Heard the news? Gay people don’t exist!

571731419_pt1220_poof_logo_xlarge

The trollathon that broke out on my post yesterday (Anti-gay Christians convening today. What are they hiding?) once defenders of the Evangelical Covenant Order of Presbyterians (ECO) discovered it led me to disable comments to the post. As fun as playing Whack-a-Troll is, it does grow tedious after awhile.

Hey. It just now occurs to me to wonder why the Evangelical Covenant Order of Presbyterians decided against keeping the “P” in their Official Acronym. Seems to me they are ECOPs, patrolling (emphasis on trolling, but still) the Internet for any signs of … people not thinking being gay is a sin, apparently.

Then again, perhaps I’m mistaken about what ECO stands for. Maybe it’s Energetically Combatting Outsiders. Could be Extraordinarily Callous and Obnoxious. Extremely Childish Obfuscating. Exhibiting Creepy Officiousness. Environmentally Catastrophic Offal. Endless Compulsive Onanism.

It’s hard to be sure. I’ll have to go back and look.

I also of course got in the sorts of emails one expects when posting such a post. One email that particularly caught my attention was:

John, I am quite offended by your article attempting to discern the motivations of those who are putting on the Fellowship gathering in Dallas. I am not in attendance nor do I know the persons who planned this gathering. But as a Presbyterian pastor who helps lesbians and gays leave homosexual expression I see you are not that informed about sexual fluidity and the possibility that those who have same sex affections can change.

So I thought, “Who writes stuff like that?” So I Googled the guy’s name—and had my answer: People who run “ex-gay” ministries.

Well duh.

I knew I recognized the guy’s name! I emailed him back:

Good lord, [name deleted cuz I'm about sure I'm going to advertise him]. Are you still trying to sell your “ex-gay” nonsense? Oh, well. Whatever. Good luck with that.

Three hours later he responded:

John, you sound like my “good friend” Wayne Besen. [Hey! Wayne, of Truth Wins Out, is my fellow co-founder of The NALT Christians Project! Way to engage your own Spidey instincts, pastor!] I don’t believe in being “ex-gay.” You see, people were never gay in the first place. So, how can one be ex-gay? Yes, ex-gay is nonsense.

Yes! Finally, a solution to the apparently interminable conflict between fundie Christians and gay people!

Gay people don’t exist!

Man. Who knew that was the case?!

Right at this exact second I have to turn off my computer, because the moment I typed that final exclamation point a crack of lightening and thunder so deafeningly sharp it set off car alarms throughout my neighborhood just exploded right over my house. And I’m not even kidding.

I’m sure it’s just a coincidence, though!


I’m the author of UNFAIR: Christians and the LGBT Question:

unfair-cover-xsmallPaperback. Kindle. NookBook. Signed and inscribed by me according to your direction.

About John Shore

John Shore (who, fwiw, is straight) is the author of UNFAIR: Christians and the LGBT Question, and three other great books. He is founder of Unfundamentalist Christians (on Facebook here), and executive editor of the Unfundamentalist Christians group blog.  (In total John's two blogs receive some 250,000 views per month.) John is also co-founder of The NALT Christians Project, which was written about by TIME,  The Washington Post, and others. His website is JohnShore.com. You're invited to like John's Facebook page. Don't forget to sign up for his mucho-awesome newsletter.

  • BarbaraR

    My brains just went ‘splody.

  • http://allegro63.wordpress.com/ allegro63

    Ah what logic! So, He who won’t be named, is essentially saying,
    “We are going to spend enormous time, energy, data usage, words and resources, speaking out against, legislating against, preaching against, writing against, protesting against, counseling against, something that doesn’t exist.”

  • http://www.enesvy.com/ Enesvy

    Ugh. It takes a long time to turn the Titanic around. :p

  • Jeff Preuss

    “You see, people were never gay in the first place.” Ohhhhhhh, NOW it makes sense.

    I…I just…my head hurts so much from repeatedly slamming it into my desk.

    I KNOW there are people who believe this. People who regularly tell people like me that we are deceiving ourselves. That we are giving in to a lie from Satan. People who STILL hold onto the completely archaic notion that gay people are only straight people choosing to ACT gay.

    And, when I tell my personal story of dealing with being gay and Christian, these same people like to react with accusations of ME lying. I have to be leaving something out. There is clearly NO possible way that I grew up in the Church, heard the gospel, came to Jesus at 7, then STILL turned out gay at puberty without having been molested or abused or something that let the “demon” in. That I’m somehow hiding drug use or promiscuity or black magic in my life (I’m not.)

    Because these people seem to get SO wrapped up in their codified understanding of the Bible that there is NO possible exception to the rule of that understanding. Because they are straight, and so obviously right with God, so clearly everyone else must be straight, and just acting gay out of being ‘fallen.’ Or ‘broken.’ Or ‘possessed.’

    And, I think that’s the real balance that must be struck in faith. HAVE conviction in your beliefs, but don’t let that conviction prevent others from having conviction of THEIR expression of faith. And before anyone comes in to protest saying that’s just what Progressives do in regards to gay issues, eliminating the chance for conservatives to have their faith: No one is telling you you cannot believe gay stuff is a sin. It’s when you decide to express your take on this as reasoning to DENY gay people full and real expression of faith and worship or church membership, when you call us “gay Christians” in quotes since clearly one cannot be both, when you decide it is your faith mandate to spill your take on this issue into the secular polls to limit our civil freedoms, that YOU are deciding who can and cannot be Christian. And that is Not. Your. Call. To. Make.

    • http://allegro63.wordpress.com/ allegro63

      *hands Jay a extra fluffy pillow to lay on his desk.*

    • Guy Norred

      I have been told that I was most definitely not born gay by someone who says she knows because she was there. My response was that I was also and that was the end of the discussion for the time but I really wish I had had the presence to ask how anyone knows a newborn baby is straight.

      • BarbaraR

        Gay babies are covered with glitter.

        • paganheart

          Oh my poor computer screen! *Grabs towel and wipes spewed tea off screen* ;-)

        • http://mikemoorehome.com/ mike moore

          Barbara! I’m am sooo stealing that line.

          • BarbaraR

            It’s all yours!

      • http://www.fordswords.net/ Ford1968
        • DrewTwoFish

          Love this.

      • Jeff Preuss

        I’m sure she asked you. What did you tell her?

        Wait, do babies look gay or straight when being born? Because I held my nephew on his first day on this earth, and he didn’t look one way or the other except lumpy, pink, and tiny.

        Granted, he’s only 10 now, so I have no idea of his romantic attractions. Because, um, I guess I still can’t tell?

    • http://johnshore.com/ John Shore

      Too bad you really didn’t just write this. You just think you did.

      • Jeff Preuss

        Clearly, I don’t exist, so of course I couldn’t write it.

        Signed, Ungracious

        • http://johnshore.com/ John Shore

          HAR! good one.

          • Jeff Preuss

            Dude. You’re talking to imaginary people. Seek help. ;)

          • http://johnshore.com/ John Shore

            Such a roll you’re on!

          • Jeff Preuss

            It’s the Caesar dressing from lunch talking.

          • anakinmcfly

            You think your salad dressing talks to you? You’re probably the one who needs help. ;)

          • http://allegro63.wordpress.com/ allegro63

            You mean yours doesn’t?

          • anakinmcfly

            Nope. Dammit, I want a refund.

          • Jeff Preuss

            Mine said, “If you pour me over a dozen donuts, that makes them a salad, ergo: HEALTHY. Eeeeeeeeeeeat.”

          • anakinmcfly

            Demand that they show you some peer-reviewed evidence for that claim.

          • James Walker

            err.. ewwww… I think you just put me off donuts for life…

          • Jeff Preuss

            GIVE THEM ALL TO ME.

          • Bones

            Mmmm sounds kinky. Yum.

        • DrewTwoFish

          I don’t exist either! And yet I think I do, um, think that is.

          • http://shiphrah99.etsy.com Shiphrah99

            Descartes walks into a bar and the bartender asks, “Would you like a glass of wine?” Descartes answers, “I think not.” Poof!

          • DrewTwoFish

            Brilliant! I love it!

        • http://limpingtowardsgrace.com/ James Jarvis

          Sorry to hear about your nonexistence.

      • Jeff Preuss

        Ooooo, wait, unless you meant something about me having written this previously. Which I didn’t. That was all on the fly.

        I’m sure I’ve said something similar before, however.

        • http://shiphrah99.etsy.com Shiphrah99

          You wrote on your fly???

          • WilmRoget

            Its like a zip drive.

    • Jill

      I just heard a chorus of angels on reading this. The light descends.

      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MeS5V1ef11A

      • Jeff Preuss

        Thank you so much! I do love good choral music…which reminds me I’ve my first choir rehearsal of the season on Saturday, and I haven’t looked at the music at all…

    • DrewTwoFish

      I think the demon was Martha Stewart, or one of her minions.

    • WilmRoget

      “these same people like to react with accusations of ME lying”

      That is so offensive.

      But it really points out the emotional origin of anti-gay theology – pride, arrogance, conceit, the presumption of superiority. Such folks are so convinced that they are superior to GLBTQ people, that they even know better than we do our own life histories.

      I once posted in great detail my process of coming to terms, including nights spent begging and crying, flat on my belly on the floor of the church (my father is a retired minister)

      and some anti-gay person said ‘oh that never happened, you’re making it up to get sympathy you don’t deserve’.

      As if he were there?

      Of course, many of them seem to think they are God, so maybe somehow, he figured he was there.

  • Jeff Preuss

    Also, “leave homosexual expression.” Does that mean I have to stop saying “Gurrrrrl” to my boss every day? Or is it more of a facial expression?

    • http://johnshore.com/ John Shore

      Yeah, that phrase really jumped out at me. I thought, “Oh, lord, have these fools come up with yet another way of … abusing language by way of abusing people?”

      • DrewTwoFish

        Another new fav of mine is “homosexualist.”

        • Jill

          Oh saints above.

        • Jeff Preuss

          Like philatelist! It’s a hobby, really.

          • DrewTwoFish

            It’s good to keep busy. After all, idle hands are the devil’s workshop!

  • CoolHandLNC

    Well, it is sort of true, but not in the way that Offended thinks. Gay/straight is not a binary thing, nor is male/female. The terms were created as a simplification, a way to talk about and recognize a phenomenon of human sexuality. They are limited and limiting, and I hope for the day when we don’t need to categorize people like that or insist that they take on particular identities. So maybe we someday we can recognize that Sarah likes guys as much as the next woman, but she really loves her wife, so that makes her … Sarah.

    • http://johnshore.com/ John Shore

      Right. It’s just so [bad word'n] lame that we would even think of making a huge part of how we immediately identify anyone what their sexual preference is. It’s … barbaric, basically.

    • WilmRoget

      Ah, but for any individual along the continuum, there is a binary “my state” (gay, straight, bi, male, female, trans, etc.) and “everything else”.

      Some people are only attracted to the opposite gender. Some are only attracted to their own gender. Some are entirely male. Some are entirely female. Some are 90/10, some are 80/20 and so on. Each of those states of existence exist.

  • http://www.fordswords.net/ Ford1968

    “Sexual fluidity”? What? Is this guy smoking his bible? Even arch-conservative-anti-gay-icon Mark Yarhouse doesn’t make that claim. He stretches it to “meaningful shifts along the spectrum” which, when put in the context of his research, means “some bi-people can direct their attracitons toward the opposite sex, but gay leopards can’t change their gay spots.”

    • Matt

      And see, even that shows a distinct misunderstanding of how bisexuality works. When I’m attracted to a girl, that does not magically make me straight. When I’m attracted to a guy I haven’t swapped teams, so to speak. I don’t direct anything, and the very idea of trying just seems absurd to me. I may as well attempt to “shift” my thirst into hunger.

      • Jill

        If only I could plot the course of my attractions, fully and freely by conscious decision. Perhaps I’d stop making such remedial choices.

        Interesting how I have yet to find a straight person who can claim complete control over which person of the opposite sex they will be attracted.

      • DrewTwoFish

        I’m still waiting for a straight person to turn gay.

  • Yonah

    John, no disagreement with you. A question: When and how will intersex people be allowed to officially exist in public? Why is that question hardly ever addressed. I have a family member for whom this is a concrete issue.

    • http://johnshore.com/ John Shore

      What opinion might you have about why it’s hardly ever addressed?

      • R Vogel

        I obviously can’t answer directly for Yonah, but I have seen his obvious passion for this issue before and it has made me take note how often LBGT is discussed with no mention of the ‘I’ I don’t chalk this up to an purposeful exclusion, but it has struck me how inter-sexed people must feel invisible in the discussion. A bit puzzling because their very existence throw a pretty sizable wrench in the conservative sex/gender framework. I think Transgender people were in the same boat not that long ago, so hopefully we are arcing in the right direction….

        • http://shiphrah99.etsy.com Shiphrah99

          And then there’s us “A” types.

        • anakinmcfly

          “A bit puzzling because their very existence throw a pretty sizable wrench in the conservative sex/gender framework.”

          yep. Practically all the common anti-gay arguments fall apart once you bring intersex people into the picture; at the very least, they end up needing to do complicated mental acrobatics which most of them can tell doesn’t feel right. It clarifies the ridiculousness of the concept that one’s morality is dependent on one’s body parts and/or what a doctor decided at one’s birth. There’s no basis whatsoever in Christianity to believe that some people, by virtue of their bodily configuration, would always be sinning if they were to have romantic or sexual desires or relations with anybody. Which means they’re allowed to (just like anybody else), which then leads to the question of who. It forces people to consider the spirit rather than the letter of the law, because it’s the only way to address sexual morality for intersex (and trans) people.

          And then if one determines (which is the only reasonable conclusion) that morally good sexuality is determined by relations that are the product of love and respect – not empty lust or a desire to exploit another for one’s pleasure – rather than what degree of normative maleness of femaleness your various body parts are in comparison to those of a proposed partner (where if one’s phallus were only one third an inch longer, it would be good and holy and acceptable for you to be in love with person X; but since it’s not, you’re both perverted deviants headed straight to hell), then there’s no good or biblical reason not to extrapolate that to all gay people – heck, to all humans – in general.

    • http://allegro63.wordpress.com/ allegro63

      It is being addressed, more and more, and it is my hope, along with a lot of others, that your family member can come and go as they feel best, without a whit of shame, or blame or guilt, or oppression. I hope for full inclusion by next week, but it will likely be a bit longer.

      • Yonah

        Thank you. I believe in hope.

    • Psycho Gecko

      I think because people have difficulty with nuance and what they perceive as areas of grey. Most people have this mistaken belief about how sex and gender. They also don’t realize how much they don’t know about genetic variations. It’s kind of a cultural Dunning-Kruger Effect.

      It needs to be addressed, and hopefully we’re getting our butts in gear when it comes to addressing such intricacies of the human body.

      • Yonah

        Thank you. I agree.

    • 90Lew90

      “When and how will intersex people be allowed to officially exist in public?”
      Sorry Yonah, but what kind of question is that?!

      • Jeff Preuss

        I’m pretty sure Yonah is asking because, as of late, there has been a lot of Christian posturing on sexuality “affirming” the existence of “two sexes.” Specifically, the recent Southern Baptist Church statements about trans people.

        It just seems that folks whose gender/sex is less binary than is fundamentally expected might be the next group publicly striving for recognition by the Church. For the Church to stop pretending they don’t actually exist, like gay people in the blog above.

        • DrewTwoFish

          I guess according to the SBC and other like minded folk, intersex people are sinning no matter who they partner with!

          • anakinmcfly

            I’ve actually known of intersex people accused of perversion and rejected from churches even though they weren’t even in relationships. They were literally ostracised for having bodies outside of the norm and that wasn’t even of their doing. Likewise with (heterosexual) couples who had an intersex kid and became an object of condemnation when people found out; because apparently having an intersex kid meant that there had to be something they were doing wrong, and it was God’s punishment, idk.

          • DrewTwoFish

            Astounding. What revolting behaviour.

      • http://allegro63.wordpress.com/ allegro63

        Im thinking Yonah’s question is an honest one. Transgendered individuals have particular hurdles they face, hurdles we take for granted, like getting to dress as they see fit, visit the public restroom they feel comfortable with, change a name to better suit their persona

        • http://johnshore.com/ John Shore

          I assumed he meant his question, too. I was genuinely asking him what HE thought.

        • 90Lew90

          As a gay man, I’ve met plenty of trans people and count two, broadly speaking to be honest, as friends. By that I mean I’ll occasionally have a drink with them or give them a call. But Yonah wasn’t talking about trans people, he was talking about intersex people. And that’s beside the point too. What struck me as daft was his enquiry as to “when and how” they will be “allowed to officially exist in public”. May I also point out that Yonah has been posting very obnoxiously on another site, to the effect that anyone who thinks birth control is a good idea is not only misogynistic but also, apparently, genocidal. Sorry for butting in but I don’t for one minute buy his feigned liberalism.

      • Jason Chaika

        Intersex = born with ambiguous genitalia, XXY, XYY, 1/1000 live births.

        • anakinmcfly

          That figure is for those intersex conditions visible at birth. When including those that don’t show up until later in life, or that aren’t externally visible, it’s closer to 1% of the population:
          http://www.isna.org/faq/frequency

        • 90Lew90

          I know what intersex is Jason. Thanks anyway.

          • http://shiphrah99.etsy.com Shiphrah99

            Not everyone does.

  • http://www.fordswords.net/ Ford1968

    Mmmmmm….Offal. Yum.

    • http://johnshore.com/ John Shore

      It goes so good over ice cream ….

      • http://johnshore.com/ John Shore

        And of course who doesn’t enjoy a freshly backed offal and raisins cookie? Mmmmmm. My mom used to make them all the time. God, she was gross. But a pretty good cook!

      • DrewTwoFish

        Endless Compulsive Onanism.

        I think that’s my favorite ECO. Golly, so hard to choose.

  • Psycho Gecko

    I always hate this dismissive BS like what he pulled up there, where they pretend something doesn’t exist because it’s inconvenient. This kind of BS is Ray Comfort levels of stupid right here. This is the stuff that hurts people, when they toss gay people into “therapy” that’s supposed to pray the gay away.

    Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have to go be not really an atheist because some Christians have decided that atheists really know a god exists and are just angry at him. Which is odd, because everyone knows that there are no Christians, just people who have too much hubris and are angry at Zeus.

    Good thing we’re all just simulated people on a computer somewhere who are too angry at being simulations to ever act like we believe it.

  • http://jw-thoughts.blogspot.com/ John

    So you deleted my post. Because what I said was offense or was it too convictive?

    • DrewTwoFish

      You’re new here, aren’t you?

    • http://johnshore.com/ John Shore

      Yes, John, you’re just too powerful for us to handle here. The brightness of your light blinds us.

  • Ray Bagnuolo

    John, enjoyed your comments. You lifted a smile and nod from deeply inside. This time going forward for reconciliation is going to be a real trip, especially now that the prosthetics of separation have been removed – instead of charges and PJC’s, we’re actually being forced to come face-to-face more than ever before. This all could take longer than the last 40 years, but hey who says this isn’t a biblical journey and some of the most important work we may ever do. Peace.

  • Andy

    Laughing and sighing at the same time.

  • Brandon Roberts

    well that’s the hardest i laughed in a long time

  • http://limpingtowardsgrace.com/ James Jarvis

    As humorous and absurd as the claim that gay people seems there is something dark and dangerous at its core. If they can “prove’ that gay people don’t exist then they can do away with need for equal treatment of those in the LGBT community. If the can claim that gay people do not exist, they can then claim they a not bigots. How can you be prejudiced against something that doesn’t exist. Which is odd given the fact that their entire reason for splitting from PC(USA) is that they don’t like gay people.

  • 90Lew90

    My own contention? In the same vein as the claim that homosexuality doesn’t actually exist, it’s often presented as a “lifestyle choice”, to which I must respond that no, homosexuality is a condition of being. Religion is a lifestyle choice. Same-sex relationships were around before religion and unless religion itself isn’t at the core of some apocalyptic, world-destroying war (which is not such an unlikely prospect), same-sex relationships will continue to occur when the religions du jour die out. Roll on that happier day. I don’t mean to offend, but I have to say I can not understand how any half-intelligent and reasonably well-informed adult can hold their head up and say they believe any of the Judeo-Christian-Islamic cant. I don’t understand how anyone can’t see that they are a poison and a bane. And no, Christians and Jews can’t shirk off Islam. They’re three branches of one rotten tree.

    • WilmRoget

      Ah, but you are wrong about religion. Religion is the outward manifestation of an inward spiritual orientation toward the Divine, just as sexual acts are the outward manifestation of an inward sexual orientation to one’s own gender, the opposite gender, both, or not at all.

      “Same-sex relationships were around before religion”

      That’s a nice fantasy and all, but unless you are some 200,000 years old, at least, it is just a guess.

      ” don’t understand how anyone can’t see that they are a poison and a bane.”

      Homophobes say the same thing regarding homosexuality, and racists say the same thing about people of ‘that race’. Basically, bigots cannot understand how anyone doesn’t see things their way.

      • 90Lew90

        Thanks for your reply. I’m sure you didn’t intend to be so patronising.

        “Religion is the outward manifestation of an inward spiritual orientation toward the Divine”.

        Apart from the fact that we have no objective evidence of “the Divine” whatsoever, the “outward manifestation” that you speak of — religion — is still a choice. Why Christianity? Why not Hinduism, Buddhism, Judaism, Islam? Or any of the other myriad outward manifestations? Hasn’t it occurred to you that the more plausible explanation for what I would call the spiritual impulse (while not implying the existence of anything supernatural or even outside of the self) is an evolved coping mechanism, much like morality is in-built?

        You say that my assertion that homosexuality was around before religion is a “fantasy”. Well, no. As an evolved species, we will have been having sex since before we had language. Religion requires language. Our close cousins, bonobos, don’t have language, but they exhibit lots of same-sex relationships which are given sexual expression. There is no reason to suppose we are any different. Sex does not need language. Religion does. And since we’ve had any kind of recorded history, same-sex relationships have figured as part of what it is to be human. It’s also been observed in some 30,000 other species. Read some anthropology.

        Racists and homophobes are fundamentally wrong because they are basically deniers, or haters, or in fear, of reality. The same can not be said of someone who levels criticism at religious belief, for the simple reason that religious belief is political. It is based on ideas. There is a marketplace for ideas where they can be defended and attacked on the basis of their relatives strengths and weaknesses. I’m afraid that in the marketplace of ideas, religion falls under the slightest scrutiny. Not for nothing does “Islam” translate as “submission”. Not for nothing in Christianity are you required to take a “leap of faith”. “Faith” is key here. You may intuitively know that it’s ridiculous to believe, but in submitting, you feel yourself to be strengthened. This is true of any faith. But the Abrahamic traditions are crude. At least the great Eastern traditions, even when stripped of their mythologies, still leave you with efficacious practices such as meditation. And thus they are more peaceful on the whole. The Abrahamic religions just leave a trail of blood everywhere they go. So I’m afraid we’re going to have to agree to disagree.

        • WilmRoget

          “I’m sure you didn’t intend to be so patronising.”

          I was not patronizing, so I wonder why you’ve lead off with ad hominem.

          “Apart from the fact that we have no objective evidence of “the Divine” whatsoever,”

          Now that is not a very objective assertion. Please, prove that we – did you mean you and I, or all of humanity by that we, or was it a royal we referring to yourself – have no evidence that is not influenced by personal feelings or opinions in considering and representing facts, regarding the existence of the Divine.

          “that you speak of — religion — is still a choice.”

          As is sexual expression. One of the many parallels between the prejudice atheism and the prejudice homophobia, is that both use the issue of choice to justify declaring something invalid.

          ” Why Christianity?”

          Why English? Why oral sex? Why chocolate ice cream?

          “Hasn’t it occurred to you ”

          Hadn’t it occurred to you that I have considered your unsubstantiated hypothesis, tested it, and found it wanting? Or did you just presume, perhaps based on your self, that I have not considered things?

          “an evolved coping mechanism,”

          Of course, one could argue that your contemptuous dismissal of people’s experiences of the Divine as a coping mechanism, is simply a coping mechanism on your part, a construct that enables you to cope with your lack of experience of the Divine.

          “much like morality is in-built?”

          Present evidence then. Start with quarks, the smallest confirmed unit of existence, and using only the established laws of existence – physics, chemistry, the hard sciences, arrive at ‘stealing is wrong’.

          “You say that my assertion that homosexuality was around before religion is a “fantasy”. Well, no.”

          Nope. It is a fantasy.

          “we will have been having sex since before we had language. Religion requires language.”

          Lots of very unscientific presumptions in that. Let’s start with the fact that you are still focused on the outward expression, religion, while the core of the issue is the inward orientation. Then you have the problem of defining language, which from your subsequent sentences, you appear to be defining very narrowly, so narrowly in fact, that your claim ‘religion requires language’ is an out right lie.

          “Our close cousins, bonobos, don’t have language,”

          That depends on how narrowly one defines language. You should be careful, because the use of too narrow a definition of language played a strong role in racism. Bonobo’s don’t have as complex a spoken language as humans, but research indicates that they have an appropriately rich language of sounds, body language, hand signs and postures to communicate to each other.

          So either your definition of language is so narrow that you have denigrated deaf people who rely on ASL to communicate, or you are wrong again about Bonobo’s.

          And just because we do not currently understand what Bonobo’s, or any other species communicate to each other, is no reason to assume that they do not have spirituality and spiritual experiences to communicate.

          “Religion does.”

          No, it does not. Now, there may be some very narrow definition of religion and language that you use to fabricate a fraudulent claim, but no, religion does not need language.

          “Read some anthropology.”

          Nice condescension there. I’ve read a great deal. I’ve clearly read a bit more about Bonobo’s than you have, and other species known to possess “communication of meaning in any way; medium that is expressive, significant,”, than you have.

          “Racists and homophobes are fundamentally wrong because they are basically deniers, or haters, or in fear, of reality.”

          As are atheists. You and your peers deny reality.

          ” The same can not be said of someone who levels criticism at religious belief,”

          Sure it can be said. I just did. Many people have said so.

          But the bigger flaw is that your reason for calling homophobes and racists wrong is subjective, it is dependent on your understanding of reality. In their understanding, they are right.

          “for the simple reason that religious belief is political.”

          No, it is not. Oh, I suppose some dishonest person could really stretch ‘pertaining to citizens’ to make religious belief fit, but such casuistry is not helpful.

          “It is based on ideas.”

          No, religion is based on experience. Atheism is based on ideas. Philosophy is based on ideas. One could argue that many of the arts are based on ideas.

          “I’m afraid that in the marketplace of ideas, religion falls under the slightest scrutiny.”

          That is your opinion, of course, but it is based on a number of false assertions and false assumptions. In fact, your idea has fallen under slight scrutiny.

          “Not for nothing in Christianity are you required to take a “leap of faith”. “Faith” is key here.”

          Like nearly all of your peers, you either do not know how that word is used in Christianity, or you deliberately misrepresent it, or both. Perhaps that is why poll after poll shows that most people, including atheists, find it hard to have faith in, trust, atheists.

          You see, faith in Christianity is not in the idea that God exists. Christians’ place their faith in God’s nature, God’s character. Those who have yet to experience God personally, have faith in the humans in their life who have experienced God, in the character of those people who testify to experiencing God.

          You, and your peers, choose not to believe people of faith when we talk about our experiences of the Divine, you choose not to trust us, you choose not to have faith in our character.

          That in turn reveals your character, for you can only be trusted as much as you trust others. Which could likely explain why so many polls show that most people, including atheists, distrust atheists.

          “You may intuitively know that it’s ridiculous to believe, but in submitting, you feel yourself to be strengthened.”

          Once again, your derogatory fantasy, which has no basis in my experiences, of those of any person of faith I know, parallel the fantasies that homophobes tell about homosexuals extremely closely. In fact, your sentence above is almost identical to an argument someone else used to dismiss homosexuality.

          “This is true of any faith.”

          No, and certainly not on your say so.

          “But the Abrahamic traditions are crude.”

          That statement sends a very clear message about you – either you are utterly dishonest, or you are completely ignorant about Christianity, Judaism and Islam. All three are deeply nuanced, refined and multi-layered bodies of knowledge. I suspect that you are simply being crude, derogatory, to puff yourself up.

          “still leave you with efficacious practices such as meditation.”

          Your ignorance about the Abrahamic faiths is astounding, if you sincerely think they lack practices like meditation.

          “And thus they are more peaceful on the whole.”

          You really should stop making things up out of thin air. And you don’t want to raise the issue of violence, considering the millions slaughtered in half a century under atheist regimes.

          ” The Abrahamic religions just leave a trail of blood everywhere they go.”

          No. Humans do. Humans of every creed leave a trail of blood. But again, you are simply being sadistic and degrading for the sake of your ego.

          The really ironic thing about atheists is that they present themselves as so wise, so supreme in their cognitive abilities, that they alone have figured out that all of the rest of humanity is wrong about our experiences, and that they, through these allegedly superior cognitive abilities, have deduced the true nature of existence –

          and yet

          and yet, when told that atheism is a prejudice, they cannot help but rely on insults to defend atheism, even though insults and prejudices serve the same psycho-social purpose: denigrate other people to elevate one’s perceived social status.

          How is it that you think you can know the very nature of existence better than everyone else – and yet – cannot figure out that tossing out degrading insults only demonstrates bias and malice on your part?

          • 90Lew90

            I’ve just scanned through this and your last paragraph is enough of a crescendo of strawman for me. But I’ll give you five minutes to take it from the top. To address this stuff point-by-point would be to expend time I don’t have.

            I said we have no *objective* evidence of the divine whatsoever, to which you replied: “Now that is not a very objective assertion. Please, prove that we – did you mean you and I, or all of humanity by that we, or was it a royal we referring to yourself – have no evidence that is not influenced by personal feelings or opinions in considering and representing facts, regarding the existence of the Divine.”

            “Personal feelings or opinions” are subjective. Not objective. And even people’s subjective feelings or opinions, no matter how deeply felt, are just that: subjective. No matter how deeply felt, individuals still cannot provide any evidence that their feelings or opinions about their god in any way validate or confirm the existence of that god.

            If you’ll excuse me, I’m not going to bother with the rest of your post, having read your conclusion, because you appear to have worked yourself up into a frenzy of nonsense and it’s getting late here, and I’ve had a drink. Maybe I’ll tackle it tomorrow. If not, sorry you wasted so much time. But then… You’ve got eternity. I don’t.

          • WilmRoget

            “your last paragraph is enough of a crescendo of strawman for me.”

            So, you ‘scanned’ rather than make a real effort, and come to a dismissive, and false conclusion.

            ” To address this stuff point-by-point would be to expend time I don’t have.”

            Yeah, other bigots pull the same stunt. See, you are not really here to discuss, you are here to denigrate.

            “I said we have . . .”Personal feelings or opinions” are subjective.”

            So you have no evidence for your claim, and you didn’t even understand the question.

            ” individuals still cannot provide any evidence that their feelings or
            opinions about their god in any way validate or confirm the existence of
            that god.”

            Nor can you provide any evidence that your feelings or opinions in any way validate or confirm the non-existence of God. Do you understand that? You cannot meet the standard you impose on people of faith.

            That alone is proof of bias, prejudice, on your part.

            “If you’ll excuse me, I’m not going to bother with the rest of your post,”

            There is no excuse.

            “because you appear to have worked yourself up into a frenzy of nonsense”

            Nice insult, but, it is empty noise because, after all, you said you only scanned, so you clearly cannot and do not have an accurate understanding.

            Once again, you present yourself as knowing better than everyone else not only the truth about their experiences, but about existence itself,

            and yet

            you don’t, can’t or won’t learn that your use of insults demonstrates bias and malice.

            What you don’t have,

            is a substantive argument.

          • lrfcowper

            I think there are two atheisms. There are people like my atheist friends who simply have reviewed the evidence for God and have concluded it is insufficient to compel them. They aren’t atheists to feel superior, they just don’t find theistic evidence to be sufficient, but recognise that others, with different criteria of belief and a different set of subjective evidence at their disposal, have reached different conclusions.

            Then there are the fundamentalist atheists who not only have concluded that the evidence for God is insufficient for them, but that it is insufficient for everyone and that their criteria of what constitutes a sufficient level of evidence is the criteria that everyone, everywhere, and throughout history should use. Those are the folks who give atheists a bad name because before they even open their mouths they have already privileged their own perspective and dismissed any other perspective as inferior and suspect.

            It’s really only the fundamentalist atheists who pull the drive-by Christian bashing on progressive Christian blogs. The other kind pretty much only comment because they actually have something to say about the blog post topic itself.

          • BarbaraR

            Exactly right.

          • WilmRoget

            Isn’t that just a variation of the ‘there two homophobias’ argument, used by people who actively vote against the civil rights of GLBTQ people to distinguish themselves from Fred Phelps?

            While the outward manifestation is different between the two kinds of homophobes or the two kinds of atheists, isn’t the essential belief the same?

          • lrfcowper

            Not really, no. I mean, to some extent we *all* regard our own perspective, biases, evidential criteria, and subjective evidence as being superior to everyone else’s, but most of us recognize that that’s rather silly. If someone else had the exact same perspective, biases, evidential criteria, and subjective evidence, they would be me, and God and the world don’t need two mes.

            I’ve met Christians whose evidential criteria was personally horrifying (as in lost-your-brain-in-the-baptistry horrifying). I’ve met atheists who, when prodded (because they aren’t evangelical about their atheism so you had to know them a while to even know they were atheist and longer still to get them to talk about it), just had slightly higher criteria requirements and/or a different set of subjective experiences to draw from. As one friend said, “I’m an atheist for the same reason you’re not an Odin worshipper. I’ve just got one more deity than you have that I’m not convinced about.”

          • WilmRoget

            Well, your first paragraph really doesn’t address the point I raised. Your ‘two kinds of atheism’ is simply the same excuse that homophobes use, a ‘two kinds of homophobia’ defense. They ‘don’t believe in homosexuality’, but ‘they’re not like Fred Phelps’.

            “As one friend said, “I’m an atheist for the same reason you’re not an Odin worshipper. I’ve just got one more deity than you have that I’m not convinced about.”‘

            And that’s a lovely, false characterization of the situation, but it really doesn’t address the issue. What real difference is there between people who denigrate another group of people politely, and people who denigrate the same people viciously?

          • lrfcowper

            > Well, your first paragraph really doesn’t address the
            > point I raised. Your ‘two kinds of atheism’ is simply the
            > same excuse that homophobes use, a ‘two kinds of
            > homophobia’ defense. They ‘don’t believe in
            > homosexuality’, but ‘they’re not like Fred Phelps’.

            Actually, it’s more like the difference between being heterosexual and, therefore, personally disinterested in same-gender relationships, and being a homophobe/heterosexist who believes their personal orientation re. relationships with others is superior and should be taken up by everyone else regardless of their orientation re. relationships with others.

            I mean, I’m completely disinterested in having a romantic or sexual relationship with a woman. Just not on the table. I don’t find it repugnant. I’m just not interested. Women don’t give me that little buzz, that little thrill, that men do. But I also recognise that there are women unlike me who do find other women romantically and sexually appealing. And I’m happy when they find someone who fulfills them.

            Likewise, I have atheist friends who are not interested in a relationship with a supernatural being because they do not find compelling evidence that such a being even exists. It’s just not on the table for them. But they have friends like me who do find relationship with the divine compelling. And they’re happy that such faith fulfills their friends.

            And that’s it. That’s the whole of their atheism. The world is full of such atheists.

            The trick is the self-focused idiots who don’t understand that everyone else isn’t them and that what they find personally fulfilling and repugnant isn’t a universal experience. That’s when you get heterosexuals who are also homophobes. That’s when you get Christians who are also Islamophobes. That’s when you get atheists who are also anti-theists.

            But painting people who don’t personally find the existence of God compelling with the same brush as people who find others’ belief in the existence of God offensive is like conflating heterosexuals and homophobes, or all Christians and fundamentalist whackjobs.

            My atheist friends (I can think of about a dozen right now just off the top of my head) have never once denigrated anyone’s faith– politely or otherwise. That isn’t what their belief is about any more than my belief is about telling them or my pagan friends or my Jewish friends or my Muslim friends or my Buddhist friends or my Shinto friends that they’re going to hell if they don’t shape up and believe what I believe.

            In fact, I’ve had some of the absolute best conversations of my life with some of them on topics of faith, because I can’t use Christianese– I have to give my beliefs some actual thought and use real words. And never once have they said (or acted like they thought), “Well, that’s just stupid.” I’ve had, “I like that,” and “I’d never thought of that,” and “Oh, now I understand,” and “I don’t think I quite agree with that, but that’s interesting,” and, of course, “Here’s what I think/believe.” I love those conversations. My faith experience has been immensely enriched by my atheist friends (and by those of other faiths).

            Now, this isn’t to say that what the current crowd of drive-by atheist Christian-bashers have posted isn’t bigoted drivel, but it’s not because they’re atheists, but because they’re anti-theists, just like the drive-by fundie gay-bashers’ drivel isn’t drivel because it’s quoting the Bible or claiming a Christian theology behind it, but because it’s homophobic.

            Just like not all Christians are bigoted fundamentalists, not all atheists are bigoted anti-theists.

            When I see someone on here claiming they’re the same, well, it makes me hesitant to share these posts on my FB wall, because it makes this a very unwelcoming space to my atheist friends. And then I don’t get those awesome conversations and see where they’ve shared these posts on their FB and gotten to have conversations with their awesome friends of many disparate beliefs.

            And I hate that.

          • WilmRoget

            “Actually, it’s more like the difference between being heterosexual . . .”

            But again, that doesn’t really address the issue either.

            ” because they do not find compelling evidence that such a being even exists.”

            Ah, like the way many homophobes do not find compelling evidence that homosexuality exists.

            “But painting people who don’t personally find the existence of God compelling with the same brush as people who find others’ belief in the existence of God offensive is like conflating heterosexuals and homophobes, ”

            No. For one thing, the characterization “find others’ belief in the existence of God offensive” is more than a little strained and narrow. Many of the nastiest atheists online insist that they are not offended by people’s belief in God, they just think we are delusional, brainwashed, etc.

            Further, the two states of atheism are both constructed points of view, but heterosexuality is an innate state of being, and homophobia is a constructed point of view. So the comparison is not accurate.

            “My atheist friends (I can think of about a dozen right now just off the top of my head) have never once denigrated anyone’s faith– politely or otherwise.”

            I’ve heard the same about people’s homophobic friends, the ones who just ‘don’t believe in homosexuality’. My contention, from standing in the middle and hearing all of the variety from both sides, atheists and homophobes, is that homophobia and atheism are essentially the same mechanism, but targeting different people.

            “Just like not all Christians are bigoted fundamentalists, not all atheists are bigoted anti-theists.”

            And again, that is not an accurate comparison. All homophobes, however are bigots, and my contention is that all atheists are bigots, because both homophobia and atheism are intrinsically prejudices.

            ” because it makes this a very unwelcoming space to my atheist friends.”

            Of course, atheists posting across political and science websites have made those places very unwelcoming for people of faith, even progressive ones. And homophobes routinely complain that sites that allow rebuke of homophobia make them feel unwelcome.

          • lrfcowper

            They are both intrinsically prejudices because you have defined atheism to mean the prejudice that belief in God is delusional or illogical. It’s a circular definition, therefore, you are always right by your circular definition.

            It’s the same as people who insist that “Christian” means “someone who takes a fundamentalist, literalist view of the Bible and, therefore, believes (among other things) that gay people are inherently sinful” and then uses that definition to prove that Christians are bigots. Well, of course, using their definition, all Christians are bigots.

            And by your definition, all atheists are bigots because it’s built into your definition.

            But just like I can be a Christian and not be a bigot, because the definition the bashers are using is wrong, a person can be an atheist and not be a bigot because the definition you are using is *wrong*.

            You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means.

            Just as bigoted Christian fundamentalists have tried to claim they are the only “real” Christians, anti-theists have tried to claim they are the true atheists. Don’t believe them. They have a bigoted agenda and they are trying to pump up their perceived political power by claiming to speak for all atheists in the same way Franklin Graham claims to speak for all Christians. You accepting their claiming the word “atheist” cedes them power they neither have nor deserve.

            And, no, atheists posting across various websites have not made those sites unwelcoming to people of faith. *Anti-theists* posting across those site made them unwelcoming.

          • WilmRoget

            “They are both intrinsically prejudices because you have defined atheism to mean the prejudice that belief in God is delusional or illogical.”

            No, I have not. And if you continue to misrepresent my position at me, I am going to begin to have serious doubts about the sincerity of your arguments.

            “It’s a circular definition, therefore, you are always right by your circular definition.”

            It is a false characterization, and bit of an ad hominem.

            “It’s the same as people who insist that “Christian” means “someone who takes a fundamentalist, literalist view of the Bible”

            No, it is not. Atheism has only one tenet. Christianity has many.

            “And by your definition, all atheists are bigots because it’s built into your definition.”

            Or, it is built into atheism. You’ve made an unfounded accusation against me. It would be more honest for you to demonstrate that atheism is not a prejudice.

            ” a person can be an atheist and not be a bigot because the definition you are using is *wrong*.”

            Your burden then is to prove, not just assert, that my definition is wrong. One way to do that is provide examples of atheists who do not hold “any preconceived opinion or feeling, either favorable or unfavorable” about Christians. Bear in mind, concluding without experience that someone else’s experience is wrong, is a preconceived opinion.

            “You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means.”

            Your insulting dismissal is rapidly eroding your credibility. I must insist that you prove, beyond a reasonable doubt, that I have used the word incorrectly. Which ever word you meant, since you were not clear.

            “Just as bigoted Christian fundamentalists have tried to claim they are the only “real” Christians, anti-theists have tried to claim they are the true atheists.”

            Again, your comparison is not accurate, bordering on dishonest. Fundamentalist Christians have considerable diversity on many subjects, you have not demonstrated any appreciable difference between anti-theists and atheists. Bear in mind, the term anti-theist isn’t in the dictionaries. When I search for anti-theist, I get
            “Did you mean atheist?”

            http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/anti-theist?s=t

            So you’ve used the terms – kindly define and demonstrate a tangible difference between the two. So far, it seems there is less difference between atheist and anti-theist, than between homophobe and heterosexist. Or perhaps, that atheist and anti-theist correlate to homophobe and f**basher. Either way, still no significant difference.

            “And, no, atheists posting across various websites have not made those sites unwelcoming to people of faith.”

            Yes, they have. It is not helpful for you to summarily dismiss the real experiences of people I know and talk to, conversations online that I have witnessed, in which people who identify as atheist, not anti-theist, revile, other, and dehumanize people of faith. The two who appeared here did not identify as anti-theist, but as atheist.

          • lrfcowper

            Seriously? Prove that atheism is a not a prejudice? How the hell do you expect me to prove a negative? So far as I know, there are no telepathy devices which will allow me to show what an atheist is thinking.

            And there is no difference between a homophobe and a heterosexist. That’s why I used *both* to refer to a person who is prejudiced against gay people. I don’t tend to call prejudice against gay people “homophobia” much because you get idiots who decide to argue that they aren’t *afraid* of gay people, so the term doesn’t apply. Blahblahblah, semantic derailment. So I use heterosexist because its meaning is readily apparent and it doesn’t come with the “but I’m not afraid of gay people!” baggage.

            Likewise, I would presume the meaning of anti-theist should be readily apparent to anyone with a passing familiarity with how English words are built– “a-” means “not” so “atheist” means “not a theist” (with theist meaning a belief in (a) divine being(s)); “anti-” means “against or opposed to” so “anti-theist” would mean “against or opposed to theism/theists”. Voila! Same way we create “anti-gay”, “anti-LGBT”, “anti-feminist”, etc. I suppose one could also construct theophobe and several other terms to convey the sense of someone who is prejudiced against a belief in god(s), but I was pretty sure anti-theist was clear enough, especially given I defined it in context.

            ‘”And, no, atheists posting across various websites have not made those sites unwelcoming to people of faith.”
            Yes, they have. It is not helpful for you to summarily dismiss the real experiences of people I know and talk to, conversations online that I have witnessed, in which people who identify as atheist, not anti-theist, revile, other, and dehumanize people of faith. The two who appeared here did not identify as anti-theist, but as atheist.’

            Well, of course they identify as atheist. Just like a fundie Christian doesn’t drop by a conversation and go, “Hi, I’m a homophobic fundamentalist Christian bigot” but simply says they’re a Christian, a fundamentalist anti-theist bigot is just going to say they’re an atheist.

            And it’s not helpful for you to summarily dismiss the real experiences of mine as to what real, honest atheists tell me about their lives and their beliefs, and how I see them treat their fellow human beings.

            Look, I’ve seen Christians, pagans, atheists, Jews, Muslims, Republicans, Democrats, Libertarians, Socialists, video gamers, SF fans, musicians, knitters, cat people, dog people, sports nuts, able-bodied people, disabled people, men, women, gay people, straight people, bi and pan people, trans people, cis people, black people, white people, Asian people, hispanic people, Middle Easterners, Americans, Canadians, Brits, Saudis, Israelis, Australians, Palestinians, Syrians, Germans, Czechs, Brazilians, French people, Mexicans, Chileans, Italians, and other nationalities I’m forgetting all post really vile things on the internet somewhere or another. And in none of those cases have I ever felt it was a reflection on the moral character of everyone who fell into a certain class with them.

            Simple fact is, there are some atheists who are dicks because they’ve decided that atheism is for everybody, and anyone who doesn’t agree with them is an imbecile. There are also Christians who are dicks because they’ve decided that Christianity is for everybody, and anyone who doesn’t agree with them is an imbecile. There are also Muslims who are dicks because they’ve decided that Islam is for everybody, and anyone who doesn’t agree with them is an imbecile. Need I go on?

            And every one of those is going to claim they are representing the whole group, that they are the real Christians/atheists/Muslims/etc. because they want the respect and regard that comes with being the mouthpieces of the whole shebang.

            I, for one, refuse to give them that power, because they are dicks and they don’t deserve it.

          • WilmRoget

            “Seriously? Prove that atheism is a not a prejudice?”

            Yes, seriously. But I will settle for demonstrating that there is any real distinction between your alleged two kinds of atheism. That is the real issue after all.

            “And there is no difference between a homophobe and a heterosexist.”

            You are catching on. There is no difference between an atheist and an anti-theist.

            ” I would presume”

            So you don’t have any actual evidence.

            “so “atheist” means “not a theist””

            No. According to dictionaries it means: “a person who denies or disbelieves the existence of a supreme being or beings.”

            “Well, of course they identify as atheist.”

            Thank you for admitting that you were wrong before. That is helpful.

            “And it’s not helpful for you to summarily dismiss the real experiences of mine”

            Thank you. Your umbrage demonstrates that point at the heart of my argument about atheism. Your offended that your unsubstantiated claim was not believed.

            And I politely requested one example to substantiate your claim, and you provided a lot of anything else.

            “And in none of those cases have I ever felt it was a reflection on the moral character of everyone who fell into a certain class with them.”

            So your feelings determine what everyone feels? Look, there are GLBTQ people who say that they are not offended by Bryan Fisher’s rants, for example. It does not make his hate speech against GLBTQ people any less offensive.

            “Need I go on?”

            Only if you want to further discredit yourself. You are using the same tactic to defend atheism, that homophobes have been using for decades to defend homophobia. Oh, they say, our belief isn’t really a prejudice, those people like Fred Phelps are just bad people anyways.”

            I’m not buying it.

            You have not demonstrated any fundamental difference between atheists and anti-theists, a category that apparently is in addition to your two kinds of atheists.

          • WilmRoget

            “to summarily dismiss the real experiences of mine”

            I tried a little experiment on the discussion boards at certain retailer. Atheists there insisted that disbelieving someone’s testimony about their experiences was not offensive, insulting, degrading, etc.

            So, when ever one of them made a “I feel” or “I like” or a “I love” statement – I quoted it and said “I don’t believe you, there is no tangible evidence to support your assertion”.

            And they got extremely angry. Obscenity flinging angry in some cases.

            There is an intrinsic offense in saying to someone ‘I don’t believe you’, when you have no evidence that they are wrong.

            Atheists fully expect to be believed when they speak of their non-concrete experiences, like “I like pizza” or “I’m feeling sad”, but they choose, refuse, don’t believe people of faith when we speak of our non-concrete experiences of the Divine.

            That is bias, prejudice. Atheism is a prejudice.

          • lrfcowper

            Um, no. They aren’t rejecting “I like pizza,” they’re rejecting “Pizza is delicious.” Millions of people have lived experiences that pizza is delicious. It does not make people who say, “I don’t think is pizza is delicious,” bigots. It makes them people who have had experiences that pizza, for them, is not delicious.

            I have allergies to grapes, cucumbers, melon, kiwi, lichi, pineapple, and seafood. For me personally, cucumber sandwiches, fruit salad with any of the above, lobster bisque, and so on are not good food. But the day my hubby’s boss invited us out to dinner during Lent for all-you-can-eat lobster and the hubby ate 7 lobsters (while I had steak), I did not doubt that he was enjoying himself, even though I would have been throwing up all over the table with the first bite.

            My personal experience and preferences DO NOT mean I am denigrating the lived experience of millions of other people. It means that I am not them and they are not me.

            Millions of people find belief in ghosts, auras, chi, aliens abductions, etc. compelling. I don’t. My lived experiences and consideration of the scientific facts lead me to reject belief in any of them. That isn’t intrinsically bigoted or prejudiced. That’s simply being human and forming your own opinions based on your own individual criteria. Just because millions of people believe something doesn’t mean it is right. Millions of people once believed the earth was flat and that the whole universe orbited around it. That doesn’t mean Galileo was prejudiced when he rejected those.

            I suffer from sleep paralysis with hypnogagic hallucinations of a malign presence. Millions of people throughout history have considered that personal experience as evidence of the existence of night hags, incubi, and aliens. I don’t. I think it’s a neurological misfiring. Does that indicate that I’m prejudiced or bigoted against those who believe in night hags, incubi, or aliens?

            *All* of us reject ideas that are held by millions of people based on their own personal experiences. You can’t accept every idea that a large majority of the population believes.

          • WilmRoget

            “Um, no. They aren’t rejecting “I like pizza,” they’re rejecting “Pizza is delicious.” ”

            Your distinction is false.

            “My personal experience and preferences DO NOT mean I am denigrating the lived experience of millions of other people.”

            Some of them might. However, when you assert that someone else is wrong about his or her experiences, you are denigrating them personally. And if you expect that your personal experiences are to be accepted as accurate, but other people’s are intrinsically wrong, that is bias.

            ” That isn’t intrinsically bigoted or prejudiced.”

            Actually, it is. You haven’t experienced something, so they must be wrong somehow.

            “Does that indicate that I’m prejudiced or bigoted against those who believe in night hags, incubi, or aliens?’

            Yes. And there’s a case to be made that in doing so, you are violating Christ’s law of love.

            When you leap the extreme ‘every’, it signals that you have no actually useful rebuttal.

          • WilmRoget

            I do understand your reluctance. As I said, this conversation happened over and over again, and in a way continues to happen, regarding anti-gay theology/homophobia and prejudice.

            When folks like me started sharing with progressive heterosexual Christians, and moderates, and mainstream heterosexuals, we ran into this issue. Even when they grasped that anti-gay theology was erroneous, or once they did, a vast majority resisted making the intrinsic connection from ‘the belief that homosexuality is sin is not Scripturally accurate’ to ‘the condemnation of homosexuals is a real and destructive prejudice’.

            Making that connection meant realizing things about themselves, or loved ones, friends, that they did not want to face. It meant acknowledging that they had been prejudiced, or that Uncle Joe, or their sister, or mom, or dad, was prejudiced.

            Heck, a lot of GLBTQ people struggled with it, we didn’t want to see people we loved as having that particular fault. We didn’t want to see it in our selves, since so many of us, growing up in this homophobic culture had a homophobic phase. We made excuses for them and our selves. They made excuses for each other. None of that helps.

            To heal a prejudice, it has to be recognized. To heal them all, they all have to be recognized.

          • WilmRoget

            One more point for you to ponder, if you will.

            I had and witnessed the same basic conversation that we’re having, over and over again, with heterosexual progressive and moderate, mainline Christians, twenty years ago when GLBTQ people started talking about homophobia as a prejudice.

            We were told then ‘it is not a prejudice, it is a sincerely held religious belief’ – some people still try that.

            And to this day, homophobes are asserting ‘I’m not a bigot, I don’t kill gays and lesbians’ two paragraphs after they cite Leviticus 20:13 at us. Or they say “I’m not prejudiced against gays, I just don’t believe in that lifestyle choice”, and then compare us to rapists.

            So, no, using the same arguments that have been used to argue ‘homophobia is not a prejudice’ are not going to help you show that atheism is not a prejudice. You’ll have to go to the heart, the message, what atheism actually communicates, and show that that message does not communicate bias.

          • lrfcowper

            But I’m not making the same argument. I’m saying your claim as to what they believe is incorrect.

            You say, “Atheists believe that those who believe in God are deluded.”

            I say, “Atheists lack belief in a God or gods.”

            The first is a prejudice because it is directed at dismissing or demeaning other people. The second is simply a personal belief. It is not directed at people at all (other than maybe people like Jim Jones or David Koresh who believe they are God).

            Let me ask you, do you think all asexuals are bigoted against non-asexuals because they are disinterested in or not compelled by sexual drives? Then why are atheists bigots just because they are disinterested in or not compelled by spiritual drives?

          • WilmRoget

            “But I’m not making the same argument. ”

            And yet you actually are. Take it from someone who has stood in the middle for all of his adult life.

            “I’m saying your claim as to what they believe is incorrect.’

            And you are wrong. You made a false claim about what my claim is.

            “You say, “Atheists believe that those who believe in God are deluded.”

            That is not what I have asserted. Again, when you deliberately misrepresent my argument, it reflects very poorly on you. My argument is that atheism intrinsically rejects as false the testimony of most of humanity about their own experiences – without any evidence to support that rejection. That demonstrates bias at least, and most frequently, malice.

            “I say, “Atheists lack belief in a God or gods.””

            And that is a falsely limited characterization of atheism. Further, because that lack of belief is not based on experience, but lack of experience, while belief in God by any name is based on experience, atheism is fundamentally a negative assertion about the integrity and character of people of faith.

            Bear in mind, many homophobes describe themselves by saying ‘I don’t believe in homosexuality’.

            “The second is simply a personal belief.”

            As is “I don’t believe in homosexuality’. Now you identified as heterosexual so maybe you don’t get how offensive “I don’t believe in homosexuality” intrinsically is. But you did get it when I challenged you to substantiate your testimony about atheists who merely say “I have not experienced . . .” and nothing more. So you should get it, even a ‘simple belief’ can be intrinsically degrading and dehumanizing, even a simple belief can demonstrate overt bias.

            “Let me ask you, do you think all asexuals”

            Let me ask you – what you do hope to accomplish with false comparisons?

          • lrfcowper

            Okay, so if I reject Islam, have I intrinsically rejected as false the testimony of millions of humans about their own experiences? Am I bigoted against Muslims because I do not share their experiences?

            Why is my rejection of Odin, Zeus, Mithras, Baal, the Muslim understanding of Allah, Amaterasu, Vishnu, Cernunnos, Jupiter, Ikenga, Quetzalcoatl, Chaac, Nanuk, Tirawa, Eingana, Pele, and everyone else but Yahweh not bigoted, even though it ignores the lived experience of billions of human beings throughout history, but the atheist who adds Yahweh to the list is suddenly a bigot?

            And the asexual / atheist comparison is not false. One has a sexual orientation, the other a spiritual orientation, that is outside the norm and also often denigrated and denied by those who have sexual / spiritual drives.

          • WilmRoget

            “Okay, so if I reject Islam,”

            Basically, yes. That’s the simplistic answer you want. Now, if you reject some specific teaching by arguing that it is not accurate in some way, that would be different.

            ” but Yahweh not bigoted,”

            It is bigoted. Where did you get the idea that it is not? If you say “Odin does not facilitate or match my experience of the Divine” – and leave it at that, it is not bigotted. But if you say ‘Odin is a false god’ – yeah, that’s bigotted. Its the Tash or Aslan question.

            “And the asexual / atheist comparison is not false.’

            Of course it is. Atheism is a chosen intellectual construct, asexuality is, according to the testimony of asexual, their innate and natural state.

            ” the other a spiritual orientation,”

            Atheism is not a spiritual orientation. One could make a case that Hindu is a spiritual orientation, and Christian is a spiritual orientation, and so on. Atheism is the overt rejection of everyone else’s spiritual experiences based on the lack of any such experiences of one’s own.

            And I suspect that a great many atheists would be deeply offended at having atheism described as a spiritual orientation, since they explicitly and vociferously reject the very existence of “spirit”. And no, asexuals do not reject the existence of sexuality, so don’t even go there.

          • lrfcowper

            So, you are saying you believe every single religious claim of every single deity and their followers ever? That to reject any single religious claim is bigoted?

            Also, how do you know that atheism is not a spiritual orientation, that there is not a neurological condition where a person feels no connection to or interest in the divine? Isaac Asimov pretty much said his atheism was emotionally-based.

            If an atheist says “No deity facilitates or matches my experience of the non-existence of the Divine” – and leaves it at that, is that bigoted? Or is your experience of the divine superior to their experience of the absence of the divine so they must choose some form of theism or be automatically a bigot?

          • WilmRoget

            “So, you are saying”

            Instead of you making up something for me –

            On other faiths, my position is simple: Christianity facilitates my experience of God, the Divine, the Absolute, and gives me a framework for articulating that experience. If some other faith does that for you, I refuse to judge, evaluate, or opine about its validity. If a faith is not helping you experience the Divine, the Absolute, God, and you want to know what helps me, I will share. Tash, Aslan, Odin, Zeus, Pi, if it helps you experience the Divine, and you are not harming others, I don’t have an opinion. Not my place to do so.

            “Also, how do you know that atheism is not a spiritual orientation,”

            I go by the testimony of atheists.”

            “Also, how do you know that atheism is not a spiritual orientation, that
            there is not a neurological condition where a person feels no connection
            to or interest in the divine?”

            You know, given that we’ve used sexual orientation as a parallel, you are bordering on really rude ground there.

            I could give the Biblical answer of course. And I could continue to take you to task for simplistically trivializing asexuality to create this comparison. But lets test the hypothesis instead.

            There are ex-atheists. C.S. Lewis was an atheist, he became not just a Christian, but a very articulate one. There are many people who go through some portion of their life without experiencing the Divine, and then, they suddenly do, often to their chagrin. That kinda works against the ‘orientation’ argument.

            And there are people who start out believing, and lose their belief. Generally, they essentially communicate that they were talked out of it, so to speak – that some ugly theology, or some atrocious behavior, convinced them that either there is no Divine at all, or that a particular body of knowledge about the Divine is wrong. That too, argues against orientation.

            ” Isaac Asimov pretty much said his atheism was emotionally-based.”

            That could be one interpretation of it. But emotionally based is not the same as orientation. It may overlap, but many things that are not perceived as an orientation are emotionally based.

            “If an atheist says “No deity facilitates or matches my experience of the non-existence of the Divine” – and leaves it at that, is that bigoted?”

            You are really reaching there. Has any atheist said that? We could invent hypothetical to hunt all day long.

            ‘Or is your experience of the divine superior’

            Nice ad hominem snark there. It reflects poorly on you.

          • WilmRoget

            Look, you don’t have to take my word for it. Try what I did, as I mentioned earlier.

            Take any prejudice you personally know well enough to recognize as prejudice in all its forms – sexism, misogyny, homophobia, racism, lookism, etc. What ever you know well.

            And then pay attention to all the ways that prejudice is articulated, the messages that are communicated, the intrinsic statement made about the targeted people – in all the ways, strong and mild, vicious and civil, that said prejudice is expressed

            and compare it with all the ways atheism is expressed, strong and mild, vicious and civil, how it is communicated, the messages sent, the intrinsic statement made about people of faith.

            Take as long as you want. I am pretty confident that you’ll eventually conclude that yes, atheism is a prejudice.

            And why am I confident?

            Because 20 years ago, when GLBTQ Christians like me were convincing moderate, mainline, progressive heterosexual Christians that ‘homosexuality is sin’ is not ‘simply a belief’ but a vicious and degrading prejudice – getting them to compare how homophobia was expressed with how racism was/is expressed, convinced them that ‘homosexuality is sin’ articulates a clear prejudice.

            Of course, there are still people today who deny that ‘homosexuality is sin’ articulates a prejudice. There are still people who claim that racism is not a prejudice. But the growing consensus, by looking at the effects and the message, is that both are prejudices.

            And I believe that if you apply the same process to atheism, you will discover that it too is a prejudice.

          • James Walker

            the trouble is that you could apply the same logic and conclude that theism is also a prejudice. we may very well be predisposed as humans to believe one way or another and to feel that our particular belief is the only one that is “correct” for all people. I’m not sure it’s helpful to the dialogue to belabor the point.

            ETA – some people act without any awareness of their own prejudices. these tend to be the self-righteous bigots, regardless of the particular stripe of their bigotry. others are self-aware and make the effort to set their preconceptions aside. these conscientious folks deserve to be engaged in respectful and thoughtful dialogue.

          • WilmRoget

            “the trouble is that you could apply the same logic and conclude that theism is also a prejudice.”

            No. For one thing, theism is not a single tenet belief, atheism is. But some ideas within theism are definitely prejudices.

            ” these conscientious folks deserve to be engaged in respectful and thoughtful dialogue.”

            Now that is an interesting bias. But if we applied that advice to the issue of racism, no progress would ever had been made (and yes, there is clearly what seems like an infinite amount more to be made). If we applied it to homophobia, GLBTQ people would not be allowed to marry today in any of the states it is now legal, no progress would have been made, and probably, some of the people who today rebuke anti-gay theology, would still be defending it. And so too with misogyny and other prejudices.

            If a bias is not identified and challenged, it never goes away.

          • James Walker

            I disagree. I find that the folks who are self-aware of their prejudices are the most willing to permit society to move around them in the direction of more freedom instead of less. They are the ones who say “I personally don’t agree with mixed-race marriages but I realize it’s no skin off my nose if someone else gets one”.

          • James Walker

            and, yes, theism is a single-tenet proposition – that there IS a god or gods. period.

          • WilmRoget

            That is flat out wrong. For one thing, within theism there are many different ways of describing the Divine, and then many different opinions about the nature of the Divine, and how active it is in the physical world. Then there is all the theology about what is permitted and what is not, what is necessary to be right with the Divine, and what it not, and so on.

          • James Walker

            those different ways of describing the Divine make the belief an expansion on the essential proposition of theism, which is that one or more gods exist. the various ways of exploring the nature of the Divine each have their own labels such as polytheism, monotheism, pantheism, panentheism, etc. once you go beyond “God exists” and start adding on “God exists AND is like this…” you’re no longer discussing theism alone.

            in similar fashion, there are expansions on atheism that describe various features of the universe in light of the presumed absence of deity, which is the essential proposition of atheism.

            atheism and theism are, in their basic elements, exactly opposite propositions.

            you WANT to see theism as a big umbrella and atheism as a single monolithic reaction to that. wanting it to be that way doesn’t make it true.

          • WilmRoget

            “you’re no longer discussing theism alone.”

            Wrong.

            “you WANT to see theism as a big umbrella and atheism as a single monolithic reaction to that.”

            Nope. You are attempting to reduce the complexity and nuance of religion to the simplicity of atheism.

          • lrfcowper

            Yeah, see, I’ve looked at the way anti-theist prejudice is articulated– I’ve been a Christian for 42 years and was an early adopter of the internet and before that of local dial-up forums and a member of science fiction fandom, which is atheist-heavy– and it’s not the same way that atheist identity is articulated. If it was, I wouldn’t have over a dozen atheist friends whose presence and thoughts on issues of faith I truly treasure.

          • WilmRoget

            So you’ve allegedly done something else entirely different from what I suggested.

            And you have yet to provide anything at all to demonstrate any difference between atheists and anti-theists. Atheists and anti-theists are like jalapenos and scotch bonnets. The second is a lot harder for most people to swallow, but in the end, they are both chili peppers.

            “If it was, I wouldn’t have over a dozen atheist friends whose presence and thoughts on issues of faith I truly treasure.”

            I’ve heard that same line from people about the homophobic friends in their life. It does not change anything about anti-gay prejudice.

          • lrfcowper

            Also, Saddam Hussein liked kittens, therefore kittens are teh EVOLS!

            Please, stop making fallacious arguments by association. Please, stop moving the goalposts. Please, stop trying to shift the burden of proof. Please, stop with the “no true Scotsman” claims.

            Recognising that certain experiences are subjective and that they do not match your own subjective experience is NOT THE SAME as saying they are false. Going with your own subjective experience instead of trying to squish your brain and emotions into accepting something that does not make sense to you is not bigotry. Accepting your own nature in regards your relationship with spirituality is not prejudicial toward those whose spiritual nature is different. Being honest with others about your own understanding of the universe and your place in it is not unethical.

          • WilmRoget

            “Please, stop making fallacious arguments by association.”

            Since I’m not doing that, how can I stop?

            “Please, stop moving the goalposts. Please, stop trying to shift the
            burden of proof. Please, stop with the “no true Scotsman” claims.”

            I’m not doing any of those things. Maybe you should back up your accusations though, with quotes.

            ‘Recognising that certain experiences are subjective and that they do not match your own subjective experience is NOT THE SAME as saying they are false.”

            And again, that is not the issue. I think you should apply the request you falsely made at me, to yourself.

            “Being honest with others about your own understanding of the universe and your place in it is not unethical.”

            And again, that is not the issue at hand. You’re posts have gotten increasingly inaccurate.

          • lrfcowper

            Um, what makes you think I haven’t seen the way anti-theism is articulated versus the way atheist identity is articulated and seen that they are patently not the same? That would be why I have over a dozen atheist friends whose presence and discussions of faith I treasure deeply. That would be why I find your conflation of the two deeply flawed. That would be why I pointed out that they are not the same thing.

            You have made the extraordinary claim that atheism is always bigoted and prejudicial. Always. Throughout history. Every atheist. Throughout history. Extraordinary claims require extraordinary proof.

            Most arguments are articulated in similar ways. That says nothing about the ethics, morality, or value of that argument. “I don’t believe there is a dragon in my back yard,” “I don’t believe my son is going to get much taller,” “I don’t believe God exists,” and “I don’t believe homosexuality is real,” may be articulated in the exact same way. That implies nothing about the morality of the statements. Claiming it does is an association fallacy.

            The way to know the morality of an argument is to consider the motive behind why it is being made and the good or bad consequences of the argument. Homophobia has real and measurable harmful consequences. Racism has real and measurable harmful consequences. Misogyny has real and measurable harmful consequences. Anti-religious bigotry has real and measurable harmful consequences. “I do not find the subjective experience of millions of people of the existence of God/ Vishnu/ Santa/ Bigfoot personally compelling” can be made with intent to hurt someone’s feelings, or it can simply be a statement of one’s belief system. Now, you have claimed that such a belief is inherently harmful or malicious, that it intrinsically makes a (negative and prejudicial) statement about people of faith. Where is your proof?

            Keep in mind that “the atheist communists killed bunches of people” isn’t proof that atheism is inherently harmful and prejudicial any more than “the Christian crusades killed bunches of people” is proof that Christianity is inherently harmful and prejudicial. Tyrants twist belief systems to justify tyranny all the time.

          • WilmRoget

            “what makes you think I haven’t seen the way anti-theism is articulated versus the way atheist identity is articulated”

            How about the fact that you continue to rely on empty claims, instead of providing concrete evidence.

            “That would be why I find your conflation of the two deeply flawed.”

            You have completely failed to demonstrate any difference between the two. I have asked you to do so repeatedly, and instead, you’ve just gotten increasingly angry with me.

            ‘You have made the extraordinary claim that atheism is always bigoted and prejudicial. Always.”

            And I have backed that claim up with evidence, logic and reason. Homophobia is always bigoted and prejudicial. Racism is always bigoted and prejudicial.

            “Extraordinary claims require extraordinary proof.”

            I’ve heard that line before. Is the truth here that you are really defending yourself? But you know what – you’ve made the extraordinary claim that atheism and anti-theism are differently. Please provide your extraordinary proof.

            “The way to know the morality of an argument is to consider the motive behind why it is being made”

            That test demonstrates that atheism is a prejudice – the motive behind atheism is to denigrate most of humanity so that atheists can feel superior.

            ” Anti-religious bigotry has real and measurable harmful consequences.”

            And atheism is the all-encompassing anti-religious prejudice.

            “Where is your proof?”

            Where is your proof that there is a difference between atheism and anti-theism.

            “Keep in mind that “the atheist communists killed bunches of people” isn’t proof that atheism is inherently harmful and prejudicial”

            So basically, you are going to throw out any evidence you don’t like, by making false comparisons.

            “Tyrants twist belief systems to justify tyranny all the time.”

            No twisting is required with atheism, it is intrinsically derogatory and dehumanizing.

          • Bones

            “No twisting is required with atheism, it is intrinsically derogatory and dehumanizing.”

            Now I think you’re overstating, generalising and doing the same as 90Lew90. That is simply not the case.

            One of my favourite human beings was Dr Fred Hollows – compassionate, merciful, atheist = a true humanist and a wonderful human being, the closest example I’ve seen to Christ..

            “I believe the basic attribute of mankind is to look after each other. And that’s what makes humans look after other humans when they are in need. …Human motivation is looking after the old, the lame and the blind. The people less fortunate than yourself. That’s your basic human motivation.” (Fred Hollows 1993)

          • WilmRoget

            “Now I think you’re overstating, generalising and doing the same as 90Lew90. That is simply not the case.”

            That is a nice dismissal.

            “One of my favourite human beings”

            And again, the same kind of justification is used to claim that homophobia is not a prejudice. There are homophobes who have said very moving, compassionate things – like Martin Luther. There are anti-Semites who have said very moving, compassionate things – like Martin Luther.

            People can be right, very compassionate and kind on one subject, and be completely prejudiced on something else.

          • Bones

            It’s a dismissal because your argument is false.

            You’re using the same kind of justification used against Christians which we’ve seen in this thread. Like all Catholics support the IRA. All Christians encourage homophobia and all Muslims are terrorists.

            Demonising a group of people on what they don’t believe is pretty ridiculous and something I’d expect from Fundamentalists.

          • AtalantaBethulia

            Why do you suppose he has gotten increasingly angry with you?

            Would it be possible to converse here with the goal of nurturing greater understanding of your own point of view as well as making the effort to understand that of others rather than with the goal of displaying superior rhetorical skill?

          • WilmRoget

            “Why do you suppose he has gotten increasingly angry with you?”

            Because I am asking for something that does not exist: evidence that the distinction between atheist and anti-theist is real.

            “Would it be possible to converse here with the goal of nurturing greater understanding of your own point of view as well as making the effort to understand that of others rather than with the goal of displaying superior rhetorical skill?”

            That is what I am doing. I have asked, repeatedly, for evidence of any distinction at all between atheism and anti-theist, and have received nothing. I have addressed all rebuttal faithfully, but have not received the same in return. I’ve been clear about my position, only to have it falsely misrepresented more than once.

            Your assumption about my goal is false.

          • BarbaraR

            Because I am asking for something that does not exist: evidence that the distinction between atheist and anti-theist is real.

            Since you have already decided what you believe to be true, it would seem there is no point is continuing to ask about it.

            I personally have no feelings about this discussion. I’m not interested in the subject whatsoever. However, I am interested in keeping the discussion civil and not a game of “Neener-neener-neener, I’m smarter than you and my arguments are superior, so I dismiss all your points out of hand.”

            If your mind is made up, the horse is not only dead, but starting to stink.

          • WilmRoget

            “Since you have already decided what you believe to be
            true,”

            Nothing in my post indicates that.

            “and not a game of “Neener-neener-neener, I’m smarter than you and my arguments are superior, so I dismiss all your points out of hand.”

            Since I am not playing that game . . .

            I’ve asked repeatedly for evidence of a distinction, and no evidence has been provided. I have searched, and demonstrated that the dictionary does not even recognize the term. Wikipedia only indicates that anti-theism is the
            extreme expression of atheism, which affirms my premise that theatheism/anti-theism argument parallels the ‘we’re not all like Fred Phelps’excuse that so many homophobes use even as they teach exactly the same thing Fred did.

            Look, if there is some required maximum grade level that I should write down to make people comfortable, let me know.

            There’s an odd thing I’ve witnessed over the years, directed not only at myself, but at people from all kinds of backgrounds and perspectives. People love what they say, how they say, how they arrive at it, when they agree.

            When they don’t – it is a different story altogether. There’s a party over Huffpost, not so active now that facebook is used to log in. Used to sing my praises when I rebuked anti-gay theology, effusively. But the moment I turn the same analytical processes and writing style to rebuke
            atheism, suddenly I’m every nasty thing she could think of.

            It has shown me that neither praise or nor criticism amounts to much.

            Now, I could have framed my reply:
            “Because I am asking for something that apparently does not exist”

            But wouldn’t that have just been interpreted as “displaying superior rhetorical skill”?

          • AtalantaBethulia

            Antitheism (sometimes anti-theism) is active opposition to theism. The term has had a range of applications; in secular contexts, it typically refers to direct opposition to organized religion or to the belief in any deity, while in a theistic context, it sometimes refers to opposition to a specific god or gods.

            Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Antitheism

            “Atheism is, in a broad sense, the rejection of belief in the existence of deities.[1][2] In a narrower sense, atheism is specifically the position that there are no deities.[3][4][5] Most inclusively, atheism is the absence of belief that any deities exist.[4][5][6][7] Atheism is contrasted with theism,[8][9] which in its most general form is the belief that at least one deity exists.’

            Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Atheism

            I just shot the horse. So we don’t have to beat it any more.

          • WilmRoget

            So it is a false distinction, because the moment any atheist articulates their atheist belief, they are actively opposing theism.

            Essentially, then anti-theism correlates with people who vote against civil equality for GLBTQ people, and people who commit hate crimes against GLBTQ people, and so on

            while atheism is the broader category of all people who reject religion, including anti-theists, and correlates with those who say ‘homosexuality is sin’ or ‘I don’t believe in homosexuality’.

            Jalapenos and scotch bonnets, but still, chili peppers.

            But you wanted the last word

          • AtalantaBethulia

            A false equivalency.

            Re: “because the moment any atheist articulates their atheist belief, they are actively opposing theism.”

            Fundamentalism suffers from this same unfortunate binary thinking.

            Many blessings to you and your partner for years of happiness together.

          • lrfcowper

            Look, you’re playing word games and you know it. (Example, you claimed to not understand what the simple construction “anti-theist” meant, when I answered that “I would presume” most people who understood basic English word construction would understand its meaning, you responded by quoting “I would presume” out of context as if I had made some evidential argument and responded with “So you have no proof.” You’re right. I have no proof that most people would understand “anti-[insert thing here]” as being “against or opposed to [insert thing here]“, but you are the first person I’ve ever encountered who apparently didn’t. But your out-of-context quote to make it sound like I was making an important argument rather than a simple semantic statement about the etymology of a word shows you like word games, rather than any attempt at actual communication.)

            You deny every example brought before you as simply untrue and then complain you’ve been given no evidence.

            You have made falacious arguments that basically amount to “Some atheists have been mean to me on the Internet, therefore all atheists are bigots,” combined with “Bad people use these kinds of sentences, so all people who use these kinds of sentences are bad people.”

            I have tried to be gentle with you, because I can see there’s a lot of hurt and anger there, and I thought that perhaps you just hadn’t thought out the inconsistencies of your prejudice, but I am tired of your games.

            Here’s what I know. Of the atheist friends I have, two are married to Christians. One of them, in discussing his wife’s battle with cancer said, “Our church was a huge comfort and support all the way through.” Most of the rest of them are LGBT or allies who have walked away from religion because it had hurt them or their LGBT friends. For some of these kids, it was walk away from religion or kill themselves. It was literally the only thing that kept them alive.

            I have watched them be bullied by self-proclaimed Christians and I have laid the smack down on the bullies whenever I can, and offered the comfort and hospitality I am called to do when I was able. I have sat with them at my kitchen table and been asked, “Why do Christians hate us so much?”

            I would love to see these kids come back to a spiritual life, but the wounds are too raw, too deep, too painful, and because of you and your ilk too recent.

            So let me lay it out for you. Don’t you dare claim you know what all atheists think or feel or believe. Don’t you dare drop that bigoted drivel that they are all anti-religion or immoral. And don’t you dare play word games just so you can tear them apart more.

            This is a safe space for people of all faiths and none. You are making it unsafe and unwelcoming for those who have been deeply wounded by people of faith. So you can go hawk your bigotry elsewhere. We ain’t buyin’.

          • BarbaraR

            Look, if there is some required maximum grade level that I should write down to make people comfortable, let me know.

            Let us put it another way, one that perhaps you will understand. You don’t have to like it or agree with it.

            Stop being a condescending asshole.

            You are fully aware you’re playing mindfuck and semantics games with the good graces of people here. If you can’t be less abrasive in your responses, perhaps there is another forum where such things are rampant and you can find an eager audience willing to play along.

            Cut it out.

          • AtalantaBethulia

            I’m admittedly late to this exchange, so perhaps this is ground you’ve already covered buried here within. But what evidence do you offer that there is no distinction between an atheist and an anti-theist? Because it seems rather straightforward that the two are not the same as so many here have made the point again and again.

            You said: “That test demonstrates that atheism is a prejudice – the motive behind atheism is to denigrate most of humanity so that atheists can feel superior.”

            This is your assumption – a false one.

            How is my assumption about your goal (to display superior rhetorical skill) any more false than this?

          • WilmRoget

            “But what evidence do you offer that there is no distinction between an atheist and an anti-theist?”

            Nice attempt to shift the burden of proof. This dialogue started with lrfcowper asserting that there are two kinds of atheists, and then she or he added anti-theists as well.

            ‘Because, forgive me for being perhaps naive, but it seems rather straightforward that the two are not the same.’

            Then the thing for you to do is provide evidence. But you did not.

            “How is my assumption about your goal (to display superior rhetorical skill) any more false than this?”

            Is that a demonstration of your idea of treating people gently?

            Let’s see. You’ve taken a quote of mine about an ideology out of context, to compare it to your ad hominem derogatory assumption about my motive. But I’ll play.

            On atheism: the overwhelming preponderance of evidence, in the form of how atheism is expressed, demonstrates a deliberate attempt to dehumanize and vilify people of faith.

            However, nothing in my posts indicates that my goal is to display superior rhetorical skill. After all, such a display would be useless since I am essentially anonymous. So you are projecting a negative assertion about my personal motives – contrary to what I have asserted by the way, without a shred of evidence.

            But on this very thread, we have a demonstration from 90Lew90, of the ego-aggrandizing nature of atheism – “religion is a sickness”, etc. The internet is full of posts by atheists that accuse religion of being the cause of all war, asserting that people of faith are delusional, brainwashed, a threat to children, and so on. One of the current popular terms used by atheists to self-label is ‘free thinker’, with the implicit message that everyone else is enslaved. It parallels the term once commonly used by conservative Christians “moral majority”, with a similar implied but intrinsic message.

            Wouldn’t it have been more gentle on your part to attempt to either disprove my statement regarding atheism, or substantiate your accusation against me?

          • AtalantaBethulia

            Re: “Nice attempt to shift the burden of proof.”

            This is a false assumption about my goals.

            Re: “On atheism: the overwhelming preponderance of evidence, in the form of how atheism is expressed, demonstrates a deliberate attempt to dehumanize and vilify people of faith.”

            I disagree.
            Some evidence shows that some atheists demonstrate a deliberate attempt to dehumanize and vilify people of faith.

            Not all.
            Other atheists merely go about their happy lives affronting no one and holding no ire toward any.

            So it is not intrinsic.
            As we must point out so often defending other belief groups, nuance is our friend.

            Perhaps no one has shared with you that your rhetorical style is easily interpreted by the reader as abrasive and hostile. Perhaps this is not your intent, but it is often difficult to see ourselves as others perceive us – particularly in this medium.

            Blessings.

          • AtalantaBethulia

            To cut to the chase:

            There are assholes who are atheists and there are assholes who are Christian. No religious or non-religious group has a corner on the market of assholery nor tribalist thinking.

            It is neither an atheist nor a religious problem.

            It is a human problem. And that is to whom it is intrinsic.

            The good news is it’s a choice to stay that way and no one has to.

          • WilmRoget

            Let’s take a concrete example, because I’m seriously committed to examining and testing my premise ‘atheism is a prejudice’. We’ll take Bryan Fisher, and Richard Dawkins, and use them to test the ‘two kinds’ theory.

            Imagine that Bryan and I are talking.

            Me: “I love my husband very much.”

            Bryan: “No, homosexuals don’t love, they just lust”.

            That is offensive, obviously. Even if I don’t let Bryan get to me personally, the purpose of his claim is to offend, denigrate, trivialize.

            How about if the conversation is more like this?

            Me: “I love my husband very much.”

            Bryan: “I don’t believe you.”

            The basic message Bryan communicates is the same, the purpose is the same as before, it is just superficially less brutal.

            So I have a talk with Richard Dawkins.

            Me: I’ve experienced the Divine.

            Richard: No, you have not. No one does. There is no Divine. You are delusional.

            That is offensive, obviously. Even if I don’t let Richard get to me personally, the purpose of his claim is to offend, denigrate, trivialize.

            How about if the conversation goes more like this?

            Me: I’ve experienced the Divine.

            Richard: I don’t believe you.

            The basic message Richard communicates is the same, the purpose is the same as before, it is just superficially less brutal.

            It is not that about whether people are entitled to disbelief, either in the existence of homosexuality, or in the realness of people’s experiences of the Divine. It is a matter of what that disbelief communicates.

          • lrfcowper

            Well, Richard Dawkins is an anti-theist, not just an atheist. Here’s a conversation with an atheist:

            Me: I’ve had awesome experiences with the divine. My faith fulfills me.

            My friend E: I haven’t had any experiences with the divine. Faith doesn’t work for me, but I’m glad it works for you.

          • WilmRoget

            “Well, Richard Dawkins is an anti-theist, not just an atheist.”

            I am not convinced that that is a valid distinction. My experience indicates that it is a false distinction. I am offering you a chance to demonstrate that it is a valid distinction, so far, you are not accomplishing that.

            “My friend E: I haven’t had any experiences with the divine. Faith doesn’t work for me, but I’m glad it works for you.”

            That is not what atheism articulates. Can you provide evidence of someone who identifies as an atheist who only articulates ‘I haven’t had experiences of the Divine’ without ‘ so I don’t believe you, you are wrong, there is no Divine’.

            Some quotes on the internet from a non-anonymous source would be useful, to counter the millions of posts by people who identify as atheist and who assert ‘people of faith are delusional’.

          • lrfcowper

            Well, first, I think “millions of posts… who assert people of faith are delusional” is hyperbolic in the extreme. If there are millions of posts by people who assert that, then there are certainly millions of posts by people who identify as Christians and who assert that LGBT people are perverted sinners. And I don’t take that as indicative of the true or core beliefs of all Christians.

            I’ve already shared one quote from my atheist friend, Mark, as to why he is an atheist.

            I’m sure I could google a few hundred quotes from various atheists, but let me leave you with just two:

            “I am an atheist, out and out. It took me a long time to say it. I’ve been an atheist for years and years, but somehow I felt it was intellectually unrespectable to say one was an atheist, because it assumed knowledge that one didn’t have. Somehow, it was better to say one was a humanist or an agnostic. I finally decided that I’m a creature of emotion as well as of reason. Emotionally, I am an atheist. I don’t have the evidence to prove that God doesn’t exist, but I so strongly suspect he doesn’t that I don’t want to waste my time.” ― Isaac Asimov

            “The only common thread that ties all atheists together is a lack of belief in gods and supernatural beings. Some of the best debates we have ever had have been with fellow atheists. This is because atheists do not have a common belief system, sacred scripture or atheist Pope. This means atheists often disagree on many issues and ideas. Atheists come in a variety of shapes, colors, beliefs, convictions, and backgrounds. We are as unique as our fingerprints.” — American Atheists

          • WilmRoget

            ‘Well, first, I think “millions of posts… who assert people of faith are delusional” is hyperbolic in the extreme.”

            Well, your dismissal really doesn’t mean much. Frankly, given the volume of internet traffic, your dismissal seems a bit naive.

            ‘And I don’t take that as indicative of the true or core beliefs of all Christians.’

            And again with the false comparison. The millions of posts by people who believe ‘homosexuality is sin’ that claim “perverted sinners” does mean that ‘homosexuality is sin’ is a degrading belief, and that homophobia is a prejudice.

            “I’ve already shared one quote from my atheist friend, Mark, as to why he is an atheist.”

            Where? Is Your “My friend E” this Mark person? Do you have a link?

            Your quote from Mr. Asimov does not articulate what you claimed was what atheists believe. Nor does your quote from the American Atheists.

            This is what you need to provide confirmational evidence of: “I haven’t had any experiences with the divine. Faith doesn’t work for me, but I’m glad it works for you.”

            Neither quote communicates that message. Both are dismissive.

          • lrfcowper

            I think what you’re seeing with the fundamentalist atheists who commit drive-by Christian bashing isn’t atheism, but anti-theism.

          • WilmRoget

            So – the homophobes who commit drive-by gay bashing aren’t demonstrating homophobia, but homo-phobia, or maybe anti-homosexualityism?

            What I’m not seeing in any fundamental difference in the actual belief between the two alleged kinds of atheist – the assumption that all people of faith are intrinsically wrong about their own experiences?

            Again, looking at a more studied parallel – is there a difference between the person who says ‘I don’t believe in homosexuality’ – which is the excuse that millions gave to voting away same-sex marriage, and say, the late Fred Phelps, other than the aggressiveness of their language?

          • lrfcowper

            > What I’m not seeing in any fundamental difference in

            > the actual belief between the two alleged kinds of

            > atheist – the assumption that all people of faith are

            > intrinsically wrong about their own experiences?

            Er, no. That’s not a basic belief of atheism. As a Christian, I do not believe that the experiences of a person of another faith are intrinsically wrong. They are simply different than my experience. I do not assume that others’ criteria for when and how to trust are intrinsically wrong. They are just different. The atheist, like the Muslim, pagan, Buddhist, etc., has had a different faith experience to mine and I have had a different one to him. We have reached different conclusions.

            Here, let’s think of it this way–

            A guy named Joe Smith contacts a group of friends. He has developed a new gadget and he would like them all to invest $100 each in this new gadget. Now, they all go off and we do research on Joe Smith and his gadget. Mark hasn’t got a lot of money to spare. He finds that most people have nice things to say about Joe, but when he looks at the specs for the gadget, he’s just not convinced it’s as high a quality as it needs to be to sell well, so he decides not to invest. Leon, on the other hand, is loaded. He sees the same people saying Joe’s a good guy and decides it’s worth the risk and gives Joe $100. Jeff has been conned by a couple of people in the past, so he’s very, very wary of Joe. He starts digging further back into Joe’s past and finds a complete blank some five years back– no credit history, etc. Now, there might be reasons for this, but Jeff just isn’t quite sure there really is a guy named Joe Smith or that he has an actual gadget in development. No dice from Jeff. Stuart’s parents met Joe a couple of years ago, did some investigation into him, and invested. Stuart takes his parents’ word on it and invests as well. Matt pretty much does whatever Stuart does, so Matt’s in. Phil talks to Jeff and decides not to invest either, then discovers a patent for a similar, but somewhat cruder device from a Joe Smith from 6 years ago. He’s not sure it’s the same Joe Smith, but he changes his mind. Art likes Joe’s vibe and pretty much invests after the flimsiest and briefest of checks. Jim has no money to speak of, but befriends Joe and spends a lot of time talking him up to others. And so on.

            Each person has different levels of evidentiary requirement, different weights they give to different sorts of evidence, and different criteria to trust this guy with their money based on their own situation, their past, the experiences of other people, and so on. We each have levels of trust and tacit rules about how that trust is gained (or lost). Faith is exactly like trust. It is individual and experiential and no one can claim that their level of trust in someone is superior to someone else’s.

            I trust my husband a lot more than you do. Why? Because you’ve never met him. You have no basis to trust him. Should I accuse you of bigotry against me for not trusting him? Should I assume that your lack of trust indicates a belief that I am intrinsically wrong to trust my husband?

          • WilmRoget

            “That’s not a basic belief of atheism.’

            Yes, it is. Atheism asserts that either God does not exist, or that there is not convincing evidence of God’s existence. Since knowledge of God’s existence (by any name) is based on the personal experiences of real human beings, the basic belief of atheism is that all of those people are wrong – either completely wrong, or wrong enough to not be convincing.

            “As a Christian, I do not believe that the experiences of a person of another faith are intrinsically wrong.’

            Defining atheism by your experience of Christianity isn’t very useful. Better to define atheism by what it communicates.

            “Here, let’s think of it this way–”

            Your comparison does not strike me as either relevant or accurate.

            “I trust my husband a lot more than you do.”

            You don’t know that.

            ” You have no basis to trust him. ”

            Sure I do. Shared humanity, the presumption that people are trustworthy until they prove otherwise. Your line of reasoning here is not helpful. If I presume that your husband is untrustworthy, without knowing anything about him, something is wrong. If I assume that your husband is untrustworthy even though you vouch for him, something is wrong.

        • Bones

          I notice you’re scared to touch on Judaism.

          So do you think Martin Luther King left a trail of blood where he went?

          Or those of us on here?

          Have we got blood on our hands?

          • 90Lew90

            What do you mean? I described Judaism, Christianity and Islam as three branches of the same rotten tree. And your picking outstanding individuals as representatives of entire faiths is bunk. I’m not talking about individuals. Good ones appear all the time. You wave around Martin Luther King and I can just turn around by the same token and say Fred Phelps.

          • Bones

            Good try at trivialising MLK when it doesn’t suit your argument.

            The majority of religious people aren’t the nutters who make the news.

            Yeah there are good and bad Brits, good and bad Germans, good and bad Arabs, good and bad atheists, good and bad black people, good and bad politicians, good and bad religious people.

            Now who would have thought that.

            So those of us who aspire to follow the Christ and the example of MLK are ‘rotten’.

            Why do you hate religious people so much?

            Is it because of what Dawkins wrote in his book?

          • 90Lew90

            How you can extrapolate from what I said that I was “trivialising” Martin Luther King, whose name you can’t even be bothered to write out in full, is beyond me. Your other questions I’ve answered elsewhere in this thread. And no, my beef with religion began long, long before Dawkins wrote his book in 2004, I’m not a nodding donkey. But I did applaud when I read it.

          • Bones

            And now Dawkins is spouting that Downs Syndromes parents who don’t abort their babies are ‘immoral’.

            So MLK and the Christ are ‘rotten’ according to you.

            Why do you hate religious people so much?

          • Bones

            Do we have blood on our hands?

          • 90Lew90

            By giving credence to a set of beliefs that are responsible for the spilling of blood, I would say that to an extent you do. In subscribing to the ideas of any movement you make yourself complicit in what it does. My grandfather for instance, who fought in both World Wars, including surviving the horrors of Ypres and the Somme, became a communist for a short time after the Russians won the Second World War for the Allies. As soon as he saw it for the sham that it was and the horrors Uncle Joe was perpetrating he rejected communism on principle and renounced it. I don’t happen to see state-worship as being very different to god-worship.

          • Bones

            So religious people who accept and support homosexual people have blood on their hands.

            Riiiiiiight.

    • http://allegro63.wordpress.com/ allegro63

      Ok, You are not fond of the Abrahamic faiths. We get that. But there are billions of people who adhere to one of those three faiths, and then billions more who adhere to another. Faith may not make any sense to you, and that’s ok, but it does make sense to billions of humans from every culture, creed, nation, income, gender, age, etc. Respecting that others view faith different than you is a virture. You don’t have to agree with someone’s beliefs to try to understand that they see value there.

      • 90Lew90

        I’ll be polite in making my points but I will be robust. To make a robust argument is not impolite. I’d call it principled. People are welcome to their faith. The Abrahamic religions have bequeathed humanity a rich seam of culture. I am in no state of denial about that. But excuse me; when I get it in the neck from people only because their faith dictates that I am in some way anathema, and when that faith is to any reasonably intelligent and well-informed person ridiculous, allow me my answer. You can rest assured, I’ve had it in the neck from faith-heads many times. One of my earliest memories is of a bomb in a church across the road from my childhood home. I have had to have reconstructive surgery on my face. I continue to be persecuted for reasons which, boiled down, are because of people’s unexamined faith. Those are just two of the more salient reasons which may have led me to my position on religious faith. Further, I only give respect where it is due. I can enjoy religious music and art. I enjoy reading the King James Bible. But in 2014, I see no reason to “respect” any individual who believes that stuff just because they believe it any more than I should respect someone who believes the Iliad or the Odyssey.

        • http://allegro63.wordpress.com/ allegro63

          I can certainly imagine such a trauma having a very negative impact in regards to religion. What a horrible thing to happen to a child..

          I happen to agree, unexamined faith can be a great barrier to greater understanding of one another. I think many people just settle for what they are told, never thinking it necessary to challenge or look beyond what they are used to. For some, as was my experience, to question the tenets of faith, or even the boundaries was to risk retribution, if not from the clergy, or the lay people, but most certainly from God. A faith that places autoritative absolutes hinders growth, and maturity which I find unfortunate.

          I also don’t know why you are being persecuted, but that doesn’t matter. Looking down upon another because they are “different” and therefore deemed inferior is wrong. We are all different, somehow, be it our appearance, our abilities, our beliefs, our sexuality, our nationality, our fears.

          We all have things that make us angry, defensive, terrified, and we all have things that draw us like a kid to an ice cream counter, their being such positive influences. We don’t have to be alike, in fact, I am quite happy we aren’t. We should know everyone can be idiotic, believe wierd shit, have irrational fears, and “what were you smoking” ideas..even you, even me. Our looniness is part of who we are, and theirs is part of who they are.

          • 90Lew90

            The bomb wasn’t traumatic. I wasn’t even four years old when that happened. It was quite exciting getting plucked out of my cot and going up to my uncle’s house in the middle of the night. I grew up in Northern Ireland through the Troubles. I then moved to London where in the East End I was attacked outside a gay club by a bunch of beardos. Whatever of that, it’s personal. Objectively, belief in the Abrahamic religions does not withstand any scrutiny. It’s always, when examined, self-serving. We do not need religion to have communities. Religion is a hindrance to thought and religious dogma is often a blank denial of some very fundamental parts of human nature. In Christianity for instance, it is positively anti-human while posing as humanistic. Its starting point is that humans are fallen creatures. Finally our better knowledge is showing that view up for the rubbish that it is. Religion is an illness which prescribes itself as a cure. I’m all for the variety that individual autonomy begets. There is nothing autonomous about following some ancient dogma. And religion en masse is undeniably harmful. I’m pretty sick of the wilful blindness of the religious who cling to their religions like some sort of security blanket. Life is not so scary and people are not so bad.

          • BarbaraR

            I am a bit curious about why you’re here then. Most people here do have some degree of faith, be it leftist Christian, Jewish, Buddhist, questioning, etc.

            We’re fine with people disagreeing and discussing respectfully as long as viewpoints are presented as that – viewpoints. There’s a difference between “This is what I think and why I think it” and “This is fact and if you don’t agree you’re deluded/stupid/going to hell/led astray by Satan/etc.”

          • WilmRoget

            “I am a bit curious about why you’re here then.”

            We can answer that question by looking at a similar situation: the homophobes who show up on any GLBTQ friendly site and denigrate GLBTQ people. Huffpost, for example, regularly posts articles about GLBTQ experiences, both positive and negative. Homophobes, people who condemn and reject homosexuals and homosexuality, routinely and vociferously post to those articles, using them as an opportunity to denigrate, mock, insult and abuse GLBTQ people.

            It gets really interesting when it is an article by progressive clergy in support of GLBTQ people. Then homophobes show up to gay-bash, and atheists show up to Christian bash.

            90Lew90 is here to denigrate Christians. Atheism is a prejudice, a psycho-social mechanism by which people in one group attempt to elevate their perceived social status by denigrating people in another group. Prejudices don’t work if they are private, they have to be public.

            A homophobe cannot get the ego-stroke by just disliking GLBTQ people in private, he has to be public about it, to be praised by his peers, and criticized so he can feel like a martyr.

            Racism does no good for the racist in the privacy of his or her home, and atheism has no benefit when kept to one’s self. Only by going out to the ‘other’ and telling them that they are delusional, sick, enslaved, inferior – terms that racists, homophobes and atheists all use – only then can the bigot get the emotional pay off of feeling superior.

          • 90Lew90

            “Atheism is a prejudice..”. Says the Christian to the other Christian in explaining why the gay guy has popped out of his box to respond to Christians, not only as a gay guy, but as an atheist one. Priceless. When was the last time you heard of a Christian teenager being driven to suicide because of his family’s gay beliefs? Give me a break.

          • WilmRoget

            “Says the Christian”

            Says the gay Christian who has spent a great deal of time and effort rebuking anti-gay theology for thirty years.

            “why the gay guy has popped out of his box to respond to Christians,”

            Well, why the atheist, who may be gay, or not, but who has made demonstrably false statements about many things, has chosen to revile Christians, at a place that is primarily supportive of GLBTQ people.

            Why have you chosen to malign our allies?

            Your dismissal parallels those issued by homophobes. So why are you stooping to their abusive behavior, if you truly are a ‘gay guy’?

          • 90Lew90

            [anti-religion treatise deleted]

          • BarbaraR

            Moderator here.

            Coming to a forum of believers and making statements to the effect that “it’s all rubbish” is not going to win anyone’s hearts and minds, especially if you want to continue posting here.

            You are entitled to your beliefs, but deliberately antagonizing people here is a fast way to get blocked.

          • 90Lew90

            Once again. Who is doing the antagonising? I’ve had too much experience with people like our Wilm here so I’m not biting any more. But I have to ask: just who was antagonising who? You can see the tone of my initial responses: polite. Then you can see me getting frustrated with frankly stupid responses. And then I ignore him. The point of debate is that it has more than one side. That’s two posts I’ve had deleted. I haven’t used any swear words and I haven’t made any arguments I can’t back with at least some sort of evidence. Given that, I’ll take those two deleted posts as simply unanswerable such as my response to the claim that “religion is inert”. Lew 2, Mods 0. Arguing a point is not trolling. Censorship should be a last resort. I say that as someone who has been working in news for 16 years. My favourite dictum from that trade is “publish and be damned”.

          • Bones

            Referring to all religions as poison isn’t antagonising?

            Personally I think religion is poison if it isn’t bringing peace, compassion, mercy, justice. And as we can see extremely dangerous when mixed with politics and nationalism.

            But to generalise and say every religious person is poisonous from Gandhi to St Francis to the Christ is just being ignorant.

          • 90Lew90

            I can’t remember referring to “all religions” as “poison” and nor did I refer to every religious person as poisonous. Straw man argument. In fact I gave a nod to the “great Eastern traditions”, so you can scrub Gandhi from your list. But in any case, naming good eggs doesn’t change the doctrine they followed. Hindus, Buddhists and Confucians don’t really have doctrine per se, and what they do prescribe is a lot milder than biblical or koranic stuff in which there is all manner of violence and justification for violence, both in thought and deed. And having “because Jesus” as an answer to all questions stops questions coming. Thus we had the Dark Ages of Christian predominance. I can hardly call that thinking healthy.

          • James Walker

            like many non-Christians who’ve either read or read about passages in the Bible containing references to violence, you’re completely ignoring the 2 millenia of evolution the Christian faith has undergone which have made those passages non-doctrinal.

            similarly, Judaism and Islam have undergone evolutionary changes and transformations so that most mainstream adherents to these faiths understand that the violence described in their literature is not a part of their worship today.

            I would suggest rather than blithely reading and interpreting passages from Torah, from the Bible, or from Koran yourself and arriving at the conclusion all Abrahamic faiths are horribly violent anti-human religions, you instead speak with actual believers to find out how they reconcile such historic writings with their largely peaceful and humanitarian beliefs in this day and age.

          • 90Lew90

            It’s interesting that the Christian religion was in danger of imploding until the rediscovery of Greek thought which was tacked onto Christianity by people like Thomas Aquinas.

            You say: “I would suggest [...] you instead speak with actual believers to find out how they reconcile such historic writings with their largely peaceful and humanitarian beliefs in this day and age.”

            Been there, done that, got the tee-shirt. I’m not interested in how people make square pegs fit into round holes. The answer is intellectual laziness, dishonesty, and a good degree of self-serving purblindness.

          • James Walker

            hmm…

            I’m not interested in how people make square pegs fit into round holes. The answer is intellectual laziness, dishonesty, and a good degree of self-serving purblindness.

            then why are you here? and why, now that you’ve chosen to insult people like me, should we even bother attempting to engage you in conversation?

            and if you fail to comprehend that your response is insulting, well, I have to believe there’s something off with your empathy circuit.

          • WilmRoget

            “It’s interesting that the Christian religion was in danger of imploding
            until the rediscovery of Greek thought which was tacked onto
            Christianity by people like Thomas Aquinas.”

            Your claim has no basis in reality.

          • anakinmcfly

            “The answer is intellectual laziness, dishonesty, and a good degree of self-serving purblindness.”

            The others are up for debate, but it would seem that taking such an effort to research, study and better understand the historical and linguistic contexts within which the Bible was written is the exact opposite of intellectual laziness. Intellectual laziness would be taking everything at face value and never questioning what you were taught

          • anakinmcfly

            I just finished reading C.S. Lewis’ Mere Christianity. While I don’t agree with everything in there, he still paints such a beautiful picture of Christianity and what it could be – and perhaps once was, as little as a few decades ago. And then after reading this whole exchange here, and similar ones, it greatly saddens me that a religion once based on love, inclusivity, intelligent reasoning, forgiveness, humility and justice has since devolved into being most strongly associated with hate and ignorance; which is exactly the opposite of what it was meant to be.

          • UWIR

            This sort of argument is quite tiresome. First of all, you speak as though it is a settled issue as to what is “doctrinal”. It’s rather condescending to accuse people of “ignoring” something that isn’t even a clear fact. Second, when you proclaims yourself to be a member of a religion that contains truly vile statements, it’s not much of defense to say “Oh, but I don’t follow that part.” You’re basically saying “My religious beliefs are so cryptic and self-contradictory that all criticisms are rendered invalid.” Which… no. If you do not want people to take you as endorsing the Bible, you should find some label for yourself other than “Christian”. And, finally, even if you don’t approve of those passages, you are helping to move the Overton Window towards them.

          • WilmRoget

            ” It’s rather condescending to accuse people of “ignoring” something that isn’t even a clear fact.”

            The diversity of Christian thought is clear fact.

            “Second, when you proclaims yourself to be a member of a religion that
            contains truly vile statements, it’s not much of defense to say “Oh, but
            I don’t follow that part.””

            That those statements are understood correctly, and therefore ‘vile’ is not clear fact. It is rather condescending to criticize people for the very thing you are doing, is it not? It is not a coincidence that atheists online routinely assert that the anti-gay interpretation is the only correct one, though they never seem able to actually defend it. Doing so provides them with ammunition to attack Christianity, but at the expense of GLBTQ people.

            ” You’re basically saying “My religious beliefs are so cryptic and self-contradictory that all criticisms are rendered invalid.””

            No. If you are going to paraphrase, try to do so accurately. It will appear less condescending.

            ” If you do not want people to take you as endorsing the Bible, you should find some label for yourself other than “Christian”.”

            Nice mischaracterization there. But the issue is not ‘endorsing the Bible’, but rather, endorsing a specific interpretation thereof.

            One of the greatest mistakes that atheists make today is defining all of Christianity by the tiny sliver that is modern American televised fundamentalism.

          • UWIR

            “The diversity of Christian thought is clear fact.”

            Yes. Which is exactly why speaking of something being “non-doctrinal”, as if no one believes it, is silly.

            “That those statements are understood correctly, and therefore ‘vile’ is not clear fact.”

            I don’t see the point in trying to debate with someone like you what is and is not vile.

            “No. If you are going to paraphrase, try to do so accurately.”

            I see you are arguing by bare assertion.

            “But the issue is not ‘endorsing the Bible’, but rather, endorsing a specific interpretation thereof.”

            The statement I was respond to was

            you’re completely ignoring the 2 millenia of evolution the Christian faith has undergone which have made those passages non-doctrinal.

            That’s clearly saying that he doesn’t endorse those parts of the Bible. I don’t appreciate you trying to obfuscate the issue.

            “One of the greatest mistakes that atheists make today is defining all of Christianity by the tiny sliver that is modern American televised fundamentalism.”

            Riiiiight. The Christianity that I have a problem with is such a tiny sliver that they have managed to get their views on the money, recited daily in public schools, in courthouses, etc., etc. It such a tiny sliver that it’s been a whole TEN YEARS since homosexuality was a felony. It’s such a tiny sliver that there are constant fights over abortions, same-sex marriage, and contraception.

          • James Walker

            kindly point out any mainstream (as in, has more than a few thousands of members) Christian denomination that actively teaches slavery is morally acceptable.

            kindly point out any mainstream Christian denomination that actively teaches believers should make war on and eradicate non-believers through violent means.

            kindly point out any mainstream Christian denomination that actively teaches we should implement the death penalty for sexual immorality, for wearing clothing of mixed fabric, for planting mixed crops in the same field, etc.

            Christianity has, over the course of two thousand some years, found ways to reconcile those passages from the Old Testament with the teachings attributed to Jesus and His disciples while still taking the Bible seriously. the fact the Old Testament contains several murderous atrocities is not, in and of itself, an effective indictment of the Christian faith and message. neither is the fact the apocalyptic literature in Revelation contains references to warfare and diseases sweeping away the “enemies” of the faith. in order to understand how important (or unimportant) a given passage in the Bible is to the formulation of Christian doctrine, one must first understand the essentials of what Christian doctrine is about (and that there are differences among groups of Christians on what those essentials are). the Bible must be read through the filter of those core values or it is useless and leads only to confusion.

          • WilmRoget

            “Yes. Which is exactly why speaking . . .”

            So you admit that your claim was purposefully dishonest.

            “I don’t see the point in trying to debate with someone like you what is and is not vile.”

            Your ad hominem only discredits you.

            “I see you are arguing by bare assertion.”

            Nope.

            “The statement I was respond to was”

            You are not helping yourself. Because you characterized the subsequent quote, which explicitly is about the diversity of Christian thought as “isn’t even a clear fact”, which you’ve subsequently admitted was not true.

            “That’s clearly saying that he doesn’t endorse those parts of the Bible.”

            There is a huge difference between “endorsing the Bible” and determining that some passages are “passages non-doctrinal”.

            ” I don’t appreciate you trying to obfuscate the issue.”

            Since I am not doing that, you should be very appreciative. You are being, at best, sloppy. I am clarifying that sloppiness. You should be grateful, unless, of course, your sloppiness is intentional for the purpose of deceit.

            “The Christianity that I have a problem with is such a tiny sliver”

            All it takes is a few people with power. After all, Mao, Stalin and a handful of other atheists were able to produce wholesale slaughter, destoying tens of millions in just a few decades.

            Further, your complaint is hypocritical. You are here reviling the people who work hard for GLBTQ civil equality. Atheists do not. No, they do not. The overwhelming bulk of the work to end homophobia in the U.S. has been done by progressive people of faith, not atheists.

            The reality is that atheists have more often than not been an obstacle. For 30 years that I’ve been working this issue, nearly every atheist I’ve encountered has defended ‘homosexuality is sin’ as THE accurate interpretation of the Bible, and reviled progressive Christians for refuting it.

            The reality is that the internet is full of atheists who defend the anti-gay interpretations as accurate, validating anti-gay theology, reviling and undermining progressive Christians, endangering GLBTQ people, in order to have an excuse for their war on Christians.

            Atheism is a prejudice, UWIR, just like homophobia. The difference is that atheists attack and denigrate even more people that homophobes do.

          • http://allegro63.wordpress.com/ allegro63

            People can be part of any religion without endorsing all the contents or tenets of that religion.

            I suggest before you jump into an existing conversation that has had a wide variety of views, just to add yet another negative tone, that you take time to read the contents in our “be nice” tab. Drive by negative Nancies usually find their welcomes worn exceedingly short

          • James Walker

            I grow desperately weary of non-Christians having the bald-faced presumption to tell Christians like me that we’re not entitled to call ourselves Christian because we don’t “Bible” the way they (the non-believers) want us to.

            had you actually bothered to ask what we believe and why, you might find we share more common ground than difference in our core values. but no. that would just be asking too much.

          • UWIR

            I never said told you you’re not entitled to call yourself a Christian. I just said that if you’re going to call yourself a Christian, then people are going to understand that as meaning what “Christian” is generally understood as meaning. Therefore, if you want to avoid that, you shouldn’t call yourself a Christian. That’s not a statement about what you’re entitled to, it’s simply a statement about the consequences of your actions.

            And don’t try to pretend that this is about what atheists want the word to mean. Society as a whole has assigned certain meanings to the word “Christian”. So if you don’t like that meaning, why not, instead of trying to redefine a word that already has an established meaning, coming up with a new word?

          • BarbaraR

            If you are here to post more negativity, blanket condemnations about people whom you don’t know personally and who have not hurt you, and beat a very dead horse, we’ve seen it all before. It’s exceedingly tiresome. This is a primarily Christian forum and coming here to be negative and tell us what we ought to call ourselves and believe – that isn’t going to get you anywhere. It’s exactly the same tactic as fundies use and it’s every bit as childish.

            There are forums where you’ll get plenty of support and rousing cheers so perhaps you can head on over to those and post.

          • UWIR

            As I have already explained, to say “Doing X will result in Y” is not the same as telling someone “Don’t do X”. If you think this is a dead horse, then quit beating it. If you’re going to misrepresent my post, then I’m going to object. I have not told anyone what to believe, and being a mod doesn’t give you the moral right to lie about me.

            I don’t see how “negativity” applies to my posts, except in the broadest sense of disagreeing. I’ve definitely posted no “blanket condemnations”. The only condemnation I have posted was against WilmRoget, which as being against a particular person, was not “blanket”, and was against someone who has hurt me. You sure are quick to label anything you don’t like as “negativity”. And given your complete lack of condemnation of WilmRoget, you clearly are not opposed to rudeness in general.

            If you have an objection to my posts, then clearly explain what your problem is. Or just admit that you have a policy of banning people for arbitrary reasons. Your vague warnings based on misrepresentations of my post do nothing to identify any clear fault in my post (“negativity”? Seriously? You might as say “You’re harshing my buzz, man”, for all the value that has in communicating what your issue with my posts is), and WilmRoget’s posts are so exceedingly beyond the pale that you have entirely forfeited any moral high ground by not condemning them. Is “Christian forum” supposed to be a code phrase for “Place where atheists aren’t welcome”?

          • BarbaraR

            Like all trolls, you are shirking your responsibility in this. Had you bothered to book around, you would see that atheists are welcome and that a very popular column,

            http://www.patheos.com/blogs/johnshore/2013/12/atheist-and-christian-argue-about-hell-in-a-starbucks-atheist-wins/

            is actually affirming of atheists.

            However, for your own reasons you have come here to attack people whom you do not know and who are LGBTQ affirming and supportive; many regular posters here are gay Christians. To make a sarcastic statement like “Riiiiight. The Christianity that I have a problem with is such a tiny sliver that they have managed to get their views on the money, recited daily in public schools, in courthouses, etc., etc. It such a tiny sliver that it’s been a whole TEN YEARS since homosexuality was a felony. It’s such a tiny sliver that there are constant fights over abortions, same-sex marriage, and contraception.” is not only a gross twisting of actual events, but demonizing those of us here when you don’t know us.

            You are also attacking a faith you do not understand. When you say “Please stop wasting my time with obvious falsehoods. Words mean what people use them to mean, and people use “Christian” to refer to people who follow the Bible.” and then use Wikipedia as your source shows you are completely unfamiliar with those of us here. And you were very rude to Anakinmclfy with “That people associate Christianity with the Bible is news to you? Have you been living under a rock?”

            A statement such as “Second, when you proclaims yourself to be a member of a religion that contains truly vile statements, it’s not much of defense to say “Oh, but I don’t follow that part.” “shows you are indeed making a blanket condemnation of all Christians without actually knowing what we are about here.

            We delete many varieties of dickish comments. Fundies who make statements like “Satan has deceived you and you are all going to hell” get the boot. So do posts like “Homosexuals are perverted and must repent” and “this is the only correct interpretation of scripture and if you disagree, you are ignorant.”

            We can interpret your posts perfectly well, thanks. No one is lying about you, though a quick glance through your other comments on Disqus shows you seem to think everyone is lying about you. Your stuff, not ours.

            You say you are not being negative. You have come to a religious-based forum and continually denigrated our faith (which you have shown a startling unfamiliarity with), yet expect to get a warm welcome.Your posts are exceedingly negative and derogatory but for the most part they stand as is. Whether that continues is up to you.

          • WilmRoget

            “WilmRoget’s posts are so exceedingly beyond the pale’

            And yet, all I have done is accurately rebuke a prejudice. It appears that you feel you and your peers have a license to revile people of faith, particularly Christians, without rebuttal.

            Homophobes demonstrate that same feeling, that they should be free to say any vicious and degrading lie, slander, slur, fantasy or fraud about homosexuals that they find useful, but, any rebuke of their position is ‘exceedingly beyond the pale’ and must be silenced, lest one forfeit ‘any moral high ground’.

            When one pays attention to the matter, the parallels between atheism and homophobia stack up faster than snow in a Wyoming blizzard.

            Atheists and homophobes both constantly use the same accusations “a threat to humanity”, “a sickness”, “delusional”, “recruit children”, “brainwashed”.

            Both atheist and homophobes rely on gross distortions and gross simplifications of their respective subjects, creating characterizations of religion and homosexuality respectively, that have very little relevance to how either is experienced by people of faith and GLBTQ people, respectively.

            Both atheists and homophobes routinely present themselves as superior experts on the respective subjects, to the point that their unsubstantiated assertions about the respective subjects trumps the real life experiences and study of, respectively, people of faith and GLBTQ people.

            Both atheists and homophobes consistently demonstrate an intentional abuse of their respective targets, seeking out opportunities to other and dehumanize their respective targets, even when completely inappropriate and irrelevant. For example, Huffpost will run an article about a progressive Christian clergy taking a strong, sacrificial stance in support of GLBTQ people, and atheists will post nasty things about Christianity, and homophobes will post nasty things about homosexuals – neither will even bother to acknowledge the defense of equality on one hand, or the spirituality on the other, of the clergy in the article.

            And all of the above is just the tip of the iceberg.

          • James Walker

            except that “people” don’t necessarily generally equate being Christian with blindly following every word printed (in English) in the Bible. in fact, the only people I’ve encountered on the internet who do that are a) rabid fundamentalists with an axe to grind against everyone who deviates from their own very narrow interpretation and b) rabid atheists with an axe to grind against religion. nearly everyone else has a much more nuanced view of what being Christian means and can have conversations with Christians who adopt different views from their own without resorting to “well, if that’s your way of looking at it you shouldn’t call yourself Christian”.

            newsflash – Christianity isn’t some monolithic “thing” wherein every proponent of the faith is identical and homogeneous any more than atheism is.

          • James Walker

            what got my back up was this – you’ve implied that you, a non-Christian, know more about what being a Christian is all about than I, a Christian, do. that’s some powerful presumption, there.

          • http://brmckay.wordpress.com/ brmckay

            “..
            people are going to understand that as meaning what “Christian” is
            generally understood as meaning. “

            Take you fingers out of your ears. It makes you look …well just look in a mirror.

          • WilmRoget

            It parallels the way homophobes tell GLBTQ people that they cannot be ‘real Christians’, or ‘real men/real women’, or ‘real Americans’, etc.

            It is important to recognize that all of these prejudices, atheism, homophobia, racism, have the same psycho-social purpose – denigrate other people to elevate one’s perceived social status. So homophobes, atheists, racists, rely predominantly on denigrating and trivializing other people to articulate and defend their position.

          • anakinmcfly

            “If you do not want people to take you as endorsing the Bible, you should find some label for yourself other than “Christian””

            But Christianity isn’t about the Bible. Christianity is about Christ, and there were many Christians prior to the Bible existing in its current form.

          • UWIR

            “But Christianity isn’t about the Bible.”

            Please stop wasting my time with obvious falsehoods. Words mean what people use them to mean, and people use “Christian” to refer to people who follow the Bible.

          • BarbaraR

            Wrong.

          • anakinmcfly

            Well, that’s news to me. Wikipedia: “A Christian is a person who adheres to Christianity, an Abrahamic, monotheistic religion based on the life and teachings of Jesus of Nazareth.”

            Nothing in there about the Bible.

          • UWIR

            That people associate Christianity with the Bible is news to you? Have you been living under a rock?

            “Christianity (from the Ancient Greek word Χριστός, Christos, a translation of the Hebrewמָשִׁיחַ, Māšîăḥ, meaning “the anointed one”,[1] together with the Latin suffixes -ian and -itas) is an Abrahamic, monotheistic[2] religion based on the life and oral teachings of Jesus of Nazareth as presented in the New Testament.”

            Very first sentence in the Wikipedia article on Christianity. Further down,

            “Christianity regards the biblical canon, the Old Testament and the New Testament, as the inspired word of God”.

          • anakinmcfly

            No, I live with my parents.

            I think we’re just quibbling over semantics here; I took issue with your equation of ‘Christian’ and ‘people who follow the Bible’, because while that may be true of most if not all Christians, it would be similar to defining, say, Americans as ‘people who live in America’. There are Christians who don’t follow the Bible, and base their faith primarily on what Jesus taught. Prior to the Bible’s compilation and establishment as canon, that’s what *all* Christians were.

            Meanwhile, following something doesn’t necessarily mean endorsing a particular worldview of it – there are lots of Christians who do believe the Bible to be the inspired word of God, but (perhaps because of that) understand that the actual human authors were also subject to the cultural biases of their time and place; ‘inspired’ by God =/= dictated by God as factual truth. Opinions differ among schools of Christian thought regarding how much emphasis should be placed on the Bible, how it should be interpreted (Biblical literalism is a fairly new movement), and its fallibility given its human contributions.

          • Bones

            The first Christians didn’t have a Bible. In fact, the New Testament canon took centuries to resolve which included heated debates over what should and shouldn’t be in it..

            Argument = FAIL

          • James Walker

            seriously? your “go to” resource for how the majority of people define Christianity is Wikipedia? do you not realize the statement you’ve quoted was likely written by someone with an agenda to frame all of Christianity as matching their own particular beliefs? (just like so many Wikipedia pages on political and religious topics)

          • Bones

            I disagree with the Bible on a lot of things yet agree on the core elements of love, justice, compassion, mercy which Jesus is ultimately about and that’s why I consider myself a Christian and a follower of the Christ and yes I have degrees in theology and biblical studies and served in ministry in several churches.

            The writers really had no more understanding of God than we do. Heck they even disagreed with each other.

          • http://brmckay.wordpress.com/ brmckay

            UWIR – “Please stop wasting my time with obvious falsehoods. Words mean what
            people use them to mean, and people use “Christian” to refer to people
            who follow the Bible.”

            No. You just want it to be that simple so you don’t have to think about what they are saying.

          • James Walker

            one final word before I leave you alone. it isn’t Progressives like me who are moving the Overton Window toward the fundamentalist, literalist view of the Bible. if anything, it’s non-Christians like you who are further enabling the fundamentalists to dominate the conversation by framing your every discussion with Christians around those passages of the Bible you find unconscionable.

          • lrfcowper

            Every single human group in the history of humanity has had members that make truly vile statements, many of which have been recorded for all posterity. Christianity is a religion that has lasted 2000 years with practicioners on every continent, but you want everyone who isn’t a member of a particularly recent, vile, and power-hungry sect of it to hand over the name “Christian”? Do you also suggest to Muslims that they should come up with some other name so as not to be confused with the terrorists who insist theirs is “true Islam”?

          • Bones

            Strawman?

            So you didn’t really mean ALL religions when you wrote:

            “Religion is a hindrance to thought… it is positively anti-human while posing as humanistic….And religion en masse is undeniably harmful. I’m pretty sick of the wilful blindness of the religious…. ”

            That was just a generalisation you made up. Probably because you read Dawkins.

            I mean after all you don’t divide people according to religion – so you say.

            You’re using the biggest strawman here because none of us believe the crap you think we do.

            Watch 90Lew90 diss out on the religious strawman. Take that strawman. And that .

            Look at 90Lew90 go.

            https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=E0uxVLLG5MA

          • 90Lew90

            The Eastern traditions can’t properly be called religious so much as philosophies on ways to live. Buddhism explicitly rejects the “religion” moniker, likewise Confucianism. When I say religion you can take it that I’m referring to the Big Three theistic Abrahamic religions. If my posts had been allowed to stand I wouldn’t be having to say this repeatedly.

          • Bones

            Then maybe you need to define religion or you’re making up your own definitions..

            There are many Christians who don’t see Christianity as a ‘religion’ as well.

            I live Christianity more as a philosophy.

          • WilmRoget

            “Straw man argument.”

            You use that term when it simply does not apply.

            “And having “because Jesus” as an answer to all questions stops questions coming.”

            Now that is a straw man characterization of Christian argumentation.

            “Thus we had the Dark Ages of Christian predominance.”

            Actually, it was the Christian churches and monasteries that preserved the bulk of what we have from the prior cultures. Blaming the ‘dark ages’ on Christianity is both ignorant, and malicious.

            Like most of your peers, you are judging all of Christianity, an enormous body of knowledge and experience, based on myths like ‘Christianity caused the dark ages’, and on a superficial knowledge of modern American fundamentalist televised Christianity. That is like judging all people of color by O.J. Simpson. Or judging you by Richard Dawkin’s mild defense of pedophilia.

          • BarbaraR

            You are now doing the “Waaah! I don’t WANNA play by those rules! I wanna play by MY rules so you’re all a bunch of poopy-headed religious bigots!”

            You are on a LGBTQ-affirming Christian forum and as Bones asked above, “Why do gay atheists like coming here to pick a fight?” You aren’t the first or the last to do so, though we still can’t figure out why, since we are on your side. And this is not a debate forum, though you seem to believe it is.

            There are six moderators watching this forum. We are all very different personalities and come from very different perspectives. If your posts are being deleted, it’s because one or more mods sees them as not adhering to the decorum we expect here.

            Stop worrying excessively about what other posters are doing here.

            On a personal note, I also mod a secular news site that is completely unrelated to this one, and the same rules apply there.

          • 90Lew90

            May I ask; if comments are not for discussion or debate then what are they for? I already told you, I came here after looking up comments by Yonah, who had been posting some pretty crude homophobic stuff on another site. Maybe I came with my guard up, but then I started being pestered with pretty stupid stuff from Wilm. That’s what got me annoyed. Now, this is petty. We’ll leave it at that.

          • BarbaraR

            If you come to a forum for people who love horses and say things like “horses en masse are undeniably harmful,” you’ll get the boot straightaway. We have actually been pretty lenient in allowing you to make these statements without any factual documentation other than your own opinion.

            You put out your opinions about religion as fact (i.e. “Religion is an illness”) and then complain that people are “pestering” you. Yet, you still want to “debate.”

            I don’t know how many more times or ways I can state it. This is a Christian-based forum that is supportive and affirming of LGBTQ people. The religious affiliation of people here is unimportant as long as they maintain civility and are not denigrating toward the religion (or lack of same) of others. So far you’ve made statements like “I’m pretty sick of the wilful blindness of the religious who cling to their religion like some sort of security blanket” and “And religion en masse is undeniably harmful,” then complain that others are picking on you when they respond.

            Stop obsessing about what others are saying. You are treading on thin ice here. There are plenty of forums online where no attempt is made to maintain decorum and if you cannot abide by the rules here, perhaps you would be happier finding one of those.

          • Jeff Preuss

            There are 6? I’m only aware of 3 (4 if you count John) – are the other 2 super-secret invisible Mods?

            I DEMAND A MOD ROLLCALL!
            (Trying to insert a teensy bit of levity into a thread I’m frankly pleased to have missed while camping.)

          • BarbaraR

            I could tell you their super-secret identities but then I’d have to kill you. Neither of us really wants that, do we?

            I am the one person in my family who is missing the camping gene. I live thiscloseto in the midst of unbridled nature. I have had the exciting experience of a bear on my porch (three times) plus raccoons, skunks, possums, rabbits, and ring-tailed cats in my house, as well as chasing coyotes out of my yard. Deer step onto my porch to eat plants left too close to the yard. I am an expert at slaying rattlesnakes and can show you the graves to prove it. I see enough wildlife out my window that camping would be a superfluous experience.

          • Jeff Preuss

            A month ago, at 42 years old, I went camping for the very first time. (Blame my rock climbing friends.) And I LOVED it. 2nd time this past weekend.

            Growing up, we never did that sort of thing. My folks were not outdoorsy people, and most of our outdoor activities were short-term at best. Instead, we went to lots of symphony concerts, church events, ballets, art museums, and the like. Which I also love.

            My partner and I live in what he likes to call “Snow White’s Enchanted Freaking Forest.” We have foxes, owls, rabbits aplenty, woodchucks, etc. but the best overall was the Saturday morning we woke up to a dead deer in our backyard. It had apparently tried to jump our fence into the wooded lot behind our yard…and missed. Call to the Conservation Agent, who told us since we don’t live in Kansas City proper that it was our job to dispose of it.

            That was a lot of fun.

          • BarbaraR

            Same here. If something chooses to expire on my property, it’s mine to deal with.
            A few months I wondered ago why there was a convention of vultures in the trees…. When I walked further into the field, I found a not-recently deceased deer. Turned around and walked away again real fast.

          • http://allegro63.wordpress.com/ allegro63

            I can’t even abide the odd dead moth my cat catches. Once, I walked into my daughter’s bathroom and saw a dixie cup face down on the floor. Being the mom who knows that there is a freaking trashcan not a foot away, I picked up the cup, and saw the dead spider underneath. I set down the cup back over the deceased arachnid and walked away.

          • Jill

            I stepped over a lifeless mouse in my bedroom just this morning.

          • BarbaraR

            Even as I sit here typing, I can hear vague sounds that suggest a small creature is wending his way through the house. I really don’t want to go investigate.

          • WilmRoget

            I live in the desert, and the deceased don’t necessarily disappear very well on their own. Found a dead dove in the middle of the yard last April. Thought to myself – circle of life, let nature do its things – moved the deceased out of sight but otherwise available to the wildlife that handles such projects.

            Now, in August, there’s a Doveankamen in the yard.

          • http://allegro63.wordpress.com/ allegro63

            Camping!! I love the outdoors. hiking, enjoying the beauty of nature, gorgeous scenery, taking photgraphs. Sleeping on hard ground with bugs, sticks, spiders, dirt, hard surfaces? Oh hell no.

          • WilmRoget

            “Why do gay atheists like coming here to pick a fight?”

            If you don’t mind, I’d like to address this, based on my experience as a gay Christian man caught in the middle for the last 20 years, online fighting anti-gay theology, and offline for years before that. And I’m going to go a bit meta, step up a level, and sideways.

            It parallels the burning question that troubles many progressives and many GLBTQ people: why are so many people of color homophobic, when they have experienced prejudice, including prejudice defended with the Bible?

            Prejudices serve a specific psycho-social purpose. They are means of elevating one’s perceived social status, at least in one’s own eyes and the eyes of one’s peers, by tearing other people down. Prejudices are ways of altering, creating, enforcing social hierarchies. We humans are very obsessed with hierarchies, we rank every thing in terms of better/worse, more important/less important, good/evil, etc. One of the fruit of a certain tree we cannot seem to stop eating from.

            So in the case of people of color, they’ve been shoved to the bottom or nearly the bottom of the social hierarchy. Absolutely wrong, inexcusable.

            The easiest way up from the bottom, though, is not to convince everyone higher up to widen the ladder. No, the easiest way up from the bottom is to shove someone else beneath you, and stand on them. And so we as a society get not just the bias that some people of color express against GLBTQ people, but the cross-race, cross-ethnic biases – people who are hurting from being trampled, trample others.

            So a hypothetical GLBTQ person, rightfully feeling trampled by the actions of some people of faith, first rejects religion entirely, shoves it beneath his or her feet, essentially saying “I am superior to this”. They label them self an atheist or agnostic or “free thinker”, they convince themselves that they are wiser and smarter and more insightful that most of humanity, they just know that everyone else is wrong on this issue. It raises their sense of their social status, now they are above those who oppressed them.

            But one of the problems with healing one’s self-esteem with prejudice is that it doesn’t work in private. It has to be public. So the biased person has to go out and preach his/her message of superiority, and you can not just preach to the choir. There’s only so much lift you can get from telling your peers ‘those people are delusional’. So they go find ‘those people’ to tell them how inferior they are. This is what homophobes, racists, misogynists, atheists, etc all do – go tell other people ‘you folks are inferior to me’.

            But why come here though, where progressive Christians with often decades of defending GLBTQ people talk?

            Because if they go to WorldNetDaily, for example, there’s no substantial emotional payoff. The most they can hope for is to make people angry and abusive. Feeling martyred is not as satisfying as feeling superior. The fundamentalists will just dismiss the gay atheist as ‘proving our point’, at least. They don’t even acknowledge that GLBTQ people have been wrong, or that people of color have been wronged, or women, or minority faiths.

            But progressives are an easier target, we acknowledge that GLBTQ people have been wronged, people of color have been wronged, women have been wronged, people in minority faiths have been wronged.

            So the atheist can come here and, well, feed. The homophobic person of color can go to Huffpost, or a gay website and, well, feed. They can get that sense of superiority at the expense of others in these places.

            But another problem with that mechanism is that it is never satisfied. The more one articulates their prejudice, the more one tears other people down, the more one needs to keep doing it. The person who has allowed homophobic Christians to make him anti-Christian has let those people beat him. And that loss, consciously acknowledged or not, requires more people to be shoved beneath his feet, and that self-degrading act requires that even more people be shoved beneath his feet, in an unending cycle.

            The answer is not to just put up with prejudices like atheism, or racism, or homophobia, even when we recognize that they are mechanism by which hurting people try to medicate.

            The answer is to expose the prejudice for what it is, whether it is atheism, homophobia, racism, sexism, etc, find the source of the need to trample others, and heal it.

          • anakinmcfly

            Your tone was polite, yes, but your content was not. I genuinely respect how you’ve been largely civil through this debate, but opening a discussion implying that Christians are deluded – on a site visited largely by Christians – generally isn’t the best way to go.

          • 90Lew90

            “I do not agree with what you have to say, but I’ll defend to the death your right to say it.” – Voltaire

          • anakinmcfly

            I would. Which is why I’m against censorship as a rule, but I’m not a mod here.

          • Jill

            I don’t know if Voltaire also sat down for tea with those whom he didn’t agree.

            I can support your decision to say what you want, but I do not have to host every comment you make. That’s what blogs are for– if you don’t like the rules on this one, go make your own.

          • lrfcowper

            I love people who come to private, personal blogs and then complain about censorship and violating their rights to free speech. I mean, I’d be willing to bet none of them would put up with a stranger walking into their yard and shouting about how they and their family and friends are all idiots, crazy, sinful, poisonous, etc., etc., and yet they think that it is perfectly acceptable– even virtuous– to do in someone’s electronic home, and that anyone who tells them there are house rules that must be adhered to is being rudely censorious.

            I mean, I banned the word “stupid” in reference to people and the phrase “That / You are (so) gay,” from my home, but telling people on my Facebook page that they couldn’t use “thug” in a discussion of racism and police brutality on my FB was just entirely unreasonable, never mind the fact that I have black family members and friends and I would like my FB to be a safe space for them.

          • Jill

            There seems to be a challenge with distinguishing between free speech rights and how to exercise them.

          • WilmRoget

            “Who is doing the antagonising?”

            You.

            “just who was antagonising who?”

            You. You came to a forum for progressive Christians, the people who work the hardest to correct the misuse of Christian theology, and revile our faith, something of great value in our lives.

            “And then I ignore him.”

            And then whine about me to other people.

            ” That’s two posts I’ve had deleted.”

            Much of which is preserved in my replies to you, particularly the offensive and degrading things.

            “I’ll take those two deleted posts as simply unanswerable”

            They were answered.

            “Arguing a point is not trolling.”

            Actually, it can be.

          • WilmRoget

            “You seem determined to paint me in a light that makes it convenient for you to attack your own painting.”

            That ad hominem sounds a great deal like projection.

            ” I made it quite clear that I don’t single out Christianity as unbelievable.”

            So? Is that supposed to make your prejudice any more palatable, because you are biased against an even larger group of people?

            “but I also said I don’t understand how anyone can hold those beliefs with a straight face and head held high any more.”

            Remember, your subjective feelings are not evidence. You took that kind of evidence off the table. But you continue to use it, presumably expecting people to accept it, and that demonstrates bias.

            “I grew up”

            Again, your subjective feelings and opinions are not evidence, per your own words.

            “And apart from that, we’ve discovered that the earth is not at the centre of the universe”

            So? Like so many of your peers, well, nearly all of them, you judge Christianity by a very tiny, very distorted slice. In that way, you parallel homophobes like Pete LaBarbera. You’ve hinted that you are not in the U.S., so you may not recognize that name. He goes to Leather pride events, looks for the handful of people out of thousands or tens of thousands who engage in, to put it delicately, overtly sexual behavior beyond the norm – photographs them, posts those photos and says ‘this is the gay agenda’. He has made a bit of a career creating a false image of GLBTQ people by carefully fixating his attention, and that of his audience, on a few.

            “we’ve established that man is not made in god’s image but is evolved and entirely a part of an ecosystem,”

            Your presumption that the two are in conflict is merely your subjective opinion, and though it is apparently derived from the beliefs of a subset of Christians, it does not reflect the beliefs of all Christians, particularly all across the history of Christianity. The literalist approach to Genesis, vs. a metaphorical one, is a relatively recent, 19th century or so, nuance.

            “we can establish that your god doesn’t even follow his own rules and can’t be omnipotent.”

            No, you cannot. Oh, you can come up with a set of subjective feelings and opinions to that regard, but as you asserted, that is not evidence.

            “None of it adds up.”

            That is your subjective opinion and feeling, but that is not evidence, and it is fraud on your part to present it as if it were.

            ” My suspicion is that you know it’s rubbish but you like to believe it anyway.”

            Your suspicion is, of course, projection. Nothing in my posts indicates any such thing, and science tells us that when we don’t know data about someone, we draw on our knowledge of our selves to fill in the gaps. So you must be drawing on your knowledge of yourself to conclude that I behave in such a duplicitous and dishonest manner.

          • anakinmcfly

            About as often as I hear of a non-Christian teenager being driven to suicide because of his non-Christian family’s anti-gay beliefs. I come from a country that’s only 15% Christian, and yet homosexuality is illegal here and 76% of the population believes homosexuality is wrong. So I generally don’t believe in a necessary correlation as much as people in the US or UK might. Religion is often an excuse for homophobia, not its cause. Without religion, people will just find other excuses. I know no shortage of homophobic atheists who make claims like: “you don’t need to be religious to know that homosexuality is sick, you just need to be sane”.

          • 90Lew90

            Since we’re into anecdotal stuff here (good anecdote by the way), I find it remarkable that the only people I’ve ever encountered who feel moved to get vocal (in real life and on the internet) about homosexuality are religious. Every time. I’m not singling out Christianity here. Do you believe homosexuality is “sick” or “wrong”? I’d like some citations for your very specific percentages of public opinion in your country too.

          • Bones

            No, homosexuality isn’t sick or wrong.

            Why do gay atheists like coming here to pick a fight?

          • 90Lew90

            I’m not picking a fight. But… Citation for those figures?

          • anakinmcfly

            Citation: http://www.fridae.asia/gay-news/2014/02/06/12551.singapore-lgbt-update-its-all-happening-in-asias-smallest-sovereign-state

            That seems to be the most recent survey, though the results seem to differ between surveys – that one said 78%, another I found from 2010 had only 64%, and I seem to remember a 76% figure from somewhere else though I could be mistaken.

            “Do you believe homosexuality is “sick” or “wrong”?”

            I’m gay, and no I don’t.

            I think that the dynamics around religion and homosexuality in the West (America especially) are something particular to that culture, with its particular history and politics. Generally speaking, the only reason someone in the US might consider homosexuality wrong is because it goes against their religious beliefs. But over here, while religion also plays a part in homophobia, there are lots of other factors also thrown into the mix – like the misguided concept of how homosexuality is an import from the depraved West, that gay people are dishonouring their family, bringing shame to their parents and shirking their duty as filial children because they won’t reproduce and continue the family line, that homosexuality subverts traditional Asian family values, and so on. Look at China for instance – they’re hostile to LGBT people, but just as hostile to Christianity, so it’s evidently not Christianity that’s driving their homophobia.

          • 90Lew90

            Ah Singapore. Predominantly Muslim. I did say I wasn’t singling out Christianity. I’ve actually been to Singapore. I went to a wedding there of an English friend to a Singaporean girl. Part of the entertainment was a couple of trannies doing karaoke. That was in 2000 but I’ve heard that since then attitudes have hardened somewhat. I’ve also had a couple of Muslim boyfriends and am well aware that it’s probably even harder for them because of the added “honour” factor, so not only can they not reconcile their sexuality with the religious beliefs they’re brought up with, they’re actually at risk of physical harm from their own families if their sexuality becomes known. Sorry but that does nothing to assail my argument here. It backs it.

          • anakinmcfly

            “Predominantly Muslim” – what. You’re the first person who has ever described Singapore that way. The Muslim population is slightly smaller than the Christian population – 15% Muslims vs 18% Christians, which is… really far from ‘predominant’. The dominant religion here is Buddhism, which makes up 33% of the population. 17% have no religion (covering atheists, agnostics, and non-religious theists), which makes them outnumber Muslims and puts them roughly on par with Christians. Another 11% are Taoist, and 5% Hindu. (stats as of 2010)

            p.s. ‘tranny’ is a highly derogative term for trans women. A lot of people don’t seem to know it, so just to let you know. (some of them are trying to reclaim the term, but it’s kind of like the n-word used among black people, so it’s generally a good idea for people who aren’t trans women to avoid its use.)

          • lrfcowper

            Using a derogatory term for trans folks doesn’t exactly model an interest in equal rights for LGBTQIA people.

          • Bones

            I know this sounds weird because they claim to be enlightened BUT atheists killed more gays than Christians last century.

          • WilmRoget

            Here’s an interesting nuance to ponder.

            The purpose of anti-gay theology is not to bring anyone to Jesus Christ, or to extol the Justice of God, or God’s grace, compassion, wisdom, glory, etc. The purpose is not to ensure that widows and orphans are fed, or that the sick are cared for. In no way does ‘homosexuality is sin’ carry out any of Christ’s commands.

            The purpose of ‘homosexuality is sin’ is to define some people as intrinsically inferior, cursed, evil, wicked, abominations – so that heterosexuals who believe ‘homosexuality is sin’ can feel superior. The purpose of anti-gay theology is to feed the pride of those heterosexuals who believe it (and to destroy the self worth of those homosexuals who believe it).

            So people who believe ‘homosexuality is sin’ are basically building their sense of self worth by tearing other people down, instead of building it by recognizing that they are “heirs with Christ” as Paul put it.

            They reject being in relationship with God as the reason to feel valued, and replace that relationship with ‘those homosexuals are abominations’. Essentially, in this vital area of their life, they have rejected God.

            Which puts them quite close to being atheists, just not very honest ones.

          • 90Lew90

            Citation needed. How have you established that? You might well be right but I’m not sure how that could be established. In any case, atheists do not have it “written” that they have any excuse. Christians, Muslims and Jews do. That’s like saying people who don’t believe in unicorns ate more pork last century.

          • Bones

            Mao, Castro and Stalin saw homosexuality as western decadence.

            The Treatment Of Homosexuals Under Communism

            http://distributedrepublic.net/archives/2006/05/01/the-treatment-of-homosexuals-under-communism/

            Of course the Khmer Rouge just added homosexuals to the killing fields if they wouldn’t change.

            Being A Homosexual Under the Khmer Rouge Regime

            At the beginning of the regime, they launched an operation for the extermination of gay men, because they considered them not only as ‘useless’ individuals, but also as potentially detrimental to the revolution. This was a proper dictatorship. As soon as the ‘black pyjamas’ caught us moving or behaving in a feminine way, we were labelled as enemies of Angkar [the supreme organisation which was a façade for all the leaders of the Communist Party of Kampuchea] and condemned to die”.

            http://rockhmerlgbt.wordpress.com/2011/11/30/being-a-homosexual-under-the-khmer-rouge-regime/

          • 90Lew90

            Did you even read what you linked to? Apart from neither of those pieces of writing supporting what you said, you’re quite obviously talking out of your hat in the “atheism is worse than belief” vein. Pack it in. Where’s your proof that atheists killed more gay people than Christians? You just made that up. There is nothing in Das Kapital or the Communist Manifesto which says the blood of gay people shall be upon them. In your book there is and in this context I really don’t care who kills more of my kind for whatever reason. You’re giving tacit acceptance that Christianity is just another form of dictatorship.

          • James Walker

            so, let me get this straight. the leaders of various communism-based totalitarian regimes can be shown to have murdered countless thousands of men and women who exhibited homosexual traits but because there’s nothing in the Communist Manifesto or Das Kapital demanding that they do so, you’re going to discount Bones’ argument about the numbers entirely?

            and this is what, in your mind, passes for sound reasoning?

          • 90Lew90

            Bones made a vey specific claim, being that atheists killed more gay people than Christians last century. That does nothing for the Christians’ case since obviously two wrongs don’t make a right. All it does is equate Christianity with Communism as an attempt to portray Christianity as somehow the lesser of two evils. It’s also a cheap, shoddy argument against atheism by waving around look-at-what-the-Commies-did as though atheism is somehow akin to Communism. It’s completely shot through with holes as an argument. It is a non-argument.

          • James Walker

            no one is making a “lesser of the two evils” argument. you’ve missed the point.

          • 90Lew90

            It’s implicit in what he’s saying and I think you’re the one who has missed it.

          • James Walker

            no. the thread interwoven throughout your entire argument so far has been that religion in general and Christianity in particular are harmful to humanity. that the religious impulse has led to rationalizations and atrocities and has hindered human progress.

            what Bones pointed out was that there are several historical examples of philosophies and styles of government based in atheism that have had the same effect. in other words, it is not religion alone or the religious impulse alone or the particular beliefs of Christianity alone that have led to the developmental delays, the atrocities, the pogroms that you are railing against. it is, instead, likely some other factor of human behavior that has produced those results.

            Bones and I both have the habit of leaving most of an argument to stand and going after the few points where we have the strongest quibbles. I know that I do this because I agree with, or at least respect, large portions of what you’ve had to say. there are just these broad generalizations you’ve been making about religion that I find problematic and more indicative of prejudice than of careful thinking.

          • WilmRoget

            The opposition to civil equality for GLBTQ people by atheists certainly did not end with the communist regimes either.

            Over the decades I’ve spent very actively debating and arguing anti-gay theology, the only people more committed to ‘homosexuality is sin’ than fundamentalist people of faith, are the atheists who use that belief to condemn Christians. They assert, as 90Lew90 basically has, that the traditional interpretation of the ‘gotcha verses’ is the most accurate, the only ‘honest’ way of interpreting those passages, and viciously savage progressive Christians for rebuking that interpretation, dismissing all of our detailed rebuttal.

            In doing so, these atheists endanger the lives of GLBTQ people, promoting the idea that ‘homosexuality is sin’ is accurate Christian theology, in order to wage war on Christians.

            And I’ve seen conversations where homophobic Christians are moving toward rejecting ‘homosexuality is sin’, shut down completely by some atheist coming in and denigrating Christianity.

            It is not a coincidence that the progress on GLBTQ civil rights in the U.S. stalled at the same time that “new atheism” was so popular in the mainstream press.

          • Bones

            Actually the point was that atheists are just as capable of mass evil if given an ideology to support.

            We don’t deny the evils committed by Christians. What we do claim is that Christian belief evolves and Christians were wrong to behave the way they did and believe the things they did.

            We cant change the past but we can do something about the future like educating fellow believers against bigotry and supporting those being victimised.

          • 90Lew90

            What you did was to invent a factoid out of thin air to support a daft argument.

          • Bones

            Nothing daft about it just because you don’t like it.

          • Bones

            I didn’t say atheism was worse than belief. I’m not into games. You’re fricking deluded if you don’t think atheists weren’t involved in policies calling for the mass extermination of gays and enacting them.

            I know it doesn’t follow your mantra that if we got rid of religion the world would be at peace.

            You don’t need religion to be a dangerous bigoted arsehole.

          • 90Lew90

            You’re using communism and atheism interchangeable. I’m not talking about communism. Two wrongs do not make a right. Your argument is pretty pathetic.

          • Bones

            Umm Communists were atheists.

          • http://allegro63.wordpress.com/ allegro63

            Yeah. Karl Marx grew up Jewish and switched to Presbyterianism,

            What is known as communism takes some elements of Marx, and tossed in a whole lot of Lenin, with a bit of Stalin thrown in. It was a hybrid the state/government holding all the power, the people holding none. The state was surely atheist, as they wanted total power over the people unwilling to share it with the church.

          • 90Lew90

            Yes, but that doesn’t mean that then all atheists are communist. Logic man. Logic.

          • lrfcowper

            Um. What?

            Look, not all atheists are communists. Not all communists are atheists.

            But, the communist regimes responsible for murdering millions of people in the 20th century were ALSO ATHEIST regimes.

            Bigotry is not a problem of religion, it is a problem of human beings.

          • 90Lew90

            I came here on the back of someone I was debating on another site. I am in agreement with the leading entry. I joined in the debate and gave my perspective on this, since the main entry pertains to me to an extent. I haven’t said to anyone that they’re deluded or stupid etc. I’ve simply given a point of view. If this is to be a back-slapping comment board and you want me to shut up and leave, I’ll be on my way. I did say to you (or maybe it was your fellow mod) that I’ll be as polite as possible, but I will put forward my view robustly. I don’t mince my words. I appreciate economy with direct language and hate Janus-faced mealy-mouthedness. I try to be unambiguous. I happen to think that’s virtuous. If I’m offended by what someone has to say about an issue or to me personally, I take that as part of the cut and thrust of debate. I have no right to not be offended. That’s the spirit in which I enter into debate. I’m always happy to be shown where I’m wrong if I am wrong. If I’m not convinced I’ll hold my line.

          • BarbaraR

            I didn’t say that you said those things; we have had people say such things and I was giving those as examples.

            This is a safe space for people who are normally ostracized by mainline religion to post their views without fundies coming in and telling them they are going to hell. While some people come here and think this is a “back-slapping comment board” because we insist on viewpoints being presented as such, we do encourage people of all faiths (or none) to post. There are atheists who are regular posters here.

            However, “I don’t mince my words” and “hate Janus-faced mealy-mouthedness” may be code for “I fucking hate religion and have zero respect for anyone who is religious,” in which case there could be problems on down the line.

            Despite what people who are blocked from forums may say, they generally are not blocked due to their points of view. It’s generally because they’re being dicks.

          • 90Lew90

            When I said I hate Janus-faced mealy-mouthedness, I expressly and I hope unambiguously meant that I don’t use code and mean what I say. I try to be careful to write what I mean. If I meant “I fucking hate religion and have zero respect for anyone who is religious” then that’s what I would have said. As it happens that’s not my thinking. I can get along very well with religious people in debate and am genuinely fascinated by religion, particularly since it’s had such a big impact on my life. If anything my atheism has increased my interest in religion. I can respect an individual happily when the respect is earned. I just won’t respect his beliefs simply because they’re his, especially if those beliefs run against my own principles. That’s fair, no? I don’t want to be a cat among pigeons. But as I said, I liked the title post of this blog. We may well be on the same page in many ways. Your poster Wilm here though… I don’t much like being misrepresented; let’s put it that way.

          • BarbaraR

            It might be best summed up with John’s post here.

            http://www.patheos.com/blogs/johnshore/be-nice/

          • 90Lew90

            Cool. I see I’ve already had one post deleted. I’m not sure why. May I point you to an essay (not very well transcribed — the odd typo — but otherwise accurate) on ‘Nice People’ by Bertrand Russell? If you’ve got some time on your hands: http://spiritroombook.blogspot.co.uk/2005/11/nice-people.html

          • BarbaraR

            If you had a post deleted it was no doubt due to not complying with the forum standards as I outlined and as per John’s post.

            That’s how we operate here. There are plenty of places on the internet where such things do not apply and if people can’t abide by the forum standards, they are more than welcome to leave and go elsewhere.

          • 90Lew90

            OK point taken. I came from Bob Seidensticker’s blog here: http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined/ and am used to UK newspaper comment boards which can be pretty pugilistic. I’ll try to behave. But you do have one particularly annoying passenger here who is being provocative. I’ve decided to ignore him/her to keep it decent. But gawwd… Sigh.

          • BarbaraR

            There are lots of annoying people everywhere. Walk away.

          • WilmRoget

            You have not been misrepresented.

          • http://allegro63.wordpress.com/ allegro63

            Choosing to have faith in one’s life, or choosing not to is a personal choice. Both do have self serving aspects, both have non-self serving aspects. Religion is inert. Its what individuals do while practicing a religion that can make beautiful or horrific.

          • 90Lew90

            [anti-religion treatise deleted]

          • 90Lew90

            Since you deleted my extended reply, I’ll reiterate in short form. Religion is not inert. There is hardly a conflict on this planet today in which religion is not a very salient factor. Religion has never been inert. It’s political and it is rigid in its politics. What is Caesar’s is not rendered unto Caesar. This is simply a matter of fact and to reject that fact is, if you’ll excuse me, purblind.

          • WilmRoget

            Your argument ‘religion is political’ is useless, humans are political. Science and art and music and philosophy and every body of human knowledge can be, and has been politicized.

          • 90Lew90

            Exactly. So we’re finally on the same page. And since it is ideological, it is subject to legitimate criticism and debate. That’s that sorted then.

          • WilmRoget

            No. Again, you are being dishonest about terms. Religion is not purely ideological, it is based on experience.

            Atheism, however, is just an ideology, it is not based on experience. And that ideology is a derogatory attack on the lives, experiences, and testimony of most of humanity.

            Since atheism is ideological ” it is subject to legitimate criticism and debate” and yet you have whined repeatedly when your nasty ideology is legitimately criticized and debated.

            Further, your argument ‘religion has never been inert’ is empty noise. Few, if any, bodies of knowledge are inert.

            Frankly, your accusation at me, of setting up straw man arguments, is not only false, it is hypocrisy on your part. You employed a grossly simplified straw man characterization of religion, one simple enough to fall to your simplistic arguments.

            Religion is experienced, and the documentation of those experiences, and analysis and debate and discussion of those experiences, and philosophy, law, meditation, art, music, symbols derived from and used to communicate and teach those experiences and how to have them, and more.

            But you need to portray it as something constructed solely by reason, as atheism is, to have any sort of argument at all, without realizing, apparently, that your case against religion, based on that straw man, strikes even harder against atheism.

          • http://brmckay.wordpress.com/ brmckay

            Well said.

          • http://brmckay.wordpress.com/ brmckay

            What you call “religion” only entails the failed and distorted expression of it.

            You draw conclusions with a mere fraction of the comprehension required. Relying on rhetorical habits, and a sense of your own superiority.

            This error is exactly what you rail against.

            When was the last time you actually examined this passionately held belief system? Stopped reciting your opposition, and listened with new ears?

          • WilmRoget

            ” Religion is an illness”

            Homophobes say that homosexuality is an illness.

            “And religion en masse is undeniably harmful.”

            Funny, that is the gist of the standard anti-gay claim ‘if everyone were gay, humanity would disappear’.

            ” I’m pretty sick of the wilful blindness of the religious who cling to their religions like some sort of security blanket.”

            So you are basically sick of something that is actually a derogatory fantasy you’ve concocted about other people.

          • 90Lew90

            You’re missing the glaring point I made clearly that religion and homosexuality are not remotely analogous. I don’t mind defending points I’ve actually made. I’m not wasting time arguing about things I haven’t said. Take me at my word and don’t straw-man me because I just won’t bother.

          • WilmRoget

            “You’re missing the glaring point I made clearly that religion and homosexuality are not remotely analogous.”

            I’m not missing it. I reject it as categorically false.

            I pointed out that your derogatory assertions about religion parallel the derogatory things that homophobes say about homosexuality. You have the same message the homophobes have, you simply target even more people than they do.

          • 90Lew90

            If I’m not mistaken, you were talking about a spiritual impulse. I asked you why you chose your religion. I make a distinction between the religion practiced and the impulse to practice it. The latter is universal, the former — your choice of religion — is not. Sexuality is a condition of being. It is not in any way a choice, whether you choose to act upon it or not. It is simply there. In that way, your sexuality is not analogous to your chosen religion. You can leave your religion, you can switch religions. You can’t do that with your sexuality. Now I’m not about to flog a dead horse if you can’t get that into your head.

          • WilmRoget

            “If I’m not mistaken, you were talking about a spiritual impulse.’

            How can you know? You dismissed my post out of hand, asserting that you only scanned it.

            “I make a distinction between the religion practiced and the impulse to practice it.”

            Many homophobes now make the distinction between the sexual orientation and the sexual acts.

            “The latter is universal, the former — your choice of religion — is not.”

            You are right on track following the homophobe’s argument.

            “Sexuality is a condition of being.”

            So is spirituality.

            “It is not in any way a choice, whether you choose to act upon it or not.”

            So is spirituality.

            ” In that way, your sexuality is not analogous to your chosen religion.”

            Wrong. Just as the homophobes dishonestly confuse the outward expression of sexuality, sex acts, with the sexual orientation, you’ve dishonestly confused the outward expression of spirituality, religion, with the spirituality.

            “You can leave your religion, you can switch religions. You can’t do that with your sexuality.”

            One can switch their sex acts – standing up instead of lying down, with Joe instead of Sam, lights on or lights off.

            Again, you present yourself as wise enough to know that everyone else is wrong about their experiences, yet seem unable, or unwilling, to recognize the difference between the outward expression of something, and the inward expression of it.

          • anakinmcfly

            “Its starting point is that humans are fallen creatures. … Life is not so scary and people are not so bad.”

            But everything you’ve posted so far merely gives credence to the view that, yes, humans are fallen creatures, life is scary and many people are bad. Otherwise you would not have been hurt the way you were.

          • 90Lew90

            Shit happens. On the whole, life is good and so are people.

        • WilmRoget

          ” One of my earliest memories is of a bomb in a church”

          So, if a someone bombed a gay bar, would that mean that homosexuality is a ‘lifestyle choice’?

          • 90Lew90

            I’m afraid the logic I’m looking for in your question is escaping me. I’m feeling like giving you a stupid answer but since I’m new here I’ll refrain. Do you get me?

          • WilmRoget

            The logic is there, so your failure to see it is your fault, not mine. Your use of veiled insults only demonstrates that atheism is a prejudice, a means to insult people so you can feel superior.

          • 90Lew90

            No the logic isn’t there and your attempting to analogise homosexuality with religious belief is daft. Your inferiority complex is your problem, not mine. I can’t quite get the spectacle of a religious person (however vaguely liberal they are in their religion) claiming a gay person is persecuting them just because the gay person stands his ground to make a valid point. That’s upside down. The persecution of gay people — which is very real and very, very damaging — is underpinned and given legitimacy mostly by religious beliefs. That is the reality. At the age of 12, before I even knew for sure that I was gay, I had begun to smell a rat in the catholicism in which I was raised. By 16 I had shucked it off. I didn’t come out until I was 19 and I only really took an interest in religion when I was 27 and had been away from home for almost ten years, and returned to find the same old conflict still bubbling away, albeit more quietly than when I left. The attacks your country was subject to on September 11, 2001 made me sit up and take notice. My travelling in the Middle East made me take notice. And finally arriving back here and living in Belfast made me really take notice. I am entitled to hold my view. Stop with the persecuted Christian nonsense. It’s boring and it’s typical and it’s pathetic.

          • WilmRoget

            “No the logic isn’t there”

            You don’t know that, you cannot know that, you at most, ‘scanned’. Further, your empty denial means nothing.

            ” your attempting to analogise homosexuality with religious belief is daft.”

            Your derogatory dismissal accomplishes nothing. But hey, at least you’ve shown that your “I can’t be bothered’ routine was empty noise.

            “I can’t quite get the spectacle of a religious person (however vaguely liberal they are in their religion) claiming a gay person is persecuting them just because the gay person stands his ground to make a valid point.”

            Well, you made no valid point, there is no reason to believe that you are gay, and your characterization of the situation is entirely dishonest. And what you can or cannot get is not evidence of anything, it is, after all just your subjective feelings.

            But what a lovely example of your bias. Your subjective feelings are presented as if they were evidence, as if they are supposed to convince someone of something, yet you dismiss out of hand the experiences of people of faith.

            “I had begun to smell a rat in the catholicism in which I was raised.”

            That is your subjective feeling. It is not evidence. To paraphrase you, no matter how deeply felt, individuals still cannot provide any evidence that their feelings or opinions about their god in any way disprove the existence of God.

            “Stop with the persecuted Christian nonsense. It’s boring and it’s typical and it’s pathetic.”

            Typical oppressor talk. Homophobes pull that same basic dismissal when their anti-gay theology and homophobia is rebuked.

          • Yonah

            Why did you ask me the other day about my intersex question? Okay. Your experience as a Gay person is understood by many. I broached also the matter of intersex people, who are also very oppressed…and why their situation is not more talked about. And, you seemed to question why anyone would raise the issue…or what? I don’t know. But, I HOPE you have empathy for intersex people based on, at least, your own experience albeit in another situation.

          • 90Lew90

            It was the “officially exist in public” bit that got me. Your phrasing. I have no problem with intersex people. It’s not something I spend much time thinking about to be honest. I take people as they come. That’s part of the reason I object to labelling by religion, nation, sexuality and other us/them dividers. Nationalism was the disaster for the 20th Century. Religion — astonishingly and dismayingly — that of the 21st.

          • Yonah

            Well, now that I have your attention….don’t you think the reason why most people don’t think about intersex people is the SEVERE degree that they are in the closet…thus…not “officially” existent?

            So…..think about it. 1 in 1500 children are born with some type of intersex condition. There are more intersex people than Jews.

            So….once you think about it….HOW THEN can you not be concerned about the degree of their closet? Read the stories of Caster Semenya. I say: of all people GAY PEOPLE ought to be on the fore front of standing up for intersex people.

          • 90Lew90

            I’m aware of the story of Caster Semenya and was going to mention it. Her treatment, largely at the hands of the media which ran away with the story, was horrendous. As far as she’s concerned she’s a woman though. That should be all there is to it. I’m not sure why I as a gay person should have a special interest in this any more than I should have a special interest in racism. There are more gay people than Jews and there are more black people than Jews. I’m not even comfortable with the seemingly endless letters getting added to the GLB acronym. To be perfectly honest I don’t even like the ‘T’ being appended onto that for the simple reason that people who are convinced they were born in the wrong body, for instance a man who thinks he’s really a woman, wants to undergo a sex-change operation, but nonetheless remains attracted to women, have a whole different set of issues. Lumping people with those issues together with gay people is a hangover from the days when homosexuality was — wrongly — medicalized. Ditto intersexuality. There’s no reason why I should feel more strongly about those issues than any other kind of injustice. Why would I? Just because they’ve got to do with sex bits? Not everyone shares the obsession of the religious with sexuality, genitalia and sexual acts. Nuff said.

          • Yonah

            For my family member, the commonality I was thinking about was the “closet”, not “medicalization”. I tend to “hope” that empathy can be summoned…once people think about something. In this case, my hope simply was in vain.

          • 90Lew90

            Of course I have empathy to an extent. But get real. I can’t go around weeping at every news story I come across. Two things which predominate in the news at the moment gut me every time, and yes, I have shed tears over them. Gaza and the seemingly endless run of child abuse stories that keep emerging in the UK at the moment. I know what it’s like to be in the closet. I also know how affirming and strengthening it is to come out of the closet. Coming out is about playing the hand you’re dealt. But you’re implying that because I’m gay I should take a special interest in this other person with a condition that has as much to do with me as it has to any other person. Why? I have an interest in Gaza because the dynamics of the conflict between Israel and Palestine are directly analogous in many ways to the conflict that went on between Britain and Ireland. I was about to go to Gaza with the Palestinian Solidarity Campaign until Rachel Corrie was run over by a Caterpillar bulldozer, which signified a complete disregard for human life and peaceful protest even by foreigners to the Israeli brutality. My question then had to be: am I prepared to risk my life for this cause? Am I prepared to risk my own mental health in witnessing these things? Perhaps to my shame, the answer was no. I have no connection to Palestine and I know no Palestinian people. Possibly if I had known some or had any real relationships with Palestinians I would have gone anyway. But that is how close I got.
            There is no reason to my mind why simply because I’m gay I should have a greater interest in intersex people than in any other form of injustice. All injustice is regrettable and to be opposed. I’ll stand with anyone in opposing it. I’m always with the underdog. That’s in my nature. But sometimes you just have to fight your own fights and make your own ground before you can give other people and hand up. You know?

          • Yonah

            I don’t know.

            My daughter works hard every day on behalf of profoundly mentally challenged adults who cannot fight and/or make their own ground. Most are clients of group homes which do not take good care of these people’s medical needs. My daughter fights with and reports to the higher authorities, but still some of the clients die needlessly…three in the last several years.

            When I was pastoral intern in Texas, one Sunday I presented an adult Sunday School lesson on
            a denominational program to help imperiled family farms. A woman got very crappy with me in front of the whole class and chastised me with “Why are we talking about this? We have no farmers in this congregation.” In my third and last parish…where the vast majority were farmers…I remember two little girls..sisters, new to our parish. They were a year apart, but both of age to be in the confirmation program which I was most happy for. They were poor. Their parents had inherited a small farm from a family member who died. They were not farmers by background, but as they were underemployed and poor, they had no better hope than to pick up everything and move clear across the state to a place and life they new nothing of. They worked very very hard…and were very much struggling…and everyone could see that. But, the girls made it through the confirmation program with flying colors. They were my best students. And they were confirmed with the rest of the kids in the traditional white robes and red carnations…and the after service class and individual photos. I still have my confirmation photos in the same ritual and style. Weeks after the event, the girls’ mother softly inquired about the photos…she had not seen any forthcoming. I told her I would look into it. The congregational president was also the photographer…and so I asked him about the photos. His response: “They didn’t pay…they don’t get the photos”. I told him that I didn’t know people had to pay…how would they know?…besides, they don’t have money. He shrugged, and dug in saying, “No money/no photos”. I gave him his money without a word.

            Another day, a fellow Lutheran pastor called me up to pawn off a call that came to him. Some woman needed help of some material kind…and she was closer to me than to him…she had called him because her family had had a historic relationship with his parish. So, I said…no problem…whatever. So, I go there…a very depressed looking house and property…knock on a flimsy screen door…I can hear several children in the background….and very petite young woman…about 18 or 19 comes to the door. I explain that I’m pastor Dan, a friend of Pastor Doug…and he had allowed me to know that she had some need…and that maybe our church could help. She blinked for a minute, and then in a very small voice looking down…she confided that she had asked Pastor Doug for some help in getting some diapers…she had none left for the day of the disposable kind…and she had none of the old fashioned kind either. All she needed was diapers. I attended to it…in silent weeping.

            I got into trouble with my church council. I had told the confirmation kids that in addition to their catechism study, we would be doing social service projects including a CROP walk which was a community fund raising event for hungry people. I was accused of being a works righteousness leftist socialist. There would be no CROP walk.

            I got into trouble a lot on my internship. I marched in the local MLK parade. That was wrong. I spent too much time visiting a congregant who was in prison…and his mother. That was wrong.

            In my first parish I was told by the church treasurer every time he gave me my paycheck that the church wanted and needed me to go out and find new members. So, I did. But, I got in trouble for that. They were not solid middle class people, but working class people…with working class problems.

            When I went Jewish, I joined the synagogue social action group right away. I was surprised to learn that the group was only 6 people out of 400 families. The bulk of the program was simply hooking into a local community ecumenical group made up mostly of Christian congregations with a few Jewish congregations who were all doing the same thing…their six people were using the Christian group as a way to do Tikkun Olam. The head of our group confided to me that getting the synagogue council’s approval for association with the ecumenical group was an uphill sell….for the association would mean that the synagogue would have to take its turn in hosting association meetings…which were rotated among the congregations. The lady confided that the council just really wasn’t interested…but, seeing as she had personal clout in the congregation was able to get them to begrudgingly agree.

            This stuff is not particular to any group or type of person…lack of empathy goes to heart of the human condition which needs work.

            My wife and I have been, for some time, in negotiation with each other and with God, as to our elephant in the room.

            We miss being wrong.

            And, we can no longer evade being followers of Jesus Christ.

          • http://allegro63.wordpress.com/ allegro63

            Wow Yohah! What a story. It is so sad that we exist in a culture that has so little disregard for those in need. You and your family are good people, compassion is always needed, always welcome, regardless of one’s faith persuasion.

            I am fortunate with my church, a local UMC one. Care for the less fortunate is at the heart of our being, Our youth goes every summer to work on the homes of familes who often have health issues and not enough money for medicine AND home repairs. We have baskets outside our sanctuary to be filled with toiletries, food and linens for the poor, and we just completed a project called 1 million books, which collects and distributes books to children in the community. Lastly, we participate in a inter-denominational program that provides a rolling homeless shelter for homeless families, yeah, new members are always welcome, but its secondary to loving our neighbors.

          • Yonah

            My wife was a Methodist youth pastor. We met in seminary as she was a student there studying for Methodist diaconal orders. The Methodist authorities had given her permission to attend the Lutheran seminary as it was very close to where she was living. Her family were all Methodists. When her father was close to death, their pastor at his bedside began to pray with him the 23rd Psalm, but my father in law stopped him and substituted his own short prayer which was “Lord have mercy on me.” I have thought about that often…how mercy is so needed in all of the human condition, and yet so often counted as an alien value….thankfully, not everywhere. Thank you for what you and your church do. My wife and I will observe our 30th anniversary tomorrow. It has not felt like 30 years. Old people used to say things like that, lol.

          • http://allegro63.wordpress.com/ allegro63

            30 years! Congratulations on your continued honeymoon.

          • anakinmcfly

            In that hypothetical you presented, the trans woman in question is a lesbian and thus part of the LGB community too. Your argument would have made more sense if she’d been attracted to men, given that it’s straight trans people in general who feel less connection and relevance to the LGB community.

            Gay trans man here, and LGB issues are very much my issues and concerns. Because as far as most people are concerned, they have no idea what bits I have – it’s none of their business anyway – and treat me as any other gay guy.

          • WilmRoget

            “Not everyone shares the obsession of the religious with sexuality, genitalia and sexual acts. Nuff said.

            Your prejudices are duly noted as in the irony of your reduction of gender dysphoria to ‘sex bits’. Not all people of faith are obsessed with sexuality, genitalia and sexual acts, and many non-religious people are – including apparently at least one atheist.

          • lrfcowper

            You share much the same civil rights issues. In a nation or state that won’t recognise same-sex marriages, a transwoman who marries a man has the same issues as two women or two men who wish to marry each other. Gay people are often bullied, assaulted, fired, denied housing or public services because of their outward gender expression rather than because of any specific sexual relationship, just as trans people are. And of course there’s simply the public expression of entitlement that assumes that your genitalia and what you do with them (and, of course, assumptions about what you do with them without factual basis) is a public issue. Lots of intersectionality there.

          • UWIR

            I don’t understand how comments such as this, and the statement “As are atheists. You and your peers deny reality.” are allowed, if this blog really cares about respectful dialog.

          • WilmRoget

            Well, let’s see, if my rebuke of a personal attack on me is not allowed, then your rebuke of my rebuke is not allowed either.

            And taking ” “As are atheists. You and your peers deny reality.” out of context does not help you.

            Now, what I find interesting is that rather than address the issues raised, you have chosen to complain that a perspective you don’t like is not being silenced.

            You could, for example, attempt to demonstrate that atheism is not merely ‘ a means to insult people so you can feel superior’. Demonstrate that any insult to people of faith is accidental, incidental, and that atheism has a demonstrable and empirically proven purpose that transcends any insult it inflicts on people of faith.

          • UWIR

            I never said that your rebuke of a personal attack on you is not allowed, and I don’t appreciate you lying about my posts.

            “Now, what I find interesting is that rather than address the issues raised, you have chosen to complain that a perspective you don’t like is not being silenced.”

            I’m not complaining about a perspective I don’t like being silenced, merely commenting on the mods purporting to have a policy that they seem to enforce only against atheists. [Personal attack deleted]
            “You could, for example, attempt to demonstrate that atheism is not merely ‘ a means to insult people so you can feel superior’.”

            That would be pointless.[Personal attack deleted.] And I had to rewrite that sentence, as a candid expression of my feelings at your behavior would involve swear words. The idea that anyone would feel insulted by the mere fact that I don’t share their religious beliefs, let alone suggest that I have failed to adopt those views simply to insult them, is to bizarre and insulting for words.

          • BarbaraR

            The subject at hand is
            “Heard the news? Gay people don’t exist!”

            Do you have something to contribute to that discussion?

          • UWIR

            Are discussions that diverge from the original blog post not allowed? And if so, why is the “To not accept my religious beliefs is deeply insulting” bullshit being allowed to survive? At this point, it’s clearly not the case that you are unaware of WilmRoget’s behavior. While it’s possible that you are deliberating behind the scenes as to what your response will be, the current impression that you’re giving is that you consider it perfectly fine to post incredibly offensive attacks against atheists. I find that worthy of comment.

          • BarbaraR

            This subject has been gone over in this post multiple times. I am not going over it again. Not taking your bait.

          • http://allegro63.wordpress.com/ allegro63

            One’s personal religion preference is not grounds for deletion of comments or of banning. Lack of respect, flagrant obnoxiousness, over-weening pride and massive displays of ego. We have people from all faith walks who visit and comment here. Then we have people who show up with the sole purpose of being dickwads. (yes childish term, but also describes childish behaviour)

            That you’ve come here with, with an apparent axe to grind against another commenter, with whom you’ve had zero interaction with here, unless you are using an account you’ve had banned here, gives us no reason to take your stance seriously. If the latter is the case, than we most definately have no reason to take you seriously.

          • anakinmcfly

            It’s not deeply insulting to not accept my religious beliefs. It’s deeply insulting to deeply insult my religious beliefs and imply that I’m ignorant and deluded for holding them. Big difference.

          • WilmRoget

            ” and I don’t appreciate you lying about my posts.”
            Since I did not, you should be appreciative.

            “I don’t like being silenced,”

            The id UWIR have not been silenced. That is really an interesting point to raise. However, you did sort of complain that I was not.

            “they seem to enforce”

            Seem is subjective.

            “That would be pointless.”

            If addressing the issues raised is pointless, you’re left with nothing relevant to post about.

            ” as a candid expression of my feelings at your behavior would involve swear words.”

            That only reflects poorly on you. Your attempted ad hominem does not help you.

            “by the mere fact”

            Your false characterization of the situation is not helpful to your position here.

          • http://allegro63.wordpress.com/ allegro63

            UWIR will no longer be playing with us.

          • BarbaraR

            I can’t say I’m surprised. But there are many other playgrounds around the web.

          • James Walker

            I’m not 100% sure of this, but I think 90Lew90 and UWIR are the same person. I personally detest sock puppetry and think it may be worth mentioning as a bannable offense in the “don’t be a dick” section of the site.

          • BarbaraR

            That was my first thought – there were some noticeable similarities – but at this point I don’t think they are. (Subject to change if the evidence points that way.)

          • http://allegro63.wordpress.com/ allegro63

            I suspected the same thing. It was that “twilight Zone” theme song playing in my head that kept tipping me off.

          • Jeff Preuss

            Ooooooo, then you really won’t appreciate MY sock puppet account. It’s under the name Jeff Preuss.

          • http://allegro63.wordpress.com/ allegro63

            Can we keep him?

          • Jeff Preuss

            I like him. Can we call him Frank?

          • James Walker

            pseudonyms are fine by me. sock puppets are a different sort of animal all together. some really obnoxious trolls use them to post arguments and inflammatory threads wherein they are the only real participants. others only use them in an attempt to bypass being banned from a site.

          • Jeff Preuss

            Well, I post reasonable stuff as Jeff Preuss, but when I want to troll the intarwebs and stir shit up, I post as Jeff Preuss. ;)

          • BarbaraR

            Checked 90Lew90′s comment stream just now. As of ten minutes ago, he had this to say. Perhaps he was indeed UWIR and I missed it, or perhaps he was blocked for his own asshattery. Dunno. Don’t care much. But I do know his sense of self-entitlement and lack of self-awareness is staggering.

            “Since this is the “shit Christians say” thread… It never ceases to amaze me how quick they are to censor. I’ve just been blocked from John Shore’s site by an over-zealous mod and I’m a lot more polite there than I often am here. No swearing etc. They get all censory when they have no answer. Descendants of book burners.”

          • Andy

            If they are, they went to a lot of trouble to troll with different accounts. One of their IP addresses is from California and the other from England.

          • BarbaraR

            We had just such a troll at the news site I mod. She had the know-how to randomly change her IP.

          • Andy

            You can do it, it’s just a lot of trouble. Pretty pathetic if that’s the best use of his or her time.

        • http://brmckay.wordpress.com/ brmckay

          “I see no reason to “respect” any individual who believes that stuff just because they believe it any more than I should respect someone who believes the Iliad or the Odyssey.”

          It is foolish to paint all religious people with the same brush. It indicates that the above mentioned traumas have left you unhinged.

          There are certain areas where you should be mindful of your irrational bias. Perhaps taking a second look at your “fascination” with religion. It may be an intuitive understanding of it’s possible healing potential.

          There has not been, as far I can tell, in this brief study of your views, any interest shown in the underlying purpose of religion; i.e. relationship/comprehension/awareness of God.

          And I don’t mean the various conceptualizations, that our fellow creatures employ in their personal enquiries into the nature of that phenomena.

          Why not give your politics a rest for a while. Get a little more philosophical, scientific and generally more level headed. Figure out just what this ALL is, and how you even exist. Time is short, so why waste it on these tirades.

          You can remain “atheist” and still “grok” the Singularity. But not until you give up this war.

      • Guest

        I will respect yourFaith when you learn to respect my desire to dedicate my life with someone I love more than myself.

        I will respect your faith when you learn to respect the desire of gay youth to have a future, the future that marriage can provide.

        I will respect your faith when you respect my inherent dignity of human being.

        I will respect your faith when you with respect my right to life rather than allowing Christian preachers to blame every misfortune that the falls humanity on me from child molestation to terrorism to hurricanes to the current Ebola epidemic and in so doing to incite murder against others like me.

        I will respect your faith when you make it one that you can share with others like me without a reasonable expectation of harm.

        Yes, I am going Zola on you.

        • BarbaraR

          Moderator here.

          In case you just blundered in, this is an LGBTQ-affirming forum made up primarily of Christians.

          Being snarky to people who in fact are doing all those things you asked is counter-productive.

          • Guest

            [Jackassery snark deleted]

        • WilmRoget

          So you are saying that you cannot behave in a civil manner until other people treat you as you wish to be treated first.

        • anakinmcfly

          And the people here are doing all those things, so… I guess you’ll respect our faith, then?

        • lrfcowper

          Congratulations! You have found a group of people of faith who do all those things, therefore, you can respect us. Now, show us some respect by actually reading some stuff here instead of assuming you know what we’re all about based on stereotypes.

        • http://www.theunderstandingapp.com Kevin Osborne

          What if the Gorgon and Zola met?

    • radiofreerome

      you forgot the Zoroastrians. Everybody forgets the Zoroastrians.

      • http://allegro63.wordpress.com/ allegro63

        The Zoroastrians! What a fascinating faith. I’d never heard of them until about five years ago when I took a comparative religions class. It didn’t take long to discover some quite strong similarities to some of their beliefs and the Abrahamic ones, especially their afterlife beliefs of which modern Christianity has a variation of..Their means dealing with the dead was odd, but interestingly practical, from a nature perspective.

        Then I discovered strong similarities to the teachings of jesus to some of the teachings of Buddha, and my inner 4 year old when “GOODY!!! New stuff to ask and learn about!!” My poor professor/southern Baptist preacher.

      • 90Lew90

        I’ve been to Iran. Poor old Zoroastrians. Poor old Persians. What happened to them? Islam. An Abrahamic curse is what happened to that once eminent race.

        • WilmRoget

          Nice antisemitism there.

          Of course, essentially, atheism is intrinsically antisemitic. Perhaps that best explains the persecution of Jews under the overtly anti-religion, atheist communist regime in the U.S.S.R.

        • http://www.theunderstandingapp.com Kevin Osborne

          Read Gore Vidal’s “Creation” and you will see what happened to that society. (HINT: Top-heavy corrupt government factionalizing and unable to defend itself from invasion) Gore Vidal was a lefty, eh?

      • WilmRoget

        Well, in our defense, we are all just so busy NOT expecting the Spanish Inquisition . . . whose chief weapon is surprise, fear and surprise; two chief weapons, fear, surprise, and ruthless efficiency!

        Thank you Mr. Chapman.

    • lrfcowper

      Well, when I questioned a long time ago whether my family’s Christian faith made sense for me personally, I started with the Big Bang and the law of cause and effect. The universe and everything in it, including time and all the dimensions of time and space, came into existence some billions of years ago. That is an observable fact. The law of cause and effect says for every occurrence there was a preceding cause, but if there was a prime cause of the universe that set that law into motion, that prime cause must, by definition, be outside our space-time dimension.

      We, being limited in our investigative abilities, can only know anything about this prime cause based on inference, unless the prime cause actually were to somehow limit its extradimensionality in such a way as to interact with us directly.

      From there, I follow with the inference that the prime cause was intelligent and had some interest in developing life from the organisation of the base features of the universe in such a way as to support life and the base features of the universe, galaxy, local star cluster, solar system, and earth-moon system to support advanced life.

      Then I followed that up with a consideration as to whether any of the religious systems posited an intelligent, extra-dimensional creator, then considered the written works that recorded the oral history of the eyewitness accounts of people’s encounters with the divine (keeping in mind the context of those accounts– that they were often oral histories that had been written down later, that the eyewitnesses were fallible human beings, and that the writers of the accounts had particular audiences, issues, and intentions in writing), the history of the faith, the witness of living people as to their experiences, my own personal experiences, and a consideration as to whether the overall arc of the religion had resulted in more good in the world or not, keeping in mind that power-hungry, destructive people will always use ideologies that are respected in their culture to justify their greed and destruction.

      I came to the conclusion that the Christianity I grew up with was wrong on certain points and issues, but that none of those were core to Christ’s teachings but were instead fairly recent additions which much of worldwide historical Christianity did not embrace. I also concluded that the core of Christ’s teachings revealed an extradimensional intelligent creator with an interest in life and a love for humanity expressed in an evolution toward human equality and community.

      I could get behind that.

      Most of the atheists with whom I’ve engaged reject a God that I also reject, reject a religion I also reject, reject an unexamined faith that I also reject.

      What I don’t reject is that the same God worshiped and understood imperfectly by, as more than one atheist I know has called, “a bunch of Bronze-age goatherders” (Is there some atheist phrase book somewhere? Because, seriously, I see the same phrases all the time.) still exists today. And I fully expect in a couple thousand years, if humanity lasts that long, that somewhere some atheist will be telling some Christ-follower that their religion is the religion of a bunch of pre-spacefaring dirt-diggers in the same disparaging way. And they’ll dig out a clip from some ridiculous “Christian” movie that someone a couple hundred years from now collected into an archive of inspiring stories and that some power-hungry person is using to justify his mistreatment of blue-skinned photosynthesising hermaphrodites to prove you can’t be a Christian and support the rights of Blues.

      • http://www.fordswords.net/ Ford1968

        lrfcowper –
        It’s been a few days since I visited this post. I just have to say: YOU FREAKIN’ ROCK.
        Sending tons of love from the big apple this morning.

        • lrfcowper

          Thanks, from the boondocks of the Hoosier state.

          • http://www.theunderstandingapp.com Kevin Osborne

            I grew up in Indiana. Drop time out of your investigations except as an individual method of co-creation and you are there. (Not Indiana.)

  • http://mikemoorehome.com/ mike moore

    I’m Here. I’m Queer. Get Used to It.

    God, 30 years later, and I’m still having to say the same obvious thing to the same kind of stupid people … as I’ve been fond of saying in the past, YOU CAN’T CURE STUPID, BUT YOU CAN SEDATE IT.

    (Btw, John … ECO is the new affiliation of my parents’ church, as written about in my guest post from a couple of months ago. More on that, later.)

    • http://johnshore.com/ John Shore

      Oh my gosh! That is … so ugh. (Lemme go put that link in to your guest post…)

      • 90Lew90

        Hi. I wish you hadn’t deleted the response to my post. I’m not that thin-skinned. Was it that bad?

        • http://johnshore.com/ John Shore

          I have no idea what you’re talking about, 90. (But isn’t that you right below me here?)

          • 90Lew90

            Hi. Thanks for getting back. I thought you did your own moderating but have since discovered there are a couple of others helping out. A response to one of my posts was deleted apparently. Anyway, I liked your entry. Please excuse my getting heated with one of your other contributors, but he/she is a bit grating (arrrrgh!). All best, Lew.

          • http://johnshore.com/ John Shore

            Tell me who it is and I’ll have them shot. We don’t tolerate impertinence around here.

          • 90Lew90

            LOL. WilmRoget. You can probably pick up our exchange. Annoying. I’ve engaged a bit but I’m not getting sucked in any more. No need for the firing range!

          • http://johnshore.com/ John Shore

            Wilm is not one of the moderators here, so of course it couldn’t have been he who deleted your comment. More than that I can’t say because I just haven’t yet had time to read what I can see is One Hefty Exchange.

          • 90Lew90

            Thanks for getting back again. I realise Wilm isn’t a moderator but he had been trailing me and making annoying, pretty stupid responses and your mods seemed to be backing him up. I also responded to one of the mods who said that “religion is inert”. Now, I don’t know how anyone could say that, religious or not. So I gave a lengthy reply. “Poof!” Gone. I like reading blogs about religion because I’m fascinated by it. My interest in it has brought me into contact with history, philosophy and science and information that I would probably never have encountered if I wasn’t fascinated by religion itself first. But I am atheist and naturally enough that is the position I argue from if I decide to contribute. “Religion is inert.” What do you think about that?

          • http://allegro63.wordpress.com/ allegro63

            I am the moderator who deleted that comment. That you have to run and “tattle” is a bit much.. I simply followed the rules that we set into place here, a guideline can be easily seen at our “be nice” tab.

            If that is a problem, then there are loads of forums all over the internet that may suit your sensibilities better.

          • 90Lew90

            John Shore doesn’t seem to find what I have to say so objectionable. And can I point out that every posting I’ve made here, bar one, has been a response to someone. I have made one single post responding to the main article. It’s just below.

          • BarbaraR

            John entrusts the mods to keep this place safe. If we delete a post, he assumes we are right.

          • 90Lew90

            Do you ask him every time? And how exactly am I endangering anyone or anything here? Apart maybe from bursting some bubbles. That appears to be the main problem.

          • http://allegro63.wordpress.com/ allegro63

            No. We don’t ask John’s permission to edit or delete a comment. He knows we are adults and quite capable of doing our jobs without his constant overseeing.

            For the record, I have yet to see a single burst bubble done by you, Sorry dude.

          • Bones

            Well he burst my bubble.

            I thought atheists were intelligent.

          • BarbaraR

            You aren’t bursting any bubbles. Everything you are posting has been said here many times before by other anti-religion posters with an ax to grind (all of whom seem to think they’re the first ones to say this stuff – just like fundies telling us to read the Bible). It’s tiresome and old news.

            You are, however, being deliberately obnoxious to a group of people, primarily made up of believers, by making blanket anti-religious statements. Since you must be aware that you will not be changing anyone’s mind with statements such as “I have to say I can not understand how any half-intelligent and reasonably well-informed adult can hold their head up and say they believe any of the Judeo-Christian-Islamic cant,” the only possible reason for your continued presence here is to be a dick to people you’ve never met and who have never hurt you in any way.

            We have given you an enormous amount of free rein and you are abusing that privilege. I am not going to spell out exactly how you are doing that since I think you (like all trolls) are very, very aware of what you’re doing.

            As has been stated here numerous times: if you are unable to abide by the forum rules, go find a forum that allows you to be nasty. If you persist, we will invoke what I like to think of as the bozofilter, so named by SF Chronicle blogger Jon Carroll:

            Ban the jerk: Webmasters have absolute power over their Web sites. They can just boot people, for good reasons or for bad. It’s not about free speech; the Web is large. But just as you have the power to boot people out of your home, you have the power to boot them off your blog. And remember: Stalking and harassment are still crimes. Sometimes the real world is a useful place.

          • WilmRoget

            “John Shore doesn’t seem to find what I have to say so objectionable.”

            Where did you get that impression?

          • WilmRoget

            “Wilm isn’t a moderator but he had been trailing me”

            Your false accusations don’t help you.

            “making annoying, pretty stupid responses”

            Let’s see. In public, you purposefully revile something of great meaning in my life, and in the lives of nearly everyone else in my life, and most of humanity – far transcending annoying. I carefully point out the flaws in your arguments, and you rely on empty dismissals.

            Then, when your abusive remarks are deleted, and having asserted that you won’t communicate with me – you decide to bad-mouth me and complain how unfair it all is.

          • 90Lew90

            “I carefully point out the flaws in your arguments, and you rely on empty dismissals.”
            No my friend. You set up straw men and knock them down. Which is why I’m ignoring you.

          • WilmRoget

            ” You set up straw men and knock them down.”

            Nice lie.

            “Which is why I’m ignoring you.”

            Nice lie. You’ve replied twice to me today.

            And I’m not your friend. You can stop the condescending false intimacy right there. You denigrate and revile an valued part of my life, and the lives of most of humanity. Friends do not do that.

          • Jeff Preuss

            Really? I’ve been posting here for a while now, and I ain’t been done shot yet.

          • WilmRoget

            Is outpertinence allowed?

            I was a member of the MCC in the Castro for so long, it has become something of a habit for me.

  • WilmRoget

    Entirely in the spirit of levity – a thought occurred to me.

    The homophobes insist that there is no such thing as gay people.
    Atheists insist that there is no such thing as God.

    You know what that means . . . ; )

  • http://allegro63.wordpress.com/ allegro63

    And here we go…
    We read those passaged differently, which, if you take a moment to look John has addressed repeatedly and quite well. Please obsess about other people’s genital activity elsewhere.

  • BarbaraR

    My analogy stands. If you want to be picayune about it and pick it to pieces, that’s your shit.

    “just allow me to respond as I see fit.”

    No. Abide by the forum rules or get out.

  • anakinmcfly

    You can deactivate email notifications and then just go to disqus.com to see the latest replies – I find that more convenient.


CLOSE | X

HIDE | X