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.
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
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?
Gruesome deaths, sexual molestation, a wicked hierarchy — assembling an atheist argument against the church
Why Aren’t We Finished?
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.
From Dani Kelley
Lately, I’ve been thinking a lot about the concepts of agency1 and autonomy, how necessary they are for a fulfilling life…and how impossible they are when consent is ignored. I’ve been realizing with a growing sense of anger and frustration that I had no grasp of those concepts as a Christian. Really, as I came to understand what basic respect, prioritizing consent, and honoring the autonomy of my fellow humanity looked like, I realized that Christianity as I knew it had no place for those things…and therefore had no place for me.
Don’t get me wrong. There were many things that played into my deconversion — this wasn’t the only thing. But it was certainly an eye-opening discovery.
You see, I grew up with the knowledge that I wasn’t my own person. Oh, no. I belonged to many people.
From Roll to Disbelieve
Love your neighbor as yourself. Give till it hurts. Feed the hungry. Clothe the naked and comfort the sick, imprisoned, and mourning. As you treat the least, you treat Jesus himself. Never fight back against persecution or resist the predations of those who mean you harm. If you’re hit in the face, turn the other cheek to your attacker’s hand. If you’re told to carry heavy stuff for a mile, carry it for two without complaint. If someone compels you to give them your coat, give them your shirt as well. Sell everything you own, if you’re convinced you’ve done everything else to keep the laws, and give the proceeds to the poor. Your King is a beggar, a stranger in his own land, who died the most humiliating death imaginable at the time, and a Prince of Peace rather than a Warlord, so following him all but guarantees that you will be led to the slaughter. When, not if, that happens, accept it with a smile. Don’t judge anybody. Oh, and all that stuff you think you know about the proper roles of men and women, slaves and free people, and Jews and Gentiles? That’s all wrong too.
–Stuff Modern Christians Have Decided Is Totally Boring
Interesting list, isn’t it? It’s unlikely that Christianity came up with all these ideas by itself–quite a bit of the stuff people think of as uniquely Christian was plagiarized from other sources at the time, like the writings of Philo of Alexandria that seem to undergird quite a bit of the religion’s earliest writings–but even so we can certainly appreciate how early Jews would have been simply scandalized that this man who growing numbers of people claimed was their Messiah was, rather than being a powerful war-chief who’d lead Israel to independence from the Roman Empire as they expected, in actuality a lowly pacifist who did not fulfill any of their requirements of a Messiah. Still, as religions go it was likely quite startling at the time to both Jews and Gentiles.
From Roll To Disbelieve
Regarding Kirk Cameron’s horrible new movie, Kirk Cameron’s Saving Christmas, I want to touch on something I’ve been noticing all too often in toxic Christianity: this propensity toward coming up with tons of justifications for being shitbags to other people.
Jesus is supposed to have left some very explicit instructions to his followers:
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.