Atheist Undergrad to Christian Pastor: Don’t Be a Dick

Atheist Undergrad to Christian Pastor: Don’t Be a Dick April 29, 2013
A student at St. Cloud State University protests the preaching of John Chisham on campus on April 23, 2013. (Photo by Molly English)

When I first arrived on the campus of St. Cloud State University in January to teach Introduction to the New Testament, a couple of the students mentioned the preachers who come to campus. It seems that, as a Christian minister myself, they thought I should know how Christians are seen on campus.

Last Thursday, as class was about to begin, they asked if I’d been around the previous day to see the traveling preachers make their annual appearance. I hadn’t, so one student began showing me photos she’d taken on her phone.

You can imagine my surprise when I recognized one of the preachers: John Chisham, aka, “Pastorboy.”

Longtime readers will remember Pastorboy. He used to comment on this blog regularly (he was banned from commenting by me in 2009), and to post about me and others on his various blogs. He allowed me to interview him on video when my book, The New Christians, was coming out. And he was the lone protestor outside of JoPa’s event, Christianity21 – we had 21 women preachers speak at that conference, and he preached 21 sermons on the sidewalk outside (since, of course, women are not capable of preaching the gospel in his twisted theology).

Chisham is a Christian and Missionary Alliance (C&MA) pastor in Marshall, Minnesota at River of Life Alliance Church. But he regularly travels to preach his hate-filled “gospel” message at gay pride parades and college campuses. The StarTribune covered him at a gay pride parade here, and when he preached at Mankato State University in 2010, a bunch of students took him up on his invitation for them to come to his church — they came, and stood silently in front of the church bearing signs of their own. Of course, Chisham did not take this in stride but called on the university to sanction the professor who advised them.

As you see in the photo above, and the uncropped version below, this year the students at St. Cloud State also fought back against his hate.

Students at St. Cloud State University protests the preaching of John Chisham on campus on April 23, 2013. (Photo by Molly English)

The photos were taken by Molly English, a student in my class who is double-majoring in Women’s Studies and International Relations. She’s also an atheist who is taking my class on the New Testament. I asked her about the incident, and she wrote the following, which I post here with her permission:

These takes place on a tiny “hill” right outside Atwood between Atwood and Stewart Hall. It’s a huge main point for students to pass by.

Apparently, they stand on a piece of public land that can be rented out, and that’s why the campus cannot do anything about them, unless they “disturb the peace” by using a megaphone or by singling out students (which they do anyways).

Anyways, they are like bugs that crawl out when the sun comes out. I’ve been told that they have been doing this at SCSU for at least 10 years or more? I was also told by my (openly queer) Women’s Studies teacher Beth Berila that they go to several campuses.

Many repeat a common rumor: “They aren’t even pastors. They just say that shit to get people to punch them, and then they sue the university for money. That’s how they keep their livlihood and make an “‘income.’” I personally doubt this.

They are known to single out students. From what I’ve heard, it tends to be women who are pointed out as whores for make-up or low-cut tank top shirts.

Obviously, the other main concern is their direct attack on homosexuality as a sin and in need of repentance. Then comes non-Christian believers = sinners and damned and in need of repentance. Then he speaks of smokers and how he saw the light and was a sinner himself, ect…

As an Atheist, I already am quite aware that I am in the minority and that Christians have more power in this country. So to come to school and be forced to hear and see this shit, it makes me livid and disgusted. I can only imagine it is the same for anyone who is queer or other non-Christians. I just want school to be a safe place where we don’t have to feel this way, not when we have to feel it every other moment of our lives in Minnesota.

John Chisham’s companion with a sandwich board of sins at St. Cloud State University on April 23, 2013. (Photo by Molly English)

So, why post about this? Why bring more notice to this hate-monger who misunderstands the gospel?

Because his hate must be be countered with love and respect. His bad version of the gospel must be countered with a better version of the gospel.

Because when we crawls out from under his rock to preach hate and judgment, many undergrads are pushed one step closer to forsaking the Christian faith altogether.

Kudos to the students who protested Pastorboy’s preaching, and kudos to Ms. English for writing to me about how it feels to be an atheist and a GLBT ally when these idiots come to campus.

And to those of us with a better version of the gospel than Pastorboy, let’s figure out ways to counter their hate.

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  • Stephen J. Bedard

    I too would be embarrassed to have a preacher like that on a campus. Many street preachers have no sense of connecting but are only interested in preaching at people. I do have one question for you though. Would you consider any Christian who considered homosexual activity to be a sin as having a gospel of hate?

    • No, not necessarily. I have many friends and theological colleagues who consider homosexual sex to be sin, but I don’t find them to be hateful. They also don’t refer to women as “whores.”

      • Craig

        Do this preacher refer to women generally as whores, or just to fornicating sorority girls and the like? I suspect the latter.

        • Chris Baca

          Does it matter? Is calling any woman a whore at any point anything BUT hateful?

          • Craig

            I think it’s helpful to look at this question from within the perspective of a fundamentalist Christian preacher. From within such a perspective I could see that it might not be regarded as any more hateful than calling someone “evil,” “wicked,” or “a Jezebel” or a “sodomite” (but perhaps you regard all such terms as hateful?). Of course, a term like “whore” also borrows meaning from outside the narrow perspective of the fundamentalist preacher. When the Westboro Baptist folks are using a term like “faggot” they are willfully exploiting that factor. But does this necessarily mean that such usage is hateful? I’m not sure. At any rate, some of these fundamentalist will surely defend such statements as words of tough love–on a par, perhaps, with their all-loving God calling condemning his beloved people to exile, slavery, and death (after calling them a whore).

          • Ben Hammond

            I also assume he is not an equal opportunist in his verbage when it comes to men.

            • PSABeliever

              Ben, you assume falsely. I have heard this guy- he calls men out who ‘sag’ their pants. Even at the U of M once I heard him tell a young man to put on his shirt because a woman should not see his nudity outside of the marriage bed. I have never personally heard him call anyone a whore, but I have heard him said that women and men who wear inappropriate clothing dress like whores, as well as making the comparison to the proverbs about how a harlot dresses to entice a man. All of this to say that I have never heard him call anyone out as a whore.

              • Ben Hammond

                Oh. My apologizes then.

          • This is the tactic that they use. They think they get to be judge and point out the sin in the lives of others.

            • Giggles

              They are warning people of the judgement to come. Remember that every person is going to have to stand before God and give an account for every thought word and deed. God is going to judge these people and God calls Christians to warn them that they will have to face a Righteous Holy God on the day of judgement and if they do not repent and trust Jesus they are going to have to pay their own fine in Hell for eternity for breaking Gods laws. They are warning people that they are in trouble. They are not judging people but warning them that those things are sins and that they are breaking Gods laws and if they do not turn from them they will have to face the wrath of God. What they are doing is very merciful. They have to point out sin the Bible tells us that we do not know what sin is but by the law. Romans 3:20 ” Therefore by the deeds of the law there shall no flesh be justified in his sight: for by the law is the knowledge of sin.” No one can keep the law and so everyone stands before God guilty. Most people do not realize that they are in trouble with God and these men seem to be warning people of that fact. No one will turn from their sin and trust Jesus unless they understand they are going to be guilty on Judgement day. You would say terrible things about Christians if they did not warn you and you died ad stood before God and said no one told me that breaking your law was Bad. But really you know that God it is wrong to break Gods laws. God wrote it on your heart. you know and you have hardened your heart. You are all mad at them because they speak to your conscience and remind you that those things are bad to do and that you are guilty. You want to keep doing what ever you want and they are a symbol of the judgement to come that you know you will face. Repent and Trust Jesus.

            • PSABeliever

              Julie, that is an utter distortion of what these men do.

        • pi31415

          Unless the sorority girls are literally fornicating right in front of him (which I seriously doubt), then how on earth does he know they are “fornicating”? And how is it even his business?

          He’s the one in the wrong here.Calling women whores is never ok.

          • Craig

            You are perhaps too skeptical pi31415. Some Christians might say that man of God could know such things though the workings of the Holy Spirit. Personal testimony from the girls themselves might suffice. I once saw a street preacher ask his audience questions. Members of the audience freely confessed to various specific “sins”.

            • PSABeliever

              This is what I have heard both of these men do consistently. In fact, at Mankato once I heard them ask “anybody here like to have sex outside of marriage” and all sorts of cheering and cussing from the crowd indicating they did.

      • Stephen J. Bedard

        Nor should anyone refer to women as whores. Thanks for the clarification. My question was based on some among progressive Christians who seem to think that those are critical of homosexual activity as having their beliefs based on hate. I believe homosexual sex to be sin (as I believe pre-marital and extra-marital heterosexual sex), not because I hate people with same-sex attraction but because I can’t get around that interpretation of the Bible.

        • Emily Fleming


          I`m honestly curious; the bit of the Bible that most folks interpret as calling homosexuality a sin is the same part that has the rules that define certain foods as sinful, along with the wearing of mixed fibers and crop rotation. Do you also interpret those as sinful? I’ve read the book in question, and it’s actually much more specific and less open to interpretation about those than it is about homosexual activity.

          (To clarify, while a lot of people do use the Bible for hateful purposes, I mostly find people who differentiate illogical rather than hateful. I’m curious as to the logic of which verses get kept and which don’t.)

  • Tom McCool

    When I attended Purdue University in West Lafayette, Indiana in the late 70s/early 80s, a preacher who was known as Brother Max made regular visits to campus. He stood on campus property and preached outside on the Memorial Mall, a campus gathering place and a location set aside for various demonstrations of free speech. Apparently the university gave permission, as an institute of higher learning, to provide this service to a wide range of groups to express their views. Brother Max never singled one person out for his rants, but he generally referred to the students who would listen (he seemed to be a source of entertainment for some) as fornicators and drunks. I don’t recall any gay-bashing, but it’s been a few years. There was an article about him in the student newspaper. Max traveled with his family in a motor home. His wife and children worked odd jobs in a central location, while Max made the circuit of nearby college campuses. I’m pretty sure he never sued anyone for money. He seemed harmless enough, but I suppose now, in this age when we have a presumed right not to be offended, he would probably be regarded as dangerous. And I also assume that had Max had singled anyone person or group out, he would have been barred from campus. I do hope that universities, especially public institutions, remain open forums of non-hate speech and ideas.

    • Lausten

      Great memory, Brother Max also came to Indiana University.
      He walked a very fine line of hate speech. For the students, most seemed more interested in how to make fun of him than actually argue with him. I stayed to talk to him once after the crowds thinned out and he presented Pascal’s wager. I’d never heard it before, so I didn’t know to call it that, but I knew it was unbelievably ignorant.

      This is really the only purpose I see these guys fulfilling.
      A University is a place to learn how to defend the things that you felt were true as an adolescent. Sometimes you find out you’re wrong in the process. Professors can be wrong too, but hopefully the system overrides those occasional errors.

      To do that, there needs to be a way to critically examine the questions. For this issue, that has to include facing statements about women remaining silent in church and other statements made in the epistles. This may also lead to questions about who really wrote them and why. Simply making up nicer interpretations or attempting to sweep these issues under the rug will just lead to more haters like these.

    • Freshman year at Illinois (’83), warm day with the windows open, Chemistry TA is talking about whatever, and from the Quad comes a loud call of “FI–RE!!!” TA didn’t even pause until he noticed we were all wondering what was going on. It was the crowd joining whenever Brother Max came around to his prediction of “judgement and FI-RE!”, which was pretty often.

      People were used to his schtick and had obviously chosen mockery as the best response, if any response was given. Like Tom said about Purdue, it seemed that he was entertaining for many, at least to a point. In my experience it didn’t make spiritual conversations more difficult, maybe because any genuine conversation and interest in another person was a total contrast.

      • Tom McCool

        LOL! I forgot about his “FI-RE!” call. He was definitely more of a character than a danger.

  • You have no idea how much I want to call people like Chisham idiots and dicks or hold up a sign saying “Fuck this hater”.. Two problems with that: 1) it gives them power and 2) It goes against the gospel .
    It gives them power because it legitimizes what they’re saying. There are a lot folks out there who are freakin’ terrified of all the changes coming at them and anyone who is defending the status quo (however badly) will find receptive ears here. When those embracing the changes throw rocks at these “defenders”, those scared people will rally around these guys, which just makes matters worse.
    It goes against the gospel because Jesus said “Love your enemy”. I don’t know about anyone else, but I can’t say those kind of things to, or about, somoene and still hold any amount of love in my heart.

    How do we counter these hateful messages? First, by understanding that people like Chisham will always be with us. If it’s not Chrisitianity they’re using to express their hatred, it will be something else. Second, by doing exactly what you advocate: present a better version of the Gospel. We do that every day by loving our neighbor, even the dicks like Chisham..

    • Btw, I’m digging the Disqus. Much easier to comment now.

  • Craig

    I suspect that most of these guys are just idea-driven individuals who, unlike most church goers, have truly taken to heart what they first heard in Sunday school. Compared to progressive Christians, I can understand why these street preachers think that they have a stronger claim on the teachings of the New Testament, the model of the prophets and the apostles, and the call to follow the Christian God.

  • Shew! Thank God I’m not like that sinner…

  • tanyam

    I wonder if this student can appreciate just how humiliating this sort of thing is for Christian people. Unfortunately, there is no “license bureau” for calling oneself a Christian. Anybody can. Any hater, anybody who is mentally ill — they can do what they want in the name of Jesus Christ. Or America.

    Yes, we can call it out — but I begin to despair. I have the same problem with being an American. I can say I don’t agree with the policies of my government — but putting distance between that label and myself is a full-time job too.

    I feel tons of sympathy for Muslims also. The vast, vast majority of whom are as mortified by what so called “Muslim terrorists” do as I am by this guy.

    So I’d like young people to see that most Muslims, and other Christians, will never have a megaphone big enough to cancel it all out. (Not to mention time and money.) I’d rather give my money to the food bank, or the LGBT shelter in my city than buy a multi-million dollar ad campaign that runs in prime time and says, “Christians aren’t all this dumb and hatefilled.” Am I making a mistake? Would it make any difference to this student to have the names of all the churches who are gay-positive, all those that are providing refuge and opportunity to lgbtq young people who’ve been tossed out of their homes? (for just one, see Trinity Shelter, NYC.) Would it make a difference to see photos of all the churches that organize every time Westboro Baptist comes to their communities to hold up signs like the ones above (maybe a little more demure, but essentially, ‘we dont’ agree’) or all those that organize pflag groups — even all those with a rainbow flag on their doors, because where I am, I see plenty of those — but it never seems to be quite enough to cancel out guys like this, who just stand there, getting attention.

  • One of my readers referred me to this article as I have done two recent articles on this very thing, discussing whether this is an example of Christian love. I was glad to read this. In one of my articles (What is Real Christian Love? Is This it?), I reference a 42-minute video in which street evangelist Tony Miano is on his megaphone outside an abortion clinic debating with a guy who does not like his loud presence there. But not only is he on his megaphone, there is a guy videotaping this exchange. What a spectacle. And who does this benefit? In my current article, I included a Twitter discussion between street evangelists and a couple of folks who challenged them on their “method” of evangelism. It’s enlightening to read their defenses. They call it loving. I do not agree.

    • Giggles

      They murder human beings at an abortion clinic. How loving is it to murder people? I would say that is more unloving to murder sweet little babies. I would say a guy on a mega phone telling people to stop murdering seems reasonable. The fact that there are people that are not upset that the abortion clinic is murdering people is unloving. A Baby is precious and sweet and can not defend itself. It is unloving for them to rip a baby apart piece by piece by a high powered vacuum cleaner to kill it. A guy yelling at people to stop ripping babies apart with vacuum cleaners seems reasonable. If someone was murdering a person in front of me I would say yelling at them to stop would be the least I should be doing.

      • David

        This kind of hing is why I started my blog at I used to hold the same beliefs as pastor boy but not so gregarious about it but never the less just as offensive.

        I just came across an interesting fact the other day: a while back a friend gave me a Boswellia Sacra tree, this is the tree from which the Frankincense was taken and offered to Jesus at his birth. Of all the different Frankincense trees in the genus Boswellia the Sacra is the only one which is bi-sexual. It is self-pollinating. Just something to think about when considering the symbolism of the gifts offered to our Lord. ref: Cultivation of Boswellia: sacred trees of Frankincense by Jason Eslamieh, 2011

      • john karl

        I agree Giggles. Where were the voices during the Holocaust? Many knew, even Christians, but said nothing. It is the direct result of the moral relativism of that time period that allowed for and perpetrated the murder of Jews, Gypsies, the less desirables, and yes, homosexuals, in that period of history. And where are we today?

    • PSABeliever

      Julie, IF abortion is murder, and IF no murderer (the mother, the father, the Dr., the nurse, and the secretary in the clinic are either murderers or accomplices, is it not loving to warn the mother that murder will condemn them to a place called Hell (IF the Bible is correct), and to those who have murdered their babies, isn’t it kind to share with them the truth of salvation? I think it is. Just my opinion-backed by the Word of God.

      • Sven2547

        Your personal opinion, backed by your personal interpretation, of ancient scripture that has been interpreted a thousand different ways.

        • Giggles

          Sven2547 Do you think murder is ok? You are all good with people going around murdering human beings? What other way would you interpret this? “”You shall not murder.” Exodus 20:13 I think it means Do not murder. What do you think it means?

          • Sven2547

            You seem to misunderstand the pro-choice position. It is not that pro-choice people think murder is okay, but rather we do not consider the abortion of an embryo to be “murder”. Your rhetorical question of whether I think murder is okay is childish and dishonest.

            Naturally, there are many folks in the pro-choice camp, myself included, who are very unsettled by the idea of aborting a healthy late-term fetus, and there is a rich conversation to be had on the subject of ‘where do you draw the line?’ You don’t want the conversation. You try to shut down the conversation by calling everything “murder”.

            Correct me if I’m wrong, but the only place the Bible mentions terminating a pregnancy is Numbers chapter 5, where the Bible RECOMMENDS an induced abortion in cases of infidelity. PSABeliever can kindly take his ego down a few pegs from ‘my opinion is backed by the almighty Creator of Heaven and Earth’. That’s the sort of attitude that creates zealots, jihadists, and corpses.

            • Giggles

              An Embryo is a small human. When you start to say that a human is less than human then you make it ok to murder them. This is what Hitler did to the Jews and people did to black people. They made them less than human and then it was ok to murder them. An Embryo is human and a person and so it is murder. The line is conception. If you make the line any place else then the line can be moved and you can come to the conclusion that anyone that is inconvenient to others can be murdered. It is a very disturbing that people are choosing who gets to live and die when the humans they are murdering have done nothing wrong. If you do not want to have a child then do not have sex. The issue with this generation is that they want to have no consequences for doing whatever they want and they are willing to murder so they can have pleasure.

              • Sven2547

                I draw the distinction between a lump of cells and a live person, therefore I am like Hitler? You do your cause a disservice with such outlandish rhetoric.

                Did you bother reading Numbers 5? Unlikely. I would be giving you too much credit to think you read your own scriptures. The Bible defends the practice. Carrying on your absurd comparison, does this mean the Bible is like Mein Kampf?

                • Giggles

                  Watch this video and you can see that it is not just a bunch of cells. The Bible tells us not to murder. Hitler believed in Evolution and was trying to help evolution along. Atheism leads to Mein Kampf and all that they did. The creator of Planned Parenthood loved what Hitler did. Marget thought what Hitler did to all those Jewish, Christians, homosexuals and other people was awesome.

                  • Sven2547

                    Arg! So many already-debunked copy-pasted talking points!

                    • RushLimba

                      And he invokes Godwin’s Law.

                      BTW, one of Hitler’s planks in his initial campaign was to restore the Church to its rightful place in government…CHRISTIANITY was the basis for many of his tenets and beliefs:

          • RushLimba

            John, why are you hiding who you are under a fake name? BE OUT AND BE PROUD, PASTORBOY, JOHN THE BAPTIST, ETC!!!

            It’s your sadly common tactic to blogspam by using 2 – 4 different names, but you use the exact same words and phrases (as well as a common IP address there in Marshall, MN) making it painfully obvious you are sockpuppetting.

            • Giggles

              I am not John and I do not live in MN.

  • 2TrakMind

    I would suggest that what Pastor Boy and others spread is not the Gospel, at all. What they teach is rooted in the old covenant law and a law based mentality, which precedes the gospel. Suggesting that we need to offer a “better gospel” can be perceived as the two (gospel, or grace & law) being one in the same, or that the two can be mixed in the same bucket. They cannot be mixed! Paul couldn’t have made this any clearer in his teaching. Unfortunately, though, the majority of Christians today don’t even know what the gospel is, as they have been brought up on a slurry of law & grace, and are taught that we’re saved by grace, but are perfected as we comply with the law. NO! We are made perfect through Christ, not the law! There is no law for those who believe in Christ!

  • This is the shit that makes me hang my Christian head in shame. When the world gets hateful, we must love more. Love and respect.

  • Giggles

    Question for you Tony. From what I can tell from your blog you claim to be a Christian. Have you tried to witness to this atheist young lady and explain that being a lesbian is a sin? What will happen to Ms English if she dies and does not repent of her sin and trust in Jesus? Is it loving not to explain that she is going to face the wrath of God. You know how she can receive forgiveness but unless someone explains she is in trouble with God and there is a solution she will not seek after it. Are you loving if you do not explain the wrath of God? She is condemned already John 3:18. This man is not condemning her or affecting her security. He is warning her that she is condemned already, so that she can run to the feet of Jesus and receive mercy.

    • Emily Fleming


      My apologies, but any god (I’m using the lowercase one here because while I’m prompted by your comment, I’m trying not to refer to any specific god) who is hateful enough to condemn love between consenting adults, prideful enough to demand worship, and shortsighted enough to condemn good people to eternal suffering for not following a specific set of occasionally arbitrary or currently irrelevant rules* is not a god who is worth worshipping. I’m friends with several people of various Christian faiths (Church of England, Catholic, and Seventh-Day Adventist, mostly), and the god you’re describing doesn’t sound a lot like the god of love who brings them such comfort and happiness.

      *Not eating shellfish made a great deal of sense in a hot climate with no artificial refrigeration, but not so much now; that’s from the same bit of the Abrahamic holy books that people tend to use to call Do you keep slaves? I certainly hope not, but that’s another instruction the Bible is completely okay with giving (it’s even got bits that describe how many lashes are to be given to them per offense!) that people choose to ignore because it’s irrelevant unethical in a modern civilized, compassionate society. A lot of stuff made perfect sense when you wanted to increase numbers in a desert ecology without electricity, but we have both electricity and enough people now.

      • You might want to ask your friends of “various Christian faiths” if you have correctly interpreted their understanding of the God of “love who brings them such comfort and happiness.”

        • Giggles

          We have all broken Gods laws by lying and stealing, coveting, hating and lusting, fornicating, committing adultery and deserve to burn in hell for eternity because God is rich in mercy he made a way for people to be saved, which is God himself taking the wrath of God instead of us if we repent and trust Jesus. So true Christians have joy and comfort because God himself loved them so much to take the wrath of God on himself. True Christians get to heaven not because they earn it or deserve it but because God became man and lived a perfect life and took the wrath of God on the cross and died. Jesus rose from the grave proving he was God and showing that death could not hold him. If you repent and trust Jesus you will Go to Heaven. If you trust that you are a good person you will go to hell for breaking Gods laws.

      • Giggles

        God sends people to hell for lying, stealing, hating(which is murder) lusting (which is adultery , murder. Is it wrong to murder? That is not an arbitrary law. Is it wrong to steal? It is the 10 commandments that you have to worry about. Have you lied? Have you stolen? Did you disobey your parent? Do you hate the men in the picture above? If you hate them then you murdered them in your heart. You will be judged by your actions and end up in hell. There is a way to heaven and God made that way and he did not have to make a way.

    • Molly (undergrad)

      I am the “atheist student” Tony and yourself are speaking of, and I literally just burst out laughing! (This blogging thing can be addicting.)

      You have completely ignored a blatant fact behind your reasoning. You seem to be treating me, as an atheist, like a “dumb bushman” who does not know how to be civilized and needs to be guided. I can read, I can write, and I can access the internet. There are very few people in the entire world who have not heard of Jesus Christ or have not had access to a bible. On top of that, I am living in Minnesota, and I am taking a CRITICAL READING OF THE NEW TESTAMENT. I am literally reading the bible every week for class and discussing it.

      So please, do not talk to me as if I am stupid. I know what you believe and what the “word of God” is in your opinion. I couldn’t escape Christianity’s influence in the U.S. if I tried.

      Your flaw: You, as an evangelical Christian, believe that is your duty to enlighten people about the word of God. In ancient times, this makes sense since, literally, people had no access to this information. But you know that I have access to this information; everyone in America does (especially if we are taking a religious class with Tony Jones). I have chosen NOT to follow the Christian way, because I do not believe in it. So there is no need to sit me down like a child and act as a superior being as if you are doing me a favor by informing me about the story of Jesus (“your” interpretation of the bible); your logic seems to be that the only reason I am not a Christian is because I have never heard of it before.

      To answer your question: no it is not loving to force me into a conversation I do not have a choice of being in, all while telling me that your views are superior to mine.

      Clearly, as I am not going to change your mind, but I would still like to add that bullying and hate speech does cause unsafe environments and behavior.

      Lastly, did you think that because I am a supporter of human rights (such as discrimination against queer folk) that I identify as a lesbian? You deduce incorrectly. Why, last night, I had some of the best atheist heterosexual sex with my equally atheist husband.


      Mr. Jones, I do not know how you can handle these types of arguments every week on your blog. I feel depressed and drained just from responding to this ridiculous comment. I’m so frustrated and it’s almost 2 AM, and I am making myself get off and go to bed. Now.

      • davehuth

        Hi Molly,

        Thanks for writing this. Trolls like Giggles show up all over the Internet, including this blog (sweet baby moses they show up ALL THE TIME). It usually bugs me when people respond to them, but not this time, because it added a level to the discussion that i value a lot. I love it when real humans (like you) show up to a discussion of abstract concepts and hypotheticals, and say, “I can hear you talking and I’m not an abstraction.” So thanks! And don’t forget to study for Tony’s final exam! :- ) And feel free to come here and give us your opinion of it :- )

      • PSABeliever

        Hello Molly,
        I have been following with utter amazement this blog post and the replies. I will identify myself as a Christian- not one like Tony Jones, because I believe that the Bible is inerrant, the Word of God that must not only be studied but must be applied. Tony Jones is so blinded in his sin and rebellion to the Word of God that he teaches that he gives kudos to people showing obvious hate towards a person who is preaching what Mr. Jones should be teaching. Even if we disagree, we should be able to do so in a way that is agreeable. When I attended the University of Minnesota the class was called Critical Discourse. The people posting in this blog should all take that class.

        I do believe in the Word of God, Molly. I believe that there is a literal hell and lake of fire where people who are not righteous will be cast. It is this awareness that drives people like me to warn people like you that if you refuse to repent and believe in the Gospel, you will deservedly be cast into the lake of fire with Tony Jones, Brian McLaren, and all others who have preached an damnable Gospel, or who refuse to believe the one true Gospel.

        Molly, you may be studying the New Testament- but Jesus spoke to people like you who studied the Old Testament, who searched the scriptures for the Messiah, and missed Him. He condemned them for their refusal to believe in the One whom God has sent. I fear that you studies have only served to further harden your heart, and wax your ears over to the truth of the Gospel. I already know you are a fool (Ps 14:1) for the fool says in his (or her) heart that there is no God. God has clearly revealed Himself to you (Romans 1:18-32) but you choose to suppress the truth by your unrighteousness. The law has been written upon your heart- you know that there is a God, you know His law, and you know that this God is a judge. You know that you are guilty- and you know that you need a Savior, an advocate. This you know because you have studied the New Testament, you have a conscience, and you have a mind. But you love your sin- I do not know what it is- at least it is the sin of unbelief for sure you have said as much.

        John 3:16-20, 36 is an invitation and condemnation- an invitation to believe on Christ unto salvation, or condemnation for those who refuse to believe. Why do people refuse to believe- they love their sin. They love the darkness because their deeds are evil. The wrath of God abides on them.

        The love that I have for people who do not believe compels me to share my faith with them. That is why I witness and share my faith. It is not because I hate, it is because I love. It compels me to invite them to repent and believe in the only way that God has made to be justified in His sight.

        I agree with the one who Tony attacked-who was preaching. He said something like this on his blog: Tony Jones is the one who has the hate speech because he refuses to tell people about the truth of the Gospel and warn them about the wrath that is to come.

        I hope Molly that you will consider the truth of the Gospel- God is very kind, and His kindness ought to lead you to repentance.

        Mike W.

        • cipher

          God is very kind

          Right – but if you make the wrong choice during this finite lifetime, he’ll respond by casting you into “a literal hell and lake of fire”.

          We may be fools, but you are a psychopath.

          • Giggles


            What you do not understand is that all of your law breaking is against God. When you kill a man you get a life sentence. When you break Gods laws your offense is against God. God is infinite and so then your punishment is infinite as well.

            Look at the following example. I would not do this but it will help to show my point.

            If you tell your child “I will kill you if you do that again” What happens to you? Nothing. If you call your childs teacher and tell them “I will kill you if you do that again.” The police show up and give you a talking to. If you call the president and say ” I will kill you if you do that again.” The secret service comes and gets you and you will go to prison for a very long time. The punishment increases due to who the offense is against.

            When you lie, steal, lust and hate your crime is against God. God is the creator of everything and an eternal being. Due to his importance the punishment is increased.

            • cipher

              It’s a very poor argument, based upon a medieval worldview, with which not even every medieval theologian agreed. Tragically, it makes sense to you because of your pathologically low self-esteem, and because you are most likely genetically predisposed to psychopathy. Of course, there is no way to explain this to you.

              Something isn’t true just because it seems to make sense to you. Nor is something true just because your pastor or one of your authority figures tell you it is.

              • Molly (undergrad)

                I was going to write a long response to “Giggles” but then I got tired and decided, it’s not worth it.

                Cipher, I do appreciate your response. Thank you 🙂

                • cipher

                  No, it isn’t worth it. There is no changing them. As Frank Schaeffer told Rachel Maddow in that now ubiquitous video clip, “You don’t move them; you move beyond them.”

            • indorri

              …are you on drugs, or are you just that naive of human metaphor? A mother saying “I’m going to kill you if you do that again” is considered something in jest. If a mother actually shows intent to kill a child for misbehaviour, the child would at least be removed from her care, and she would at minimum be prosecuted for attempted assault. A random call to a school teacher, conversely, does not carry the same social context that it is something in jest.

              That you would consider an actual genuine threat towards a child to be of less moral gravity than that towards an adult… I have to agree with cipher. You may be a psychopath.

        • Unabashedly Christian

          Nothing does more damage to the great commission than damnation diatribe, insults and ill-informed presumption masquerading itself as Christian discernment, truth and love. If the goal is to convince someone that the peace of Christ is something to be desired you don’t introduce the topic by wrapping it around a heavy stone and hurling it at their head. You cannot call someone a fool, pass judgment on them and expect them to respond positively. If your words drive people away from Christ you have accomplished nothing.

          A skeptic is not going to gather figs from thorns or pick grapes from a briar bush. One of the reasons Jesus said, “Do not judge, and you will not be judged. Do not condemn, and you will not be condemned” is because, ” most people do not pick figs from thorn bushes, or grapes from briers.” See Luke 6:37-49

          Not to mention the fact that even the best and brightest of believers continuously disappoint God. (See the lives of Peter and King David) 1 John 1:8 “If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us.” None of us is even remotely qualified to point out the presumed sins of another person. Period the end…

          The message I would share are the words that Jesus made His priority.

          John 14:6 “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.”

          John 15:8-12 This is to my Father’s glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples.

          9 “As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Now
          remain in my love. 10 If you keep my commands, you will remain in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commands and remain in his love. 11 I have told you
          this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete. 12 My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you.

          Matthew 22:36-40

          36 “Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?”

          37 Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your
          heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ 38 This is the first and greatest commandment. 39 And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ 40 All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”

          Micah 6:8

          8 He has shown you, O mortal, what is good.
          And what does the Lord require of you?
          To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly
          with your God.

  • Gregory

    When I encounter a preacher like this I do my best to transform my disgust to compassion. This guy’s suffering is so great that he has come to believe that god is calling him to spread it to others.

    • Craig

      I feel similarly Gregory. Some of these people have idealistically devoted their lives and sacrificed their reputations to delusions perpetuated by more respectable and moderate Christians. Even some of our moderate, well-intentioned Sunday school teachers share some of the blame for creating such freaks. The freaks take to heart what many “sensible” Christians pay mere lip service to.

  • Giggles

    Psalm 19:7 “7 The law of the Lord is perfect, converting the soul: the testimony of the Lord is sure, making wise the simple.” The law must be used to show people that they have broken Gods laws. For a person to be saved they must repent. What will they repent of if they do not know the law. Romans 3:19 “19 Now we know that what things soever the law saith, it saith to them who are under the law: that every mouth may be stopped, and all the world may become guilty before God.” The law needs to be used to stop non-Christians mouths from justifying themselves. Everyone believes that they are a good person. Romans 3:19 shows us that we must use the law so they can see that they are guilty before God. If a person does not see themselves as guilty before God what would they need Jesus to die on the cross for their sins for. People need the law to show them the need for Jesus. 1 John 3:4 tells us that sin is breaking Gods law. Romans 7:7 tells us that people do not know sin but by the law. The Bible is very clear that we must give law to the proud and grace to the humble. James 4:6.”But he giveth more grace. Wherefore he saith, God resisteth the proud, but giveth grace unto the humble.” The proud are those that see themselves as good people. People will not be saved unless they are convinced they are a transgressor of the law. (James 2:9). Jesus uses the law here in Mark 10:17-27. Jesus takes this proud person who thinks he is a good person through the law.

    After people see that they have broken Gods law then it is important to show them that God will judge them for their breaking Gods laws. Hebrews 9:27 ” And just as it is appointed for man to die once, and after that comes judgment,” Then 2 Cor 7:10 says “For godly grief produces a repentance that leads to salvation without regret, whereas worldly grief produces death.” So it is important for a person to be saved that they have godly grief for their sin and Jesus send out his disciples in Mark 6:12 “And they went out, and preached that men should repent.”

    If you read the Bible Jesus calls people to go and preach the Gospel that men should repent (Mark 6:12). What would they repent of if they do not hear the law? Why would they need Jesus to die on the cross to take the wrath of God if they do not know they broke Gods law.

    To be a Christian is To be a Disciple means that you follow in the foot steps of Jesus and do what he did it is like being an apprentice and he went out and preached the law to people that thought they were good people. He even expanded on the law showing that lust is considered adultery and in 1 John is says that hate is considered murder. Then he gave grace to the humble, those that knew they were sinners and deserved Hell.

    Jesus pays the fine only for those that repent and trust that Jesus paid it all. You can not get into heaven thinking you are a good person. Spurgeon said that you should preach 90% law and 10% grace. Look at the results of his preaching.

    • cipher

      Spurgeon said that you should preach 90% law and 10% grace. Look at the results of his preaching.

      Yes, look at the results – millions of fundamentalists such as yourself, utterly convinced of their own rightness.

      • Giggles

        Actually I am not self righteous, a Christian believes that they are utter wretches. A real Christian understands that they have broken every single one of the 10 commandments in either thought word or deed and is grateful that Jesus paid their fine on the cross. A Christian is so grateful for that payment being paid that they go and warn others that they have broken Gods laws and sinned against a holy righteous God and show them that they can repent and trust Jesus took the wrath of God for them so they can go to heaven even though they deserve Hell. So a Christian knows that they have no righteousness of their own by definition. Each Christian has the righteousness of Christ and none of their own.

        • cipher

          I see the educational system has failed you as well.

          • PSABeliever

            I see that you are as loving as the author of this blog. Maybe this Giggles has a learning disability. Maybe she is typing on a small smart phone keyboard. Maybe you are just a haughty grammar nazi. Either way, it does not prop up your weak argument.

            • cipher

              I’m not making an argument, as it would be lost on people like Giggles and yourself. I’m merely being derogatory.

              Maybe you are just a haughty grammar nazi

              Guilty – but in this instance, I’m being a haughty semantics Nazi.

  • Jordon Wright

    Ray Comfort tweeted this out last week: “High-rollers have nothing on the atheist. He plays Russian roulette with a fully loaded gun.” Apparently fear is their favorite evangelism tactic. I’m not sure what “good news” their Gospel is. It’s essentially “be like us, think like us, or fry forever” and anyone with a functioning brain would see that as bad news.

    • Craig

      That’s not quite fair Jordon. Their message is that there’s bad news and there’s good news. Bad news: all deserve hell and would be headed for hell; good news: repentance and faith in Christ put you in heaven. This is an old, traditional view that accepted by many otherwise sensible Christians.

      • If someone is a Christian, what other view would he have? That is the essence of the gospel. Everybody is a sinner. Atheists, Muslims, Buddhists and Christians are all sinners. Christ died for all the sinners. Repent of sin and put your faith in Christ, and you are forgiven forever. What part of the gospel am I missing?

  • Steve

    For what it’s worth, Pastorboy is no longer a licensed pastor with the C&MA and his church has been closed.

  • James Fazio

    Just a common sense observation here: the picture doesn’t do your position justice as it depicts a man wearing a shirt in affirmation of traditional marriage (nothing wrong with that), and two detractors, holding signs that personally insult the man, without affirming any position other than hate. To be honest, from looking at these images, one would think that the haters are on either side of the man in the middle. If that is not the case, you may want to find a picture that better expreses your point.

    • Sven2547

      The man’s shirt isn’t really an “affirmation of traditional marriage”, though. “Traditional marriage” is not, has never been, and never will be under attack. His shirt is one that supports the (failed, thankfully) Minnesota ballot initiative to abolish same-sex marriage.

      • PSABeliever

        That is an outright lie. The Minnesota ballot initiative was not to abolish same-sex marriage. Same-sex is not recognized in Minnesota. To abolish it, same-sex marriage would have to first be legalized.

        • Sven2547

          True or false: the purpose and function of that amendment was to prevent persons of the same sex from being legally allowed to marry in the state of Minnesota.

          Your rhetorical BS does not change that fact.

        • Sven2547

          Consider the following:
          It is unlawful, in the State of Minnesota, to stab another person in the neck. It is fair to say that the practice of neck-stabbing is banned in Minnesota.

          Tell me, PSABeliever, was it ever legal to stab someone in the neck in the state of Minnesota? Did the legislature ever specifically authorize it? To abolish something, it must first be legal, isn’t that what you said?

    • Molly (undergrad)

      Perhaps the solution to your problem would be to read the story above and not take all of your information from news photos that are meant to complement the text.

      • James Fazio

        Molly, I don’t see that as a solution to “my problem” as the problem simply stated is that the picture belies the story. Reading the story (which I certainly did, otherwise I wouldn’t be able to speak to the apparent contradiction), does not create a solution to this problem. If, as you stated, I received “all of my information” from the picture I wouldn’t have been able to make this observation, now would I have?

  • mteston1

    This is tricky business. The trap of all “hate” speech, is that it has the subtle capacity of sucking you into the abyss even as you attempt to counter and confront it. I think this is the real subtle danger of hate, when someone attempts to confront it head on. As Nietzsche once said, “If you gaze long into an abyss, the abyss will gaze back into you”? The preoccupation with hate mongers is exactly what they desire, someone to be preoccupied with them. I too, feel my guts boil when within ear shot of the likes described here. After 30 some years attempting to lead people in “church” beyond such hatefulness, I finally walked away lest the “abyss” finally take up full residence in me.

    • 2TrakMind

      Thanks for this Michael! I don’t want to make assumptions about your beliefs when it comes to God, and Christ, so I don’t mean to put you in any particular belief camp with me, but you express exactly where I am with “church” right now. I’ve spent nearly a decade trying to influence change within an evangelical church and recently felt God telling me that it’s time to go. Since then, I have had two people tell me that I shouldn’t “throw the baby out with the bathwater” by completely leaving “church,” but my feeling is that (organized) “church” mistakenly thinks that IT is the “baby,” when in reality, church is the bathwater. I’m more than ready to throw out the bathwater, because the baby is drowning and I’m at risk of drowning with it.!

      • mteston1

        I hear you Kevin. I am currently living the nomadic life of an exile.

  • Dave Stewart

    Johnny Baker wisely said, “Sin is the last truth told.” It’s the Holy Spirit’s role to bring conviction. The only role I have in confronting sin is within the bounds of community and relationship. That being said, unless I have “whores”, “idolaters”, and “homosexuals” at my dinner table, I don’t get to talk to them about their sin. I wonder about “Pastorboy’s” success rate. I’d be surprised if anyone falls to their knees in repentance after hearing his “sermons”.

  • nate

    sounds to me like he follows the bible a lot closer than you do, pot meet kettle, both your idioligies are stupid

  • Tim Heebner

    Just watched the whole interview with Pastorboy. That was awesome! Nice job Tony.

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  • I think I might have understood this rant better if I knew what the preacher said that was so objectionable. I can’t see any justification for the vulgar signage, no matter what the preacher’s viewpoint is. Are we to think that the preacher used such language in the service of Christ?
    Anyway, the bottom line is that freedom of speech works. The preacher spoke. The students spoke. Nobody died. Isn’t that what America is about?

  • Sven2547

    “And when you pray, do not be like the hypocrites, for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the street corners to be seen by others. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward in full.”
    The Gospel according to Matthew, chapter 6, verse 5.

  • john karl

    So Tony, you counter this message with encouragement of students holding signs that say “Fuck this hater?” This is love? I believe this to be a very distorted love that looks more like Romans 1, referencing depraved minds and encouraging others to follow. Really Tony??? Reminds me of of the book “The New Tolerance; be tolerant of me and my beliefs while I am intolerant of yours. Reeks of hypocrisy. I see no hate when one is preaching God’s Word, unless you feel you have a better understanding of what God has says and is saying now. Really??? And are you concerned for the soul of your student Molly, an admitted atheist by your words???

  • Tom Jensen

    it’s not an easy topic

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  • Carlos iggy Shelton

    I remember when John threatened to sue me for mentioning his real name with his aka as well as his church. He felt I was trying to get him hurt for posting all that… Even though another guy with the initials of KS had posted John’s name and to which I linked to to show John’s hypocrisy. Another side note, John grew up in a small town in Montana up around where I grew up. My youth group even sang at his church/school. Mostly troubled kids were dumped there. I do not doubt John’s sincerity, though I often wonder if he is truly a stable person.

  • Guest

    Nothing in the comment I left that was apparently deleted, was untrue. In fact I left it so that others may pity him instead of hate him… so much for speaking freely. In fact this whole article does more to disparage the man than my comment.

  • Carlos iggy Shelton

    I remember when John threatened to sue me for mentioning his real name with his aka as well as his church. He felt I was trying to get him hurt for posting all that… Even though another guy with the initials of KS had posted John’s name and to which I linked to to show John’s hypocrisy. Another side note, John grew up in a small town in Montana up around where I grew up. My youth group even sang at his church/school. Mostly troubled kids were dumped there. I do not doubt John’s sincerity, though I often wonder if he is truly a stable person. I write this so people may have pity on him with some understanding, rather than disparage him more with articles like this.

    • RushLimba

      John lists his name and internet handle on twitter, facebook and many, many other places. But if a blogger does it, he’ll “internet sue” them.

  • Carlos iggy Shelton

    Left a comment… got deleted… still think this article itself is worse than what I said.

  • Lance Marchetti

    It’s all about motive I think. Why would he preach this way if he did not believe it could make a difference? What is the logic contributing to his approach and way of addressing passers-by? If Jesus appeared next to this man, would He take up the same approach? Just a few interesting questions one could think about…cheers. 🙂

  • fibsernum

    The ignorance that is tolerated under the banner of freedom of religion is appalling.
    In that context, no concern for preventing hate speech exists and no concern for factual truth is present. Wrap yourself in the Bible and profess your bigotry and stupidity. If a professor spoke those words in the classroom, he/she would be fired, but it is okay for the yahoo on the campus green to scream them out. I would suggest setting up impromptu rock parties 10 feet away from the bozos every time they show up.

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