Christian Crock of the Week

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




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…



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.


Levels of poverty by state:

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


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…



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!


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…


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…


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…



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


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…


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…


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…


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

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.


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


Christopher Hitchens: A Brutal Four Minutes On Religion…


Christian Crock of the Week: Christianity Is Not a Safe Place For Anyone…


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.

Christian Crock of the Week: When Christianity Became the Opposite of Social Justice…


From Roll to Disbelieve

Love your neighbor as yourselfGive till it hurts. Feed the hungryClothe the naked and comfort the sick, imprisoned, and mourning. As you treat the least, you treat Jesus himselfNever 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 smileDon’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.

Think you’re headed for heaven? YOU’RE not… that’s for damn sure…


The Real Reason For The Season…


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:

Christian Crock of the Week: Your religion is harmful… You are not a ‘sinner’…


Christian Crock of the Week: Mormon Bullshit…



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