Can We Please Stop Whitewashing Jesus?

As I write this, Twitter’s top trending hashtag is #ThingsJesusNeverSaid.

Guys, we need to talk.

Certainly it helps to expose the hypocrisy of conservative Christian “values voters” by comparing their economic views to those of Jesus. And it’s often a powerful point.  Jesus would not be thrilled with the spreading Trumpian philosophy that virtue is measured by financial success — the logical evolution of recent wildly popular “prosperity gospel” ministries.

So Twitter is filled with tweets like these today, that (no) God willing, will hopefully touch some hearts and minds:

Jesus may have been to the left on economic policy, but on social and military policy?  Sorry, but Jesus was no pro-gay, religiously tolerant peacenik.  Have we forgotten that there’s only one Christian god, and Jesus is the God of the Old Testament?  When we promote the Sandaled One’s words, we promote genocide, torture, slavery and rape and religious intolerance.  Just a few verses after the lefty favorite, “Blessed are the meek,” Jesus reiterates his support for the Old Testament, including his dad’s approval of genocide, slavery, rape and gay-stoning. Let the man-god himself remind you:

  • I came to cast fire upon the earth; and would that it were already kindled!  [Luke 12:49]
  • …for these are days of vengeance, to fulfil all that is written. Alas for those who are with child and for those who give suck in those days! For great distress shall be upon the earth and wrath upon this people.  [Luke 21:22-23]
  • Think not that I have come to abolish the law and the prophets; I have come not to abolish them but to fulfil them.  For truly, I say to you, till heaven and earth pass away, not an iota, not a dot, will pass from the law until all is accomplished.  Whoever then relaxes one of the least of these commandments and teaches men so, shall be called least in the kingdom of heaven…  [Matthew 5:17-19]

Upset with right-wing anti-Muslim bigotry?  Tweeting how Jesus said we should be kind to strangers?  Inviting people to follow Jesus’ lead in respect for nonChristians?  Jesus?  Come now…

Read the rest at Patheos.

A philosophy test for New Agers

“The universe gives back what we send out.”  “Everything happens for a reason.”

These are among the most widely repeated dogmas of New Age thought.

I propose a simple test of the validity of a philosophy such as this.

If you would be ashamed to express your philosophy to someone who has lost a child in a tsunami, then it’s probably immoral… and false.

philosophy-test-3

New Research Further Confirms That Near Death Experiences Have “Quite Probably” Been Explained

[Excerpts from my guest post at The Friendly Atheist.]

Heaven is Real 1 Heaven is Real 2Heaven Is Real 3

From the 2014 film Heaven is Real, based on the New York Times nonfiction bestseller by Todd Burpo and Lynn Vincent about their 3-year-old son Colton’s NDE tale.

The University of Michigan made the stunning announcement this past week that the “near-death” experiences so many people have isn’t really Jesus calling us home. It’s our brain trying to kill us:

Continue reading

Mandisa Thomas’s essay for CNN: Confessions of a Black Atheist

Excerpts from Mandisa Thomas’ essay yesterday for CNN.  She delivers a much-needed message.

mandisa-thomas

Mandisa Thomas founder and current President of Black Nonbelievers, Inc. She also serves on the boards for Foundation Beyond Belief and the Secular Coalition for America.

African-American atheists represent a small but growing segment of American atheists at large.

Most blacks, though, identify as religious, and the church is intricately tied to tradition, history and culture.

I am atheist — and I am black.

Yes, we exist — even if many in the media sometimes don’t notice us. In a CNN special that aired on Tuesday, for example, people of color were not as well-represented as American atheism’s more familiar face: You know, white males.

In fact, African-American atheists represent a still small — though growing — segment of American atheists at large…

Most blacks identify as religious. Belief in God is touted with pride, and the church is intricately tied to tradition, history and culture. It is not uncommon to assume that I attend services as a black woman. The question often isn’t if I go to church — it’s where. And even if one doesn’t go to church, surely they still have faith — because our people have endured and overcome so much hardship that it had to be the work of a god… It can be extremely difficult to discuss religion objectively in the black community. Many have social, emotional and financial stakes invested in this institution, so for one to even say they have doubts is like committing treason. Continue reading

Do You Believe the Reviews of “Do You Believe?”

[Excerpts from my guest post at The Friendly Atheist.]

By Bo Gardiner

They’re baaaaaaackkkk… those smarmy Christians and evil atheists have returned to your neighborhood theater! Pure Flix’s Do You Believe? opened yesterday in theaters nationally to the same critics-hate-it/audiences-love-it response that their film God’s Not Dead received last year.

You may remember… my atheist-annotated trailer for it:

Do You Believe?’s predecessor God’s Not Dead was a disturbing collection of clichéd anti-atheist caricatures and American Christian persecution fantasies. Pure Flix marketed it well; thousands of churches held special screenings, and an online store sells GND shirts, hats, keychains, bracelets, window decals, and souvenir cups.

Did the filmmakers tone it down after hearing our criticism that GND encouraged divisive hatred and bigotry? With God’s Not Dead earning over $100 million worldwide on a $2 million investment, what do you think?…

At RogerEbert.com, Peter Sobczynski describes Do You Believe? as “punishingly preachy.” Comparing it to what he calls “the lunacies” of God’s Not Dead, which he describes as “pretty awful — a frequently ridiculous stew of straw man arguments, stacked decks, an overwhelming persecution complex,” he calls Do You Believe? “so ridiculously ham-fisted that it almost makes its predecessor seem reasonable and open-minded by comparison.” Of this new crop of the godless, Sobczynski says:

… the most grotesque of the bunch [is an] EMT [who] proselytizes to a dying accident victim instead of doing his actual job and winds up being sued for everything he has by the secular humanist widow and her money-loving, religion-hating lawyer… The lawyer, by the way, is married to a cynical doctor… who refuses to believe in miracles and, in one especially astonishing scene, gets irrationally upset at the sight of a couple saying grace before eating

Subtle as a sledgehammer to the toes and only slightly more entertaining

I quite like this guy, who surely deserves his place on the film criticism website that bears the name of the much-missed (atheist) Roger Ebert.

Jordan Hoffman at The Guardian had a similarly intelligent reaction:

It’s a fascinating look at the persecution complex many evangelical Christians feel…

Variety‘s Scott Foundas is equally blunt:

“Do You Believe?” is agitprop plain and simple, less interested in varieties of religious experience than in proffering the old televangelical/tent-revival assurances that faith will not just save your soul but also cure cancer, PTSD and whatever else ails you… “Do You Believe?” proves about as spiritually enlightening as a Kmart throw rug.

Even the Salt Lake Tribune calls Do You Believe? “preachy,” with “heavy-handed dialogue, thinly drawn characters” and “bad writing” that takes

predictable shots at family planning clinics, humanists and even science — with Sean Astin, as a cynical ER doctor, designated as the rationalist a-hole…

Several reviewers shared my sense of Do You Believe?‘s unpleasant racial overtones…

[For the full piece, see my latest guest post at The Friendly Atheist.]

A Most Unsettling Trend: Christians Rejoicing in ISIS

by Bo Gardiner

[To read my entire post, go to The Friendly Atheist.]

Charisma News is praising a video in which families of murdered Egyptian Christian Copts thank ISIS for making martyrs of their loved ones. In it, a smiling man named Beshir who just lost two brothers to ISIS chats with an audience and callers:

Beshir: ISIS gave us more than we asked… ISIS strengthened our faith… I thank ISIS because they didn’t cut the audio when they screamed declaring their faith. Believe me when I tell you that the people here are happy and congratulating one another. They are not in a state of grief but congratulating one another for having so many from our village die as martyrs.

Caller: Today I was having a chat with my mother asking her what she would do if she an ISIS member on the street… She said she would invite him home because he helped us enter the kingdom of heaven.

Beshir: How beautiful!

Caller: I asked her what will you do if you see those ISIS members passing on the street and I told you ‘That’s the man who slayed your son.’ She said “I will ask for God to open his eyes and ask him into our house because he helped us enter the kingdom of God!

Meanwhile in the U.S., Franklin Graham, son of iconic evangelist Billy Graham, is finding a massive response among American Christians with the announcement that ISIS has triggered biblical Armageddon and the triumph of Christianity. One of his Facebook posts on the matter has already received nearly 150,000 likes and over 40,000 shares:

The evil of ISIS really shouldn’t shock us — it is fully in keeping with their ultimate agenda of hastening a final apocalypse. God’s Word tells us that there will be a final battle one day, but it will result in the defeat of Satan and all those allied with him. One thing is for sure — one day every knee will bow and every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.

Franklin’s statement reverberated throughout Christian media. Thousands of ecstatic replies on Graham’s Facebook page reveal that many Christians are thrilled by the drama brought by ISIS…

[To read the rest, go to The Friendly Atheist, A Most Unsettling Trend: Christians Rejoicing in ISIS.]

Top Five Reasons God Loves Storms

god was here

Then there are the times we can just let believers make our case for us.

Moody Adams Evangelistic Association, publisher of evangelical videos, tapes, books and a magazine, has just posted The 5 Reasons God Permits Storms.  You will undoubtedly be won over:

5

To scare you until you beg Him for mercy.

hanging onto cross

“Storms are allowed to lead men to seek the Lord:  ‘So persecute them with thy tempest, and make them afraid with thy storm… that they may seek thy name, O LORD… ‘“ Continue reading