Ray Comfort capitalizing on a man’s suicide to spread lies about mental illness and life.

Ralph Barton was a popular cartoonist who shot himself in 1931.  Ray Comfort is now using his suicide to dig at atheists and, in doing so, to elevate Christianity.

"I have had few difficulties, many friends, great success; I have gone from wife to wife, and from house to house, visited great countries of the world, but I am fed up with inventing devices to fill up 24 hours of the day." -- Suicide note of cartoonist Ralph Barton.  Existence without god is futile...it is "chasing the wind."  It is the tragic fruit of godlessness.

Makes sense since no Christian has ever committed suicide.  Wait a minute…

Sadly, if Comfort had bothered to do any research, he would’ve learned that the reason Barton shot himself (that preceded the quote-mined bit from Comfort) was because Barton had “lost the only woman [he] ever loved”.  He was referring to actress Carlotta Monterey who had divorced him.  He was also a clinically diagnosed manic depressive who had eschewed treatment, allowing the condition to grow until it caused him to end his life.

The failure of his book “God’s Country” (1929), a satirical view of American history through drawings, and the onset of the Depression marked a downturn in his popularity. In January 1931, [Charlie] Chaplin tried to raise Barton’s spirits by inviting him as his travelling companion on an extended tour of Europe. The cartoonist started the journey well enough, but once they arrived in London he refused to leave their hotel and began exhibiting signs of paranoia. He returned home alone after only a few weeks. Fearing he was going insane, Barton shot himself in his Manhattan apartment shortly before his 40th birthday.

So no, Barton’s suicide note doesn’t prove that life is futile without god – it proves that people have the potential to become depressed.  It also proves that mental illnesses exist that torment people.  If god exists, he designed it this way.  What a dick.

But no, life is not futile without god.  Just as people, Christian and atheist alike, can become sad, they can also find joys that exceed any dreams of faith.  Check out this atheist conference I was just at this last weekend.  Good luck finding any church service where people are having that much fun.  If you want to talk about boredom that could tempt a person to end their own life to escape it, you can find it in the pews of just about any church on Sunday.

Plenty of Christians have killed themselves over a loved one leaving them.  Sorrow is not a stranger to anybody, and especially not on the basis of religion.

In fact, depression is a more frequent affliction of the faithful than a charlatan like Ray Comfort would have you believe.  A new study has confirmed that Evangelicals are more likely to be depressed than atheists:

The study, published in the October issue of Psychological Medicine but online now, followed more than 8,000 people in rural and urban areas in seven countries for one year. During the research, they were each examined at six- and 12-month intervals.

In those time frames, 10.3 per cent of religious participants became depressed, compared with 7.0 per cent for atheists and 10.5 per cent for those with a “spiritual understanding of life,” the study found.

And why not?  Being told repeatedly that you deserve hell and that you’re a failure in the eyes of god – why would that ever depress a person?  Or wanting to touch someone, but suppressing it because god says you can’t touch that person, or you can’t do it until you’re married, and then having to live with that frustration….it’s well documented that such things lead to depression.  So, way to go god for demanding behavior that leads to depression in the brain you created.  What a strange way for god to reward his followers.

Ironically, a third of Americans (the Evangelicals) are the ones who regularly believe that prayer and bible study are the only ways to overcome mental illnesses:

A third of Americans – and nearly half of evangelical, fundamentalist, or born-again Christians – believe prayer and Bible study alone can overcome serious mental illness, according to a recent survey by Nashville-based LifeWay Research.

Doctors and psychologists?  What do they know!  But imploring the being who supposedly conceived of mental illness and inflicted you with it for no good reason?  How could that fail?

A few things are certain: doctors employing evidence-based treatments rescued from mystery by intelligent humans is the way illnesses get cured, not by prayer; and the supposedly moralizing influence of faith doesn’t deter people from doing gruesomely unethical things like using a man’s suicide to promote their religion (and to make money).

If you have a mental illness, don’t go to organizations who have a history of not giving people anything in return for their money.  Contact the Secular Therapist Project and find yourself a doctor.

Ray Comfort: proof that a terrible person with a big smile and a cross is still a bad person.  The only difference is that it becomes harder for a lot of Americans to see what a bad person they are.

Said a commenter on my facebook:

If only somebody had told Rick Warren’s son about this ‘Christianity’ thing, he could have let the healing light of Jesus re-jigger his serotonin levels.

Yes, if only…

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.

  • baal

    Ray, of course, isn’t helping much. Let’s say you’re tending towards being a ‘none’ and Ray’s message is beamed to you. Now you have extra mental stress for feeling how you do and a promise that you’ll feel worse later (suicidal even) if you keep thinking like you do.

  • unbound55

    Capitalizing on the pain of others. Christianity at its finest!

    • sirald66

      I thought that was American healthcare.

  • Tim Keating

    I agree with all of this… except the jibe at Rick Warren. Let’s be better than the theists and not use a tragedy to make a fallacious point… especially in the body of an argument illustrating a theist using a tragedy to make a fallacious point.

    • Michael Hill

      Rick Warren looks a lot like Jerry Falwell. Don’t you think?

    • phantomreader42

      Pointing out that a high-profile christian suffered the exact same issue that BananaFucker claimed is a result of atheism is relevant to beating down the lying sack of shit. And when BananaFucker inevitably whines about atheists saying mean things about Rick Warren, maybe some of his followers will wake up and realize how incredibly dishonest and self-serving he’s being.

  • Canon Allen Peyton

    I was suicidal once. Suffered from depression. Then as now I am a Christian. My appeals to God kept me alive. I knew if I killed myself I would suffer in hell. But my healing came when God answered my prayer. A physician in my congregation confronted me about the symptoms she saw. She recommended a therapist & medication. I began a journey of recovery. I give God all the glory for His intervention. Yes, without God, life is futile.

    • iknklast

      I will say, I’m happy for you, but your story is just that, a story. I can counter it with my own story. I didn’t find myself fully healed from my depression until I gave up God and moved on to find my own purpose in life. Does that mean God causes depression? Only as much as your story means God cures depression – which is to say, not at all. It sounds to me like a physician recommending you to a therapist had the big effect; this isn’t God. This is medicine. I credit my therapist, and don’t state that the reason I got better is that I gave up God. It merely coincided, that’s all.

    • busterggi

      Was the therapist & medication of earthly origin or was the therapist an angel who appeared bearing medicinal manna?
      Real medicine cures, superstition doesn’t.

    • ThatCanadian

      So you were a suicidal christian, who got therapy and medication from a modern practicing doctor and you’re giving God all the Glory? Just checking.

    • Gehennah

      And I can tell you that I was extremely depressed during a lot of my Christian days.

      But I couldn’t be happier now as an Atheist. Every day, every moment, every person in my life are just that more special to me, knowing that this is my only shot. My life is far from futile without a god.

      I’m glad you got over your depression, but it had nothing to do with god, and it had more to do with the placebo effect and fear of hell.

    • Kodie

      But my healing came when God answered my prayer. A physician in my
      congregation confronted me about the symptoms she saw. She recommended a
      therapist & medication.

      You underestimate people. You prayed to god and went to church, where you looked apparently like someone with symptoms of depression to someone who noticed you, had empathy, and enough knowledge to give you advice. They weren’t an answer to a prayer to an invisible friend – they were another human being. We’re all in this together, without any outside help or intervention. You are basically saying that life without god is futile because you believe a person would not naturally care about your well-being only if god sent them to save you. You are living a life in which people don’t even matter to you, that’s why you don’t think you can matter to them. You would rather have your imaginary friend take all the credit.

      You don’t even say how much the therapy and medication help you, only that god gives you your only reason to live, still.

    • jwissick

      If your appeals to god are what kept you alive, why did you take medication and see mental heath professionals? Or are you just stealing the credit that is rightly due to those people and giving it to your god?

    • indorri

      I knew if I killed myself I would suffer in hell.

      You would not.

    • Matt D

      That’s nice, but considering your attitude towards the people that actually helped you, I’m suspicious at the details you leave out of this story.

      Such as, the reason for your depression, the amount of time you spent praying and attending church before you were approached, the medication you took, how “appeals” kept you alive when it’s clear the concept of “hell” was what stopped you, etc.

    • phantomreader42

      So, you got real help and real medicine from a real doctor in the real world, but you give all the credit to your imaginary friend. What an ungrateful little piece of shit you are!

      • Rhonda Stanton

        Is name calling really necessary?

        • Michael Hill

          Yes, it is.

    • Spider-Man

      I can’t tell whether or not this is a sarcastic parody of fundamentalists.

    • Michael Hill

      You are a worthless specimen of a Christian. You go to a doctor, but give thanks to a deity who does not care one nanosecond whether you live or die. God did not intervene. It was the therapist who saved you. Worthless maggot.

    • http://springygoddess.blogspot.com/ Astreja

      The therapist and the medication and the astute observation of the physician saved you, Canon. Please don’t give the credit to a god.

  • WTF: Sir Craig

    This seems to be Ray’s newest tactic. He did the same thing with Ernest Hemingway’s suicide in that idiotic “Evolution vs God” travesty. Last I remember, Hemingway had virtually NOTHING to do with evolution, but that didn’t stop Ray from throwing it in.

    Ray is, quite simply, loathsome.

  • Gehennah

    Comfort is a complete lowlife.

  • Mackinz

    I think the state of California should enact legislation to get Ray Comfort out of our state. I’m getting sick and tired of his shit, from his continued straw man arguments against evolution which “prove” he’s right, to the most despicable, immoral behavior of using a man’s suicide as a platform for advertising those stupid arguments.

    • jwissick

      If only we could….

      But you can report his LW for the crap it is on Guidestar and other nonprofit rating services.

    • Aarron Dixon

      Just don’t send him over here to PA, we have enough embarrassments already.

      • Mackinz

        If I had a choice in the matter, I’d send him to a federal prison for money laundering and other applicable charges for his business which revolves around making money off of gullible nitwits.

  • jwissick

    Ray is a slimy piece of shit that is willing to say and do anything, no matter how abhorrent, to push his moronic anti-science agenda. Not only does he reject evolution, astronomy, cosmology, but now mental health sciences as well.

    There is nothing the secular and atheist community can do to stop him other than refuting his claims to prevent him from gaining more converts. He must be confronted by the “rational” members of christianity to stop his war on science and reality.

  • Mick

    For info about suicidal Christians, check out the Circumcellions

  • Nathan Lawrie

    I think ray comfort is forgetting Christians also commit suicide. Take Adolf Hitler for example.

    • Gillian Bergh

      Hitler was baptised as a Christian, but decided the Norse gods were more to his liking. To him, Christianity was an offshoot Jewish religion.

      • Nathan Lawrie

        Although Hitler, Nazi Germany, and other related subjects aren’t ones I am well read in, I am quite certain his religious views had nothing that reflected Norse gods or mythology. He was also had confirmation. Correct me if I am wrong, preferably with some form of source.

  • Rhonda Stanton

    He had to go to 1931 to find an atheist that committed suicide?

  • Richard Lawrence

    So long as he uses these sorts of tactics he makes it very plain that he has nothing substantial to bring to the discussion.

  • Leafs Destroy

    Why do we, as atheists, give this guy the time of day. He would likely disappear from the zeitgeist if he were to be ignored. Sure the guy is obviously a turd in the punchbowl, but his arguments are so pathetic and his actual knowledge of anything scientific is so thin that making him the focus of attention degrades the standing of atheists everywhere. He is a non-factor, he should be relegated to obscurity where he belongs. This is why Dawkins will have nothing to do with him. He is worthless.

  • Equinox

    And of course the “fruit of GodFULLness” has brought us the joy and profound sense of purpose experienced by the Branch Davidians, Heaven’s Gate and Jonestown members as they committed suicide for their Christian god. Compare that with the emptiness of the mass, athiest suicides.. Ah right, there are none. I guess they must have all been off futily chasing the wind.

  • Domenico Celli

    ”It also proves that mental illnesses exist that torment people. If god exists, he designed it this way. What a dick.”

    ^ how are statements like this supposed to advance your (group/ website’s) interests and promote your point of view? It just alienates yourself from the people (that I assume) you are trying to reach.

    • JTEberhard

      It would only alienate me from people who don’t think creating mental illnesses and afflicting people with them is dickish behavior.

      Or from people who don’t mind cruelty, and I have no hope of reaching either of those people.

      • Domenico Celli

        I was referring specifically to the quotation that I pasted above my comment. I happen to agree, aside from the word choice; calling someone’s God a “dick” makes those who believe in a god defensive and more likely to react to name-calling instead of the more important issue.

        • Nilanka15

          What’s worse, calling someone a “dick”, or creating the concept of mental illness for humans to suffer from?

  • Domenico Celli

    ”It also proves that mental illnesses exist that torment people. If god exists, he designed it this way. What a dick.”

    ^ how are statements like this supposed to advance your (group/ website’s) interests and promote your point of view? It just alienates yourself from the people (that I assume) you are trying to reach.

  • Tinger

    What does it say about this jackass when he has to go back 80 years to find an atheist that killed himself for him to make money off of. Comfort is an idiot besides being a jackass.

  • Thomas

    How dare you say things like this about this man or atheism. Religion has nothing to do with this man’s life, leave him alone and pray for your ‘god’ ;)

  • Gillian Bergh

    I’ve worked in psychiatry, and met more patients who were very religious, than ones who were atheists.

  • Jubileo

    LOL, man you guys all talk about how christinaity is capitalizing off suffering of others etc etc. Yet you are doing the exact same thing on the message boards. What makes you so different from christians? The fact you dont have faith or believe? Here is a newsflash, you and relgious people alike feed off of fear/hate and spew venom. When will the world learn to accept everyone instead of verbally attacking each other. /SMH You are tearing apart one man for his beliefs and doing the exact same thing you are accusing him of doing. /Irony

    • Zinc Avenger

      I notice whenever anyone says “YOU’RE JUST AS BAD AS THEM” they always say it to the atheists, never to the theists. I wonder why that is? I wonder if it’s related to “WELL NOW WE KNOW WHO THE REAL RACIST IS”?

      • Jubileo

        You clearly missed the point because I said Everyone. /Fail is fail.

        • Zinc Avenger

          Ah, so you say “everyone” but you only post it on atheist blog comments. That’ll show those Christians!

          • Jubileo

            So magically you know what and where I post eh? Lol, man proving all my points and I didnt even have to do anything.

          • Kodie

            You know you can click on your name and read all the posts you’ve made?

          • Jubileo

            I use many allias, and this one is one of many. You both thinking I only use this is comical.

          • Zinc Avenger

            Lol, man not even knowing Disqus lets others browse your commenting history, which proves my point.