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Showing posts from September, 2010

Survey Says: Better Not Play Bible Trivia with Un-Believers or You Might Lose

By Cheryl Ensom Dack ~ C ontrary to common Christian belief, the average atheist is not in fact someone who needs to have the Gospel presented to them in a clear way. They don’t need to have “the bridge illustration” doodled on a napkin for them. The average agnostic is NOT “not sure about God” because he or she doesn’t want to think too hard or is chronically fickle. In fact, according to an article in today’s L.A Times , “a survey that measured Americans’ knowledge of religion found that atheists and agnostics knew more, on average, than followers of most major faiths.” Say, what? Yup…you read that right. Why, you ask, would an atheist or agnostic know more about religion than a Christian? The L.A. Times interviewed Alan Cooper , the associate director for research at the Pew Forum, the organization that released this survey earlier this week and he answers this very question. He thinks the reason atheists and agnostics know more about religion than those who ascribe to thos

Some Questions

By David B. ~ This originally started out as a short answer in verse to a Christian 'guest' on the testimonial " Leaving Pentecostalism ." Not long after I posted it several more verses occurred to me, so here is the extended edition. Image by guate84105 via Flickr Where was the ram for Jephthah 's daughter? Or for the Levite 's concubine? Where was God's hand to stop the slaughter Of the children of Palestine? What grace was shown they who mocked Elisha? Did mercy come as an angry bear? And when babes in arms slid beneath the waters Of the flood, where was the care? Who cursed the fig for, out of season, Not bearing fruit before its time? Who sent the pigs to their destruction To cure a madness? What was their crime? Why take the first born from their mothers For the actions of their king? Yet fill a goat with the sins of others To save them from such a reckoning? What justice is lent to women stoned for adultery, while men have many wives? How

The Protestant Clergy Sex Abuse Pattern

By Valerie Tarico ~  O ne of the most striking aspects of the Protestant clergy sex abuse pattern is that most people don’t realize it is a pattern. The Catholic Church has taken a well deserved beating in the courts and in the court of public opinion as former altar boys, orphans and ordinary parishioners have come forward with appalling stories of sex abuse. Yet equally egregious violations by Protestant clergy have failed to generate the same level of outrage. Why? Image by Dude Crush via Flickr You might guess that the problems in the Catholic Church are uniquely wide spread, but that would be the wrong answer. Last week’s Eddie Long scandal, in which one of the nation’s most politically connected and homophobic mega-ministers was accused of strong-arming gay sex out of teens, was just one tip of an enormous Protestant iceberg. The news monthly Freethought Today has a regular feature called “Black Collar Crime Blotter”--typically a two page sampler of fraud, theft, and sexual

Religion: The DVD

By Cheryl Ensom Dack ~ I would not say I’m an atheist and I resist labeling myself as an agnostic, mostly because I can’t stand labels anymore. But I definitely am not a Christian. I’m at a place where I no longer feel the need to believe or disbelieve anything. I know what I’m experiencing. I’m honest about it. I don’t need to label it. I don’t need to change or move. I’m where I’m at. Image by ~Liliana via Flickr Because the shifts that have gradually occurred in me didn’t happen overnight, I think it’s important to write about the various stages I went through in the deconstruction of my Christianity. I know I am not alone in the feelings I have or had, but I often feel like there is a lot written from a Christian stand-point and a lot written from an atheist or agnostic paradigm, but not a lot written about the “process” people go through in between. What about the places in between belief and unbelief? Lots of people are there, but unless they read something ab

AMALGAMATION: The Racist Doctrine Seventh-Day Adventists Don’t Want You to Know

By Carol Putnam ~ I can’t really blame my mother for what she did. My father was an abusive alcoholic. I had seen him hit her on numerous occasions; once hard enough to make her mouth bleed. My sister and I were punished with a belt or backhanded. Yet despite what happened during the week, we still made it to church every Sunday morning. On that particular day we were all “good Christians." Image by The Library of Congress via Flickr Life for my mother was a living hell. (It was no picnic for us kids either.) But like I said, I can’t blame her. She was born in a small, backwater town in the North Dakota badlands during the Depression . Hardship was just a way of life, and a “good Christian woman” had to endure without complaining. The nuptial phrase “for better or worse” meant literally that. Divorce was viewed as a one-way ticket to Hell. At the very least, it was a scandal no decent woman could abide. Over the course of our lives my mother tried desperatel

I turned and walked away

by Jody ~ I wasn't looking for it. In fact, it caught me blindsided. After "losing my religion" and leaving my 27-year marriage, I was pretty much labeled a heretic and loser by former Christian friends. Occasionally, I was met with a friendly hello in the grocery store , but mostly, people didn't want much to do with me. That's OK. I realize what I did rocked their tiny little world a bit too much. I managed to move to another part of town and become involved in community events to fill the social gap left in my once full calendar. But, never in a million years could I have been ready for what came next. One night, while I was on Facebook, a longtime Christian friend sent me a shout out from the chat box. Sweet! That didn't happen often. It started out OK, the expected, "How are the kids? the job? your new life?" etc., and then his tone changed. He called me beautiful and wanted to encourage me as a newly single woman. OK. I think. I managed to

The Unknowable Truth

By a searching soul ~ L ike many of us, I was raised Christian. My mother is the youngest of five. Her father was a Baptist minister, her mother a chaplain and both retired missionaries (mother was actually born in Brazil while the family was still evangelizing there). My father is the youngest of six. His father was a Methodist minister. Both of my parents are still Christians (though neither attend church). My brothers are Christians; my aunts and uncles are Christians; my cousins are Christians. I believe I'm the only one who has been anything but. Image by Klearchos Kapoutsis via Flickr Like every other child raised in a Christian home, I never questioned my religion. I went to church and Sunday school happily enough. I read my Bible; I memorized my verses. Then middle school came. This was the turning point in my life that made me question what I was doing and who I was. As a result, I studied different religions and belief systems. Since then it's been a rocky path

Pastor charged with 31 felonies

Former pastor Travis J. Gandy was charged Friday with 31 felonies based on explicit photos and text messages he allegedly exchanged with two teenage boys from his church. A criminal complaint said Gandy exchanged more than 4,000 messages with the boys — ages 15 and 16 — and sent one boy sexually explicit pictures of the other. Gandy, a Town of Sheboygan resident, was charged in June with one felony related to each boy, but a forensic examination of his computer led to an additional 24 counts of possession of child pornography and seven counts of sexual exploitation of a child. The charges carry a maximum combined penalty of 535 years in prison. Gandy, the former pastor of music ministries at Praise Fellowship Church, knew both boys from church and kissed one boy in the church attic, court records show. He was fired the day the first complaint was issued and remains in jail in lieu of cash bonds totaling $20,000. The complaint filed Friday said Gandy used an e-mail account

Two Films and a Song

By Carl S ~ Scene from Invasion of the Body Snatchers T omorrow, my wife wants me to go with her to a lunch and rewards benefit for visitors to her church. She asks if I have any objections to being with them, and I can’t upset her by saying that the last time I was in that setting, my stomach was in turmoil for days afterward. Since her pointing out the fact that we wouldn’t be sitting among them, I feel better about this, since it gives her so much pleasure to have me with her to share with her. She’s told members that I’m an atheist, but I don’t think this has sunk in with them. The visitors aren’t aware of this though, and, for all appearances to me, are rather more strident in their convictions than the members. ( Two nights ago, I had a dream where I opened her church doors from inside, to find at least a thousand tee-shirted men outside, with crosses on the shirts!) Because I doubt that my feelings are unusual, let me be more specific. Anyone who has seen the original (19

Let Children Grow Up a Little

By WizenedSage (Galen Rose) ~ While perusing my file of past letters-to-the-editor recently, I came across one which was published in the Rockland Free Press ( Maine ) Oct. 8, 2009, but never submitted here, as I often do. Re-reading it, I was a bit surprised that it got published. I suspect it was mostly the humor angle that did the trick. Perhaps the editor was amused? Anyway, I offer it here that you may have a chuckle, too. As you might guess, I think Sunday schools are one of the greatest scourges ever invented for the corruption of youthful minds. T his is written in response to a letter in last week’s Free Press which thanked folks for their contributions to the new Sunday school program in Camden. Now education is important, but I’m sure the leaders of this program don’t want it to turn into outright indoctrination. After all, true education teaches children how to think, not what to think.. Also, one suspects that children learn better if the lessons are about childre

God's Emotions - Why the Biblical God is Hopelessly Human (Part 1)

By Valerie Tarico ~  Also available at the Huffington Post : God's Emotions - Why the Biblical God is so Human . D o you remember the joke about the little Scottish boy who refuses to eat two nasty, shriveled prunes on his plate? His mother cajoles and pleads. Finally she tells him, as she has many times before, that if he doesn't obey her, God will be angry. Usually it works, but this time the stubborn child holds out, and the mother, herself angry, sends him straight to bed. No sooner does he get there than a storm sets in, with lightning and thunder crashing around them. Feeling contrite and thinking that her child must be terrified, the mother sneaks to her son's room to reassure him. She opens the door quietly, expecting to find him burrowed under the covers. But no, he is at the window, peering out into the night. As she watches, he shakes his head and says in an incredulous, reproving voice, "Such a fuss to make over two prunes!" In the Hebrew Bibl

Finally found peace

By Southern Man ~ I am a man in my 40s who lives in the South . I was raised by loving parents and attended a small denominational country church as a child. This church was a fundamentalist - holiness based group. I would be remiss if I did not recognize a few positives about this upbringing. Hearing the message of Jesus Christ did teach me to be humble and to love others as myself. However, I was also exposed to a constant barrage of hellfire and brimstone sermons, altar calls, speaking in tongues , and all the other things that have become so typical of fundamentalist Christians . As a young man entering college I remember writing term papers for political science class based on a world view that Christ would soon return and that prophecy explained lots of world events like the rise of this powerful leader from the Soviet Union who I was sure was the Antichrist. Image by Bindaas Madhavi via Flickr As with most people I left the church once entering college. I was v

Sexual coercion lawsuits against mega-church pastor

Reaction to the lawsuits alleging sexual coercion against Bishop Eddie Long reverberated both locally and nationally Wednesday morning -- and that was before a third suit was filed Wednesday afternoon. The third suit was filed in DeKalb County Superior Court , said a spokeswoman for attorney B.J. Bernstein. Bishop Eddie Long Long was not immediately available Wednesday, but is holding a news conference Thursday morning. CNN and Good Morning America both ran pieces on the lawsuits, as did the local TV news shows. It was a major topic on local urban-themed radio stations. On the "Frank and Wanda Morning Show" on V-103, host Frank Ski held off on discussing the lawsuits until after 8 o'clock because, he said, "we're going to get the kids off to school" first. Ski is a 12-year member of Long's New Birth Missionary Baptist Church in Lithonia . In an interview with the AJC, Ski said his reaction is one of "extreme support." "It

Destroyed... For God?

By By Brian M ~ I have always been abused- my entire life. I had two abusive, cruel parents. My mother drank and was two card suits shy of a full deck. My father was simply ineffectual as a parent or a person. My sister... well, she follows in her mother's footsteps. I was- and still am to an extent, creative, smart, imaginative, if not completely sane any more. Image by Denis Collette...!!! via Flickr I went thru abuse for years. I put up with lies, beatings and the like- and one day at school- after I had basically played on my mother's racism and ignorance so I could be in a school play- An event happened which has and will affect my life. I met a girl. A beautiful, (or so I thought at the time) wonderful girl. Her name's Penny (and I hope you're reading this so you get the full extent of what you've DONE to me.) I went basic 'I'm in love' mode for the next 10 years. Everything I did, Even after I was moved to foster care - I did for her. I