A Quick Newbie Guide.
Herein find links, resources, series list, Disqus markup tips, vocabulary, and disclosures of various kinds.
The First R2D Post Ever. For those who want to start at the beginning. (And let me say: you are brave souls. As of this update, I’ve got more than 1200 posts in the bag.)
The Rules of Engagement. What I expect from folks while visiting here–and what I commit to do on my side.
High and low Christianity. My approach to this blog.
What is a toxic Christian? I use the term “toxic Christian” a lot, so if you’re wondering what that is, here you go.
Judging its validity. Why Christianity doesn’t work for me.
Non-toxic Christian grab bag. Some Christians who I think get the religion (more) right.
Glossary of Terms. Just in case you wonder what a particular word means.
Disqus Formatting Tips. For those who’d like to use markups in their comments.
Disclosures. Various disclosures people might want to know about.
Master List of Series
Here’s the main list of series I’ve done here, all helpfully listed in order. If I missed an entry or you think a series can use a new addition, feel free to drop me a line. FYI: Lists are given from earliest to latest.
- This Present Darkness Mega-Mondo-Review
- The Unequally Yoked Club (new page)
- The Handbook for the Recently Deconverted (new page)
- The Cult of “Before” Stories
- The Christian’s Guide to Ex-Christians
- Christians Behaving Badly
- Redefining Words
- Defining Moments
This Present Darkness Mega-Mondo-Ultra-Review!
I began this series in a very tongue-in-cheek way. Then it got totally out of control! Now it extends across our Lord Snow Presides off-topic Mondays. I really think we’re going to finish the whole thing. We’re about 1/3 through as I update this section (January 2020).
- Marking an Era (Overview Ch 1-2)
- The Stereotypes (Overview Ch 1-2)
- The Persecution Fantasies (Ch 2)
- Magical Christian Jesus Powers (Ch 3)
- Magical Evil Demon Powers (Ch 4-5)
- Meet the Women and the Sexism (Overview Ch 1-5)
- The Sad Decline of Ashton (Overview Ch 1-5)
- A Muddling of Angels (Ch 5)
- Really Dumb Demons (Ch 5)
- Spiritual Warfare Overview (Ch 6)
- Training Spiritual Warriors (Ch 6)
- Legends In Their Own Minds (Ch 6)
- The Accidental Pastor (Ch 7)
- Eeeevil Ecumenism (Ch 7)
- Pretending They Won Anyway (Ch 7)
- Evangelicals’ Projection (Ch 7)
- The Stolen Evangelism Strategy (Ch 8-9)
- A White Knight Appears (Ch 8)
- Meet Professor Langstrat (Ch 8)
- Dat Jezebel Spirit (Ch 8)
- Those Demons of Psychology (Ch 8)
- The Tempting of Pastor Hank (Ch 10)
- FINALLY the Church Meeting (Ch 11)
- Abusing the Help (Ch 11)
- Edith Duster, the Party Tank (Ch 12)
- Nobody Talks Like This, Ever (Ch 12)
- Meet the Remnant (Ch 12)
- An Angel in the Back Pew (Ch 13)
- The Evil Ecumenical Church Service (Ch 13)
- The Anger of Evil (Ch 13)
- Weak Substitutes and Daddy Issues (Ch 14)
- Angels in the Parking Lot — An Urban Legend Retold (Ch 14)
- More Dumb Demons (Ch 15)
- Jesus Power in the Arcade (Ch. 15)
- An Exorcism Straight Outta Fantasy (Ch. 15)
- A Projected Conspiracy (Ch. 16)
- The Boss From Hell (Ch. 17)
- Angelic Meddling (Ch. 17)
Blessed Are the
Cheese-Peacemakers (Ch. 18)
- Susan Escapes the Hotel Gala (Briefly) (Ch. 18)
- The Journalistic Exposition Dump (Ch. 19)
- The Seduction of Susan Jacobson (Ch. 19)
- TPD’s Central Scam (Ch. 20)
- Ascended Masters and TPD’s Possible Inspiration (Ch. 20)
- Our Midpoint Slog (Ch. 21)
- A Wingnut Meeting Gets Completely Out of Hand (Ch. 21)
- The Hogans’ Very Evangelical Marriage (Ch. 21)
- Angels Betting on Zero (Ch. 21)
The Unequally Yoked Club
This series concerns how Christians talk about and behave in mixed-faith marriages.
I moved these to their own page–please click here for the link!
The Handbook for the Recently Deconverted
A follow-up series with a slightly different focus than The Christian’s Guide to Ex-Christians. I specifically aimed it at actual ex-Christians themselves, especially folks who want resources to help navigate life after religion. Most resources aim for the Christian half of the couple–and thus contain next to nothing that’s really useful for either spouse.
I moved these links to their own page–please click here to see them!
The Cult of “Before” Stories
- Tricking authoritarians. Why Christians keep. on. falling for fake testimonies.
- Keeping up appearances in the Cult of Family. Why Christians feel they must lie for Jesus in their testimonies.
- A Cult of “Before” Stories. The first post, the one that got me listed with RationalWiki. Discusses Mike Warnke’s rise and fall–and the reasons for both.
- The cult of “before” stories got a new member last month. Tony Anthony, a globe-trotting Kung Fu ninja and James Bond security expert who “saw the light” and converted to Christianity, turns out–shockingly–to be a total liar.
- When the scam ends. What Tony Anthony’s fall from grace tells us about the changing Christian attitudes toward conversion stories.
- From witchcraft to Christ. We look at the case of Doreen Irvine, another disturbed liar-for-Jesus who claims to have been a Satanic witch before her miraculous conversion.
- The truth that wasn’t there. Larry Norman was one of the first major breakthrough Christian pop stars, and he was as big a hypocrite as could be.
- Why they lie. Various Republican lawmakers caught being huge hypocrites–all for what they piously pretend is the greater good.
- Shane Hayes, Part 1. It’s becoming trendy for Christians wanting to sell stuff and get attention to join the Cult of Before Stories by claiming a past in atheism. Here is one of them, and here’s why his claim doesn’t hold water.
- A shocking twist in the old story of ‘Lying for Jesus’. I was pretty surprised by this one–pleasantly. A boy admits that his “near-death experience” involving a trip to Heaven was all made up.
- Heather Barwick, sharper than a serpent’s tooth. A woman comes from nowhere right in time to help her tribe of bigots-for-Jesus with their Obergefell problem. (This one has a really surprising update – not clickbait, I’m serious! It sure surprised me.)
- Welcoming Ben Carson to the Cult of “Before” Stories. This presidential hopeful bolstered his personal story with elements we’ve seen many times before around here.
- Bill Schnoebelen: desperate for relevance. He really wants to be a big-name Christian–so much so that he doesn’t mind just a little lying for Jesus.
- The Satanic Panic meets the anti-abortion culture war. Zachary King combined two different moral panics in his made-up testimony. (Here’s a mega-review of his testimony too.)
- Glenn Hobbs: totally an ex-Satanist. I spotted him in an old Satanic Panic video and found out what he’s been doing with his life since then.
- The Cult of “Before” Stories Welcomes Benedict Atkins! One doesn’t normally see these sorts of liars-for-Jesus in his denomination, but here we are.
The Christian’s Guide to Ex-Christians
- Bad Christians. Why bad Christians aren’t actually the problem that Christians think they are.
- Miracle Maxin’. Why miracles are not the argument-ender Christians think they are.
- Parables (really suck). Why parables are not as wonderfully effective at communicating ideas as Christians keep thinking they are.
- Your testimonies don’t really matter to us. Why Christians’ “testimonies” aren’t as persuasive as Christians keep thinking they are.
- Look, this isn’t that hard to understand. Why people are really leaving Christianity, and some of my usual wild speculations about why Christians aren’t willing to face the facts head-on.
- (You’re all) genuine Christians. (Okay?) Why Christians need to stop denouncing each other as false or untrue Christians.
- Hoping we’re wrong. Why Christians need to quit telling ex-Christians that singsong “I hope you’re right!” nonsense.
- Please quit threatening people. Why threats are so spectacularly counter-productive in talking to ex-Christians.
- False compromises. Why Christian “compromises” aren’t usually actually compromises at all.
- Dehumanizing the enemy. How Christians often dehumanize non- and ex-Christians, and why the tactic backfires as much as it does.
- Atrocity apologetics (needs to end now). My heartfelt plea to Christians to quit trying to excuse the various atrocities outlined in the Bible.
- When “experts” aren’t really very expert. Why Christian “experts” aren’t the compelling folks Christians believe they are, and what I see belief in these “experts” doing to the religion as a whole.
- Look, your miracle claims don’t work on us. A follow-up to “Miracle Maxin’,” wherein I expand a little on why miracle claims fall so flat.
- You’ve got to quit this tone trolling. When Christians can’t really engage with our objections, they try instead to police how we express ourselves and pretend to be oh-so-very-sad and “concerned” about us.
- Stop defending slavery. I can’t believe I have to say this, but seriously: stop it.
- When nice Christians aren’t really nice. Quite a few Christians have more in common with so-called Nice Guys™ than most folks realize–and that’s not a good thing at all.
- Engaging me. How a Christian could open a conversation up with me and not alienate me. (And how they absolutely won’t.)
- The things we did wrong. A semi-complete list of all the erroneous reasons why Christians think people leave their religion.
Christians Behaving Badly
- A Cult of “Before” Stories. Mike Warnke learns how easy it is to lie to Christians.
- The Myth of Christian Persecution. A homophobic pastor named Matt Slick is shocked to discover that his dancing buddy and hot-tub pal is gay, also convinced that gangs of gay kids roam the streets searching for Christians to beat up.
- Carrying the burden (of proof). Christopher Hitchens hitch-slaps Pastor Douglas Wilson for insisting that it is atheists who must disprove his religion, not he who must offer up evidence for his religious claims.
- The Daughters of Men. Infamously misogynistic pastor Steven Anderson goes on at length about why he is gleefully and deliberately sabotaging his daughters’ future happiness and potential.
- The cult of “before” stories got a new member last month. Tony Anthony, like Mike Warnke before him, enjoys fooling Christians until his inevitable denouement and fall. (Update here.)
- (You’re all) genuine Christians. (Okay?). A whole slew of Christians being hypocritical is examined, from Joyce Meyer to Fred Phelps.
- Can she bake a cherry (picked) cake, Billy boy, Billy boy? Hypocritical Christians Aaron and Melissa Klein, owners of the “Sweet Cakes Bakery” which famously refused recently to make a cake for a gay couple’s wedding, turn out not to mind all sorts of other things the Bible condemns.
- Youth pastors: I admit, I’m at a loss for words. Matt Pitt, an Alabama youth pastor, has a super-dramatic–not to mention literal–fall from grace. (Update here.)
- Raylan Alleman is a creepy, weird bastard. Catholic Raylan Alleman thinks that women should not be given educations or job skills and is weirdly specific about why and what will happen if they get them anyway.
- The Daughters of Women. Kim Hall, a Christian minister, writes an incredibly misogynistic and inflammatory piece about how Christian girls need to quit making her Christian sons think funny thoughts.
- Changing Faces. About Kim Hall and Rev. Austin Miles, two Christians who have substantially changed controversial blog posts without notifying readers about what changed or why.
- The Christian’s guide to ex-Christians: Dehumanizing the enemy. Oprah Winfrey decides that non-Christians simply don’t feel basic human emotions like she does.
- Another patriarchy type has bitten the dust. Doug Phillips, one of the right-wing’s right-wingiest loonies and a major leader in the homeschooling movement, turns out to be a basic scumbag. Quelle surprise!
- Things the Bible doesn’t talk about (like PTSD). I get very cross over two right-wing pseudo-science, junk-archaeology, and revisionist-history panderers, David Barton and Kenneth Copeland, who decide that since the Bible doesn’t talk about PTSD, Christians obviously shouldn’t suffer from it and should just cowboy up and pray a lot if they think they have it.
- When the scam ends. What happens when a Christian con artist gets caught.
- Joyce Meyer: Christian prosperity gospel for women (is a crock). We look at the amazing success story of a Christian huckster who preaches a unique blend of wishful thinking, just-world spirituality, and reality denial.
- Christian plagiarism. It’s downright strange how Christians trumpet their supposed morality and perceived stranglehold on niceness to the skies, yet swipe material constantly from other sources.
- Dear Christians: Please quit idolizing disgusting hate-filled bigots. Wherein I express my disappointment with Christians for their racism and privilege blindness, this time exemplified by one of the Duck Dynasty dipsticks.
- “Logical Christians”. Ever met a Christian convinced his/her religion is the only rational way to go? This is why that Christian is almost always a terrible person.
- “Billy did it too” is not an adequate reason to misbehave. Way too many Christians think it’s okay to violate Jesus’ commandments if they feel provoked.
- Scary, scary words. How I escaped sexual oppression and learned to treasure the scariest word I knew.
- Words (have power). Starting up the series and discussing, briefly, why I think it’s necessary.
- Love. What Christians usually mean by the term, and what it actually means. (Also examined here.)
- Convenience. Not just about abortion–this word is one that Christians love to hurl at dissenters.
- Facts. Christians don’t normally understand what this word means, so I’m helpfully explaining it.
- Theories (aren’t bills). I didn’t know what a theory really was till a few years ago–and most Christians still don’t.
- Faith. Christians often misunderstand this cornerstone of their religion.
- Tolerance. What it really means, and how to really show it. Also: what it isn’t.
- Sexism and “agreeing to disagree.” My response to one Christian minister’s plea that dissenters just shut up, that’s why, regarding women’s ordination.
- Persecution complexity. What “persecution” actually looks like.
- The most misunderstood word isn’t “Kingdom,” sorry. Christians are very hopped up on this whole “kingdom” word right now, so it’s a bit surreal to realize that they’re arguing about the wrong one.
- Free Speech: A Choose Your Own Adventure. As it turns out, CYOA stories are actually pretty difficult to set up! This one’s about determining if a situation really is a free speech violation or not.
- Lord, save us from your followers’ abuse–er, love. Christian love is a joke among ex-Christians for a reason. It looks exactly and precisely like abuse.
- Josh Duggar: Excusing the Inexcusable. In the wake of his scandal, Christians scramble to redefine the word “mistake.”
- Condoning sin: the new way to judge without sounding judgey. They can’t just not judge people, GYAAHH.
- Elevating the dialogue. Translation: bigotry, just expressed with 50% more Jesus simpering.
- God’s Club is busy redefining peace, love, and tolerance. Yes, that’s totally and for sure exactly what Christianity is all about. (/s)
- Conditional acceptance and bigotry-for-Jesus. A bunch of Christian bigots tried to redefine acceptance. One of them realized what she was doing.
- Respect: the song and dance that makes complementarians content. The word has two meanings, and terrible people in Christianity slide between those meanings without warning.
- Defining moments. The first of the moments, wherein I realized I could just not go to church.
- The first step. When I realized as a small child that Jesus doesn’t actually stroll into churches.
- The weird kid. When I realized in high school that my Christian schoolmates were terrified of a kid who claimed he was Satanic.
- Rapture scare, part two. The moment I realized that nobody in my church, not even the strongest Christian I knew, was safe from that fear of being Left Behind.
- The second I realized I was in the Unequally Yoked Club.
- Lying for Jesus: the library edition. Biff had found a novel way of distributing tracts to non-believers, and I didn’t like it.
A Glossary of Terms I Use.
Atheism. The state of non-belief in any gods or religions’ truth claims. The null state; atheism is not a belief in and of itself.
Avocadoes. Our hair looks great and we do not want to talk about it.
Bumble and Bother. The blog’s mascots. A pair of ginger tabby tornadoes who enlighten all our lives and make us happy. Look for the FULL KITTEN UPDATE tag for posts about them. Bumble has since found his own friend elsewhere, but Bother’s here pestering us night and day and being ridiculously photogenic. Patreon subscribers who donate $5/month or more get their very own digital photo of Bother!
Cisgender/Transgender. A transgender person identifies as a different gender than the one assigned at birth. Here’s a usage guide that’s very helpful.
Creationism. The belief that the Judeo-Christian god created the whole universe and all life on Earth by magic. It was renamed first “Creation Science” and then “Intelligent Design” some years ago but we will call this belief by its proper name here because we’re totally not fooled. Generally we’ll be using this term in the context of Young-Earth Creationism (YEC), which declares that this magic happened over a period of a few days and also that the Earth is 6,000ish years old, but some Creationists think it happened over many thousands or millions of years.
Deconvert. To leave a religion; also deconversion, the state of having left it. Examples: “I deconverted in the mid-1990s,” or “my deconversion occurred 20 years ago.”
Disengagement. The state of pulling away from overt demonstrations of one’s religious affiliation. For Christians, disengagement looks like not going to church, not using the label of the religion anymore, stopping Bible studies and prayer, and not trying to proselytize. Someone can be disengaged without ever fully deconverting, and some ex-Christians deconvert without ever going through a period of disengagement. Young people are the most likely to disengage from Christianity.
Fundagelical. A non-pejorative fusion of “fundamentalist” and “evangelical.” Does not include hardcore Catholics but they do indeed act a lot alike. Back when yr. Captain was a bright-eyed Christian lass, evangelicals and fundamentalists were very different people. That time is long gone.
Jesus Power, Jesus Aura. Christians tend to think that they are hosts to the very spirit of their god, which makes them possessed–but in a good way, sort of. When they’re really in their groove, they may feel that Jesus is glowing out of every pore and orifice like the Beast at the end of that animated Beauty and the Beast. This power gives them miracle-working abilities and also the capacity to convert anybody they like; it means that they are directly tapping into the power of their god. You won’t often hear them explicitly talking like that, but it’s not hard to see that they think this way when they charge into other people’s spaces and then get astonished that their efforts backfire.
Magic Christian. The Christian who will totally explain all those problems you have with their religion in a way that you’ll totally understand at last, and smooth away all those troublesome objections you have so you’ll totally (re)convert on the spot. Invariably, their attempts involve apologetics nonsense that you’ll have heard six billion times already–and refuted long ago.
Nice Guys™. When the ™ is used, the term means men (or women for that matter) who think they’re “nice,” meaning “generally inoffensive and polite,” when they really aren’t. Niceness gets used as a substitute for any other outstanding qualities and is expected to be rewarded with sex and affection from whatever unfortunate person the Nice Guy™ chooses; when the reward isn’t doled out accordingly, the Nice Guy™ gets furious and weepy. Generally, these “nice” people aren’t self-aware enough to realize that they’re actually not very nice at all.
POC: People of color; non-Caucasian folks. Also: WOC, Women of color.
Toxic Christian. A really nasty Christian who is in the religion to dominate others and feel superior to non-believers. Often fights as much with loving Christians as with non-believers.
TRUE CHRISTIAN™. A mocking take on the way Christians divide themselves up into “true” and “false” Christians and invalidate the beliefs of anybody who differs too much from themselves. It means a Christian who believes basically the same thing as the Christian using the term, who hasn’t gotten caught doing anything really sinful, and who dies in the traces. Any time one of those conditions is violated, the Christian feels free to assign that person to the “false Christian” pile. Obviously, what makes one Christian a TRUE CHRISTIAN™ in one person’s eyes makes that Christian a false one in other people’s eyes, and just about all Christians believe they are “real” Christians and judge other Christians by their own example. It’s all very confusing and it’s really too bad there isn’t a book or something that Christians could use to figure out just what being a Christian should look like. Then we could give one of those books to everyone, and there wouldn’t be any questions at all.
WLC. William Lane Craig, a famous apologist. He’s hinged his career on the use of the Kalam Cosmological Argument, which goes basically like this: Everything that comes into existence had a cause. The universe exists, so obviously it had to have a cause. Therefore, Christianity is totally true. I’m not kidding. If some smartypants decides to ask what caused his god, he’ll say that well duh, his god always existed and is therefore exempt from this argument. I’m not kidding there either.
I don’t have any financial connections to any products, people, goods, or services I talk about on this blog unless I specifically mention such a connection. If I receive a product for free in return for a review of it, I’ll mention that fact.
I often monetize links to Amazon and my own original YouTube videos. I get no other reward from these links unless I specify, and I will specify if that is the case.
If I’m personal friends with someone whose name comes up on the blog or I’ve had an unpleasant experience with them somewhere else, I’ll say so.
I reserve the right to talk on my blog about letters or comments I receive. If you left a comment publicly, then I’ll happily credit you with the ideas presented. (If you are a commenter here and end up changing your commenting name/ID or get nervous about your name being in lights, please just tell me in whatever way you’re comfortable with and rest assured I’ll change it as you wish.) If you sent a letter privately, I’ll keep your name out of it unless you said something really terrible, in which case I might. See our Rules of Engagement if you want to know what I consider terrible; this’ll be stuff like threatening people, being particularly insulting, or evangelizing in an especially obnoxious manner.
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Patheos/BeliefNet pays me for blogging here. I also operate a PayPal and a Patreon that fans and friends can donate to if they wish, and I appreciate all of it.
Disqus Formatting Tips.
Disqus uses a few different HTML markups. Use < > symbols rather than [ ] to bracket. Use / to close a tag afterward.
<U> – Underline. Recommended for links as well, since Patheos’ reformatting has taken out Disqus’ natural blue/purple markup color scheme for links.
<I> – Italicize.
<B> – Bold.
<blockquote> – set off quotes in a comment. Make sure to close your blockquote afterward! This can get messy if you’re mult-quoting, so be careful to close what you open.
<spoiler> – to obscure text with a spoiler blanket. Use whenever you write something that might gross someone out, get them in trouble with others shoulder-surfing them, or of course spoils a surprise. We generally don’t spoiler old books or movies, but you do as you like there.
<A> – an anchor to an outside source. Use HREF for other webpages, or IMG for just images.
(Samples: <a href=”rolltodisbelieve.com”>Forum</a> –and to hotlink images, <A IMG=”https://media.giphy.com/media/en3LpcUdnwpZ6/source.gif”></A>)
You can stack HTML tags too: <a href=”rolltodisbelieve.com”><U>Forum</U></a>
To link a YouTube video, just link whatever’s in your upper address bar and it’ll embed all by itself. Disqus handles the code without you having to do anything else so you don’t have to do anything special to link it in comments. Just link the address itself.