Donald Trump is not a Christian, but he knows what the religious right needs to hear, says historian

Historian Matthew Bowman.

Donald Trump is not a Christian, but he understands what white Protestants long for, says historian Matthew Bowman, author of Christian: The Politics of a Word in America, just out from Harvard University Press.

The book traces more than 150 years of American history to understand the way the word “Christian” has gotten tangled up with a particular view of civilization that places—you guessed it!—white Protestants at the pinnacle of civilization. -- JKR


RNS: Why this book?

Bowman: The genesis was really 7 or 8 years ago when I read a news story about Anne Rice, the vampire novelist, who had announced that though she looked to Jesus for her salvation, she was no longer a Christian. She said,

"In the name of Christ, I refuse to be anti-gay. I refuse to be anti-feminist. I refuse to be anti-artificial birth control. I refuse to be anti-Democrat. I refuse to be anti-secular humanism. I refuse to be anti-science. I refuse to be anti-life."

She was doing something similar to a lot of people on the left who have more or less accepted that those on the Christian right are the arbiters of what is Christian and what is not.

And I wanted to investigate that, not only to think about the plentitude of Christianities there are in America, but also to explore the genealogy of her idea. How is it that the religious right came to be so powerful that even opponents of the religious right came to accept its definitions?

RNS: So they are setting the agenda and the language for how “Christian” is now defined?

Bowman: Not necessarily. Certainly the religious right is a powerful cultural voice that is offering its own definition of what it means to be Christian, but at the same time historically speaking, and even politically speaking, in America today, they are not the only voice. And indeed there are many people who call themselves Christians who don’t consider the religious right Christian.

So I was interested in documenting the multiplicity of voices, and demonstrating that “Christian” is a contested concept. But also I wanted to look at how it was the religious right became so powerful.

RNS: What surprised you?

Bowman: The word “Christian” is essentially entangled with other concepts that we use to imagine what it means to be an American, concepts like race and civilization, and what it means to be civilized, and what it means to be free.

So as we seek to understand what “Christian” means, we have to look at Christianity as a tool that Americans have used to explain these other concepts. Arguments about what it means to be Christian are arguments about what it means to be democratic and what it means to be American, more broadly.

RNS: How far back are we talking?

Bowman: I start after the Civil War, and the book begins by looking at the ways the language of Christianity was being used by Americans who were trying to imagine what the country would be like now, after this trauma. The word “Christian” became especially bound to a concept of “western civilization”—what it meant to be western and what it meant to be civilized. Americans draw a lot from Christianity to help them formulate these definitions.

For white Protestants, what it meant to be western and what it meant to be free became very bound to Protestantism, so they focused on individual liberty, spiritual self-determination, and moral behavior.

Other groups, though, tried to revise that definition of western civilization—Roman Catholics defined freedom in different ways, and they rooted freedom’s origins not in the Protestant reformation, but in medieval Catholicism. And black Americans rejected the notion of western civilization entirely, arguing that Christianity was not bound to a particular definition from the West, but was tied to Africa. So we see the ways in which arguments about Christianity and what it meant to be a Christian are really entangled.

RNS: What’s going on with the definition of Christianity in America right now, in our crazy political climate?

Bowman: One thing I try to do in the introduction and the conclusion to the book is to show how thinking about debates over Christianity are useful to thinking about how Donald Trump got elected president.

It’s common among opponents of Trump, and those who see that 80% of evangelicals voted for him, to say those voters are un-Christian. But I think what Trump represented to them—in his opposition to immigration particularly—was a defense of western civilization as they imagined it. They wound notions of freedom and democracy into that heritage. Trump’s willingness to embrace nativism showed that he understood that

He was not someone who was personally a Christian, but he was someone who showed that he knew the power of calling America a Christian civilization.

RNS: You’re writing as a Mormon, a group that evangelicals have often positioned outside their definition of “Christian.” How does that influence your understanding of this history?

Bowman: My background as a Mormon, and my work on Mormonism that preceded this book, attuned me to these questions of definition, and made me willing to consider the term “Christian” as something without a settled definition, something that’s always contested by both groups: those in power and those not.

Also, these debates have made me more skeptical of assuming that there can be a consensus theological definition of what it means to be a Christian. The Christian tradition is too variegated and diverse for even self-professed Christians to ever come to an agreement about what the word means.


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  1. That last paragraph says it all and underscores exactly why America should remain the great pluralistic nation it has always been and not a Christian theocracy. Were that to happen, who would get to decide which version of Christianity becomes the “official, state-sanctioned one?” He who barks the loudest and longest? She with the most money?

    The whole idea of Christian nationalism is absurd, especially since it is America’s long tradition of religious tolerance that has made her among the most religious countries in the world in terms of practice. It has also been one of our greatest strengths in attracting the best and brightest from around the world. That irony seems lost on those adherents of Christian nationalism who form the nucleus of Donald Trump’s base.

  2. While I agree with the evangelical definition of Christianity, I actually prefer the original 5 tenets of Christian Fundamentalism, they have sabotaged their own credibility by tightly binding their conservative faith with conservative political ideology and parties. By doing so, they have given Trump such a wide margin for error for gaining their support. In other words, Trump doesn’t have to be politically savvy to maintain evangelical support.

    But many of my fellow evangelicals who have all but conflated conservative Christianity with conservative politics face another problem caused by their political leanings. They ensure that conservative Church growth will strongly tend to involve political conservatives. Thus, they are providing obstacles to effectively sharing the Gospel with political nonconservatives whether those nonconservatives are political liberals or leftists.

  3. ““In the name of Christ, I refuse to be anti-gay. I refuse to be anti-feminist. I refuse to be anti-artificial birth control. I refuse to be anti-Democrat. I refuse to be anti-secular humanism. I refuse to be anti-science. I refuse to be anti-life.” Worded a little crudely, but, sounds like she rejected Christ.

  4. Christian
    1 Peter 4:16 ESV
    Yet if anyone suffers as a Christian, let him not be ashamed, but let him glorify God in that name.

    Acts 11:26 ESV
    And when he had found him, he brought him to Antioch. For a whole year they met with the church and taught a great many people. And in Antioch the disciples were first called Christians.

    The young man wants to look at the term historically, then lets look historically – not just as far back as will meet what he wants to say.
    Initially, “Christian” was a derogatory term for followers of Christ, and then apparently it grew on them.
    All “Christian” means, is follower of Christ and Anne Rice, with her rejection of His values, cannot call herself a Christian.

  5. You miss the point of the article. Rice refuses those thing as not being part of the Christianity she claims. They are, of course, key parts of certain brands of Christianity, but they are not characteristic of all brands of Christianity.

  6. No – she rejected a barbaric, inhumane and selfish view of Christ.

    It is often a halfway house for decent people on their route out of superstitious mis-belief.

  7. With the arguable exception of secular humanism, neither Christ nor the near universal creed of Christians for over a millenium and a half was anti any of those things. The Nicene Creed was accepted as a statement of the faith by Christians through schisms and bloody reformations. No mentiom of gays, sex, “women’s place”, birth control, science, or any political party. The first humanists were, in fact, devout Christians with an optimistic, rather than pessimistic, view of human nature. So what set if facts, exactly, are you basing your opinion?

  8. I don’t know why you’re surprised. The 5 fundamentals were stated a century ago and represented a geographically, ethnically, and theologically narrow definition of Christianity that excluded the vast majority of Christians who exist or who ever existed. So the theological heirs of the originators of those “fundamentals” adhering to a narrow definition of what they consider Christian shouldn’t ne shocking.

  9. Momotwins,
    I didn’t say I was surprised. And yes, fundamentalism of over century ago narrowed the definition of Christianity. But that narrowing wasn’t necessarily a bad thing especially if it kept sufficiently close ties with Christianity’s original definition. Too much departure from the past can sever one’s connection with that past.

  10. But it didn’t keep close ties. It declared the vast majority of Christians living at the time and the vast majority who had ever lived as non Christian. It was an enormous departure.

  11. “So what set if facts, exactly, are you basing your opinion?”

    You are wasting your time asking Sandi such a question. She does not treat such things honestly or sanely.

  12. He’s insightful. Hope the book gets lots of readers. Thanks for highlighting it.

  13. Momotwins,
    And doesn’t the legitimacy of Fundamentalism’s declaration depend on how close or far away mainline Christianity was to its original roots? IS Christanity a waxed nose that allows us to make of it what we want without regard for the past?

  14. Having actually read the church fathers and studied church history, the 5 fundamentals are not, in gact, closer to the “original” Christianity than the much older traditions they contradict. The Nicene Creed was written in 381. I’m not sure why you would think something written a mere hundred years ago is closer to “original” Christianity than that. Or Augustine. Or Athanasius. Or Tertullian.

  15. MomoTwins,
    Then you are going to have to be specific and provide documentation. But original Christianity goes to the Apostles and he gospels.

  16. Hmm. The guy says Trump is not a Christian, but at the end of the interview, he says that nobody can agree on what the word “Christian” even means.

    So, given what he said there, exactly how does this guy know that Trump is not a Christian?

  17. Or the last guard-rail before they drive their car off the cliff.

  18. Momotwins,
    I mentioned the Apostles, didn’t I? What is it that Paul wrote that disagrees with any of the 5 tenets of Christian Fundamentalism?

  19. exactly. In so doing, she has lost the real idea behind Christianity: to Love God, and love our neighbor as ourselves. Not being a born again believer, she just sees how Christian morals affect her free will and eschews them. As is what all those who kick against the goad do.

  20. Why, the same way se know how so many Christians aren’t Christians.
    By their behavior.
    by the projection of their own faults onto others.
    By refusing to obey their own rules, and finding any excuse possible for not doing so.,.
    By warning us about the anti-Christ for 2000 years, and when he finally shows up, voting for him.
    By denouncing other Christians for not being the right sort of Christian.

  21. There are brands of Christianity? Who knew? /s

  22. Or just decent people, like yourself.
    Plenty of conservative Christians– and I know a few of them– thought that Christianity was much better before it became a political party.

  23. Actually, had she known Christ, she wouldn’t have believed the trash she spews

  24. She did call upon the Name of Jesus the Christ. Perhaps you were too ready to condemn those with eyes to see, but who don’t see what you see.

  25. Interesting answer. You don’t care what or how this particular author is thinking, nor are you interested to resolve the issue brought up by the author’s own words.

    You seem to just wanna re-hash what Always-Angry-Ben is thinking. Many times, on many days, I’m sincerely interested in that too, as our many discussions attest.

    But today, I’m holding out for an answer based on this author’s positions. You can resolve this one, or you can’t. We’ll see.

  26. Re: “But I think what Trump represented to them—in his opposition to immigration particularly—was a defense of western civilization as they imagined it.” 

    Precisely where, within any of Jesus’ reported teachings, did he say anything even remotely concerned with defending “western civilization”? Far from “defending” the civilization of his time, Jesus condemned it, ordering his followers to prepare, instead, for the arrival of “the kingdom of heaven” or “of God” (depending on the gospel). He explicitly said his own civilization wouldn’t outlast the people to whom he spoke: 

    “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.” (Mt 16:28) 

    And Jesus was saying to them, “Truly I say to you, there are some of those who are standing here who will not taste death until they see the kingdom of God after it has come with power.” (Mk 9:1) 

    “But I say to you truthfully, there are some of those standing here who will not taste death until they see the kingdom of God.” (Lk 9:27) 

    Given all of this, trying to defend and perpetuate something that Jesus Christ explicitly said was doomed by none other than the Almighty himself, is something no true Christian ought to wish to do. But hey, what could this cynical, cold-hearted, godless agnostic heathen possibly know about such important, sacred notions? 

  27. Re: “So, given what he said there, exactly how does this guy know that Trump is not a Christian?” 

    He doesn’t … at all. He’s just appealing to the old “No True Scotsman” fallacy. He wants people not to think poorly of his religion (or perhaps more importantly, him) because of the Apricot Wonder. Too bad so sad for him, that simply doesn’t work. 

    There is a workable definition of “Christian,” and it’s based on the etymology of the word. It comes to us from Latin christianus which came, in turn, from Greek χριστιανος (christianos) which is the genitive of χριστος (christos), “the annointed” (Greek jargon for Hebrew “messiah”), an epithet for Jesus. Thus, it means “of” or “from Christ” aka “from” or “of Jesus.” Applied to a person, then, it means someone who is “from Jesus the Christ,” that is, a follower of him and his teachings. 

    Semantically, this is precise. Where it gets dicey lies in what it means to be a follower of Christ. That, I’m afraid, is pretty open. One can read Jesus’ teachings however one wishes to, and then apply them in whatever manner one wants. Thus, one Christian’s version of Christianity can be very different from that of another … yet both may well believe themselves to be following Jesus Christ and his teachings exactly and sincerely. Without being able to read their minds and determine how genuine they are about it, there’s literally no way for anyone else to know if any given Christian is sincerely following Jesus’ teachings. 

    For that reason … anyone is a Christian who says s/he’s a Christian. That’s all there is to it, and there’s no way for anyone else ever to know differently. The Apricot Wonder has said he’s a Christian — and even more, a champion and defender of Christianity — so that means he’s a Christian. For better or worse, that’s just how it is. 

    Now … if it turns out that there are a lot of Christians who think the Apricot Wonder isn’t truly following their Jesus and thus isn’t a “true” Christian, it’s up to them to do something about it. They can, and should, correct him as to what Jesus taught and stood for. They should discipline him if he continues to misrepresent their faith, and force him to change his ways until he finally manages to live as they think Jesus taught. 

    I get that none of them actually wish to do that. It would necessarily involve a confrontation they’re likely too cowardly to want to undertake. But since that’s the case, it means they forfeit any chance to disavow him. This, in turn, means he belongs to them, and whatever he says and does, as a Christian, will reflect on them as well. 

    Any Christians who — despite this reality — continue to disavow him and dismiss him as “not a Christian,” are doing exactly what the Wizard did, in The Wizard of Oz, when he intoned, “Pay no attention to that man behind the curtain.” This request didn’t work in the movie, and it doesn’t work any better in real life, either. It may not seem fair, but that’s just how things are. The sooner Christians admit this, and figure out how to deal with it, the better off they’ll be. 

  28. here is the latest on Trump and Christianity.

    When tsunami-stopping and ant-reviving pastor Frank Amedia appeared on “The Jim Bakker Show”, he was joined by several members of his POTUS Shield organization, who collectively engaged in an extended prayer to protect President Trump from the “evil forces” of the deep state, in addition to the “witches and warlocks” who have been cursing him.

    “We lift up witches and warlocks who have been a part of this assignment,” [Bishop Harry] Jackson said, “as they have gathered in numbers almost immeasurable to curse this specific president.”

    “We cancel, we bind their authority, we bind their curses, we lift up your word that says you shall not revile the gods and neither shall you bring a curse upon the rule of God’s people. We declare those assignments null and void and we claim the souls of many of the witches and warlocks.”
    This is me again. witches and warlocks in almost immeasurable numbers. You can’t make this stuff up. But apparently, THEY can.

  29. At least as much as a “True Christian” (TM)

    check out my post above.

  30. Exactly what I responded to Floyd below, but without the snark and in far greater detail.

  31. you can see what psicop wrote above. That would be my answer, if I had the patience to write it out.

  32. there are many who proclaim Christ, yet refuse to follow Him.

  33. now floydee……rule number one with liberals, is?

  34. ok….you do know rule # 1 with liberals 🙂

  35. This message is one I’ve given, in many Internet venues, for many years now. Unfortunately I know of no Christians who’ve ever taken my advice and actually corrected any of their supposedly-wayward co-believers. At this point I’m convinced they’re all either cowards … unwilling to take on others … or they fear having this same tactic employed against them, so they don’t want to get the ball rolling, themselves. 

    Either way, as I’ve also said many times previously as well: They obviously don’t respect their own religion enough to police it. This, in turn, means they can’t rationally expect outside observers of Christianity, such as myself, to respect Christianity, or them for believing in it. Ultimately, Christianity is (in essence) cavernous and hollow. To paraphrase Shakespeare,”it is a tale told by an id–t, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing.” That is what “Christianity” has become, due to Christians’ own refusal to make their religion actually mean something. 

  36. Well, the hyper conservative True Christians (TM) do correct their fellow believers. They inform them that they are not true Christians and are damned to hell. Unfortunately, they are telling that to the liberal Christians for the most part, who not only don’t believe in that kind of Christianity, but are also generally nice people who don’t wish to tell everyone else what to believe or be damned for believing it.

  37. Re: “They inform them that they are not true Christians and are damned to hell.” 

    True, but that generally doesn’t change their actions or minds. Saying they’re damned is an empty threat. 

    I’m talking about taking actions which coerce changes in beliefs. There are a lot of ways to do this, large and small. Maybe one of the most obvious … and easiest to do … would be to go after people’s credentials. For instance, if some preacher says or does something inimical to what other Christians say “Christianity” is, they can try to get his/her ordination or religious academic degrees (if any) revoked. This too could be viewed as symbolic, but depending on the situation, it might have real consequences. For instance, a congregation might require preachers to have valid ordinations, so someone could end up being fired if s/he ends up being “un-ordained.” 

    That’s just one of MANY tactics that could be used … if Christians genuinely wanted to correct their co-believers. Again, I simply don’t believe they wish to do any such thing. 

  38. Well, some brave Methodists tried to follow the agreed-upon procedures to hold a certain Methodist Bishop (from their Western Jurisdiction) accountable not too long ago.

    This bishop is in clear and public violation of their Official Book of Discipline, and also the Bible itself.

    The official remedy is spelled out.
    Either repent and repudiate the behavior, period,or else stop being a bishop/pastor. BUT…

    …their high Judicial Council simply chose to kick the can down the road instead of enforcing current Methodist law. Bishop got Free Pass.

    Your post fits their quagmire, Psi.

  39. Among them the late Barry Goldwater, who warned about the dangers of the Republican party aligning itself with evangelical Protestantism. Here’s what he had to say about it in 1994:

    “When you say ‘radical right’ today, I think of these moneymaking ventures by fellows like Pat Robertson and others who are trying to take the Republican Party away from the Republican Party, and make a religious organization out of it. If that ever happens, kiss (traditional) politics goodbye.”

    Prophetic words.

  40. I haven’t a clue what you’re referring to. Nameless people and nameless organizations aren’t examples of anything that I can learn from. 

  41. I don’t presume to know what’s in the president’s heart, but based on the available evidence, I see no reason to believe he’s a Christian. He’s consistently uncharitable to others in his speech, he lies frequently, he’s a serial adulterer, he’s engaged in a plethora of unethical business practices and — last but not least — his purported Christian faith never really manifested itself in any sort of public declaration until he decided to court the evangelical vote in the 2016 campaign.

    Could he be a true Christian at heart despite these things? Sure. But if one is known by their fruits, there’s no getting around the fact that Donald Trump has produced a rotten crop.

  42. Even RNS clearly reported on the coordinated occult witch attack against the President, so please don’t pretend it never happened.

    Plus RNS separately reported on just ONE witch — famous atheist witch and journalist Sally Quinn –wit no less than 3 supernatural murders to her dirty credit.

    So Bishop Jackson and Co., **absolutely** prayed the right prayer there. Christians, take good notes.

  43. As opposed to…Trump’s still-publicly active 2016 opponent?

  44. “Supernatural murders.” Absurd. There is no devil. There are certainly witches. But they have no power except suggestion. The last time I watched The Exorcist, was home alone for a week. Laughed during most of it. Once you realize there are no supernatural forces, no demons, no guy with a pitchfork, all the effect fades. If you want scary, just deal with reality, with the narcissists, the sociopaths, the borderline personality disorder types.

  45. Are you condemning her and her work because it doesn’t fall into lock step with your rigid ideology? Who are you to question her relationship with her deity of choice? Oh… never mind, it’s not exactly like yours so she’s substandard.

  46. Ah, yes. The Trump apologist’s go-to pitch. Clinton was worse.

    If you’re looking for a Clinton defender, I’m not your guy. But this has nothing to do with her. Trump either is or isn’t Christian regardless of what Clinton is.

  47. Hi Ben,
    I really don’t consider myself that decent of a person, I have my own sins.

    Since the time of Constantine, Christianity has had to fight off the temptation of seeking political power and it hasn’t done all that well most of the time. And too many of my fellow religiously conservative Christians refuse to look at history to see the faulty patterns they are repeating.

  48. The man has stated on national TV that he has had no reason to ask your god for forgiveness. Yet if you look at his past and ongoing behavior, it easy to see that by the current Christian policies he should never be leaving his knees! Gave away the bible his mother gave him as if it is an item that should be revered, like a gold calf.

  49. I thought you kept up with the Christian news scene, PsiCop. Well, no worries.

    Simply Google the phrase “Bishop Oliveto” (or, in the alternative, you can try googling “Methodism’s Final Crash and Burn”).

  50. Precisely. And what’s true for Anne Rice is also true for Donald Trump.

  51. It remains a clearly unanswered question.

    The RNS stories of the past two weeks have made clear that some evangelicals (or other labels) intend to keep on doing public anti-Trump gigs as if the question never existed.

    So the question will keep on being publicly asked. It is what it is.

  52. It’s only a question in the first place because Trump started playing the Christian card and people like Jerry Falwell, Jr. and Pat Robertson bought into it. Otherwise, it wouldn’t be an issue.

    Personally, I don’t need to know. I just question the integrity of those who insist that Trump’s a Christian because it aligns with their politics. If they’d just admit that their support of him is purely ideological, I could respect that. It’s the charade of pretending he’s a good Christian that I can’t stomach.

  53. I haven’t heard Donald do a great refusal to follow Christ’s teachings.

  54. I’m not doing your work for you. If you have a point to make, make it. Or don’t. The choice is yours. But either way, it’s your job. Not mine. 

  55. It isn’t a matter of hearing. It’s a matter of observing. But I have a feeling you see only what you wish to see.

  56. I’m counting on our Constitution to keep us a secular nation. Christian nationalism is diametrically opposed to Jesus’s teachings in the gospels.

  57. Matthew 7:16 (paraphrased) – you will know them by their fruits. Trump’s personal and professional history is well known. Is he one now? His actions will tell what kind of fruit he produces.

  58. By his fruits you will know him. Unless you turn a blind eye, of course.

  59. I’m glad I have the choice and ability to avoid a narrow existence under an oppressive regime.

  60. Ben,
    The story you told is sad on so many levels, I don’t know where to begin. And the biggest problem is that these fellow religiously conservative Christians of mine are too convinced of both their own righteousness and the narrative they promote.

  61. ” The first humanists were, in fact, devout Christians….”
    Not even close.
    Homo sapiens (humans) have been around at least 100,000 yrs.
    JC for 2000.
    So for 98,000 yrs there were plenty of humanists around to keep the species going.
    Sans Je$u$….

  62. Still into the LSD I see – but that’s so 70’s….

  63. ” secular nation ”
    As with ” In God We Trust ” on our currency ?

  64. Read the Constitution and you’ll see a secular government defined. The fact that Christians, by sheer number, have allowed abuses doesn’t change that. The courts seem to be doing a good job of enforcing neutrality. The government is not anti-religion or anti-god – it’s just supposed to be neutral and fair.

  65. Atheist witch? I disagree with your designation. In my estimation belief in the supernatural excludes one from being an atheist and witchcraft involves the supernatural.

  66. The First Amendment spikes a “Christian theocracy”.

    No, “those adherents of Christian nationalism” do not “form the nucleus of Donald Trump’s base”.

  67. Our Constitution does not make us a secular nation.

    It makes us a nation without an established church.

  68. Then you’ll be good enough to fill in the names of the “supposedly-wayward co-believers” in your comment:

    “Unfortunately I know of no Christians who’ve ever taken my advice and actually corrected any of their supposedly-wayward co-believers.”

  69. Not my designation. Hers. And she’s not allowing anybody to define or deny her atheism — not even other atheists.

  70. I am not sure you’re in a position to opine authoritatively on who is and is not Christian.

  71. I take “barbaric, inhumane and selfish” to mean those who hold opinions in conflict with your own.

  72. Typical Spuddie non-productive comment.

    Anyone who disagrees with you is “dishonest”.

  73. As a self-appointed expert on religion and Christianity, you should have.

  74. No. I will not. You will supply me with the information you say refutes me, or you won’t. It’s one or the other. It has nothing to do with me. 

    I suspect the example you’re trying to offer is one you’re not even very clear on, so supplying me with more information is something you can’t even do. Grow up and take responsibility for your own response already, Bob. You’re tapdancing around in the same way you have previously, and I’m not playing that game with you. Either you’re mature enough to come up with a clear and cogent response, or you’re not. My experience with you is that you’re incapable of it. 

    So please, by all means, keep living down to all my expectations of you. Or, surprise me and provide a meaningful response. 

  75. Of course you won’t.

    One rule for you, one rule for others, it’s part of your tapdance.

    Either you’re mature enough to come up with a clear and cogent response,
    or you’re not. My experience with you is that you’re incapable of it.

  76. And herein lies the problem, doc.

    It’s not enough for you to have a mature, spiritual belief in your god. Oh, no.

    You need to have witches, and demons, and evil spirits, and magic. People working magic on other people. Spells and counter spells, drama, mysteries. Prayer warriors. People dying because of someone working magic on them, And for all I know, lions, and tigers, and bears, oh my!

    To me, it shows a spectacular lack of faith, not an affirmation of it. Not one christian I know, no matter how conservative, would buy that crap. But all of them would agree about your lack of faith.

  77. Oh, I have faith, allrighty.

    I totally believe that these people just love to scare themselves with things that go bump in the night. I totally believe that they no more believe in one god than I do, but must have “room for the devil, and his angels too.” Great forces at work in the universe, and they are at the very center of the great, cosmic, magical drama.

    MEgalomania, anyone?

  78. Now don’t you go around making sense. Clarity is the enemy, not the demon atheist witches,oh my!

  79. Pretty much what you and booby joe and JP do with atheists. You have a lot in common with the witches.

  80. Ben,
    I don’t want to put any labels on them, they have been taught that way by those who should have known better.

  81. Given the number of opportunities you’ve been given to clarify your “moral system”, that attempt completely misses the mark.

  82. Matthew 7:13-14 New International Version (NIV)

    The Narrow and Wide Gates

    13 “Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. 14 But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it.

  83. Are you judging his actions before he was saved Jim – only satan would do that.

  84. Your comment seems to support the notion that “a mature, spiritual belief in” his deity is his own work, and therefore – in your humble opinion – completely malleable.

    The Old Testament and New Testament both describe witches, demons, and evil spirits.

    Perhaps you should stick to what you know best – whatever that is.

    Whatever it is, it DOES appear to be completely malleable.

  85. Re: “One rule for you, one rule for others, it’s part of your tapdance.” 

    Do you even know what you’re talking about? I don’t. You’re blathering on about something … but I have yet to know what it is. You refuse to tell me. 

    Re: “Either you’re mature enough to come up with a clear and cogent response, or you’re not.” 

    You’re the one who refuses to provide a cogent response … yet, you’re accusing ME of having not done so. Project much, little Bobbie-boy? 

  86. Like you, I took philosophy courses. Seen the definition of atheism given in the standard accepted philosophy dictionaries.

    And then I see how you, and Sally Quinn, and many other atheists, simply ignore all that scholarly stuff and make up your own arbitrary, 10-cent, off-the-wall definitions.

    Making things up as you go, literally. Another poster correctly employed the phrase “muddled definition”. Sowijng syncretism and confusion, even among your own atheist ranks. That’s honestly a wack gig, Ben.

    You won’t even listen to professional atheists (like Varricella)who try to clear thing’s up a little.

  87. Yes, I know you don’t even know what you’re talking about.

    “Either you’re mature enough to come up with a clear and cogent response, or you’re not.” was a direct quote from yours to me.

  88. Re: “Yes, I know you don’t even know what you’re talking about.” 

    Projecting again, I see. 

    Re: “‘Either you’re mature enough to come up with a clear and cogent response, or you’re not.’ was a direct quote from yours to me.”7nbsp;

    And you were projecting back then, as well. When are you going to stop with that game? I’m not playing. 

  89. Sure, I accept that role every day in this forum. Very simple task.

    You wrote that us Christians “…obviously don’t respect their own religion enough to police it. This, in turn, means they can’t rationally expect outside observers of Christianity, such as myself, to respect Christianity, or them for believing in it.” I agree.

    So here’s a perfect example: the Free Pass that some scared, shaky & shady Methodists gave to lesbian (and gay-married) Bishop Oliveto. Not just a Free Pass, but gave her the entire Western Jurisdiction. Sheesh.

    This tragedy is in direct defiance of the Bible, and Jesus Christ, and the Methodists’ own rulebook. But nobody’s brave enough to say, “You better shut down this world-class MESS, or else shut down the entire United Methodist Church, right now.”

    Anyway, there you go. Shall I supply more details?

  90. I quoted you directly, adding and subtracting nothing.

    You didn’t even recognize it.

  91. Again, you’re right. The Bishop Oliveto case, proves it.

  92. You equate barbarism, inhumanity and selfishness with something designed to keep people safe?


    What do you think that says about your character?

  93. Again, I have no clue what you mean. Your rambling so far has been pointless. 

  94. Only if you think that the Christ will be anti-gay, anti-feminist, anti-artificial birth control, anti-Democrat, anti-secular humanism, anti science and anti life if he ever turns up.

  95. Of course. So I try to stay grounded in humility and the awareness of my own limited perspective. Remember, it’s what we learn after we know it all that counts.

  96. My impression is that Jesus would be anti-homosexual sex relations, anti-marxist-oriented “feminism”, anti-anti-“go forth and multiply”, anti-scientism, anti-secularism, and generally not someone you might care to hang out with.

  97. You’ve moved the goalposts again haven’t you – losers often do.

    anti-gay – to – anti-homosexual sex relations
    anti-feminist – to – anti-marxist-oriented “feminism”
    anti-artificial birth control – to – anti-anti-“go forth and multiply”
    anti-secular humanism – to – anti-secularism
    anti science – to – anti-scientism

    you left out anti-Democrat and anti life (though I doubt either of us really think he’d be pro-death – oops – well not for a second time maybe?)

    “anti-homosexual sex relations” – He wouldn’t have to partake if he didn’t want to, and what other adults do with someone else in private, subject to all parties giving their informed consent, would no more be his business than mine or yours.
    I do worry about the intellectual quality of those who think that a god who has major problems of its own making to sort out (famine, cancer, senility. lack of potable water, earthquakes etc. etc.) is reasonable when it ignores them and instead concentrates on something as unimportant as private, consensual sex. I suspect it takes a petty mind to create a petty god.

    “anti-marxist-oriented “feminism”” – are you differentiating this from non-anti-marxist-oriented “feminism”?
    Do you actually understand the basics of Marxism? (or Feminism?)

    “anti-anti-“go forth and multiply”” – you think that your Jesus would be in favour of children being born into unremitting poverty (financial and emotional) with no chance of living a self-determined lifestyle? He would think that the earth needs more human beings? in favour of rape and incest?

    “anti-secularism” – I suspect that if the Jesus of the gospels initiated a theocracy you’d be begging for secularism. Your taxes would go up, you would not be allowed to own property, have savings/pension, compulsory giving to every beggar, children disowning their parents, turning the other cheek etc. etc.

    “anti-scientism” – you’re talking about the being you think created science – duh!

  98. “anti-gay – to – anti-homosexual sex relations”

    Having an inclination and acting on it are two different things. And isn’t “homosexual” more precise than “gay”?

    “anti-feminist – to – anti-marxist-oriented ‘feminism”’

    Women have rights. The major feminist movement of the 70s and post is a political movement which is as much anti-male and pro-power as anything.

    “anti-artificial birth control – to – anti-anti-‘go forth and multiply’”

    Procreation is a fundamental function of humanity. There is all sorts of “artificial” birth control.

    “anti-secular humanism – to – anti-secularism”

    Again, “secular humanism” is like “gay” – fuzzy, fuzzy, fuzzy. Secularism, on the other hand, is opposed to religion in general, whether it’s secular humanism or secular government.

    “anti science – to – anti-scientism”

    Science involves the discovery and application of physical laws. One can hardly oppose that on religion reasons. The belief that science is a philosophy or that it answers fundamental human questions is scientism.

    “you left out anti-Democrat and anti life”

    I assumed you were either joking or baiting with both.

    You asked questions and didn’t like the answers. So what else is new?

  99. I believe you’ve tried this act before with about the same lack of success.

  100. … and Bob just keeps right on projecting! You’re nothing if not predictable. 

  101. “you left out anti-Democrat and anti life”

    I assumed you were either joking or baiting with both.”

    Read the thread – they didn’t originate with me.

    – – – – – – – – – – – –
    “Having an inclination and acting on it are two different things” So you believe in a god who made us bad and commanded us to be good (nod to the late CH).
    Why do you think he would be concerned about consensual sex when he has mega-screw-ups of his own making to sort out?

    – – – – – – – – – – – –
    “Women have rights” – how do you think those rights vary from men’s?

    “The major feminist movement of the 70s and post is a political movement which is as much anti-male and pro-power as anything.” You may know more about such things than I – if what you say is true it would seem to be a rational response to the anti-female and pro-power attitudes of virtually all religion. Just because you feel threatened doesn’t mean you’re likely to be harmed.

    – – – – – – – – – –
    “Procreation is a fundamental function of humanity.” Only because it’s a fundamental function of all life – but so are aggression and competition – are you suggesting they should all be unrestricted? How do you get from procreation is necessary for the survival of the species to unrestricted “go forth and multiply?

    “There is all sorts of “artificial” birth control.” There are – and you think they are all “wrong”? How many times a day do you have “carnal relations” to meet your Jesus’s expectation of perpetual pregnancy?

    – – – – – – – – –

    “Secularism, on the other hand, is opposed to religion in general, whether it’s secular humanism or secular government.”

    Secular Humanism – Secular humanism is a philosophy or life stance that embraces human reason, ethics, social justice, and philosophical naturalism while specifically rejecting religious dogma, supernaturalism, pseudoscience, and superstition as the bases of morality and decision making. –

    Your Jesus would oppose this? He’s in favour of unreason, of whim based ethics, against social justice, pro pseudoscience and favours superstitious belief over reason as the basis of decision making?

    I’ve already pointed out (and you overlooked(?)) the consequences of your preferred theocratic state.

    – – – – – – – –
    “The belief that science is a philosophy or that it answers fundamental human questions is scientism.” Science is a process not a philosophy, but it does answer many fundamental human questions and may, just may, answer all of them in due course. (Half a point?).
    As opposed to religion which knows nothing and extrapolates certainty from its ignorance.

    The distinction is something like this.
    Science plays darts by launching a dart at a board painted on the wall, observing where the dart lands and trying to understand why it isn’t always in the bull.
    Religion launches a dart at the wall, observes where it lands, paints a dart board around the quivering dart and claims to be more accurate than science.

  102. “And then I see how you, and Sally Quinn, and many other atheists, (with the exception of Stephen Hawking), simply ignore all that stuff, and make up your own arbitrary, plugged-nickel, off-the-wall definitions.”


    No dear, that would be you.

    There ya go again, insisting that YOUR confusion about atheism must be shared by atheists. And everyone else. Projection is what you need to do, otherwise, you would have even less to say. As with gay people you have a story you must tell yourself about atheists. You and JoeBoob. We atheists are quite clear about it. You’re not.

    Wikipedia: Atheism is, in the broadest sense, the absence of belief in the existence of deities.[1][2][3][4] Less broadly, atheism is the rejection of belief that any deities exist.[5][6] In an even narrower sense, atheism is specifically the position that there are no deities.[1][2][7][8] Atheism is contrasted with theism,[9][10] which, in its most general form, is the belief that at least one deity exists.[10][11][12]

    Merriam Webster:a person who does not believe in the existence of a god or any gods : one who subscribes to or advocates atheism

    American Atheists: They should know, shouldn’t they?

    Atheism is one thing: A lack of belief in gods. Atheism is not an affirmative belief that there is no god nor does it answer any other question about what a person believes. It is simply a rejection of the assertion that there are gods. Atheism is too often defined incorrectly as a belief system. To be clear: Atheism is not a disbelief in gods or a denial of gods; it is a lack of belief in gods.

    Dictionary .com: one millimeter closer to YOUR definition. 1. the doctrine or belief that there is no God. 2. disbelief in the existence of a supreme being or beings.

    OXFORD DICTiONARY: Disbelief or lack of belief in the existence of God or gods.”

  103. Hi Curt,

    I was referred to your comment in 2nd paragraph here by a guy with whom I often discuss these issues, ie. the unfortunate conflation of conservative church with the full boat of conservative politics. As you say, this unnecessary stricture will prevent them from effectively sharing the Gospel to a wider world not presently interested in following Donald Trump, for instance (or Ted Cruz, or Grover Norquist, or Jerry Falwell, Jr., or Pat Robertson, or Perkins, Jeffries, etc).

    But there is something in your first paragraph which caught my attention. That first tenet of the five, as I understand it, is the insistence that the Bible is literally true, inerrant, and free of contradiction. When does the fundamental church make room for people who really, really want to love and trust Jesus, but know the Tower of Babel story didn’t happen (or is an absurdity if it did), and who are sick to death of completely questionable “end times” speculation to the exclusion of truth about real issues in the here and now WHILE corporatism is stealing America on the enablement of fundamentalists’ votes?

    Don’t imagine I’m a hater. Not at all. I’m a lover, 40 years in church and wondering where on earth common sense went.

  104. FriendlyGost,
    How are you? Thank you for asking the question. There is a difference between what you wrote for the first tenet to be and what I understand it to be. What I understand it to be is this: the original autographs of the Scriptures are God-breathed and thus inerrant. However, that statement requires some nuance. For some believe that when it says the Scriptures are God-breathed, that they were dictated by God to the biblical writers. Thus, more things are counted as being literally true than the next view presents. The next view states that God, in His sovereignty, used the human nature of the Biblical writers to produce inerrant writings in the original autographs only. So the latter allows us to use context and human writing devices to understand what the Scriptures are saying. There is literal truth there, but not as much as the first view has.

    But the above doesn’t provide relief for the problem you described. I would first say that there are more incredible acts of God recorded, which we are called to believe, in the Scriptures than the tower of Babel. So my question is this: What is it in that story that you find unbelievable?

    Finally, I believe that the religiously conservative Christian tie to conservative politics is found in the word ‘conservative.’ For one thing I have noticed about conservatives is that, with the exception of technology, they almost always look SOLELY to the past to both understand and respond to the present. And that to look elsewhere is an indictment on the sufficiency of their sources from the past. Let me know what you think.

  105. That shows that you are a kind man, Curt. I have no such charity. taught by those who should have known better? Or Did know better, but did it anyway because power, money, recognition and adulation were available? and who taught THEM?

    Education, facts, logic, and compassion are freely available in this country. One pretty much has to go out of one’s way to avoid them. .

  106. You’re right. It’s very sad. But I bet you not one of them is poor, or anything lesss than upper middle class. I might bewrong about that, but I wouldn’t be surprised.

    My own guess is that not only does it make them Money, but it plays into a type of megalomania. “see? I’m doing god’s will. how will reward me and punish you. God likes me more than he likes you. I’m at the center of the cosmic drama. I’m special.”

  107. Curt, you ARE a decent person.

    And you have your sins. The two things are not incompatible. Though we don’t agree on what sin is, we agree about a concept of not being the best you can be. that’s a human quality. It doesn’t make you less than, it makes you the same as. You know it, and you try to improve it. That is frequently the difference between a good person and a bad person.

  108. Im not sure that,s a good idea. That knife cuts both ways,

    A few months ago, I related a story about attending a wedding of two women, one of whose son was a COGIC minister. He performed the ceremony. One of our locals here made it clear that if he had the slightest idea of who the minister was, he would go after his credentials.

  109. I believe you’ve continued projecting without saying anything of consequence. 

  110. Of course it can cut both ways. It can cut MANY ways. 

    My point is that all those supposedly-reasonable Christians who run around telling everyone else not to think poorly of them because of their co-believers, could — if they wished — do something about them. It’s within their power to correct them, discipline them, and make them into the sort of Christian who no longer makes them look bad. 

    They just never will do it. Instead, they demand the rest of us just ignore their wayward and extreme co-believers. 

    I refuse to do that. As an outside observer of Christianity, the only way I have to know the value of Christianity is by watching Christians — those who make the religion look good, and those who make it look bad, alike. It’s up to Christians themselves to do something about those who make their faith look bad. Too often, they refuse to do so. 

    As for the knife cutting both ways, that’s how it is when Christians police Christianity. Sometimes the ones policing it are the worst of the bunch. But if that’s the case, it’s up to the rest, who are supposedly reasonable, to make them stop enforcing a harsh and embarrassing version of Christianity. 

    They can do it. If they wish. But as I said, they don’t wish. It’s easier on them if the rest of us just look the other way, where their extreme co-believers are concerned. However, I am under no obligation to do so … and won’t do it. 

  111. I understand your points.unfortunatley, liberal Christians tend to be nice people. They don’t go looking for trouble

  112. Ben,
    I have my moments of not being kind as well. But in this situation, you bear the brunt of their ignorance.

  113. It isn’t about anything he’s said but about his behavior, as you well know. I’m moving on.

  114. Thanks for thoughtful reply. As introduction, let me tell you that I was raised United Methodist, have exposure and associations through the years with Baptists, Assemblies of God, Mennonites (not horse and buggy), Bible Church, Church of the Nazarene, LCMS and ELCA Lutherans and one charismatic mega-church which blew up when the pastor ran off with a woman not his wife. My wife and I raised a son through Christian schools all the way K-12 with first the Mennonites, then Bible Church people. Most recently I have been out of church for 25 years—-basically as result of unwillingness to play any longer in the political/social nonsense. When they ditched Jimmy Carter for Reagan, I went wary.
    After about a decade of that, and our son emancipating to grown-up marriage, we bailed.

    Jesus is important to me. Church is not. Kindness is. Doctrine, for the most part, is not.
    The virgin birth is okay, but not essential, for me to want to ask, seek, and knock—-to profoundly appreciate the boil-down of Judaism to 1) love God, 2) love the neighbors (or at least try), to appreciate and be thankful for the unique sacrifice of the cross, to appreciate forgiveness of our sins, to have a heart for the salvation of self and everyone else.

    That said, it strikes me as an affront to the whole Christian enterprise for so many of its followers to insist that “every word of this Bible is true”, essentially shutting out those who are unwilling or unable to profess the same—-because, it is almost certainly not an honest statement. The Tower of Babel is an example. Modern engineers will tell us there are serious doubts about any such tower reaching to the sky or to heaven.
    Anthropology will tell us that the Lord (described as us) confounding speech is not the origin of the different languages in the world, and common sense will tell us that there would be something seriously wrong with a God who created men and women, then sought to thwart them with confusion for fear of what all they might do next if they could understand each other. It’s a fable. WHY are people of Jesus stuck on defending it? The same may be true of much of the supposed virtue and favor of God for David. The same may be true of the entire spin of Revelation. When do we get a church which says you don’t have to swear up and down that you affirm myth and demand others do likewise in order to be in the tent with Jesus?

    If we had such a church, would it also not be duty-bound to spin other fibs (as the conservative church members now do) about environmental matters, economics, health care, guns, public education, regulated corporations, collective bargaining, so-called “small” government, and even the supposed evils of Obama and Clinton personally? What are the chances that “every word of this Bible is God-breathed” is the root of all the lying about nearly everything political. As in, :”since we fib to ourselves about THIS set of things, we now have license to live in an alternate reality about THAT set of things” I have come to believe the chances are staggeringly high. People are seeming to me to go to church and absolutely check their brains at the door on the way out. Our country is stifling in this nonsense to the point of Trump now being the de facto leader of American Protestants. None of the ministers can cross him on anything. It’s crazy. Your thoughts?

  115. FriendlyGoat,
    We have disagreements though I understand and appreciate many of your criticisms of the Church and your disillusionment with it. I have my own and when I voice them, they are often met with insults on the blogs and puzzled looks at church.

    I am a combination of a Christian Fundamentalists and a Socialist. There are not too many who hold to that combination.

    The point of Bible being inerrant is that its source is God. And the point of its source being God is that it becomes God reveling Himself to us, not us trying to reach or discover Him.

    The point of the miracles is that it is God who saves us, not we ourselves. However, the tower of babel incident is different. God divides us because of our sinfulness and what a united effort at sin could produce.

    Correct me if I am wrong but it seems that you greatly appreciate the morals of taught by Christianity and feel that one can live with our without the supernatural claims. Again, we have the supernatural works of God as an emphatic testament that God saves us, not we ourselves.

    As an activist, one fo the most important scriptures I try to remember is the parable of the two men praying (see ). One of the disagreements I think we have is this, the person who believes in Jesus for the forgiveness of sins should always feel like the publican who is destitute of any sense of righteousness, while the Christian moralist might only sometimes feel like the publican.

    IN the Scriptures, God must eliminate all sin. Why? One reason is because if Heaven allowed any sin, it would become no different than earth.

    I very much appreciate the moral concerns you have and can relate to the disappointment you have in Christians who follow Trump and some other political conservatives. We can relate there. But there is another dimension too. That dimension has to do with how we, as sinners, are to relate to a God who not only has no sin, but who demands that we have no sin. That is why it is important that God saves us from our sins and thus that is why events like the virgin birth and the physical resurrection of Christ are important.

    BTW, if you want to read a Christian scholar who will challenge the brain, I recommend Cornelius Van Til. I use to refer to his works when I would occasionally teach a religion class at the college I taught at. You can look up his works on the internet.

  116. “I suspect it takes a petty mind to create a petty god.”


  117. It went to the place where people come from who are certain they know the mind of god, and that god has chosen them to represent him, and that disagreeing with them makes you an enemy of god.

    “I suspect it takes a petty mind to create a petty god.”

  118. What is unbelievable?

    That the creator of the universe had to “go down” to see the tower. Much like he had to send someone to find out if the things he had heard about sodom were true. Much like he walked to sodom and had lunch with Abraham.

    That these ancients were building a building so high that there was concern that they might reach heaven (in the apocryphal version) or that god was concerned that there was nothing they would not attempt.

    That god confounded them by creating different languages, but forgot that people can learn other languages.

  119. Hey, thanks, Curt. Deeper discussion here than, as you say, the “insults on the blogs amd puzzled looks (from those) at church”. I am gratified to hear someone put Christian Fundamentalist and Socialist in the same sentence and claim identity with both.

    Here are some things I like about you and your posts. 1) You taught at a college, meaning that you have been obligated to be more thorough with sense in rhetoric than many-to-most people in the pews. 2) You say you are an activist. Good. We need those. Jesus is our model activist. 3) You refer people (me) to Bible Gateway, one of the best services on the Internet (IMHO) and a personal favorite of mine for the search features and its respect for dozens of translations, 4) You have good taste in parable selection, 5) You talk with malcontents like me.

    Sorry I led you to believe that I knock the miracles of the Bible. I don’t. The virgin birth is the only one I talk about, mainly because it has occurred to me that Jesus, himself, may have never been aware of how it would be written up. I doubt James believed it, and wonder why we should. It has spawned Mariology in parts of both Christianity and Islam, leaving Mary, mother of Jesus, overdone and Mary Magdalene, confidante of Jesus, underdone (IMHO), short-changing women’s role in religion for millennia.

    Recently we hear that 75% of Evangelicals are continuing to support Trump and Trumpism even after they have now seen both clearly. As I tell other people, I sure don’t blame Jesus for this—–but I sure do blame church. Something is terribly wrong with American Ministry that church and talk radio have the same audience. Maybe these kids rising up from Parkland will right the ship as they broaden from local to national and from gun issues to voting rights, voting registration and turning out the youth and young adult vote. They should be REALLY mad, after all, considering the damage coming to them from loss of the tax code, the Supreme Court and a big chunk of environmentalism in a big negative whoosh. We’ll see in November of 18 and 20, I guess whether kids get the traction they need.

    Meanwhile, to you, blessings and best wishes.

  120. Add

    “Mark my word, if and when these preachers get control of the [Republican] party and they’re sure trying to do so, it’s going to be a terrible damn problem. Frankly, these people frighten me. Politics and governing demand compromise. But these Christians believe they are acting in the name of God, so they can’t and won’t compromise. I know, I’ve tried to deal with them.”
    ~ Barry Goldwater, November 1994, as quoted in John Dean, Conservatives Without Conscience (2006)

  121. I never liked the idea of God having a petty mind about anything, and always wonder why anyone of faith wants to highlight things with such appearance. It would be far better to attribute that Babel story to men’s imaginative error than to keep claiming it is divine revelation. Worshipping the book is a really good way to drive a lot of people away.

  122. Thank you.

    Helen bunker hunt, mother of the infamous Hunt brothers, addressed this issue some 40 years ago. When asked about biblical inerrancy, she responded (more or less), “of course it is the inerrant word of God. Once you start questioning it, where do you stop?”

    Where indeed?

    A Christian friend of mine labeled this “biblolatry” some 40 years ago. Personally, from what I have seen, and have ImpLied in some of my other comments, I don’t think they are worshipping the book so much as worshipping themselves.

    But I’m a bit cynical.

  123. Mormonism and Evangelical “Christianity” are simply two sides of the same counterfeit coin, and bad pennies at that. Both have been major proponents of the fraud also known as “conversion therapy.” Both still want LGBTQ youth to live in miserable, celibate loneliness while they “pray the gay away,” wilfully ignoring mounting evidence their irrational anti–lgbtq dogmas.

  124. It’s just like the time when the apostle Paul wrote his second letter to Timothy concerning some Christians:

    “For there will be a period of time when they will not put up with the helpful teaching, but in accord with their own desires. THEY WILL accumulate teachers for themselves to HAVE THEIR EARS TICKLED; and they will turn their ears away from the truth” (2 Timothy 4:2-4). ???

  125. FriendlyGoat,
    Thank you for your kind words. Pretty sure James understood and, if Jesus is God, then He know pretty much as much as God knows. The veneration for Mary, if memory serves but it is best to talk to someone who is Catholic about this, was put into play because of the perceived need for a mediator between people And Christ.

    As for blaming the Church, the faults of its members comes from tribalism involving other groups than the Church. That tribalism produces a syncretism that tries to pound the square peg of a given political ideology into the round hole of Christianity. Naturally violence and change will be brought to both shapes. Since tribalism starts with a stronger loyalty than normal, turning around and admitting wrong becomes a doubly tough task.

    Hope we get to discuss things on other articles.

  126. I’ve read about six different translations, and the story doesn’t change. The people want to build a tower to heaven— out of bricks, no less. God is worried that there will be nothing they wouldn’t attempt if this were allowed.

    Personally, if I were an all knowing god, I’d say “knock yourself out, kids.” I would also know that the divisions of language have caused endless suffering among humans, one more way of saying, “you’re not from here..

    Like the sodom story, this is an ancient one, one of the oldest, when our god was still a “Midianite Storm God Formerly Known as El.”

  127. Ben,
    But is God working from a different frame of mind? Would you say ‘knock yourself out, kids’ when there is nothing that is impossible in terms of building weapons? Would you say ‘knock yourself out, kids’ if they building a way of life that hurts the environment?

    Yes, I know I am inserting future potential in the past, but the same point is being made. What did God see as the result of them being able to accomplish anything they wanted? Aren’t we a parital result? And look where we are going. Didn’t God already see the evil ends man often comes to in Genesis 6?

  128. One of the things that Trump has shown is how naive christian fundamentalists are which includes mormons. We have this snake salesman who tells them what they want to hear and they are ready and willing to overlook anything. Long live Trump, the true king of mormonism!

  129. Can I be a little cynical too in speaking to the comment by Helen Bunker Hunt? We don’t stop until things which are negative or which make no sense are disregarded and widely disclaimed by people who have both brains, good will and courage. This is precisely the same thing desperately needed with the sayings of Muhammad in Islam. We sometimes ask, “where are the moderate Muslims?” The answer is that many can be radicalized because they are stuck with being taught problematic scripture, just as we are stuck with some junk in the Bible. Billions of people are paying big prices for the errors no one can touch. When is it time to blow the whistle? Why not now?

  130. I’ve been blowing that whistle for more than 40 years. People need to get hi5 upside the head with a rhetorical 2×4 to challenge their own beliefs.

  131. I wonder how much this is subtle backlash against Christians who don’t consider Mormons to be Christians. My Roman Catholic chaplain explained that the Mormons are not Trinitarian, something that Christians have held to be essential as Christians since around 300 AD after a sect starting teaching things about God and Jesus not dissimilar from Mormonism. I have to wonder if the author’s real beef is with 1800 years of Christian tradition.

  132. Morality is neither determined by belief in a god nor disbelief. Look into moral philosophy. The definition of atheist is irrelevant.

  133. You have no idea what humanists are, do you?

  134. Is god working from a different frame of mind? how would we know? His ways are not our ways. You are inserting the future into the past. But if the goal was to prevent mass murder through weapons of mass destruction, or the destruction of the environment, it failed spectacularly.

    Have you ever seen the Basiilica of Maxentius in Rome, or the Hagia Sofia in Istanbul? Both products of Roman engineering, Immense buildings, architectural wonders, especially given the times they were built in— 1700 and 1500 years ago respectively. Yet not even close to what we are building today.

    Curt, I think you can do better than this. Your faith cannot not depend on any one peripheral story of the “how the leopard got his spots” variety that appears in the Bible.

  135. Ben,
    What we know about Him is what He has revealed. And not too far back from then with Noah, God sent the flood because of the evil that men were thinking of and practicing. So in reality, I am inserting the far past into the more near near past.

    Don’t have to see what was done in Rome, just have to look around us today. But that is after the fact of Genesis 11.

  136. Modern linguistic studies, aided by DNA, shows that this event was not how we developed the myriad of languages humans speak.

  137. Sorry, but you’re trying a little **too** hard to comfort Ben there.

    It’s not like Frank Amedia and Bishop Jackson are praying or preaching against Ben here.

    They are responding correctly and biblically to an openly advertised and coordinated occult witch attack against the President himself.

    Now Ben is free, in his daily disbelief and antagonism against the Bible and God, to pooh-pooh such topics as lacking facts, logic, evidence, compassion.

    (He’s wrong about that, btw — professional anthropologists have studied & written about the sorcerers of Nigeria, and atheist witch Sally Quinn’s openly boasted three victims are still in their coffins today. This mess is real.)

    At any rate, Ben is openly pooh-pooh ing what the Bible says about these matters. Just like he openly and arrogantly attacks what the Bible says about sin, salvation gay marriage, salvation & healing via Christ, and even the existence of God.

    Again, Ben has the free-will right to do and say this mess. I even say, “everybody of all beliefs needs to get a little encouragement sometimes, Ben too.”

    BUT let’s not be partakers or encouragers of Ben’s disbelief & rebellion. Don’t pamper him on THAT. Everything that Ben calls ignorant, AIN’T ignorant.

  138. Floydiee,
    I am giving Ben the respect he deserves. Ben and I disagree on some things, but I can trust him with everything I have.

    And there is no coordinated, occult attack against the President. Rather, we have a President who deserves respectful confrontation and not just for his past sins, but for the current ones he commit because of the direction he has taken as President.

  139. Umm, even RNS carried the witch attack story (and Quinn’s separately.) You read them, didn’t you? Really straightforward.

    Is Ben worthy of respect? I would say so without hesitation. Also general friendliness and warmth too.

    But I’d rather vote for Trump than Ben. Ben’s platform is virulently opposed to Christianity. For real.

  140. floydiee,
    That RNS carried the story implies nothing.

    What in Ben’s platform is opposed to Christianity?

  141. Dud, you’re a nutbag and a phony Christian.

  142. There is absolutely no doubt that the religious right essentially sold its ‘collective soul’ to the Devil when it voted en masse for Trump in November 2016.

  143. Turn your eyes upon Jesus….and the things of earth will grow strangely dim in the light of His glory and grace. Taking sides in politics can be a trap filled with bitterness and knee jerk reactions to what is going on in the world and our country.

  144. Honestly curious…..Are you a Christian Sir? If so do you go to church? I believe all people are great until they show otherwise. I am asking because if there are Christians on both sides we should be able to come together using our Bible. If your not, i still think your a great American and the vote is yours to cast however you may choose. God Bless

  145. Nope we are at the center. Everything has been for “us”. Do we serve angels? No. We serve god. Its not their drama its ours. And once the angel is cast down….SIR! The life-form is angel no more, but a new creation called demon.

  146. The greatest trick the Devil has ever pulled is convincing man God does not exist. That we should worship ourselves instead of praising God. Reason: When great things happen, we made them happen. That’s a sad world to live in. That would mean the whole order of things is run on chance? Not for me. In that world, the sinners are doomed and the righteous suffer.

  147. Your first statement is an obvious assumption– well, at least three of them. What is asserted without anything but belief can be dismissed on the same basis.

    Your second statement is not anything any thoughtful atheist or agnostic says, but something conservative religionists say. It can likewise be dismissed.

    Your third statement? Often, not always.

    Your fourth statement? Again an Unsupported assumption.

    2/3 of the world doesn’t believe in your god, so the devil certainly has been pretty slack in his duties.

  148. Your belief, sir. I have no need of angels or demons. There are people who fulfill those roles quite nicely.

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