Patheos blogger deleting posts.

Dwight Longenecker (whom I refuse to call “Father”), runs a blog here at Patheos called Standing on my Head.  He has recently deleted a couple of posts, both having to do with atheists.  Hank Fox over at Freethoughtblogs wrote about the most recent one.

No, there’s no crime been committed. This is the blogging world, after all, and even I occasionally go back and smooth out clumsy wording in recent posts, or correct spelling errors, without telling people.

But to erase a post entirely, with all its comments, just because … well, maybe because you’re embarrassed by it? If you’re posing as this big-hearted paragon of Christian reason, lambasting the “atheist swarm” for their own lapses in reason …

Some are simply ignorant and aggressive. More of them are well educated and smart, but with a blind spot about God and religion.

… that’s a bit less defensible.

Hank is right.

Something I’ve noted with astonishing regularity is that conservative and Christian sites often restrict comments, sometimes entirely refusing to allow them. Whereas atheist and liberal writers typically allow anything and everything (okay, except particularly malignant trolls).

Again, Fox is spot on.  This goes the same for Thomas McDonald who deleted atheist comments from this post and eventually shut it down with a jab so ironically snide that it was self-depricating.  I’m hard at work on other writing projects at the moment, but as soon as I can sneak some time in, McDonald’s post is going to get obliterated by me.

But at least McDonald left his post up.  Longenecker is not even doing that, and it reflects poorly on both him and on Patheos.  What’s more, as the Catholic church has learned with its numerous cases of child rape and defending the child rapists, you cannot escape by hiding.  PZ grabbed a copy of Longenecker’s first post and the wayback machine allowed Hank to capture his second.

Is it Longenecker’s right to delete material?  Yup.  But it still reflects on him when he does.  If it were just the commenters he didn’t like, he could shut down the comments.  He already moderates them.  If Longenecker said something he regrets, he should either change his mind or say that he’s sorry.  Don’t delete the post as a means to avoid doing either of those things.


For an in-depth glance into the machinations of Longenecker’s mind in terms of apologetics, Claudia has a great post up over at the Friendly Atheist dissecting one of his recent arguments.  It’s lunacy pursued under the name of faith, nothing more.

  • Glodson

    I saw Longenecker’s piece via PZ Meyers. It was bad. Maybe he didn’t delete it, but rather the internet itself excised the stupid for fear of it being catching.

  • http://gravatar.com/improbablejoe Improbable Joe

    You almost have to feel bad for Christians. Their arguments are garbage, but they’ve invested so much of themselves into those sad little arguments. What can they do, but delete comments and entire posts, when the alternative is to admit that they are wrong, and have been tricked and fooled, and they have hitched themselves to a stump instead of a wagon?

    • Glodson

      I suspect that many of these posts aren’t really to drive a conversation, but rather to help with confirmation bias. I don’t believe it is a coincidence to see people more prone to freethinking, be they religious or irreligious, allow for more dissent, even vicious dissent, than the hardline Christian and Conservative posters. One group is setting out for a dialogue, for an engagement. The other wants to confirm the beliefs of those that already agree, and have their beliefs confirmed.

      This might be wrong, but it is what I suspect is going on.

      • Art Vandelay

        Yeah, I think you pretty much nailed it.

  • Smiles

    Shame and pride… it was an embarrassing moment for me prior my commitment to logic, I can see the fear in their eyes (as they realize you make total sense) that they have been wrong for so long. That’s what I felt, fortunately I’m able to admit when I’m wrong; it was all I knew, but then found something better, something rational. The question is, how do you convince one to swallow one’s pride, be reasonable, and admit “I’ve been wrong.”?

  • Alexandra

    Marc over at Bad Catholic deleted at least one of his posts where he announced his anti-contraception site 1Flesh. I think it was part of his effort to pretend there’s anything secular about 1Flesh.

    • Smiles

      The disinformation on 1Flesh is inexcusable… Are they TRYING to spread STD’s, bring about more unwanted pregancies, and ruin lives across the board?

      Actualy, yes…I think they do. It would seem to me that by creating a desperate/vulnerable group of people, they have a group to prey upon. Desperate people have been known to render desperate deeds…even believe in god(s).

  • Dave Pearce

    I tried to make a comment yesterday on his Existence of Atheists proves God post, and he deleted it in moderation. I just tried again with the post he has put up to day that includes an ugly misrepresentation of utilitarianism, but not holding my breath that it will pass his moderation, even though I believe I’ve been polite and stuck to debating the facts.

    If he does keep up this behaviour, it is just another bit of proof that being an ordained priest doesn’t make you honest.

    • Dave Pearce

      To be fair, he has actually approved and responded to my comment on utilitarianism (although is still trying to paint utilitarianism as something that it is not)

  • dorcheat

    Well at least with his latest posting about the Patheos atheist Bob Seidensticker’s 40 day prayer experiment, he admits deleting his first post about the prayer experiment that was posted this September 27 afternoon about 130 pm EDT before he deleted/replaced with an updated posting about 5 pm EDT this September 27.

    I copied part of a comment he posted on the Bob Seidensticker prayer experiment below along with time and poster tags.

    Fr. Dwight Longenecker says:
    September 27, 2012 at 6:41 pm

    The first post on this prayer experiment was done hastily and was not well informed. That’s why it went.

  • dorcheat

    Surely there must be a system adminstrator who can search the Patheos servers log files for everything that Longnecker has posted and/or deleted. Caches and waybackmachines are nice, but they don’t catch everything.

  • Suuuper_B
  • Gordon

    I had not realised he was writing a book about atheists. I just noticed (I think via Beth Presswood) that he’d been doing a lot of posts about atheists and then complaining that atheists were “swarming” to his blog. He can talk catholicism all day, but if he talks about us we have the right to respond.

  • lulu_footloose

    In my experience with debating with Christians, I’ve been told several times (usually a private message and not in the public area where the debate is posted) that my arguments are making people stumble in their faith . So I won’t be surprised that Christian websites/bloggers/youtubers don’t allow “atheist” comments in case the sheep realise that they are being gullible and lose their gullibility.

  • NGNHBU

    “Denial of God is about intellectually credible as denial of the holocaust”
    E-he-he-he.

    • Baal

      “Denial of God is about intellectually credible as denial of the holocaust” <–did god commit a genocide? hmmm, if we believe the book he did. Maybe the pro-xtian side would want to avoid this analogy. It parallels god to some not so nice people.

      • Rob

        You mean not so nice people that had “god is with us” as a motto?

    • Andrew Kohler

      I tend to get irritated when people complain about things being “offensive” (thank you Christopher Hitchens and Stephen Fry!) Nevertheless, this comment is absolutely repugnant, despicable, and deplorable. And in the same asinine and self-discrediting remark: “Not quite sure why I’m getting a sudden influx of depressingly illiterate atheists today (honestly, people: work on basic grammar and capitalization), and I don’t care.” Perhaps Mr. McDonald should take his own advice: while the word “holocaust” does not exclusively apply to Nazi concentration camps, clearly that is his meaning here, and as such it needs to be capitalized.

  • Art Vandelay

    Man, I’d love to be a fly on the wall at the Patheos Holiday Party.

    • me here

      *what* a thought! Love it!

  • John Horstman

    I was curious about McDonald’s comments because he said that he had to shut them down due to too many comments that were simply hateful and/or illiterate, but, of course, since he deleted the comments, I have no way to tell whether that was actually the case or the result of an overly-defensive reaction to having one’s ideas and particularly privilege challenged (I’m willing to default to believing him, since he left up plenty of comments challenging his ideas that were well-reasoned and literate). I’m far more suspicious of someone who tries to erase something wholesale.

    I poked around and found Longenecker’s referenced articles… They are seriously disturbing. He sounds like a member of the House Un-American Activities Committee talking about the dangers of the Communist and the homosexual. It’s a muddle of presupposition and projection, as well as bizarre equivocation (“atheist” is conflated with “not Christian in exactly what I think the One True Way of Christianity is”).

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