This is What Hypatia Alber Can Teach Us

Alber Saber is the Egyptian atheist who, last year, was sentenced to three years in prison on charges of blasphemy, and later violently attacked by his enemies while he awaited his verdict.

Even though his appeal was denied by the courts, Saber paid his bail and left the country.

His second chance at life resulted in the birth of Hypatia Saber earlier this month:

Blogger Jonathan Moremi beautifully explains what Hypatia can teach the country of Egypt:

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This Must Be the House Jesus Wanted Him to Have

I knew Pastor Steven Furtick was a typical evangelical megachurch pastor, but I had no idea how much he fit the stereotype until now.

Furtick runs Elevation Church in North Carolina, home to upwards of 14,000 on any given weekend. Here’s a clip of him talking to his “haters”:

Anyway, Furtick recently purchased a $1,700,000 home:

Maybe that’s unfair to write. And maybe it’s unfair for local reporters to make a big deal about it. It’s not like he’s using the church’s money to buy his house, right? Just like Pastor Joel Osteen, Furtick says he paid for the house through sales of his popular books.

I didn’t even build that house with money from the church. I built it with money from my books and I gave money to the church from the books and you start getting real defensive and being like this ain’t right. This ain’t right,” Furtick said.

He’s getting defensive because a local news channel’s coverage of his purchase isn’t very deferential (and you know Furtick is used to people who just comply with his every wish). It turns out, the report says, that there’s a blurred line between Furtick’s personal wealth and his church’s income.

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Gays Christians Shouldn’t Just Leave the Church; They Should Leave the Faith

Last week, Christianity Today‘s spinoff Leadership Journal published a joke of a piece called “Help, I’m Gay.” Unfortunately not satirical, it’s an imagined conversation between Pastor Stanton L. Jones and a fictional gay man (“Todd“) whose comments are “a composite drawn from many of Stan’s interactions” with LGBT people who are unhappy in the church.

The premise of the piece is pretty similar to lots of other “conversations” we see between conflicted LGBT Christians and their smiling-but-belittling church leaders. Lots of loving the sinner and hating the sin; lots of suggesting that being true to God should be prioritized over being true to oneself. And, as always, plenty of unanswered questions and/or vague responses:

Todd: I’m not inclined to think the Scriptures are just wrong. But why does God condemn homosexual conduct? Does he hate me? That’s what Romans 1 seems to imply.

Jones: I am not sure I have a great answer for that. The Scriptures relate the commands but do not give extensive justifications of those commands.

Oh, good. That’s helpful! Patheos’ Tony Jones (I assume there’s no relation, but I’ll refer to him as Tony for clarity’s sake) discussed the faux interview last week, taking serious issue with the pastor’s ultimate suggestion that gay people should shamefully confess their identities to a church official and ask to take on a desired leadership position, anyway. Tony writes:

I think we can all agree that this is some bad advice. If you’re gay, don’t tell your evangelical pastor, “I’m a man who feels sexual attraction to other men, but I’m staying chaste. Can I please serve as a leader in this church?”

No, don’t do that.

Instead, find another church.

There’s more bad advice at play here than simply the pastor’s suggestion to throw your livelihood away in the spirit of leading a bigoted church. In fact, pretty much every one of Pastor Jones’ responses reeks of anti-gay prejudice and homophobia — which is especially problematic when this article posits itself as the ultimate answer for struggling LGBT Christians.

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How Should We React When a ‘Militant Atheist’ Beats Up a Pastor?

Over the weekend, a man named James Maxie went to church with his girlfriend… and ended up severely beating the pastor, Rev. Norman Hayes, after Hayes asked the girlfriend if she felt safe with him:

“I questioned his girlfriend in his presence if she felt safe,” Hayes said. “He was very, very upset that I’d even suggest that he would hurt her. Then he turned around and hurt me very badly.”

Hayes said Maxie was argumentative and confrontational during the service.

“It looked like he was looking for an argument,” Hayes said.

Maxie and the girlfriend, who attends the church, approached Hayes after the service. She told police that Hayes asked her if Maxie was abusing her, and Maxie became furious, striking pastor several times in the face in the church hallway.

“He came from nowhere and hit me … and knocked me down, and then he got on top of me and just kept hitting me over and over,” Hayes said. He pleaded for the beating to stop, stating he thought Maxie would kill him.

“It was fortunate he did stop,” Hayes said. “I really believe my life was in danger if he hadn’t stopped hitting me in the face over and over.”

The reason I mention this story is because it turns out Maxie is a “militant atheist”:

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Can You Criticize a Religion Without Studying It?

The video below, part of The Atheist Voice series, answers the question: Can You criticize a religion without studying it?:

We’d love to hear your thoughts on the project — more videos will be posted soon — and we’d also appreciate your suggestions as to which questions we ought to tackle next!

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