God Loves You!

I like atheistic diplomats.  I think Hemant is one.  I think Greta is one (even though she’ll deny it).  These guys treat religious people like they are sincerely pursuing the truth and just failing.  I don’t do that.  By default I treat religious people like they have a belief and are going to jump through pretty much any hoop to hang onto it regardless of where the evidence lies.  I speak to religious people often and this is how the majority of them, in my experience, comport themselves.

But the diplomats are less cynical than I, and I love them for it.  There are, of course, doormat atheists who I don’t like, and who should not be confused with the noble diplomats.

My father is also a diplomat, and he’s great at it.  But like Hemant and Greta (and most other diplomats I know), he does not shy away from calmly telling somebody how it really is when they go over the line.  This morning my father responded to a person quote-mining the founding fathers to make the “Christian nation” argument (in which the original commenter actually tried to argue that Christianity is not religion).  My father politely batted it down, after which another commenter swung in and said…

God loves you! I just said a little prayer that your heart will hear the word of Christ and soften your hatred towards all things Christian. I pray peace will find you and help heal your pathological disdain for Jesus Christ. I pray that someday you will be as tolerant of Christians as we are of you.

It’s the wonderful thing about debating Christians: they only have so many arguments, so you know ahead of time to what you’re going to be responding.  My dad’s plowed this field before, and responded…

The prayer isn’t working. Maybe you’re not doing it right. Perhaps you could try sacrificing a goat. I read in the bible that the creator of the cosmos rejoices in the stench of burning goat’s flesh.

I don’t have “pathological disdain for Jesus Christ”. I do have a powerful disdain for the willing self-delusion and system of lies and falsehoods used to support the religion built around him. A good example would be the one above, “But Christianity is not religion.”

I also have a boatload of disdain for hypocrisy such as yours. Your condescending arrogance designed to make me feel inferior and to make you feel better is exactly what I would expect from you under the pretense of compassion. Please do not pray on my behalf. Far be it from me to encourage you to ask for help on my behalf before the thousands of people who will starve to death while you’re praying get fed. If your god can’t help the hundreds of millions of people who are far worse off than I am, I don’t think there’s anything he can do for me. But if talking to your walls makes you feel better about yourself, you go right ahead.

If you were really going to pray for me, you would just do it and not tell me as you do after so many of my comments, like a stalker. It isn’t as if the magic won’t work if the fact that a prayer is coming remains undisclosed.

Praying isn’t used in this instance for any of the reasons that are sensitive or compassionate, as “I’ll pray for you” implies. It is essentially a declaration of forfeiture on the topic at hand. Using the phrase “I’ll pray for you” as a condescending last word getter comes awfully close to taking the lord’s name in vain. Perhaps you should pray for yourself….you obviously need it more than I do.

Before I usurp PZ as king of the zingers, perhaps I should work on catching my dad.

Father elected to leave the idea that Christians are tolerant of atheists alone.  I’ve been hearing Christians say this more and more when we criticize their beliefs.  Perhaps you guys could leave some suggestions on how to succinctly rebut that notion?

About JT Eberhard

When not defending the planet from inevitable apocalypse at the rotting hands of the undead, JT is a writer and public speaker about atheism, gay rights, and more. He spent two and a half years with the Secular Student Alliance as their first high school organizer. During that time he built the SSA’s high school program and oversaw the development of groups nationwide. JT is also the co-founder of the popular Skepticon conference and served as the events lead organizer during its first three years.

  • John-Henry Beck

    You’re a great writer, JT, but I think you do need to work at it a bit to catch your dad.

    As far as the Christian tolerance goes I have a suspicion that they feel they’re being magnanimous and tolerant for not burning dissenters at the stake any more. And that we should be grateful of that fact and stay quiet.

    • Kate from Iowa

      That is almost exactly what I wanted to say, but since the nocturnal fucking clog-dancers moved into the apartment above mine, I’m nowhere near that coherent.

      • http://itsmyworldcanthasnotyours.blogspot.com WMDKitty

        As someone who is apparently pre-set for a nocturnal existence, I’m so sorry you have to deal with asshats who just don’t get the concept of respect for others’ sleeping patterns.

  • Blenster

    Beautiful response….

  • sqlrob

    I’ve been hearing Christians say this more and more when we criticize their beliefs. Perhaps you guys could leave some suggestions on how to succinctly rebut that notion?

    For online arguments, links to all the cases of the sign vandalizing.

    • http://itsmyworldcanthasnotyours.blogspot.com WMDKitty

      “Oh, but they weren’t REAL Christians!” *gag*

  • John Eberhard

    Well, you could use some of this on their “tolerance”:

    Religion has attempted to marginalize and defeat legitimate questions and concerns by indignantly portraying any resistors as doomed, hate-filled, misguided, immoral, rudderless, angry, miserable, lost, and alone.

    When intolerance is enshrined in the constitutions of states, it gets pretty difficult to deny intolerance, doesn’t it?

    It took until 1961 for atheists to be guaranteed the right to serve on juries, testify in court, or hold public office in every state in the country.

    Article 1, Section 4 of the Texas Constitution states:
    ” No religious test shall ever be required as a qualification to any office, or public trust, in this State; nor shall any one be excluded from holding office on account of his religious sentiments, provided he acknowledge the existence of a Supreme Being.”
    Arkansas Constitution, Article 19 Section 1 of the 1874 constitution:
    “No person who denies the being of a God shall hold any office in the civil departments of this State, nor be competent to testify as a witness in any court.”
    Maryland’s Bill of Rights, Article 36:
    “…..nor shall any person, otherwise competent, be deemed incompetent as a witness, or juror, on account of his religious belief; provided, he believes in the existence of God, and that under His dispensation such person will be held morally accountable for his acts, and be rewarded or punished therefore either in this world or in the world to come.” and
    Article 37:
    “That no religious test ought ever to be required as a qualification for any office of profit or trust in this State, other than a declaration of belief in the existence of God…”
    Massachusetts’ Declaration of Rights:
    Article III:
    “As the happiness of a people, and the good order and preservation of civil government, essentially depend upon piety, religion and morality; and as these cannot be generally diffused through a community, but by the institution of the public worship of God, and of public instructions in piety, religion and morality: Therefore, to promote their happiness and to secure the good order and preservation of their government, the people of this commonwealth have a right to invest their legislature with power to authorize and require, and the legislature shall, from time to time, authorize and require, the several towns, parishes, precincts, and other bodies politic, or religious societies, to make suitable provision, at their own expense, for the institution of the public worship of God, and for the support and maintenance of public Protestant teachers of piety, religion and morality, in all cases where such provision shall not be made voluntarily.”
    North Carolina’s Constitution, Article 6 Sec. 8:
    “Disqualifications of office. The following persons shall be disqualified for office: First, any person who shall deny the being of Almighty God….”
    Pennsylvania a Declaration of Rights: Article 1, Section 4:
    “No person who acknowledges the being of a God and a future state of rewards and punishments shall, on account of his religious sentiments, be disqualified to hold any office or place of trust or profit under this Commonwealth.”
    South Carolina’s Constitution, Article 4 Section 2:
    “Person denying existence of Supreme Being not to hold office. No person who denies the existence of the Supreme Being shall hold any office under this Constitution.”
    Tennessee’s Bill of Rights: Article 9:
    Section 2. “No person who denies the being of God, or a future state of rewards and punishments, shall hold any office in the civil department of this state.”

    A public opinion survey in 2007 showed that only 59% of American voters would knowingly vote for an otherwise acceptable candidate for President if he or she was an Atheist. They are the most heavily discriminated against category studied. More Americans would be more inclined to vote for a qualified candidate who is a homosexual, a person over 72 years of age, a person who has been married three times, or a Mormon than would vote for an Atheist.

    Religion wants to control who we can love,with whom we can have sex, and how we have sex. It wants to control our most intimate and private relationships and actions. It wants to control and to sanction or to disallow our relationships, how and who is born, and when and how we die. It tries to control what we eat and when, and whether we fast or feast at times. It wants to determine how we dress, are groomed, and treat our own bodies. It wants to tell us how to raise and to educate our children. It wants to infiltrate and to use the government as an enforcement arm of its doctrines.
    In short, religions become cultures, and, like any other culture, they attempt to absorb, eliminate, or control other cultures.

    (Some of these words lifted from the writings of Greta Christina, Hemant Mehta, and Religious Tolerance.)

    • Jurjen S.

      That makes two slam-dunks by Mr. Eberhard (Sr.)! Well played, sir.

    • http://nathandst.blogspot.com NathanDST

      *sniff* I think I love you, John Eberhard.

  • http://mamamara.wordpress.com Mara

    I like your dad :D

  • Zugswang

    Every action by our society to move forward has been slowed by Christians dragging their feet or actively working to stem the flow of progress. So many Christians are either ignorant or delusional when it comes to the history of war and violence that allowed it to spread. And never mind the Crusades, the Spanish Inquisition, or the Salem Witch trials; Christians are just as quick to deny and prevaricate about the atrocities committed with regards to civil rights movements, all in the name of a divine paper tiger.

    Christianity isn’t tolerant. It’s the proverbial “Ass carrying the image”. A progressive, secular society has passed laws and cultivated codes of behavior that prevent Christians from practicing the more disgusting aspects of their dogma, but Christians find it more appealing to believe that it was their idea all along, because, like saying “I’ll pray for you”, it gives them the false sense of superiority they so desperately seek to maintain.

  • Brandon

    There really isn’t much of a way to counterpoint the “I tolerate Atheists” stance that doesn’t boil down to pointing out that its a stupid thing to say and that it (if really critically analysed) says some horrible things about the person saying it.

    1.) It’s just plain dumb to say. Of course you they have to “tolerate” Atheists just like anyone who ever owns a home has to “tolerate” house spiders. People disagreeing with you is as ubiquitous as it gets; you can’t hold a belief that someone, somewhere won’t disagree with. Since you can’t rationally think you can go around killing or oppressing everyone (in the whole world) who disagrees, then it’s painfully obvious you have to tolerate them just like you have to tolerate a whole host of other things in the universe that don’t match up to your goals, beliefs, and aims. You just accept it, and there’s literally no need to point it out.


    2.) If severely analysed, it makes the person saying it sound as though they really do want to burn the non-believers but, out of the goodness of their hearts they won’t actually do it. I doubt that this is in the minds of many people who say “I tolerate Atheists” but it is a notion that can be seen in the phrase.

    So when someone says “I tolerate Atheists (or anything like it) you can simply point out how a.) that’s a stupid thing to say because it’s already obvious that we all “tolerate” people who don’t agree with us and b.) it makes it sound like a part of them would actually rather see you burning at a stake.

  • http://www.russellturpin.com/ Russell

    Having a taste for cabrito, let me assure you that goat flesh properly roasted over a fire smells quite tasty.

  • dfl42

    “I’ll try and find new ways to rebut religious ignorance for you.”

  • Gwynnyd

    You don’t think the priests WASTE the yummy bits of the sacrifices, do you? Leviticus is quite clear that the priests usually get to eat the properly roasted flesh of the sacrifices. God only wants the fat, the blood, the caul over the liver and some other less than yummy parts. Other ancient gods were apparently so clueless that when they were offered a choice of what part of the animal ought to be sacrificed to them, they chose the heap of bones covered with the fat, rather than the meat disguised under the entrails (of course this can also be read as a mortality myth, take your choice.) Either way, the sacrificers got to keep the yummiest bits for themselves.

    So if the Christians are going to “pray for me” could they do it the old fashioned way with quail, or lamb, or suckling pig? I’d be happy to get the parts that their god doesn’t want.

  • http://faehnri.ch/ faehnrich

    That’s a great response from your father.

    About claiming atheists aren’t tolerant of the religious, what do they mean by tolerant? If they mean give them freedom to believe in their silly ideas, then all atheists I know are completely tolerant. If they mean they get to push their beliefs on others and have them influence policies and not having their unfounded beliefs criticised, then no I am not tolerant. They don’t have a right to not have their silly ideas criticised if they bring it up.

    This sounds like the usual religious persecution complex. How dare you not let me treat other people unfairly! They claim they are persecuted when they are the majority, and at the same time claim it is a Christian nation any way, and all us atheists really do actually believe in god.

  • kaorunegisa

    The problem is that the majority of believers who talk about their own “tolerance” are working from different definitions. Or, more pop-cultury, “You keep using that word. I don’t think it means what you think it means.”

    There are, of course, no arguments that make much of a difference to people who have already decided that whatever they do is right and whatever anybody else does is wrong. It relates directly back to the concept that God is good, therefore all things God does is good, even rape, torture, genocide, etc. By the same token, all actions performed in the name of God are good because, definitionally, God is good. It’s a sad form of circular reasoning that basically says that any action taken by them is tolerant and any action contra their position is intolerant not because of any objective reason, but rather because they’ve defined the terms as such.

  • http://surgoshan.blogspot.com/ Surgoshan

    Father elected to leave the idea that Christians are tolerant of atheists alone. I’ve been hearing Christians say this more and more when we criticize their beliefs. Perhaps you guys could leave some suggestions on how to succinctly rebut that notion?

    I’d say “point out the evidence”, but that clearly doesn’t work with faithheads, does it?

  • Wes

    I don’t think it’s necessary to rebut the idea that Christians are tolerant of atheist. Most Christians that I know (not in the media) ARE tolerant of atheists, and most atheists are tolerant of Christians. I think a proper response will point out that these groups should not be overly tolerant of one another, and that tolerance is not a virtue in itself. One should only be tolerant of things that are tolerable. Ignorance, hypocrisy, arrogance, and irrationality should not be tolerated.

    If someone said “I’m tolerant of atheists!” I would just say “why?”

    • kaorunegisa

      I think you touched on something at the end that really brings up an excellent point. Those who are, in fact, tolerant, don’t feel the need to mention it, like a bad mother starting a sentence with “After all I’ve done for you…”

      JT’s dad also touched on it when he talks about somebody saying they’re going to pray for him. Neither of these are good faith efforts at tolerance or love, but rather a very public showing designed to shame the other person into behaving.

      I suppose you could argue that if the person being sanctimoniously “prayed” for is cowed by these manipulative tactics, that’s sort of they prayer’s prayer being answered.

  • Blupp

    Hey, if Christianity isn’t a religion, does that mean that it shouldn’t be afforded the constitutional protection of a religion?

  • MathMike

    For hundreds of years christians took the idea of military conquest and used it to spread the faith throughout the world. It wasn’t until after the founding of the secular USA that they decided to start using nonviolent means. Not that christians have completely given up the sword, now it is often hiding under a candy coating. Christianity has taken the humanist message of, “Can’t we all just get along?”, twisted it to its own design, and then decided it is now tolerant of others. To me, it feels like a grade school bully who takes a kid’s lunch and then tells the kid how nice he is for giving half the sandwich back.