Needed: A progressive Christianity to restore the nation’s civic virtues (COMMENTARY)

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Tom Ehrich is a writer, church consultant and Episcopal priest based in New York. He is the president of Morning Walk Media and publisher of Fresh Day online magazine. Photo courtesy of Tom Ehrich

Tom Ehrich is a writer, church consultant and Episcopal priest based in New York. He is the president of Morning Walk Media and publisher of Fresh Day online magazine. Photo courtesy of Tom Ehrich

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(RNS) How could the midterm election have turned out this way? The reason that touches my world is the collapse of progressive Christianity as a teacher of civic virtues.

  • Fourth Valley

    Hmmm. I have issue with this author. He says things like:

    “Civic-mindedness gave way to clever voter-suppression tactics. Freedom of the press got lost in attack ads and deliberate distortions of reality. Respect for opponents is gone. So too is the search for common ground, competing ideas, confidence in the nation, confidence in government, confidence in the future.”

    Which is very, very true. These are indeed big problems. But then again, he says things like this:

    “Big money bought an election. Fear prevailed over confidence and loathing over reason. The majority chose not to vote, allowing a passionate minority — older, whiter — to change the balance of power.”

    It seems hypocritical to me. He points out that respect for opponent’s views is gone (true), but doesn’t show respect for his opponents views, instead insisting that they are fear-based, money-based, and minority viewpoints, and brushing them off. He does not attempt to understand the reasoning of others, simply concluding that their beliefs are fear-based and irrational. While pointing out a lack of respect and lack of understanding, he seems to show no respect and no understanding of his opponents, which confuses me.

    It almost seems like he’s demanding these things of his opposition, while offering up no understanding of his own, lamenting conservative Christians lack of understanding of liberal Christian views, while at the same time attempting to understand conservative Christian views.

    At the core of it, he’s right. Politics is inherently divisive and polarizing, and could benefit much from attempting to understand how and why the other side believes what they do. Although, in order to fully realize this fact, you must strive to apply it to yourself and approach others with understanding. You can’t simply complain that money bought the election or that your opposing voters acted out of fear, you need to make an effort to understand what it is they believe and why they believe it.

  • Fourth Valley

    *while at the same time NOT attempting to understand conservative Christian views.

  • Big money bought an election. Fear prevailed over confidence and loathing over reason. The majority chose not to vote, allowing a passionate minority — older, whiter — to change the balance of power. Attack ads drowned out issues. A broken political system tolerated cheating and bullying.l

    And someone who unaccountably made it through seminary engages in self-caricature.

  • Christianity, as with all religions, can be progressive only if it eventually disappears, the sooner the better for humanity’s sake. We haven’t got much time left to save ourselves.

  • mike

    Great essay Tom. Rabbi Michael Lerner said essentially the same thing in a recent post at

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  • Stephen Kent Gray

    I don’t see the link between civics and Progresisivsm.

    Libertarianism A philosophy based on the premise that all individuals are sovereign over their own lives and that personal and economic freedom should be maximized as much as possible without Government intervening in personal and business matters. The purpose of Government would only exist to protect and defend the freedom of the people. Another term would be Constitutionalism set forth by The United States Constitution and the United States Bill of Rights. The people would live through Voluntary association through the Free market, This is commonly known as Limited government. Not to be confused with Anarchism. as advocated by Murray Rothbard, Friedrich Hayek, Ludwig von Mises, and Ron Paul

    I favor something more libertarian as being compatible with civics as defined above.

    Libertarian Christianity is a facet of Christian theology. Its advocates believe that it is the most biblically, rationally, and practically correct legal and political philosophy. This type of libertarianism derives from a specific blending of systematic theology and biblical theology. Advocates claim to be Christians first, and libertarians second. As libertarians they believe that all secular governments exist to protect natural rights, and only to protect natural rights; and they believe that natural rights are necessarily defined in terms of private property, at least in the legal and political arena. — Although they readily acknowledge the distinction between their legal / political philosophy and the rest of their theology, they are suspicious of any attempt at separating the two, because separating the two leaves the visible Church without a viable, Bible-based legal philosophy.

    Libertarian Christians claim to be distinct from secular libertarians and Christian libertarians. They claim to be distinct from secular libertarians by deriving their libertarian legal and political philosophy from the Bible, rather than from secular sources. They claim to be distinct from Christian libertarians through their derivation of Bible-based legal philosophy using biblical hermeneutics that are different from those used by Christian libertarians.

    Despite their claim to being different from secular libertarians and Christian libertarians, libertarian Christians readily acknowledge large areas of agreement with other kinds of libertarianism with regard to legal and political concerns, and they readily work in concert with people from these other schools with regard to their common concerns. More specifically, they find large areas of agreement with categories of libertarianism and anarchism that generally espouse private property and natural rights. These include anarcho-capitalism, minarchism, paleolibertarianism, left-libertarianism, and Christian libertarianism.

    Christian libertarianism describes the synthesis of Christian beliefs concerning free will, human nature, and God-given inalienable rights with libertarian political philosophy. It is also an ideology to the extent that its supporters promote their cause to others and join together as a movement. In contrast to the Christian left and the Christian right respectively, they believe charity and enforcement of personal-level morality should be the purview of the (voluntary) church and not the state. These responsibilities must not be abrogated, though any non-governmental organization (NGO) not publicly financed is free to pursue them as well.

    As with secular libertarianism, socialism, fascism, and crony capitalism are strongly opposed, as is theocracy. The latter does not include merely being influenced by Christian concepts; whereas in a theocracy, government derives its powers from a divine or religious authority directly exercising governmental control. The use of force is never justified to achieve purely political, social, or religious goals, but is reserved solely to uphold natural rights.

    Individual freedom of religion without state interference is absolutely supported regardless of one’s beliefs. Nevertheless, a majority religion in a given locale could display its faith on government-owned property if it had the popular votes to do so. Public sector discrimination is strictly forbidden, while in the private sector, it is permitted, though discouraged (excepting bona fide associated costs, such as insurance rates).

    Christian libertarians believe these principles are supported in the Bible by Christ’s teaching (see below), and His criticism of the laws (Halakha) as observed by the Pharisees. For example, in Jesus’ day, it was prohibited to heal someone on the Sabbath, as this was considered doing actual work on the mandated day of rest and worship. He opposed the Pharisees due to their self-righteous, man-made regulations added to God’s law, which they obeyed outwardly, but with the wrong inward motivation. Also, most Christians believe the ceremonial and civic laws found in the Old Testament have been superseded by the New Covenant. (The moral laws such as the Ten Commandments remain in place.) For these reasons, Christian libertarians may consider Jesus of Nazareth as the greatest libertarian in history.

    According to Andrew Sandlin, an American theologian and author, Christian libertarianism is the view that mature individuals are permitted maximum freedom under God’s law. Alex Barron, an American blogger and podcast host, states that Christian or Catholic libertarianism can be summed up like this: “I am as libertarian as my Christian (or Catholic) faith allows.”

    Unlike the versions of welfare statism traditionally favored by the Christian left, libertarians generally see no need for government-provided social services. These activities are best entrusted to private nonprofit organizations, which include churches and faith-based charities. Voluntary giving is more just and efficient than forced redistribution of wealth through taxation – as whatever is taxed, less of it will be produced. Christian libertarians believe public welfare is an ineffective means to lift the financially struggling out of poverty. This carries with it negative unintended consequences, such as people being less willing to obtain higher education or employment, or having more children than they would otherwise. School choice including parochial schools for primary and secondary education is advocated over mandated government-run schools at taxpayer expense. The spontaneous order of the free marketplace is always preferable to central planning. Over-regulation of business reduces productivity and increases unemployment, while enabling new possible avenues of corruption. Similarly, minimum wage laws hurt younger, less qualified workers, and cause price hikes even on the poor. Free individuals are in a much better position to rationally pursue their own interests than those who are being dictated to by a strong-armed central government. The state should not prohibit unwise financial, personal, or medical decisions, nor prosecute those who encourage them (short of fraud), as this is within the realm of the church.

    Other differences include the support of the individual right to keep and bear arms for defense. Being wealthy is not a problem for Christian libertarians. Only the love of money (not money in itself) is considered a sin.

    With respect to environmental concerns, libertarians largely view regulatory policies and the politicization of Creation Care as only superficially “green” and essentially corporatist. Often, they cite the large-scale pollution and environmental degradation caused by governments as a reason to minimize the activities and role of the state in society (see also green libertarianism and free-market environmentalism).

    Christian libertarians are opposed to relatively free countries giving up any sovereignty to international bodies such as the United Nations. This eventually leads to an authoritarian world government, which some believe is part of the New World Order conspiracy. Internationalism is seen as a threat to free speech, freedom of religion, right to a fair trial, self-defense, and the like. (see also the beast in Revelation)

  • Larry M

    Tom. I certainly agree that we need more civil discourse, more openness and more truth seeking through dialogue. I am a progressive Christian however and cannot accept what you say concerning their basically open posture.

    Many, if not most, are adamantly opposed to conservative Christianity. This is not up for discussion and they don’t look for any middle ground in my experience. I am able to see this better than most because I am a progressive Christian that was an evangelical 30 years ago.

    As long as one side demands absolute agreement while the other side the demands absolute openness they are simply the same thing at each end of the spectrum. Neither is truly open and this is mirrored in politics. You have lamented the lack of civil discourse and openness to dialogue in some of your other blogs and I have always been in complete agreement.

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  • Frank

    Talk about bitter fruit.

    The reason the election turned out the way it did is because the Dems have been absolute failures as leaders and their policies have been rejected.

  • Jack

    Tom Ehrich is proof positive that (1) the Episcopal Church is now the Democratic party at prayer (2) far left-wingers are sore losers, blaming everything but their own extremist ideology on their election loss and (3) regular ingestion of powerful hallucinogens must be a requirement for Episcopal priests to maintain their status in their church.

  • Jack

    Even if I were a liberal Democrat, I would find this article a real embarrassment. It’s all polemic and rhetoric, a comical caricature of the far left these days.

  • Jack

    Doug, do you consider a rollback to ancient pagan morality “progressive?”

  • Jack

    The trouble with “progressivism” is that it isn’t progressive. It is regressive in all of its ways. Its morality seeks to turn the clock back over 20 centuries, back to paganism. Ditto regarding its spirituality. Its economics would drag us back to pre-modern European mercantilism or even medievalism. Its politics embraces repeated Marxist failures from the past century.

  • “Big money bought an election.”

    Evangelical RIGHT WING CHRISTIAN MONEY bought this election.

    Run away from Religion.

    All of it is dangerous, worthless garbage.

  • Agreed. Only the most useless ingenue would utter some of the statements above, and he’s too bloody old to have an excuse for a that. The sort of consummate cynic who works as a press agent would at least give a shot to clever deception.

  • Larry

    Is that even a choice?

    The problem is Christian morality IS ancient pagan morality. It even does human sacrifice and idolatry.

  • Jack

    No, Larry, what you’re advocating is a return to ancient pagan morality.

  • Right!
    Pagan morality = the Golden Rule.
    Even Jesus praised the PAGAN GOOD SAMARITAN!
    I see nothing wrong with that!

    But plenty of immoral nonsense
    with Jesus:
    “execute them” – Jesus (Luke 19:27)

  • cken

    Nice!? Only stupid afraid old white people voted. The rest knew no matter which cheating lying crook got elected we were going to get the shaft and didn’t care If TV ads, regardless the big money source, is what you base your vote on, then please you are not well enough informed to cast a vote. Stay home.

  • Barry the Baptist

    Jack, do you think that the only alternatives lie exclusively between Abrahamic religions and paganism?

  • Hey, cken? Here’s an idea. If you didn’t vote in the last election, then nobody gives a crap what you think about anything.

  • P Spengler

    You make a very good point. Watching the conservative and liberal Christians battling each other reminds me of the endless battles between the hoarders and the wasters that Dante describes in the Inferno. Ostensibly the conservatives and liberals stand for different ideas, but the underlying attitude is the same – each side wants the other’s acquiescence.

  • Jeff Walton

    “We know our voice can make a difference … Look at the Moral Monday demonstrations in North Carolina.”

    Seemingly the recent election results in North Carolina show “Moral Mondays” as not having much pull on the electorate. Unless the goal of Moral Mondays was to cement a GOP supermajority in the state house and elect 10 GOP members of congress and a new GOP U.S. Senator.

  • Dave V


    As a former atheist . . . as I see it:

    “Progressive Christian” simply is the same thing as humanist/atheist Democrat. The sheepskin covering that a progressive wolf has on, is almost always worn by the self-described and very proud “Progressive Christian.” Usually a well-off secularist really.

    While there are many “Conservative Christians” that reject and preach against the materialism inherent in being a Republican are mostly from lower income families and congregations that truly feed and cloth the least of these. You just don’t see anything “diversity and tolerant” in “Progressive Christianity.” Just the same gentrification of any university/college area city scene pretending to benefit society at large.

    But then again, I now have a very dim view of progressive anything . . . and where did Jesus ever preach about tolerance and diversity IN THE CHURCH? I guess the Progressives only read the Readers Digest New Testament???

    Within Conservative views you see the same Gospel taught throughout the New Testament. Even when violated. With Progressive Christianity, you see the exact same mob as atheists and secularists “occupying” whatever. But of course the progressives never sin.

  • Dave V

    While that is true, it was the turnout numbers that doomed the Democrats not elected or reelected. And I am no fan of the corporatist GOP.

    When society can be duped by the Libs and Progressives that hypnotize the no information voters that make up massive numbers of democratic lever pullers in the Presidential election coming up, another weak and wimpy Democrat victory will be produced.

  • Dave V

    The rise of the Mental Illness plague shows what happens when a society rejects religion.

    Bring back Unions. Bring back a religious populace. Bring back the nuclear family and the liberals demanding it is a hate crime for saying so. Stop the outlawing of Christianity. Bring back honesty.

    Reject the atheism of modern pop culture. Run away from the proven dangers of chaos worship.

    Bring back safe streets at night.

  • Michael Dooley

    1.) Apparently our writer, Mr. Ehrich, has not consulted with the donor lists of the Democratic Party to find out who the rich and powerful are shedding their big bucks to.
    2.) When Democrats win by a landslide, the Left regards the vote as testimony to the great message of the Left and the good sense of the American people. Only when Republicans win by a landslide does the vote reflect dysfunction.
    3.) Fair or not, voters in the pollbooth and church-goers in the pews are not likely to see Progressive Christianity as any great shakes in the “come, let us reason together” departmant because they don’t think P.C. likes them, this country, or the church very much.

  • @Dave V,

    “The rise of mental illness…” – Dave V.


    Religion is a huge contributor to mental illness.

    “Yes, we are going to get you some depression medication but first we need to go into this old stone building and say some incantations so Jesus can turn into a cracker for your personal benefit”

    “Stop the outlawing of Christianity.” – Dave V.

    Do you live in Saudi Arabia? Outlawing of Christianity? In America we start selling Christmas baubles in September!! Hardly OUTLAWED!!

    “Bring back honesty.” – Dave V.

    No honesty ever came from religion.


    “The Lord hath put a lying spirit in the mouth of these thy prophets….”
    (1 Kings 22:23)

    “Now therefore, behold, the Lord hath put a lying spirit in the mouth of these thy prophets.”
    (2 Chronicles 18:22)

    “Ah, Lord GOD! surely thou hast greatly deceived this people.”
    (Jeremiah 4:10)

    “O Lord, thou hast deceived me, and I was deceived.”
    (Jeremiah 20:7)

    “And if a prophet be deceived when he hath spoken a thing, I the Lord have deceived that prophet.”
    (Ezekiel 14:9)

    “For this cause God shall send them strong delusion, that they should believe a lie.”
    (2 Thessalonians 2:11)


    “‘Jesus said, ‘Go to the festival yourselves. I am NOT GOING to this festival”… after his brothers had gone..Jesus also went, but privately.” (John 7.8-10).”

    “Heaven and earth shall pass away, but my words shall not pass away.” ‬‪(Matt. 24:35) – So Heaven is not eternal as he promised earlier! And he is wrong about his words – they are all lost except for a few fragments.

    “Truly I say to you, there are some of those who are standing here who will not taste death until they see the Son of Man coming in His kingdom.” (Matthew 16: 27, 28)‬
    – never happened!

    “And whatever you ask in prayer, you will receive, if you have faith.” (Matthew 21:22).
    A baldfaced lie. Just ask any father who lost a child to cancer.

    So many more:

    “And whatsoever ye shall ask in my name, that will I do, that the Father may be glorified….” (John 14:13)

    “And whatever you ask in prayer, you will receive, if you have faith.” (Matthew 21:2)

    “And all things, whatsoever ye shall ask in prayer, believing, ye shall receive.” (Matthew 21:22)

    “If ye abide in me, and my words abide in you, ye shall ask what ye will, and it shall be done unto you.” (John 15:7)

    “Therefore I say unto you, what things so ever ye desire, when ye pray, believe that ye receive them, and ye shall have them.” (Mark 11:24)

    Shame on anyone who calls this ‘honesty’.
    The joke is on humanity.

    For Honesty, Humanity and the Separation of Church and State
    Question the authoritarian claims of religion!

  • Jack

    The nerve of Jesus not to have provided Max with a life that fit Max’s specifications. That makes Jesus a horrific ogre, of course.

  • Jack

    And there P Spengler stands, Olympian-like, above it all.

  • Rocks Cry Out

    How unexpected: More hand-wringing by left wing whiners.

    It would be so much more remarkable if you people could be consistently positive instead of reliably negative.

  • DaveV

    “Just ask any father who lost a child to cancer.”

    Just ask an evolutionist why we have emotions. Why would an animal care what happens to a weak and worthless offspring? That diseased child was not meant to go on. You know according to unguided evolutionary processes. One should rejoice that the weak are weeded out of the gene pool right? That is how evolution goes. Yet not even the most rabid atheist rejoices over the death of the lesser among their offspring getting what nature says they deserve.

    As for the rest of your canned spam atheist comebacks . . .


    Why is it that so-called freethinkers rarely do?

  • DaveV

    Stupid old white people?

    How come so many brown, yellow and black people (and all others in between) are still flooding to come to the country in which all of their freedoms were created and guaranteed to them by old white guys?

    Hmmmm, something tells me the canards just don’t work for the lefties like the think they do.

  • DaveV

    While the atheists barter with the pimps to see which little child to buy for a few moments in a European brothel.

    Gotta love secular morality huh?

  • DaveV

    “Moral Mondays” run by progressives?

    That wasn’t going to last long once the condoms, lube, batteries and drugs ran out.

    A wolf by any other cover-up is still a wolf.

  • @Dave V.

    “Just ask an evolutionist why we have emotions.”

    Yes, please do so! You will find the answer is ‘FOR SURVIVAL’!
    Did you ever take a basic science class?

    “Why would an animal care what happens to a weak and worthless offspring?”

    “That diseased child was not meant to go on.”
    So you can’t love your children unless a sky fairy exists?
    SURVIVAL is the key to evolution – not sky fairies.

    “You know according to unguided evolutionary processes.”
    UNGUIDED? Survival is not ‘unguided’ – try learning what evolution is before bringing up.

    “One should rejoice that the weak are weeded out of the gene pool right?”
    You have no knowledge of evolution – Survival of the fittest is not survival of the ‘strongest’ – EDUCATION. TRY IT.

    “That is how evolution goes.”

    “Yet not even the most rabid atheist rejoices over the death of the lesser among their offspring getting what nature says they deserve.”

    Believe in your childish fantasies. Just keep it out of our laws.
    I don’t ‘debate’ evolution. Your education in science is non-existent. A typical catastrophic by-product of a religious culture.

    For Peace, Humanity, Science and The Separation of Church and State.
    Question the claims of religion.

  • @Jack,

    “The nerve of Jesus not to have provided Max with a life that fit Max’s specifications. That makes Jesus a horrific ogre, of course.”

    Where did I complain about MY life?
    That would be insane for me to do!

  • Jack

    The only alternatives to what, Barry (the Baptist from Canarsie)? Be specific.

  • Jack

    Well, Max, if you were in the church for 40 years, as you once asserted, and you were reading Jesus’ same utterances then as now, something had to change.

    Obviously it wasn’t His words.

  • @DaveV,

    “While the atheists barter with the pimps to see which little child to buy…”

    What? That is slanderous nonsense.

    The vast majority of sex crimes are done by Christians, Muslims and Hindus.
    Where is your evidence that Atheists are doing anything wrong?

    There are practically no Atheists even arrested, let alone charged with crimes!

  • @Dave V,

    “all of their freedoms were created and guaranteed to them by old white guys…”

    Freedom in America was SELF-DECLARED, not ‘given’.

    Try getting an education in these things. I rarely have seen someone post so many consistently untrue and backward comments.

  • Jack

    Seriously, Max: Unless you’re lying about your past Christianity, you presumably had a Bible and read plenty of what Jesus said.

    Why do the words suddenly bother you now, but didn’t bother you then?

  • @Jack,

    So Santa Claus isn’t real.

    And you draw the conclusion that this means my life was not perfect – or that I have some personal complaints – about MY life?

    I have the most perfect life of almost anyone I ever met. I wouldn’t change places with anyone else:
    Great friends, beautiful wife, amazing grown-up kids, beautiful home, fun times, great in-laws, plenty of money & talent, immersed in culture; music, arts, city life…..I’m even my own boss!

    You only show you have no idea of what Atheists really are all about.

    For Peace, Humanity and the Separation of Church and State

  • Jack

    So in Atheist Max’s mind, when atheists stay out of trouble, they deserve all of the credit, but when they take up arms, overthrow governments, and commit genocide, they deserve none of the blame.

    Just call it atheistic license…..

  • @Jack,

    You obviously have not even looked at my blog.

    Otherwise you would understand everything.
    Try being inquisitive and curious. You might learn something.

    For Peace, Humanity and the Separation of Church and State

  • Jack

    You’re avoiding the question, Max:

    If, as you claim, you were a practicing Christian for 40 years, and were presumably literate then as you are now, certainly Jesus’ words were familiar to you.

    Why were His words fine for 40 years, but not fine now?

    If by reading His words now, you conclude He was a horrible person, why did you not conclude the same thing during the 40 years you were supposedly in church?

  • Jack,

    “So…when atheists stay out of trouble, they deserve all of the credit”


    “but when they take up arms, overthrow governments, and commit genocide, they deserve none of the blame.”

    You have shown me no examples of this.

    Anyone can form new religions and place themselves in the role of a god – such as the AGRARIAN CULTS of Pol Pot, Stalin and Mao….. and they claim for themselves the role of perfect self-deification with laws about worship and sacrifice.

    This is typical of countries which have no separation of church and state.

    If you care about your religious freedom you should be supporting the Separation of Church and State – not the windbags of religion!

    For Peace, Humanity and the Separation of Church and State
    Question the claims of religion.

  • Bob b

    As a former Episcopalian, I would only recommend you change “(1) the Episcopal Church is now the Democratic party at prayer” to “(1) the Episcopal Church is now the Democratic party”.

  • Jack

    Well, Bob b, I was trying to give it the benefit of the doubt, but you know better than I do on that.

    The good news is that some Episcopal churches which are trying to be true to the Gospel have become officially Anglican, which gives them some leeway.

  • Jack

    Max, you’re making quite a narcissistic assumption — that either I knew or I assumed you had a blog.

  • Jack

    As I was saying…..

  • Billysees

    @ Atheist Max

    “I have the most perfect life of almost anyone I ever met. I wouldn’t change places with anyone else:
    Great friends, beautiful wife, amazing grown-up kids, beautiful home, fun times, great in-laws, plenty of money & talent, immersed in culture; music, arts, city life…..I’m even my own boss!”

    You should be very thankful for being able to say those things about yourself and family.

    But who do you thank? Who or what is responsible for these good things? What happens if misfortune befalls any of these situations?

    I like your new blog. Many things to ponder.

  • David Sims

    Ever notice that Progressive Christians who complain the loudest about mixing church and state, politics and religion, only mean conservative religion? The hypocrites are perfectly fine mixing liberal religion and politics.

  • @Jack,

    I’m not avoiding the question. I’ve answered it a dozen times.

    Believers are people who don’t know the Bible, so they think Jesus is good.
    That is what I was – a believer.

    But I was forced, by no choice of my own, to face the facts
    of what God can and cannot do. This confrontation required a closer review of the faith in Jesus which I still believed in at the time.

    An exhaustive re-examination of the Bible showed that God is a nightmarish Monster. All believers suspect something is very wrong with Yahweh. Just read Exodus and it is right there!

    It should have not been a surprise – even my priests had given little thought to books such as Judges, Numbers, Isaiah, Deuteronomy, Jeremiah and Leviticus. My priests were confounded when I talked to them about it and one dismissed it and recommended I focus only on the Book of John – which was ridiculous advice. I didn’t have questions about the book of John. I had questions about how Jesus could be connected to the same god of Jeremiah or Judges!

    It is impossible for Jesus to be good if he endorses and validates this same god – which he does repeatedly according to the gospels.
    Furthermore, Jesus introduces several incredibly sinister concepts which are not even dreamed of by Yahweh.

    The words of Jesus did not change in my 44 years as a Christian.

    What changed is my full understanding of what those words MEAN.
    Once you understand that this Jesus cannot be entirely good or a ‘god’ by any stretch of the imagination – you then realize the words are ‘not scripture’.

    “Either this man was, and is, the Son of God, or else a madman or something worse.” – C.S. Lewis

    It was the one thing C.S. Lewis GOT RIGHT!

    Jesus is a monster out of nightmares.

  • @Billysees,

    “who do you thank?”

    Excellent question.

    It troubled me when I became an Atheist. The desire to thank someone is very powerful, isn’t it?

    I thank all the people in my life.
    And I express that gratitude very mindfully. A few examples:

    My parents; I bring them flowers every time I visit. I bring my dad some of his favorite food from the local specialty shop. I visit for several hours every month to make sure I’m not a stranger to them.

    I thank my wife for all she has done over the years – we both work, so I meet her in town and take her out every Thursday or Friday at one of our favorite places. She also gets a lot of flowers from me.

    I’m thankful for my neighbors, so I invite them over in December for a “yuletide” party which I host for them. It is not religious, but it is festive – I still sing Christmas carols but I stick to those which are about life, fun or just celebratory (White Christmas, Let it snow, etc)

    I also donate:
    I give blood every 2 months. I have a somewhat rare type.

    also I donate a few dollars to these non-religious organizations:

    Doctors without Borders
    Brady Campaign to stop Gun violence
    National Alliance on Mental Illness
    Freedom from Religion Foundation
    My local Rotary
    SEED Foundation

    I drive my 94 year old neighbor to the polls on voting day.

    I should point out
    that when I was a Christian I did not donate to all of these causes because I figured I was doing enough just giving a couple of hundred dollars to my church and saying a few prayers.

    Becoming an Atheist and ACTIVELY THANKING HUMANS IN THIS WORLD INSTEAD OF GOD – has completely changed my life for the better.

  • @Billysees,

    “What happens if misfortune befalls any of these situations?”


    I’m certain misfortune WILL happen. There is no doubt about it.

    But…Belief in God didn’t prevent misfortune when I was a Catholic and it was the falseness of the consolation of prayer which compounded quite a bit of the misfortune – the hope of a happy solution from god can add a lot of untold misery.

    My death is guaranteed.
    I don’t look forward to my demise. It will happen someday. But I won’t know it when it happens and besides, new babies will take my place – so life goes on – that is the deal.

    My friends and I will comfort each other in good times and in bad, and that is the best any of us can do anyway so – I have no worries.
    It is all quite natural. We are only here for a few years, might as well make the very best of it and help each other out along the way.

  • @Jack,

    I’m on the record for being against genocide.
    You are on the record for being in favor of genocide.

    As in your claim to ‘love’ and ‘worship’ this..

    “I shall wipe out all the nations.”
    “Cursed be he who withholds God’s sword of blood” – God

    Your embrace of evil is not going to work as a defense of peace.

  • Jack

    As I was saying……

  • Jack

    You’re not making any sense.

    On the one hand, you’re presenting the words of the Bible that you believe are self-explanatory to all, that the God of the Old Testament is a “monster” and that Jesus’ own words betray Him as the same.

    You admit no interpretation of those words other than your own. You believe that they speak for themselves. You believe that context therefore doesn’t matter.

    And yet — you claim that for 40 years, you didn’t see what you’re now castigating others for not seeing.

    But how could you not see it if it was that obvious?

    Your own story undercuts your entire point.

    It is anything but obvious– and that’s why for 40 years, you didn’t see it.

    And that’s why the 2 billion people affiliated with Christendom don’t see it.

    It’s why when people pray to God and see a loving Father, they don’t see it, either.

    At the very least, it isn’t obvious……and of course, at most, it could be that what you are now seeing is a grotesque distortion.

  • ” people pray to God and see a loving Father, they don’t see it, either.”

    Which is exactly what I said. Believers are becoming Atheists (that’s what happened to me).

    And I have a dozen friends who once went to church with me 10 years ago and now we are all Atheists – we meet for breakfast on Sundays instead of at church!

    If you read the Bible you would know it cannot be real.

    Even Priests and Pastors are leaving religion now that the Bible is searchable on the internet and these chapters are available to everyone.

    The Bible is sinister nonsense. Can’t be believed. Not if you read it.

  • The RED “Atheist Max” is a link.

  • Jack

    Max, reread it. You haven’t answered the question,.

    You’re saying that your view that the God of the Bible is monstrous is obviously right– so obviously right that all you have to do is post scriptures and it leaps out at readers.

    But if it’s so obvious, needing no explanation or context, then why did it take you 40 years to see it — and why do hundreds of millions of people who interact with the text regularly not see it?

    It is far from obvious — that’s the point. And it’s not only far from obvious — it is deeply problematic. The principal theme of Scripture is God’s desiring to bless, not curse, not because humanity is so wonderful morally and ethically, but in spite of the fact that we aren’t. That’s what is obvious to nearly every person who either reads the whole Bible or hears teaching about its messages.

    If you hated the Bible from the moment you set your mind to reading it, there would be no contradiction. It’s your claim to have glossed over, for 40 years, the very things you’re railing about today that makes zero sense — rationally, emotionally, or otherwise.

  • Fred Ayers

    That first paragraph reads like a bunch of bumper stickers.
    1. “Big money bought an election.” Uh, Tom, Democrats outspent Republicans in this election by a considerable margin.
    2. “Fear prevailed over confidence and loathing over reason.” Yes, Americans are afraid we have a President who doesn’t know what he is doing (on defense, health care, national security, the economy–you name it), and they loathe the Democrats in Congress for shilling for him for the past six years.
    3. “The majority chose not to vote….” If you mean the majority who put the Democrats in power, it is because they recognize failed policies when they see them, lost confidence in the Democrats, and stayed home.

  • If God is real, then it is okay to let your kids die – as God wishes.

    You think religion is harmless?

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  • rob

    Progressives are they not the clowns running around in big fuel gobbling jets crying out global worming is destroying the earth wanting to put restrictions on every one but them selves…. not a very evolutionary progressive out look at all .
    but then even in theory evolution does not work things do not get better . sin is destroying every thing .. Jesus is the only answer..

  • Jack

    Max, answer the question.

  • Jack

    Progressives aren’t progressive. It’s a word used pretentiously by people who want to freeze time or turn back the clock.

  • Billysees

    @ Atheist Max

    Your answer/comments of November 13, 2014 at 10:18 and 10:34 pm are expressed with meaning.

    You should be happy and content with them. It’s what I’d call working out our own salvation or understanding.

    To me, some of the wheat in the Book interestingly says that Jesus is the savior of the whole world especially them that believe.

    Adding to that some of 1Cor 4:20 and Rom 14:17 —

    For the Kingdom of God is not with words but power and living a life of goodness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit.

    Sounds like you’re experiencing some of this goodness and peace and joy.

  • samuel Johnston

    Hi Max,
    I think it is important to try tell history honestly. I think David V is correct in giving credit for our Constitutional government to the men, and the ideas that were produced by the culture of Western Europe. Granted, it was a messy affair which soon produced the very bloody, American civil war. The amazing leader Abraham Lincoln, developed the ideas of universal political freedom much further than his predecessors, making it a truly American movement. A little gratitude is certainly in order. If we must be without flaws or sins to gain respect, then none of us will qualify.

  • @Jack,

    “It’s your claim to have glossed over, for 40 years, the very things you’re railing about today that makes zero sense — rationally, emotionally, or otherwise.”

    I am making complete sense.

    For example:
    Muslims who believe firmly in Allah, believe it is right for women to wear the chador or the hijab in public at all times. He believes it is good for women and for men and protects society!

    When the same Muslim discovers Allah is total bogus he changes his mind about the whether women should wear the chador or hijab. He sees through the rules of the religion – he sees it as a con game. He sees that all religion is built on a pack of claims which cannot be proven. Instead of seeing a covered woman and thinking “she is of god” he says, “she is being subjugated and reduced to a second class citizen status because of an ancient claim in an old book!”

    A Christian may believe firmly in Jesus. The Christian tries to follow what he thinks are the tenets of the faith.
    for example: Gay sex and Gay marriage is an abomination so Christians who take the Bible seriously forbid their children from being gay or acting out gay interests. As a believer this looks exactly like the right thing to do to save your child’s soul.

    But once you do not believe in God anymore, you see the rules against Gays have no justification. There is simply no reason to think such rules are healthy – since there is NO soul to save! What matters is happiness in this life and the freedom which people have every right to pursue without Christian interference.

    Yes, if you believe Jesus is God
    Then ALL IS FAIR IN SAVING SOULS by any means necessary:

    “Let him who has done this be removed from among you.”
    (1 Corinthians 1:13)

    But If you believe Jesus is worthless nonsense
    the above instruction from the Bible is an outrageous, inhuman piece of coercive cruelty.

    The Atheist sees the Bible for what it is, not for what Christians are wishing it is.

  • Jack

    No dice, Max. People change religions all the time, and people change from theism to atheism and vice versa all the time.

    I get that.

    What I don’t get is how you can roll out a procession of scriptures which you now claim are self-evidently evil but which for 40 years you claim to have never seen as such.

    Every answer you’ve given thus far undercuts your claim that the scriptures you’re now citing are so self-evidently wrong, they need no explanation or context.

    If it were that easy or simple, or the scriptures so clear, you would have seen them during the 40 years you were in church.

    Obviously, it is not easy or simple….which means that all your posts which say that they are simple and easy are deeply misleading. Your own experience refutes your claim.

  • @Jack,

    “Obviously, it is not easy or simple…”

    It is impossible to see one’s own religion until you look at it through the eyes of the non-believers.

    Look how breezily you dismiss Islam!! to you it is obvious and simple and easy to see that Allah is nonsense – there are no 72 Virgins waiting for Muslims in Heaven and YOU KNOW IT!

    Yet the believing muslim is COMPLETELY INCAPABLE of seeing how obviously insane their religion is – they cannot see it through your eyes.

    You are in EXACTLY THE SAME situation with respect to your religion. That is why I say it is simple and obvious that Jesus is a joke – and you CANNOT DO SO. Because you have sold yourself that it is true.

  • @Samuel Johnston,

    Though you are correct, it is also true that our rights in the USA were “self- declared” – as in, ‘the declaration of independence’ – it was an assertion that certain rights were self-evident.

    Dave V is incorrect that the rights were ‘given by a god’. There is no evidence any rights were ever given by any gods – if there were evidence for this, it would be excellent irrefutable proof that god exists.
    But no such evidence is remotely demonstrable.

    Further, there is no place in the Bible or any Holy Text where god grants any rights to anyone – except where God grants the right to enforce God’s stoning laws.
    The other exception is God’s Covenant (if you can call it that) where God appears to promise Heaven or the Promised Land AS A RIGHT to believers – but there are so many caveats which God freely puts in the way that this agreement is not really a Covenant at all but a sucker’s game of luck and God’s whim; as in, “the way is narrow.”