Seattle’s proposed solution to their gun problem: God

Seattle is brainstorming ways to deal with the recent increase in gun-related violence in the city…and I’m a little skeptical of the idea proposed by Seattle City Council member Bruce Harrell:

Harrell says he’s spoken with a number of pastors about putting together a gang outreach program that would combine clergy members with other mentoring organizations to get gang members off the streets and in work or education programs.

The program is tentatively titled, “Saving the Streets and Saving Souls” (SSS).

Harrell pictures clergy members and mentoring organizations offering at-risk youth paths to education and job training, and a spiritual safety net. He imagines setting up anonymous gun drop-offs to get firearms off the streets. “We have to have safe drop-offs where grandmothers, aunts, uncles, friends, can turn in guns without inquiries or questions,” Harrell says. “Then change the culture by messaging in all communities that we need to get these guns off the streets.”

Every pastor I’ve spoken to has absolutely loved the idea,” he continues. “Church is a huge part of neighborhood culture, especially in the south end. This is a way to help kids get back on the right track while hopefully cutting down on gang and gun violence.”

Harrell is hoping for around 500,000 (tax payer) dollars for the project.

I understand that Seattle is desperate to solve their gun problem, but I can’t support a solution that boils down to “God! Jesus! Woo!” and a bunch of hand-waiving. How exactly are clergy members in particular more qualified to offer at-risk youths the support they need? Why target clergy instead of also involving secular organizations? Why does the city give a rats ass about a “spiritual safety net” and “saving souls”? What about the 65% of Seattleites that aren’t religiously affiliated? I don’t want my money going into a program that’s only funneled into religious organizations with vague, nebulous goals. It works on the assumption that religion is inherently morally superior or helpful…which we’ve consistently seen is not the case.

Maybe we should try to actually solve the socio-economic conditions that perpetuate these problems, instead of treating religion like a cure-all bandaid we can slap on after the fact.

Church economic development controversy strikes West Lafayette, IN

Jen says: The following is a guest post by my friends Anna, Mike, and Mario. Anna is the president of the Society of Non-Theists at Purdue and “isn’t cool enough for a blog.” Mike blogs at Politics and Pucks. Mario blogs at An Episcopalian in Planet Earth. West Lafayette, IN is home to Purdue University, my old stomping ground, so I’m still interested in separation of church and state issues there.

Hello everyone! As you may have heard, members of our community have been addressing an issue with regards to Church and State. Local residents have contacted the FFRF and have garnered local media attention. Both Jen McCreight and JT Eberhard have graciously allowed us to guest post on their respective blogs concerning this issue. This Wednesday, we will be hosting an online town hall meeting to address questions the non-theist and LGBTQ community may have about this issue.

First of all, we’d like to warn you that this is a complicated issue. Politics, law, complicated economics, and ethical concerns are all working together to make this as complicated as possible. We’ll try to walk you through it as best we can, but feel free to contact us with any questions.

There’s an empty lot close to campus that has begun to affect property values. Multiple other projects have been proposed for the site, but failed for various reasons, leaving nearby residents dissatisfied. This is where Faith Church (a local, very active, and very conservative Baptist congregation) intends to build a facility known as Faith West for ministry housing, biblical counseling, and as a home for the Purdue Bible Fellowship.

Generally this wouldn’t be an issue, but there are a few reasons why it is. Faith Church has applied for Economic Development Revenue Bonds (EDRB) that are meant to promote economic development and the welfare of the community through non-profit organizations. The non-profit organization finds a bank they want to borrow from, for their project, and can ascertain loans at a lower interest rate. The issue however, is that the city rubber-stamps this loan. It does not cost the city a dime, but it is a clear endorsement of the project. The city’s bond policy requires that a project “be of benefit to the health or general welfare of the City of West Lafayette.” This is a point that has been made by the only dissenting vote thus far, Councilman Rev. Peter Bunder. Faith Church is asking for up to $7 million, and the city only has to approve it and put their endorsement on it, after getting a loan from JP Morgan Chase.

According to the Faith Church website:

Each space within Faith West is designed to serve the West Lafayette Community and further the mission of Faith Church and be a blessing to Faith Church’s neighbors.

This is on their website, differing in language from the proposal to the city, which attempts to carve out the differences between religious and secular components of the project. In the proposal they have claimed that only certain parts of the facility (supposedly those that are not religious) will be covered by the bonds, while the rest is coming from their own funds. It has been mentioned that this “carve out” and division of funds is ultimately impractical and misleading.

On a side note, we know what Faith West would be if it really did serve a secular purpose.

During the May 24th meeting, Anna spoke of the contradictions which are emerging between the story Faith is telling the City and the narrative they are sharing with their own people. She also pointed out direct contradictions between the bond application, the ordinance that would provide the EDRBs, and what was actually being said.

The city attorney responded by saying that the ordinance was the binding document, not the application. Yet the ordinance is even more vague regarding the specifics of the carve out, and neither of them match what was actually being discussed.

Mario then spoke about his concerns regarding this project. He said that he supports campus ministry (he works for one and has good relations with the LGTBQ community and the Society of Non-Theists at Purdue) and understands the right of Faith Church to support their own campus ministry. However, he spoke about his concerns from the economic side since that was the focus of the public hearing:

  1. Faith Church speaks of the benefits that the 18 created jobs will bring to the community. Mario asked what will be the nature of these jobs, what are the qualifications of these jobs, and who can apply to these jobs.
  2. The ERDB will fund student housing on the site. According to their plans, the housing ministry at Faith West is intended to help Faith Church accomplish its mission in West Lafayette by providing ministry housing to students that seek a unique type of housing that is geared toward a high moral code. Each student seeking to live at Faith West’s Student Ministry Housing will sign a membership covenant that will indicate the student’s willingness to live in accordance with a high standard of moral conduct. The staff at Faith West will hold students accountable for living up to the terms of the covenants. Mario asked: who will have access to this housing? Can it be any student at Purdue? Also, what is the nature of this “covenant”? Details about this covenant have not been provided at these public forums. Instead they have been paraphrased, but not presented.

With regards to the LGBTQ community, Faith Church offers biblical counseling. Pastor Viars claims to support diversity, but there has been public testimony of abuse toward a LGBTQ member through their “homosexual repairitive counseling.” We are unable to verify everything we’ve heard, but we’ve heard other allegations of neglect and abuse from counselors when patients need treatment, but didn’t want religion forced on them. Also, their fitness facilities in Lafayette are open to everyone, unless you want a family membership, then you best have a perfect nuclear family.

Mike spoke on the issue concerning the local LGBTQ community (in fact he had to define that term to the board). He mentioned that negative attitudes toward Faith Church’s ideology by members of the LGBTQ community could lead to negative economic consequences. Further citing that the members of the LGBTQ community could dissuade their peers to live or work in the community. Also, he mentioned that each job is going to cost roughly $300-350k, which is well above the wages that these employees of the facility will likely make in one year. More importantly, he emphasized that he is not convinced that these future employees will be hired from within the community.

To answer Mike’s concerns at the May 24 hearing, Steve Viars said the following:

“…We of course welcome LGBTQ members. We are in the business of being welcoming. This can be said by our treatment of the skateboarders. We don’t ask them their sexual identity, because we’re more interested in their tattoos and piercings…”

If this wasn’t enough, the lawyer said at the public hearing:

“There is a term I picked up in Law School: ‘no brainer.’ This is a ‘no brainer’. The only reason why anyone would oppose this project, because they object to Faith Church.”

Despite these concerns, Faith Church claims in a public letter that opposition to this project is “misinformed.” Here’s something that was written in the letter:

With apologies for being blunt, there is no valid basis for voting “No” with regard to a Project like this one, which provides a clear economic development boost in a struggling neighborhood, at no cost to the City and no risk to the City – aside from simply discriminatory animus toward a particular borrower.

It seems here that Faith Church feels that the only way that people will oppose this issue is on religious grounds. Admiral Ackbar has something to say about this.

We need to argue this in a way that avoids anti-Christian rhetoric, because that’s what they want and they’re already baiting this. We know some of you are concerned, and we share this concern. So if you choose to write a letter to the city council, please avoid anti-Christian rhetoric (ask a Christian friend…if you have one). For example, bring up concerns about LGBTQ abuse, but do not single out Christians. The worst thing we can do right now is to fall in this trap.

We want what’s best for the West Lafayette, IN community. Mario, Mike, and Anna are residents, live, work, and care deeply about this community. In fact, we do want to see the lot being used, but we oppose this proposal. By not being forward about all the details of the project, our doubts have been largely confirmed through information on the Faith Church’s website. We think this behavior has been very misleading, and saddening that people who claim a moral standard are violating their own morals, while berating those who object this project.

The three of us (Mario is Christian, Anna and Mike are non-theists) are opposing this project for very similar reasons that are founded on evidence that goes beyond personal opinion regarding religion. And this is a case where actions speak much louder than words.

The final City Council meeting will be on June 4th at 6:30 at the West Lafayette City Hall. Last time, there were over 200 people, most of which were bussed in by Faith. Written statements can be sent to the City Council, but please make sure the Council Clerk gets a copy too.


Here’s a depressing comparison for you:

2012 US Science Budget*: $85.2 billion

Yearly losses due to religious tax exemptions: Over $71 billion

We could basically double the US Science Budget, but instead we continue to bow to religious privilege. Priorities, indeed.

*Funding the National Institute of Health, National Science Foundation, NASA, Department of Energy, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, Defense Department, US Department of Agriculture, US Geological Survey, Environmental Protection Agency, National Institute of Standards and Technology, Food and Drug Administration, and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Blag Hag Hipsters, rejoice!

If you’re one of those people I’ve caught saying “I read Blag Hag before boobquake,” then have I got news for you. An old friend is back: Pastor Tom Estes of the blog Hard Truth.

If you’ve forgotten Pastor T. Estes, don’t worry – I had to dig through the archives to remember why the name was familiar. Nearly three years ago, which is eons ago in the blogosphere, I poked fun at a dumb post he made about how atheists are taking over the internet. He made remarks about looking forward to personally finding me and meeting me when he found out I was going to the Creation Museum. I mentioned it was kinda creepy, he responded with threats of suing me for defamation of character, and I spent my Creation Museum trip slightly on edge. He referred to my blog as “Helga’s Battle Axe” because he thought it was clever. We continued to vaguely giggle in the direction of his blog until he packed up his toys and went home.

I honestly shouldn’t care that this random small town pastor decided to come back to blogging, but his first post was too hilariously bad to resist commenting on. What was one thing that encouraged him to return to blogging? He looked at Pharyngula’s traffic and saw that it has recently plummeted, presumably because Christians are awesome and winning. But of course he didn’t figure out that the traffic drop was because Pharyngula moved to Freethought Blogs, despite the giant box at the top of old Pharyngula informing him.

Pastor Tom did figure one thing out – if you want to be a Christian echo chamber without anyone to challenge your beliefs, turn off your comments. How predictable.


Today’s example of Christian privilege: Delta Airlines

I’ve racked up a lot of frequent flyer miles with Delta, but I’m going to have to consider other airlines next time I’m booking a flight. I just don’t feel comfortable supporting a business that easily succumbs to the orders of religious bigots.

The Catholic League announced Monday that Delta Air Lines had pulled its sponsorship of Jon Stewart’s The Daily Show following a boycott launched by the organization.

“I encourage everyone to choose Delta the next time they fly,” Catholic League president Bill Donohue said. “We need to support advertisers who act responsibly.”

What could the Daily Show have done that possibly justifies Delta pulling its support?

The Catholic League launched a boycott against the sponsors of the The Daily Show in April over a segment that featured “vagina mangers.” In the segment, which aired on April 16, Stewart mocked Fox News for criticizing the phrase “war on women,” even though the network promoted the phrase “war on Christmas” for years.

“What can women do to generate the same sense of outrage from Fox as” the alleged war on Christmas, Stewart asked. “Perhaps they could play into the theme. Maybe women could protect their reproductive organs from unwanted medical intrusions with vagina mangers.”

A picture of a nude women with a nativity scene ornament between her leg appeared beside Stewart, which Donohue described as an “unprecedented vulgar assault on Christians.”

Let’s back up and review this situation:

  1. A photo of a manger is photoshopped to cover a woman’s genitals
  2. This is to illustrate how Christians care more about forcing their own religion on everyone else on this country than the health and lives of women.
  3. The Catholic League responds by forcing their own religion on everyone else in this country because that’s more important than the discussion about the health and lives of women.

Leave it to Ol’ Bigot Bill Donohue to miss the point that badly. It’s not shocking – forcing Catholicism down everyone’s throats is the goal of the Catholic League. But that doesn’t mean businesses need to succumb to their will. Yet that’s the choice Delta made – to show that Christian privilege is more important than women’s health.

Donohue’s next target is Kellogg’s:

“Donohue outlined his attack strategy against Kellogg’s on the Catholic League website today: “Today, all the top management at Kellogg’s will receive a color photo of a naked woman with her legs spread and a nativity scene ornament in between. Let’s see if that jars them. Over 700 photos have been sent to leaders in Battle Creek, Michigan.”

Ah yes, the tactic of relying on misogynists being terrified of the naked female body in order to enact social change. I like it better when liberal groups do it to point out bigotry, rather than bigots using it as some sort of bigot bat signal.

Let’s hope other sponsors of the Daily Show aren’t so quick to fall to religious pressure. And make sure to let Delta (@delta on twitter) know about how you feel.

Liveblogging Abby Johnson’s “Do women have too many rights?”

(7:17pm) Well, I’m here. Tonight is Abby Johnson’s talk “Do women have too many rights?” at the University of Washington, sponsored by Students for Life of America and the Catholic Newman Center, who had this ironic poster hung outside the room:

Human rights! …unless you’re a pregnant woman.

I’ll be making updates throughout the talk, so keep refreshing!

(7:20) I’m not the only pro-choice person here. There’s an impressive amount of protesters civilly holding signs. Good job, ladies!

(7:33) On my way in I picked up the various literature they were giving away. Let’s see what goodies I got! Would you like some lies about Planned Parenthood and how contraception works?

Or maybe the terrifying thought that med students are supporting these unscientific claims:

(7:37) I kept ruffling through my various flyers. I was pre-raging when I saw the words “scientific truth,” expecting to read a pile of the typical anti-abortion garbage that parades behind the word “science.” I was pleasantly surprised…the protesters managed to hand out flyers with actual science on it! Wooooooo! Good job, ladies!

(7:39) The presidents of both student groups just said their names, which caused about a minute of crazy cheering and booing. Oh dear, this is going to be interesting.

(7:40) A police officer just confiscated plastic coat hangers from the people sitting behind me. I feel so much safer now.

(7:42) Some of the feminists behind me keep shouting out and booing loudly to drown out the speaker, and they need to stfu. Let the ignorance speak for itself. You’re coming off as intolerant douchebags.

Abby just got announced (I think, I could barely hear). Standing ovation helped locate where all the pro-lifers are in the room.

(7:45) Well, I’d live blog what Abby is saying, except I can’t hear what she’s saying, and she can’t talk because feminists keep screaming over her. Come on, guys. You sound like brats. This isn’t “freedom of speech” to shout down an invited speaker. Ugh.

(7:46) Abby says supporting Planned Parenthood is “uninformed choice”, and that she hopes there are no male pro-choicers in the audience because pro-choicers don’t want them to have an opinion.

(7:48) She just said pro-choicers want women “to be bought and sold for sex.”

(7:51) Abby said Planned Parenthood is in it to make money. Someone from the audience shouts that they bet she makes a lot of money speaking doing this, and agrees…then adds that she made a lot more money when she was at Planned Parenthood “coercing young girls and killing children.”

(7:53) Abby says that Planned Parenthood has an abortion quota, and they fire people if they don’t meet a monthly quota. Someone shouted “Citation needed!” She responded “I don’t know why they want a citation, because according to them, abortion should be everywhere. Everyone here should be having an abortion.” …I have no idea what that has to do with citations.

(7:55) Abby questions why Planned Parenthood wants every clinic to eventually offer abortion services if they claim to want to reduce unintended pregnancies. “Not about the health of the women. They’re not about keeping women safe. They’re about abortion. They’re about making money. They are not about unintended pregnancies.” Even though, you know, only 3% of PP services are abortion related.

(7:57) Someone just made an announcement that the police were going to start removing people if they keep being disruptive. She couldn’t even get through the announcement without people screaming to drown her out. Abby says she’ll say something that will make sure to upset the pro-choicers so they’ll get kicked out.

(8:02) Photos of the audience. Room is packed. Police officer is looming in the back where all the noisy pro-choicers are.

(8:06) Abby is telling her story about watching an abortion performed over an ultrasound, and how the baby tried to flee and move away from the abortion instrument. Even though this has been shown to be a complete fabrication. There was no ultra sound guided abortion performed that day where she worked.

(8:08) “If we saw a two year old in the parking lot and saw a man beating her to death, what would we do? We’d stop them from harming this child.” Yes, a two year old is totally equivalent to a couple week old embryo  ಠ_ಠ “People justify their own hurt by the killing of an innocent.”

(8:13) The most disruptive woman just got escorted out by the police. She started shouting “Women’s rights are under attack, what do you do?” and people replied “Stand up, fight back!”

“I know here in the state of Washington you feel discouraged because you’re in the minority. But know you’re not alone. The majority of this country sides with you when it comes to the sanctity of human life.” Blah blah blah circle jerk, claps from the pro-lifers. “Their anger comes from hurt.”

(8:15) “They’re only tolerant of your point of view.” I’m sorry, I am intolerant. I’m intolerant of people taking control over women’s bodies because some sky daddy told them to. I’m intolerant of someone resulting in the death of women because “awwww, a baby duurrr.” This is a more complicated ethical issue than any anti-choicer will admit.

(8:17) “I don’t believe women have too many rights. I believe women don’t have enough rights in this country.” Well, I’m glad you titled in your talk in such a trolltastic way. “They don’t believe in choice, they believe in abortion. They don’t believe in a woman’s right to choose, they believe in a woman’s right to have an abortion.”

(8:23) Holy crap I don’t know what just happened. Some officer just tackled a woman in the back with general chaos. More people are getting escorted out.

(8:24) “The truth is the truth. If we weren’t speaking the truth in the pro-life moment, THEY wouldn’t be here!” I think that’s a logical fallacy…

(8:27) “The truth is scary and is often offensive. Never be scared to offend someone with the truth.” Oddly I agree with that. Except that, you know, pro-lifers don’t generally present the truth.

Annnddd they just ended the talk with no Q&A because the pro-choicers are so loud and disruptive. Good job, guys *facepalm*

The pro-choicers behind me are loudly chanting “Pro-life, that’s a lie, you don’t care if women die.” I’m sure they’re changing lots of minds  ಠ_ಠ  This was such a shitshow.

(8:32) You know, I was totally expecting to be in a frothy rage at the end of this talk. But I’m just vaguely confused. And hungry.

Look, I consider myself a firebrand. I don’t mince words or hold back. But the people screaming in the back weren’t firebrands…they were obnoxious and accomplished nothing. Did screaming the whole time change any minds? I wish she would have been able to give her dumb talk, then people could have asked her damning questions during the Q&A. But instead it just turned into a giant clusterfuck. I’m actually more angry at the pro-choicers than Abby right now. Blargh.

I’m going to go grab dinner. Goodnight!

The secret to getting a flood of angry Christian tweets

No, it’s not to spend years blogging about atheism, giving talks about how fucked up religion is, or helping run atheist organizations. It’s to get retweeted by Dan Savage. I know not all of you follow me on twitter, so I thought I’d share the highlights.

Dan retweets someone:

I make a quip, which Dan also retweets:

And then came the flood of angry Christians:

Ironically, she cared enough about my atheism to waste five seconds tweeting at me.

Wait, I’m the one who thinks she’s important? Not the one who thinks they’re the special and highest creation of an all powerful being? Riggghhhttt.

Hooooooo boy, not even touching that one.

But this one was perhaps my favorite:

He never responded. Turns out he couldn’t clarify.

Christianity is bullshit, and I’m not apologizing for saying that

Religious bigots are furious with Dan Savage yet again. This time their rage is inspired by a speech Dan gave at the National High School Journalism Conference, where he points out the “bullshit” in the Bible and a trickle of Christians get up and walk out of his talk. Watch the video for a wonderful speech and the poor butthurt Christians leaving (in a single file line that starts in unison…smells like a planned walk-out to me):

Here’s a transcript of the speech for those of you who can’t watch the video:

“People often point out that they can’t help it. They can’t help with the anti-gay bullyings because it says right there in Leviticus, it says right there in Timothy, it says right there in Romans that being gay is wrong.  We can learn to ignore the bullshit in the Bible about gay people the same way we have learned to ignore the bullshit in the Bible about shellfish, about slavery, about dinner, about farming, about menstruation, about virginity, about masturbation. We ignore bullshit in the Bible about all sorts of things.

The Bible is a radically pro-slavery document. Slave owners waved Bibles over their heads during the Civil War and justified it. The shortest book in the New Testament is a letter from Paul to a Christian slave owner about owning his Christian slave. And Paul doesn’t say Christians don’t own people. Paul talks about how Christians own people. We ignore what the Bible said about slavery because the Bible  got slavery wrong. Sam Harris in Letter to a Christian Nation points out that the Bible got the easiest moral question that humanity has ever faced wrong: slavery.

What are the odds that the Bible got something as complicated as human sexuality wrong? 100%. The Bible says that if your daughter’s not a virgin on her wedding night – that a woman isn’t a virgin on her wedding night, that she shall be dragged to her father’s doorstep and stoned to death. Callista Gingrich lives. And there is no effort to amend state constitutions to make it legal to stone women to death on their wedding night if they’re not virgins. At least not yet. We don’t know where the GOP is going these days. People are dying because people can’t clear this one last hurdle. They can’t get past this one last thing in the Bible about homosexuality.

One thing I want to talk about is – ha, so you can tell the Bible guys in the hall that they can come back in because I’m done beating up the Bible. It’s funny that someone who’s on the receiving end of beatings that are justified by the Bible, how pansy-assed some people react to being pushed back. I apologize if I hurt anyone’s feelings but I have the right to defend myself, and to point out the hypocrisy of people who justify anti-gay bigotry by pointing to the Bible and insisting that we must live by the code of Leviticus on this one issue and no other.”

I transcribed that speech so I’m sure you know exactly what Dan Savage said… because right-wing lunatics seem to have listened to an entirely different speech. Focus on the Family was the first time chime in, opportunistically on their bigoted anti-Day of Silence event:

“Using profanity to deride the Bible—and then mocking the Christian students after they left the room—is obviously a form of bullying and name-calling. This illustrates perfectly what we’ve been saying all along: Too many times in the name of “tolerance,” Christian students find their faith being openly mocked and belittled in educational environments. Incidents like this one stand in stark contrast to the principles we’ve continually espoused on our Web sites, and, which call for a free exchange of ideas and respect for different viewpoints, including those that are faith-based and socially conservative.”

You see, it’s exactly the same. On one hand, we have someone pointing out that certain ideas of an oppressive majority group are wrong. On the other hand, we have that oppressive majority group bullying children until they commit suicide because those children have a biological trait that the oppressive majority finds abhorrent because their invisible sky daddy told them so in a really old book. And Focus on the Family is pro-dialogue because they’re allowed to talk about their beliefs, but you have to shut up about yours.


It’s not just Focus on the Family: the various conservative fundies have chimed in with the typical “Help, help, us poor Christians are being oppressed and bullied! Waaaah!” The concept of Christians being persecuted in the US is laughable, but I’m not laughing. Why? Because Christians who scream “persecution!” are doing it to silence dissent. It even worked on Savage, who apologized for calling the walk-out “pansy-assed” (which it was) and explained that he wasn’t calling Christianity bullshit:

“I didn’t call anyone’s religion bullshit. I did say that there is bullshit—”untrue words or ideas“—in the Bible. That is being spun as an attack on Christianity. Which is bullshhh… which is untrue. I was not attacking the faith in which I was raised. I was attacking the argument that gay people must be discriminated against—and anti-bullying programs that address anti-gay bullying should be blocked (or exceptions should be made for bullying “motivated by faith”)—because it says right there in the Bible that being gay is wrong. Yet the same people who make that claim choose to ignore what the Bible has to say about a great deal else. I did not attack Christianity. I attacked hypocrisy. My remarks can only be read as an attack on all Christians if you believe that all Christians are hypocrites. Which I don’t believe.”

Sure, not all Christians are hypocrites. We have the Westboro Baptist Church, Ken Ham, and other Biblical literalists as perfect examples of unhypocritical Christians. But they’re still wrong. They’re still following a bullshit book and a bullshit religion. And despite the whining of Focus on the Family, Christians deserve to have their faith mocked and belittled, because it is an idea worthy of only mockery and belittlement.

And I’m not just talking about the Phelps of the world. I mean the moderate and liberal version of Christianity too. Because it all boils down to believing in ludicrous superstition you have no evidence for, and much evidence against. That sort of thinking wouldn’t be tolerated or respected in our society if it weren’t for the unfairly special status religion holds. We can use “bullshit” to describe ideas like astrology, reptilian conspiracies, alien abductions, Big Foot… but God is off limits, despite being equally ridiculous.

That’s why Christian groups cry foul when someone points out flaws in their religion. It’s not their emotions that are so fragile: It’s their faith. Because Christianity, like all religions, simply cannot stand up to questioning. It’s why so many parts of the Bible actively denounce questioning faith. It’s why Christians have to run out of talks and make press releases about persecution. Because Christianity crumbles in the face of history, biology, and analytical thinking. Silencing dissent is the only way for Christianity to survive.

And I don’t want a misogynistic, homophobic, racist, anti-science, and simply false idea like Christianity to survive.

Now, am I going to be violent toward Christians? Am I going to enact laws banning Christianity? Am I going to run around burning churches? Of course not. I’m going to be a radical evangelical atheist by writing blog posts for whoever cares to read them, and by giving talks for whoever cares to attend. I’m going to destroy religion through convincing arguments that people have to understand on their own time, not through guilt or social ostracization or threats of eternal damnation (the tactics of religious evangelicals).

That’s why Christians want to shut up people like me and Dan – because they know our tactics work.

Pennsylvania church stages “fake” kidnapping of youth group to teach about religious persecution

Holy fuck.

Teenagers at the Glad Tidings Assembly of God Church in Middletown, Pa., were surprised when they attended a youth group meeting at the church on March 21 and were ambushed by what seemed to be real kidnappers.

Adults, including an off-duty cop, brandished weapons and put bags over the heads of the children, ages 13 through 18, and forced them into a church van. The group was driven to the home of an assistant pastor, who was presented before the group with a seemingly bloodied and bruised face, according to Dauphin County District Attorney Fran Chardo.

One of the adults used a real AK-47, though the gun was unloaded, Chardo said.

The church leaders who organized the fake hostage situation later told law enforcement that the event was meant to be a lesson to the children on how Christians are persecuted in places around the world, but the “educational” event may actually constitute a crime, Chardo said.

How in the world do you plan this sort of thing without considering that it may legitimately terrify and emotionally abuse these children? Is teaching about religious persecution really more important than protecting your children from harm? I guess I shouldn’t expect anything more from people who emotionally abuse children with threats of hell and damnation.