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Passive-aggressive Christianity

Posted by Skeptigator on December 8, 2008

Flag of the Episcopal Church

Flag of the Episcopal Church

I occasionally peruse a local afternoon newspapers website for interesting local interest articles and I stumbled upon Kevin Leininger’s recent column, Viewing Episcopal split through historical lens, discussing the split within the Anglican Church over the issue of homosexuality.

I thought it was a good article and I usually enjoy his articles, I don’t often agree with him, but I appreciate them nonetheless.

What struck me however was the very last sentence,

And don’t tell me all of this just illustrates how silly and dangerous organized religion is. The record of organized atheism – Nazism, Communism, etc. – makes the Inquisition look tame.*

My first thought was, “What? What does that have to do with his article”. Since we are editorializing here, let me do my own. Why does the author feel its necessary to include this? On it’s face the comment really had nothing to do with the article which was specifically about a doctrinal division of a specific denomination and how it is coming to grips with living in the modern world.  But with a little further thought I think this textbook passive-aggressive swipe at an entire block of people betrays a certain doubt within the author himself. As an atheist, I’m reading this article with some interest but I never thought to myself, “This is why atheism is better” since I know atheism says *nothing* about the rightness or wrongness of homosexuality (or anything for that matter).

I think that this little swipe also offers a bit of an insight into (at least) one believer’s mind and his belief that the *entire world* is shaded by those who believe in a god and those that do not. It’s the same boring Us vs. Them mentality. What this bit of lazy journalism exposes is the fact that there is a fundamental lack of perspective by the author. It is an implicit (or inferred?) approval of a black and white world and not the much more complicated grey world we actually live in, you know the Real World.

"The National Government will regard it as its first and foremost duty to revive in the nation the spirit of unity and cooperation. It will preserve and defend the basic principles on which our nation has been built. It regards Christianity as the foundation of our national morality, and the family as the basis of national life" - Adolf Hitler, Feb. 1st, 1933.

"The National Government will regard it as its first and foremost duty to revive in the nation the spirit of unity and cooperation. It will preserve and defend the basic principles on which our nation has been built. It regards Christianity as the foundation of our national morality, and the family as the basis of national life" - Adolf Hitler, Feb. 1st, 1933.

The author’s wife’s church, Catholic, was so grossly complicit in the Nazi regime that it should be an well-known embarrassment. And don’t get me started on the Catholic radio host, Charles Coughlin. Communism and particularly the Stalinist brand is a textbook example of ideology that exerts an enormous amount of control over people. I dare say that Stalin’s suppression of all religious activity had little to do with his disbelief in a god but more to do with the threat to his absolute control that the Church could wield. 

Any ideology that suppresses Free Inquiry should be fought, for if a belief is to be found to be true and good it should always and constantly be subjected to questioning. What many within “organized atheist movements” such as Secular Humanism have a problem with is the fact that Political and Economic ideologies are constantly argued over however any kind of critical examination of religious Ideology seems to be considered at best “bad form”.

Look at how many of the faithful simply demonize the dissenting opinions. Lienenger mentions specifically the Inquisition as if this is the only egregious example of  religious tyranny and that the truth or falsity of something is tied directly to its body count. Perhaps he meant to end it with the following:

And don’t tell me all of this just illustrates how silly and dangerous organized religious is. The record of organized atheism – Nazism, Communism, etc. – makes the Inquisition, the Crusades, Rwanda, Darfur, Bosnia, The Troubles in Ireland, the witch hunts of the 17th/18th century, Jonestown Massacre, Heaven’s Gate, 80% of all conflict in the Middle East and Apartheid look tame

If your religion is worth believing in, it should be open to examination. It will then be found to be deserving of it’s following or found to be lacking. The split within the Episcopal Church highlights exactly that process because many within that particular sect have found it’s doctrines to be lacking and I personally think the Episcopal Church should be applauded for even having the discussion.

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* This statement is riddled with logical fallacies making the statement almost a joke. It’s most obvious is one called Tu quoque (you too). It’s a fancy way of saying, “Because there is an example of wrong on the other side of an argument, I am therefore allowed to engage in it as well” or “Because you have no evidence I therefore need none as well”. This fallacy is almost always accompanied by a straw man logical fallacy in which the “wrong” attributed to the other side of an argument is not an actual example of the other sides arguments.

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Posted in FreeThought, Politics, Religion | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 8 Comments »

John Loftus’ Speech to FreeThought Fort Wayne (Audio)

Posted by Skeptigator on May 19, 2008

[blip.tv ?posts_id=925127&dest=-1]

On May 14th, FreeThought Fort Wayne sponsored an event at the local library entitled Why I Rejected Christianity. Our speaker was John Loftus, who runs the group site, http://debunkingchristianity.net.

John Loftus is a former evangelical pastor and apologist who is now an atheist. He has previously self-published his story and his thoughts on why he left the Christian faith. Later this year, John will be releasing his forthcoming book, Why I became an Atheist, a former preacher rejects Christianity through Prometheus Books.

John’s talk to the group was very well received and most of those in attendance were very well-behaved. His speech was attended by about 45 people, of which only about half were regular attenders of FreeThought Fort Wayne. The larger than normal attendance was due in part to the interview that John Loftus gave to one of our local newspapers, Ex-preacher says goodbye to God.

It was great to see some new faces. The talk was about 2 hours long and included a slideshow, so be aware that there are some parts of the talk may not make as much sense since you can’t see the slideshow. The main portion of his talk was about an hour and a half and included about a half hour of Q&A at the end.

The bulk of John’s lecture was a high-level review of many of John’s points from his forthcoming book. If you wish to see the detailed biblical criticisms that backup his arguments you will need to get the book when it’s released . Here’s what some of our members had to say about John’s talk (I would suggest listening to the talk before reading the posts below, they will have better context);

Posted in Events, FreeThought, Local, Philosophy, Religion, Skepticism, Video | Tagged: , , , , , , | 2 Comments »

John Loftus interviewed in the News-Sentinel

Posted by Skeptigator on May 13, 2008

Today’s News-Sentinel features an article written by Bob Caylor about John Loftus’ lecture tomorrow night. Here’s the link to the article online, Ex-preacher says goodbye to God.

I really should have told him to use my first name only, if at all, I am still closeted after all. Here’s the part that pertains to us, hopefully this comes off well,

Wednesday night, he’ll speak to atheists and agnostics in Fort Wayne who want to hear more about why his skepticism changed him from preacher to atheist. He’s speaking at a regular monthly meeting for “freethinkers,” atheists and agnostics. It’s something like church for the willfully unchurched.

“It can be a bit isolating in Fort Wayne to be a non-believer when the people you work with are believers, you drive past six churches to work every day and half the cars on the road say ‘In God We Trust,’” said Jeremy Diller, who helped arrange Loftus’ presentation. “It can be very refreshing to be able to spend a couple hours every month talking and laughing with people who aren’t trying to save your soul and just enjoy your opinions.”

I don’t really know about the “willfully unchurched” bit. Some of us including myself are very well “churched”. It’s the churching that drove us ultimately away from a supernatural worldview.

Hopefully there are some freethinkers in Fort Wayne who may be looking for a great group of people to hang out with. Hopefully, those who attend that don’t share our opinions will come with an open mind and behave themselves.

Posted in Events, FreeThought, Local | Tagged: , , , | 7 Comments »