Christian Crock of the Week
I once was a fundamentalist Christian and right-winger. Now I watch their films and see their vile, heavy-handed PR tactics…
“Millions of believers will suddenly vanish into thin air,” Willie Robertson, best known for his work on Duck Dynasty, exclaimed recently. He was promoting the new Christian movie ”Left Behind,” where he has an executive producer credit. “It’s a warning to those, if it happened today, would be left behind. And I believe that people are going to make the life-changing decision to follow Christ on the way home from the theater … opening the door to unbelievers has never been this fun.”
I’m sorry to inform Mr. Robertson, but I watched “Left Behind” and spent my entire ride home only contemplating the two hours of my life back that I will never get back. The film proves that conservative American Christians have not learned an important childhood lesson: You can’t threaten, vilify or bully someone into liking you. In simpler times, stories of persecution and Christian supremacy were delivered in sermons and badly written books, but a recent batch of films has hit theaters with the net effect of corralling American fundamentalists into an ever-shrinking intellectual ghetto. I watched not only “Left Behind,” but also a sampling of some other recent Christian films in an attempt to understand what messages they convey to this ever-more-insular community.
From Southern Skeptic
If the Christian God exists, where the hell is he? The entire debate between Christians and atheists boils down to this one problem. If God exists, why is there no proof that he exists? I’m not talking about “logical proofs” that merely define God into existence, “scientific proofs” that make ad hoc assumptions, or “emotional proofs” that can easily beexplained by psychology. I’m talking about empirical evidence that all laymen can understand and all scientists can agree on (like the proof that gravity exists). But apparently God won’t allow that. He is everywhere, yet he chooses to remain invisible, intangible, and inaudible. A little suspicious, don’t you think?
I want to know why God can’t appear next to me as I write this–standing there with his long white beard, dressed in robes that shine like the sun–and say in a thunderous voice, “Here I am.” I just looked around the room. Nope, nothing.
Imagine how much better the world would be if God revealed himself to everyone in such a manner. All the fighting over which religion is true would end, criminals would be afraid to commit crimes, and when disasters occurred God could actually help people. So why doesn’t God reveal his existence?
The most common response is, “Because of free will.” The idea is that God can’t appear to everyone because then people would have no choice but to worship him. Christians hold this defense up like a shield, completely unaware that it’s as flimsy as a handkerchief. This apologetic fails for 4 reasons:
From Roll To Disbelieve
Prophets, the divinely-touched emissaries of a god–have always had a very special place in human minds, haven’t they? They are thought to be the conduit for divine words and power, the most effective demonstration there could be for the existence of a living god. Prophets told a religion’s followers what to do, how to react to events, and how best to worship their god. They worked miracles and advised kings. Sometimes they took the religion in whole new directions or up-ended a previously-held social order (like Jesus is said to have done). Prophets were infused with divine essence, so much so that they seemed insane to those around them. And why would they not be out of step and acting strangely? They gazed on a world that other people couldn’t even imagine. They spoke in prophecies, which might be foretellings of future events (which is what most of us think of when we think about prophecies in general), or else just a god’s words of instruction or admonition, and in the myths at least, they were powerful figures who were ignored or mistreated at their antagonists’ own risk. Societies might sometimes chafe against a prophet’s words, but they knew the risks of disobedience–and in a world where scientific concepts were understood poorly if at all, I can imagine that having someone around to explain mysteries–even incorrectly–was a real comfort to ancient people.
Records reveal that 10 of the country’s top church leaders defy the Pope’s example and live in residences worth more than $1 million.
“How I would like a Church which is poor and for the poor!”— Pope Francis
Clearly, “lifestyles of the rich and religious” doesn’t cut it for Pope Francis.
The pontiff has said it “breaks my heart” to see priests and nuns driving the latest-model cars.
He’s blasted “airport bishops” who spend more time jet-setting than tending to their flocks.
And he’s warned against church leaders who bear the “psychology of princes.”
From Stuff Fundies Like
Way back in the day, Bob Jones University lost its tax-exempt status because it refused to change its policy on interracial (whatever that means) dating. A lot of other fundamentalist institutions beheld this debacle from afar off and were severely torn between the love of two different kinds of money: 1) money in tax savings and 2) money from the racist parents of students at their schools who didn’t want their little girl dating one of “those people.”
So somebody came up with a VERY CLEVER compromise called the “parental consent” rule which said that any dating relationship on campus has to have parental permission. This kicked responsibility up the road a bit so that the administration could claim “We’re not racists — we just follow the wishes of racists parents who pay us money!”
From this graphic, it should be clear that a child in a fundamentalist Christian environment faces a powerful array of factors influencing indoctrination. Many of these techniques are quite deliberate, such as keeping children at home for their schooling to control what they learn and don’t learn. The primary goal of sincere Christian parents is to pass on their faith, not help their child develop critical thinking to make a fully informed decision about religion. Christians do not present their offspring with literature on all the religions of the world and make field trips to temples, churches and mosques to help them decide. Yet in their theology they claim that “accepting Jesus” is a personal choice of free will and only those who reject God’s free gift of salvation will go to hell.
From Friendly Atheist
Dr. Tom Renfro nearly died from cancer 17 years ago. He took drugs. He had chemotherapy. And then… his tumors were gone. Time to thank the doct–wait, what?
“I think it’s a gift of God. I think it’s a miracle that God did in my life. How else can you explain it?” asked Dr. Renfro.
Umm… Doctors? Drugs? Chemo? Something you haven’t figured out yet? In any case, God doesn’t poof away anyone’s tumors.
South Park brilliantly tells the story of the foundation of Mormonism by Joseph Smith in upstate New York. What South Park didn’t say is why Smith created this religion. He did so to justify having multiple (40+) underage wives, which didn’t sit too well with the Quakers in upstate New York. The funniest part of this video is that it’s all true! And humans came from another planet, and if you were neutral in Elohim’s battle with Lucifer, your skin was tainted black.
From Godless in Dixie
Nothing puts the cognitive dissonance of faith on display like a destructive storm system ripping through a religious community. And that happens quite a lot in this country, in case you weren’t aware.
Once again this week a violent storm system cut a destructive path through towns across the Deep South, killing more than a dozen people and destroying churches, homes, and offices in multiple communities. Some of the most devout people you’ll ever meet either lost homes or had significant property damage in the wake of the storm. Most of them prayed for protection as the storm bore down on their communities. Many of those who prayed lost their homes. Some lost their lives. Some only lost their deductibles. Those who survived will testify that they prayed and that God spared them. The death of their next door neighbor will sadden them
Christian Crock of the Week: The Crazy Lies about Slavery that Christian Conservatives Are Spreading…
The religious right’s anti-government zeal has led it to assert some glaringly inaccurate things about abolition
The fanatical right in the US has a problem on its hands and that problem is American history. History tells a tale that does not fit the narrative of the Tea Party and libertarian version of American’s founding and history.
That was evident this week, when former senator Jim DeMint, who is head of the Heritage Foundation, a libertarian think tank, made the claim that it was not the government that freed the slaves, but faith.
Talking to Jerry Newcombe on the radio show Vocal Point, DeMint said, “[Abolitionism] came from a growing movement among the people, particularly people of faith, that [slavery] was wrong.” DeMint goes out of his way to say big government had nothing to do with freeing the slaves; it was on the Constitution and Lincoln, because obviously neither of those is big government. DeMint goes on to say: