Why I Hate the Phrase: “True Christians Don’t Do That!”

It never fails. Any time a situation arises where a Christian, or group of Christians, is in the wrong Christians come out of the woodwork to distance themselves.

 

“A True Christian wouldn’t do that!”

“As a True Christian, I’m appalled and I wish you wouldn’t call these people Christians.”

 

Listen, folks. There are over 40,000 different denominations of Christianity. Each one values certain verses from the Bible more than others. Some denominations are more progressive and value the “nice” verses more than they value the “bad” verses. This does not make the more progressive denominations more or less Christian than the others.

 

The only thing most denominations agree on is that Jesus died for the sins of humans. If someone believes that they are Christian. Whether they support gay marriage or not isn’t a determining factor. Whether they charm snakes, believe in faith healing, disallow women from wearing pants, etc. isn’t a requirement for calling oneself a Christian. It may be a requirement to be members of certain denominations, but whether someone is Pentecostal or Methodist, they still fall under the umbrella of Christian. Whether they embrace or disregard Leviticus they are still Christian.

 

Stop saying “True Christians would never do that!” Christians do all kinds of things. Our prison systems are full to the brim with Christians. You don’t get to tell them whether or not they are allowed to call themselves Christian. If they believe Jesus died for their sins they are Christian. You can scream they aren’t Christian until you’re blue in the face, but they still are.

 

If they use the bible to justify their bigoted actions, they usually have verses to back it up. You don’t get to decide their interpretation of the bible is wrong. Just the same way they don’t get to determine your interpretation of the bible is wrong. There is no way to determine which denomination is following the bible the correct way. There is no one correct way to follow Christ. If there was 40,000+ different denominations wouldn’t exist.

 

Chances are they don’t think you are a True Christian, either. Can you guess why? Maybe because you aren’t following Christ the way they are. Funny how that works, huh?

 

Stop telling atheist not to call people you don’t like Christians. We’re tired of being dragged into this debate amongst the Christian community over which denomination is the right one. You’re all wrong.

Congress Shall Make No Law…

A little over a year ago I ran into the following news item from the land that gave us David Hume and the Scottish Enlightenment: http://www.dailyrecord.co.uk/news/scottish-news/parents-outrage-extremist-religious-sect-2254926. I posted it on my Facebook page, thereby precipitating a winding, entertaining, and sometimes heated discussion with a Christian fundamentalist Facebook friend from England. His position is not uncommon, and certainly more prevalent in my country than in his, and for all I know there may be visitors to this blog who, like my friend, would find themselves in sympathy with the headmaster who allowed the proselytizing to take place. So I’d like to enlarge the scope of the conversation to include anyone here who’d care to chime in, with an especially warm invitation extended to any Christian fundamentalists who might happen to be lurking. (Whether you’ll bother to read a TLDR that raises troubling questions is itself a troubling question, of course; besides, in addition to hurling poison darts at your cherished beliefs, I tend to write in compound sentences and sprinkle my prose liberally with semicolons and parenthetical asides. I’m afraid people sometimes find me tedious.)

 

Church versus StateWhat’s at stake here is a principle that has come to define most of the Western world ever since the Enlightenment, and the consequent composition of the U.S. Constitution: a precious principle that has come under sustained attack during the past few decades by forces on the religious right, both in the U.S. and in a number of European countries. That principle is secularism. Fundamentalist Christians, I’m addressing you in the following paragraphs; atheists and others, I’d be honored to enjoy your company as well if you’re inclined to join me for the ride.

 

In the interest of helping you understand the position I take on this issue, I’ll ask you to consider the following (if you read the article I linked to above, you’ll understand that I’ve constructed an exact parallel with the soul-saving literature that was distributed at the school in question): suppose your child came home one afternoon carrying a book with a title like, “Why the Book of Mormon is True and the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints Is the Surest Way to Heaven,” which had been distributed that day to the students at his school. Or perhaps, “Why Islam Is True, the Qur’an Is the Word of God and All Unbelievers Are Destined for Hell.” Would you, committed to your Christian faith as you are, take offense at the proselytizing efforts that Mormons or Muslims had launched in your child’s school? Would you consider it acceptable that they were permitted to do that, or would you find it outrageous and impermissible, a breach of public trust? Would you acquiesce (however grudgingly) in such activities, or would you agitate to have them prohibited? If the latter is the case, then surely you understand why that prohibition should extend also to proselytizing by those who embrace the faith that you happen to espouse.
Continue reading “Congress Shall Make No Law…”

How do you view the future? (Jehovah’s Witness Leaflet)

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Everything from the leaflet will be typed in italics. How do you view the future? Will our world… 

  • stay the same?
  • get worse?
  • get better?

Well already we don’t have much of a choice do we? My first reaction, if this had been spoken at the door, or I mean to say if they were unlucky enough to have me greet them at my door, would be “why is it any of your concern what my view of the future is?” Regardless of my rudeness, I can see why they point towards the future to get followers. As I have been known to say, if the human race had found a cure for death, or no fear of it, religion would become obsolete. It is our fundamental flaw of fear (poetic no?) which the religious plays upon. I don’t fear hell as I know it is fiction, it holds no weight with me. I fear death in a normal sense: missing loved ones, them missing me, having to leave once the party is still going on, knowing I will miss the next Batman movie etc. I do not fear death enough to make believe I will attend a theme park afterwards, which will be even better than this life. My fear isn’t strong enough to make me deluded or irrational. So using peoples’ fear of the future is a cheap tactic of the shameless.

Continue reading “How do you view the future? (Jehovah’s Witness Leaflet)”

Hate the Faith Not the Faithful

Living in Australia, when you turn on the morning news and you see the words ‘hostage situation’ or ‘gunman’ or ‘terror attack’ floating across the screen the usual response would be to sigh and lament “Oh America, get your shit together…” As we all know, this was not the case yesterday morning. On Monday December 15th we Aussies were rocked with out own terror scare when a lone gunman took hostages in Sydney’s Martin Place in the central business district.

The incident, which was labelled #SydneySiege by the internet lasted from the morning and through the night and ended with most of the 17 hostages being released, however, two innocent lives were lost and along with the life of the gun man, now identified as Man Haron Monis.

So much has already been said in the past 24 hours. A deluge of articles from all directions have surfaced, some promoting tolerance, some defending their intolerance, and others simply begging for calm. The most amazing development has been the show of solidarity within the Australian community in the form of the #illridewithyou tag which shows non-Muslim Australians offering to ride with and stand up for Muslim Australians. It has been an amazing and inspiring display of humanism.

The tag has a dark side to it with many people criticizing #illridewithyou due to their flawed understanding of what it stands for. Many people assume that offering protection and understanding to a fellow human being is somehow showing support for religion, specifically Islam. It’s really not.

I personally support the movement and I hate religion, all religion. I can’t help but think that yesterday’s event may have been totally avoided if Monis did not consider himself under divine guidance. Monis was there for Allah, acting in his name, through directions offered in the Qur’an. If these things did not exist, where would his motivation come from? Perhaps somewhere else if he truly was a lunatic, but if in fact his actions were guided entirely by his faith-based beliefs, it’s safe to say this probably wouldn’t have happened. The families who lost loved ones yesterday would not be grieving and would not have presents under the tree that will never be unwrapped.
Continue reading “Hate the Faith Not the Faithful”

Season’s Greetings!

It’s that time of year when the sun approaches its southernmost track across the northern hemisphere’s sky and people of various religious persuasions celebrate the winter solstice without actually knowing that that’s what they’re doing. Predictably, some of the Christian commentators who make their living defiling the airwaves and manipulating public opinion are doing their damnedest to ramp up paranoia about a wholly hallucinated “war on Xmas.” Crèches on public property and holiday greetings at retail outlets are being shoved to the forefront of national attention in the midst of an existential crisis that’s never even mentioned because that’s something only “liberals” talk about. It’s comic and tiresome simultaneously. If the promises of the Enlightenment held any water, you’d think that by now western civilization would have grown beyond that kind of thing.
 

By the time this post goes public I’ll have undergone cataract surgery and will probably have a great deal of vision restored to me. I thank science for that. For all the early 21st century’s horrors, I’m glad to be living in a time when the healing arts reflect the scientific understanding of the human body, not the shamanistic one. A surgeon armed with lasers and an artificial lens is going to do for me what Jesus of Nazareth is reputed to have done with a little clay on which he spat.

 

The prospect of that restored vision has me in an expansive mood, and I guess it’s for that reason that I want to couch this post as a kind of seasonal greeting to Christians – not that I think any of them will read it here. (But if anyone who does read it finds merit in the thought experiment I propose, please feel free to appropriate it and use it as you like. Who knows: in some rare cases, it might have an effect.)

 

I probably should say that as I write the following, I very much have certain members of my family in mind. This is the letter that I will not write to them because I know what kind of reception it would get and how much rancor would ensue. I’ve tried something like it before and learned my lesson. For whatever it’s worth, and for the benefit of whomever, here’s my letter:

 

Dear Christians:
Continue reading “Season’s Greetings!”

An Atheist Expresses Gratitude

An Atheist Gives Thanks Expresses Gratitude

(To whom, exactly, would an atheist “give thanks?”)

Earth King Goza!

There are four calendric events – the equinoxes and solstices – that have meaning for me because of what they reveal about our planet’s relationship to the star it orbits and of what they meant to the ancients. On those occasions I always spend some time thinking about the Earth’s axial tilt and Newton’s laws of planetary motion; I usually take the time to look at some diagrams of the solar system while meandering through some photos of Stonehenge and other ancient calendars.

 

There are also national holidays that I hold in high regard, Labor Day and Martin Luther King Jr. Day foremost among them. To me, those holidays speak of justice formerly denied my brothers and sisters but later hard-won by courageous men and women who laid their lives on the line; of a country wise enough for all its failings to recognize value in the struggle for fairness and to commemorate it. Those days occasion my watching of Matewan and reading of Letter from Birmingham Jail respectively.

 

There are national and religious holidays for which I have mixed feelings yet observe nevertheless in a way that lends them meaning; these include Independence Day (which for me involves the reading of the Declaration of Independence and the Bill of Rights), Veterans’ Day (when I read the poetry of Wilfred Owen and Siegfried Sassoon), and the Christian holiday Good Friday – an occasion for auditing J.S. Bach’s Matthäus-Passion. The holiday we are about to confront (celebrate? enjoy? endure?) in our various ways is another; I speak, of course, of that holiday known colloquially as Turkey Day, when I usually make a list.

Continue reading “An Atheist Expresses Gratitude”

Christianity – One Woman’s Lie About Getting Pregnant That Got Way Out of Hand.

Luckily for myself, I have an output which can be taken as satire and fact depending on how I, and the audience feel. Some of my work can be playful, some outright demeaning – though always honest. I recently heard an expert on the historicity of Jesus, after-which I am fully convinced the man not only had no special powers, but most probably didn’t exist. Prior to this I always felt the story of Jesus may have been a few old wives tales strapped to a poor executed man, or someone chosen specifically as a pet project for a church. I never really dissected the evidence for such a person until recently – mostly because it didn’t interest me in the slightest. But as I am not a news source, or bound by certain rules, I would like to make a more humorous proposal, which I fully understand can be disregarded if the historicity account I recently heard was true. Also, we see so much nastiness , it has become normal to click on a link referring to a religion and be utterly appalled at the contents, that’s why I thought something different would be nice.

Some years back I saw a fantastic meme, (said image I sadly cannot find) that spoke in basic terms on how the story of Jesus was one woman’s lie about getting pregnant that just got totally out of control. It was made funnier by over-thinking the actual occurrence. Nowadays a drunk fueled one night stand, which leads to a child, might include a sobering conversation with parents like – “but, I am getting to know him, and he is actually a really nice guy, he has a good job…”

Whereas Mary, in this situation, could never be outdone – “but don’t worry, we will never starve, he can literally feed thousands with a few fish! And you like wine Father – he can turn our murky water into Merlot … you love Merlot!”

Ok, I know this is a jest – but let us delete the account of deities that Jesus has clearly stolen from, let us also delete further accounts of new prophets like Big Mo the Muslim bro, and Joseph Smith the snake oil salesman with magic underwear. Imagine if the only deity and prophet we had was the Christian one, imagine if the only holy book we had was the bible, it wouldn’t be too hard to sit back and think wow, this woman got pregnant and lied her ass off to cover it up.

We all know people like this, exaggerating and squirming out of any responsibility, never to be held accountable. Well, maybe Mary was the same? Maybe she truly got up the duff by some strange traveler and created an outlandish story about angels instead of telling her husband “I got drunk, and smoked something I think I shouldn’t have, and rode a guy like sea biscuit.”


There are two reasons she could not do this, 1) Back then I’m pretty sure they would have been allowed to smoke such items, although I doubt the area had sufficient soil & 2) She should have no idea who sea biscuit is, neither should I, I hated that film. I declare all films based solely around animals to be sub-par … with the exception of Free Willy because it was basically a heart-wrenching documentary about freeing whales (wasn’t it?)

 

Aren’t all mythical beings, God’s and Prophets just an amalgamation of old wives tales with Chinese whispers added on top?


I’m sure the Gospels of The Bible (before they were edited and chosen at the 
council of Nicaea) had many mundane stories that had to be expanded on to be included. Maybe there was no talking snake, but one guy who loved snakes just wouldn’t let it go. And another guy who thought the story of Jesus swimming faster than everyone else wasn’t miraculous enough, so proposed the idea of walking on the water.

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I don’t know – it all seems futile to me. Truth is, every once in a while we must detach ourselves. Atheists like myself spend so much time offended by religion, and disgusted by its wrongdoing – so much so that it literally becomes a part of our lives. It affects us because we actually care, we don’t turn a blind eye. In such a harsh environment, we sometimes need to kick back and relax like one does in real life, times are stressful? Have a beer with friends – and so on.

So laugh after watching religiosity make a fool of our civilization and belittle us to a colony of ants that look to our leader for guidance. Smile at anything that helps us ignore such horrors like diminishing fossil fuels, climate change, degradation of women, suicide bombings, and zealot law makers ruining beautiful countries like the USA due to “The Bible”. We have to just take a deep breath and say things like “Christianity, one woman’s crazy excuse for getting pregnant, that got way out of hand.”

Humor and detachment might help save out sanity – at the very least it will lower our blood pressure.