure, but it’s unrealistic to pretend that young Christians aren’t among the viewers, and it’s damaging to call them sinners (or worse) because of it.

5) Is the church anti-doubt?

Schumacher writes:

Anti-doubt? If by this he means the Church at large discourages asking hard questions about God, he couldn’t be more wrong. The entire discipline of apologetics is specifically designed for tackling difficult issues and questions about the existence of God. Christian websites such as gotquestions see over 3 million unique visitors a month…, with special sister sites having been set up by the gotquestions team just for answering the questions children and teens have about Christianity. If millennials want to have their doubts and questions about God answered, they have many places to turn.

Let me rewrite his response: “The church isn’t anti-doubt! Lee Strobel wrote books to clear up everybody’s questions! So there!”

Yeah… turns out that doesn’t really work. Maybe because the arguments of Christian apologists are so easily rejected and rebutted.

We know more millennials than ever before doubt the existence of God. The question is: Do they feel comfortable talking to their pastors about their doubts?

Nope. Back to the Barna Group:

Young adults with Christian experience say the church is not a place that allows them to express doubts. They do not feel safe admitting that sometimes Christianity does not make sense.

Schumacher can stay in his apologetic bubble and pretend the church welcomes questions, but the fact is that most churches discourage doubt and encourage people to just accept things on faith.

Meanwhile, atheists (and the entire Internet) are just itching to answer the questions young Christians have.

Schumacher also takes a dismissive tone with some of my other statistics about how atheist groups are growing and raising more for charity because he argues that it’s a drop in the bucket compared to what churches have done.

Well, it is. I don’t doubt that, when you look at the raw numbers, Christians outnumber us and give more to charity as a result.

I mentioned those numbers to point out that our once-tiny movement is growing quickly and that we’re starting to replace the things you used to be able to find only in church — things like community, opportunities for charitable-giving, and inspirational “sermons.” As we replace more of the church’s offerings (minus the superstitious nonsense), I suspect the numbers are only going to increase in our direction.

(image via Shutterstock)

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.

  • John Gills

    This is exactly the kind of commentary we need when confronting dogmatic positions. Although it’s unlikely we’ll ever convince the intransigent, it’s the best way to reach those who are searching for answers and alternatives to entrenched unreasonable beliefs.

  • GubbaBumpkin

    the proof of intelligence and specified complexity running through life itself

    Perhaps he could offer up a definition of “specified complexity.” William Dembski keeps changing his definition as weaknesses are pointed out. Maybe then he could offer up a few examples that hold up to scientific examination.

    The entire discipline of apologetics is specifically designed for
    tackling difficult issues and questions about the existence of God

    Apologetics is designed to paper over the problem, not to solve it. I’ve read a lot of apologetics and the answers it offers are stupid.

    • allein

      Maybe then he could offer up a few examples that hold up to scientific examination.

      I doubt it.

    • Rain

      Doesn’t matter. Turns out he’s a total know-nothing fundy creationist.

      http://carm.org/a-few-reminders-about-what-evolution-actually-means

      He uses good grammar and cool sounding words, but all of it amounts to blah blah blah blah blah. Who knows if he ever has a clue what the hell he is ever talking about. All total bluster. What’s the point of even responding to these idiots?

  • Art_Vandelay

    In today’s culture, to be anti-anything is bad…

    Anti-tyranny, anti-pederasty, anti-genocide, anti-ignorance, anti-Kardashian…there’s plenty of perfectly reasonable things in this world to oppose.

    • 3lemenope

      “…and the Ice Capades!”

      • Randay

        Thanks for remembering George Carlin, who described god’s work as that of an “office temp with a bad attitude”.

    • SecularPatriot

      I was going to go with “anti-theism.”

      • Art_Vandelay

        Yeah, but that’s a tough sell to a Christian apologist.

    • indorri

      Yeah, this is one of those things they take confusion of in an attempt to throw rhetoric in our face. Similar to the “intolerance of intolerance” bit.

    • Buckley

      I’m anti-slavery

    • Rain

      In today’s culture, to be anti-anything is bad…

      I thought that was an extremely odd thing to say too. Let’s face it, he just is not a very bright feller.

  • Tel

    When I first realised that without noticing I had lost my faith and had questions and doubts, I was terrified — I mean it. A couple wonderful Pagan friends (neither of whom had a fondness for Christianity) helped me through that awful time, and without them I wouldn’t be the happy atheist I am now.

    I went to them because I had nobody else. I didn’t dare tell anyone offline and I didn’t dare tell any Christians, because doubt was Sinful and questioning was Wrong and unbelief was Bad. If the church hadn’t been so anti-doubt, I might have kept my religion because I’d’ve felt safe talking to Christians and hearing their answers.

    Really, doesn’t the church know that trying to keep everyone in through hostility to questions can end up driving more people away?

    • Sweetredtele

      Let’s try to keep that a secret from them.

    • ajginn

      Really, doesn’t the church know that through trying to keep everyone in through hostility to questions it can end up driving more people away?

      What’s their alternative, dealing with the questions honestly? That’s a losing proposition for sure. Fear, not honest inquiry, is the primary weapon of religion.

  • Sajanas

    Seriously, how many times have I heard the story “I asked too many questions in Sunday School, and they asked me not to come back”. All the various churches are good at *managing* doubt. They are not good at continuing to support people if their doubts become overwhelming, or start to affect other people.

    If you start making other people question their beliefs, you will be asked to leave. If you start encouraging others to believe something that is really counter to what the church believes, you will be asked to leave. The simple fact of the thousands of different, distinct Christian denominations is ironclad proof that Christianity does not tolerate doubt or different opinions. It kicks people out, and they either found their own branch, or those beliefs die with them.

    • Stephanie Austin

      When I was a kid in Sunday School, my teacher actually moved me to another class since I said that God does to turn his back on his servants. (Saul. This is what happens when a bright student that wasn’t brought up bilingual and all she can do to sit through services is read the damn book.)

      • allein

        I used to just color in the the program with the little golf pencils from the prayer card holders.

        • Adam Patrick

          Guess I’m not alone

      • Katatonic

        My SS question was: if Jesus sits on the right hand of god, who’s on the left? (I always assumed it was Satan.) And my mom taught Sunday school at the chapel where my dad was chaplain (when he was in port). She didn’t have to ask me to leave-she just gave up on me. That was around age 6 or so.

    • 3lemenope

      It’s a good point, though I’m not sure that it is reasonable to expect an institution to be tolerant (much less encouraging) of an existential threat.

      • CottonBlimp

        It’s a reasonable expectation when they CLAIM to be tolerant.

        • 3lemenope

          Quite so. It makes them hypocrites. But it makes them hypocrites in the same way that a ‘free’ society is that imprisons its criminals or an ‘open’ society that keeps secrets classified. It’s a direct violation of one’s principles on a surface level, but only because to do otherwise is suicide.

          • CottonBlimp

            I’m as harsh towards these Christians as I would be towards someone who claimed, with an air of condescension, that America had no prisons.

            • 3lemenope

              And I’d say you are right to be that harsh. The thing I always come back to with religion is, if it actually is what the people who peddle it claim (“we have privileged access to TRUTH!”), it should be qualitatively better in all the ways that human institutions generally suck. What good is having God on your side if your shit stinks as much as the next guy? I’m constantly amused by all the excuses religious people have for the very human failings of religious institutions.

              • Mogg

                And that reason, ultimately, was why I left.

      • Sajanas

        Oh yeah, they need to do stuff like that to maintain their flock of donors. But you can’t pretend that they’re some sort of force for reason or intelligence when they divest themselves of anyone that vocally disagrees with them.

        • 3lemenope

          But you can’t pretend that they’re some sort of force for reason or intelligence when they divest themselves of anyone that vocally disagrees with them.

          I don’t pretend that as my powers of imagination are not up to the task.

    • Stev84

      “Here, have this apologetics book, but if you still aren’t convinced the door is over there.”

      • Sajanas

        Exactly, and its worth noting that theology and apologetics tend to be on the difficult side of the writing spectrum. I remember trying to read some of the theology books in my church library, and finding them cloaked in verbose philosophical language.

        • randomfactor

          “Cloaked” is the operative word. Apologetics is the organized study of which logical fallacies can best prop up a losing argument.

        • UWIR

          And a lot of them aren’t written in English. I picked up a book by Aquinus, and quickly gave up trying to read it. It had supposedly been translated into English, but the sentences were flat-out ungrammatical. I don’t know whether this was entirely the translator’s fault, or whether he was giving the gibberish in English in an attempt to have it be equivalent to the Latin gibberish.

          • Sajanas

            I remember trying to read Augustine, and he was clearly writing from a different time period, and the laws, culture, and morals of the time are pretty different. He really tied himself up into a knot over taking some figs from another person’s garden and not eating them all. Not such a big deal for us today, but in a time where that was the only thing those people might have to eat and sell, it was a lot more major.

            • Loren Petrich

              It was pears that he and his friends had stolen as a little boy, and he had moaned and groaned at length about what a terrible sin he had committed.

              He also believed that babies were terrible sinners, guilty of gluttony and jealousy and the like.

      • Octoberfurst

        I smiled when I read your post because that happened to me. When I was having doubts all my church friends said, “Read Lee Strobel’s books!”, “Read Josh McDowell!” “Read CS Lewis” The trouble was I HAD read all those books but was unconvinced. They act like if someone reads those apologetic books that somehow ALL your questions will be answered. Well they weren’t. In fact some had pretty crummy arguments. You see in Christian circles they don’t mind if you ask questions. But they do expect you to accept their pat answers. And if you don’t——well then things don’t go so well.

    • http://abb3w.livejournal.com/ abb3w

      Some Catholic churches do better; when I asked too many questions in Sunday School, the teacher called in a Jesuit to address them. In the long run, that didn’t work, but it seems likely to have bought some time.

      I suspect that sometimes higher intelligence just means more subtle rationalizations to pad over the cognitive dissonance; and fielding the best arguments centuries of the finest minds can muster somehow reminds me of Kernighan’s observation about the debugging of clever code.

      • Nate Frein

        Something similar happened to me. When I asked too many questions in confirmation class, the volunteer who taught it got me moved to the class being taught by the priest himself.

        • http://abb3w.livejournal.com/ abb3w

          It’s possible the teacher may have consulted with the priest, who decided more firepower was needed from the outset. I’m pretty sure that at least one (if not both) of my older sisters also got a visit from a friendly Jesuit; it would be plausible that the priest initially tried handling my sisters’ questions himself, and decided to save steps with me.

          • Nate Frein

            Not in my case. The teacher basically had a screaming fit, the coordinator came and pulled me out, and after having a talk suggested that I either wait until next year or switch to Fr. Nathan’s (lol) class with the middle-schoolers.

            • http://abb3w.livejournal.com/ abb3w

              Yeah, I was referring to mine.

      • MD

        I went to Catholic school. Asking too many question got me kicked out religion class in 7th grade. At the time I was very confused, because I genuinely wanted to learn as much about doctrine as I could. I guess that made me a bad little Catholic.

        • http://abb3w.livejournal.com/ abb3w

          Well, yes; not ALL Catholic churches do better.

          The difference might be related to how conservative the diocese was (I was in the bishopric of Albany, whose bishop I’ve heard referred to as one of the three most liberal in the US), or possibly related to differences between Catholic school religion classes and
          parish Confraternity of Christian Doctrine classes.

          • MD

            South Florida, dude. A weird place to be.

            • http://abb3w.livejournal.com/ abb3w

              Makes sense; Catholics in the US South tend more conservative.

    • busterggi

      Oh they told me to come back, they just ordered me to shut my mouth or get whacked over my knuckles by the penguin again.

      • wombat

        Mental images of an angry little blue penguin leaping up to reach your knuckles.

        • http://itsmyworldcanthasnotyours.blogspot.com/ wmdkitty

          OMCC, dying over here!

        • phantomreader42

          I’m thinking of the Penguin Mafia :)

    • Simon

      Strangely, Penn Jillette became an athiest specifically because his youth pastor actually did engage Penn’s questions and encouraged a deep understanding of the religion. It seems like asking questions and not getting them answered can get you removed from Christianity while asking questions and are encouraged to get answers on their own from religion will also drive people to atheism. Seems like being religious is all about having others answer your questions for you, even if you didn’t ask any.

    • baal

      I think all those stories were me on repeat.

    • http://itsmyworldcanthasnotyours.blogspot.com/ wmdkitty

      Yeah, I was that kid.

  • Sven2547

    Is the church…?

    I hasten to point out that there are a lot of churches with a very wide range of positions on all five of these questions.

    That said, it is true that the largest, wealthiest, and most influential churches are lousy on all five of these questions, to varying degrees.

    • Art_Vandelay

      Doubt is pretty much a nail in the coffin for all of them though.

      • 3lemenope

        Nietzsche had this well-skewered.

        “The craving for a strong faith is no proof of a strong faith, but quite the contrary. If one has such a faith, then one can afford the beautiful luxury of skepticism: one is sure enough, firm enough, has ties enough for that.”

  • GubbaBumpkin

    Christians give up on being anti-science:

    Religious teachers lose faith in Nessie

    New editions of a Christian biology textbook will no longer contain
    the controversial idea that the beast may have been a real living
    creature.
    Writers of the Accelerated Christian Education (ACE) biology
    textbooks had once taught that the existence of the Loch Ness Monster
    disproved Darwin’s theory of evolution…
    The religious fanatics also claimed that a Japanese whaling boat once caught a dinosaur…

  • Carpinions

    “Anti-doubt? If by this he means the Church at large discourages asking hard questions about God, he couldn’t be more wrong. The entire discipline of apologetics is specifically designed for tackling difficult issues and questions about the existence of God.”

    No, Schumacher, apologetics is exactly what its name implies: The excuses well-propaganda’d Christians give for the inability to answer said hard questions. Conversely, scientists don’t call their work “biological apologetics,” for example, because THEY DON’T NEED TO.

    And the church isn’t anti-woman? GUFFAW. Just look at the number of male figures that Christians routinely pull out of the Bible when they throw verses around:

    Adam

    Abraham
    David
    Moses
    Noah
    Isaac
    Aaron
    Job
    Jacob
    Joshua
    Jesus
    John the Baptist
    and the list goes on…

    The women? Eve takes the top spot, although as a negative figure. Beyond that, if they’re Protestant they’ll whip out Ruth or Esther, the Virgin Mary if they’re Catholic. That’s pretty much it.

    Wikipedia has a perfect example of a list of prominent figures, and even Ruth or Eve aren’t listed: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_major_biblical_figures

    Further, as always, doing an Internet search reveals that even Christian lists of the most important women have counts well short of the overwhelming number of notable male figures from the Bible, even if you count the evil ones. I found a list on a site called Easy Bible that comprised the 25 most important figures, only 1 of which was female, and another slot being shared with a male. The evidence of the Bible on this question is more than definitive.

    • Willy Occam

      “No, Schumacher, apologetics is exactly what its name implies….”

      Yeah, I always thought that was an odd term, given it’s overtly defensive (and indefensible) implications… all about excuses rather than explanations. But perhaps it’s one of the few examples of truth in advertising in Christianity.

      Now let’s go one step further and and add the word “Fables” or “Mythology” to the Bible.

  • Jim

    “He also must not know that the Bible specifically states that men and
    women are equal in their nature…, from a life/value perspective…,
    redemptive status…, and in their abilities…”

    Because woman suer were treated “equally” under the last 2000 years of Christian dominance, right? RIGHT?

  • Kubricks_Rube
    • C.L. Honeycutt

      I picture that line being said in Homer Simpson’s voice. Seems appropriate.

    • EvolutionKills

      Propane…

      • Sajanas

        I often change this to “You’re not making Politics any better, you’re just making Christianity worse” whenever people try to bring religion in to politics.

    • allein

      Nooo! Please no “hip” “contemporary” praise music! If I have to sit through a church service I much prefer the traditional stuff.

  • Brian

    Yeah, i found it pretty odd that he would completely skip the “anti-gay” claim altogether.

    • OverlappingMagisteria

      To be fair, this is part 1 of 2 for this article. At the end of this article he says he will “look at a couple more claims Mehta makes.” We will see if he addresses the anti-gay and anti-sex-education claims in that one.

      • Kubricks_Rube

        he says he will “look at a couple more claims Mehta makes.”

        Except Mehta isn’t the one making these claims (though he is agreeing with them). Actual millenial Christians like Rachel Held Evans are saying this is why they are leaving the church. But Schumacher is dismissing their experience completely and pretending this is all just a bunch of atheist slander. That to me is what makes Schumacher appear most clueless.

        • OverlappingMagisteria

          Right, but that’s not my point.

          I wouldn’t say that its odd that Schumacher has skipped two points (no matter who made them) since he hasn’t posted the full response yet. We can’t accuse him of ignoring points if he’s not done writing yet.

          Perhaps he will address them in part 2. If he doesn’t, then I will join in saying that it is very odd.

          • Kubricks_Rube

            Agreed; your comment just happened to be where I realized Schumacher’s larger failure to engage.

    • ajginn

      “We LOVE gay people! We just hate their icky gay sex.”

  • compl3x

    You don’t need to “paint your opponent” as anything when they actually are guilty of the things you accuse them of.

    The fact two of the issues you raised (anti-gay/anti-sex) were completely ignored speaks volumes to me.

  • http://coolingtwilight.com/ Dan Wilkinson

    As I Christian I wholeheartedly agree that, generally speaking “the Christian Church is Anti-Gay, Anti-Women, Anti-Science, Anti-Sex-Education, and Anti-Doubt” and that those positions represent a huge issue for us. Sure, there are many Christians who aren’t those things, and there are some individual churches and some denominations who aren’t those things. You can be a Christian and be pro-gay, pro-women, pro-science, pro-sex-education and pro-doubt (I put myself in those categories), but the simple fact of the matter is that most Christians fall into at least a few, if not all, of those categories.

    • Hat Stealer

      I think it is fair to say that most Christians- in the States at least- generally are more open and tolerant than their leadership would indicate. The problem isn’t the large amount of Christians with humanist morals, the problem is those groups of Christians with Biblical morals, who want to force those morals on the rest of us. Unfortunately, those in the latter group are not only the loudest, but also the ones in power, which can give the impression that most Christians are awful people. My own experiences tell me that is not the case, but it does seem to help explain the mass of millennials who are leaving the church. People like Robin Schumacher of course refuse to see this.

      • Nate Frein

        Those elements are in power because enough people keep paying them. I don’t really care how nice you are if you’re giving money to the Pat Robertsons of the world.

        • Hat Stealer

          This is the great moral failing of most Christians, to not see the evil that they support for what it is.

    • Nate Frein

      So, as a Christian, are you posting this on Schumacher’s blog?

      And, as a Christian, are you contributing in ways where money ends up in the coffers of those Christians who do have those qualities you claim to stand against?

      • http://coolingtwilight.com/ Dan Wilkinson

        I might comment on Schumacher’s blog. I do engage with the CP crowd from time to time … but wow, it’s usually almost enough to make one stop being a Christian!

        As far as where my money’s going … I don’t think any of it’s going in those directions and I KNOW plenty of it’s going in the opposite direction!

        • Nate Frein

          Fair enough. You’ll understand, I hope, that some people are frustrated with nominally “progressive” christians who are more interested in tone trolling atheists than actually criticizing the elements of their faith that they don’t agree with.

          • Loren Petrich

            Yes, I notice that they are not doing anything to stop creationists and other fundies, certainly not yelling

            The Bible tells us how to go to heaven, not how the heavens go!!!

            Pretty much what Galileo argued, and I find it curious that he isn’t a hero of liberal Xianity.

  • ajginn

    From the article:

    Honestly, I could write thirty pages alone on the flawed logic of his last statement, but in short,good science and good religion walk hand in hand just fine.

    According to Schumacher, good science is the kind that begins with the assumption that the bible is true (i.e. not science at all).

    • Sweetredtele

      I love his “flawed logic” bit preceded and followed by the classic christian logical fallacies.

  • ajginn

    Regarding gender roles: it’s amazing how quick Christians are to apologize for the bible’s clear edict that a woman is to submit to her husband. They say it on one hand but on the other they try to soft peddle the command.

  • GubbaBumpkin

    Anti-doubt: Consider the story of doubting Thomas, and the message that is derived from it: It is good to believe without evidence. Doubt is not a virtue.

    • 3lemenope

      The story also makes the inverse point: Doubt is not a vice. If it were, Jesus would have rebuked Thomas instead of letting him poke his fingers in his holes.

      • GCT

        He did rebuke Thomas.

        • 3lemenope

          Perhaps we’re operating off of slightly different definitions of “rebuke”. He specifically invites Thomas to poke him with his fingers instead of dismissing his doubt. If he were offended and we are meant to understand that, doesn’t it make more sense for him to say something more akin to “get thee from my sight!”?

          • GCT

            Yes, he invites Thomas to poke him with his fingers, and then tells him how wrong he was to do that.

            • 3lemenope

              What he actually says is that it is even more impressive to be able to believe without evidence. He does not say that Thomas was wrong.

              • GCT

                It’s the implicit inference from what he says. ‘You needed to see to believe. If you had faith, you’d be blessed.’ It goes along with the whole theme of knowledge being bad that starts in Genesis.

            • GubbaBumpkin

              Wrong? Why, it is simply unsanitary to stick your hands in another person’s wounds.

    • JSC_ltd

      Well, to be accurate, Thomas said he wouldn’t believe Jesus had risen until he put his hands in Jesus’s wounds. Then, supposedly, Jesus appeared to Thomas and let him do just that. Thomas had evidence in the story. Unfortunately for the church, evidence is in mighty short supply these days.

    • duke_of_omnium

      In the story, Thomas had the only rational response to the Jesus resurrection tale, and yet Thomas is mocked and criticized as a doubter.

  • ajginn

    According to Schumacher, good science is the kind of science that is not … wait for it … scientism.

    Science is great. Scientism isn’t. Scientism is a philosophy (really a ‘faith’) that says we should only believe what can be scientifically proven. Therefore, since you can’t easily put God under a microscope, well, He’s out. Few of the “the church is anti-science” crowd will outright admit they adhere to scientism, but implicitly that’s their position.

    http://carm.org/christians-against-science

    • 3lemenope

      That’s the worst definition of scientism I’ve ever seen.

    • GubbaBumpkin

      Therefore, since you can’t easily put God under a microscope

      But I thought God was everywhere. That ought to include being under the microscope.

      • 3lemenope

        You’re going to get them started on laminin again!

  • The Captain

    One thing I’ve noticed over the years is that devout religious communities have a different understanding of what the word “doubt” means to the rest of us. For the non-zealot, religious doubt means to seriously question your own beliefs and sincerely not know the answers to those internal questions. It means a person deep down inside is not buying what the church is telling them.

    But for overly religious communities “doubt” has become more of a thing people use as bragging rights. A way of proving how far they have risen in their righteousness, or as simple way for teenagers to “rebel” against something they really believe in. It’s really tied into the strange christian social phenomenon of the “I’m more saved than you”. It’s the same mindset that leads to all those exaggerated “I was so bad”or “so low” stories (Kirk Cameron is a great example of this). You know the ones, where a born again christian says how awful they where before, how much of a homeless, low life and drug user they where. How they where an “atheist” or sex addict. Then when you really push them on it you find out that what they mean by homeless, atheist, low life, sex addict, drug user is that they smoked a joint once a week for a month in college skipped their church group for two, spent a summer staying on a friends parents basement couch in a different upper middle class neighborhood, and talked their girlfriend into giving them a blow job.

    In the same way they have what I call “pretend doubt”. So for them apologetic pretend answers are more than enough. This is why they always dismiss atheist as just wanting to be bad, or really believing in god, because for them that’s what doubt is. True doubt though is what they can not understand or tolerate.

    • Art_Vandelay

      Yes. As long as you lead with the conclusion that there’s a just, loving sky-daddy that’s going to provide you with immortality simply for believing he exists…it doesn’t matter what you observe that contradicts that claim or how hard the questions are that you ask. If you want to believe something badly enough, you’ll find the answer you’re looking for. Truth be damned. The true skeptic doesn’t have the answer before asking the question.

    • Stev84

      There seem to be few words they haven’t completely redefined.

      • onamission5

        Or, as another commenter on another blog put it some time back, “undefined.”

    • J-Rex

      Doubt is a passing worry for them. It’s like when you sometimes imagine something bad that could happen in the future and you think how awful that would be, but you still recognize it as your own random thought. They’ll think for a second “What if this isn’t true?” but they recognize it as a random thought, just like “What if my parents died?” and push it out of their heads because it’s unimportant.
      Real doubt is reading the Bible and thinking, “Shit, that doesn’t make any sense…and neither do any of the explanations I can find.”

    • PNW

      LIbby Ann was talking about something similar a week ago, about how the christian community changes words. Her example was modesty. She was talking about how her daughter is still learning to be modest, as in not bragging about how smart she is, but the sister she mentioned it to thought she was talking about her dress. Modesty is definitely a word the fund. christian community has taken over

      • 3lemenope

        According to my handy etymology dictionary, both senses of the word are roughly contemporaneous. Modest, in the sense of having a limited self-regard, has earliest sources in the 1560s. Modest, in the sense of women avoiding lewdness or impropriety, has earliest sources in the 1590s. Modest specifically dealing with attire, 1610s.

  • Rain

    …the proof of intelligence and specified complexity running through life itself…, and the fine tuning of our cosmos… all make for excellent scientific data points favoring a Creator…

    Whooops, credibility nosedive! Look out beloooww! That and his desperate cherry-picking. *yawn*

  • CottonBlimp

    So, his defense of Christianity’s sexism is that it’s better than Islam. But Muslim apologetics defend Islam by pointing out it used to treat women better than Christianity.

    It’s like the two largest religions in the world are each working to lower our expectations for the other one.

    • Anna

      Plus, some strains of conservative Christianity are even worse than conservative Islam. All fundamentalists put restrictions on women, but which restrictions are worse depend on one’s personal perspective. I would probably rather wear a hijab and be allowed to have a career, than be forced to wear ankle-length skirts, go through endless pregnancies, and stay at home cooking, cleaning, and homeschooling a dozen children.

      • CottonBlimp

        On this slightly tangential topic, I know there’s a few things that fundamentalist Islam is surprisingly tolerant of. Off the top of my head, there are varying degrees to which abortion is acceptable in Islam, and Islamic countries are often, strangely, more accepting of the transgender than the homosexual. I think Iran actually has mandatory gender reassignment programs for gay people; which, I think like the alleged “positive” aspects of Christianity, is fundamentally horrible but can seem progressive compared to other horrible religions.

    • UWIR

      Christianity is, in theory, better than many strains of actual Islam, and Islam is, in theory, better than many strains of actual Christianity. Each religion at its best is better than the other religion at its worst.

  • Gus Snarp

    Maybe this is a silly nit to pick, but I have a problem with the way he talks about “the Christian church”, as if it’s in any way one body. There’s the Catholic Church, which is an institution in its own right, and you can talk about that. But the Christian church? Which one? I think that one can talk about Christianity and generalize about it, even knowing that not all Christians are the same. But talking about a monolithic Christian church and what is does and doesn’t do is absurd. When we make the slightest comment that generalizes Christians, even in a lighthearted comment, Christians will show up to tell us how those are the wrong kind of Christians and we shouldn’t generalize. But here we have a case of a Christian writer attempting to generalize all Christians in a blatant way, rather dishonestly suggesting that they constitute one body, one “church”. I guess it’s OK to generalize if you’re defending Christians and trying to make them sound positive?

    “The Christian church” isn’t anything. But a huge swath of Christianity, including the Catholic Church, baptists, and pretty much all the fundamentalists, are anti-woman and anti-gay and anti-sex ed. The Catholic church and some of the moderate to liberal churches tend not to be anti-science, but the fundamentalists certainly are. Even most of the moderate churches are anti-gay, with only a handful of liberal churches that aren’t. And pretty much all of religion is anti-doubt, because they can’t accept the outcome of that doubt and because they promote faith over doubt, over reason, and over evidence.

    So as a whole, yes, Christianity is anti-all of those things, though exceptions always exist.

    • 3lemenope

      There is no Christianity, there are Christianities.

    • Anna

      Even most of the moderate churches are anti-gay, with only a handful of liberal churches that aren’t.

      This is an important point. Moderate Christians constantly tell us not to lump them in with the fundamentalists, but their churches are usually not fully accepting of the LGBT community. How many mainstream Protestant denominations ordain non-celibate gay clergy or conduct sacramental marriage for same-sex couples? It’s only a handful, the most liberal of the liberal, who are on board with full equality.

      • allein

        I do know a Presbyterian minister who is married to her UCC-minister wife (in rural Pennsylvania, no less; they were married in Maine, where the UCC-wife lived before they got married)…but I suspect they are quite an anomaly.

        • Anna

          Did they get married in a UCC church? Some churches in their denomination allow it, but even there it’s not universal.

          In July 2005, the 25th General Synod encouraged congregations to affirm “equal marriage rights for all”, and to consider “wedding policies that do not discriminate based on the gender of the couple.” … This Synod also expressed respect for those bodies within the church that disagree and called for all members “to engage in serious, respectful, and prayerful discussion of the covenantal relationship of marriage and equal marriage rights for couples regardless of gender.”

          Some associations permit ordination of non-celibate gay clergy and some clergy and congregations are willing to perform or allow same-sex marriages or union services. Approximately 10% of UCC congregations have adopted an official “open and affirming” statement welcoming gay and lesbian persons in all aspects of church life. A few congregations explicitly oppose the General Synod Equal Marriage Rights resolution – an independent movement called “Faithful and Welcoming Churches(FWC)” that partly defines faithful as “Faithful… to the preservation of the family, and to the practice and proclamation of human sexuality as God’s gift for marriage between a man and a woman.” Many congregations have no official stance; these congregations’ de facto stances vary widely in their degree of welcome toward gay and lesbian persons.

          This is really incredibly disappointing, considering that UCC is about as liberal as it gets in Christianity. If even they haven’t adopted universal standards of full acceptance, what hope is there for the Episcopalians, Methodists, Lutherans, or Presbyterians? They always tell us how much better they are than the conservative branches, but they haven’t actually shown proof of it in their policies.

          • allein

            I assume so, since they got married in Maine, which is where the UCC minister is from (it was a long distance relationship until then). I believe they married in her church. The Pres. minister is my friend’s sister, who lives in Pennsylvania. They decided to stay in PA in part because she has an 8-year-old son and they didn’t want to uproot him, and the UCC’s kids are grown and out of the house.

  • Bruce Sandig

    Thank you! I love your site. Unfortunately, there mere existence of religion demonstrates that a lot, if not most, people willingly shut off their critical thinking when venturing beyond a certain point. Therefore I am rather skeptical of ANY argument, no matter how compelling, “converting” anyone not already struggling. When pushed over that line, arguments, cause and effect, logic, facts even, no longer carry any weight. Frustrating, ain’t it?!

    However, for the struggling, please keep it up! The more atheists I know are out there, the more my “faith” in humanity is restored! (funny, huh?)

  • Itsrealfunnythat

    So Denial…

  • Gus Snarp

    I thought it might be interesting to see which “Christian church” Mr. Schumacher represents. I couldn’t find one. But he does write for CARM, Matt Slick’s (of recent Daily Show infamy) outfit. Where we can find out that yes, his particular version of the “Christian church” appears to very much be anit-gay, making it pretty obvious why he didn’t comment on that: http://carm.org/proposition-8-and-the-new-standard-of-no-standards

    A large portion of the rest of his writing at CARM is dedicated to making dishonest claims about atheism and attacking atheists based on them. He rails at length about “scientism”, a sure sign of being truly anti-science.

    • EvolutionKills

      That simply makes him a hypocrite, among other things…

  • Greg G.

    How much of the money that the religious give to charity actually goes to charity? I pay attention to the percent of overhead more now than when I was a Christian and trusted my brethren with my donations.

    • baal

      If we ever got decent financials out of them, we could see for ourselves.

  • Gus Snarp

    Funny how he brings up a number of Bible verses to show how the Bible says women are equal, then brings up the verse he thinks atheists misunderstand, without ever mentioning how many Christian preachers seem to think it means exactly what’s supposed to be a misunderstanding, but he conveniently ignores 1 Timothy 2: 9-15:

    I also want the women to dress modestly, with decency and propriety, adorning themselves, not with elaborate hairstyles or gold or pearls or expensive clothes, but with good deeds, appropriate for women who profess to worship God.

    A woman should learn in quietness and full submission. I do not permit a woman to teach or to assume authority over a man; she must be quiet. For Adam was formed first, then Eve. And Adam was not the one deceived; it was the woman who was deceived and became a sinner. But women will be saved through childbearing—if they continue in faith, love and holiness with propriety.

    Oh, yeah, men get a “lecture” here as well:

    Therefore I want the men everywhere to pray, lifting up holy hands without anger or disputing.

    Yeah, nothing anti-woman in there: women, shut up, never be in authority over a man, it’s your fault we’re in this mess and got kicked out of the garden, but maybe you’ll be OK if you keep cranking out the babies. Boys: don’t fight, pray.

    And it’s not just about marriage, as far as I can tell….

    • katiehippie

      If Eve was deceived, then Adam is guilty of willful disobedience. Adam knew he wasn’t supposed to eat the fruit, but he did anyway.

  • allein

    Sure, the church welcomes questions…as long as you only seek the answers from the church.

    • katiehippie

      In my former church , it’s ‘as long as you come up with the “right” answers’

  • Gus Snarp

    His argument that they’re not “anti-doubt” is downright awful.

    The entire discipline of apologetics is specifically designed for tackling difficult issues and questions about the existence of God.

    If millennials want to have their doubts and questions about God answered, they have many places to turn.

    The fact that you’ve created a whole “discipline” to teach people how to go through acrobatics of philosophical logic to attempt to dispel doubt, and that you’ve got lots of places to go for “answers” for those who doubt is not an argument that you’re not anti-doubt. It’s still anti-doubt because it suggests that the response to doubt is to do a few apologetic contortions to come to an absolute answer that dispels the doubt, instead of exploring alternatives and maintaining doubt as a natural default position about unsubstantiated claims.

    • Alice

      It’s the same as saying, “Hey, we’re not anti-gay. If you are doubting your heterosexuality, we’ve got lots of resources to help cure you!”

    • katiehippie

      “they have many places to turn”
      Yup, yes indeed they do.

  • Lina Baker

    I am really happy with your arguments about why young people are leaving – or never taking up – Christianity, just a problem with semantics: there is no one “Christian Church.” The United Church of Christ, for instance, ordains gay ministers, performs gay marriages, embraces science and doesn’t at all see evolution as a threat to their faith, etc. I’m not sure the Disciples of Christ and most Evangelical Lutheran Churches would meet your description of “the Christian Church” either.

    • Spuddie

      The last time there was an attempt to unify Christianity it was called the 30 Years War. Not happy times for anyone involved.

      • Mario Strada

        Unless you were a sword maker

    • Anna

      Hemant kind of does this a lot. It’s clear in the article he’s talking about conservative evangelicals and Catholics, but it would make more sense to put that qualifier in the title of the post.

      • UWIR

        His article is about atheists, not Christians.

        • Anna

          I meant in his post. The title says “the Christian church” but he’s responding to an article by an evangelical and goes on to talk about conservative evangelicals and Catholics. He does make a distinction in the post itself, but not in the title.

    • Gus Snarp

      Using “Christian Church” with regard to this topic seems to have originated in Schumacher’s piece. Hemant’s original article mentions “church” early on, then “Christianity”, and at the end mentions “the church” twice, with regard to leaving it. But “the Christian Church” I didn’t see there. It does crop up in Schumacher’s piece. I don’t like Hemant using it either, but I’m also willing to quibble a bit semantically. The way Hemant used “the church” in the earlier piece I was OK with, as well as his use of “Christianity” and “church”. Without going into all my justifications for it, I felt his use of terms was reasonable and accurate there. “Christian Church” is a term that I find misleading, and I don’t know if Schumacher’s use of it was meant to convey the notion of a Christian Church as some kind of united entity, or was supposed to make it look like Hemant was using it that way, but I’m inclined to believe the former. Not sure why Hemant decided to continue using it on this post, but it is just following the style chosen by the Christian writer.

      I still don’t like it.

  • Tom

    “Christianity elevated womanhood in the first century”
    Apparently the best example the guy could come up with is 1900+ years old. How can he not see instantly how crashingly, stupefyingly, discussion-endingly pathetic that is? You couldn’t satirise this. “Of course our religion is forward-thinking – look, we were progressive only two thousand years ago!”

    • indorri

      He’s also just plain wrong. In terms of our cultural heritage, we are the descendents of Europeans other than the Romans and Greeks. There were Germanic and Celtic tribes in which women held much higher social positions than Roman society, even after Christianisation.

    • Mario Strada

      Not long ago I watched a program on 1st century archeology where a very old Christian Chapel was found with a baptismal font and some remarkably well preserved frescos on the walls.
      Interestingly, some of these frescoes were vandalized. Not recently though. The vandalism selectively scratched the faces of the women depicted among males. There were fewer women than men to begin with, but someone, sometimes in antiquity, took it upon himself to deliberately scratch out of the record the women depicted there.

      So maybe in the 1st century women were given a level of importance in the community, but it didn’t last long.
      I don’t remember what the archaeologists said (it was a couple of years ago) but it was something along the lines of the vandalism reflecting changing attitudes toward women in the early Christian church.

      Nothing much has changed since.

      • J-Rex

        Not True Christians, so your point is obviously invalid :/

      • busterggi

        The Christian values of women changed pretty darn quickly somewhere between the Pauline epistles and the Pseudo-Pauline epistles, occassionally in the same edited epistle.

      • Buckley

        My whole road to atheism was paved by my discovery of the Nag Hammadi Library, all of the Apocrypha, and especially the Gnostic text. I love how all of that was expunged and cherry picked from the official text because it didn’t conform to what the early church leaders wanted. The Gospel of Mary is a prime example, I believe it was cut out, along with the other Gnostic books because it didn’t fit with the world view that the early church fathers wanted to establish.

  • http://codemonkeybryan.com Bryan Elliott

    “The entire discipline of apologetics is specifically designed for
    tackling difficult issues and questions about the existence of God”

    And by “Tackling”, he means, “answer dishonestly and hope no one notices”.

    • Adam Patrick

      I thought it was “engaging in mental masturbation and hope no one notices how shitty the arguments actually are”

  • Beth

    To be fair, I was told by a United Methodist Minister that “God isn’t going to be offended by honest questioning…he is bigger than that.”
    Not all theists are anti-questions, but as a group they have serious problems.

    • Kingasaurus

      “God isn’t going to be offended by honest questioning…”

      He WILL be offended, however, if you honestly think his answers are BS.

  • Jesse Cooper

    “They feel the church has forced them into an either-or decision — they can either stay true to the Christian faith or become an intellectually honest scientist.”

    This is how I felt long before I openly embraced atheism. I was grounded in science before I joined a church, and I felt like I had to pretend I didn’t believe in the science anymore.

  • jbandsma

    I don’t consider giving money to the church as the same as giving to charity. Christians do. From the evidence of the churches around here, very little, if any, of those contributions ever go to even feeding the hungry (without joining the church of course), housing the homeless or helping the sick. Most of it goes to buying property, houses mainly, that are then rented out for profit. The church on the corner runs a health food store in the church building itself. (GNC is cheaper) This is anecdotal, of course and applies to my area as observed practice. But I don’t doubt that it is common elsewhere.

    • katiehippie

      That is exactly when I first started doubting my faith. My former church spent almost nothing on helping anyone but themselves. Even then it wasn’t people in the church that might have needed help, it was all about the building and things in the building. I was in dire straits financially a few years back and no one even noticed. I ended up going to a food bank quite a few times.

  • FaithIsGlorifiedDelusion

    I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: The existence of christian apologetics is proof of the non-existence of the christian god.

  • SeekerLancer

    “The question is, are the claims true?”

    Yes. That was easy.

  • http://absurdlypointless.blogspot.com/ TBJ

    6) Is the church anti-rebuttal of Atheist blogs? Well, yes and no. For the most part they stay well hidden during the week and a few come out on Saturday, but come Sunday, especially after church service, they are on the internet with a fire in their collective bellies, rebutting every post they can find.

    • GubbaBumpkin

      Working on the Sabbath?

  • Kingasaurus

    There are plenty of churches who are afraid of uncomfortable questions from adherents. The stories are legion, as Hemant rightly points out.

    But even in churches where they pretend not to have an unhealthy fear of such things, doubt is only “good” in the sense that, from a Christian perspective, you’re supposed to overcome your doubts. Taking your doubts to their logical conclusions is something churches absolutely do NOT want you to do.

    Doubt is “normal”, but only if you can get past it or suppress it. It’s a problem to be fixed, like “sin.” It’s something everyone supposedly is prey to at some point, but we’ll do our best to make sure you don’t engage in it as much as we can.

    The problem with apologetical “answers” to the doubts of the faithful, is that there’s no way to distinguish between correct answers and things-we-just-make-up. You need scientific thinking and the scientific method to do that.

  • eric

    Schumacher shows a classic failure to listen. Answering “I have problem X with your institution, so I’m leaving” with “X isn’t a problem!” has never really worked, because you’re trying to claim the person who has an issue shouldn’t have an issue instead of trying to address the issue they have.

    If they want to stop the exodus, at some point they’re going to have to listen to the people leaving instead of telling young people how wonderful the Schumacher’s of the world think the church is.

    But if they don’t (listen to the leaving congregants), no skin off my back.

  • UWIR

    And once again, Christians show that they don’t understand what science is. Just because you can find some places where Christianity and science come to the same conclusions doesn’t mean that they don’t conflict. Even if Christianity agreed with all of science’s results, Christianity would still conflict with science. When people like Schumacher start citing scientific results, they show that they don’t grasp the fundamental concept that science is a way of finding knowledge, not simply the knowledge itself. Someone who thinks that the Babylonian empire existed because there’s significant archaeological evidence, and someone who believes it existed because the Bible says so, may superficially appear to agree, because they agree on the issue of whether the Babylonian empire existed, but they disagree on the much more fundamental issue of what we should base our beliefs on. Religion says that you should just accept what other people tell you. Science says you should ask for evidence. Religion is anti-science, no matter how many place in agrees with science on factual results.

  • UWIR

    Christianity is open to questioning? I’ve posted on several Christian blogs here on Patheos, and I yet to find one that doesn’t censor people who ask questions. Rebecca Hamilton outright declared that her blog is for supporting Christianity, and she’ll delete anything that she doesn’t feel supports that.

    • Erp

      How are the progressive Christian blogs as opposed to the Catholic or Evangelical blogs?

      • David Kopp

        How can we necessarily tell the difference? Unfortunately, Evangelicals and Catholics are pretty large blocs, and represent the majority of Christianity in the US, some 65% of Christians are Catholics, Evangelicals or Protestants. Yes, some Christians aren’t that bad, but the major groups that control the conversation are.

        • Addressingtheherd

          There are no statistics to support the notion that the majority of U.S. Christians are conservatives, which is the lie relentlessly promoted by Mehta, et al. In fact, a study was just released which revealed the majority of Americans of faith are moderates. 76% or better of that group are Christians. By what pretzel-twist of logic can any thinking human conclude that Christians are predominantly fundies and evangelicals?

          Why persist in the “some Christians are okay” b.s.? And how does it benefit our side (the left, natch) to slander the whole of U.S. Christians, and in process risk losing moderate votes we MAY have gotten had we not slandered the voters?

          I’m all for fighting the religious right, but thus far this has meant–on a popular level, anyway–slandering the majority of faithful and/or Christians as enemies of reason, liberty, diversity, yada yada.

          • UWIR

            A “lie”? That’s rather strong claim. Can you quote a statement by Mehta that is objectively false, and which he knows is false? Clearly, the majority of US Christians are to the right of the median. 46% of Americans believe in creationism. If half of Christians don’t believe in creationism, it’s close. And the vast majority of Americans support “under God” in the pledge. Saying that American life is dominated by intolerant Christians is not slandering all Christians, it’s merely stating simple fact.

            • Addressingtheherd

              UWIR,

              Nothing’s a fact, simple or otherwise, minus supporting data. Instead of playing the how-can-I-accuse-Mehta-of-dishonesty card, how about producing the statistics that prove that the majority of Christians are conservatives? Simple request. Show that the nation is dominated by Pat Robertson-worshiping fundies.

              Americans tend toward the middle. They tend to be moderate, politically and socially. Two huge majorities within the U.S. population are: people of faith; and Christians, a subset of people of faith.

              Fourth-grade logic tells us that, given these facts, the view pandered here of faith and the faithful is absurd. I realize how very, very badly your group wants to believe that foaming fundies rule the day, but wanting something to be true does not make it so.

              • David Kopp

                Even if the nation isn’t dominated by fundies, the conversation is. Proposition 8 wouldn’t have the support it did/does if they didn’t exist, etc., etc. They pull in the moderates because the moderates would rather side with other Christians than with us evil atheists, simply because of who we are.

                I don’t have to show that the nation is dominated by Pat Robertson worshiping fundies (which was never a claim I made) because the simple fact of the laws and votes going the way they do shows that the fundies have a significant pull, more in some areas than others.

                If your “fourth-grade logic” is so sound, why doesn’t it reflect reality?

                • Addresingtheherd

                  David, I’m responding to Mehta’s unqualified, across the board condemnation of “The Christian Church,” an entity that does not exist. This is how pop atheism operates–by making a sweeping, damning, unqualified claim, Then, when someone challenges out, out come the qualifications, the proof, the data. That whole practice is an affront to logic. Because data, proof, truth, logic, etc. are things that must inform the debate FROM THE START, not at some point in the middle after we’ve positioned and framed the discussion to our liking.

                  I’m not interested in debating atheist talking points, all of which depend on selective data mining and reading. I’m quite, painfully, wearily aware of the conservatives-swaying-the-vote circular argument, because I watch MSNBC and hear that circular hoo-hah repeated three times every commercial break, but even if arch-conservatives have somehow figured out how to control the whole vote–which, by the way, would mean they’re infinitely smarter than we give them credit for–the majority of Americans, including believers, are politically and socially moderate. To argue otherwise is to, well, lie. Right?

                  My main point being that “reality” has to be the most whole, most complete, most inclusive construct we can manage. The pop atheist version of reality is a cramped, self-serving thing, and because of that, you guys have to direct all of your intellect and ingenuity at sucking people into it. You’d spend less time, and maybe feel prouder of yourselves, if you kept things honest from the start, as opposed to damning-headline splashes of the type Mehta specializes in. You want honest debate, start in a mode of honesty.

                • David Kopp

                  Ok… so you say that because there’s no singular entity such as the “Christian Church”, there can be no discussion about that in which the majority of Christians participate? And you speak to us about dishonesty? I think your Jesus had something to say about planks and motes in eyes and such.

                  If the conservatives didn’t sway the vote, we wouldn’t have states outlawing homosexual marriage, we wouldn’t have idiots fighting to inject god into the government, etc., etc. It’s not a circular argument if it’s objectively true.

                  Seriously… how can that kind of cognitive dissonance not physically hurt you?

                • Addressingtheherd

                  “Ok… so you say that because there’s no singular entity such as the ‘Christian Church’, there can be no discussion about that in which the majority of Christians participate?”

                  Well, terrific. So, what is “that (Christian Church) in which the majority of Christians participate”? Whatever that church would be, it’s not fundie. I can’t believe how aggressively you guys hew to the notion that religion is something intrinsically conservative, Republican, etc. There’s no shaking you from that stance. You’re right, everyone who disagrees with you is wrong. Fine. No point in arguing.

                  Re my comment about the media’s “conservatives-swaying-the-vote circular argument,” I’m dissing a cliche. I’m not suggesting it can’t be true. But, please–our moderate electorate is naturally going to sway left and then right. (Sometimes, it goes both ways at once, though I have no idea how in hell it manages that feat.) There’s no explanation needed for the electorate doing what electorates do, i.e. sway. I get tired of the media trotting out stock explanations for even the most ordinary trends. Re “god into the government” and anti-gay marriage sentiments, both of those things are well within the “moderate” spectrum at this point. Re the latter issue, there was a time not at all long ago when NO ONE would have considered okaying gay marriage. Now it’s simply a matter of time. Conservative/liberal is a constantly shifting (swaying) construct. Much of what conservatives accept and believe today would have been science fiction circa 1898 (women wearing pants? Etc.).

                • Addressingtheherd

                  I should have typed, “I’m not suggesting it can never be true” in regard to the conservative-sway myth. As you know, and esp, with the GOP gerry-mandering the hell out of our democracy and stealing the lefty vote, a false-conservative outcome is more than possible. And I live in a state often mistaken for a red state (we’re actually purple) because of the over-representation of the worst rural values and mentality. This is all why I favor tossing out the electoral college and having the people vote as a nation, not as a goddamned series of states, districts, etc. And the chances of things changing to my liking are about 1 in megagazillion-billion to the fourteenth power.

                  Anyway, let me note again that I’m weary of the media’s habit of using the myth in question to explain any rightward vote, since there is no special explanation required for the electorate doing what it naturally does (swaying).

                • David Kopp

                  I’m not sure you even realize what moderate and liberal are, as the religious right has dragged the center of the conversation so far right. Obama is right of center as far as most political compasses would assess someone, a moderate conservative, and he’s lambasted as a “liberal”. Christians are by and large NOT liberal, they are conservative, and vote that way. They may not be a simple majority, but that does not mean that there majority of Christians do not vote typically along fundie/conservative lines. Gay marriage should not be a “liberal” issue, it’s a fundamental human rights issue, and that crosses conservative/liberal lines.

                  Progress is being made, but it’s in SPITE of the churches, not because of them. More people are leaving Christianity and the church because the Bible doesn’t agree with people’s morals, it doesn’t agree with reality, and any Christian that knows anything about the Bible and still calls themselves a Christian and goes to church is a bigot or complicit with it.

                  I have no more energy to argue this with someone as thick-headed and anti-fact as you are.

              • UWIR

                “Nothing’s a fact, simple or otherwise, minus supporting data.”

                A fact is a fact regardless of whether anyone knows it. If a tree falls in the forest and no one sees or hears it, it’s still a fact that it fell.

                And if you’re going to claim that there isn’t overwhelming evidence that intolerant Christians aren’t a dominant force in American life, then you’re just making yourself look silly.

                “Instead of playing the how-can-I-accuse-Mehta-of-dishonesty card”

                Asking people to back up their accusations of dishonesty is “playing a card”?

                “how about producing the statistics that prove that the majority of Christians are conservatives? Simple request. Show that the nation is dominated by Pat Robertson-worshiping fundies.”

                Those are two completely different claims. Even non-fundies can be conservative, and the vast majority of Christians are bigoted against atheists. You adamantly refuse to be tied down to any precise statement that you want justified, and then you complain that no one has produced “statistics” to prove it.

                “Americans tend toward the middle.”

                Yes, Americans are, on average, near the average. What a trenchant observation. Too bad the average consists of outright contempt for atheists.

                “Fourth-grade logic tells us that, given these facts, the view pandered here of faith and the faithful is absurd.”

                Your posts are guided by fourth-grade logic? That explains a lot. Fourth-grade logic tells us you’re a poopy-head. I generally try to rise above fourth-grade logic, but in your case I’m considering making an exception.

                “I realize how very, very badly your group wants to believe that foaming fundies rule the day, but wanting something to be true does not make it so.”

                When California, one of the most liberal states in the country, elects a governor who has not only said that we should declare this to be “one nation under God”, but has justified that position by declaring that “Democracy only works if as a people we fundamentally agree on who we are as Americans”, when the president of the US takes time out from announcing the death of Osama bin Laden to attribute America’s success to Christianity, when a Rhode Island state legislator calls a girl “an evil little thing” for opposing a school prayer banner (and gets reelected). it’s clear the bigots are in charge.

    • baal

      I keep seeing comments here at FA along the lines of, “I took a SS of my comment to Christian X since they have a habit of getting deleted.” I think it’s even a default presumption for us atheists that our comments will be stricken from almost any christian blog regardless of how polite we are.

    • WingedBeast

      Try slacktivist. That’s Fred Clark’s blogs. While he doesn’t personally post, he doesn’t censor the comments either.

    • Addresstheherd

      Try experiencing more than fundie and evangelical Christianity. For fuck’s sake, you’re like the guy who limits his drinking experience to biker bars and concludes all social drinkers are tattooed misogynists with macho issues.

      Tell you what–I’ll spend my life in Siberia and conclude that our entire globe is an ice planet. Or live in Germany, never travel anywhere else, and assume all Earthlings eat sauerkraut. Or never study past fourth grade and criticize public education for not teaching Algebra.

      When, if ever, do you start to become ashamed of your shtick? Ever consider what THINKING progressives think of your crowd? Do you even want to know?

      • UWIR

        Is Hamilton a “fundie” or “evangelical”? The name of her blog is “Public Catholic”, which suggests that she’s, you know, a Catholic. Also, it’s kinda difficult to argue that someone is not representative when her job title is “Representative”. And a Democrat, to boot. You post is rude and presumptuous. How do you know I haven’t experienced more than fundie and evangelical Christianity? Or is this a “No True Scotsman” argument that anyone who censors questions is a fundie? Have YOU considered what people think of your rude tone?

        • Addressingtheherd

          My rude tone?? Good grief. That’s like being called out for poor fact-checking at a FauxNews.com. Good grief.

          Clearly, you don’t understand the No True Scotsman fallacy. More on that in a moment.

          My assumption is you’re going with the company line at F. Atheist–namely, that all Christians are alike, think the same, have the same fear of truth, hate non-Christians, blah, blah, blah. If I’m mistaken in that assumption, my apologies. But, in that case, why would you be here??

          The NTS fallacy, by the way, is a logical dodge wherein an unqualified, across-the-board claim is qualified after the fact. In other words, there’s no NTS fallacy unless “No TRUE Scotsman…” is preceded by “No Scotsman….”

          As a stand-alone statement, “No true (whatever)…” is not a fallacy. To wit, if I say, “No true follower of Christ would do such-and-such,” it’s not the NTS fallacy unless, and only if, I first claimed, “No follower of Christ would….”

          The NTS is a fallacy because of its inconsistency, and, I suspect, its circular nature. The claimant is refusing to budge from his initial claim, even after it’s been shown to be false.

          In pop atheism, the most common form of NTS takes this basic form:

          Atheist: Christians are science haters.
          Believer: That’s not true. Many of us are nothing of the kind.
          Atheist: I didn’t say ALL Christians.

          But, of course, the initial, unqualified statement does apply to all Christians (per the rules of grammar). As an example of qualifying a claim after it’s been made, it’s pure NTS.

          • UWIR

            “My rude tone?? Good grief. That’s like being called out for poor fact-checking at a FauxNews.com. Good grief.”
            So, more insults?

            “Clearly, you don’t understand the No True Scotsman fallacy.”
            You fail to show any misunderstanding on my part.

            “My assumption is”
            There’s your problem, right there.

            “the company line at F. Atheist–namely, that all Christians are alike, think the same, have the same fear of truth,”
            That’s the “company line”? What nonsense.

            “But, in that case, why would you be here??”
            Why are you here?

            “The NTS fallacy, by the way, is a logical dodge wherein an unqualified, across-the-board claim is qualified after the fact.”
            That’s not quite what the NTS is. And technically, according to formal logic terminology, “no” is a qualifier (the non-existential qualifier, to be exact).

            “As a stand-alone statement, “No true (whatever)…” is not a fallacy.”
            I didn’t say it is. I inquired as to whether you were intending to introduce a NTS-type claim.

            “In pop atheism, the most common form of NTS takes this basic form”
            That’s not NTS, since there is no reference to “true” Christians.

            “But, of course, the initial, unqualified statement does apply to all Christians (per the rules of grammar).”
            No, English grammar allows plural nouns without explicit quantifiers, allowing ambiguity as to whether the implicit quantifier is existential or universal. Can you state a grammatical rule that requires the quantifier be universal?

            • Addressingtheherd

              You’re giving me a headache. “Christians (or, the Christian Church) is evil, cruel, hateful of HBO, etc.” (and I’m paraphrasing Mehta here, not quoting) is an unqualified statement. If I wrote, “Women are whores,” it would (and should) be taken to be a swipe at ALL women. I could pull a Dawkins-style stunt and say, “I didn’t mean ALL women,” but then why did I type it if I didn’t mean it? Maybe I should have my retired-English-prof friend fill you in. I think I will.

              The NTS fallacy is “No Scotsman….” followed by “No TRUE Scotsman,” which is a qualification after the fact. Dunno how you can possibly argue with that. As for “no” being a qualifier, are you putting me on? The first claim is an unqualified, across the board, no-exceptions claim about Scotsmen as a group. “No Scotsman…” is another version of “All Scotsmen….” It is followed, upon being challenged by facts, by “No TRUE Scotsman,” with the “true” being the qualifier that wasn’t present in the first statement.

              And, yes, it’s a logical dodge, because the claimant is refusing to concede that he or she has been proved wrong. People do this all the time. Instead of, “Yeah, I overgeneralized,” or “I guess I’m stereotyping,” it’s “I meant, no *true* lover of logic.”

  • Raising_Rlyeh

    “He also must not know that the Bible specifically states that men and women are equal in their nature”

    Funny because for the longest time, centuries, women were, and still are, considered inferior to men because it was a woman that brought sin into the world.

  • Bdole

    Acceptable church questions:
    1)Is god epic or really super duper awesome?
    2)When god orders the extermination of the Canaanites, is it because he’s really being compassionate after being so lovingly patient for so long, or because he’s so just and holy? Or both? Oh I can’t tell.
    3)Are women supposed to be submissive and silent at church or home or both?
    4)In an ideal society do we burn the gays or stone them?
    5)” ” ” sluts?

  • Cristero

    Mehta’s article is a nasty piece of crap. All atheism is the same shit.

    • Nate Frein

      [Citation needed]

    • Roger

      Would you care to write a coherent rebuttal then?

    • baal

      You might be surprised on how we see apologetics Cristero.

    • Bdole

      Captain Jean Luc-Picard would beg to differ.

    • http://confessionsfromthepeanutgallery.blogspot.com/ YankeeCynic

      Well I’m certainly convinced.

      Seriously. Explain how. Heck, I’ll make it easy for you: pick one single thing and tell us why it’s wrong.

      • Addressingtheherd

        No, no. I’m afraid that the burden of proof works the other way around. Make a claim and explain WHY it’s valid–don’t play the “explain why I’m wrong” game. The latter is the scam that Uri Geller, flat-earthers, ESP believers, faith healers, et al. specialize in. Unless you’re rooting for their cause. Are you?

        • http://confessionsfromthepeanutgallery.blogspot.com/ YankeeCynic

          Actually, no. Christero made an allegation that the person who runs this blog is “full of shit.” He posited a position, but showed no evidence to prove it. He didn’t some where Hement lied. He didn’t demonstrate that Hement is a liar. He just started out with a personal attack right out of the gate.

          When adults are talking the the basic beginning understanding is that the person in the conversation is being honest and straightforward. As the discussion continues, if somebody makes an allegation that somebody is wrong or dishonest they have the job of making that case. That’s different than shifting the burden of proof. The fact that you seem not to grasp that either indicates that you’re not being serious (in which case why bother talking to you), you’re ignorant to the specifics of basic logic (in which case let me educate you), or your just trolling (in which case piss off).

          Lets assume it’s the second. If i came in and listened to somebody state their case. If my response isn’t to challenge them on the actual point their making but rather to make a derogatory assertion (I.E. calling somebody a liar) then I had better bloody well provide some proof for that claim. If I don’t the other party is free to demand that evidence. Contrast that with me making a claim. If I were to say that I can fly, and somebody came in and challenged me, if I responded by saying that you have to prove I can’t, that would be shifting the burden of proof. In the first example I’m demanding that an assertion be backed up by evidence. In the second I’m asserting something and demanding that it be shown wrong.

          The two are distinctly different.

          • Addressingtheherd

            Thanks for the arrogant lecture, genius. I’d be more impressed if the pop atheist community didn’t spend 24/7 playing the “Prove religion isn’t evil to the core and the enemy of science, etc., etc.” You have no grounds on which to object to “Full of shit” barbs when it’s YOUR main game.

            You’re a group convinced the burden of proof is someone else’s problem. So spare me the spoo-dee-o-do.

            Mehta offered an absurd, and absurdly stupid, claim that “the Christian Church,” an entity that does not exist, is evil, sexist, etc., etc., thus maligning a large section of the American population, and without a shred of qualification. Then he engage in the usual, farcical debate with a “true” believer, knowing that his fans can’t distinguish the vital difference between a real debate and a staged one. In short, “shit” is an apt and deserved review.

            Don’t peddle shit and then take offense to truth in labeling.

            • Svelaz

              I understand your angst with the blanket accusation based on using the term ” the Christian Church” that Mehta used. I had an argument in another blog about the need to pray in closets and the whole meaning of the Mathew 6:6 verse. The blogger proceeded to lecture me about the meaning of Church. He emphasized that “Church” isn’t just describing the physical building where Christians worship. He described ‘Church’ as the body of Christianity as in the ‘Church of Christianity’. It was a pretty convincing argument at first but broke down when he tried to suddenly disassociate himself from it all together in an attempt to escape an ethical dilemma posed by a bible verse that suddenly didn’t apply. My point is that I believe “the Christian Church” as in the whole of Christianity, ” The Church”. I’ve learned that while dealing with fundamentalists they tend to parse word salad meanings when cornered in difficult to explain situations. I understand you are not of that stripe. Also I understand your frustration with the lumping together of all Christians simply because the more fervent fundamentalists seem to represent all. They are louder and more in your face also the most aggressive. It’s difficult to deal with them.

    • Addressingtheherd

      Logically inconsistent prattle, is more like it. Anyone who calls himself an atheist while insisting that, quote, “To believe in Jesus means believing that he was born of a virgin, rose from the dead and performed a number of miracles,” is counting on some mighty forgiving fellow disbelievers and a media that lets anyone spout any self-contradicting line so long as it sells. Luckily, Mehta, he’s got both.

      I don’t know why fundies and evangelicals get teed off over pop atheism, giving that pop atheism preaches precisely the same literal-minded line they do. Don’t they recognize a lucrative partnership when they’re handed one??

      Mehta would have us battle fundamentalism by becoming a fundie. That’s not so much “crap” as a spectacular affront to logic.

      • Michael Harrison

        And you said he’s the rude one?

        As to your criticism, I challenge you to show me a mainstream church that doesn’t teach these things. (And as much as I love ‘em, the UU are not mainstream.)

        • Addressingtheherd

          See my second response to Mehta, where I clarify the distinction. Yes, “mainstream” churches teach the Nativity myth, and so on, but AS mythology. That’s the distinction. The problem–and this is my reading, not “fact”–is that seculars and atheists, as a group, are too literal-minded to see the difference between believing in the essence/truth of a myth and accepting it as factual (read: literal) truth. I’ve also observed that seculars and atheists break out in sunspots when corrected, as in, “How dare a lesser correct ME???” You were saying?

          • Michael Harrison

            In probability, two traits are said to be independent if the proportion of people who have trait B, considered among all people with trait A, is the same as the proportion of trait B in the population as a whole. So no, I’m not surprised you’d find people like that in the atheist community, since you’d find people like that in everyday life.

            Now, it may be because I grew up going to Southern Baptist churches, but having the Nativity taught as mythology is news to me.

            • Addressingtheherd

              Not as “mythology” in the modern, factually-false sense, but as a passed-down story–a myth. The truth is contained in the details–the helpless infant who appeared on the scene in place of the mighty conqueror desired by the people; the incredibly humble circumstances of the arrival of God in human form, and so on. A God who later sided with the powerless and downtrodden (same difference, I suppose). The literal (factual) truth of a faith narrative isn’t the thing, and only fundie churches make it the thing. And, of course, pop atheists, who view all of life (and truth) in terms of is so/ain’t so. That factual truth isn’t the only kind seems to be news to many.

              • Michael Harrison

                “And, of course, pop atheists, who view all of life (and truth) in terms of is so/ain’t so.”

                See, that’s the craziest thing about you. At the exact same time you’re protesting atheists making sweeping generalizations about non-atheists, you’re making sweeping generalizations about atheists. I’d accuse you of hypocrisy, but I really believe this is an example of good old double-think.

                The point I was trying to make is that you need to understand the history a particular atheist has with religion if you wish to understand that atheist’s reaction to religion. Is there a Bible study book of some sort you could provide as evidence for your claims?

                Edited to get rid of unwarranted obnoxiousness.

  • WingedBeast

    “We’re not anti-doubt, we answer all those doubts!”

    You see, that *could* be non-contradictory. On the other hand, it could also be a bit of handwaving in that the answers to those doubts are often a means of shutting the doubts down, not to mention strawmanning those doubts so as to give readers little to no language as to how to consider or express doubt.

    You see, if you’re not anti-doubt, you don’t just answer the doubts and answer all the questions, you invite questioning and you invite questions that might lead to the wrong answers.

    And, Christianity, whether we’re talking about Catholicism, the typical Evangelical Christianity we tend to see so much of, or even just the vague, toned down stuff that makes it into T.V. and movies these days, is very much against coming to the wrong conclusions, as that becomes, in effect, the only sin.

    That is most certainly anti-doubt.

  • wombat

    When I was a kid/teen, my parents refused to give me internet access, and I was more of a book reader so I didn’t seek the internet at school.

    My religion lasted approximately a week after I moved out of home and got an internet connection.

  • Ted Thompson

    You know the worst part for them about all of this, is that Hemant just laid out for them how to help fix their membership problem, but instead of listening, they jammed fingers firmly in ear and went “lalalalala.”

    Most of us having been on both sides of the fence offers us a perspective they can’t understand, and their unwillingness to try, even if they don’t accept our position, is going to kill off the church in the end.

  • Niemand

    Anecdote alert: I’ve commented on various Catholic and fundamentalist Protestant blogs asking questions about faith and doubt. I have universally been dismissed as a troll and/or banned, not engaged in a discussion. I must conclude that on an N of 1 for person asking and N of about 10 for people being asked, Christians are anti-doubt.

    • Addressingtheherd

      I see. “Christians”=Catholics and fundamentalist Protestants. The majority of believers are moderates–try arguing with some of them and see what happens. But then, of course, you’d be forced to stop pretending that all Christians are fundies. Which would be awkward, since most or all of your arguments against Christianity are based on that very fib. Dropping the fib would put you up a defecation-filled body of water sans adequate means of propulsion. That’s the problem.

      I feel for you. You see, that’s the problem with basing a stance on a lie–it forces the liar(s) into a self-constructed corner.

      • HQ

        “The majority of believers are moderates”

        Half of whom want creationism taught in schools and are against LGBT rights.

        But of course we know not all believers are fundies. In fact, if you used the search bar on this blog, you’d not only find blog posts saying as such, but also guest post from moderate and progressive believers themselves. Search for “Rachel Held Evans” and “Alise Wright”.

        • Addressingtheherd

          Ahhh, I see. This is testimonial time. Appeal to authority. Actually, I’m well aware of the fact that there are moderate and progressive believers aping the Mehta/Dawkins/Maher line. On the left, we adopt whatever happens to be popular, idea-wise, even when doing so obliterates our social and political platform. For instance, we pride ourselves on being the party of the people–the pro-populist bunch. Then we malign and slander Jane and Joe Public. I’ll never understand us.

          Support for LGBT rights is fast growing. A progressive trend is underway–that’s why the GOP is gerrymandering, suppressing votes, riling its most right-wing followers, etc. In case you hadn’t noticed.

          We have a black president (admittedly, a not very Democratic Democrat!) on his second term. So, tell me again how we’re a nation of conservatives. The GOP is working overtime to steal the government–so, tell me again how they have a solid, reliable base of conservative votes. Poll after poll reveals the majority Americans to be in the political and social middle. Logic demands that we go with the whole body of evidence, not just the items that seem to satisfy our bias.

          • Addressingtheherd

            Before you lecture me on the distinction between “Americans” and “believers,” please note that nearly 90 percent of Americans ARE believers. I think we can fairly characterize a group by 9 out of 10 of its members. Can we at least agree on that?

            So, my reasoning is=most Americans are politically and socially in the middle, whether pop atheists are willing to concede this or not. (Truth doesn’t wait for the Dawkins verdict.) 9 out of 10 Americans are people of faith. Therefore, the majority of the faithful are moderates.

            And we have the recent PRRI study which reveals that the conservative portion of U.S. believers is far, far lower than media propaganda holds: namely, 28 percent.

  • Lori F

    The Catholic church isn’t just anti-sex education, they are anti-recreational sex WITHIN a marriage. They honestly believe that marriage is the foundation for making babies. If that was so, they there would be no single parents, and no divorces. Only married people would be able, since it is god’s will, to conceive and have children.
    How many of these people who deny birth control have children? Ask some of the older ones how old their youngest child is. It had better be less than six months old. Otherwise we are expected to believe that a married couple hasn’t had pre-creative sex for a long time.
    My youngest is 16. I am continually grateful that there is birth control. ‘sex is natural, sex is fun, sex is best when it’s one on one.’ [thank you George Michael.]

  • poliltimmy

    I was not aware that Christians have been around for ‘ hundreds of centuries’ according to Robin. They told me the Earth was only 6000 years old. Darn it! Now I am confused…LOL. Why are they all so mathematically challenged? I mean if you an not add and subtract, just how smart can you be?

  • newavocation

    When will they learn? The following quote from the movie Casino could easily apply to churches as well: “Ace Rothstein: [voice-over] In the casino, the cardinal rule is to keep them playing and to keep them coming back. The longer they play, the more they lose, and in the end, we get it all.”

  • GodlessPoutine

    This is immensely entertaining!

    I got a chuckle from the very first bit…

    “Evidently Mr. Mehta is unaware of how Christianity elevated womanhood in the first century…”

    I like the way he had to qualify it with “in the first century”. Because after that things go down the crapper and I suppose it’s another 1,900 years of life in the nunnery.

    • Derrik Pates

      How exactly did Christianity “elevate womanhood”? The only thing I can think of is 1 Timothy 2:15, which isn’t really what I’d call “elevat[ing]“, since it basically says that if you can’t be bothered to have kids, you definitely aren’t going to heaven.

  • Dan Weeks

    It’s so typical for apologists to declare that X criticism is absolutely wrong and then completely fail to back it up.

    • Addressingtheherd

      The burden of proof rests with the person making the claim. Handy to know. Anyone can toss X criticism at an entire demographic and say “Disprove it,” but the burden of proof demands that the claimant PROVE a charge, not that someone else disprove it. Hope that helps.

      • Roxie Deaton

        So prove that god exists.

        • Addressingtheherd

          ??? You mean God, of course, that great proper noun whom the capitalization-challenge dis with “god.”

          Well, I never claimed he/she/it existed, did I? And, by way of disclosure, I believe in the human construct called God (in this case, the Christian, three-part type), NOT in some higher power, whatever the heck that would be, or a creator of eternity, etc. I accept the consensus of scientists–namely, that a creator is both unlikely and unnecessary, that the supernatural doesn’t exist, and that the workings of the universe don’t need to be explained by magic, nor should they be.

          Does that help?

          Prove that Flying Spaghetti Monster jokes are funny.

          • Addressingtheherd

            Dang. It’s Typo Night.

            I meant, “capitalization-challenged.” I’d like to blame Spell Check, but probability dictates it was me, skipping a letter.

      • Dan Weeks

        That’s exactly correct, but obviously not in the way you think. In order for criticism to be constructive or anything more than whining, it helps to explain why. Even if you’re wrong, at least you have supporting arguments. That’s English Comp. 101 stuff, usually taught at a high school freshman level. Usually…

  • Addressingtheherd

    Hemant, my man–a few things.

    There is no “the Christian Church.” Educate yourself about such things. Not only does the U.S. have no central church, Christian or otherwise, there is no central Christian church. Or do you simply not understand the difference between “church” and “Church”?

    A recent PRRI study, well publicized in the media, revealed that most Americans of faith are moderates. That would include Christians, whom you endlessly and falsely characterize as text-literal conservatives. Most of us have learned, by the age of 10 or so, not to rely on such all-or-nothing stereotypes if we expect to be taken seriously as either liberals or intellectuals. Yet you continue to stereotype Christians as something the majority are not (conservatives), and you continue to do so across the board. On the left, we call out Fox News for engaging in such intellectually dishonest stuff, yet we give a pass to anyone who, like yourself, claims to be one of our own. I’d love to see that double standard discontinued.

    For CNN, you wrote, “To believe in Jesus means believing that he was born of a virgin, rose from the dead and performed a number of miracles.” Wow. I didn’t realize you were a fundie Christian. Please, Hemant–I don’t go to churches that preach such drivel, and I sure as heck don’t want to be hearing it from a self-titled atheist.

    You act like neither an atheist nor progressive, yet you make a living speaking for both groups. Tell us your secret.

    • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/friendlyatheist/ Hemant Mehta

      I’m aware there’s no one Christian “church.” I’ve made that very clear in my writing.

      Which “drivel” were you referring to? That Jesus was born of a virgin, that he was resurrected, or that he performed miracles? To my understanding, those are ideas taught at all churches.

      I don’t make my living as a professional atheist. Do some research.

      • Addressingtheherd

        Give me a break, rude one. If you’re aware that there’s no one, sole, single Christian church (“church”?), why write as if that were the case? If you know there’s no “the Christian Church,” why use the phrase? Own what you write, unless you’re not proud of it.

        Christian mythology is a constant, yes. But Christians aren’t required to accept such myths as factually true. That’s the chief distinction between fundie and not-fundie. I’ve been a mainline Christian for 30-some years, and not once have I been asked or pressured to become a Bible literalist. And if such ideas were “taught at all churches,” i.e. taught as articles of literal truth/faith, what would be the reason for the huge fundie/mainline split? The conflict between “true” believers and those who accept Bible stories as stories has been happening for over a century in the U.S. If all churches had a text-literal policy, there’d be no basis for the split. For that matter, if Christians were the majority-conservative demographic we’re relentlessly portrayed as, there’d be no reason for any split along social or political lines. And, hoo boy, is there both.

        I predicted you’d ignore my quite relevant PRRI question and focus, instead, on my “make a living” quip. Whenever possible, take offense. Anyway, re the PRRI report, most people of faith are moderates, and since Christians are the major group within that group, it stands to reason that non-conservatives are a common, plentiful force in U.S. Christianity Why hew to the shtick that fundamentalism rules?

        Something more substantial than umbrage at my charges is called for here. Unless that’s all you have.

    • Scott_In_OH

      I don’t know you, so maybe you’ve explained all this before, but I was very surprised at your objection to Hemant’s summary of basic Christian doctrine.

      You are right that there are enormous differences among different Christian denominations (such as the literalist/non-literalist split you point out), but I don’t know of a major denomination that doesn’t teach the three things Hemant mentions: virgin birth, miracles on Earth, and resurrection. I’m pretty sure Catholics, Episcopalians, Methodists, Lutherans, Presbyterians, and Baptists (Southern and non-) all teach those things as factually true. Maybe I’m wrong. If so, I apologize.

      • Addressingtheherd

        “I’m pretty sure Catholics, Episcopalians, Methodists, Lutherans, Presbyterians, and Baptists (Southern and non-) all teach those things as factually true.”

        No, they don’t. Only fundamentalists stress the true/false aspect of Christian myth. In a church like the one I attend (UMC), the true/false aspect–so important to fundies and seculars–is irrelevant. The emphasis is on what a passage or story means, not on whether or not it passes the 60 Minutes test. (Sorry for the dated reference.)

  • JP Parker

    I hear the same things and yet Christian churches bus in people to block vote against any of the issues stated above.

  • Doug

    Think blog seems misnamed. At least I don’t feel much of a friendly reception. It leaves me wondering how much of a basis there really is for a worldview designed around a snarky interpretation of a Strawman version of selected parts of Christianity. But at least you are having fun.

  • sg

    The problem is that being smart causes people to become atheist, but being atheist doesn’t cause people to become smart. So, if religion vanished tomorrow, we all woke up atheist, then what would guide the actions of people? Now before you get all excited, think of those folks you already fear and despise because of their meanness and stupidity, and whom you suspect may fear and despise you, and ask yourself whether you personally might not be safer with those folks following some sort of moral code promoted by their supernatural belief system, or if you are going to be safer with nothing restraining them but the fear of our very lax law enforcement. Bon courage. It has been said that religion is the opiate of the masses. We may find that it is far cheaper opiate than whatever else we would need to contrive.

    • C.L. Honeycutt

      I don’t believe that many people actually say to themselves, “I’d like to kill that man, but I won’t plan his murder because I’m a Christian.” Morality is generally more subtle and emotion-based than that. People do make rational morality decisions, but those are the people who aren’t a problem anyway. They’re the ones who make a conscious effort to be better.

      As well, religion won’t vanish without being replaced. It doesn’t work like that. It could vanish as it was replaced by something else, for instance, an appreciation of humanity’s position, strengths, and weaknesses, and/or an appreciation of the cosmos and how we relate to it. The question isn’t “Would we better off if religion vanished tomorrow?” It’s “Would we be better off if religion was replaced with X?” And there are values for X that, I think, result in a “Yes”, if for no other reason than they promote treatment for mental issues that we largely don’t even detect as being issues because they’re given a pass by virtue of being associated with religion.

      • sg

        “I don’t believe that many people actually say to themselves, “I’d like to kill that man, but I won’t plan his murder because I’m a Christian.”

        You think, therefore it’s true? Not convincing. We have the historical record. Folks definitely want to kill one another. And patterns of murder definitely changed when Europeans changed from pagan to christian.

        It could vanish as it was replaced by something else, for instance, an appreciation of humanity’s position, strengths, and weaknesses, and/or an appreciation of the cosmos and how we relate to it.

        What about the mean or the stupid? Would you really like morons more if they just weren’t religious? Seriously? Do you think morons are just all of a sudden going to start appreciating the cosmos because you think it would be cool if they did?

        Look, I agree that laws and enforcement restrain people, but so do beliefs

        Would an atheist government allow conscientious objectors, if so, on what basis? Serious question. If you were king and tyrant, and wanted your country to fight some other country, on what basis would you allow them conscientious objector status? If you weren’t king and tyrant how would you convince others to allow you that status?

  • JoFro

    So the Church in your view does not include the likes of the ultra-liberal Episcopalian Church, which includes women bishops, trans clergy, doubting priests and praises science? Lol! Someone should tell them that even the atheists don’t think they’re a Church and they really are trying so so hard to make your kind to love them – oh, this was a good read!

  • Roger Peritone

    But I wasn’t just talking about the submission thing.
    Evangelical church leaders are overwhelmingly male, even though they say
    women are perfectly capable of taking on those roles. (The Catholic
    Church, of course, doesn’t believe women should be in leadership
    positions at all.)

    Neither do guys like Miano:
    http://www.crossencounters.us/2013/08/is-open-air-preaching-community-in-down.html

    Women Preaching in the Open-Air

    Introduction

    The question I will try to biblically answer in the next several
    articles is this: “Should She Preach?” Should a Christian woman preach
    the gospel in the open air, in the public square? My answer to the
    question is no. Whether standing in the pulpit of a church, or standing
    on a box in a public park, Christian women should not preach

  • I am witness

    please hear my testimony..
    I am a
    witness! the mark of the beast is spiritual and YES it can be spiritually
    removed. it is not a physical appearance or micro chip, etc. I have seen the
    beast, the mark, the image and the name. this was shown to me by the true Spirit
    of God! the holy Spirit of truth.
    the mark of the beast is located on the
    spiritual body of a person’s forehead or their right hand that goes to a man
    made church which worships the creature, “MAN”…. their god is their belly-flesh.
    these churches around the world feed on huge gatherings to control people and
    money. these churches support the secular systems of the world-media, education,
    business, trade, and a lot more if looked closer. this is where in revelation it
    says they could neither buy or sell less they have the mark… meaning they
    believe they can worship God and be saved and live like the rest of the people
    in the world…have the fame, money, possessions, big tv networks, radio
    stations,and having the life of a non-believer,etc…. just like the world but put
    a stamp on it “Christianity”..
    the
    devil is mindful of the things of man not of God. the devil deceives man into
    believing he can worship God in buildings and proclaim a gospel, ” A Doctrine”
    that saves men but denies Christ came in the flesh. Teaching that the devil has
    one thing for man that he can’t escape- mark of beast. Now where is the hope of
    God’s Salvation? I Corinthians 15: 32-33! In revelation the men still did not
    repent. Meaning God is waiting for man to stop what he is doing and seek God for
    the truth in prayer!
    true doctrine of Christ proclaims “Repentance and
    Salvation which is the power of God thru the death of Christ’s body nailed to
    the tree”…the devil can’t work thru a dead body! Have we forgotten how the
    gospel started??? John proclaiming repentance…God sent his son to save men’s
    LIVES not destroy them. meaning a pastor, a so called proclaiming man of God,
    who’s son kills himself??? this is not from the true living God! this pastor
    must stop what he is doing and seek God for the truth and ask God forgiveness of
    his sins…pray to God for the truth..Acts 17:27
    Sin and iniquity destroys man!
    the devil sins from the beginning for this purpose the son of God was manifested
    to destroy the works of the devil!
    Christ holds the keys to death, hell and
    the grave amen. the mark of beast can be removed. this is something the one true
    God can do. A carnal mind can not understand this nor discern spiritually,
    because man’s mind is set on the earthly things. He has to see it, handle it,
    etc.
    Seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness. It’s not in a
    building or in the midst of a congregation nor thru a stamped logo of
    Christianity. Not of the letter, but of Spirit of God: for the letter kills but
    the Spirit gives life.
    God’s righteousness is thru Christ, the holy one of
    Israel. Christ declares God in his bosom(breastplate of righteous) John
    1:18
    Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to every one that
    believes romans 10:4
    What does man need to believe? Well what is man’s
    greatest fear? Death…the unknown of what will happen when one dies…. Believe God
    sent his son and raised him from the dead on the third day. Seek God in prayer
    and ask for the truth.. I did…hear my testimony just google “Christ testimony of
    the churches around the world”.
    mark of the beast can be spiritually removed
    by the power of God. I am a witness Revelation 15:2! Again God sent his son and
    raised him from the dead on the third day. these churches are filled with anti
    christ spirits from the pulpit to the pews to the parking lots to their homes
    and inside the people’s bodies in these churches around the world. these people
    are believing a great lie….and the rest of the world suffers while they rejoice
    in their man made buildings that worship the image and do theses powers (which
    is sorcery revelation 18:23) … read matthew 7:22. In this scripture these are
    the leaders and the people from inside these churches.. where are they getting
    this spiritual power that is not of the true Christ?
    Any person or
    organization that supports these churches with money, prayer, belief,
    communicating, trade, volunteer, even if they agree with what these churches do
    and teach…they are spiritually
    connected….again please hear my testimony just google “Christ testimony of the
    churches around the world”

    there are two identical jesus Christ
    revelation 17:8
    What does God say about worship in a building?
    But Solomon
    built him an house.
    How be it the most High dwells not in temples made with
    hands; as says the prophet,
    Heaven is my throne, and earth is my footstool:
    what house will ye build me? says the Lord: or what is the place of my rest? Has
    not my hand made all these things?

    I saw the beast ascended out of the
    bottomless pit and is in perdition…and he will soon take his earthly seat
    revelation 17:11. these people in these churches are following and praying to the identical
    jesus Christ which is the beast! I am a witness to seeing this every time I send
    my testimony!Have you read Ezekiel chapter 8 and 9? this is very close to what
    God will do to the people in these churches that represent his name! these
    churches in America and around the world are causing the world to come to an
    end!

    I tell truth. I will not be responsible
    for the shedding of innocent blood…

    I beg you in the name of the Living true
    God please leave these churches and the people in them! Seek God in prayer for
    the truth!

  • jef

    Obviously you people haven’t tried seeking out different churches. My church welcomes gay people, which I am one of them, and every single person has been more then welcoming and truly loving to me. If you talking about the catholic church.. I would run away from them as fast as I could.. they suck the life out of you. Besides that God never changes.. the act of sex for homosexuals just as it is for single Heterosexuals is wrong.. Do i like having to live a celibate life? NO.. do I think its fair? NO Do I struggle like hell not to have sex? YES.. its how we were made.. But sins are forgiven for those whom believe and follow… I think it is sad that you can judge all of christianity based on on stupid denomination or one or two terrible experiences you have had. I had to go through 5 churches before I found the one that was the perfect fit…


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