D.C.’s atheist rally

In our nation’s capital on Saturday, some 20,000 atheists demonstrated on the national mall for the  “Reason Rally” protesting religion.  Here is an account:

A full pantheon of demigods of unbelief — British scientists and full-time atheism rabble-rouser Richard Dawkins was the headliner — kept a crowd of all ages on their feet for more than six hours (and counting — I left before the band Bad Religion was set to play).

Dawkins didn’t appear until five hours into the event, but few seemed discouraged by the near-constant rain or drizzle. They whistled and cheered for his familiar lines such as:

I don’t despise religious people. I despise what they stand for …

Evolution is not just true, it’s beautiful …

Then Dawkins got to the part where he calls on the crowd not only to challenge religious people but to “ridicule and show contempt” for their doctrines and sacraments, including the Eucharist, which Catholics believe becomes the body of Christ during Mass. . . .

Outrage was the parlance of the day. . .for many speakers, including Reason Rally organizer and American Atheists president David Silverman.

He reveled in their reputation as the marines of atheism, as the people who storm the faith barricades and bring “unpopular but necessary” lawsuits.

Silverman may have gone a bit further in his rhetoric than he intended. In a thundering call for “zero tolerance” for anyone who disagrees with or insults atheism, Silverman proclaimed, “Stand your ground!”

Unfortunately, of course, the phrase “stand your ground,” is in the news this week as the legal cover for the killing of Trayvon Martin in Sanford, Fla., last week. Under Florida’s so-called Stand Your Ground law, George Zimmerman could claim he feared Martin, a teen armed with iced tea and Skittles, would harm him.

Silverman meant a verbal, not a literal, call to arms here. Still, the line didn’t draw applause as his other take-no-insults charges did.

Several of the featured names were famous folks who sent in videos: Penn Jillette, Bill Maher and U.S. Rep. Pete Stark. Others, popular in the Internet niche of skeptics, free-thinkers and atheists, came to the microphone to address the soggy crowds in person. A sampling:

Friendly Atheist blogger Hement Mehta urged people to run for office, any post from school board to Congress to dogcatcher.

Greta Christina, author of “Why are you atheists so angry” attacked every major faith, even the teachings of the dalai lama. In a long litany of what makes her angry, she got all the way back to Galileo (overlooking the modern Catholic Church’s restoration of his reputation.)

Adam Savage, co-host of Mythbusters, said there really is someone who loves and protects him and watches over his actions — “It’s me!”

via Richard Dawkins to atheist rally: ‘Show contempt’ for faith.

About Gene Veith

Professor of Literature at Patrick Henry College, the Director of the Cranach Institute at Concordia Theological Seminary, a columnist for World Magazine and TableTalk, and the author of 18 books on different facets of Christianity & Culture.

  • Klasie Kraalogies

    This is exactly where the atheists show their “unreason”. If we indulge in a thought-experiment for a moment, and imagine that (all) religion is really just a fairy tale etc etc. Then the fact remains that religious beliefs evolved across tribal and national boundaries, that it is an essential part of our history, our evolution if you will. Many psychological and other factors could be invoked as reasons thereto. But it did happen. In the atheists worldview, therefore, to actively attack religion, to scorn it and deride it, would be like the young adult wanting to break and burn all his baby toys, because they remind him of his youth. The normal treatment of such a person would be a good number of sessions with a reputable psychologist/psychiatrist. I would recommend the same course of action here :)

  • Klasie Kraalogies

    This is exactly where the atheists show their “unreason”. If we indulge in a thought-experiment for a moment, and imagine that (all) religion is really just a fairy tale etc etc. Then the fact remains that religious beliefs evolved across tribal and national boundaries, that it is an essential part of our history, our evolution if you will. Many psychological and other factors could be invoked as reasons thereto. But it did happen. In the atheists worldview, therefore, to actively attack religion, to scorn it and deride it, would be like the young adult wanting to break and burn all his baby toys, because they remind him of his youth. The normal treatment of such a person would be a good number of sessions with a reputable psychologist/psychiatrist. I would recommend the same course of action here :)

  • #4 Kitty

    Here is Adam Savage’s (of MythBusters) speech. He talks a bit about vocation which makes me wonder if he’s a Lutheran atheist.

  • #4 Kitty

    Here is Adam Savage’s (of MythBusters) speech. He talks a bit about vocation which makes me wonder if he’s a Lutheran atheist.

  • Tom Hering

    A growing number of Americans are telling pollsters they’re tired of religion in politics. If the trend continues, the atheists’ campaign of “ridicule and contempt” may find an audience.

  • Tom Hering

    A growing number of Americans are telling pollsters they’re tired of religion in politics. If the trend continues, the atheists’ campaign of “ridicule and contempt” may find an audience.

  • #4 Kitty

    @Klasie Kraalogies

    In the atheists worldview, therefore, to actively attack religion, to scorn it and deride it, would be like the young adult wanting to break and burn all his baby toys, because they remind him of his youth.

    The problem is not with the atheists. It’s the fundamentalists who insist that these toys are up to the task of solving real world problems. They’re demonstrably not. You’re a fan of thought experiments. Indulge in this one from Richard Dawkins:

    ” If all the achievements of scientists were wiped out tomorrow, there would be no doctors but witch doctors, no transport faster than horses, no computers, no printed books, no agriculture beyond subsistence peasant farming. If all the achievements of theologians were wiped out tomorrow, would anyone notice the smallest difference?”

  • #4 Kitty

    @Klasie Kraalogies

    In the atheists worldview, therefore, to actively attack religion, to scorn it and deride it, would be like the young adult wanting to break and burn all his baby toys, because they remind him of his youth.

    The problem is not with the atheists. It’s the fundamentalists who insist that these toys are up to the task of solving real world problems. They’re demonstrably not. You’re a fan of thought experiments. Indulge in this one from Richard Dawkins:

    ” If all the achievements of scientists were wiped out tomorrow, there would be no doctors but witch doctors, no transport faster than horses, no computers, no printed books, no agriculture beyond subsistence peasant farming. If all the achievements of theologians were wiped out tomorrow, would anyone notice the smallest difference?”

  • Dr. Luther in the 21st Century

    A fool says in his heart, “There is no god.” Leave it to a fool to open his mouth and dispel all misconceptions concerning their wisdom.

    They should have held this rally April 1st, it would have been more appropriate.

  • Dr. Luther in the 21st Century

    A fool says in his heart, “There is no god.” Leave it to a fool to open his mouth and dispel all misconceptions concerning their wisdom.

    They should have held this rally April 1st, it would have been more appropriate.

  • John C

    Perhaps Klassie, atheism is just another step on the path of evolution — it may be a backward step or a little jig — time will tell.

  • John C

    Perhaps Klassie, atheism is just another step on the path of evolution — it may be a backward step or a little jig — time will tell.

  • Klasie Kraalogies

    Kitty, I do happen to be a scientist myself. Dawkins is famously illiterate wrt philosophical history, for instance. Take the theologian/philosopher away today – the difference might not show immediately. But if you took him away a long time ago, there would be no scientist, no doctor today.

    To take this argument outside the realm of Christianity. You would not have had Phytagorean mathematics, if you did not have Phytagorean mystcism. Democritus’ atom depended on his philosophy. Etc etc. And the further back we go, the more we find the intertwining of technology and priestcraft, of development and religion. Neolithic archeology is littered with it. The very words you employ in your arguments can be shown to have derived from this – paleolinguistics is an interesting field, and will show you how close man, machine, idea and Deity have developed since time immemorial.

    Nay, the Radical atheists are like a bunch of hyped-up teenagers, with half a brain, limited knowledge, and no sense of decorum or, and this is quite important, no respect for the liberal democratic tradition which allows them the freedom to be in the first place.

    Note that I said “Radical atheists”. These are the Fundamentalists of the atheist world, and like all fundies, they taint the rest of their group.

  • Klasie Kraalogies

    Kitty, I do happen to be a scientist myself. Dawkins is famously illiterate wrt philosophical history, for instance. Take the theologian/philosopher away today – the difference might not show immediately. But if you took him away a long time ago, there would be no scientist, no doctor today.

    To take this argument outside the realm of Christianity. You would not have had Phytagorean mathematics, if you did not have Phytagorean mystcism. Democritus’ atom depended on his philosophy. Etc etc. And the further back we go, the more we find the intertwining of technology and priestcraft, of development and religion. Neolithic archeology is littered with it. The very words you employ in your arguments can be shown to have derived from this – paleolinguistics is an interesting field, and will show you how close man, machine, idea and Deity have developed since time immemorial.

    Nay, the Radical atheists are like a bunch of hyped-up teenagers, with half a brain, limited knowledge, and no sense of decorum or, and this is quite important, no respect for the liberal democratic tradition which allows them the freedom to be in the first place.

    Note that I said “Radical atheists”. These are the Fundamentalists of the atheist world, and like all fundies, they taint the rest of their group.

  • Klasie Kraalogies

    John C – hence my thought experiment, to show that even if that were the case, their arguments, rhetoric and behaviour are, well, certifiable.

  • Klasie Kraalogies

    John C – hence my thought experiment, to show that even if that were the case, their arguments, rhetoric and behaviour are, well, certifiable.

  • TE Schroeder

    Kitty @4

    May I take a stab at this thought experiment?

    Why do you assume the advances of science and technology would be opposed by theology? We have no reason to condemn such things.

    You also assume that theologians invented what they believe, teach, and confess. Perhaps the atheists would prefer to wipe out God tomorrow. Not just the thought of God, but God himself who has created the world and everything in it, and who sustains, provides for, and watches over all he has made. I suspect that they would notice the change immediately … or they wouldn’t because they would be snuffed out of existence immediately.

  • TE Schroeder

    Kitty @4

    May I take a stab at this thought experiment?

    Why do you assume the advances of science and technology would be opposed by theology? We have no reason to condemn such things.

    You also assume that theologians invented what they believe, teach, and confess. Perhaps the atheists would prefer to wipe out God tomorrow. Not just the thought of God, but God himself who has created the world and everything in it, and who sustains, provides for, and watches over all he has made. I suspect that they would notice the change immediately … or they wouldn’t because they would be snuffed out of existence immediately.

  • Jon

    Romans 1:18-30 comes to mind. “Therefore, God gave them up….”

  • Jon

    Romans 1:18-30 comes to mind. “Therefore, God gave them up….”

  • #4 Kitty

    @TE Schroeder

    Why do you assume the advances of science and technology would be opposed by theology? We have no reason to condemn such things.

    Advances in science and technology have <a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Relationship_between_religion_and_science
    "<historically
    been opposed by theology. And they still are. Tell me, do you teach your children that we have a common ancestor with the chimpanzee? Or do you teach them that Adam & Eve were the first humans and that all humans are descended from them?
    See what I mean?

  • #4 Kitty

    @TE Schroeder

    Why do you assume the advances of science and technology would be opposed by theology? We have no reason to condemn such things.

    Advances in science and technology have <a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Relationship_between_religion_and_science
    "<historically
    been opposed by theology. And they still are. Tell me, do you teach your children that we have a common ancestor with the chimpanzee? Or do you teach them that Adam & Eve were the first humans and that all humans are descended from them?
    See what I mean?

  • #4 Kitty

    @Klasie

    Note that I said “Radical atheists”. These are the Fundamentalists of the atheist world, and like all fundies, they taint the rest of their group.

    I’m rather enjoying their war with institutionalized religion. However, I sincerely wonder if these new fundamentalists will go after poetry next.

  • #4 Kitty

    @Klasie

    Note that I said “Radical atheists”. These are the Fundamentalists of the atheist world, and like all fundies, they taint the rest of their group.

    I’m rather enjoying their war with institutionalized religion. However, I sincerely wonder if these new fundamentalists will go after poetry next.

  • Klasie Kraalogies

    Kitty, you operate within very narrow definitions. As I have argued ad nauseaum here before (caution: Not. Doing. So. Today), one could accept the scientific consensus and be a Theist, specifically a Christian. I myself am. Because, for one thing, Reason can by defintion never answer the UOQ (Ultimate Ontological Question), Why Existence?

    Questions about Adam and Eve etc turn on literal vs figurative vs semi-literal, contextual, etc interpretations.

    I always find it interesting that in their debates with Theists/pantheists & other non-atheists, atheists always devolve to the most simplistic, literal interpretation of their opponents views, to the exclusion of historical, linguistic and philosophical context. I think this says more about the atheists than about their opponents.

  • Klasie Kraalogies

    Kitty, you operate within very narrow definitions. As I have argued ad nauseaum here before (caution: Not. Doing. So. Today), one could accept the scientific consensus and be a Theist, specifically a Christian. I myself am. Because, for one thing, Reason can by defintion never answer the UOQ (Ultimate Ontological Question), Why Existence?

    Questions about Adam and Eve etc turn on literal vs figurative vs semi-literal, contextual, etc interpretations.

    I always find it interesting that in their debates with Theists/pantheists & other non-atheists, atheists always devolve to the most simplistic, literal interpretation of their opponents views, to the exclusion of historical, linguistic and philosophical context. I think this says more about the atheists than about their opponents.

  • http://www.biblegateway.com/versions/Contemporary-English-Version-CEV-Bible/ sg

    “Or do you teach them that Adam & Eve were the first humans and that all humans are descended from them?”

    Even evolutionists teach that. They argue about what came before Adam and Eve, not that there was at some point a common human ancestor.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mitochondrial_Eve

  • http://www.biblegateway.com/versions/Contemporary-English-Version-CEV-Bible/ sg

    “Or do you teach them that Adam & Eve were the first humans and that all humans are descended from them?”

    Even evolutionists teach that. They argue about what came before Adam and Eve, not that there was at some point a common human ancestor.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mitochondrial_Eve

  • #4 Kitty

    @Klasie

    Kitty, you operate within very narrow definitions.

    I have to disagree with you.

    one could accept the scientific consensus and be a Theist, specifically a Christian.

    I happen to agree with you.

  • #4 Kitty

    @Klasie

    Kitty, you operate within very narrow definitions.

    I have to disagree with you.

    one could accept the scientific consensus and be a Theist, specifically a Christian.

    I happen to agree with you.

  • –helen

    #4 Kitty:
    Thanks for the video. It’s interesting to see what passes for thought.
    Tell me, do you teach your children that we have a common ancestor with the chimpanzee? Or do you teach them that Adam & Eve were the first humans and that all humans are descended from them? –#4 Kitty

    Evolution is a theory. There is no reason to treat it as a fact.

    To do so requires more faith than the Christian religion, which is belief in God whose Son lived, died and rose from the dead for our benefit, Whose teachings are accessible in Holy Scriptures. Comments from those who never believed in Him verified, by their written opposition, the fact of His existence among them. Other comments are purely historical and neutral but still evidence.

    [When Richard Dawkins dies, someone will no doubt write doggerel as they did for Christopher Hitchens. ...unless he becomes a believer first.]

    Sometimes, Kitty, I think you believe what you write. Other times I think it is only a bid for attention. (This time, you got it.) :(

  • –helen

    #4 Kitty:
    Thanks for the video. It’s interesting to see what passes for thought.
    Tell me, do you teach your children that we have a common ancestor with the chimpanzee? Or do you teach them that Adam & Eve were the first humans and that all humans are descended from them? –#4 Kitty

    Evolution is a theory. There is no reason to treat it as a fact.

    To do so requires more faith than the Christian religion, which is belief in God whose Son lived, died and rose from the dead for our benefit, Whose teachings are accessible in Holy Scriptures. Comments from those who never believed in Him verified, by their written opposition, the fact of His existence among them. Other comments are purely historical and neutral but still evidence.

    [When Richard Dawkins dies, someone will no doubt write doggerel as they did for Christopher Hitchens. ...unless he becomes a believer first.]

    Sometimes, Kitty, I think you believe what you write. Other times I think it is only a bid for attention. (This time, you got it.) :(

  • #4 Kitty

    @helen

    Sometimes, Kitty, I think you believe what you write. Other times I think it is only a bid for attention. (This time, you got it.)

    I usually believe what I write. I just very rarely write it appropriately.
    For example, I have a thing for throwing verbal fire bombs… but I’m working on that.

  • #4 Kitty

    @helen

    Sometimes, Kitty, I think you believe what you write. Other times I think it is only a bid for attention. (This time, you got it.)

    I usually believe what I write. I just very rarely write it appropriately.
    For example, I have a thing for throwing verbal fire bombs… but I’m working on that.

  • #4 Kitty

    @SG #14

    Even evolutionists teach that. They argue about what came before Adam and Eve, not that there was at some point a common human ancestor.

    What do you mean?

  • #4 Kitty

    @SG #14

    Even evolutionists teach that. They argue about what came before Adam and Eve, not that there was at some point a common human ancestor.

    What do you mean?

  • http://www.biblegateway.com/versions/Contemporary-English-Version-CEV-Bible/ sg

    @ 18

    Did you read the wiki link regarding female most recent common ancestor (MRCA)?

    Part of genetics is documenting common features in human DNA. One idea is that there is at some point male and female ancestors common to all humans. This is practically speaking “Adam” and “Eve” albeit not a theistic notion.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mitochondrial_Eve#Not_the_most_recent_ancestor_shared_by_all_humans

  • http://www.biblegateway.com/versions/Contemporary-English-Version-CEV-Bible/ sg

    @ 18

    Did you read the wiki link regarding female most recent common ancestor (MRCA)?

    Part of genetics is documenting common features in human DNA. One idea is that there is at some point male and female ancestors common to all humans. This is practically speaking “Adam” and “Eve” albeit not a theistic notion.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mitochondrial_Eve#Not_the_most_recent_ancestor_shared_by_all_humans

  • Grace

    The fool hath said in his heart, There is no God. Corrupt are they, and have done abominable iniquity: there is none that doeth good.
    Psalms 53

    TE Schroeder you stated:

    “You also assume that theologians invented what they believe, teach, and confess. Perhaps the atheists would prefer to wipe out God tomorrow. Not just the thought of God, but God himself who has created the world and everything in it, and who sustains, provides for, and watches over all he has made. I suspect that they would notice the change immediately … or they wouldn’t because they would be snuffed out of existence immediately.

    Excellent!

    13 Enter ye in at the strait gate: for wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leadeth to destruction, and many there be which go in thereat:

    14 Because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it. Matthew 7

    Proverbs 26 says it well:

    4 Answer not a fool according to his folly, lest thou also be like unto him.

    5 Answer a fool according to his folly, lest he be wise in his own conceit.

  • Grace

    The fool hath said in his heart, There is no God. Corrupt are they, and have done abominable iniquity: there is none that doeth good.
    Psalms 53

    TE Schroeder you stated:

    “You also assume that theologians invented what they believe, teach, and confess. Perhaps the atheists would prefer to wipe out God tomorrow. Not just the thought of God, but God himself who has created the world and everything in it, and who sustains, provides for, and watches over all he has made. I suspect that they would notice the change immediately … or they wouldn’t because they would be snuffed out of existence immediately.

    Excellent!

    13 Enter ye in at the strait gate: for wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leadeth to destruction, and many there be which go in thereat:

    14 Because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it. Matthew 7

    Proverbs 26 says it well:

    4 Answer not a fool according to his folly, lest thou also be like unto him.

    5 Answer a fool according to his folly, lest he be wise in his own conceit.

  • #4 Kitty

    @SG #19
    Yes, I’ve been looking at that. Fascinating stuff! And right, my question at #11 was written incorrectly.

  • #4 Kitty

    @SG #19
    Yes, I’ve been looking at that. Fascinating stuff! And right, my question at #11 was written incorrectly.

  • Gary

    “If the trend continues, the atheists’ campaign of ‘ridicule and contempt’ may find an audience.”

    Oh, it HAS definitely found a receptive audience. Christians have good reason to be worried. And you know what? I don’t think Jesus is going to show up in time to vindicate what the orthodox have always believed.

  • Gary

    “If the trend continues, the atheists’ campaign of ‘ridicule and contempt’ may find an audience.”

    Oh, it HAS definitely found a receptive audience. Christians have good reason to be worried. And you know what? I don’t think Jesus is going to show up in time to vindicate what the orthodox have always believed.

  • http://www.biblegateway.com/versions/Contemporary-English-Version-CEV-Bible/ sg

    “If the trend continues, the atheists’ campaign of ‘ridicule and contempt’ may find an audience.”

    Contrast that with how early Christians engaged their societies.

  • http://www.biblegateway.com/versions/Contemporary-English-Version-CEV-Bible/ sg

    “If the trend continues, the atheists’ campaign of ‘ridicule and contempt’ may find an audience.”

    Contrast that with how early Christians engaged their societies.

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    Sorry, but I think it’s cute what the atheists are doing. They’re clearly hell-bent (whoops, can I say that?) on mimicking theists. Especially the bit about whipping people into a frenzy with trumped-up outrage.

    My favorite bit was this quip:

    I don’t despise religious people. I despise what they stand for …

    “Love the sinner, hate the sin”, anyone?

    He reveled in their reputation as the marines of atheism, as the people who storm the faith barricades and bring “unpopular but necessary” lawsuits.

    David Silverman, the Rick Santorum of atheists.

    Several of the featured names were famous folks who sent in videos: Penn Jillette, Bill Maher and U.S. Rep. Pete Stark.

    Hey, look! The atheists are also more interested in celebrity than in people with knowledge! Just like the theists they mock! Let’s listen to this guy, because he’s on TV and/or got elected! Because we’re all about intellect!

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    Sorry, but I think it’s cute what the atheists are doing. They’re clearly hell-bent (whoops, can I say that?) on mimicking theists. Especially the bit about whipping people into a frenzy with trumped-up outrage.

    My favorite bit was this quip:

    I don’t despise religious people. I despise what they stand for …

    “Love the sinner, hate the sin”, anyone?

    He reveled in their reputation as the marines of atheism, as the people who storm the faith barricades and bring “unpopular but necessary” lawsuits.

    David Silverman, the Rick Santorum of atheists.

    Several of the featured names were famous folks who sent in videos: Penn Jillette, Bill Maher and U.S. Rep. Pete Stark.

    Hey, look! The atheists are also more interested in celebrity than in people with knowledge! Just like the theists they mock! Let’s listen to this guy, because he’s on TV and/or got elected! Because we’re all about intellect!

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    Gary (@22) said:

    Christians have good reason to be worried.

    And what is that, exactly? Why would a Christian be worried by these developments?

    I don’t think Jesus is going to show up in time to vindicate what the orthodox have always believed.

    Huh? Why would a Lutheran pastor say that?

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    Gary (@22) said:

    Christians have good reason to be worried.

    And what is that, exactly? Why would a Christian be worried by these developments?

    I don’t think Jesus is going to show up in time to vindicate what the orthodox have always believed.

    Huh? Why would a Lutheran pastor say that?

  • Klasie Kraalogies

    Todd:

    The Rick Santorum of atheists

    How do you come up with this stuff?! :) :)

  • Klasie Kraalogies

    Todd:

    The Rick Santorum of atheists

    How do you come up with this stuff?! :) :)

  • John C

    I did not know Silverman was running in a presidential primary, Todd.

  • John C

    I did not know Silverman was running in a presidential primary, Todd.

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    John C (@27), well, at least you got the joke … [ahem] …

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    John C (@27), well, at least you got the joke … [ahem] …

  • http://www.redeemedrambling.blogspot.com/ John

    tODD #24 expresses my sentiments as well.

  • http://www.redeemedrambling.blogspot.com/ John

    tODD #24 expresses my sentiments as well.

  • John C

    Oh, the irony of it all — people gathering in congregations large and small to affirm belief in non-belief. My, how these juxtapositions and contridictions do rub and irritate.

  • John C

    Oh, the irony of it all — people gathering in congregations large and small to affirm belief in non-belief. My, how these juxtapositions and contridictions do rub and irritate.

  • John C

    UnfortunatelyKlassie @13, it is the most simplistic and literal of interpretations of Christianity and Islam that create the most harm.
    I would also add that while religion has some role to play in promoting social cohesion, religion can also be an instrument of repression — more contradictions and shades if grey.
    At the moment, I would argue religion is playing a divisive role in American politics.

  • John C

    UnfortunatelyKlassie @13, it is the most simplistic and literal of interpretations of Christianity and Islam that create the most harm.
    I would also add that while religion has some role to play in promoting social cohesion, religion can also be an instrument of repression — more contradictions and shades if grey.
    At the moment, I would argue religion is playing a divisive role in American politics.

  • Gary

    tODD (@25)

    “And what is that, exactly? Why would a Christian be worried by these developments?”

    Let me be clear: I, personally, am not worried. But I hear Christians all the time lamenting how, of all religions, Christianity is singled out for ridicule. That’s not imaginary, it’s indicative of a broader culture anxiously trying to marginalize traditional/orthodox Christian viewpoints. Going along with that, I think there’s no question church attendance in North America is broadly declining, and that trend won’t be slowing any time soon. A decade ago we could still claim that at least conservative churches were growing or maintaining membership (in contrast to “liberal” churches), but even a decade ago we were overstating our case. Back in the Eighties and perhaps Nineties, it was a more valid observation, but lately I suspect all churches in North America are declining.

    As to the reason for my comment about Jesus not returning soon enough, it doesn’t involve the doctrine of “The Imminent Return” (which is God’s timing) so much as my prediction that some of what is professed in conservative circles will not be vindicated, because over time some beliefs will be discarded. How long for that to happen is anyone’s guess–a century? Less? While my prediction may be at odds with what a Lutheran pastor is supposed to believe, I think history supports me. To deny orthodoxy has developed and changed direction over time is to ignore facts, just like denying that rising atheism has an impact on us.

  • Gary

    tODD (@25)

    “And what is that, exactly? Why would a Christian be worried by these developments?”

    Let me be clear: I, personally, am not worried. But I hear Christians all the time lamenting how, of all religions, Christianity is singled out for ridicule. That’s not imaginary, it’s indicative of a broader culture anxiously trying to marginalize traditional/orthodox Christian viewpoints. Going along with that, I think there’s no question church attendance in North America is broadly declining, and that trend won’t be slowing any time soon. A decade ago we could still claim that at least conservative churches were growing or maintaining membership (in contrast to “liberal” churches), but even a decade ago we were overstating our case. Back in the Eighties and perhaps Nineties, it was a more valid observation, but lately I suspect all churches in North America are declining.

    As to the reason for my comment about Jesus not returning soon enough, it doesn’t involve the doctrine of “The Imminent Return” (which is God’s timing) so much as my prediction that some of what is professed in conservative circles will not be vindicated, because over time some beliefs will be discarded. How long for that to happen is anyone’s guess–a century? Less? While my prediction may be at odds with what a Lutheran pastor is supposed to believe, I think history supports me. To deny orthodoxy has developed and changed direction over time is to ignore facts, just like denying that rising atheism has an impact on us.

  • http://www.biblegateway.com/versions/Contemporary-English-Version-CEV-Bible/ sg

    “But I hear Christians all the time lamenting how, of all religions, Christianity is singled out for ridicule. That’s not imaginary, it’s indicative of a broader culture anxiously trying to marginalize traditional/orthodox Christian viewpoints.”

    What is the point of targeting or ridiculing false religion? Christianity is the only true religion and saving faith, so of course it is targeted. What would the devil get from defeating or diminishing Islam or Buddhism? It isn’t culture that makes Christianity the target. It is our enemy who targets Christianity. Only Christianity points people to Christ and salvation. False religions all point away from Him.

  • http://www.biblegateway.com/versions/Contemporary-English-Version-CEV-Bible/ sg

    “But I hear Christians all the time lamenting how, of all religions, Christianity is singled out for ridicule. That’s not imaginary, it’s indicative of a broader culture anxiously trying to marginalize traditional/orthodox Christian viewpoints.”

    What is the point of targeting or ridiculing false religion? Christianity is the only true religion and saving faith, so of course it is targeted. What would the devil get from defeating or diminishing Islam or Buddhism? It isn’t culture that makes Christianity the target. It is our enemy who targets Christianity. Only Christianity points people to Christ and salvation. False religions all point away from Him.

  • Grace

    sg @33

    You stated: “What is the point of targeting or ridiculing false religion? Christianity is the only true religion and saving faith, so of course it is targeted. What would the devil get from defeating or diminishing Islam or Buddhism? It isn’t culture that makes Christianity the target. It is our enemy who targets Christianity. Only Christianity points people to Christ and salvation. False religions all point away from Him.”>

    Excellent!

  • Grace

    sg @33

    You stated: “What is the point of targeting or ridiculing false religion? Christianity is the only true religion and saving faith, so of course it is targeted. What would the devil get from defeating or diminishing Islam or Buddhism? It isn’t culture that makes Christianity the target. It is our enemy who targets Christianity. Only Christianity points people to Christ and salvation. False religions all point away from Him.”>

    Excellent!

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    SG (@33) asked:

    What would the devil get from defeating or diminishing Islam or Buddhism?

    Which seems like a reasonable argument … as long as you don’t actually pay attention to what’s going on in the world.

    That is to say, as long as you ignore the violent conflicts between Muslims and Buddhists in India. And Thailand. And Bangladesh. And Burma/Myanmar. To say nothing of the long-standing internecine feuds within Islam (you know, Sunni and Shiites, to name but one particular intra-Islam feud). Or, yes, within Buddhism.

    Yes, as long as you ignore all these conflicts, it seems quite reasonable to assume that the devil has no interest in targeting other religions.

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    SG (@33) asked:

    What would the devil get from defeating or diminishing Islam or Buddhism?

    Which seems like a reasonable argument … as long as you don’t actually pay attention to what’s going on in the world.

    That is to say, as long as you ignore the violent conflicts between Muslims and Buddhists in India. And Thailand. And Bangladesh. And Burma/Myanmar. To say nothing of the long-standing internecine feuds within Islam (you know, Sunni and Shiites, to name but one particular intra-Islam feud). Or, yes, within Buddhism.

    Yes, as long as you ignore all these conflicts, it seems quite reasonable to assume that the devil has no interest in targeting other religions.

  • Grace

    It matters little what un-Christian cults, sects, etc., fight with. The most important issue we as Believers face is, standing for Christ and the Cross HE shed HIS blood on, for our sins. The world will continue to fight with Satans approval for all that is evil, deceitful, against God. That should never be used as a guantlet against Christians marching for Christ.

    SG posted a great response, one that is simple concise and to the point, but most of all HONEST.

  • Grace

    It matters little what un-Christian cults, sects, etc., fight with. The most important issue we as Believers face is, standing for Christ and the Cross HE shed HIS blood on, for our sins. The world will continue to fight with Satans approval for all that is evil, deceitful, against God. That should never be used as a guantlet against Christians marching for Christ.

    SG posted a great response, one that is simple concise and to the point, but most of all HONEST.

  • http://www.biblegateway.com/versions/Contemporary-English-Version-CEV-Bible/ sg

    “Yes, as long as you ignore all these conflicts, it seems quite reasonable to assume that the devil has no interest in targeting other religions.”

    The devil is at work in all sorts of conflict. The fact that non-Christians fight is evidence of the devil’s work, sure. There may well be conflicts in Hell.

  • http://www.biblegateway.com/versions/Contemporary-English-Version-CEV-Bible/ sg

    “Yes, as long as you ignore all these conflicts, it seems quite reasonable to assume that the devil has no interest in targeting other religions.”

    The devil is at work in all sorts of conflict. The fact that non-Christians fight is evidence of the devil’s work, sure. There may well be conflicts in Hell.

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    SG said (@37):

    The devil is at work in all sorts of conflict.

    Agreed. But that is a notably different conclusion than this one (@33):

    What would the devil get from defeating or diminishing Islam or Buddhism?

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    SG said (@37):

    The devil is at work in all sorts of conflict.

    Agreed. But that is a notably different conclusion than this one (@33):

    What would the devil get from defeating or diminishing Islam or Buddhism?

  • http://www.biblegateway.com/versions/Contemporary-English-Version-CEV-Bible/ sg

    @38

    Okay, but in countries where the Shia and Sunni fight for supremacy, Christianity is way down the list and generally subject to legal restrictions that are even harsher.

    Anyway, I googled images of the Reason Rally. Yup, whiter than a tea party! How is it the press doesn’t despise the whiteness of American atheist activists or Jews, but it does despise the whiteness of people on the right? White occupy Wall Street is fine. White atheists are fine. White traditionalists and libertarians? evil.

  • http://www.biblegateway.com/versions/Contemporary-English-Version-CEV-Bible/ sg

    @38

    Okay, but in countries where the Shia and Sunni fight for supremacy, Christianity is way down the list and generally subject to legal restrictions that are even harsher.

    Anyway, I googled images of the Reason Rally. Yup, whiter than a tea party! How is it the press doesn’t despise the whiteness of American atheist activists or Jews, but it does despise the whiteness of people on the right? White occupy Wall Street is fine. White atheists are fine. White traditionalists and libertarians? evil.

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    SG (@38), the fact that “Christianity is way down the list” is beside the point. Again, to be clear, the answer to your question (@33) of “What would the devil get from defeating or diminishing Islam or Buddhism?” is in your subsequent comment (@37), “The devil is at work in all sorts of conflict.”

    Let’s not fool ourselves into thinking that we’re the only religion being gunned for (metaphorically or literally).

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    SG (@38), the fact that “Christianity is way down the list” is beside the point. Again, to be clear, the answer to your question (@33) of “What would the devil get from defeating or diminishing Islam or Buddhism?” is in your subsequent comment (@37), “The devil is at work in all sorts of conflict.”

    Let’s not fool ourselves into thinking that we’re the only religion being gunned for (metaphorically or literally).

  • Grace

    Let us be clear, Satan wanted to be equal with God ALMIGHTY. Satan knows there is no other God – all other so called gods have no power, they are made of stone or wood, or the figment of someone’s imagination, they have no eyes to see, or ears to hear.

    12 How art thou fallen from heaven, O Lucifer, son of the morning! how art thou cut down to the ground, which didst weaken the nations!

    13 For thou hast said in thine heart, I will ascend into heaven, I will exalt my throne above the stars of God: I will sit also upon the mount of the congregation, in the sides of the north:

    14 I will ascend above the heights of the clouds; I will be like the most High.

    15 Yet thou shalt be brought down to hell, to the sides of the pit.
    Isaiah 14

    Believers in Jesus Christ are the target of those who believe not in God, or HIS Son, it’s always been that way. Christians are persecuted, and always will be until Christ returns.

  • Grace

    Let us be clear, Satan wanted to be equal with God ALMIGHTY. Satan knows there is no other God – all other so called gods have no power, they are made of stone or wood, or the figment of someone’s imagination, they have no eyes to see, or ears to hear.

    12 How art thou fallen from heaven, O Lucifer, son of the morning! how art thou cut down to the ground, which didst weaken the nations!

    13 For thou hast said in thine heart, I will ascend into heaven, I will exalt my throne above the stars of God: I will sit also upon the mount of the congregation, in the sides of the north:

    14 I will ascend above the heights of the clouds; I will be like the most High.

    15 Yet thou shalt be brought down to hell, to the sides of the pit.
    Isaiah 14

    Believers in Jesus Christ are the target of those who believe not in God, or HIS Son, it’s always been that way. Christians are persecuted, and always will be until Christ returns.

  • http://o3.indiatimes.com/gujarati T.G. Christian

    I guess I am late to discussion, but I will still say. May be someone is still reading.
    Few months back there was a literary festival in Jaipur, India. Salman Rushdie was invited. One big state was going for election. So, some people protested against Rushdie coming to Jaipur or even to India. It is not difficult to guess who was against his coming. The fundamentalists of Islam. A rumor started that contract is given to kill Rushdie if he came to India. Rushdie was told about this and he decided to cancel visiting India. The festival started, without him of course. Around four writers read few paragraphs from Rushdie’s writings. Again there was uproar. The four guys were asked to leave festival. Around same time someone proposed that Rushdie speak in the festival via internet. This again got turned down.
    Now it was done in public that these religious fundamentalists made sure to keep Rushdie out. Fair few people in Indian media spoke against it. Now this festival had a special visitor. The poster boy of atheism. Someone who even sponsored agitation to arrest Pope when he visits UK. This poster boy of atheism is, in his words, against the religious fundamentalism. In Jaipur/India, the poster boy gave interview in national daily and emphasized his dislike of religion and religious fundamentalism. Yet, he didn’t say anything about the whole farcical issue between an author and religious fundamentalists. curious, isn’t it?

  • http://o3.indiatimes.com/gujarati T.G. Christian

    I guess I am late to discussion, but I will still say. May be someone is still reading.
    Few months back there was a literary festival in Jaipur, India. Salman Rushdie was invited. One big state was going for election. So, some people protested against Rushdie coming to Jaipur or even to India. It is not difficult to guess who was against his coming. The fundamentalists of Islam. A rumor started that contract is given to kill Rushdie if he came to India. Rushdie was told about this and he decided to cancel visiting India. The festival started, without him of course. Around four writers read few paragraphs from Rushdie’s writings. Again there was uproar. The four guys were asked to leave festival. Around same time someone proposed that Rushdie speak in the festival via internet. This again got turned down.
    Now it was done in public that these religious fundamentalists made sure to keep Rushdie out. Fair few people in Indian media spoke against it. Now this festival had a special visitor. The poster boy of atheism. Someone who even sponsored agitation to arrest Pope when he visits UK. This poster boy of atheism is, in his words, against the religious fundamentalism. In Jaipur/India, the poster boy gave interview in national daily and emphasized his dislike of religion and religious fundamentalism. Yet, he didn’t say anything about the whole farcical issue between an author and religious fundamentalists. curious, isn’t it?

  • Thomas

    Wow, a lot of easily debunked claims being made here. Here’s a hint: When arguing, it’s best to know what you’re talking about. The attempts to criticize evolution or to describe what atheists do or don’t say fall kind of flat, since anyone who is at all familiar with those things will realize that your statements directly contradict reality. (“But who needs reality and truth when misinformation and stereotypes will do just as well,” right?)

    “Christianity is the only true religion and saving faith, so of course it is targeted. What would the devil get from defeating or diminishing Islam or Buddhism?”

    So what does it mean that many atheists are, in reality, quite vocal in their criticism of non-Christian religions? We do all know that some of the most prominent atheists like Richard Dawkins and PZ Myers have been very vocal in their criticism of Islam and other non-Christian religions, right?

    “It isn’t culture that makes Christianity the target.”

    I like it – the argument by assertion. Unfortunately, that isn’t really going to get you very far in a real debate.

    But in response to your statement – yes it is. That’s why atheists in North America tend to focus on criticizing Christianity (though with plenty of attacks on the other religions too), while an atheist like, say, Taslima Nasreen – who is from Bangladesh and has had extensive experience with Islam – focuses primarily on Islam.

    That you don’t hear about their attacks on other religions – mostly because you live in an echo chamber that simply perpetuates your false notions about what atheists do and don’t talk about – doesn’t mean anything.

    “people gathering in congregations large and small to affirm belief in non-belief.”

    Cute. Unfortunately, you conflate two meanings of the term “belief,” so your attempt at irony (or whatever you were going for) is kind of lost. Let me spell it out for you: Not believing in God is not the same as not believing in anything. The fact that atheists believe in some things while not believing in God is not somehow a self-contradiction. Just like you wouldn’t be contradicting yourself by calling yourself a believer, and then stating that you believe in God but not Santa Claus.

    “Evolution is a theory. There is no reason to treat it as a fact. ”

    You don’t know what a scientific theory is. Just the tiniest bit of research would have helped you out in this area – it would have shown you that “theory” means something very different in scientific terms than it does in layman’s terms – so try again.

    I love it when people use the “it’s just a theory” line, because it shows they haven’t even bothered to understand the thing they’re attacking. Many atheists, at least, have had extensive experience with religion – many have been deeply religious at previous points in their lives – and are generally familiar with the vocabulary associated with religion. The same can’t be said for certain people who wish to appear knowledgeable by attacking science.

  • Thomas

    Wow, a lot of easily debunked claims being made here. Here’s a hint: When arguing, it’s best to know what you’re talking about. The attempts to criticize evolution or to describe what atheists do or don’t say fall kind of flat, since anyone who is at all familiar with those things will realize that your statements directly contradict reality. (“But who needs reality and truth when misinformation and stereotypes will do just as well,” right?)

    “Christianity is the only true religion and saving faith, so of course it is targeted. What would the devil get from defeating or diminishing Islam or Buddhism?”

    So what does it mean that many atheists are, in reality, quite vocal in their criticism of non-Christian religions? We do all know that some of the most prominent atheists like Richard Dawkins and PZ Myers have been very vocal in their criticism of Islam and other non-Christian religions, right?

    “It isn’t culture that makes Christianity the target.”

    I like it – the argument by assertion. Unfortunately, that isn’t really going to get you very far in a real debate.

    But in response to your statement – yes it is. That’s why atheists in North America tend to focus on criticizing Christianity (though with plenty of attacks on the other religions too), while an atheist like, say, Taslima Nasreen – who is from Bangladesh and has had extensive experience with Islam – focuses primarily on Islam.

    That you don’t hear about their attacks on other religions – mostly because you live in an echo chamber that simply perpetuates your false notions about what atheists do and don’t talk about – doesn’t mean anything.

    “people gathering in congregations large and small to affirm belief in non-belief.”

    Cute. Unfortunately, you conflate two meanings of the term “belief,” so your attempt at irony (or whatever you were going for) is kind of lost. Let me spell it out for you: Not believing in God is not the same as not believing in anything. The fact that atheists believe in some things while not believing in God is not somehow a self-contradiction. Just like you wouldn’t be contradicting yourself by calling yourself a believer, and then stating that you believe in God but not Santa Claus.

    “Evolution is a theory. There is no reason to treat it as a fact. ”

    You don’t know what a scientific theory is. Just the tiniest bit of research would have helped you out in this area – it would have shown you that “theory” means something very different in scientific terms than it does in layman’s terms – so try again.

    I love it when people use the “it’s just a theory” line, because it shows they haven’t even bothered to understand the thing they’re attacking. Many atheists, at least, have had extensive experience with religion – many have been deeply religious at previous points in their lives – and are generally familiar with the vocabulary associated with religion. The same can’t be said for certain people who wish to appear knowledgeable by attacking science.