The Pelagian Heresy? Really?


I can tell we’re going to be hearing much about young Mr Josh Hawley in the future. He’s a fanatical Christian dominionist of the worst kind, and as Katherine Stewart explains, he has a guiding philosophy. He blames every thing wrong in society on Pelagius.

In multiple speeches, an interview and a widely shared article for Christianity Today, Mr. Hawley has explained that the blame for society’s ills traces all the way back to Pelagius — a British-born monk who lived 17 centuries ago. In a 2019 commencement address at the King’s College, a small conservative Christian college devoted to “a biblical worldview,” Mr. Hawley denounced Pelagius for teaching that human beings have the freedom to choose how they live their lives and that grace comes to those who do good things, as opposed to those who believe the right doctrines.

The most eloquent summary of the Pelagian vision, Mr. Hawley went on to say, can be found in the Supreme Court’s 1992 opinion in Planned Parenthood v. Casey. Mr. Hawley cited Justice Anthony Kennedy’s words reprovingly. “At the heart of liberty,” Justice Kennedy wrote, “is the right to define one’s own concept of existence, of meaning, of the universe, and of the mystery of human life.” The fifth-century church fathers were right to condemn this terrifying variety of heresy, Mr. Hawley argued: “Replacing it and repairing the harm it has caused is one of the challenges of our day.”

When I first read about Pelagius lo these many years past, I thought it was a shame that his ideas hadn’t taken root in the early church, but I didn’t suddenly become a faithful adherent of Pelagianism. It’s pure projection on Hawley’s part to think that people come to their beliefs about life by picking an ancient Holy Man and following him. I rejected religion because of the batshit crazy ideas it promotes, rather than because I found a 4th century monk who said things I liked.

The craziest idea that repelled me was this whole notion of “faith, not works”. It didn’t matter what you did in life — go ahead, murder and steal and violate the ten commandments all you want, as long as you accept Jesus in your heart on your deathbed, you will be welcomed in heaven. We are all sinners, bad and wicked, and pretending to be a good person won’t save you, only your belief in gods matters. Or rather, professing your belief to the benefit of the church and priesthood is what matters.

And that’s the rotten heart of most flavors of Christianity. Thanks, Augustine!

In case you’re looking for a more thorough definition of the Pelagian Heresy, read on.

Pelagianism rejects several basic Christian doctrines. First and foremost, Pelagianism denies the doctrine of original sin. It rejects the notion that because of Adam’s fall, the entire human race was contaminated by sin, effectively passing sin down to all future generations of humanity.

The doctrine of original sin insists that the root of human sinfulness comes from Adam. Through the fall of Adam and Eve, all people inherited an inclination toward sin (the sinful nature). Pelagius and his immediate followers upheld the belief that Adam’s sin belonged to him alone and did not infect the rest of humanity. Pelagius theorized that if a person’s sin could be attributed to Adam, then he or she would not feel responsible for it and would tend to sin even more. Adam’s transgression, Pelagius supposed, served only as a poor example to his descendants.

Pelagius’ convictions led to the unbiblical teaching that humans are born morally neutral with an equal capacity for either good or evil. According to Pelagianism, there is no such thing as a sinful disposition. Sin and wrongdoing result from separate acts of the human will.

Pelagius taught that Adam, while not holy, was created inherently good, or at least neutral, with an evenly balanced will to choose between good and evil. Thus, Pelagianism denies the doctrine of grace and the sovereignty of God as they relate to redemption. If the human will has the power and the freedom to choose goodness and holiness on its own, then the grace of God is rendered meaningless. Pelagianism reduces salvation and sanctification to works of human will rather than gifts of God’s grace.

Well gosh, when you put it that way, I guess I am sort of a Pelagian! I’m not interested in joining a Pelagian church, but more that I find the standard Christian theology of humans being intrinsically evil who can only be saved by worshipping a deity to be morally repugnant. I guess that Hawley is correct to consider me and my kind to be the enemy.

He’s still wretchedly wrong about everything, though, so let us join battle with the adversary.

Comments

  1. mathman85 says

    Hawley should be expelled from the Senate for that absurd political grandstanding stunt he pulled on the 6th, and barred from holding any elective office in this country ever again. He clearly does not believe that the people should be allowed to make choices with which his religion, or he personally, disagrees. It’s really quite appalling how many of the elected officials in this country want to turn it into a right-wing xian theocracy.

  2. slithey tove (twas brillig (stevem)) says

    yes it is wrong to blame Pelagius, clearly he was a prophet of how we would drift from the church doctrine.

    gee it is funny how all these laments of people no longer following doctrine rigidly, throw blame at ancient historical figures. Seems indoctrination has nullified their ability to think, to reason, consider more sources.

    Nice to hear Pelagius said my opinions centuries before I thought of them.
    Even as a child being raised in the RCC, I always struggled with the concept of original sin. Simply a concept to justify the concept of Jesus, as the source of cancelling it to ensure entry to Heaven, All deaths before Baptism go to Limbo, not Heaven nor Hell

  3. PaulBC says

    Mr. Hawley denounced Pelagius for teaching that human beings have the freedom to choose how they live their lives

    By extension, shouldn’t he denounce the Enlightenment as well, and most of the founding principles of the United States?

  4. raven says

    I rejected religion because of the batshit crazy ideas it promotes,…

    I started out of xianity because of fundie xians like Senator Josh Hawley.

    When xian started to mean; liar, hater, hypocrite, ignorant, and sometimes killer, a lot of people didn’t want to be one any more.

  5. raven says

    The craziest idea that repelled me was this whole notion of “faith, not works”.

    That is the fundie xian, Get Out of Hell Free card. Fundies use it often.
    They’ve even taken it further.
    The fundie version is, “Once Saved, Always Saved.”

    That is why xianity is not a source of morality.

    PS Hawley is a loon. Even his backers in Missouri are disappointed in him.
    It’s going to be a long six years for many of the people in Missouri.

  6. mathman85 says

    @raven #5

    It’s going to be a long six years for many of the people in Missouri.

    Minor correction; Hawley was elected in 2018, so his term has four years left in it.

  7. PaulBC says

    raven@5

    That is the fundie xian, Get Out of Hell Free card. Fundies use it often.

    I always enjoyed the bumper sticker that says “I’m not perfect, just forgiven.” So what, you’ve got diplomatic immunity… from God? Remember me to stay well out of your way. You sound dangerous.

    I grew up with a heavy dose of Catholic guilt and “Wipe that smile off your face.” as my lodestar. It hasn’t failed me yet!

  8. says

    Not that it matters, but these people evidently haven’t read the Gospel according to Matthew. Here’s from Chapter 25:

    34 “Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. 35 For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, 36 I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’

    37 “Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? 38 When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? 39 When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’

    40 “The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’

    41 “Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. 42 For I was hungry and you gave me nothing to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink, 43 I was a stranger and you did not invite me in, I needed clothes and you did not clothe me, I was sick and in prison and you did not look after me.’

    44 “They also will answer, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or needing clothes or sick or in prison, and did not help you?’

    45 “He will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me.’

  9. mcfrank0 says

    When I was in school the Roman Catholic Church taught that baptism, good works (the “will of God”), grace, and penance (suffering) were the way to enter the Kingdom of God.

    I am appalled every time I come across anyone spouting “faith not works”. It’s like they don’t even pay attention to the “red words” they claim to mean so much.

  10. says

    It seems to me that there’s a contradiction between “salvation by grace” and “good people are saved”. I understand why it’s smart propaganda to say that good people go to heaven, but that notion in itself seems to imply that it’s not merely grace. It implies that people somehow “earn” their salvation, by being good (regardless of the reason why they’re good, whether free will or divine inspiration).

    If salvation is truly an unearned grace, then there’s no reason there should be any correlation between how you behave down here and what happens afterwards.

  11. Bruce says

    Half of James chapter two, from verse 17, is about how faith without works is dead.
    Apparently, Hawley has now deconstructed the Bible. If we have faith in Hawley, he is the first and only one after centuries to prove that the Bible is wrong in that part. No atheist has destroyed the Bible like Hawley has, ending millennia of controversy about what any of that junk means. We can skip President now, and just name Hawley to be our Grand Ayatollah.

  12. consciousness razor says

    It’s going to be a long six years for many of the people in Missouri.

    Hawley is a US Senator, meaning a long four years (or more) for the whole country. But Missouri has plenty of its own problems, thanks to its many other Republicans….

    Here are a few recent tidbits from the politics section of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. (By the way, I’ve found it’s usually a waste of time trying to get Missouri political news from the News Tribune in Jeff City, the capital, because that paper is a hot mess.)
    Missouri Republicans trying to wrest pandemic power from local health officials:

    In action Wednesday, the Senate Health and Pensions Committee opened debate on a series of pro-business proposals that would put roadblocks in the way of county officials seeking to close businesses or religious services during a public health emergency.

    The legislation came in response to outcry from churches and businesses that have been shuttered in the past year because of COVID-19 restrictions.
    […]
    The effort in the Missouri Legislature, however, appears to run counter to Republican Gov. Mike Parson’s decentralized approach to combating the pandemic, in which he has put the onus on local governments to enforce stay-at-home orders and mask requirements rather than issue a statewide mandate.

    The last part is of course also a problem with their entire approach to the pandemic, but some aren’t even satisfied with that level of irresponsibility and plain old dipshittery.

    The title here pretty much says it all: Missouri Senate launches new bid to make it harder to sue over COVID-19
    Another one: On the eve of the presidential inauguration, GOP lawmakers relaunch effort to nullify federal gun laws in Missouri

  13. says

    One must wonder exactly how “original sin due to descent from Adam” is reconciled with “do not impose the sins of the father upon the sons” (multiple citations, with some really fascinating difference in both the old-tongue expressions and more-recent translations). If we can’t visit the sins of Old Man Trump (choose which Guthrie-song version you like most!) upon his son, then what is our authority for visiting the sins of Adam — after however many generations we work into the particular version of creationism we’re using today — upon all of humanity?

    Oh. Logic. Only useful to the religious mind when divorced from context.

  14. unclefrogy says

    @3
    well not too publicly at least not yet. he does have big political ambitions clearly and has no problem with condoning violence in the seeking of ends so who knows what is next.
    Would he not be a grand “Lord Protector” to help bring us back to the correct path!
    uncle frogy

  15. jrkrideau says

    @ Bruce

    Apparently, Hawley has now deconstructed the Bible.

    I believe you are making the unwarranted assumption that Mr Hawley has read the bible.

    I can remember reading a number of postings and or articles where the author was startled by evangelicals lack of knowledge of the bible. Bob Altemeyer makes this observation–with evidence–a number of times is his book The Authoritarians.

    The journalist, Chris Hedges, who is a Harvard Theology College grad and IIRC an ordained minister has commented that evangelical ministers shy aware from talking theology or anything about the bible as soon as they learn of this.

    At best, many of the more fanatic Christian nuts have been fed a carefully culled set of readings by their ministers. Read Revelations and don’t bother with James?

  16. nomdeplume says

    Well, if Pelagian had prevailed, christianity would have been far better for the human race than it has been. All of that putrid guilt feeling of original sin gone, and people encouraged to behave well while on the planet instead of last minute repentance? No wonder the Hawleys of this world hate him.

  17. PaulBC says

    Well, if Pelagian had prevailed, christianity would have been far better for the human race than it has been.

    Pretty sure we’d have found a way to screw it up.

  18. chesapeake says

    “ I started out of xianity because of fundie xians like Senator Josh Hawley.
    When xian started to mean; liar, hater, hypocrite, ignorant, and sometimes killer, a lot of people didn’t want to be one any more.”

    I don’t know many Christians but the few I know I know well and they are not at all the way they are regularly presented here. They are all kind,loving people who do good things.

  19. nomuse says

    Has nothing to do with my beliefs (I was raised free to chose and never saw a reason to chose unreason), but I worked a church service once that left an amazingly bad taste.

    The pastor was up there going into detail about how grace not acts worked. And this was an open service, an outreach, a please-join-our-church thing. So according to this dude you could lie cheat and steal, you could be a serial killer with a long career — seriously, he seemed to enjoy just how much evil he could pack into one man’s lifetime — and, at the very last second of your existence, say the magic god words and it was milk and honey for eternity.

    Icing on this particular cake was overhearing promoter of the event/higher-up in the church/close friend of pastor on the phone trying to sell a time share or something, with the words, “Look, we’re both men of god, so would I cheat you? You are disrespecting our faith if you don’t send me a check…” or words to that effect.

    They are not all like that and I’ve been friends with lay workers and done installation work at churches and even once helped a monk move to a new cell. But knowing there are enough out there like my example above that nobody seemed to lift an eyebrow…

  20. says

    Mr. Hawley denounced Pelagius for teaching that human beings have the freedom to choose how they live their lives

    If we don’t have the freedom to choose how we live our lives, then clearly we don’t have the freedom to do anything other than what we are doing, which means that people who don’t believe in Fundamentalism never would, anyway, and their attempts to convert people are a waste of time.

    @#7, PaulBC:

    In the Tom Holt novel Only Human, it is strongly implied that Heaven is gradually falling to pieces, because things don’t get fixed, they get forgiven, which makes them all right without actually changing anything about how they, you know, don’t work any more.

    @#17: Indeed.

  21. PaulBC says

    at the very last second of your existence, say the magic god words

    Sounds like Augustine’s prayer, “Lord, make me good, but not yet.” taken to its logical conclusion.

  22. John Morales says

    Vicar, the:

    If we don’t have the freedom to choose how we live our lives, then clearly we don’t have the freedom to do anything other than what we are doing […]

    Incorrect.

    I, for example, cannot choose to live as a billionaire. I lack the resources.

    That does not entail that I cannot choose to live as a pauper.

  23. garnetstar says

    Faith vs. works was a really hot topic when Martin Luther got going: the catholic church was big on good works, which then included giving money to the church and buying indulgences.

    So, of course, all protestants since then had to fiercely renounce any importance of good works, and insist that faith alone was the thing (you then could get fired from your pulpit or otherwise harmed by admitting that good works had something to do with being christian). To the point where it’s a reductio ad absurdum, the serial killer who is “saved”, as they say now, on his deathbed.

  24. raven says

    I don’t know many Christians but the few I know I know well and they are not at all the way they are regularly presented here. They are all kind,loving people who do good things.

    Oh gee. you have made quite the discovery there.
    The No True Scotsman Fallacy.
    This is so old it used to be, The No True Carthaginian Fallacy back when Carthage was the big threat to Rome.

    I wasn’t that way when I was a xian either, for 50 years. My old church was and still is a social justice church and relatively benign.
    The liberal Mainliners in the USA are however, not the most visible or most powerful branch of US xianity.
    The fundie perversion of xianity was Trump’s base, was prominent in the recent attack on the US Capitol and flat out own the Dark Side of our society.
    They’ve also sent me and a lot of other scientists numerous death threats for the last 15 years.

    It’s safe to say that if all xians were kind, loving and benign, Freethougtblogs wouldn’t exist.
    In our world, way too many are right wingnut terrorists, white racists, and general haters of anyone not a white male fundie that they are wrecking the religion here.
    US xianity is losing 2 million members a year.

  25. Rob Grigjanis says

    nomuse @19:

    at the very last second of your existence, say the magic god words and it was milk and honey for eternity.

    In my (admittedly limited) knowledge of some major denominations, that’s not how it works. A Catholic priest, for example, can impart absolution, but it only works if the person expressing contrition truly feels remorse. Of course, the priest can’t know that, so the absolution is inherently conditional.

    So, saying “I can do whatever I want, then say sorry” wouldn’t work unless you are capable of making yourself truly sorry.

  26. raven says

    I am appalled every time I come across anyone spouting “faith not works”. It’s like they don’t even pay attention to the “red words” they claim to mean so much.

    Most of what xians believe isn’t found in the bible anyway.

    Xianity is modern lies piled on top of old lies, which are piled on top of even older lies.

    To take just a few examples.
    There was no war in heaven. The xians got that from Milton.
    There is one in Revelation but it hasn’t happened yet.
    Satan doesn’t rule in hell either. He lives on earth, last seen in Turkey.
    The Throne of satan is now in…Berlin.
    The Trinity is another invention to explain why there are three main xian gods.

  27. says

    @26 (Raven)

    You forgot the fourth xian god, the Lebanese demon better known as Mammon. How else to explain the Prosperity Gospel?

  28. says

    @#22, John Morales

    Incorrect.
    I, for example, cannot choose to live as a billionaire. I lack the resources.
    That does not entail that I cannot choose to live as a pauper.

    Ah, but the statement is that we cannot choose how we live our lives — meaning that even if you tried to live as a pauper, you would somehow fail, presumably Because God. The position of Hawley is traditional theological determinism. It’s usually used by people who have good lives to justify not helping others, but it logically must work the other way around, too: if Hawley doesn’t like the world as it is, but claims everything is as his ridiculous god wills, then the failure of his mode of thinking to win out over all alternatives must be preordained, too.

  29. PaulBC says

    The only thing I find remotely interesting about Hawley is the sense that he’s been groomed to infiltrate the “liberal establishment” by building Ivy League credentials. He’s a Federalist Society member (of course) and I can only imagine they’ve built an entire clone army like this, many of them jurists appointed to the federal bench.

    But despite getting what is considered a world class education, and presumably being intelligent enough to complete it with distinction and published scholarly work (a book on Teddy Roosevelt for instance) it doesn’t sound as if he has built any critical thinking skills in the process. That, or he is entirely cynical and understands the group he’s catering to, but I am more inclined to think he believes a lot of the nonsense he spouts.

    What worries me most is how many more there are. The ones we see now are in their 40s or 50s already. I’m sure the pipeline is full of this successful “hacking” of Ivy League credentials by the far right. (Note that there was never anything liberal about elite university in the first place, but at least for a few decades, it might have seemed so.)

  30. chesapeake says

    I don’t know many Christians but the few I know I know well and they are not at all the way they are regularly presented here. They are all kind,loving people who do good things.

    Oh gee. you have made quite the discovery there. [DON’T LIKE YOUR UNNECESSARY SARCASM,OR, AS YOU MIGHT SAY, FUCK YOU]
    The No True Scotsman Fallacy.[NOT TRUE]
    They’ve also sent me and a lot of other scientists numerous death threats for the last 15 years.
    It’s safe to say that if all xians were kind, loving and benign, Freethougtblogs wouldn’t exist. [DIDN’T SAY NOR DID I MEAN THAT ALL XIANS WERE KIND,loving…… JUST THE ONES I KNOW.
    YES, LOTS OF FUNDAMENTALIST CHRISTIANS ARE AS YOU SAY, BUT YOU REGULARLY SPEAK AS IF THEY ARE A MONOLITH. AND YOU GIVE NO EVIDENCE OF THE PERCENTAGE OF FUNDIES WHO ARE THAT WAY. I SUSPECT THAT MOST ARE NOT THE HATEFUL STEROTYPES YOU TALK ABOUT THOUGH THERE ARE FAR TOO MANY. AND DANGEROUS.

    Sent from my iPad

  31. vucodlak says

    Hawley, the worse of my senators,* is a fascist. Everyone who spends any significant amount of time listening to the man talk comes away with that impression, because he pretty much wears it on his sleeve. He’s one of those who will try to take up the mantle left by Trump in 2024, and that’s a big problem, because Hawley is considerably smarter than Trump.

    Don’t get me wrong- he’s a complete and utter fool, but he’s an intelligent fool, and he knows how to play to the white nationalist masses. He’s very, very dangerous, and he intends to be president someday. If he ever gets the nomination, keep in mind that he’ll come bearing all the white Christian nationalism of the Trump administration, except in considerably more competent hands.

    He damaged his career a bit on January 6th, but all may be forgiven by 2024. I’m afraid he’s learned, from the past four years, just what kind of person he needs to be to win the votes needed to enact his fantasies of a nation without choices. Without choices for women, for people of color, for non-cis and non-het people, and for members of minority religions. A theocratic nightmare state awash in the blood of the non-conforming.

    *If you’re at all familiar with the quieter villainy of Roy Blunt, then you know that’s saying something. Blunt is a lapdog for Moscow Mitch. A nasty, folksy lapdog.

  32. Tethys says

    Sadly for the creeptastic Hawley, any chances he had in politics got smeared with the literal feces of his base while they committed sedition.

    I hope the ethics committee investigation by the senate expels him and Cruz. All citizens should call and pressure your elected officials about this issue. Public opinion is a powerful force, and may help in getting the magas out of their delusional echo chamber.

    As to the question about the proportion of fundy Christians in America, Pew Research tracks such things. Data from 2019-

    “White evangelical Christians are now 16 percent of the populace; they were 19 percent in 2009. However, the report noted that this was likely due to the demographic changes taking place in the United States, which indicate that white Americans are becoming a smaller fraction of the total population. Thus, “the share of white Protestants who describe themselves as born-again or evangelical Christians is at least as high as it was a decade ago,” the report read.”

    Above quote from a Newsweek article on religious demographics.

  33. raven says

    Stupid troll:

    [DON’T LIKE YOUR UNNECESSARY SARCASM,OR, AS YOU MIGHT SAY, FUCK YOU]

    Chesapeake, fuck you troll. You are dumb.

    There are plenty of websites for trolls and Nazis. Go find one. You will fit in better.

  34. raven says

    The monster fan club speaks

    YES, LOTS OF FUNDAMENTALIST CHRISTIANS ARE AS YOU SAY, BUT YOU REGULARLY SPEAK AS IF THEY ARE A MONOLITH. AND YOU GIVE NO EVIDENCE OF THE PERCENTAGE OF FUNDIES WHO ARE THAT WAY.

    Cthulhu, this guy is dumb.

    We just went through a national nightmare with 4 years of Trump.
    One that killed so far 400,000 people with Covid-19 virus and left millions permanently disabled.
    Some of whom were and are friends and relatives of mine.

    The AP VoteCast survey shows that 81% of White evangelical Protestant voters went for Trump this year, compared with 18% who voted for Biden.

    The white fundies are Trump’s base.
    81% of them voted for Trump.
    No fundies, no Trump.

    We also just had a major attack on our democracy and government with the storming of the US Capitol building a whole two weeks ago. The vast majority of the attackers were…white fundie xians.

    Chesapeake is defending monsters which makes him another monster.

  35. says

    Chesapeake: If all of the Christians you know are good and kindly people, you’ve been incredibly lucky. And probably only met about three Christians.

    Some of us — many of us — have had much less satisfactory experiences (indeed, with every organized religion). It’s not always about “hostility to LGBTQ” or anything like that (horrifying as it is), either. It can be as simple as waking up on an April Sunday morning to find a spraypainted Star of David on one’s apartment door (the paint was still wet). It can be as bureaucratic as getting one’s dog tags reissued before going to a war zone with “NO PREF” listed for RELIGION rather than the NONE that was filled out on the form… and then finding out that NONE isn’t even a choice in the system. It can be as subversive as not being able to privately interview the Vice President of the United States… as a woman reporter. Each one of these actual incidents was perpetrated by one (or more) Christians.

    Apologetics will get you precisely nowhere on a board full of scientists, Chesapeake.

  36. Tethys says

    I think “Christians aren’t a monolith” was the point Chesapeake was making.

    It’s hard to tell with all the caps lock?

  37. raven says

    Chesapeake: If all of the Christians you know are good and kindly people, you’ve been incredibly lucky. And probably only met about three Christians.

    It’s nonsense and he is lying.

    The fundies sponsor right wingnut terrorism and are in the news for it almost every single day.
    Blocking family planning clinics, assassinating MD’s, firebombing mosques and synagogues, and threatening to kill Democractic party elected officials up to and including the current president.
    Their latest efforts were to try to overthrow the government and reverse the last election, an event that happened two weeks ago.

    The two terrorist attacks nearest my house were both by fundie xians.
    The local xians firebombed the local mosque. And some guy got into a shootout with the cops while on his way to bomb an environmental organization.

    The fundies own the Dark Side of our society.

  38. raven says

    The other new trick the fundies have learned is…how to be plague rats.

    There is considerable opposition to the rules and procedures we have put in place to fight the current Covid-19 pandemic.
    The main opposition is from the fundie churches.
    They have often just ignored the closure rules, and often sued various government agencies for the right to spread Covid-19 virus.
    As a result, a lot of fundie churches have ended up being centers for getting infected by Covid-19 virus. Whole communities have ended up with Covid-19 outbreaks that started in a fundie church.

    They are also now leaders in refusing to accept the vaccines that are now coming out.

    This isn’t trivial.
    During the last Swine flu pandemic, fundie xians died in higher numbers than the general population.
    They are doing it again during this pandemic.

  39. chesapeake says

    “ I think “Christians aren’t a monolith” was the point Chesapeake was making.”
    It’s hard to tell with all the caps lock?‘“
    Yes, thank you. Christians are not a monolith. And the numbers quoted by raven are disturbing but I don’t think that all trump supporters are as awful as many or most of them. Some believe they are supporting him because of the courts , pro-life, the economy (they are wrong about that). So while I deplore the high numbers of any group which supports trump I’m smart enough to know there are differences within the groups. And yes, I’ve known very few Christians in recent decades and none of them is at all like the Xian’s described here. I am not a fan club and am not into apologetics. I don’t know if I have been unclear or it just raven’s raving fury which gets in their way of seeing things clearly.
    Again,to be clear, I am not defending trump supporters. In general I dispose them. So many are racists, nationalists,bigots, just awful people. I was talking about some other people who might be Christians who are not trump supporters,racists etceter,
    Sorry if I wasn’t clear. Calm down Raven, please. I know you love to rage at people you think take certain positions but I’m not one of them.

  40. blf says

    @30, [… T]he few [xians] I know I know well and they are not at all the way they are regularly presented here. They are all kind, loving people who do good things.

    Possibly possible, but does NOT even come close to my experience from self-described xians… Kind in no sense I am aware of, and loving people only in comparison to an inert rock (apologies to rocks).

  41. chesapeake says

    Blf
    That must be very unpleasant. Glad I don’t know ant people like that.
    Chigau.
    Yes I should.
    I’d say bless your heart but that would be rude.

  42. Tethys says

    Perhaps the various prayers and other annoying displays of religion by Pelosi, the Bidens and other elected officials this week are purposeful examples of how to act in accordance with Christian principles?

    I have no issues with the doctrine of Jesus. Feeding the poor, protecting the weak and powerless, and absolutely not letting moneylenders conduct their foul business on the steps of the temple/congress all sound like good basic principals.

    The problem remains that the southern strategy has born a lot of poison fruit, especially in the poorly educated and rural demographics.

  43. blf says

    @43, That [@42] must be very unpleasant. Glad I don’t know ant [sic] people like that.

    A fascist gets it totally wrong again.

  44. raven says

    Sorry if I wasn’t clear. Calm down Raven, please. I know you love to rage at people you think take certain positions but I’m not one of them.

    OK.
    Leave me alone and I’ll pretend you don’t exist.
    You didn’t impress me at all and I wouldn’t want anything to do with someone like you.

    The fundie xians have a lot to do with terrorism, some of which has been directed at me, with wrecking the society I live in, and enabling the death and disability of my affiliates during the current pandemic.
    There is no reason to defend them and no reason to tolerate those that do.

  45. John Morales says

    Tethys:

    I have no issues with the doctrine of Jesus.

    Ahem. A couple of quotations for you, attributed to him:

    “If any man come to Me and hate not his father and mother, and wife and children, and brethren and sisters, yea, and his own life also, he cannot be My disciple.”

    “But I tell you, do not resist an evil person. If someone strikes you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also.”

  46. John Morales says

    PS re “Feeding the poor”

    “While Jesus was in Bethany in the home of Simon the Leper, a woman came to Him with an alabaster jar of expensive perfume, which she poured on His head as He reclined at the table.

    When the disciples saw this, they were indignant and asked, “Why this waste? This perfume could have been sold at a high price, and the money given to the poor.”

    Aware of this, Jesus asked, “Why are you bothering this woman? She has done a beautiful deed to Me. The poor you will always have with you, but you will not always have Me.”

    (Priorities!)

  47. chesapeake says

    I would like to point out that all I said at the beginning was “ I don’t know many Christians but the few I know I know well and they are not at all the way they are regularly presented here. They are all kind,loving people who do good things.” From this some thought that I was defending trump supporters, the white mob I guess, and many of their actions. I was not and I do not. I was accused of engaging in Christian apologetics? Please, I’m as much of an atheist as anyone. I really don’t understand how I was so misunderstood. I despise these people, (most) trump supporters and rave about them daily. You’ve got me all wrong.
    Does anyone here disagree with all this calumny heaped on me for those two simple statements at the top?

  48. PaulBC says

    chigau@46 I’m sure he disposes the ant people. (Which seems rather mean, but being ant people they can probably crawl back out of the bin unharmed).

    Other than that, I have no real impression of chesapeake except that he likes to scream at himself a lot.

  49. chesapeake says

    @51
    48, Fascist? I’m really not making myself clear.
    A xian.
    A crusader.
    A Blut und Ehre fanatic.
    A liar.

    What the fuck. See my note at 53. I’m an atheist. And you call me an xian ? Because I say the one I know are good people. What the fuck is wrong with you? You call me a crusader? That’s nuts. Fanatic. Just crazy. A liar?
    All I said you morons is I know some nice Christians. That was it. And you went nuts. I give up.

  50. John Morales says

    chesapeake:

    Does anyone here disagree with all this calumny heaped on me for those two simple statements at the top?

    I sort of do — I believe you are being truthful when you say the few Christians you know you believe to be good people. They may well be.

    Thing is, that’s a bit like saying the few Nazis you know are good people — it may be true, but their belief system has consequences on a societal basis.

    To me you certainly don’t come across as Fascistic, but surely you can see how by defending the few Christians you know you do come across as an apologist for them.

    Note that the OP is specifically about Dominionists, not about all Christians. And this is a US-centric blog.

  51. blf says

    In @55, as a reply to @51, suggests reading the later @53.
    I do not have a Tardis !
    Not only a facist xian liar, but a total complete eejit with no concept of cause, effect, or time.

  52. chesapeake says

    @56 “ I sort of do — I believe you are being truthful when you say the few Christians you know you believe to be good people. They may well be.
    Thing is, that’s a bit like saying the few Nazis you know are good people — it may be true, but their belief system has consequences on a societal basis.”

    Ah, thank you. I’m starting to understand. Some of you think that if I say I know some Christians that are good people ,that is like saying I know some nazis that are good people. Would it help if I said that these Christians are mostly liberal Democrats and despise trump and all he stands for? That politically they are like me, an atheist. That all the bad things you’ve said about “Xians” do not apply to them? Can you imagine any Christians being like that? If not I have greatly mIsjudged the people here the last 8 years. Imagine they just believe in love you neighbor and in Jesus and all the stuff you believe in. Is that so hard? Jeeze.

  53. PaulBC says

    Yes, a lot of Christians are perfectly reasonable people just because it’s still a pretty common “default setting” to be raised in some Christian faith. The same can be said of Jews, Muslims, Hindus, Buddhists, as well as various stripes of agnostics and atheists. I can assert all of this based on first-hand experience, but I would have assumed so anyway.

    I.e., a trait that is determined by culture and upbringing makes kind of a crappy litmus test. It’s also true that cultural differences can matter, or in other words might make it hard to be best friends with someone whose values are inconsistent with your own. Usually some level of tolerance remains possible, though it may not apply to the most extreme beliefs.

    That said, there are specific beliefs espoused by people like Josh Hawley that are entirely incompatible with my values to the point of being exclusionary. I’m willing to “tolerate” him as a fellow citizen assuming he does not break any laws (although he did just encourage insurrection, which is kind of a biggie). His views on Pelagianism don’t impress me either needless to say. To the extent that they’re shared by some large group of Evangelical Christians, that too makes it difficult to be friends. Though again, tolerance and coexistence may be feasible; I don’t agree with the Amish either, but they have a right to their way of life.

    Even people with extreme beliefs can be reasonable in some capacity, and ultimately it comes down to respecting each other’s rights. My suspicion, however, is that Hawley is not interested in respecting my rights to the same extent that I can respect the rights of my religious neighbors.

  54. PaulBC says

    And yeah, I suppose many card carrying Nazis were technically “good people” to the extent that many–if not found guilty of war crimes–went back to their lives after WWII, chastened one would hope, and were not incarcerated en masse. They were at least normal people. Normal people have been oppressing and killing each other since the beginning of our existence. So yeah, people. Can’t live with them, can’t really do much else when there are so many of them.

    Slave owners in the South were likewise given a chance to reform after the Civil War, though ultimately they instituted Jim Crow instead. It depends on what you mean by “good” and if you are going to label people “bad” what exactly you propose to do about it. Shipping them off to re-education camps hasn’t worked so far.

  55. John Morales says

    Shorter version: Being Christian doesn’t necessarily turn nice people into intolerant bigots, but it sure helps. It’s a very pernicious ideology. And very shitty people thrive within it.
    And the more power they gain, the more they impose their values on society.

    (Then you get Christendom, and the Holy Inquisition, and Deus Vult)

  56. blf says

    @58, you are delusional — says the commentator who has no idea how time flows, namely, the earlier @51 cannot possibly be a reply to the later @53.

  57. Tethys says

    John Morales

    He could have worked a fish and loaves miracle to make more perfume. His disciples always get so jealous. They complained of the disciple Mary quite a bit.

    If you read some of the other examples given in the bit about turning the other cheek, it’s actually pretty subversive.

    A paraphrase –
    If a rich man compels you to carry his burden to his home a mile down the road, do so gladly, and then carry it another mile.
    ……….

    I think Chesapeake is mistakenly getting taken for a troll due to the caps lock troll post that started this digression. The horde gets very cranky and toothy with deliberate trolls, and shoddy reasoning.

  58. chesapeake says

    @64 “ I think Chesapeake is mistakenly getting taken for a troll due to the caps lock troll post that started this digression. The horde gets very cranky and toothy with deliberate trolls, and shoddy reasoning.“
    Didn’t know the all caps was a troll indentifier. I wont do that again . I think that my content is clear but not to those who think if you know a few Christians and think them good then you are into Christian apologetics ,etc.already said. As I said above these people are not like the 81% of white evangelicals who voted for trump. I’ll try to be more aware of how people think on this blog so that I am better understood.

  59. PaulBC says

    John Morales@62

    Shorter version: Being Christian doesn’t necessarily turn nice people into intolerant bigots, but it sure helps. It’s a very pernicious ideology.

    I’m not convinced that the bigotry comes from Christianity as opposed to some entirely orthogonal source. I know and work with Hindus, Muslims, and Sikhs, for instance, who all seem like normal people who want more or less the same things out of life that I do and that people I grew up with do as well, even if they were more likely to be Christian, Catholic especially, or Jewish. People just aren’t all that different.

    I will add that I have a non-representative sample, heavily focused on the tech industry, and my colleagues rarely strike me as especially devout, though they still keep up traditions. My Chinese colleagues are less likely to practice any religion, though they have traditional festivals, and again, there’s a lot of commonality in aspiration and behavior.

    And there are observant Christians all over the Bay Area. They are perfectly fine neighbors and due to our multicultural environment, probably more adept at practicing tolerance.

    On the other hand, right now Hindu nationalism is raging through India. I wouldn’t be that aware of it except for a friend of mine who has drawn my attention to it. There are other religious conflicts elsewhere. There are cultural and racial conflicts that have little to do with religion at all, let alone Christianity.

    So as far as I can tell, Christianity as such is orthogonal. There are certainly forms of Christianity that promote bigotry and I don’t deny that Hawley may practice one. But I don’t see how your original statement ties specifically to Christianity. It is not a religion founded in bigotry. It is, granted, one that reached its peak in medieval Europe, and probably pulls in a lot of its bigotry from that culture, though there are other influences (i.e. I see no reason to believe Orthodox or Coptic Christians for instance have any special edge–granted I know nearly nothing about Coptics, so for I know they do).

  60. PaulBC says

    Didn’t know the all caps was a troll indentifier.

    No offense, but did you just fall off the turnip truck?

  61. PaulBC says

    Buffy Saint-Marie notwithstanding I’m not sure the “universal soldier” is ever Jain. Don’t they wear gauze to avoid breathing in insects? I guess just about any group winds up fighting in a war at some point, but it’s funny she picked one of the most non-violent religions there is.

    Point being, though, Christians don’t have any kind of monopoly on being assholes. A lot of the comments in the “new atheist” community seem to come with a parochial fixation on Christianity. There are other world religions.

  62. John Morales says

    chesapeake:

    I think that my content is clear but not to those who think if you know a few Christians and think them good then you are into Christian apologetics ,etc.

    You sort of are — as I already noted @56.

    The obvious inference is that you thought people here did not think any Christians were good people, and therefore you felt motivated to offer a counter-example.

    What I think is that they are good despite–rather than because of–their Christianity.

    (I myself am happily married to a practising Catholic — we’ve been together for, um, 43 years now; she tolerates my antipathy towards her religion no less than I tolerate her adherence to it)

    Paul:

    It is not a religion founded in bigotry.

    Yeah, it is. It’s actually Pauline! ;)

    1 Timothy 2:12
    “But I suffer not a woman to teach, nor to usurp authority over the man, but to be in silence.”

    Look: I spent around a decade on Usenet arguing with Christian zealots and trading Bible passages. One of the games I liked to play was to challenge people to give me an opinion about whatever based on a babble verse, and I would then counter with a verse which contradicted theirs.

    I assure you, I am most familiar with the fucking thing, with its doctrines, and with its history. Anyone (particularly authoritarians) can take pretty much any position on anything and support it with carefully-curated verses and a bit of exegesis.
    So sure, it’s orthogonal in some senses, but it’s also an enabler to which there is no counter — it’s the fucking Word of God, it’s Scripture.
    That’s a reason it’s so pernicious, leaving aside the whole sentiment of this life being a trial for the actual existence after death.

  63. John Morales says

    A lot of the comments in the “new atheist” community seem to come with a parochial fixation on Christianity.

    Bah. I feel the same about all religions (I’m not just atheistic, I’m irreligious) and formalised ideologies.

    In this case, could it be because the topic is Christian dominionism?

    (Also, I was a gnu well before it was a thing, and remain one now that the fad is passed; nor was I ever a “movement” atheist, that being an ideology)

  64. PaulBC says

    John Morales@69 Yes, the Bible is contradictory and says whatever you want it to same. I don’t know the Mahabharata but I doubt it’s a pillar of logical consistency. As far as I understand, it’s a big sprawling epic. I have read a translation of the Bhagavad Gita, which is pretty interesting, though I am puzzled why it’s an inspiration to pacifists like Thoreau and Gandhi, since it appears to be an apology for putting duty above all other concerns, even compassion. Perhaps I misread it.

    I am not sure the bigotry of the epistles was particularly strong relative to prevailing Roman culture. In fact, I doubt very much it was. There are also passages in the gospel that encourage putting aside bigotry (against prostitutes or against dreaded tax collectors for instance). I’m sure you know it all. It’s a mixed bag.

    I do not think it is an unusually bigoted text as world religions go. It’s just one with a large, bigoted, and heavily armed following.

  65. Tethys says

    I know plenty of white suburban Christians who are deeply racist nice people.

    They are convinced of many ridiculous ideas from right wing idjits. A few of the talking points I’ve heard include; Whites are going extinct because of abortion. Illegal immigrants are taking all their jobs. Schools are indoctrinating their children with lies, so they homeschool. There is a war on Christmas. Antivax woo is strong along with a deep distrust of government.

    Oddly enough, the racism inherent in all those kooky ideas is completely invisible to them. They have declared themselves ‘good Christian folk’ who by definition are not racist. At the same time they say “How dare those poor brown refugees think they can just come to America?” It’s ‘their’ country.

  66. PaulBC says

    Tethys@72 I live in a “bubble” of pluralism and only read about the existence of such people. I like my bubble too! The world’s a scary place and I’ll be an ideological David Vetter if I have to.

    The funny thing (and I found this out in a Quora discussion) is that many of them don’t seem to realize that they too inhabit a bubble. That part completely throws me.

  67. Tethys says

    Paul @72
    I like my multicultural urban bubble too, but I grew up in nice lady Christian white suburbia. They love sending aid to Africa, but wouldn’t dream of helping the poor black children in their own city.

    I have never understood the white suburbanite fear of other people who speak different languages and eat different foods.
    Variety is the spice of life!!

  68. blf says

    Apropos of not much, @72, “I know plenty of white suburban Christians who are deeply racist nice people.”

    Where I live, I’d delete the “suburban” because there isn’t much of a suburb here. I’d also be inclined to delete “christian” since this area is both multi-religious, and also non-religious; i.e., there is a wide arena of views with, perhaps, alleged xians of all sorts being possibly in the majority, but other views, including non-religious, being separately significant and maybe, combined, a majority.

    The “white…deeply racist”, however, does seem to apply, albeit the hard numbers (voters for racist / nazi parties) suggest they are not a majority — but a distributing large percentage.

    I do concur most of the locals are quite polite and generally nice.

  69. Tethys says

    Blf
    Indeed. Autocorrect must be invented by typos. Thus any ant goes unnoticed.

    Cheers. raises tea

  70. blf says

    Cheers. raises tea

    My tea has a considerable amount of whisky (P&M, from Corsica)… yours ? I’ve also been up for perhaps 24h hours now (realising the Sun is now up here…).

  71. vucodlak says

    @ chesapeake, #53

    Does anyone here disagree with all this calumny heaped on me for those two simple statements at the top?

    Personally, I don’t give a flying fuck about what you said at #18, but you’ve been around here long enough that you really ought to know how an argument like “Not all Christians!” would be received by the commentariat. Then you blow up and go all caps when someone takes the bait, and now you want to whine about how mean people are being?

    How does the old saying go? “Don’t start shit, won’t be shit?” Something like that.

    Look, I know some decent Christians. I also know a lot of asshole Christians. Two things you need to keep in mind when you come in here to tell us that Christians aren’t all ‘like that,’ is that 1.) everybody here knows that, and 2.) a lot of people here have been abused by Christians, often in the name of Christianity.

    The piece of shit who raped me when I was all of 3 years old was a “good Christian man” and a “pillar of the community.” There were plenty of people who would describe him as a “kind, loving person who does good things.”

    I’m not saying “all Christians are rapists,” but I offer that as an example of why, when we talk about (some) Christians being awful human beings, it pisses some of us off when someone comes along to cry “Not all Christians!”

    Yeah. We know. However, Josh Hawley is very much a Christian, and very, very much a bad man. So the fact that you know some nice Christians has diddly to do with this discussion. The (white Christian nationalist) hegemony doesn’t need you to defend it. They have all the power already. Hawley is a senator, for fuck’s sake.

    I would add to that that some of us remember the time you smeared people with actual mental illnesses by labeling a frothing racist “mentally ill” without evidence to support your claim beyond the fact that you felt the racist in question was saying ‘crazy’ things:
    LINK
    Too, the time you blamed the victim of a (would-be) killer cop for the actions of a killer cop… LINK
    …so we know you, and you know just how “nice” some of us are, too.

    Disturb not the shits lest ye be disturbed. Disturd.

  72. Tethys says

    Lemon and plum. I don’t sleep if I drink alcohol. I do love a good cocktail but it’s bedtime tea for me.

  73. PaulBC says

    vucodlak@80 I took @18 as fairly anodyne, very obvious, and entirely besides the point, which is that Josh Hawley is not merely “Christian” but a religious zealot with beliefs that are weirdly fixated on a 5th century controversy and apparently unaware or unconcerned with Enlightenment thinking that holds people indeed possess “the freedom to choose how they live their lives.”

    I could tolerate having a nosy neighbor like that, though I might feel pressed to move out if they refused to mind their own business. I am opposed to having a nutty theocrat as one of 100 senators passing legislation.

    Actually I didn’t even even notice anyone responded to @18 until Chesapeake did his later performance piece on it, and I still couldn’t figure out what was real and what was sarcasm.

    2.) a lot of people here have been abused by Christians, often in the name of Christianity.

    Yeah, I should keep this in mind. I had a pretty smooth Catholic upbringing and am no longer religious mainly because I was educated well enough to question most of it and reach something like an amicable split. (Which may go to show, religions work better using dogmatic insistence and psychological manipulation.) So I have no personal ax to grind against “Christians” of any form, but I guess that makes me lucky.

    I find the entire concept of religious belief in general fascinating. I do not conflate it with Christianity, because it’s a big wide world and human beings believe all kinds of things. I forever wonder how serious adult-like people hold onto views that do not hold up to the slightest scrutiny, particularly when they come into contact with others of equally nonsensical but contradictory beliefs.

  74. PaulBC says

    Also, did I blink when economist Milton Friedman was removed from the conservative pantheon? His PBS series and companion book was literally called “Free to Choose.” Was Friedman a Pelagian too? (No, as Wikipedia points out, he was Jewish by background and agnostic by choice).

    No, I’m not that naive. I realize that the rightwing compartmentalizes its religious bigotry and worship of laissez faire capitalism. But aren’t there times when these compartments stand so close together that the wild thought monkeys are just shaking the bars and demanding to mix it up?

  75. PaulBC says

    It is quite tragic, and it’s a story the church would never tell you

    He was well educated, fluent in both Greek and Latin, and learned in theology. He spent time as an ascetic, focusing on practical asceticism. He was well known in Rome, both for the harsh asceticism of his public life and the power and persuasiveness of his speech. His reputation earned him praise early in his career even from such pillars of the Church as Augustine, who referred to him as a “saintly man.” However, he was later accused of lying about his own teachings to avoid public condemnation. Most of his later life was spent defending his doctrine against Christian theologians who held that Pelagius was spreading novelties in the Faith unknown to the apostolic tradition.

    (wikipedia)

    They always get you on the novelties, don’t they? No doubt, bobbleheads of early church leaders or some such. Curse those novelties!

  76. lumipuna says

    AFAIK early Christianity was already highly fractured by the time of Constantine in the 4th century, and it took centuries of Roman institutional influence to enforce some semblance of orthodoxy. Even then, different regional churches had different liturgic styles and different locally popular “heresies” based on underlying cultural background and religious cultural divergence.

    I have read the book “A Brief History Of The Druids” by Peter Berresford Ellis, discussing broadly ancient Celtic culture, especially in Britain and Ireland. In the late 4th century, when Pelagius grew up, Christianity was just taking hold in the islands, while Celtic traditional druidic scholarship was still going strong there. For centuries afterwards, Celtic Christian communities remained somewhat at odds with Rome in traditions and doctrine, until they were slowly assimilated. Notably, Pelagianism or similar ideas seem to have quite popular there already at the time of Pelagius and for a while afterwards. Some friends or ideological allies of Pelagius known from the time in the Mediterranean region were also fellow Celtic expats – a coincidence?

    PBE proposes that Pelagianism was not a novelty, but rather an adaptation of traditional “druidic natural philosophy” on Christian teaching. This philosophy stemmed from his Celtic cultural background, which, according to PBE, also supported economic justice and gender equality far more than the contemporary Graeco-Roman culture. I imagine PZ would get along with Pelagius, as much as any early Christian teacher.

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