Christian Crock of the Week

The Danger of Being in a Box and Why it Makes Sense When You are in it…

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From Bruce Gerencser

I was a Christian for most of my life, a pastor for most of my adult life. I was a fervent believer of the faith once delivered to the saints. I believed it, practiced it, and lived it. When I was in the Christian box, it all made sense to me. Everything I read, everything I heard, and everything I experienced, reinforced the belief that I was in the right box.

God told me, the Bible told me, my friends and family told me, and the opposition of the world told me, that I was in the right box. Every once in a while I would take one step outside the box and experience a bit of “other-boxedness.”  After every foray into the world outside the Christian box, I would return to the safety of the box.

This is the way I lived my life for  five decades. Then one day, I decided to take more than one step outside of the box. I haltingly, tentatively took a few steps, staying close enough to the box that I could run back if I needed to.

Over time, I wandered farther and farther away from the box. I found all kinds of things that were not  in the box I was in. I was confronted with data, beliefs, ideologies, facts, and practices that I had never heard of. I was uncertain about what I should make of these new-found things.

I talked to fellow box-keepers about this. They cautioned me about wandering outside of the box. Nothing good happens outside of the box, Bruce. Everything we need for life and godliness is right here in the box. We even have a manual that tells us how to live in the box.

But I continued to wander outside of the box. One day, I wandered so far outside the box that I realized, for the first time, that the box sat on a steep, slippery hill. And there were other boxes too, all of them on that same slippery hill. The first time I noticed this, I quickly retreated to the safety of the box. Then one day, I found myself far outside the box. I turned around to look longingly at the box and I slipped, and before I knew it I was slipping and sliding down the slippery hill. On this day I fought and clawed my way back up the hill and I crawled back to the box. Dirty and bruised, I was safe within the box once again. The box was my salvation.

Christian Crock: Why Are There No Miracles Anymore?

 

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From ExChristianNet

Recently, out of curiosity, I Googled, “Why are there no miracles anymore?” I wanted to know how Christian bloggers would handle this question. I found their answers to be all over the map. And everyone is an expert, it seems, since each appeared to be absolutely certain he had the correct answer.

There were some other interesting viewpoints in their responses, as well. For example, one writer claimed the

“main miracle [the resurrection] happened and that we have been given enough evidence to believe without a miracle. After we come to grips with the fact that our unbelief is sin whether we’ve seen a miracle with our own eyes or not…”

So, we heathens aren’t just wrong because we don’t believe in the resurrection, we are sinners. Now that’s what I call leading with the fear card. You better believe, or else…

Christian bloggers’ opinions on the miracle question varied from those who agreed there are no miracles in our times to those who believed there are now more miracles than ever.

Christian Crock: Leaving fake cash tips for waiters…

 

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From The Freethinker UK

A young waiter in Kansas was delighted when he saw that a customer had left him a tip of $20 – until he discovered that it was a Christian tract exhorting him to seek “faith thru Jesus Christ” and start reading the Bible.

The victim of this despicable act was Garret Wayman, who works as a waiter at a restaurant in a suburb of Wichita. He is reported here as saying: I’m 17-years-old, $7,000 in debt because I had to buy myself a car, juggling full-time school, and working seven days a week.

He said when he first spotted the note tucked under a ketchup bottle he was very excited: Getting a $20 tip at the restaurant I work at is very, very rare.

The intro to the tract read: Don’t be fooled! There is something you can have more valuable than money.

On the back was an eight-paragraph argument for why Wayman should buy a Bible and become a Christian. Wayman said the customer didn’t even leave a real tip to accompany the proselytising pamphlet.

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He just left that. I wanted to tell him that I only make $3 an hour and bust my ass at my job to make way less than I deserve, but he was gone by the time I had the chance to.

Christian Crock of the Week: How the Bible Promotes Terrorism…

 

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From Valerie Tarico

Islamists aren’t the only ones with instructions for terrorism in their holy book.

Last fall, Dutch pranksters put a cover from a Quran over a Bible and then asked passersby to read aloud homophobic, violent, or sexist passages that violate modern moral sensibilities. The texts shocked people who had never immersed themselves in the Iron Age world of the Bible writers, a world in which daughters can be sold as sexual slaves and most of us deserve the death penalty—you included.

Defenders of Islam point to the atrocities in the Bible and Christian history and argue that Islam looks positively peaceful by contrast. After all, according to one count, the Quran has only 532 cruel or violent passages, while the Bible has 1321. Christians respond that the Bible is longer and so the cruel, violent passages make up a lesser percent of the whole. Besides, they say, the Quran contains more timeless prescriptions of violence while the Bible merely contains more descriptions. To religious outsiders, this back and forth is rather like arguing over two containers of rotting leftovers in the back of the fridge, trying to decide which would make a better dinner. Why eat either?

Whether or not Christians and Muslims worship the same God—a point debated on both sides—their sacred texts offer similar blueprints for living. ISIS terrorists claim that their scripts for jihad, executions, sexual slavery and theocracy come straight from the Quran, and they cite chapter and verse to back up their claim. But Christians who find ISIS horrifying might be even more horrified to learn that similar scripts can be found in their own Good Book, including endorsements of terrorism that rival the most vile atrocities committed in the name of Allah.

Christian Crock: Cops and Christ…

 

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From The Freethinker

Ever since the story broke earlier this month of an Indiana state trooper giving a driver a dose of Jesus along with a warning ticket, thousands of discussions have erupted over whether police officers have the right to proselytize whilst in uniform.

Well, today on Reddit I stumbled across a post by that ought to silence those in favour of evangelising plods.

“Dogs not Gods” wrote that after he he posted an article about State Police Trooper Brian Hamilton, his Christian uncle  – a cop – responded thus:

I have spoken to people about my faith on duty numerous times and wouldn’t hesitate to do it in the future … thousands of police officers are Christians and have spoken openly of their faith on duty. We too have rights. Just because we wear a uniform does not mean that we give up those rights.

“Dogs not Gods” said a few friends responded, but this was the best:

Christian Crock: The Top 9 Most Inconvenient Verses In The Bible! (for Christians, that is)…

 
 


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Christian Crock: We Welcome Ben Carson to the Cult of “Before” Stories…

 
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A long time ago, I wrote a post called “A Cult of “Before” Stories” in which I described what it was like as a young Christian to realize that my then-husband had constructed a testimony full of lies–and how I realized that pretty much all of the really dramatic testimonies I heard from other Christians were largely untrue as well. On the heels of realizing that these stories were untrue, I also began to perceive the unbelievably rich rewards Christians get for concocting and sharing these dramatic testimonies. I began to see my tribe as one that was simply obsessed with these “before” stories–thus, my name for the mindset.

That happened back in the late-1980s and early-1990s, but nothing’s changed at all since then. Today we’ll be initiating a new member of the Cult, and talking about what he did to end up in such a venerable group.

Let’s start with a little bit of background about testimonies.

A “testimony” is a Christianese word that describes a Christian’s personal conversion story. It’s a narrative about (1) the Christian’s life pre-conversion, (2) the dramatic event that sparked the conversion, and (3) how happy and fulfilled the Christian is now. These anecdotes are crafted to be persuasive to outsiders and to bolster the faith of those already in the pews, and you can well imagine that the sorts of Christians who get hung up on creating a good testimony tend to get really indignant when someone questions or refuses to believe it. A testimony can be very short to book-length.

Christian Crock: The correlation of high religiosity in America with everything bad…

 

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From Evolution Is True

I wasn’t aware of this collection of plots until Jeffrey Tayler highlighted it in today’s Salon piece, “Bill O’Reilly’s nonsense ‘nihilism’: now the Fox News host is even lying about God.” I won’t reprise Tayler’s essay, which deals with O’Reilly’s mistaken notion that without God, life has no meaning and “anything goes.” In view of the pervasive atheism in countries that are more moral and more healthy in societal terms than is the US (24% of Danes and 16% of Swedes believe in God, compared to about 90% of Americans), O’Reilly’s thesis simply won’t wash.

Frankly, I’m surprised that the “atheism = immorality” trope is still with us in light of all the palpable evidence against it, including the fact that American nonbelievers aren’t running amuck in the streets. Tayler disposes of it neatly, but I want to show you some graphs that his essay links to; figures on the characteristics of different US states that have been collated and presented by Josh Sager at The Progressive Cynic. His notes are indented; mine are flush left:

Human development (well being) by state:

The first map is color-coded based on a meta-measure of a society called the “human development index.” This index was created by the Social Science Research Council as a composite measure of the health, education and income levels within each state—the higher the number (or darker-colored the state on the map), the more developed the state.

As this map clearly shows, the most developed states are clustered in the northeast, around the great lakes, and on the west coast, while the least developed states in our country are almost exclusively in the Deep South and Appalachia.

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Levels of poverty by state:

Christian Crock: Christians Point Fingers at Atheists to Cover Growing Corruption in Church…

 
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From Valerie Tarico

One of the great tragedies of mankind is that morality has been hijacked by religion. ~Arthur C. Clarke

When Bill O’Reilly recently tried to pin America’s spree of mass shootings on atheism rather than guns or mental illness, he hoped to tap a specific set of beliefs that are common among Bible believers— that morality derives from religion; that Born Again Christians are a light unto the world while atheists (who lack any basis for ethics or morality) spend their empty lives in pursuit of money and sex; that when Christians get raptured or otherwise lose the upper hand, America will descend into the orgy of sex, violence, and anarchy depicted in the Left Behind books and movie.

This view feeds both righteous superiority and genuine anxiety among conservative Christians. One Facebook commenter named Georgia spelled it out:

Atheists shake with contempt at the thought of love and decency. Their whole lives are dedicated to nothingness, to the gaping void of pain that nihilism defines. Indeed, atheists love pain. They love pain in their sexual rituals, in their drug addictions and in their secret globalist power schemes. Why do we have war? It’s the atheists who spread contempt of God and invite such reckless notions of communism and Islam.

Georgia’s views may be extreme, but ordinary believers don’t make this stuff up.  Calvinists and other fundamentalist theologians teach that humanity is “utterly depraved,” and that the only hope for our fallen world and for fallen individuals is the saving blood of Jesus. In the words of mega-minister Mark Driscoll, “If the resurrection didn’t literally happen, there are guns to shoot, there are people to shoot, there are parties to be had, there are women to be had.” (We can all be glad he believes in the resurrection.)

Christian Crock: Is Josh Duggar the Biggest Family-Values Hypocrite Ever? Not Even Close…

 

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From John Loftus
Debunking Christianity
Response to article by Jay Michaelson  here

Duggar has been exposed as a former child molester, porn addict, and with the Ashley Madison hacking leak, an adulterer. But is he the biggest hypocrite ever?

Jay Michaelson suggests other numerous candidates for being the biggest hypocrites ever, like,

What about megachurch Bishop Eddie Long, who, while preaching against homosexuality, sexually abused at least three teenage boys in his charge? And what about megachurch pastor Ted Haggard who, while likewise preaching against homosexuality and drug use, bought crystal meth and had sex with a male escort/masseur for three years? Or George Rekers, who, while preaching similarly, was caught with a rentboy on vacation in the Caribbean? For that matter, what about the entire Catholic Church hierarchy, which, while preaching against homosexuality, covered up the systemic sexual abuse of thousands of boys in Europe and America—and still maintains a “gay mafia” in the Vatican today?

Yes, that and more, like John Paulk, Larry Craig, David Vitter, Henry Hyde, Mark Foley, Bob Livingston, or TV evangelists Jimmy Swaggart, Jim Bakker, and a whole host of others!

Michaelson:

So it’s not surprising that for many of us, there’s a profoundly gleeful schadenfreude when hypocrites are exposed. (Along with profound concern for the LGBT people in repressive regimes whose lives are now in danger thanks to the Ashley Madison hack.) Women, progressives, and queers have had to sit and listen to the likes of Duggar, Huckabee, Santorum, and Fischer talk about us, as if the outright lies they spread about our lives are somehow deserving of deference. So you can’t blame us for smiling when they take a fall.

True Dat! But Michaelson isn’t smiling. He’s hoping mad instead, for two reasons.

Christian Crock: Christian Wants to See You Fry Like Sausage…

 
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From Atheist Revolution

There are many intelligent, thoughtful, kind, and compassionate Christians out there. It is good to remember that. They are our friends and family, our neighbors, our co-workers, and so on. Our lives are richer in some ways for having the opportunity to know them. It is also helpful to remember that there are many hateful Christians out there among us, people who have been blinded to reality by years of indoctrination. So afflicted are some of these Christians that they see nothing wrong with emailing random atheist bloggers (like me) things like this:

I would love to be close enough to all you so called atheist two seconds after you drop off into the lake of fire right after the Great White Throne Judgement. When you start frying like sausage. You will believe in GOD then. I have talked with folks that say there is no GOD. But then I tell them; well what if I am wrong, I haven’t lost anything by believing in JESUS CHRIST, trusting HIM as Savior, following the 10 commandments and living good. But what if you are wrong and there is a GOD, and you have rejected HIM, and you have missed your chance to repent and live for HIM? Please repent and be saved. You are doing what the antichrist wants you to do; Just think about it!

God is not on our side: Inventing a Christian America — The Myth of the Religious Founding…

 
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From Salon

Reagan and others pushed the idea that we’re a Christian nation chosen by divine providence. That’s not the case…

One of the more popular and enduring accounts of America’s past is that of its religious founding. Belief that the British-American colonies were settled largely by religiously devout people in search of spiritual freedom, that the United States government was founded in part on religious principles, that the Founders intended to create a “Christian nation,” and that America is a specially chosen nation whose success has been directed by divine providence has resonated in the national psyche for generations. Versions of this account have existed since the founding era and have persisted through times of national distress, trial, and triumph. They represent a leading theme in our nation’s historical narrative, frequently intertwined with expressions of patriotism and American exceptionalism.

Opinion polls indicate that many Americans hold vague, if not explicit, ideas about the nation’s religious foundings. According to a 2008 study by the First Amendment Center, over 50 percent of Americans believe that the U.S Constitution created a Christian nation, notwithstanding its express prohibitions on religious establishments and religious tests for public office holding. A similar study conducted by the Pew Forum on Religion in Public Life revealed even higher numbers, noting that “Americans overwhelmingly consider the U.S. a Christian nation: Two-in-three (67%) characterize the nation this way.” Other studies indicate that a majority of Americans believe that the nation’s political life should be based on “Judeo-Christian principles,” if the nation’s founding principles are not already.

Christian Crock: First World Prayers…

 


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Christian Crock: Christianity Isn’t Irrational… It’s Worse Than That…

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From Atheist Analysis

Christianity is about as multifaceted as the people who label themselves adherents to it. Once “the bible” was given to the masses and the notion, put forward by the Renaissance and Enlightenment, that the individual mind could seek truth, it didn’t take much time for theology to reflect even more the nature of its creator, i.e. human variety. The title here then is a simplification, for the topic in question has far more to do with the basis of a supernatural tradition than with any particular instance of it. Still, for ease of writing, Christianity will serve as primary example. At issue is the claim there exists a fundamental level of reality, the realm of god and his angels, that is by definition outside of the understanding of humanity. While much can be said about such claims and their absurdity, what is often overlooked is what such a pronouncement means about people in general.

Christian Crock: Children as Chattel — What Religious Child Abuse and the Pro-Life Movement Have in Common…

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From Valerie Tarico

On the surface, valuing embryonic life and abusing children are at odds, but with a biblical view of childhood, these positions can go hand in hand.

Why do the same people who fight against abortion argue that parents should have the right to beat their children and deny them medical care or education, as some conservative Republicans have done recently? How can someone oppose family planning because a pill or IUD might have the rare and unintended consequence of interfering with implantation, and then endorse beating a child, which might have the rare and unintended consequence of battering her to death?

These two positions fit together seamlessly only when we understand the Iron Age view of the child imbedded throughout the Bible, and how that view has shaped the priorities and behavior of biblical literalists.

Extreme Biblical Parenting 

Christian Crock: Why Evangelical Christianity Doesn’t Make You a Better Person…

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This past weekend I had to cut a much needed vacation short in order to make it home in time to catch my youngest daughter being baptized by her grandfather at my family’s megachurch.  While I quit attending more than three years ago, their mother still faithfully brings them to church two or three times a week. They are being raised to be good Baptists who almost certainly are fighting a fair amount of shame and disappointment because their father doesn’t even attend. In the Baptist hierarchy of values, that makes me a failure of a man. The preacher essentially reiterated that during his sermon that morning.

On top of that, my girls are being told by people in their lives that because their father doesn’t believe in God anymore, he is going to be separated from them for eternity, almost certain to burn in everlasting fire and anguish. That’s a lot to have on your shoulders as a child. My second youngest and I have now had multiple conversations like this one here in which I’ve tried to assure her that she doesn’t have to fear for my soul, but it doesn’t seem to be calming her fears. I’m fighting an uphill battle because her surrounding culture speaks with one voice, telling her that she now understands something that her own father does not—and cannot—because an evil spirit has pulled the wool over his eyes.  It seems to me that would make it harder to trust your own father’s judgment.  How could it not?

Christian Crock: Love Letters to Richard Dawkins…


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Christian Crock: Is religion evil? Weighing centuries of war, body counts, abuse…

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From Salon

Gruesome deaths, sexual molestation, a wicked hierarchy — assembling an atheist argument against the church 

Why Aren’t We Finished?

 We have gone through the history. We have dug through the facts and figures. We have looked at the arguments for and against. We have peered into the naturalistic reasons for belief. Why aren’t we finished? The simple and true answer was given in our opening pages. Atheism, for or against, has never been just a matter of the facts. There have always been the moral issues, personal issues, the social issues. Remember, Richard Dawkins doesn’t just think that religion is false. He thinks that bringing a kid up Catholic is a form of child abuse. Sam Harris thinks that Islam is responsible for 9/11. And everyone endorses Steven Weinberg. Say it yet again: “Good people will do good things, and bad people will do bad things. But for good people to do bad things—that takes religion.” Don’t be scared of the bullies. Martin Luther scotched purgatory. Would that he had done the same for the rest of the false, frightening nonsense. No God is going to descend on you. “There probably is no god, so stop worrying and get on with your life.”

Well, let’s start off with the question of whether religion is morally pernicious. I will reverse the tables and ask whether a life without religion can be fulfilling, morally and in any other way.

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Christian Crock of the Week: Get God’s Self-Appointed Messengers Out of Your Head…

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Christopher Hitchens: A Brutal Four Minutes On Religion…

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