Church That Initially Refused to Post Video of Debate Where Christians ‘Were Not Represented Well’ Finally Relents

A couple of days ago, Richard Wilson posted an article on this site explaining a debate he attended at Adventure Christian Church, a mega-church in Roseville, California.

The debate centered around the question of whether Christianity or Secular Humanism provided a better foundation for civil society. Dr. David Marshall represented the Christian side while Dr. Phil Zuckerman represented the non-theists.

As Richard noted, the church never posted the full debate online. Instead, they posted a few “rebuttal” videos responding to certain points made in the debate. But why not the actual thing so we could see it all for ourselves?

Zuckerman offered an explanation in a Huffington Post piece:

When I called pastor Bryan [Hardwick], and asked him why they are refusing to post the video — even after repeated promises of doing so — he replied, “It just didn’t go the way we wanted it to go. We were not represented well.”

In other words, we lost and we don’t want to embarrass ourselves any further.

That’s pretty much the worst thing they could’ve done. Had they posted it a week ago, it probably would’ve gone under the radar. Instead, after the posting on this site, the church’s Facebook page and several comment threads on Reddit were inundated with messages (from both sides) calling for the video to be made available.

Tonight, the church finally did the right thing and posted the video online:

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Ruler of Peaceable Brunei Gives Thumbs-Up to Stoning Adulterers and Other Sharia Savagery

The tiny Southeast Asian country of Brunei, population 409,000, has long been a relatively moderate Islamic state. Hassanal Bolkiah, the oil-producing country’s imperial ruler, is hell-bent on changing that – the moderate part, that is.

Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah — one of the world’s wealthiest men — said a new Sharia Penal Code in the works for years was officially introduced on Tuesday in the tiny, oil-flush sultanate and would be phased in beginning in six months.

Based on individual cases, punishments could include stoning to death for adultery, severing of limbs for theft, and flogging for violations ranging from abortion to alcohol consumption, according to a copy of the code.

The easiest way for adulterous Brunei citizens to avoid death is to leave Islam, as the code applies to Muslims only (who make up two-thirds of the population). Then again, the new rules probably contain some barbaric punishment for apostasy, too.

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Turns Out the People Who Don’t Understand Science Don’t Understand Math, Either

On his radio show yesterday, conservative Christian radio host Bryan Fischer spoke with a caller who had an idea of how to fix the health care crisis without that pesky ObamaCare: What if the government just gave every (legal) American $2,000,000 to cover future health care costs and left it at that? It sure as hell would be cheaper than the $634,000,000 it cost for the Healthcare.gov website! (Actually, the cost for the website was under $100,000,000, but you know, facts.)

Fischer thought it sounded like a great idea:



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Announcing the Friendly Atheist Book Club

After months of planning, it’s my pleasure to announce a new project that I hope the secular community will enjoy and appreciate: The Friendly Atheist Book Club!

Every month beginning this November — on a site separate from this one — we’ll discuss one book over a series of blog posts and videos. The moderators (Steven M. Long and Emily Dietle) and I will guide the conversation and we’ll invite the authors of the books to join us for an interview each month, too.

For those of you who (like me) enjoy reading books about religion but don’t always have people to chat with about them, I want this to be your outlet.

I know you have a lot of questions (about moderators, trolls, book selection, cost, etc) and I’ve tried to answer the major ones here.

In the meantime, I’m thrilled to announce that the first book we’ll read is Candace R. M. Gorham‘s book The Ebony Exodus Project: Why Some Black Women Are Walking out on Religion — and Others Should Too (Pitchstone Publishing, 2013). It’s all about how black women, specifically, are harmed by Christianity and why they need to abandon their faith.

Like I said, this has been in the works for a few months. It’s an experiment, but one I’m devoting a lot of personal attention to, because I think it will be a valuable resource for our community. If you’d like to become a member of the club, please sign up now and order the book right here. The fun begins next month!

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An Open Letter to the Principal of My Kids’ Elementary School: Let’s Drop the Pledge of Allegiance

This school year, my youngest daughter, who is eight, is being asked to say the Pledge of Allegiance in her public school every day. “Being asked” is too kind, really; it’s on her class program, so like a good little third-grader, she simply does it, every morning, without question — just like her 20 classmates. No one’s told her that she may opt out.

The school has no specific policy on saying the Pledge, leaving it up to individual teachers to incorporate it into their daily routines — or not.

I thought about it off and on for a few weeks, finding it hard to know what to do, if anything. Not rocking the boat has its advantages, which in this case would include not exposing my daughter to the social perils of having an outspoken atheist for a dad, specially in the very school environment where this could hurt her the most. Then again, I’m just not that good at keeping my mouth shut when something bothers me.

When I cautiously broached the principal about this, he immediately offered to discuss any concerns with the staff without disclosing my name, or those of my two school-age daughters. I thought that was pretty classy, so I felt unburdened to send him the following letter.

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