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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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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