Opinion

How the American Bible Society became evangelical

Britain's Queen Mother Elizabeth points to world globe as she chats with Dr. Eric North, secretary of the American Bible Society, during visit to the organization's headquarters in New York City on Oct. 28, 1954. The Queen Mother spent 32 minutes inspecting the society's various departments. (AP Photo/John Lindsay)

(The Conversation) — The American Bible Society, an organization that for over 200 years has been on a mission of distributing Bibles, has produced a statement of faith and lifestyle expectations that must be signed by all employees. The statement, which the ABS is calling an “Affirmation of Biblical Community,” requires employees to embrace a host of Christian beliefs and practices, including that marriage is between a man and a woman.

Many gay ABS employees have already left the organization. Others are planning to leave because they do not feel comfortable working in an environment that opposes gay marriage. For Christians around the world, the American Bible Society represents a highly influential organization. With an annual budget of US$100 million and revenues of over $369 million, it is one of the largest religious nonprofits in the world. Its goal is to translate the Bible into every human language by 2025.

There is nothing unusual with a religious organization making employees sign a statement of faith or requiring them to practice certain behavior that fits with the teachings of historic Christianity. Christian ministries and colleges, for example, do this as a matter of course.

But the fact that the ABS has decided to adopt such a statement after functioning for 202 years without one does make this development noteworthy. As the author of perhaps the only scholarly history of this storied Christian organization, I can attest that the “Affirmation of Biblical Community” represents a definitive break with the vision of its founders.

It also represents the culmination of a roughly 20-year transformation of the Society from a diverse Christian organization to a ministry with strong ties to American evangelicalism.

History of distributing Bibles

Early 19-century Bible societies, such as the American Bible Society and the British and Foreign Bible Society, were service organizations. The American Bible Society published Bibles for churches and other ministries and allowed religious organizations to use them as they saw fit in the context of their particular denominational beliefs.

They were not in the business of interpreting the Bible for their constituencies.

For example, in 1835, the British Baptist Mission in Calcutta, India, appealed to the ABS for help in funding a translation of the New Testament into the Bengali language. ABS refused to fund the project because the translators of the Bengali Bible translated “baptizo” – the Greek word for “baptism” – in a way that preferred the Baptist practice of completely immersing new converts in a body of water over other forms of baptism, such as the sprinkling of babies.

In this case, the ABS reaffirmed its commitment to publishing the Bible “without note or comment” and reminded the British Baptist Mission that it was not in the business of promoting “local feelings, party prejudices” and “sectarian jealousies.”

Through much of its history, ABS measured success not in terms of conversions or changed lives, but in terms of “tonnage” – the amount of Bibles distributed around the world each year.

Becoming more evangelical

This all changed in 1996 when Eugene Habecker, the president and CEO of ABS, expressed concern over lack of Bible knowledge and questioned whether young people were actually reading the sacred text and applying its spiritual principles to their lives.

In 2001, the organization adopted a new vision statement. It dropped the phrase “without doctrinal note or comment” and added the clause “so that all may experience its (the Bible’s) life-changing message.”

From this point forward, ABS would engage in the practice of teaching and interpretation. The leadership would call this new approach “scripture engagement.”

Other changes took place at ABS under Habecker’s watch. He added more evangelical Christians and Roman Catholics to the board of managers. Some longtime ABS employees believed that Habecker was trying to move the organization away from the mainline Protestantism that defined its identity for much of the 20th century.

Habecker said that he was just trying to make the board more “interconfessional.” He hoped that the people who ran ABS could affirm, “Jesus Christ is Lord” – nothing more, nothing less.

But from this point forward, ABS began working more closely with evangelical groups. They started providing grants for the publication of Bibles to organizations such as Campus Crusade for Christ, the Lausanne Committee for World Evangelism, Liberty University, and a host of evangelical missionary agencies.

Nearly all of the presidents who followed Habecker, including the current President Roy Peterson, have been evangelical Christians.

Redefining a historical identity

The Bible.
George Redgrave, CC BY-ND

The “Affirmation of Biblical Community” needs to be understood in light of this recent history. Christians – Protestant, Catholic or Orthodox – committed to the historical creeds of the early Christian church could gladly sign this document. However, it excludes Christians who, for example, may not affirm a belief in the Virgin Birth, or who are convinced gay marriage is compatible with the teachings of the Bible.

The statement also includes a reference to the Christian doctrine of “regeneration,” the belief that the Holy Spirit instills believers with a new spiritual orientation toward life. While most forms of Christianity believe in some form of this doctrine, it is hard to read its inclusion in the ABS statement as anything but a veiled reference to being “born-again,” another word for the personal conversion experience that has long been a part of evangelical teaching.

Many evangelicals, and I imagine a good number of conservative Catholics, will celebrate the “Affirmation of Biblical Community.” Others will part ways with the organization. Indeed, many already have.

The ConversationWhatever one thinks about the new statement, it is definitely part of an ongoing effort by the evangelical leadership of ABS to redefine the historical identity of the Bible society movement.

(John Fea is professor of American History, Messiah College. This article was originally published on The Conversation. )

About the author

John Fea

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  • So, I guess the message is clear: the Bible is only for those who view biblical teaching through the prism of fundamental Evangelicals. Others should stay away. That seems like an excellent way to ensure that Christianity will devolve into a cult. Is that the point?

  • The Bible is for whoever wants one. If you don’t want one via this distribution channel because it may come with a certain bias; perhaps obtain one from the local bookstore, or via Amazon.

  • “Many gay ABS employees have already left the organization. Others are planning to leave because they do not feel comfortable working in an environment that opposes gay marriage. ”
    Perhaps they should try to stay out of church work also:

    “Now for the matters you wrote about: “It is good for a man not to have sexual relations with a woman.” 2 But since sexual immorality is occurring, each man should have sexual relations with his own wife, and each woman with her own husband. 3 The husband should fulfill his marital duty to his wife, and likewise the wife to her husband. 4 The wife does not have authority over her own body but yields it to her husband. In the same way, the husband does not have authority over his own body but yields it to his wife.” But since sexual immorality is occurring, each man should have sexual relations with his own wife, and each woman with her own husband.” 1 Corinthians 7
    Christ is very clear about marriage being a man and a woman also.

  • Let’s look at a little reality here:
    “born again”
    “Jesus answered him, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again[a] he cannot see the kingdom of God.” John 3:3 English Standard Version (ESV)

    “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.” 2 Corinthians 5:17 ESV

    “Since you have been born again, not of perishable seed but of imperishable, through the living and abiding word of God;” 1 Peter 1:23 ESV

    “Do not marvel that I said to you, ‘You must be born again.’”John 3:7 ESV

  • The author would have us believe that the ABS is becoming more Evangelical, all the while noting that it has increased the representation of Catholics on its board, and that its recent “Affirmation” is acceptable to both Catholic and Orthodox Christians alike (Groups that can hardly be considered Evangelicals). Perhaps what he means is that it is becoming more conservative, not more Evangelical.

  • Not a cult,but a closer knit group of Christians who follow Christ. There is nothing wrong with that.

  • The original followers of Jesus differed much in the details of their beliefs. One thing that they did have in common was that they manifested their love of God by caring for others. They also wanted to spread the Good News far and wide. How far we have come from that time!

  • the “original followers” of Jesus – the disciples = did all they could to maintain His teachings.
    Our love for Christ is making disciples and teaching all that He commanded (Matthew 28)

  • “Let’s look at a little reality here:” – good start.

    And instead you quote a version of the Bible……………………………………………..

    The reality that people had convinced themselves that they were “born again” when their behaviour showed clearly they were not was what made me question Christianity – and subsequently jettison it’s core beliefs as harmful to humanity.

    People with opinions such as some of yours confirm that early teenage realisation.

  • So, you believed a lie. When one is looking for Christ in people, hopefully they will see that, but, when one is looking for Christ, the best way to find Him, is to look at Him – not fallible people and that is what your excuse stems from.

  • Either you’re weak or not being truthful. Why should anyone’s behavior be the deciding factor in what you do or do not believe regarding your own salvation?

  • No, the Bible is the basis for evangelicals by definition.

    Others like the Episcopal Church in the USA can use for other purposes, and they do.

  • Spreading the Good News far and wide is more or less the purpose of the American Bible Society.

  • Or to put yet another way, it is affirming it is Christian, just like the Catholics, the Orthodox, in fact the majority of the world’s Christians.

  • Another non-sectarian organization decides to trash its reputation and any notion of respectability thanks to infiltration and undermining by Fundamentalist Christianity. Oh well.

  • Of course there is. Its trying to claim ownership of something which does not belong just to you.

    Essentially appropriating and tramp stamping on the reputation, respectability and intellectual rigor of those whom you do not respect. You want the reputation of other Christian sects and their works, but none of the effort made to create it.

  • Except they no longer care about a certain bias anymore and are pushing an entirely limited sectarian view which does not encompass the beliefs of the majority of those who hold the Bible as their scripture. Trashing their reputation in the process.

  • The line between Catholics and Evangelicals in terms of beliefs, practices and efforts has become increasingly blurred to the point of irrelevance in the developed world. The push to discriminate and ostracize based on personal sexual behavior is headed by Evangelicals first and foremost. Evangelical Christianity is synonymous with conservative religious beliefs in this country.

  • I think he was looking for personal transformation – a new person, evidence of fruits of the Holy Spirit, One can fall short but still be transformed. Otherwise, there is a whole industry of self-help books etc that promise becoming a better person.

  • Why do you care? You don’t believe anyway. Every missionary (or human being for that matter) will spread the word with their perspective/ experiences.
    I never thought you would be so concerned that the Word is spread as written.

  • As I said, if you want to see Christ clearly, look to Him, not fallible people.

  • Not the right questions to be asking here. As usual the evangelical Christian wants to appropriate something for themselves to the exclusion of others. In this case, the conversation.

    “I never thought you would be so concerned that the Word is spread as written.”

    Evidently the American Bible Society has stopped being concerned. Choosing to limit themselves to a specific narrow sectarian focus.

  • No. To lie is to say something that one knows to be untrue.

    What I believed was a genuinely held belief – just as strongly and genuinely held as any of yours.

    Like yours it was false.

  • My apologies – my wording was probably less precise than it could have been

    I said “The reality that people had convinced themselves that they were “born again” when their behaviour showed clearly they were not was what made me question Christianity – and subsequently jettison it’s core beliefs as harmful to humanity.”
    I meant to convey that the dichotomy between the belief and the reality was what started the process of evaluating Christianity. There were many factors which combined to ensure that I eventually rejected supernatural belief but that the realisation of the unbridgeable gap between the claims and the actuality was what initiated the evaluation that lead to rejecting Christianity as irrational, deceptive, false and harmful.

    When someone tells me that they are a new person, transformed by their belief but the transformation is not real there is a strong implication that the belief is erroneous. Further consideration confirmed the initial conclusion was correct.

  • Religious mumbo-jumbo.

    How do you think you “look to Him”?

    The important word is “you” – unless you consider yourself to be infallible you cannot claim you see “Him” clearly.

  • You look to Him by seeing all that He created Give – all that He has done for you and will yet do for you. You look to Him by acknowledging that all good things come from Him.

  • They have no such good news to spread.

    Note that the gun supporter, deluded Christian nutcase, anti- women’s rights crusader and NRA shill presenting himself at present in this thread as “Bob Arnzen” variously and dishonestly uses a variety of names on RNS such as Bob Arnzen, José Carioca, and others. However, there is actually no real Bob Arnzen.

  • Note that the gun supporter, deluded Christian nutcase, anti-
    women’s rights crusader and NRA shill presenting himself in this thread as “Bob Arnzen” variously and dishonestly uses a variety of
    names on RNS such as Bob Arnzen, José Carioca, and others. However, there is actually no real Bob Arnzen.

  • Ok. Thank you for the explanation and apology.
    I understand your point, but must admit that I am confused and saddened.
    I’m disappointed to learn that you began to question whether or not there was a supernatural being or creator based upon the behavior of man; especially when man Is inherently evil.

  • You don’t seem to understand that sharing sincere belief is not lying.

    If you knew your words were untrue you would be lying – as it is I assume you believe them to be true.

    Clearly believing what one says is true does not affect the veracity of the statement – therefore you, and my family members, can share false beliefs without lying.

  • Circular logic. See Him by looking (through my fallible mind) at things that He has done does not make sense unless you can prove that He has done them – and you can’t prove that He has done them unless you have already proved that He exists. – which you can’t since your only justification for thinking that He exists is looking at the works you think He’s done.

    You have neither a rational argument for God or for It’s works.

  • All religion is based on the behaviour of man – whether it be those who wrote the scripture or those who interpret it. I could argue with you about “man is inherently evil” but we’d have to define each of those four words and, since I rather suspect that your opinion is based on dogma rather than reason, I doubt we’d get to a consensus.

    I questioned whether the claim to be “reborn” or whatever was valid because the evidence was incompatible with the belief. Believers made that claim and it was demonstrably false. Any rational being learning that a major plank of a belief system is false will surely question other foundational beliefs. It turns out they are also without merit.

  • You don’t have to prove anything. Once you believe, He proves Himself over and over.

  • Ok. Not to be difficult, but can you elaborate on the claim and what exactly was demonstrably false. I’m just looking for the specifics on what the claim was and what you saw that made that claim false.

  • It is pretty hard to make the case that an organization dedicated to distributing bibles is “non-sectarian”.

  • Maybe that’s why the ABS has changed their mission. Bibles are easily available to everyone with a computer. You don’t need to buy anything, just go to biblegateway, biblehub, etc.

  • Had the Bible society, from its beginnings faced the kind of barrage of cultural accommodation to what is now “Radical Sexual Progressivism”, it may have had to become more definitive sooner. But the degree of societal degeneration— from divorce culture to abortion, to porn, to anything else the American Psychological Association declares as an “orientation” annually— has made this kind of action largely inevitable. The sexual revolution is now nothing more than cultural degeneration under the guise of diversity. The very people most addicted to “progress” can no longer even identify regress.

  • Or – once you have committed yourself to an unevidenced belief the fear that one might be wrong leads to imagining revelations that don’t occur, misinterpreting normal events, seeing coincidences as messages etc,. etc. etc..

    It’s called confirmation bias – and it is very well documented.

  • my dad’s healing of lung cancer was not a misrepresentation of “normal” events. Sorry.

  • I was told, by multiple people, that if I gave my life to Jesus (Remember – I was eight years old) I would become a better person. I did (sinner’s prayer + public confession) and I wasn’t.

    Then I looked at the actions of those who told me that “receiving the Holy Spirit” or words to that effect (something I’d already facilitated) would make me a good person and saw that they were not good people. Not all of them bad (though some sometimes were ) but no better than those who didn’t make the same profession. That lead me to believe that the change they promised was imaginary – a change some, at least, sincerely believed had happened – sincerely but clearly wrongly. I also suspected that some were using the words to gain their own ends and had little or no real belief.

    Specifics – Lying, malicious gossip, law-breaking – to the extent of risking innocent fatalities, (low level) financial misconduct, self-aggrandisement, selfishness, misleading others for personal gain, low-level sexual infidelity. I even overheard one senior layperson (who knew the truth) pretending that the vicar’s son (me) went to a highly-ranked fee-paying school rather than the public grammar school with a similar (but much longer) name.
    Remember – my father was a CofE vicar – I had a whole, locally fashionable church-full of people to observe and mix with – and yes some of them were lovely people – but then so were many of those who were not believers.

    That lead me to seek evidence for the beliefs that I had been given as facts. Facts should be demonstrably valid – they weren’t.
    The existence of god(s), devil, angels and demons – no evidence.
    Heaven and Hell – no evidence.
    The conviction that the Bible was the Word Of God – not possible without evidence for god(s) and contrary to most of what relevant evidence there is.
    The notion of a loving, perfectly good God – clearly at odds with the world I encountered daily.

    To this day (I’ve passed the three score and ten) no-one has ever provided me with a rational reason for belief in the supernatural – no-one.

  • There are a number of possible (and previously occurring) scenarios that might apply – none of which require a deity.

    The truth is that you don’t know what happened – you choose to replace that ignorance with “goddidit”. You can’t prove it – it is your belief.

  • I’d rather you spent the time doing something that could benefit humanity – knitting blankets for the homeless, making cakes to raise funds for those without access to clean water, volunteering at a hospice – whatever – it’s better than talking to yourself and I would be genuinely pleased.

  • Actually I believe Paul used the phrase seeing through a glass darkly but more importantly for people on the outside, it must be through those inside in spite of fallibility.

  • “No. I know the truth, thank you.”

    No. You know the TRUTH (Truly Ridiculous Unsupportable Theological Hogwash), thank you.

  • The gospels give an excellent view – one that Christ trusted would reveal Him, as well as the OT.
    “See through a glass darkly,” in my opinion, is how much Christ loves us, as that chapter is about love.

  • Thanks for sharing. Makes me feel sad that all of those people let you down. I still contend that to place ones trust in man is a certain recipe for disappointment. I do believe in the consequences of original sin and believe that each of us is broken in our own way. Which based on what you said above makes perfect sense (to me).
    Were you never able to see past the fallibility of those mentioned above to get to the truths of God?
    Also, are you open to seeking again?
    Finally, why do non believers fight so hard to convince believers not to believe? Are they trying to save Christians from disappointment? Or does it go back to the non-believers don’t believe, so they don’t want believers telling them how to live, or believe, etc.?
    Wish I could sit on a barstool and talk to you more.

  • Note that bob cariozen is also Charlotte N/A; who regardless of their user name needs to be blocked.

  • Well that is a rather ignorant jeremiad. You think in 200+ years of existence such a group has NOT seen major changes in social attitudes?

    Nope. It looks like for the last few years they lost focus and went all in with sectarian bias and bigotry as their cause. As clearly evidenced by their spat with Jewish groups..

  • Two hundred years may be all kinds of time for things to change, but I’ll guarantee you that the ABS never faced a time until today when the majority of Americans thought pornography was okay. Wake up, Spud.

  • LOL. Go to an art museum one day. Pornography is one of the oldest forms of expression.

    It’s funny that the last major politicians in America to attack pornography were convicted of corruption at the most blatant form.

    “Values voters” largely support serial adulterers, compulsive l!ars, swindlers, graft, sexual predators and thieves in public office, gladly.

    Its tough to take moral arguments about “licentious behavior” from people who are indifferent or supportive of actual tangible evils of society.

    Instead of worrying about what others do in the bedroom, worry about what others do with our money. Then maybe your self righteous blather could be taken seriously.

  • Do you actually think oil on canvas is what this is about? And I’m a values voter, but I’m not supporting what you’re suggesting. Once again, this just goes to prove that the cult of culture is warping us all— and the so-called sexual revolution is hardly guiltless. But that doesn’t make the ABS wrong to set up a Biblical standard.

  • I think you are one who thinks morals and values are something for others and not for one’s own actions. Someone more concerned with the acts of consensual adults in private settings than real immorality harming society in an obvious way. Indifference to hatred, greed and corruption.

    Jesus had far more to say against the self-righteous and judgmental who wrap themselves in scripture, such as yourself, than he had ever said (or can be honestly interpreted as) about “sexual indiscretion”.

    “Biblical Standards” are a joke. It is simply excuses to wag fingers at others and ignore actual moral behavior.

    ABS is very much wrong for betraying its own foundational values to embrace sectarian bias and bigotry.

  • And doubtless, folks like you would have thrown Jeremiah in a pit, run Amos out on a rail, and beheaded the likes of John the Baptist, whom Jesus called the greatest that had ever lived. Folks like you are still killing prophetic ministry, as you wallow in seduction all while railing against any sexual standard. May I remind you that no one had more to say about sexual standards than Jesus himself, who set the bar extraordinarily high?

  • Societal degeneration:

    Black people are the equals of white people.

    Jews are the equals of Christians.

    Gay people are the equals of heterosexual people.

    women are the equals of men.

    for starters.

    Not Societal degeneration:

    Spending ourselves into oblivion to give the rich tax breaks and finance our never ending wars.
    Electing a four times bankrupt, three times married, two Corinthians spouting, self announced adulterer and fornicator and sexual assaulter.

    Our never ending wars.

    Obsessing over the sexual lives of consenting adults who are also tax payers, productive, law abiding, contributing members of society, and telling everyone they are a threat to everything good and holy, not to mention, western civilization.

    being willing to tell any lie, no matter how vicious, to promote the previous.

    Gerrymandering and voter suppression to maintain the status quo.

    working to deny health insurance to everyone.

    Turning away the stranger at the gate.

    Calling our former president a Kenyan, a communist, a Marxist, a socialist, a muslim, anti-Christian.

    Calling the former Democratic candidate the personification of evil, denigrating liberals, Democrats, progressive people.

  • Sorry, I leave that to judgmental folk like you. The only people who are advocating attacking others and using God as a feeble excuse for their actions. The ones who are so more concerned with the behavior of others than what goes on in your own home.

    Unlike myself. I am not the one claiming people need to be ostracized, denied a livelihood, access to commerce, homes, or to be treated as less than human beings. That is all you. You are not claiming a moral position, you are simply rationalizing bigotry and trying to aggrandize yourself in the process. Have fun with your whited sepluchres.

    “May I remind you that no one had more to say about sexual standards than Jesus himself, who set the bar extraordinarily high?”

    Which is funny because he had little to nothing to say of such things. But he went on and on about those who are hateful, hypocritical, and wrap their sins up in the pages of scripture.

    Get back to me when you are ready to condemn actual evil in society such as hatred, greed, and corruption. Until then, you are just a nosybody who is too spineless to own up to your own prejudices.

  • I really do wonder how people like yourself can look in the mirror, claim to know Jesus, and say, “Which is funny because he had little to nothing to say of such things”. Whoever your teachers were in church or society, they did a lousy job.

  • It helps when people like yourself love to lie about scripture and make up their own wild self-serving interpretations. Conservative Christians don’t read the Bible, they proof-text it for excuses to act badly. They are not known for being honest or particularly respectful to others.

    Its especially galling in light to unambiguous sections concerning hypocrites, the self-righteous, and the malicious.

    I am not the one looking to attack people and using the Bible as an excuse. That is all you. The immoral conduct is plain in the actions taken.

  • For the record, I’m an ordained pastor— taught in a liberal theological context and paid to know what Scripture says. Now, what were you saying about lies?

  • As if that is a sign of honesty or moral thinking? Not at all. Especially considering your notion that “a Biblical position” involves maliciously attacking others in the name of your faith.

    You are paid to make claims about scripture which are congruent with your sect and congregation. It is hardly the same thing as knowing what Scripture says. There are plenty of theologians and clergy who do not share your views as well who are paid to make claims for their sect and congregations as well.

    Short of a narcissistic declaration of being a “true Christian”, your word isn’t any more credible on the subject than any others’.

  • So, first I’m a lying amateur, and now I’m a lying professional. Clearly, there’s no living up to you, is there?

  • Everyone who disagrees with the potato is a liar. He doesn’t know any other tune. Don’t waste your time.

  • Swell list.

    If you add “deliver us” to each to each one, you could give it to the San Francisco Motherhouse of Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence as the “Bay Area Litany”.

    In any case, a few questions.

    “Electing a four times bankrupt, three times married, two Corinthians spouting, self announced adulterer and fornicator and sexual assaulter.”

    Are you proposing that he should NOT have been elected because of those things? If you, how do you square that with your position that religion should stay at home?

    “Obsessing over the sexual lives of consenting adults who are also tax payers, productive, law abiding, contributing members of society, and telling everyone they are a threat to everything good and holy, not to mention, western civilization.”

    The obsessing appears to be on your side of the discussion.

    It wasn’t sex lives that became a matter of concern, it was defining “marriage”.

    “working to deny health insurance to everyone.”

    Any examples?

    “Calling the former Democratic candidate the personification of evil, denigrating liberals, Democrats, progressive people.”

    Considering your comments about the President, Republicans, conservatives, Christians, Orthodox Jews, etc. etc. etc. – aren’t you going beyond weird?

  • The “Good News” is the same today as it’s always been – the resurrection – the definitive rebuke to the bondage and terror of Death. If that’s not “good news” to you, you’re on the wrong side of that divide.

  • We may not be ready “to condemn actual evil in society such as hatred, greed, and corruption”.

    Can we begin by condemning you and working our way up from that bottom?

  • Half the people on this board use pseudonyms. So what? Who cares what he calls himself? But I guess attacking his identity is easier than attacking his arguments.

  • Everyone who disagrees with the Spuddiesaur is not just a liar, they’re also morally inferior — a bigot, a hater, a hypocrite, a deceiver — you name it. There are two forms of ambition on display here: personal and political.

    Personally, it’s a need to exalt himself above others (especially his ideological opponents), an urge to feel superior, and to “know” that his political opinions are impervious to criticism from morally inferior people.

    Politically, it’s a reflection of the fact that Progressives have no “policies” to run on or commend to others. All they have is the passions of Identity Politics, and the accompanying claim that they have the right to rule because they are superior people.

    Where have I heard that one before?

  • Arguably the world would have been a better place if those who were imperfect had not been so. But since their behaviour, combined with secondary education and the expanded world that came with it, gave me the impetus to question that which I had uncritically accepted I can’t condemn them.

    I looked for “the truths of God” – I never found them – never even found any grounds for thinking they exist to be found.

    “Also, are you open to seeking again?” – I’m not sure about “seeking” – I think that one of the reasons I come here may be to test my rejection of supernaturality – so far nothing causes me to think I got it wrong nearly sixty years ago.

    Why? – I can only speak for myself and my ability to view myself dispassionately may not be great enough to guarantee veracity.

    Since I don’t see any reason to suppose life continues after the body dies disappointment is, IMO, impossible.
    Don’t want to be told how to act/think by believers – possibly but since the believers have traditionally only ceased being horrible to each other when they become united in their fear of apostasy and atheism I don’t think this is a major factor.

    I am a humanist – an atheist with attitude,
    I believe that we should endeavour to live the one life we know we have to the best of our abilities – for ourself, our family, friends, neighbours, etc. etc. up to and including future generations.
    Humanism is positive – it is a “non-faith world-view” which offers an alternative to superstition based on reason and the search for valid evidence.
    I reject the Golden Rule as selfish and conceited – if I have a rule it is “Do whatever you want to do – provided it harms no-one other than yourself”. (And yes – sometimes harm is unavoidable – but it should be minimised whenever possible). Decision making is more likely to be “right” when undertaken using the principles of the scientific method rather than the writings of people with an agenda living in a world with almost no knowledge of how the things in that world (including people) work.

    I have known many people who have been harmed, mainly psychologically, by beliefs that are unsupported by evidence or reason.

    Hunger because the money that would have provided food had been tithed (because the promise is that God will repay? – the few occasions where good fortune ensues are never demonstrated to be linked to “giving” by anything more than irrational belief).
    It’s an odd god that can make a universe but can’t support his followers with an occasional gold bar in the church safe.
    It defies explanation that a deity would beggar its believers and let the unbelievers have the foreign holidays, big houses, foreign cars etc. doesn’t it – until you remember the historic working class advice as to how to keep your wife – keep her barefoot, poor and pregnant and she’ll never leave home.

    Lack of care/medication because of superstition-based beliefs.

    The torments of people who don’t fit the vicious and ignorant binary sexuality of most religion

    The demeaning of human beings because they think that their deity has determined their lot and that seeking to better themselves, and the lot of those around them, is to disrespect their deity. (my mother would cheerfully sing “The rich man in his castle, the poor man at his gate, He made them high or lowly and ordered their estate”. – my father, to his credit, refused to include it in any service he lead).

    The demeaning of half of humanity because men claim that their unevidenced deity put men in charge and women (an afterthought) were inferior.

    The mental illness caused by unevidenced and irrational beliefs such as “original sin”, Hell and Heaven. (Aside – why would anyone want to go to Heaven – just think about what it has to be, how totally disrespecting of humanity that concept is when it’s implications are rationally thought through).

    In my opinion the baleful influence of supernatural belief (of which religion is but a sub-set) is, on balance, harmful to humanity at all levels from the individual to the global .

    People are exposed from birth to direct and indirect pro-religion propaganda; hopes, fears, wishes and terrors presented (often sincerely) as fact rather than as the unsubstantiated and irrational tools of social manipulation they are.

    I seek to present an alternative view.
    – – – – – – –
    That’ll teach you to ask won’t it (:-))

  • If he weren’t so vulgar and obnoxious you could pity the guy. How awful to be that hate-filled and inadequate.

  • She didn’t say YOU lied, she said you BELIEVED a lie. I’m sure your belief was sincere, but your state of mind has nothing to do with the question of whether WHAT you believed was a true picture of reality, or a deliberately constructed misdirection (i.e., a “lie”).

  • I assume you are responding to this
    “No. To lie is to say something that one knows to be untrue.

    What I believed was a genuinely held belief – just as strongly and genuinely held as any of yours.

    Like yours it was false.”

    For clarification

    No. To lie is to say something that one knows to be untrue.

    What I was told by others was their genuinely held belief – just as strongly and genuinely held as any of yours.

    Like yours it was false.

  • The problem is, he’s just smart enough to realize he’s NOT the smartest guy in the room — and it apparently bugs him to the point that he straps on a set of mental and moral stilts to raise himself above…everybody else in the room. But it’s an image that, because it’s artificial, has to be constantly propped up — hence his obsession with asserting it.

  • No clarification, just a continuation of confusion. The “Christians” you berated may have been mistaken in their belief that they were “born again,” but there was no measure of deliberate deception involved, no statement that “they knew to be untrue” – a necessary ingredient of “lying” Your claim of “equivalence” is baseless.

  • I can explain it for you – I can’t comprehend it for you.

    What “equivalence” have I claimed?

    I have not claimed that all those who claimed to be “born again” were lying – I suspect that some (a minority) may have not been believers and were lying.

    You seem to be trying to find a fight that doesn’t exist.

  • Correction:

    “The “Good News” is the same today as it’s always been – the [fake news of a] resurrection . . .”

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