Comments

  1. Rich Woods says

    There are days when you wish it was possible to punch someone through the Internet. What a fucking heartless comment.

  2. MikeLatiolais says

    What a complete asshole! I’ve heard this before, but never as a condemning statement. If anything, he was far too nice in his response.

  3. Glodson says

    Fuck. Look if I had just lost a loved one, I fucking wouldn’t want to hear that some sky wizard has a fucking plan and I shouldn’t question it. Hell, I thought that was moronic and heartless when I was a believer.

    Instead of trying to confront the guy, even through the distorted lens of religion, it came off as more of a taunt and rebuke. “Don’t question, belief.”

  4. Gnumann says

    I’m a bit torn if a simple “fuck you” is enough to communicate the contempt the little necrophiliac memory-rapist deserves.

  5. says

    Bronze Dog Liked this. (But no Facebook account, so I can’t add to the tally.)

    The theist was certainly worthy of that response. People like that have no reason or sympathy. I just wish society wouldn’t exert pressure for us to “respect” such loveless people.

  6. Cuttlefish says

    …and a hearty “fuck you” to the people who say “(s)he’s in a better place now.”

  7. =8)-DX says

    The even sad thing is the “but atheists should make rational arguments against theistic claims while respecting the intellectual integrity of believers”.

    I say: fuck ‘em.

  8. says

    What a fine example of Christian compasion. Nothing demonstrates the very real disconnect that too many Christians have where there is real suffering. However if this guy had said his mother had been the victim of witch craft there would have been real sympathetic noises from this god botherer.

  9. says

    I think many people are uncomfortable hearing expressions of grief. They just don’t know what to do with grief. They fall back on “God has a plan” or something because they feel they should say something but don’t know what. Maybe people said that kind of thing to them in times of sorrow so they think it’s what you’re supposed to say. Personally, I think it’s not so hard to say something like “I’m sorry your mother died.” But that simple statement seems beyond some people.

  10. JT Eberhard says

    God’s plan was to take your mother too soon and too young. Why don’t you feel the compunction to worship him?

    Asshat.

  11. Patrick Smythe, Calm No More says

    When I was 13, an insane relative (he had been committed briefly for something called “religious mania” in his earlier life) came to visit me in the hospital as I was recovering from a simultaneous ankle and knee reconstruction. I remember lying there hearing him tell me, through the pethidine haze, that this was all for the best and that God had a plan for me.

    Nowadays when he rings (he’s in his eighties now, the bastard) I try to make sure that my partner and I fuck in the dirtiest ways we can think of as I talk. She knows about him and enjoys doing her best to derail my apparently sincere attempts to talk about the archangel Gabriel, or whether or not I have been saved.

    He has some money and I am his only obvious heir. Christ – I’m disgustingly immoral, really.

    And loving it.

  12. Evil Laura says

    While I completely agree with the sentiment, usually facebook posts have people’s last names blurred out.

  13. says

    I’ve seen an even worse version of the “god has a plan for everyone” nonsense.

    In the Mormon Corridor, where there’s an exceptionally high incidence of gay males killing themselves between the ages of 16-24, some true believing mormons say this, “God saw he was struggling with SSA [Same Sex Attraction] and took him home early, took him before he could sin.”

    So, it’s that concept, or something very similar, that makes it possible for them to live with gay men committing suicide. Better dead than having gay sex.

    They think that once a gay man or woman gets to heaven, God takes the SSA away and makes them whole, that is, puts them into a male/female “marriage” and has them procreate the “right” way. If gay people can just be strong enough to fight off the SSA while they’re here on earth, they will benefit in heaven.

    When my own mother was dying, and I was her caregiver, some people told me that caring for her was a privilege that god had arranged for me.

  14. Larry says

    The sad thing is the commenter probably believes what he wrote, that his stupid beliefs have made the grief process unnecessary.

  15. Sastra says

    Religious people seem to have a problem differentiating between becoming strong enough to make the best of a bad situation and a bad situation deliberately created in order for someone to become strong enough to make the best of a bad situation. Doing damage control after the fact builds character: damage done in order to build character is abuse.

  16. says

    Its generally not a good idea to wish that someone who died is still alive… I read the monkeys paw… who knows what could come through that door!

  17. Loqi says

    I’m trying to decide if the simple pointedness and elegance of “fuck you” outweighs the fact that this shithead deserved much worse. What a heartless bastard.

  18. Dr. R says

    I did a bit of research (that is, Facebook stalking) and it would appear that the individual who made the offensive comment is not a fundamentalist, but would appear to be a fairly typical African-American Christian (that is, strong belief in “God’s Plan” (as a result of the evolution of the African American Church in the shadow of the institution of slavery)) A rather interesting situation.

  19. Zinc Avenger says

    Good work, religiot. Keep kicking people when they’re down and calling it compassion. Sooner or later people are going to wonder why boundless love has to be delivered by boot.

  20. Mudak says

    @Cuttlefish, my father died after a more than two-year fight with a progressively debilitating (and never diagnosed) neurological disorder. I have said “he’s in a better place now” to mean he’s no longer suffering, that his non-existence is better than the pain and fear he lived through as he got worse and worse. Nothing mythological or otherworldly about it. Nothingness is better than what he had to deal with.

  21. fastlane says

    You know who else had a plan for people that involved lots of dieing?

    That’s right, I went there…..

  22. bbgunn says

    Not a bad response, but I think it could have benefitted from a touch of porcupine and perhaps a pinch of Leica Rangefinder.

  23. Ing says

    I did a bit of research (that is, Facebook stalking) and it would appear that the individual who made the offensive comment is not a fundamentalist, but would appear to be a fairly typical African-American Christian (that is, strong belief in “God’s Plan” (as a result of the evolution of the African American Church in the shadow of the institution of slavery)) A rather interesting situation.

    Despite the aid from some church’s in the civil rights movement, Christianity has been one of the biggest fucking millstones around the collective neck of the African American community. What was the Frederik Douglas quote? something along the lines that he got his freedom when he stopped using his knees for kneeling and praying and started using them for running?

  24. dochopper says

    I was at a Funeral where the Preacher spent most of the service talking about the dead how cousin not getting into heaven .

    These folks know no Shame .

  25. Qwerty says

    LynnaOM @ says:
    “When my own mother was dying, and I was her caregiver, some people told me that caring for her was a privilege that god had arranged for me.”

    Yes, I am taking care of my 95 years old (and I hate it when they say 95 year young) mother who at least remembers who I am, but please, don’t tell me it’s a privilege.

  26. Cuttlefish says

    Mudak, my condolences. I lost a brother-in-law last year in a similar way, so I know you are of course right. I was thinking of the earlier loss of my brother, suddenly, unexpectedly, and all too young, and yet one of the speakers at his funeral used that phrase. There were an awful lot of people there (my brother was an atheist, as were a good many of the people there) who got a bit of a neck twinge when he said it.

    “A better place” should be reserved for those times when it may actually be true.

  27. Gregory Greenwood says

    fuck you

    Short, succinct, to the point. I like it.

    The attitude of the god botherer is typical. ‘You shouldn’t wish for something like that’. Why the fictional hell-trope shouldn’t he wish that his loved one was still alive? Who does this religious jerk think he is anyway? The sheer gall and utter insensitivity required to admonish someone for missing their deceased relative is staggering. And all because of his god’s supposed plan? Maybe if his god actually existed, he might have some kind of point, but even if this was the case it would simply demonstrate what a complete and utter arsehole his deity was. A good fit for the drooling godbot himself, it seems. Odd that every theist’s god is always such an exact reflection of their own prejudices and convictions, isn’t it…?

  28. numenaster says

    “If your god is so great, his plan shouldn’t involve killing people before they’ve lived a full life. A really great god could come up with a way better plan.”

  29. Dr. R says

    godskesen: I would be careful with that, we don’t want to act like the animal rights people! :)

  30. Ray Fowler says

    I’ve had an aunt inform me on Facebook that I’ve condemned my daughters to hell for not raising them as Christians.

    Thanksgiving will be fun!

  31. And-U-Say says

    I think he is right. God has a plan, and we should accept that plan. Indeed, we should not interfere with that plan. If someone is dieing we should not take steps to stop it, it is god’s plan after all… who are we to judge or interfere? And it is not just death, if god wants me to be crippled, or deaf, or blind, or sick… it is his plan, who are we to interfere?

    To that end, we should eliminate all medicine. Every antibiotic, every x-ray, every bandaid, every vaccine, every scalpel, every splint, every hospital.

    Every. Single. Thing.

    Because we wouldn’t want to interfere with god’s plan, now would we?

    If christians of this stripe were to do this, at least I could respect them for having some sort of consistency. But when I hear the moronic “god’s plan” claim, the above is all I can think of.

  32. says

    #46:
    There are religious people who do exactly that, and I do not respect them at all. Especially since the Churches that believe that tend to use in group pressure and threat of ostracization to force members to comply. Furthermore, they aren’t content to let children wait until they’re of age to make up their own minds about whether or not to abstain from lifesaving medical procedures, but will instead murder their children with prayer and neglect.
    I realize you’re being flippant, and almost certainly know that, though.

  33. numenaster says

    Following on from danielsutton #48, it would be just fine with me if Christians wanted to not interfere with God’s plan for THEMSELVES by refusing medical care, but I draw the line at their assumed right to do so for anyone else, and they can’t seem to keep from assuming they have that right. To enact on those in their power (their children), and to prescribe for those who aren’t (all the rest of us).

  34. says

    @dochopper#36

    I understand how you feel about that, but at least he was upfront about his beliefs.

    I think it is those who yatter on about the deceased going to heaven, when the preacher, his family and friends know full well that the deceased as an atheist blasphemer, and ain’t going to heaven from a Christian POV, even more offensive.

    More generally, while that response on FB was entirely appropriate in that context, I still prefer a more measured response to evangelists in other contexts.

    I remember that many people on my discussion board are pretty bright and well informed, yet spent years and sometimes decades of their life evangelising for Christianity before the penny dropped.

    I’m pretty much with CamelsWithHammers’ views on this myself.

    and

    Calling people morons in debates is generally both untrue and non-productive.

    The context in that FB comment is something else again, sure.

    David B

  35. F says

    Absolutely. This message has been fucking approved.

    And my condolences to Drayden, whether or not he ever sees this.

  36. Alverant says

    To say this idiot deserves worse would require more time than should be allocated.

    I will simply say, “There is not a middle finger big enough for what you did.”

  37. truthspeaker says

    I’ve mentioned the death of my niece here once before. Here’s what my sister-in-law – a Christian – wrote on her blog about such statements:

    If I could, I would like to ask that when people share with us in the days to come that it is not suggested that there was a reason for her loss or that God needed her more than we did. Natalie was a very loved and desired child, she would have shared a wonderful life with us here on earth and that is all we wanted. Please forgive me my candor. It is just that I am broken in a million pieces right now and do not have it in me to nod along and agree when I do not. My child should still be here in my arms looking forward to an abundant life.

    So, even some Christians don’t like those sentiments.

  38. says

    Dr R at post 28 says

    it would appear that the individual who made the offensive comment is not a fundamentalist, but would appear to be a fairly typical African-American Christian . . .

    godskesen at post 41 provides a link to a high school senior who looks Caucasian to me. It sounds like there are at least two people named Frank Boggs on Facebook, so even if hounding the one who made that post didn’t raise ethical questions, how would you know if you got the right one?

  39. says

    So, the creator of it all, the most powerful and wisest intellect that could ever exist, decided that my mother needed to die? How comforting.

  40. Brownian says

    Calling people morons in debates is generally both untrue and non-productive.

    For some definitions of ‘moron’ and ‘non-productive’, I suppose.

  41. says

    #42: “If your god is so great, his plan shouldn’t involve killing people before they’ve lived a full life. A really great god could come up with a way better plan.”

    Word.

    My husband was one of the spectators that ran in and assisted in helping victims of the Reno Air Races crash. What he saw still gives him nightmares and flashbacks. Dismemberments, body parts, etc.

    Just a day or so after the incident, a “friend” on FB (who never talks to me) IM’d me to communicate that god would bless my husband for his heroism.

    I was gentle to her, though I did not want to be, and told her that, in the first place, we didn’t believe in god and secondly, we weren’t feeling blessed at all.

    Yeah, god could’ve come up with a much better plan than that.

  42. Zinc Avenger says

    @ Ray Fowler, 45:

    Try “Surely you believe God has a plan, so your concern shows a shameful lapse in faith.”

    Frame her smug condemnation as her own lapse in piety.

  43. Dr. R says

    coleslaw:

    I must admit that I was forced to extrapolate much information from related profiles (i.e. “friends”), location, and school. Remember, not all Facebook profile photos are of the profile owner. However, if indeed the originator of the comment is indeed Caucasian, we may make a related, but equally valid argument as to the cultural background of the comment. Assuming that the commenter is of lower middle or lower class (likely given the educational institution and location stated), an argument could be made for the greater acceptance of the idea of “God’s Plan” by these individuals due to a need to justify their position in society (perhaps why they rarely try to do anything to better this as well? Think Proles a la Orwell). This manner of thinking can only persist of the oppressive societal conditions that support it exist, as they do for both African-Americans and lower and lower middle class individuals in toto.

  44. attilaabelovszky says

    I have had both parents dies not that long ago. I find when I talk to people in a similar situation. I just tell them “Sorry for your loss,” and also “Your feeling bad, and that is OK.”

    Basically let people grieve a little before trying to chear them up.

  45. cag says

    Christians use such thinking to shield themselves from the facts of millions of children and “not ready” adults dying, especially in Africa. As long as THE monster has a plan that involves killing, there is no need to be concerned about the less well off. Christian morality takes many forms, the most egregious being direct from the bible.

  46. kermit. says

    I was raised Southern Baptist, and one of the most insidious things they do is to frequently tell their children that they are having the wrong emotions. It’s bad enough that they demand folks pretend they believe something despite all contrary evidence, but most of these poor people learn to pretend they are feeling something they are not feeling! This is why I hesitate to call them liars. Although they spend an inordinate amount of energy in obvious manipulations, falsehoods, and self-contradictions, I think they’re mindless automatons. They are all bundles of tense defense mechanisms, with no insight into others, for they have crippled their ability to self-assess.

    My third grade teacher did this too. Another kid stabbed me with a pencil, and she humiliated him and psychologically tortured him dreadfully. She asked – demanded to know – if anyone felt sorry for him. I did, but like the others I was too afraid of her to raise my hand; it was clear even to nine year-olds what answer she wanted. I wondered what lessons the other kids were learning.

    Me? I learned the wrong lessons; I simply stopped telling people how I feel.

  47. mandrellian says

    That guy wins so many internets – Most Appropriate Response To An Inappropriate Comment for one.

    Seriously, whoever you are, ‘fuck you’ from me too. Leave your wishful thinking, tyrant-appeasing, narcissistic death-cult bullshit out of another man’s grief.

    I’m very glad I don’t have friends who’d behave so shamefully. I’d hate to have to let them go/delete them from my facebook/tell their mothers what we used to do as teenagers/punch them in the back of the fucking head.

  48. Erulóra Maikalambe says

    How fucking powerless and worthless is a god that can’t achieve his plans without inflicting death, pain, and trauma on mortals? How is such a savage worthy of worship?

  49. Erulóra Maikalambe says

    Also, if it’s part of a plan, that makes it premeditated. Convict the fucker.

  50. piranhaintheguppytank says

    f*ck you.

    That pretty much sums up God’s plan, too.

    Kiss God’s ass for eternity or burn in hellfire. (After about the first billion years of ass-kissing, the latter’s going to start to look like the least torturous fate).

    *

    If you think about it, isn’t prayer just another way of saying, “God, your plan sucks!”

  51. Erulóra Maikalambe says

    If you think about it, isn’t prayer just another way of saying, “God, your plan sucks!”

    Let me get my old believer’s hat out of the closet and dust it off…

    *puts on believer’s hat*

    You see, that’s only if you are praying incorrectly. The correct purpose of prayer is to humble yourself and submit to God’s will.

    *takes off the stupid hat*

    I need to burn that thing.

  52. says

    This one is the asshat: http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100002972853782 He’s friends with the original guy, whose profile you can easily find from asshat’s friend list.

    I have messaged Donald my condolences, plus a warning that his profile and wall are wide open to the world.

    PZ, it would be better if you can blur out the name. I’m sure that Donald doesn’t need to be dealing with a huge internet pile-on right at this point in his life.

  53. 'Tis Himself, OM says

    Calling people morons in debates is generally both untrue and non-productive.

    Now that is a pretty unproductive comment, moron.

    But your concern is noted.

  54. dochopper says

    How many of the NON Believer culture would have the Gall ( Lack of better word ) to walk up after a tragic event or long term illness and ask the believer, HOWS THAT GOD THING WORKING OUT FOR YA ?

  55. hockeybob says

    If millions of people dying all the time is part of “god’s plan”, shouldn’t the local authorities be bringing up multiple charges of first degree murder? I mean, it IS “planned” and all; this fictional character is at least an accessory.

  56. says

    “You shouldn’t be unhappy about losing your mother. God’s plan for you involves making sure your mother died young. Now aren’t you grateful to the Great Big Grampa Up in the Sky for showing you how it feels to lose your mother at a young age?”

    Did I get that about right?

  57. Brownian says

    How many of the NON Believer culture would have the Gall ( Lack of better word ) to walk up after a tragic event or long term illness and ask the believer, HOWS THAT GOD THING WORKING OUT FOR YA ?

    Depends. Did I purposely cause the tragic event in question?

  58. says

    Dr. R at post 60 says

    However, if indeed the originator of the comment is indeed Caucasian, we may make a related, but equally valid argument as to the cultural background of the comment. Assuming that the commenter is of lower middle or lower class (likely given the educational institution and location stated), an argument could be made for the greater acceptance of the idea of “God’s Plan” by these individuals due to a need to justify their position in society (perhaps why they rarely try to do anything to better this as well?

    This school?

    Sewickley Academy is a private coeducational college preparatory day school located in Sewickley, Pennsylvania, in the United States. Located approximately 12 miles (20 km) north of Pittsburgh, Sewickley Academy is the oldest independent school in the Pittsburgh area dating back to 1838.

    Tuition there is $21,000 a year! I am fairly sure we are talking about two different people with the same name.

  59. Dianegram says

    Christians are such an interesting subculture. When my son died at 25, a woman whom I’d considered a friend kept emailing me ‘uplifting’ forwards that she had access to. Of course they all included the ending jerk-a-thon to “Send this to 10 of your best friends” (or you will roast in hell, I guess.) I send her a polite note to please stop. I never heard from her again. I should have said, “Fuck off.”

  60. cmv says

    Dr. R – The F.B. in question appears to be a Caucasian teenager. You can be sure to get the right one by searching for D.D. then clicking on the name of the guy who commented on his status. Apparently a student at a rather expensive private school. Nothing at all to indicate that it is a religious school; in fact it looks like a pretty good mission statement.
    Look at the things he likes – Stephen King, The Hobbit, and Dune, Monty Python (specifically the Holy Grail and Life of Brian). Misfits and Family Guy. The page doesn’t read like a Jebus Freak. Incredibly inappropriate comment, but who can say the actual motivation. It almost reads like someone trying to be ironic.
    Really should blur out the names, though. This guy’s still a kid.

  61. Dr. R says

    coleslaw: That would appear to be the case, I’m now seeing the actual profile, and you appear to be correct. I do wonder how a likely upper middle class (one of the two class groups with a high concentration atheists, Anglicans/Episcopalians, and other liberal Christians) individual could possibly take such a fundamentalist/anti-humanitarian (and yes, I mean humanitarian) view of the world. However, as an individual with some experience dealing with these kinds of worldviews (not anything personal, I was an Anglican before I deconverted), I can honestly say that the commenter likely made his statement with a fully benevolent intention, though as rationalists, we can see the actuality of the matter.

  62. says

    Christians, Don’t ya just love ‘em? Thick as two short planks, the lot of ‘em.

    I console myself with the thought that in these economically constrained times at least I needn’t be cold, I can just throw another christian onto the fire.

    Fuck ‘em all.

  63. Dr. R says

    cmv: I didn’t get an impression of his being a fundamentalist either, which is why my above comment is written in a rather baffled tone. Monty Python is not something that I expect a fundamentalist to enjoy.

  64. says

    My dad died in August this year after a long illness, and as a result I was off work that day. By chance (?) some JW’s came to my door to evangelise.

    Normally I would see them off with a well considered “Fuck Off!”, or engage them in strong argument. But I was not in the mood, and told them that they had picked a bad day, that my dad had just died, and I was not interested in talking to them.

    Quick as anything, one of them asked me if I wanted to hear how I could be with him forever later on in heaven! The sheer offensive arrogance of the guy still has me shaking my head. I told him I was an atheist, did not believe in any of that stuff, and shut the door.

    He was so lucky. If he had called on me any other day I would have torn his whole belief system to pieces. And I would likely have found out his home address so I could “atheise” him on his own doorstep!!!!

    Bastards.

  65. Wowbagger, Madman of Insleyfarne says

    I’d have added “And fuck God, too – even though we both know he doesn’t exist.”

  66. The Other says

    makes me wonder if that is the right Frank Boggs.

    It’s the same Frank Boggs. The link came from his wall.

  67. Dr. R says

    I am forced to wonder if he was attempting sarcasm, given that tumblr link, and elements on his Facebook profile. Thoughts?

  68. Coyotenose says

    Rudi wrote:
    Christianity: turning nice people into psychopaths since 0 A.D.

    BZZZZT! There was no 0 A.D., therefore you are wrong, therefore Christianity wins and God exists.

    Chew on THAT, Immoral Scum.

    The Black Knight always wins!

  69. fullyladenswallow says

    I found myself trying to click Mr. Drayden’s “Like” link.

    In the last couple of years, a fellow co-worker and friend was diagnosed with a rare form of non-treatable, pervasive lung cancer. She had less than 11 weeks from her diagnosis to when she passed. When I went to visit her, another coworker and his wife were already there and in the middle of telling the story of their own son’s tragic death (rather tacky I’d say). When it was time for them to leave, the man’s wife leaned over to my friend, hugged her and said, “see you in heaven.” I never felt like wanting to smack someone so much as I did then. While I wasn’t sure as to whether or not my friend was a full-blown atheist, she certainly didn’t believe in the bible. Why do some folks always seem to assume everyone else is god-affiliated?

  70. Spamamander, the Good Kind of Spam says

    I’m mightily reminded of the asschapeaus that have told me over the years that my daughter with DS is one of “God’s special angels” and she was given to me because I am a “special parent”.

    Yes, I’m totally sure that gawd specially made a child with a chromosomal anomaly which has the potential for life-threatening abnormalities, not to mention a lifetime of mental handicaps and gave her to a woman with major depressive disorder and no real income.

    Nice gawd, eh?

  71. cmv says

    Dr. R.:

    I am forced to wonder if he was attempting sarcasm, given that tumblr link, and elements on his Facebook profile. Thoughts?

    This is what I was getting at earlier. It reads more like an immature and highly inappropriate attempt at being ironic. That or it’s trolling.

  72. draketungsten says

    An omnipotent being does not need a plan. A plan is the steps you take to achieve a goal. God could just cross his arms and blink, and the goal is instantly achieved. There can be no other conclusion than pain and suffering is the goal, not the plan.

  73. TV200 says

    #72

    How many of the NON Believer culture would have the Gall ( Lack of better word ) to walk up after a tragic event or long term illness and ask the believer, HOWS THAT GOD THING WORKING OUT FOR YA ?

    I’m starting to wonder if that isn’t exactly what this is. I haven’t followed any of the links, or read anything beyond this post. Based on the info here, and this is purely a guess, what if the kid who’s parent unfortunately died is the godbotter? Frequently talking about god’s plan?
    There are some people in the periphery of my acquaintance that are devout believers, and, though I hesitate to admit it, a similar thought would enter my head. Though, I would never be so callous as to express it.

  74. Ray, rude-ass yankee says

    Patrick Smythe@18, Watch out for the priests or he’ll probably end up getting conned into giving it all to the church in his will. You gotta keep an eye on those slimy bastards.

    First Approximation@47, It should be a vulture perched on a cross. Damn I wish I had me some art or photoshop skills!

  75. Evil Merodach says

    My son, my only child, died last year from TTP, an inflammation of the lining of his blood vessels. He had flu-like symptoms and only missed one day of work before he collapsed. My wife and I received numerous comments like the one mentioned, including inanities like “he’s in a better place now” and “God needed another angel.”

    But the the most hurtful thing was not being able to find someone to perform a secular service. I live in Seattle, one of the least religious areas of America, yet the looks I received when I asked for a non-religious service shocked me for some reason. The best we could do was a service with “only a little religion” in it.

    As my son’s death was so unexpected we didn’t have the time or the clarity of thought to do more research. Still, to have this insult added upon this tragedy just broke my heart that much more.

  76. Kseniya says

    Wow. This one hits close to home. My mother became terminally ill when I was all of 19, and my brothers were just 12 and 14. I still grit my teeth a little when I hear someone say “Prayer works!”

    I get how the whole “God’s Plan” thing is supposed to make a person feel better, but if someone had had the gall to tell me that I shouldn’t even wish that my mother was still alive, I’d have… possibly… have done something that might… possibly… have resulted in an imperfectly covered scalp, a spittle-flecked face, and a pair of partially deafened ears. Maybe.

    Or, not. I’m fairly mild-mannered. But what the hell! What a thing to say!

    Katharine @ # 15:

    Personally, I think it’s not so hard to say something like “I’m sorry your mother died.” But that simple statement seems beyond some people.

    Yes, certainly, though there’s another aspect: some feel that that simple, honest statement is inadequate in the face of such a loss. But it’s not. It’s really not.

  77. Kseniya says

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  78. Dr. R says

    Kseniya: On this page? I have adblock software running, so I never see ads, but PZ/FtB people might want to look into that if it’s true.

  79. Dr. R says

    Kseniya: On this page? I have adblock software running, so I never see ads, but PZ/FtB people migh twant to look into that if it’s true.

  80. St. Exuperantius says

    After my mother died, many “helpful” people told me the same thing. I wish I could have been so eloquent! As I recovered from the loss, I re-evaluated my relationship with a religion that makes saying that to someone acceptable. Looking back, that was the beginning of a long journey that led me to atheism. Happily god-free for 14 years and counting!

  81. Interrobang says

    My mother was just diagnosed the other day with breast cancer. She asked everyone to pray for her. I don’t have the heart to tell her I’m not going to pray for her because I want to do something that’s actually useful. Dammit.

  82. N. Nescio says

    Long time listener, first time caller.

    “Fuck you.” was the best response that individual deserved to receive. I wish there was a little facebook ‘fist’ you could click on to punch that pious douche via the internet.

    That having been said, count me as one of the people who thinks it would have been better to blur out last names. Yeah it’s a public website, but have a little decency, eh?

  83. amblebury says

    Evil Merodach – what a loss, heartfelt sympathy to you and your spouse.

    It’s remarkable there was no secular service available, that has to be the worst time to have to accommodate to others’ beliefs.

  84. se habla espol says

    @Lynna, OM

    In the Mormon Corridor, where there’s an exceptionally high incidence of gay males killing themselves between the ages of 16-24, …

    That’s why my wife and I worry about our out grandson, right in that age group, living in the Morridor. Luckily, he’s non-mormon, and his parents do not deal in that kind of Christian Love. He says the kids in school applauded him for coming out, as a senior; that’s alleviated our worries a little. But he’s still the Evil Outsider in much of his community.

  85. kristinc, ~delicate snowflake~ says

    some feel that that simple, honest statement is inadequate in the face of such a loss.

    I think this approaches the core of it. They are right that a simple heartfelt expression of human sympathy is inadequate because anything we can offer, really, is inadequate. When someone is bereaved and in pain we’re helpless to do anything that will change that.

    So the temptation is to offer something “bigger”, something cosmic, An Answer, in order to feel less helpless.

    Of course, simple human sympathy is still to be preferred as the lesser of the two evils because it may be inadequate but at least it’s not dishonest, ghoulish, callous or manipulative, all of which religious bullshit frequently is. And after all, all we can offer is the best we can offer even if it’s inadequate.

  86. Kseniya says

    Kseniya: On this page?

    The ads cycle around, but yes – at the top, just under the Pharyngula banner.

    Merodach: I am so sorry, for your loss and for the aftermath. Best wishes to you.

    Interrobang: I deeply empathize, and hope for the best for your mother. Hang in there. I did my share of praying when my mother fell ill, until the day when I realized that nobody was listening – that no one was there to listen.

  87. Kseniya says

    Oh. This:

    count me as one of the people who thinks it would have been better to blur out last names.

    Me too, FWIW.

    Kristinc (#110): I agree.

  88. jo1storm says

    The person expressing religious sentiment didn’t think it through, as is often the case. The person receiving it did. This is the end result and appropriate response.

    What part of overall amount of those hurtful sentiments expressed is the result of almost every single Hollywood movie touting them as an appropriate response to grieving is something I’ll really wish to know.

    To all people who lost someone, you have my sympathies. They are not nearly enough, but on the other hand, nothing is.

  89. cmv says

    Kseniya and Dr. R – They’re working on the ads. Most engines pull adds based on key words in the content, but cannot differentiate between positive and negative views expressed towards a topic. Unfortunately it leads to useless ads which miss their target audience, and reduce the potential revenue for the site.

  90. opposablethumbs, que le pouce enragé mette les pouces says

    @ Evil Merodach #100 That’s beyond awful. I’m so sorry that happened to you.

  91. opposablethumbs, que le pouce enragé mette les pouces says

    Interrobang, fwiw I think you’re right not to tell her – if it gives her even a crumb of comfort – while you are actually doing things in the real world. My sympathies.

  92. Cyberguy says

    When I lost my dad earlier this year, a few people made comments after the funeral such as “he is in a better place”. I accepted their well-intentioned words and replied with something indirect like “thanks for being here”.

    But one thing struck me. For me, being an atheist makes death a much simpler thing, and much easier to deal with. All the artificial overlays of ritual and symbolism that the religious have to grapple with are clearly seen as the pantomime that they really are.

    Death is part of life – and happens to us all in the end. Which goes to show why our one life is so very important!

  93. UpAgainstTheRopes says

    Mr. Boggs made an inappropriate statement, I don’t think there is enough evidence to justify the conclusions(or the suggested advocacy) of many of the comments.

    What makes you so sure that dropping into a situation out of nowhere that you know little about makes your indignation towards him righteous?

  94. Matt Penfold says

    Mr. Boggs made an inappropriate statement, I don’t think there is enough evidence to justify the conclusions(or the suggested advocacy) of many of the comments.

    No, he did rather more than just make an inappropriate statement.

    Ask yourself why he made it. Ask yourself what has to be in someone’s mind for them to even consider making such a statement. If you bothered to do this, you would realise it was not, could not, be a simple slip.

  95. Moggie says

    kristinc:

    Of course, simple human sympathy is still to be preferred as the lesser of the two evils because it may be inadequate but at least it’s not dishonest, ghoulish, callous or manipulative, all of which religious bullshit frequently is. And after all, all we can offer is the best we can offer even if it’s inadequate.

    I wonder whether the kind of comment we’re discussing here is aimed more at comforting the speaker than the listener.

    To many believers, fear of death is central to the appeal of Christianity. Daddy has a plan for you, and promises eternal life and happiness provided you kiss arse, so stop worrying. This does seem to help some people contemplating their own death, but anyone with a normal quota of empathy can see that “God wanted your mother to die young” is unlikely to provide relief to a recently bereaved friend. Perhaps the underlying message is “your loss reminds me of my own mortality, so I need to remind myself that death is not the end. By the way, please notice how pious I am”.

    If I’m right, it’s a selfish act. But this is a person who believes that the creator of the universe loves them personally, and you don’t get much more self-centred than that.

  96. ojtam ojtam says

    When my 16 year old son died in glider accident, I’ve got swamped with this „god has a plan” shit. My favourite comforting line was (literary translation from Polish): „It’s amazing, it’s a real MIRACLE; god took away Grześ, but look what he gave you instead, a real angel. (referring to my youngest son, Ignacy, indeed beautiful little fella, who in the time of the accident was 12 months old and now is 3). So I guess it was fair deal, Grześ for Ignacy, younger model, nothing to fuss about. Hell, I should be gratefull! Most common comforting technique amongst my xian friends was to play along the lines of „don’t worry, good god will take him to his kingdom” and in response to my „please, I don’t believe in god, there is no Grześ now so it’s irrelevant and you’re not helping” or simple „fck you, he was not even baptized” they would tap my shoulder, smile a little and say „you’ll see, you’ll see…”. Grrrrr! See what? If this gawd of yours exists, he must be petty little inconsistent sadistic prick. I’m still mourning and still angry, so it’s easy for me to leap into prolonged rants. My point is that the only people, who really helped us to carry this bag (that’s how we say it in Poland), was these five or six thinking, sympathetic, atheist friends that we have. And I must confess that this is your blog, PZ, along with blogs of your friends and books of Dawkins, Hawking, Lederman etc., is something that’s keeping me sane and keeps reminding me that life is a treat and no matter the damage I can try to make the most of what’s left from it.
    If that’s sound silly, that’s probably because English is not my first language, but you get the point, right?

    Merodach: I’m so sorry. I know this is tough.

  97. Djahn says

    Death is part of life – and happens to us all in the end. Which goes to show why our one life is so very important!

    Which makes me feel very sorry for those god botherers who look forward to an “afterlife”, and spend their time in this life (their only life) getting ready for it. What a waste.

  98. says

    I was once one of these “God has a plan people”, but it took a period of personal disaster and pain to realise that it’s all lies. There’s no plan, there’s no God, and anyone who says otherwise has his pants on fire.

    One of the things that nudged me towards intelligent atheism was my mother’s early death, and all those “better place” and “God’s plan” platitudes people came out with thinking they were making me feel better. She died in distress and in pain, and I no longer wanted to be part of a belief system that thinks that was a good thing.

    I miss my mum

  99. John M. says

    Boggs’ Facebook profile is hardly that of a godbotherer – Python’s “Life of Brian” as a favourite film, for example. It seems to me that Boggs could have equally been taunting Draydon, so it might be interesting to look at Draydon’s Fb profile before taking sides.

  100. Matt Penfold says

    Boggs’ Facebook profile is hardly that of a godbotherer – Python’s “Life of Brian” as a favourite film, for example. It seems to me that Boggs could have equally been taunting Draydon, so it might be interesting to look at Draydon’s Fb profile before taking sides.

    So the fact he is an arsehole but not a religious cretin of an arsehole makes it OK to say what he did ?

    Fuck you.

  101. CanadianChick says

    Oh, please – when I was ostensibly a god-botherer I loved Python…my whole youth group did.

    My Christian best friend thinks Life Of Brian is hilarious, along with the rest of Python. He and I have virtually identical tastes in humour.

    Doesn’t mean he wouldn’t believe in “gods plan”. He’s just not so rude as to say it to someone…

    God-botherers come in different flavours….

  102. ButchKitties says

    Tell a man who recently watched his house burn down, “Your house isn’t really destroyed; it’s just invisible now. You didn’t lose all your possessions either. They still exist inside your invisible house,” and people will rightly call you an asshole or a lunatic.

    But say the same thing about a recently deceased loved one…

    Tangent: I say that if Christians truly believe that people survive their deaths, then insurance companies should prosecute every Christian who collects on a life insurance policy for fraud. If you really believe in heaven, then collecting life insurance for a dead parent is like accepting insurance money for a parent who has retired to Hawaii.

  103. Erulóra Maikalambe says

    Boggs’ Facebook profile is hardly that of a godbotherer – Python’s “Life of Brian” as a favourite film, for example. It seems to me that Boggs could have equally been taunting Draydon, so it might be interesting to look at Draydon’s Fb profile before taking sides.

    I’ve seen it mentioned a couple of times that perhaps he was a Poe and maybe it is the mourner who is the godbotherer. Either way, ‘fuck you’ was the right response. What Boggs said is not appropriate whether he meant it or not.

  104. Markle says

    Is the god-botherer the original person and an atheist is taunting him with “god has a plan for everyone,” or is the god-botherer the second person?

  105. Erulóra Maikalambe says

    Markle, have you read the comments here? That question has been raised. In fact, if you look at the comment above yours, you’d see that I was in fact just talking about that!

  106. Dr. R says

    Erulóra Maikalambe:

    Unfortunately, the nature of Facebook prevents us from investigating further, an perhaps that is for the best. If you think about it, does this individual (whether fundamentalist, apologist, or atheist)deserve to have thousands (perhaps millions) of people scrutinizing every aspect of his life simply due to a single (admittedly egregious) comment?

  107. Erulóra Maikalambe says

    Dr. R,

    I’m not sure why you addressed that to me as I’ve never indicated that I give a flying fuck whether he meant what he said or not. Either way he’s still a douchebag. Perhaps you meant to address that to Markle.

  108. truthspeaker says

    Just to hop on a couple bandwagons:

    1. I agree it would have been better to black out the last names of the Facebookers.

    2. ojtam, your written English could easily pass for that of a native speaker.

  109. Jojo says

    @Interronbang 106

    I’m sad to hear your mom’s diagnosis. My mom got her breast cancer diagnosis in February, and it’s been a very stressful time for all of us. I hope your mother’s prognosis is good and that her treatment needs are minimal.

    Whenever people ask for or provide prayer, my personal policy is to actually do something useful instead. So, I never prayed for my mom, instead I’d clean her apartment or go grocery shopping for her. Sure, it’s more work than praying, but since it’s actually beneficial, I’ll stick with it.

  110. nemo the derv says

    It’s concise, thorough and spends the exact amount of time responding to a comment like that deserves. Well done.

  111. Inane Janine, OM, Conflater Of Arguments says

    I know it is a cold comfort, ojtam ojtam, but it is good to know that even a blog like this is helpful in your struggle.

  112. tushcloots says

    Djahn says:
    20 October 2011 at 10:27 am

    Death is part of life – and happens to us all in the end. Which goes to show why our one life is so very important!

    Which makes me feel very sorry for those god botherers who look forward to an “afterlife”, and spend their time in this life (their only life) getting ready for it. What a waste.

    They say an extended Serenity Prayer here, the place I’m at these days, and it ends with this line:
    That I may be reasonably happy in this life and supremely happy with You Forever in the next. Amen.

    It makes me sick, really fucking understand the depravity of their attitude towards life and reality. I always substitute, loud enough for a few around me to hear, “I will be supremely happy in this life, reasonably happy that I’m providing nutrition for plants and worms next”

    This article/topic affects me three ways, today.
    First, let me say that I hear fucking hundreds of people in the recovery community say this and hear it many times a day sometimes, Everything happens for a reason. One of these days I’m going to walk over and punch someone in the face and say, “Don’t thank me, god said you needed that”

    A friend just died. He was devout so I can’t really say anything, but I am sick of hearing others say stuff like – God did not take you away from us. he gave you to heaven so your light could shine over all the world. Rest In Peace brother …..

    My fucking dad arranged my sisters funeral and even though she was atheist, and our whole fam is except him, he had a minister say a prayer

    I ask people that say the ‘everything for a reason’/’god has a plan’ bullshit why my sister had to carry to term her child to term that didn’t develop a brain and died in her hands 10 minutes after being born.

    I’ve also been told, by an ex friend new ageist fuck, that famine and genocide are just part of a cosmic scenario that’s necessary and that the sufferers fucking chose to be born into those situations/lives themselves on some spiritual level. Therefore it didn’t bother him.
    Yeah, suddenly every shred of respect for him I every had *poof* it was gone and I had to get away from him lest I spit on him right then and there, and I told him so.

    This one – We are spiritual beings having a human experience – …
    ………..

    LOL, its a miracle, I’m actually stumped for words right now! LMAO

    Mike

  113. tushcloots says

    @ Jojo #136,

    That’s very thoughtful. I like to do the same, or give something to a charity or cause that they were concerned about.

    It’s not only beneficial, it is beautiful. Thank you.

  114. carolw says

    Wow. There’s not much more I can add, beside my own anecdote. When my FIL passed away recently, my husband and I got the godly sympathy cards from the family members we expected them from. We just laughed them off.
    I have to restrain myself from posting smart-ass replies to prayer requests on FB. Anyone have a good response to shut those people down? Or should I just block them?

  115. numenaster says

    @Carolw #141, you could direct them to the Grief Beyond Belief group on FB as an example of what WOULD help you, and ask them to respect your beliefs in their expressions of sympathy. Not nearly as satisfying, but more likely to bring them around in time.

  116. Interrobang says

    Thanks to everyone for the kind words. I’m not intending to bring up the issue at all; a family battle with cancer is not the time to try to score ideological points.

    At this point, I’m just glad that the sentiments my family were expressing back around Easter about how chemo is awful and I’d never had it if I had cancer haven’t survived first contact with reality, actually.

  117. John M. says

    @127

    So the fact he is an arsehole but not a religious cretin of an arsehole makes it OK to say what he did ?

    No, it does not. But as we don’t have the full story, we cannot be sure whether or not this is an ongoing feud, with all kinds of overtones unknown to us. Perhaps the recipient of the message had said something equally hurtful to the sender in the past. It would be unfair to select one arsehole to pillory, when they might both be arseholes.

    So, fuck you back, Matt Penfold.

  118. PlayMp1 says

    And the guy that said the godbothering bullshit is a drummer?

    What a disgrace to the instrument. Neil Peart oughta give him a good lashing with a dreadlock (type of drumstick).

  119. says

    I disagree. I think a much better answer to the guy’s response would have been something like

    “My mother died __ days ago, and you’re coming on here to tell me that an all-powerful God needs her more than her own family does? Is your critical thinking so weak you just accept that she’s less important to us than Him, or is your faith so weak it needs to be boosted by stomping on the feelings of people you disagree with?”

  120. thunderbird5 says

    @147 Leon.

    I disagree. Engaging with this bullshit – especially by addressing the personal faith and consequent motivation of the writer and his message – gives him the chance to expand on that sentiment and wheel up some more witnessing ammo. Which he will seize with both both Bible wank-stained paws.

    “Fuck you” is a good enough takedown for those whose cliche-raddled piety and absence of life experience does not stop them from telling others how to think and feel.

  121. Dodongo says

    When I was diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis, some religious fuck told me that god had a plan or was testing my faith or some shit. I kind of wish I’d had the wherewithal at the time to just tell them “fuck you”. I did however write an elaborate post explaining why I’m an atheist (this entire exchange was online), and I never heard from them again.