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United Methodist groups divided after election of first LGBT bishop

Newly elected Bishop Karen Oliveto
Newly elected Bishop Karen Oliveto, a married lesbian who has become the first openly gay bishop of the United Methodist Church, stands with Mountain Sky Area Bishop Elaine Stanovsky, left, and Los Angeles Area Bishop Minerva Carcano. Photo courtesy of Charmaine Robledo, director of communications, United Methodist Church Mountain Sky Area

(RNS) The head of the United Methodist Church’s Council of Bishops said the election of its first openly lesbian bishop last week “raises significant concerns and questions of church polity and unity.”

Bishop Bruce Ough, president of the Council of Bishops, said the executive committee of the bishops’ council “is monitoring this situation very closely.” The bishops are gathering Tuesday and Wednesday (July 19-20) in Chicago as part of the commission on sexuality called for by the General Conference.

On Friday (July 15), the Rev. Karen Oliveto, senior pastor of Glide Memorial Church in San Francisco, was elected bishop by the Western Jurisdictional Conference in Scottsdale, Ariz., and consecrated the following day.

The election comes despite the denomination’s ban on the ordination of “self-avowed practicing homosexuals.”


RELATED: Methodists nominate 3 openly gay candidates for bishop


At its quadrennial General Conference in May, the United Methodist Church had decided not to take up contentious issues regarding the full inclusion of its LGBT members. At the Council of Bishops’ recommendation, the denomination agreed instead to create a commission to discuss the conflict over sexuality that could lead to a special session of the global conference in 2018 or 2019.

Ough maintained that still is “the best path.”

Still, for advocates of full inclusion of LGBT United Methodists, last week’s election was historic.

“I think at this moment I have a glimpse of the realm of God,” Oliveto said after her election, according to reports by United Methodist News Service.

“I stand before you because of the work and prayers of so many, especially those saints who yearned to live for this day, who blazed a trail where there was none, who are no longer with us, and yet whose shoulders I stand on.”

Her election was met warmly by delegates at the conference, according to UMNS, but reaction from United Methodist groups around the country has been sharply divided.

The Reconciling Ministries Network released a statement from its executive director Matt Berryman celebrating it as “an historic moment in the movement of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, and Queer (LGBTQ) persons for spiritual and civil equality both in the church and the public square.” The new bishop has served several terms as a Reconciling Ministries board member.

“Officially barred from so many churches and positions of spiritual leadership, queer persons may now see themselves as leaders of the body of Christ in the largest mainline Protestant denomination in the United States,” Berryman said.

Meantime, the Rev. Rob Renfroe — president of Good News, which describes itself as an “orthodox” and “evangelical” movement within the denomination — was quoted in an article on Good News’ website calling the move in spite of decisions made at this spring’s global General Conference “deplorable.”

“If the Western Jurisdiction wanted to push the church to the brink of schism, they could not have found a more certain way of doing so,” Renfroe said.

Ough released a statement after Oliveto’s election that read in part:

“There are those in the church who will view this election as a violation of church law and a significant step toward a split, while there are others who will celebrate the election as a milestone toward being a more inclusive church. Others will no doubt have questions as we find ourselves in a place where we have never been. Still, others will likely see this election as disrupting or even rendering moot the purpose and work of the Commission currently being formed by the Council.”

Still, more than 100 clergy and clergy candidates came out as openly LGBT before the General Conference, and the conference’s decision not to decide hasn’t stopped its U.S. conferences from making decisions on their own.

Two U.S. jurisdictions had considered a total of three openly gay candidates for 15 open bishop positions last week. The South Central Jurisdictional Conference later requested a declaratory decision from the denomination’s Judicial Council on whether the election and consecration of an openly LGBT bishop is lawful.

The 56 regional annual conferences that make up those jurisdictions also have passed a mix of resolutions regarding the full inclusion of the denomination’s LGBT members.

“Our differences are real and cannot be glossed over, but they are also reconcilable. We are confident God is with us, especially in uncharted times and places. There is a future with hope,” Ough said.

Oliveto, 58, has been a delegate to the General Conference twice and to the Jurisdictional Conference five times, and she is a board member of the denomination’s General Council on Finance and Administration.

She has been married to Robin Ridenour for two years, according to UMNS. They have been in a relationship since they met at a junior-high camp as counselors 17 years ago, it said.

About the author

Emily McFarlan Miller

Emily McFarlan Miller is a national reporter for RNS based in Chicago. She covers evangelical and mainline Protestant Christianity.

111 Comments

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  • One foot in Hades and the other foot on a banana peel. That’s where the United Methodist Church stands now.

    PS … Looks like the banana peel is winning.

  • No disrespect to anyone, but I think this will tend towards the splitting of the Methodists in two. We are rapidly approaching an era when there will be at least two major Church/Christian cultures in this nation, diametrically opposed to one another on this issue. They both can’t be correct. As one who identifies as a Christian, without rancor, I declare for the orthodox traditional position taught from the Bible, with prayers and hopes for all to come to a genuine saving relationship in Christ.

  • It looks like there’s a schism coming, between part of the Western group and all the rest.

  • Judgment has started. The shafts shall be separated from the wheat. Jesus people shall triumph.

  • If only they knew the difference between shafts and chaff. What a perfect world this would be.

  • It’s sad. Here is a woman leading men – against scripture. Here is a proud homosexual – who follows an idol, not Jesus – leading men and a church. So we have a heretic, leading men and trying to keep homosexuals out of Hell – odd, when that is where she has chosen to go.

    1 Timothy 3:2-12King James Version (KJV)

    2 A bishop then must be blameless, the husband of one wife, vigilant, sober, of good behaviour, given to hospitality, apt to teach;

    3 Not given to wine, no striker, not greedy of filthy lucre; but patient, not a brawler, not covetous;

  • Unity is overrated when two groups can’t even decide whether to treat its members and elected clergy as human beings or ostracize them as a matter of faith.

  • So you can be counted on to not be a United Methodist?

    It’s funny how you guys clamor for respect for your religious beliefs, even to the point of demanding illegal endorsement by government. But you can’t show even the slightest respect for sects who do not share your views.

    It’s also interesting how bigotry is such a defining element to your Christian faith. To the point you deny even associating non bigoted sects as Christians.

  • The problem is not that they are not following my views Spud. The problem is that they are not following what God has taught.
    1 Timothy 2:12 – New International Version
    I do not permit a woman to teach or to assume authority over a man; she must be quiet.”
    lol…..also you toss the word “bigot” around like you think you know what you are talking about. Read a Bible Spuddie.

  • Now now Spud…..is that your blood pressure rising…lol
    I quoted you what God said. You have a problem with it, talk to Him.

  • Lol. Not in the least. I just don’t feel the need to feed your ego. You quoted stuff from the Bible. Whatever relevance to the topic was all you. Your take on it.

    Fellow Christians won’t hate the way you want them to. Boo hoo. I guess it’s why you feel the need to chime in at all. They get your blood boiling. You have to denounce them otherwise how are people going to think you speak God’s will.

  • Your error is, she is not a Christian. A church that does not know it’s Bible well enough to detect this fraud is questionably Christian.

  • Because you, as the instrument if god’s will and the representative of Jesus on earth says so. This is all your ego talking.

    “How dare they believe differently from me and call themselves Christians!”

  • No, again Spud, it’s “How dare they not adhere to what the Bible teaches.” Try to catch on hon.

  • “I do not permit a woman to teach or to assume authority over a man; she must be quiet.”
    And yet, here you are, talking, talking, TALKING, telling men what to think and what to do.
    You don’t actually believe your own bible, do you, woman?

  • If you understood what you are trying to make a mockery of, you would understand that those prohibitions are for in church. Do you consider this to be a church setting Ben?

  • There you go again. Presuming to lecture a man in a religious matter.

    Nowhere in the quoted sentence is church mentioned. But even so…

    The whole concept that women should not be the equals of men, as proposed by a man who clearly lived in a society that believed that women were property, is not what I would call a respectable belief. It doesn’t speak well of your faith.

  • 1 Corinthians 14:34 Let your women keep silence in the churches: for it is not permitted unto them to speak; but they are commanded to be under obedience as also saith the law.
    Women are equal to men. We just have different responsibilities.

  • Sandi, thee is not understanding biblical language. This passage and the passage thee quotes below are saying that none, male or female, are to speak in meetings for worship unless commanded of Christ. Christ, the bridegroom, is the husband and we of the church are the bride.

  • No Edward. Women are not allowed to speak in the church or have authority over a man. I think you are confusing this with 1 Corinthians, but it isn’t.
    Paul emphasized it by saying that a deacon must be the man of one wife

  • No, Sandi. Thee is the one who is confused. Women had a place in Christ’s church from the beginning. It was only after the Roman empire took over that women were pushed out.

  • Yes, as Paul was setting up the church he directed that women would not speak in the church or have authority over men, my friend.

  • But it was Christ who set up the church and none is to have authority over us, men or women, but Christ himself.

  • Ah, but Paul, after spending 3 years with the Lord, was to set up the gentile church, edward.

  • 2 Peter 3 says that Paul has said some things that are hard to understand and the ignorant and unstable twist them to their own destruction. This is such a case where evil people twist the gospel and unfortunately thee has fallen for the lies that others tell. Forget about what mere humans say and listen to Christ. He will guide thee. He has work for thee.

  • I am not listening to men, but to God edward. Perhaps you had best check your sources.
    1 Corinthians 14: 33 For God is not a God of confusion but of peace.
    As in all the churches of the saints, 34 the women should keep silent in the churches. For they are not permitted to speak, but should be in submission, as the Law also says. 35 If there is anything they desire to learn, let them ask their husbands at home. For it is shameful for a woman to speak in church.

  • Yes, thee is making the point I started with. We are all to keep silent in church until Christ leads us to speak. We are all confused when we try to speak with our own notions, but when we listen to Christ Jesus, our husband, he gives us words to speak and we have peace.

  • No….men are allowed to speak in the church. Read more of Paul. Read Peter. They taught. They weren’t waiting for the Holy Spirit to come down and dictate. They taught.

  • Isn’t it weird how gods never write books – men do. Why is it that the supposed all-powerful creators of everything, can’t write? YHWH didn’t write the Torah – men did. Jesus didn’t write the bible – men did. Allah didn’t write the Quran – men did. And Zeus never wrote any of his holy books either – men did. So why can’t gods write anything without the help of men? They also never talk. They are all mutes. Why is it that the supposed all-powerful creator of everything, can’t talk? They need people just like you to talk on their behalf. Do you think it is because they are ALL fictional?

  • If they were not waiting for the Holy Spirit, they were not teaching for God. The problem with the pretend churches is that they think they can send a man off to their colleges and that equips him to speak for God. So sad that so many are misled.

  • Thus disunity. There is no attempt to treat people other than human, there is simply the determination that there are particular rules and standards within a given body, when members of that body refuse to conform to the commonly consented rules, they then place themselves outside the pale.

  • Ben, I’d like to interject a note, the passage that Sandi is referring to speaks specifically to when members are gathered in a spiritual assembly, not on an internet forum, for what its worth. It may not mention an assembly, but that is clearly the context of the passage, taking into account both what is said before it and after it. On the other hand, I’ve rarely seen that stricture practiced.

  • I’m sorry for you Edward. You are misguided. If you are just sitting in a building waiting for the Holy Spirit to say something, you are missing out on a lot and that explains why you don’t understand what I am saying. Blessings to you edward.

  • You are following satan’s cult perfectly – deny, deny, deny. Jesus healed my Dad, that’s all I know.

  • Satan is fictional. I deny his existence as much as the existence of your invisible friend.

    You god didn’t heal your dad – doctors did. If your god had healed your dad, he never would have gone to see doctors.

    I doubt that you will understand this, but here goes anyway: So if your god cures anyone of illness, the assumption is that they will continue to live a longer life then if they had not been cured by your god. As an example, assume that someone with a particular illness would have died at 20, but due to your god’s intervention, lived to be 21. Now if you average all those that died earlier because your god did not perform any miracles, and compared that number to all those in which your god did perform miracles, the number for the group in which your god performed miracles should be larger. Unfortunately, it is not. And thus, there is no evidence your god performs miracles.

  • I understand what thee is saying, Sandi. Read thy Bible thru Jesus’s eyes and don’t let those so called preachers in those so called churches convince thee that the Bible is teaching something that it is not teaching. It may take a while, but thee will get there. Blessings to thee also, Sandi.

  • What convoluted logic, Nogods. Thee would make science thy god, but thee does not understand science well enough to know that every day we live is a miracle.

  • “What convoluted logic, Nogods.”

    That’s strange, you completely forgot to mention how anything I wrote is wrong. What happened?

    “Thee would make science thy god,”

    Sorry, I don’t worship anything. But science certainly has healed BILLIONS of people. Your god – ZERO.

    “but thee does not understand science well enough to know that every day we live is a miracle.”

    Miracles are magic. And magic only exists in your imagination.

    Isn’t it interesting to think that there have been thousands of early questions about our universe that were once explained as “the work of god”. But as we became more educated and learned more about our world, those supernatural answers were replaced with real world answers. The interesting part of this however, is that during this time, NONE of those early questions were actually found to be the work of a god; “God” has NEVER turned out to actually be a correct answer to any question – EVER.

    The god of the bible is no different then the thousands of other gods we now classify as mythology. It really is that simple.

  • Second person singular is thou, thee, thy, thine. There are regional variations, and thou is often now replaced with thee.

  • It is so easy to prove that God does not exist. Just create a definition of something that does not exist and name it God. Problem is that does not do anything to demolish the God that does exist and can change thy heart and make thee love everybody.

  • Prove that your god is the one real one. I will get you started:
    1. My god is real because______. The evidence supporting this claim is as follows ______.
    2. My god is real because______. The evidence supporting this claim is as follows ______.
    3. My god is real because______. The evidence supporting this claim is as follows ______.
    Keep going until you run out of reasons. Then we will talk about your poor reasons and your complete lack of evidence.

  • Your god is just as real as Zeus. Just as invisible. Just as magical. Answers prayers at just the same rate. Just as non existent.

  • Jesus healed your Dad? Then explain to me how Jesus every day DOESN’T HEAL thousands of sick and dying children all over the world.

  • Roberta, it would not be a miracle if it happened every day. I don’t tell God what to do. He loves us enough to know what we need.

  • I’m not going to contradict what I believe the bible teaches about a host of spiritual issues, especially within the community of believers. But nothing is to be gained by pointing fingers and using hateful language, particularly towards those outside that community. I prefer nuanced conversations, and a polite regard for those with whom I disagree. For my own part, I have a tremendously difficult time living by the standards that I believe are incumbent on the genuine Christian, hence my frequent Mea Culpa’s.

  • So, we should just ignore passages? The Bible is supposed to be some sacred “holy book”. There are no passages that should be ignored. Every verse is supposedly a nugget from god. There are other equally disgusting verses/stories in the bible. How about the story of Lot having sex with his daughters and they get pregnant? Absolutely revolting.

  • I have read the Qu’ran, but that irrelevant to how disgusting the bible is. Both books are horrible, filled with death, rape, incest, pedophilia, and fanciful stories.

  • The #1 cause of death for children in the world is starvation so god isn’t aware they need to eat? Children are sold into sex slavery, forced into being child soldiers, even have to kill their own parents. Every day innocent children are raped, beaten, starved, tortured and your god just watches, and does nothing to intervene. A father is supposed to protect his children from harm and take care of them. Your god does neither of these things—but he loves us soooo much.

  • Then why didn’t god answer the prayers of the dozens of parents of children I’ve cared for in an intensive care unit? Those children suffered and most died horribly but your dad was saved. Come on. How about everyone else who dies of cancer? In the world, that’s 8.2 MILLION people every year. That’s a lot of unanswered prayers.

  • His “way” is horrible. His “way” is evidently to sit up on his throne and look down on all the horrors below and do nothing to stop any of it. He watches two years being raped for some child porn video and doesn’t lift a mighty finger to stop it. That’s a sick and twisted god you got there.

  • The world has chosen sin, Roberta. That was not God’s choice for us, but we made it for ourselves. All have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God. So, some people will hurt children, and repeatedly. These are the choices that they make, not God. God will help those children in ways you will never understand. But, He probably won’t do it when and how You want Him to. Luke 17:2 – New International Version
    It would be better for them to be thrown into the sea with a millstone tied around their neck than to cause one of these little ones to stumble.
    God’s ways are not our ways and we probably won’t understand them until we get to Heaven, but that does not mean that He does not love us.

  • It would not be a miracle if it happened every day. Also, if things like this didn’t happen, some people would never realize how much they need Jesus.

  • And don’t forget the non-Christians around here. Less genteel even on their good hair days.

  • That’s your lame excuse, that it wouldn’t be a miracle if all those prayers were answered? So what if god performed miracles for all those people? What would that hurt if god healed them? We clearly don’t need Jesus since he’s never around when you need him. Where was he for all those Yazidi girls ISIS took into slavery, raped and beat to death? Some of them were as young as seven. Where was Jesus for the people in Nice when that terrorist crushed them to death? Seems like Jesus is pretty useless. Jesus/god doesn’t heal millions of people’s cancer. Jesus/god let’s young girls be taken and used as sex slaves. But Jesus/god cured your dad of cancer, cause he/they care so much.

  • God set up this whole enchilada. Anything that happens here is his doing. Either he’s an all powerful, all controlling God, or he isn’t. You can’t have it both ways. He’s responsible for everything that happens here. We just do what he designed us to do, but he’s punishing us for being what he created. That makes a lot of sense. /sarcasm God will help those children in ways I can’t understand? That’s your pathetic excuse for God’s allowing innocents to be be tortured, raped, starved and abused? Wow. But all will be explained when we get to heaven? I’m sorry, but there is no explanation I would be satisfied with. There is no excuse for a god to sit back and watch the horrors that take place on earth and do nothing. You are very misguided if you think this god of yours is a god of love. You have a perverted version of what love is.

  • No. God loves you enough to give you free will. Some people choose sin and do awful things with that sin. God does not want a bunch of robots worshipping Him. He wants the real you – the one He loves.

  • God heals many people without them even knowing it. It was a miracle to us to one day see the cancer on an ex-ray and then two weeks later nothing.
    Those people were a powerful witness for Jesus, Roberta and what happened to them should not be trivialized. If God allows this to happen to His, what do you think will be the end result for those who do not love Him?

  • There are so few cases of spontaneous cure of cancer they are talked about in medical textbooks. Everyone who is cured of cancer had chemo, surgery and/or radiation, or some alternative treatment. God didn’t heal them. I know. I work in the medical field. When you get cancer, don’t get medical treatment, instead let god heal you. Here’s my prediction of that outcome: You will die of cancer because prayer and “belief” don’t make diseases go away.

  • You didn’t respond to what I said. God sits up there on his mighty throne and watches innocent children be raped, murdered, tortured and does nothing. The “free will” thing is irrelevant, since you’re talking about the free will of the child abusers. What about the children? They are still being abused. Where’s their loving father who is supposed to protect and care for them when they are being sold into sex slavery?

  • Prove it. Certainly a miracle like this should be shared with everyone. Show us the medical records he had cancer, and that he received no medical treatment of any kind, just prayer. Then show us the proof he has no cancer.

  • No, I’m asking YOU to explain this. You’re the only here making these outlandish claims that prayer works, Jesus heals cancer, and God is “loving”. Jesus isn’t here in this discussion.

  • Roberta, all I’ve heard from you is anger with Jesus. I suggest that you take your problems with Him, up with Him. I don’t know if He will hear you or not, but I have prayed for you and that He would help you. Blessings.

  • I take that as a no then. You’re not going to prove your father was cured of cancer by some miracle. I can’t be angry with a fictional character like Jesus. That would be like saying I’m mad at Harry Potter.

  • My difficulty is with you. Jesus isn’t part of this conversation. I don’t even think he exists, so I can hardly have difficulty with him.

  • Next time you want to make a wild claim about miracles, be prepared to back it up with solid evidence. Otherwise, STFU. We don’t want to hear it.

  • If it happened then you need to share this miracle with the rest of world. Why wouldn’t you want to show everyone how this great thing happened? why? Because you don’t have any proof he was cured by god or Jesus. You just want to claim he was.

  • Well, then what is the link to the webpage with all his medical records, test results and doctor’s sworn statements that his cancer was cured by a miracle and not medicine? This is how you prove it, otherwise, you’re just talk-talking. No one believes you.

  • Honey, I told you. Your hatred about the reality of this will drive you to tell others about it – furthering the reality that Jesus will heal us – maybe not all of us, but Jesus does heal. Truth is, if no one believes me, that’s fine also because the same thing will happen, and Jesus name will be getting out there. That’s what matters.

  • I think the hardest part is getting past seeing this life as the “main part” or the end-all. If you see this life as everything there is then God looks like an evil tyrant or a uninterested jerk. If you see this as only the beginning, the “intro” essentially, then it all starts to make a fair bit more sense. Still, it’s not called “faith” for nothing. We can prove Jesus existed, we can prove the authors of the gospels wrote what they wrote around that time and we can prove that most of the events discussed did occur (the New Testament is one of the most accurate ancient documents in human history, even secular historians will say so). But none of that proves that God is real or that Jesus is his Son. That’s were the faith comes in.

  • “I think the hardest part is getting past seeing this life as the “main part” or the end-all.”

    Right, because that requires someone to use their imagination.

    “If you see this life as everything there is then God looks like an evil tyrant or a uninterested jerk.”

    What god are you talking about? Thor or Zeus?

    “If you see this as only the beginning, the “intro” essentially, then it all starts to make a fair bit more sense.”

    No, it really doesn’t. And the problem with your view is that it is rooted in a fantasy world. You have ZERO evidence of anything living after death. There is no physics that allows for that. That belief is just an ancient superstitious belief.

    “Still, it’s not called “faith” for nothing.”

    Indeed, it is. And faith is a fancy word for wishful thinking. It is the absolute lowest standard of evidence as it requires NO evidence. There is just as much evidence supporting the existence of flying purple fairies that orbit the earth as there is supporting the existence of your god. So if it is irrational to believe that purple fairies are real, it is also irrational to think gods are real and to organize your life around them.

    “We can prove Jesus existed”

    Not really.

    “we can prove the authors of the gospels wrote what they wrote around that time and we can prove that most of the events discussed did occur (the New Testament is one of the most accurate ancient documents in human history, even secular historians will say so).”

    You are very wrong. The magical aspects of Christianity are obviously false. Here are simple facts you MUST ADMIT ARE TRUE:

    1. YOU MUST ADMITTED THAT AT LEAST SOME OF THE SUPERNATURAL CLAIMS MADE IN THE BIBLE ARE FALSE. This would include such things as the story of Adam and Eve (science is ABSOLUTELY CERTAIN that Adam and Eve were not the first humans and there is no evidence or reason to believe they ever existed. So the entire story of jesus is built upon this false premiss) and noah (there is NO evidence of a world-wide flood let alone one of the proportion or duration as described in the bible.) If this is true, it places into question the reliability of ALL supernatural claims made in the bible. And the resurrection of Jesus is really the ONLY claim upon which his divinity is based.

    2. YOU MUST ADMIT THAT THE BIBLICAL ACCOUNTS OF THE RESURRECTION ARE INTERNALLY INCONSISTENT. This again is evidence that the accounts are unreliable. As an example, did Jesus ascended into heaven the day of his claimed resurrection (Luke 24:51), or 40 days later? (Acts 1:3). When Jesus died, did an earthquake open all the graves unleashing a zombie apocalypse (as recounted in Matthew). Why is that fact completely ignored by the other gospels. Was Jesus crucified on the day before Passover (John) or the day after (the other three.) Three gospels give three different versions of the last words of Jesus. Matthew says that Jesus was buried by Joseph of Arimathea. Acts claim that he was buried by Jewish strangers and their rulers. The four gospels conflict in their account of the number of women that came to the tomb Easter morning. Matthew and Mark claim that one woman was at the tomb. Luke and John claim there were two. Matthew claims that the tomb was not open when they got there. The other three say that the tomb was open. There are many more contradictions. And they all can’t be right. But they all can be wrong.

    3. YOU MUST ADMIT THAT THE EARLY ROMANS REGULARLY DEIFIED MERE MORTALS. The early Romans were ABSOLUTELY CERTAIN that men could become gods and gods could become men long before the time of Jesus. Early roman gods included Julius Cesar, Caesar Augustus, and Romulus. Almost ALL roman emperors were ultimately declared gods. This supernatural claim was bestowed upon virtually ANYONE who showed some type of special skill or authority. Thus, bestowing this title upon Jesus would be NOTHING unusual.

    And as it turned out, the early Romans were ABSOLUTELY WRONG about all these other gods. But these were the EXACT SAME people that claimed that jesus rose from the dead and proclaimed him a god, just as they had proclaimed many others before and after him. And just as these early Romans were ABSOLUTELY WRONG in their evaluation of the evidence as to the existence of all the other roman gods, they were ABSOLUTELY WRONG in their evaluation of the evidence about your god and his resurrection.

    4. YOU MUST ADMIT THAT THE EARLY ROMANS ERRONEOUSLY BELIEVED IN THE EXISTENCE OF MANY GODS. Romans were ABSOLUTELY CERTAIN that Jupiter was a real god. They believed that for a thousand years, even in the face of uncontrovertibly evidence that their polytheistic beliefs were wrong. But as you must admit, the early Romans were ABSOLUTELY WRONG about all these other gods. But these were the EXACT SAME people that claimed that jesus rose from the dead and was a god. But this is the EXACT same claim they had made about many gods before him. And just as these early Romans were ABSOLUTELY WRONG in their evaluation of the evidence as to the existence of all the other roman gods, they were ABSOLUTELY WRONG in their evaluation of the evidence about your god and his resurrection.

    5. YOU MUST ADMIT THAT THE EARLY ROMANS ATTRIBUTED SUPERNATURAL EXPLANATIONS TO OBVIOUSLY NON SUPERNATURAL EVENTS. At the time jesus arrived, the early Roman culture was awash in erroneous supernatural beliefs. The early Romans attributed supernatural causes to natural events. This was typical of virtually all pre-modern cultures. The cultural acceptance of these beliefs was further reinforced by the government and were just a simple part of every day life. Thus, attributing a supernatural explanation to almost any event was nothing unusual. This would include attributing supernatural explanations to stories related to Jesus.

    6. YOU MUST ADMIT THAT THE STORIES DOCUMENTING THE RESURRECTION WERE NOT MEMORIALIZED UNTIL 30 TO 90 YEARS AFTER THE CLAIMED EVENTS HAPPENED AND INVARIABLY DO NOT ACCURATELY DOCUMENT THE EVENTS. Without a doubt, the oral tradition that perpetuated the stories was embellished and modified as it was passed along. The inconsistencies in the gospels clearly demonstrates this.

    7. YOU MUST ADMIT THAT JESUS WAS NOT REGARDED AS A GOD DURING HIS LIFE TIME BUT WAS ONLY ELEVATED TO THAT STATUS DECADES AFTER HIS DEATH. It was not until the 4th century that the roman ruling class defined the supernatural nature of Jesus.

    8. YOU MUST ADMIT THAT THERE ARE NO CONTEMPORANEOUS OR RELIABLE EXTRA BIBLICAL ACCOUNTS OF THE RESURRECTION THOUGH THIS IS THE MOST IMPORTANT ASPECT OF HIS PERSONA AND THE PENULTIMATE EVENT THAT MADE HIM A GOD. While there are extra biblical accounts referencing Jesus, NONE of them are contemporaneous (most being written many decades after his death), NONE claim to be first-hand accounts, and NO RELIABLE writing reference ANY supernatural aspects of his life. Though one would suspect that if the claim were true, there would have been MANY contemporaneous writings, written first-hand, and the alleged supernatural aspects of his persona would have been the FOCUS of any extra biblical account.

    9. YOU MUST ADMIT THAT CRUCIFIXION WAS COMMON IN THE EARLY ROMAN EMPIRE AND THAT ONLY ONE BODY EVIDENCING DEATH BY CRUCIFIXION HAS EVER BEEN FOUND. Detailed historical records document that during the early Roman Empire, THOUSANDS of people were crucified. And of those THOUSANDS that were crucified, only ONE body has EVER been discovered. If a missing body is evidence of resurrection, then THOUSANDS of other people have also rose from the dead.

    10. YOU MUST ADMIT THAT EYEWITNESS ACCOUNTS ARE ONE OF THE MOST UNRELIABLE FORMS OF EVIDENCE. Empirical studies have consistently shown that eye witness accounts, while highly valued, are the most unreliable form of evidence. This is especially true when the claimed events occurred in the prescientific age and involve an uneducated and illiterate population easily swayed by claims of the supernatural. To this day, comparable indigenous populations are easily convinced of all kinds of comparably ridiculous claims. This fact is equally true of highly educated people living today.

    11. YOU MUST ADMIT THAT PEOPLE DIE EVERY DAY HARBORING MISTAKEN BELIEFS. In defense of the resurrection, Christians often ask, why would the disciples of Jesus sacrifice their lives over a belief they knew was false. But that is simply the wrong question to ask. The disciples of Jesus believed Jesus rose from the dead. But their belief was just wrong. So the disciples of Jesus were willing to sacrifice their lives for a MISTAKEN BELIEF. This happens every day. Just ask ISIS members about that. They think they are fighting for a god that you know isn’t real. You also know that there will be no 72 virgins waiting for them. And just like the followers of Jesus, the members of ISIS are willing to die for a mistaken belief.

    12. YOU MUST ADMIT THAT MILLIONS OF PEOPLE CONTESTED THE DIVINITY OF JESUS IMMEDIATELY AFTER HIS DEATH AND SUPPOSED RESURRECTION. Christians are quick to claim that if Jesus did not in fact rise from the dead, people living at that time would have contested such false claims. It is UNDENIABLE that millions of people did just that: they were called the Jews. The Jews who were alive at that time, AND EVEN TO THIS DAY, deny that Jesus rose from the dead, that he is the son of god, or that he is god in the flesh. Jesus, if he was a historical figure at all, was at most, one preacher among many at that time, spreading the gospel of a Jewish sect. But he certainly wasn’t a god, and the Jews living at that time knew that and reject that claim.

    13. YOU MUST ADMIT THAT THE NON APPEARANCE OF JESUS FOR THE PAST 2,000 YEARS, IS COMPELLING EVIDENCE THAT HE IS STILL DEAD. Over the past 2,000 years, BILLIONS of Christians have believed that Jesus would return during their lifetime. And EVERY SINGLE ONE OF THEM have gone to their graves COMPLETELY WRONG. Dead people don’t come back to life. Believing that they do is a superstitious belief that has ALWAYS been wrong. At most, Jesus was just a man. And as a man, a rational person would conclude that if he were killed, he would never be returning. The complete absence of Jesus for the past two-thousand years is overwhelming evidence consistent with this idea.

    14. YOU MUST ADMIT THAT A REAL GOD COULD IMMEDIATELY AND UNEQUIVOCALLY CONVINCE EVERYONE THAT HE WAS REAL. There are an infinite variety of things a real god could do that would immediately and unequivocally convince everyone of his existence. During his lifetime, Jesus was only able to convince a handful of people that were his most loyal followers that he was a god. Even after his death and supposed resurrection, very few people believed that he was a god and most of the world had absolutely no knowledge of him and certainly didn’t regard him as a god. Even to this day, about 4.5 billion people don’t regard him as a god. Most importantly, his supposedly chosen people, the Jews, don’t even think that he was a god. These are difficulties that a real god would never face.

    The god of Christianity is no different than all the other gods most people already accept are fictional. It really is that simple.

    “But none of that proves that God is real or that Jesus is his Son. That’s were the faith comes in.”

    Yes, wishful thinking is all you have. That’s all the early Romans and the Greeks had with their gods as well. And we both know how that all turned out.

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