The Christians Making Atheists

Growing-up in the Church, I was taught that the worst thing one could be was a non-believer; that nothing was as tragic as a doomed soul that condemned itself by rejecting God. The religion of my childhood drew a sharp, clear line between the saved and the damned. All that mattered was making sure someone found themselves on the better side of this line—and the Atheists and Humanists didn’t have a shot.

In light of this supposed truth, the heart of the faith (I was told), was to live in a way that reflected the character and love of Jesus so vividly, so beautifully, that others were compelled to follow after him; that a Christian’s living testimony might be the catalyst for someone’s conversion. The Bible called it “making disciples” and it was the heart of our tradition. As the venerable hymn declared, we Jesus people were to be known—by our love.

What a difference a couple of decades make.

Just ask around. People outside the Church will tell you: love is no longer our calling card. It is now condemnation, bigotry, judgment and hypocrisy. In fact, the Christianity prevalent in so much of America right now isn’t just failing to draw others to Christ, it is actively repelling them from him. By operating in a way that is in full opposition to the life and ministry of Jesus—it is understandably producing people fully opposed to the faith that bears his name.

In record numbers, the American Church is consistently and surely making Atheists—or at the very least it is making former Christians; people who no longer consider organized religion an option because the Jesus they recognize is absent. With its sky-is-falling hand-wringing, its political bed-making, and its constant venom toward diversity, it is giving people no alternative but to conclude, that based on the evidence of people professing to be Godly—that God is of little use. In fact, this God may be toxic.

And that’s the irony of it all; that the very Evangelicals who’ve spent that last 50 years in this country demonizing those who reject Jesus—are the single most compelling reason for them to do so. They are giving people who suspect that all Christians are self-righteous, hateful hypocrites, all the evidence they need. The Church is confirming the outside world’s most dire suspicions about itself.

These people aren’t stupid. They realize that bigotry, even when it is wrapped in religion or justified by the Bible spoken from a pulpit is still bigotry. They can smell the putrid stench of phony religion from a mile away—and this version of the Church, frankly reeks of it. People are steering clear in droves, choosing to find meaning and community and something that resembles love outside its gatherings.

With every persecution of the LGBTQ community, with every unprovoked attack on Muslims, with every planet-wrecking decision, with every regressive civil rights move—the flight from Christianity continues. Meanwhile the celebrity preachers and professional Christians publicly beat their breasts about the multitudes walking away from God, oblivious to the fact that they are the impetus for the exodus.

And one day soon, these same religious folks will look around, lamenting the empty buildings and the irrelevance of the Church and a world that has no use for it, and they’ll wonder how this happened. They’ll blame a corrupt culture, or the liberal media, or a rejection of Biblical values, or the devil himself—but it will be none of those things.

No, the reason the Church soon will be teetering on the verge of extinction and irrelevance, will be because those entrusted to perpetuate the love of Jesus in the world, lost the plot so horribly, and gave the world no other option but to look elsewhere for goodness and purpose and truth.

Soon these Christians will ask why humanity has rejected Jesus and we will remind them of these days, and assure them that they have not rejected Jesus at all—they just found no evidence of him in the Church.

 

 

 

435 thoughts on “The Christians Making Atheists

  1. John,

    You hit the nail on the head again!

    I have nothing but contempt for the righteous “Christians” I’m surrounded by in my rural location.

    — Teri

    • Teri, I know what you mean. I feel surrounded. Both of my son’s have left, gone to college and will not even go back into town. They come to visit us in the country but say the town and the people in it are nothing but depressing.

      • James,

        Your sons say “… the town and the people in it are nothing but depressing” ?

        In the rural area I’m in (central Texas near Austin), Almost all the people here are Repugnican evangelists and hence FOX (only) news watchers. It is impossible to rationally discuss anything beyond the current weather, the climate is simply verboten unless you think it’s a Chinese hoax, I’m of Chinese parents but born here.

        I am one of the most educated persons here (BSME & MSEE) with a strong literary education. Science is basically my religion now as it is a search for actual knowledge. Belief is limited to theories but always subject to rejection from experiments which may not support it.

        I moved here to look at the stars but miss having educated persons to discuss things. Fortunately, I’m only about 50 miles from Austin which is the blue island in a bloody (in the British and literal meanings) red state.

        Yesterday, I went to the “March for Truth” protest in Austin and will become active in the Resistance.

        — Teri

        • As a native Texan, Austin is not a singular blue island (and it is also not half as liberal as it appears on its face), I promise you. Dallas-Fort Worth is about on par with Austin, as is Houston and El Paso. The entire southern half of the Rio Grande Valley, farther south along the border with Mexico, is probably farther left than any of those places.

          As someone who grew up in the rural eastern part of the state, I completely sympathize with your situation. Far too many Christians lost sight of what was right a long time ago; they worship the idols of dominionist thought and “prosperity gospel”— their very own capitalist heresy. They might not have a physical golden calf standing upon their church altars, but for all they care for the tenets of the faith these days, it might as well be parked front and center before the pastor’s pulpit.

          • Please, Robyn, if what you say about the southern region of Texas is true, I beg you to work very hard at turning out the “blue” vote. I don’t have to remind you of what a big electoral prize Texas is.

        • Teri, enjoy those stars and the country! There are many wonderful elements to rurality – but societal intellectual awareness isn’t one of them. This pretty much the case in rural regions in every culture. Enjoy what the country gives you, and enjoy what the city gives you. I’m in C.S., down the road and similarly surrounded, but you’d be surprised, the tide is turning with the collegiate youth. Religion is dying in the U.S. and the internet is killing it. Evangelicalism is a death-throe. I think in 2 generations we’ll be on par with Europe re atheism/humanism as majority. I’m sure other superstitious beliefs will take its place, as is common – most humans need something of the sort for peace – but it’s happening.

        • Just showing a little solidarity from Bell County. I wish my job enabled me to live or work with more like-minded individuals. Cheers.

          • Susan, of course yours got it right. That is what every follower says about their church…”We got it right”. The truth is, every religion every dreamed of since the dawn of humanity has an equal (and low) probability of having “got it right”.

            • Carson, sometimes people do get it right.

              Those are not the people John P is talking about in this piece.

            • Carson, I agree with Susan. The UMC is typically more liberal than some other Christian religions. Growing up our church reached out to other places of worship to bring our community closer together. The youth group and adults wanting to join us went to services at other places of worship to promote understanding & acceptance. We were LGBT+ friendly. Questioning & discussing was encouraged without judgement or condemnation. Services were unique to our community but could include sage & drums and after church gatherings could include Judaic or Islamic customs. We welcomed everyone. We were encouraged to reach out to our neighbors in our town, in towns surrounding, in towns worldwide including those in middle eastern countries. I never was compelled to convert anyone. We were simply asked to behave in a loving, compassionate way to represent Christians that should not be feared so we might grow closer. Despite our imperfections our intent was for acceptance, hope, love and peace and did not include conversion.
              Today, the only reason I might still call myself a Christian is because of that church. Admittedly though, the loud hypocritical Christians have made me question the relevancy of Christianity as a religion following the teachings of a loving prophet of hope and peace.

        • Perhaps you are not ‘seeing’ the stars that are right in front of you because you are looking at the light of stars that was released a very long time ago. Consider, ” When I see red I cannot see blue. What else don’t I see when I see red or when I see blue.” [Not the political colors, but the idea works in any case.]
          One does not ‘hold’ beliefs, but is ‘held’ by them. In what way are you ‘held’ by your beliefs about Christianity?

    • From Johns viewpoint, It makes sense that all the ‘good’ people would leave the bigoted, hateful, fundamental Christian Church.

      But, it doesn’t seem like they are attracted to the Liberal Church either (which is losing even more members). (Episcopal, Lutheran, Presbyterian, etc.)

      [Just wonder a little bit, as to why they don’t partake in the Churches that do have progressive Christian theology?]

      • Leslie, I can tell you one reason why thinking, feeling people have no use for ANY church. The small denominational churches (like the one I was a member of for many years) decided long ago to become fundamentalist. They saw how the mega-churches raked in the people and the money, and they decided that was the way to stop losing people and dollars. In so doing, they alienated people like me who were there because of the kindness and the sense of family we found there – and also because we had always loved the traditions and rituals of the service of the particular denomination we belonged to. No longer is there a Methodist, a Presbyterian service. It’s just nondenominational, un-Christlike BS, with an atmosphere like a rock concert. Who needs it?

        • Oh, Susan, what a shame your church went in that direction. I would hate that kind of service. What was that Sheldon Cooper’s mother said? “Change the prayers and the next thing you, you’ve got guitars in church.”

          I can’t stand pop music of any sort be it Strauss waltzes, bubble gum, or praise music unless it is Taize.

          Give me a good old Episcopalian liturgy every time.

          • Gloriamarie, that quote about sums it up! And the music situation in the modern church is a particular burr under my saddle. As I mentioned, I can’t abide the drums, guitars, keyboards and lights. I always enjoyed the time before the service began – it was quiet, with the organ playing very softly, almost imperceptibly. If people talked, it was in an undertone, not disturbing others. I was able to use that time to center myself; to reflect on the week past, and prepare for the week ahead. No longer – everyone talks and laughs as if it were the social hour AFTER church, kids run around shrieking unattended, you can’t hear yourself think, much less meditate. And don’t even get me started on those moronic “praise songs” that have largely replaced the good old hymns. One in particular grates on me: “Our God is an awesome God”, repeated over and over and over again. Honestly. Nursery rhymes have more depth and scope than that crap. The only church in the area that has what I’m looking for is 25 miles away. I rather doubt that I’ll ever go back to church at this point in my life….

            • I agree with that. I liked the quiet time before the service, after getting two kids ready, making sure I looked presentable, after all we were a reflection on the minister, that time helped me slow my mind, pull my thoughts together to center myself on the service and the message. By the way the message was always wonderful. Just saying, anyway, for me that time was needed. I also agree on the song choice, but I love the old hymns. Peace,

              • Kathleen, I too love the old hymns, the older the better, such as the one from the Didache, or the medieval hymns. Wesley.

                I don’t much care for the hymns of the 19th century, usually. A few exceptions.

                My very favorite is by Thomas Aquinas, “Now my tongue the mystery telling…”

            • Susan, I am 100% with you on this. I love to sit in silence before the service. I would also love to sit in silence after the service and listen to the postlude. But as soon as the priest dismisses us and we respond “Thanks be to God, alleluia” there is an explosive cacophony of voices such that I wonder why the organist even bothers to play the postlude.

              The theology is that when we enter a church, we have entered a bit of actual Heaven on earth, Jesus is present in the candles and in the gathering of two or three of us, so why not listen to what He has to say for a change?

        • Susan. hmm.. that’s really interesting. I had never heard of that before. I thought the trend was in the other direction, that the conservative churches were becoming more Liberal. Did they actually quit their denomination officially? And the Pastor did as well? I enjoy traditional church liturgy, and go to Catholic church sometimes, and Anglican Church sometimes (in addition to a very small conservative christian church, –which is my home church.)

          • Hallelujah, finally the truth comes out.

            “a very small conservative christian church, –which is my home church”

            So you just like trolling Episcopal blogs and websites, you aren’t actually one of us!

              • WOW, that’s grand, someone just says something more or less contemplating and is cast out immediately as being “not one of us”… Now, that’s rich. Jesus would be so proud of you. She said nothing offensive, nothing trolling, and since this is an easily readable blog, people who are “not one of you” might read and say something. SO glad I am NOT “one of you” either. So glad I was brought up with a firm believe in equality between people, trust in the inherent goodness of all, not depending on their colour, nation, gender of whatever, and above all, without any god to tell me which people to exclude. Also very happy not to be born in the US, but that is an entirely different story. 😀

            • David Allen
              Your words could be interpreted as being divisive and unwelcoming. My father is reverend of the UMC. The church we were a part of for my teen years had a parsonage two doors down from the Episcopal church’s parsonage. The Father had a daughter my age. We were both allowed to go to either church’s services & gatherings. We were both welcomed in the UMC and the Episcopal church.
              Also, I didn’t realize this is an Episcopal blog. I like what John Pavlovitz says. I go to blogs nurturing our spiritual growth, compassion and desire to connect, not divide. It doesn’t matter to me which religion, or even if it’s not a Christian religion. We need to reach out!

              • Actually the UMC used to be the Methodist Episcopal Church, it only became the United Meth Church in 1969. A little history, and I don’t think this is a Episcopal Blog, although there are people who comment here who are Episcopal. Peace,

      • Many supposedly liberal churches have not really completely returned to Jesus. Also, it is not easy to follow when Jesus says to give up all that you have and follow him.

        • I agree, John Indiana, and a lot of those liberal churches have been taken over by fundamentalists, at least on the local level. That is what happened with the church we attended. Peace,

        • If someone dislikes over-generalizations, I wonder why that same person would use them?

          There are various kinds of allegedly liberal churches depending on where one finds one’s self on the continuum that stretches between the far right and the far left.

          To someone on the extreme right, a church smack dab in the middle of the continuum, and therefore by definition a moderate church, would seem “liberal” to someone on the extreme right.

          To someone on the far left, that church in the middle is probably considered too conservative.

          I see this mistake made every day. I’ve been to Orthodox Presbyterian churches that were damned as “liberal” by evangelical non-demonationalists. (I made that word up, I think.)

      • Leslie. Could you please provide the rest of the readers here your personal, operative definitions of the two terms:

        Progressive Christianity

        Liberal Christianity

        The reason I am asking is that people like you tend to sling these two terms around in conversation with complete disregard to the formal dictionary or encyclopedia definitions of these terms, and I often find that different, ordinary people have their own personal definitions of these two terms that differ from the definitions of the other two people sitting on the sofa in the room.

        For example, if I recall correctly, here on the blog, you once accused my church, The United Methodist Church, of being a Progressive Christian church because it does not believe in the divinity of Jesus Christ—which is an out-n-out lie. All you have to do is check the UMC official literature to nail that lie.

        If you are going to continue to repeatedly use these two terms here in your passive-aggressive war against John Pavlovitz and the other nonfundie Christians here, I think you at least owe us your own two personal definitions of these two terms so we can understand why you hate us so much—and whether the accusations you make against us on an almost daily basis on behalf of your father, Satan, are correct.

        Thank you very much.

        • “People like you?” Weren’t we just discussing how judgmental the Churches had become? Can we have this discussion without becoming judgmental ourselves? Let’s try to be kind and openhearted, eh?

          As for why people aren’t flocking to the more liberal Churches, well, ‘once burned, twice shy’. Shopping for a Church is a dicey thing and maybe they just don’t want to risk it.

          • Well, there’s also the fact that liberal churches–according to Pew Forum statistics–are very, very white, more so than such conservative churches as Jehovah’s Witness and Seventh Day Adventists. If we (and I belong to a United Methodist Church) are to call ourselves liberal, why aren’t we more open to people of color as we say we should be? We can preach racial equality, but if we don’t see people of color in our own churches, isn’t that going to make our claims suspect?

            • Lots of POC in the Episcopal Church. In fact, our Presiding Bishop is a POC.

              Although you refer to “Pew Forum statistics”
              I note you don’t actually cite them.

        • I was going to ask her to quit with the generalizations of something she clearly knows naught of. Since the discipline of the UMC is pretty big, got one here, I would think she would refrain from any blanket statement of their beliefs. And it changes from time to time. And it is has a different slant depending on the area the church is in and depending on the congregation. I know, I spent most of my life in the UMC church. I would go to my sisters church in a heartbeat, not to one of them close to me. So there is that. Thanks,

        • In the first 4 books of the New testament pay close attention to what Jesus does and says. This should be the bedrock of Christianity .

          • Thank you, but not familiar with that. Does anyone know what it takes to be a christian? And, what difference does it make?

            • The hallmark of Christian faith is the gospel. It is God’s love for us while we are sinners. It is about his mercy towards us when we don’t deserve it– because we all fall short even when trying to do good.

              Jesus’s teachings are radical and wholly different from other teachings by world religions. He said things like:

              –the first will be last and the last first
              — love your enemies
              — bless those who curse you.
              — forgive or you won’t be forgiven

              No other religion teaches unconditional love that forgives people who sin. Other religions teach the golden rule, wise sayings, good vs evil, or darkness and light, eye for an eye, karma, reincarnation ect…

              Jesus taught grace.

              He taught that we couldn’t possibly pay back our debt to God or to each other.

              Therefore grace which is unmerited pardon allows us to forgive those that hurt us and move on without bringing it up over and over and over again— so that a space opens up for reconciliation where healing can happen.

              Jesus is unlike any other who walked the earth and when you meet him your life changes course and even good people realize their shortcomings and sins.

              • Well said, and I am sorry you have experienced mean people. They are just so nasty, aren’t they?

            • Bradley,
              That is A) an awesome questions and B) one that everyone should ask before they decide the path of their life. I would like to make an attempt at answering your questions as a former Athiest and Agnostic who is now a non-denominational Christian.

              So question one of your is “What does it take to be a Christian?” Well this is not an easy question to answer as every denomination of “religion” seems to have a different set of stuff that they think makes you the “flavor” of Christian. However, I became a Christian through one very simple step, I simply decided to accept Christ as my savior. There was no formal ceremony or ritualistic prayer I had to recite. One Sunday morning I simply decided there was something to this Christ thing and decided I wanted to learn more and follow what I learned. Pretty simple actually. Later I was baptized, and as I have grown in my relationship with Christ I have become active in my church from a volunteer perspective, I read the bible (though not as often I probably should), and I just try to do the two very hard things Christ called Christians to do “lover God and love everyone else.” Trust me that has not always been easy…

              As for your second question “What difference does it make?” Well the simple response to that is only those who accept Christ spend eternity with God. But as a reformed Athiest I know if you don’t believe in God, hell doesn’t really scare you. So what difference does it make? Well you can be a better person without believing in God. You can volunteer to help the needy without believing in God. You can actually do everything God says makes you a Christian without actually believing in him. The difference is I do it all not out of love for myself, but rather out of my love for God and in appreciation for the fact that His Son came to earth and died for my sins so that I might someday be with God. But if you don’t believe there isn’t much value in that.

              So the bottom line is you have to one day decided there might be something to this whole Christ thing and decide you want to learn more and follow what you learn. Then and only then does being a Christian make a difference…

              I hope that helps and if there is anything else I can do to help you I would be honored to do so…

              Peace!

              • Well said. Without God, I’d be doing the good and wonderful things while looking for reward/acknowledgment from others. I’m quite the self-interested person. With God, I know I’m already loved and accepted beyond measure, so looking for gratification in doing good is not a motivator. Which makes doing and being a better person easier, in my opinion 😉

              • I think this is a good response! I’d simply add that you are commanded to love God with all your heart mind strength and soul. You can’t do that without belief in Him. Without faith in Him, believing in Him, it’s not possible to do everything a Christian is to do. My only qualm with your summation. Also a non-denom.

            • Bradley, I think what it takes to be a Christian is best expressed in the Book of Micah, chapter 6 verse 8, which says in part “…what doth the Lord require of thee but to do justly, and to love mercy and to walk humbly with thy God?” That makes for a much bigger tent than what the fundamentalists allow, and if you do those things – well, it will make a great deal of difference to the world.

            • Hi Bradley,
              A Christian is one who has been saved from all their sin by faith in Jesus Christ, the son of God. Once you hear and believe that Jesus died on a cross to pay for your sin, was buried in a tomb, and was raised from the dead 3 days later, turn from your sin and receive Him as Lord, you are now His follower, a child of God, a born again “Christian”. Being a Christian is not about religion, it is about a new life, following and obeying your Lord and saviour, Jesus. Following Him, above all means loving God and people. Pretty simple

        • Bradley, the most basic definition of what it means to be a Christian is one who follows Jesus, who reads how He tells us to live and live accordingly.

          Jesus did not come to turn people into Christians. He came to make us better people. By being better people, we help the world become a better place.

          That is the simplest answer I can offer you.

          Some people may answer your questions with a magic formula to recite, you recite those words and, Wingardium Leviosa, you are now a Christian.

          • One of my favorite scriptures is Romans 1:16 I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God for the salvation of everyone who believes, first for the Jew, then the Gentile. Believing and accepting that Jesus is God, came down to earth as a baby, born of a virgin, grew to be a man and died and shed his blood to cover our sins. Yes, there has to be repentance and a personable confession that he is your savior. Evangelical Christians did not come up with this crucial prayer, our Lord did! You are not born a Christian , at some point you have to believe, repent and accept him as your Savior which is the Gospel. Don’t look to people for they will always disappoint you, look to Jesus. Hope this helps.

            • “es, there has to be repentance and a personable confession that he is your savior. Evangelical Christians did not come up with this crucial prayer, our Lord did! ”

              This is indeed the way evangelicals interpret that passage and not how it was taught in the Early Church. I have no respect for the Reformation reformulations simply because they hated the RCC.

              I am not a reformation Christian, never have been, never will be. I knew Jesus from childhood. Either you believe that or you call me a liar. I don’t really care. I merely fed up with the ignorance of evangelicals and fundies with the history of our faith and their refusal to view it within historical contexts and only through the lens of the Reformation, those Johnny Come Latelies.

        • Bradley, a true Christian is one that follows and acts on the teachings of Jesus Christ as described in the Bible. The first action being to except his testimony that he is the son of God our Creator and belief in him and accepting him as one’s personal savior will result in eternal life with God the father , God the son and God the Holy Spirit – also known as the Triune God. (Other name Jehovah.)

          • Bradley, that is the magic formula I warned you about.

            I have been a Christian since I was a wee tiny child and never heard about having to proclaim this incantation until I was in my twenties.

            One can follow, love, and know Jesus without that formula. Millennia of people lived lives of faith before that formula became a demand by evangelicals.

          • Really? Please direct me to where any of the 12 disciples repeated anything similar to what you wrote? Don’t make this harder than it needs to be for those who are looking for the path to follow Christ. Christ said, ” Follow me” and they did. It is that simple there is no special prayer you have to say or ceremony that has to take place. You simply decided that you are going to follow Christ and you follow him. Christ is a doorway to God, no lock or need to say open sesame in order to open it. You just turn the door knob and walk through.

            • Ah, but the hard part comes after you walk through that door, because you need to leave your hatred, bigotry and ego on the other side. You need to walk the walk, love the unlovable, feed the hungry, put clothes on the poor, welcome the immigrant, without making any judgement on their soul, only concern for your own. Darn near impossible but if you try, persevere, God forgives you your shortcomings and is with you as you try to do better. That’s my take. It is not for the faint of heart. Peace and Love,

              • Totally true… The path of Christ is not easy. In fact, He specifically says it isn’t easy. The easiest part of the entire journey is the first step. However, it is not a journey you are on alone, as you point out Christ also says “fear not because I am with you”. The cool thing is if you focus in on “Love God and Love Everyone Else” the rest kind of takes care of itself… 🙂 And on some days that is the hardest thing you will ever have to do…

                • Amen to that. There are some really unlovable folk out there. I am of a mind that they perhaps need the love more, so I continue, one step at a time, one person at a time, one moment at a time. Peace and Love,

        • Why don’t ya’ll just go to the book of ACTS and read.
          This Book tells you how God would like the Church to be. Simple..
          Our Church has gotten rid of all the trappings of the pagan traditions that oozed into the Churches over the last couple of decades and now only obey what God has said how to run, act., be in the Church. We do as David did as well. There is nothing wrong with drums., guitars, keyboards., if they are used in as Holy Spirit directs. There is really beautiful music to be made by these instruments that God has ordained to to made obviously; and used to his delight. Therefore, it is how YOU as a Congregant react. I love our Church., but there are days there too., that I feel we are not addressing the Church of today and fall into the old trap of 3 hymns.,sermon and go home. No real commitment to Holy Spirit filled services., but that is up to the Officiant to be led. We have upbeat services that Celebrate Jesus. YES, CELEBRATE JESUS., and get rid of the old., curmudgeon rules and regulations. Be glad that you have young people who want to participate in a Jesus led church at all. So remember, God’s Kingdom is a Party., he has called us to surrender and love his Son Jesus., and to do as Jesus would do. Be open., loving to ALL PEOPLE’S., that seems to be most of the problem in some churches, they will take your tithes but really not want anything to do with you personally., if you happen to be different in any way such as LGBTQ or a converted Jew or Muslim. So Let’s be people that Jesus would admire and bring the Church back to who it was rightfully stated to Praise and Worship and wait for His coming again. Good Job once again John, another nail hit right on the proper head.

          • Bob,
            Although this is all accurate I have two questions… 1) what of any of this answers Bradley’s original question and 2) Why on earth would anyone answer the question of someone seeking God with an answer about the church. If a person has yet to find a belief in God, trust me they have zero belief in the church or the bible for that matter. So talking to them about how awesome church can be is as useless to them as telling them they need to become a Christian so they don’t go to hell like the Bible says. People who don’t believe in God, don’t believe in hell so it doesn’t really scare them. Likewise, people who are not yet on their journey with Christ don’t really give a flying hoot about church.

            I think this is an example of one problematic issue with Christianity today they make God and church synonymous. When someone asks a question about God they are immediately fed a bunch of information about the church. Why? Is that they only place people think God can be found? Christ says “For where two or three gather in my name, there am I with them.” There was not “church” in Christ’s time there were only people gathered together in his name. In fact the “church” as a tool of the Pharisees not of Christ. Do you want to start someone on their journey with Christ? Invite them to have coffee with you, or maybe even (gasp) a beer. Meet them where they are so that you can slowly show them the way, don’t expect them to meet you on a path you are already on that they can’t find for all the trees.

            When people ask a question like Bradley is asking they want to know what it means to you, not what it says in Acts about being a Christian or what you heard in a sermon last week. What does it mean to you in your words, in your life, in your world of today?

            I am happy you have good things to say about your church, not everyone does. However, I don’t believe jumping off on that is not what someone seeking to hear about Christ and what being a Christian is all about is asking for.

            • Andy, I agree with you. I thought when I read Bob’s comment, how nice for him to have a church like that, but it didn’t really answer the question and it doesn’t help if you don’t have a church like that near you. I like tea myself but I would be willing to do the beer if that would make someone more comfortable. I also think that by truly practicing what Jesus taught would make people want to be around you and want to know how you come by the joy and love you share with the world. Then there is an opening to explain about your faith, it makes more sense to me that it be in that order than the other. Peace,

            • Andy, I agree with you. I thought when I read Bob’s comment, how nice for him to have a church like that, but it didn’t really answer the question and it doesn’t help if you don’t have a church like that near you. I like tea myself but I would be willing to do the beer if that would make someone more comfortable. I also think that by truly practicing what Jesus taught would make people want to be around you and want to know how you come by the joy and love you share with the world. Then there is an opening to explain about your faith, it makes more sense to me that it be in that order than the other. Peace and Love,

            • Andy A, I agree with you. I thought when I read Bob’s comment, how nice for him to have a church like that, but it didn’t really answer the question and it doesn’t help if you don’t have a church like that near you. I like tea myself but I would be willing to do the beer if that would make someone more comfortable. I also think that by truly practicing what Jesus taught would make people want to be around you and want to know how you come by the joy and love you share with the world. Then there is an opening to explain about your faith, it makes more sense to me that it be in that order than the other. Peace and Love,

            • Andy A, I agree with you. I like tea myself but I would be willing to do the beer if that would make someone more comfortable. I also think that by truly practicing what Jesus taught would make people want to be around you and want to know how you come by the joy and love you share with the world. Then there is an opening to explain about your faith, it makes more sense to me that it be in that order than the other. Peace and Love,

        • Many people will call themselves “Christian” because they are of the belief it can be used as a broad category eliminating other religions, like Hindu, Muslim, and such. A Christian is a follower of Christ. They not only believe
          that Christ came to save the world from it’s sins, but that each individual must accept this truth and ask the Lord for this gift of forgiveness and salvation. Just believing that Christ is real is not enough .

          There are so many generic “Christians”
          that want to water down the teachings of the Bible to fit their current day reality.
          and get more people in their pews and build bigger churches. They try to be seeker friendly, and about a social community . The true message of the Bible, and yes some unpopular teachings are lost. I do not “hate” any of the lgtb , or Muslims, I have friends I love dearly in the lifestyle, or practicing, Buddists, and Muslims. But you can also bet I pray for them daily .

          • “But you can also bet I pray for them daily .”

            Then you don’t accept them, so you are not following Christ. You need not worry about them, merely love them. You need not judge them, merely love them. You need not convert them them, merely live a good life full of acceptance and love. With Grace this will be evident to everyone around you and be a thoughtful example for them to perhaps follow.

            Full disclosure: I was raised a Christian (Roman Catholic) but rejected the need for the structure of a church and eventually even the need to believe in a god at all. I kept the message though. I’m certainly not always successful but I know that the society I live in is better when people love and respect each other despite our differences.

      • Dear leslie m.:

        Wouldn’t it make more sense for all the ‘good’ people in the fundamental Christian [sic] ‘Church’ [sect] censure/excommunicate the hateful bigot members? Or, are hateful bigots attracted to fundamentalist sects precisely because they know that they won’t be disciplined under their lax [i.e., non-existent] polity?

        Blessings!

      • Leslie makes the interesting point that people who leave the church over its regressive attitudes are not drawn to the “progressive” churches either. But that’s because I think that she and Mr. Pavlovitz have a slight misconception about what’s really happening here.

        Sorry John, I like you but Christianity just DOES NOT MAKE LOGICAL SENSE. I could go into a long-winded explanation of why, but that’s another subject. The point is that when an ideology is as full of logical holes as Christianity is, it’s emotion that keeps you in the fold. It’s that feeling of warmth and acceptance that makes you think “this has to be true, even though the intellectuals tell me there are holes”.

        Once that feeling is shattered, one’s whole affinity for the faith can be lost, and a more “progressive” church won’t solve the problem. Without that emotional anchor, the person will just drift away. The more progressive church will merely be a way-station for the disillusioned former Christian on his way to becoming either a New Ager or an atheist.

        • And thank God being a Christ-follower and Christ-emulator does not make logical human sense. Look where our human logic has taken us.

        • Michael Wong wrote “The point is that when an ideology is as full of logical holes as Christianity is, it’s emotion that keeps you in the fold.”

          No, Christianity is not full of logical holes when one bases one’s understanding of it upon what Jesus actually says and what the writers of the New Testament and EarlyChurch wrote.

          It is when the unqualified start interpreting the Gospel that we get holes or when people interpret the Gospel according to their own agendas.

          Now, I grant you, Entirely Too Many people are unqualified and have their own agendas.

          But above all, we must not allow their misguided actions or their failure to live out the Gospel to put us off the actual words of Jesus.

      • leslie m, from any “viewpoint,” people are “once bitten, twice shy” and while some of us will search for a better or more open and loving church, most just give it up altogether.

        Also I do not know what church you think markets itself as a “Liberal Church” such that people who leave fundamentalist or conservative churches would “know” who they are.

        Lastly, a lot of the loss is to the “mainline” church, thus creating more independent and unaffiliated or loosely affiliated churches that break away. People clearly want their church to believe as they do, not vice-versa.

      • I can only speak for myself, but it’s hard to move to a more progressive church. It feels like I’m watering down the values that I’m supposed to believe – as a nondenominational Christian we were always taught that progressive churches were bending God’s word to meet their needs and not upholding the truth. Upholding the truth was supposed to be hard and uncomfortable, and the thing that set ‘us’ apart.
        Hating and judging feels so horrible to me, I can’t bring myself to teach those values to my children. I truly think I’ve been brainwashed and I can’t see a place for myself in the Christian community any longer. I feel rejected as much as I am rejecting those perspectives that I cannot abide. For me, the stand that the current American community is taking on the environment is just too much. I just look at the Christian community and think ‘these are not my people.’ Then, privately, I go back to the scripture and pray, for them, for myself, for us all. I feel so alone now.

        • Angela,
          Interestingly enough your words have been said before and are said all the time. The “fundamentalist Christian” thinks the “non-denominational Christian” is watering down their faith. The Catholics think the Episcopalians are watering down their faith. The Pharisees thought Christ was “watering down” the faith. Until everyone figures out that “religion” is not what we need to focus on, but rather the relationship that each person has with Christ and until each person figures out that there really is nothing more that we are called to do than “Love God and Love Everyone Else” there will always be one group telling another group they aren’t doing it right. But Christianity isn’t about whether you have guitars and drums in the band, or whether you use real wine for communion, or whether the leader of your church has a tattoo, or whether your church has 5 people it or 5000. All of those things are the concerns of man, not of Christ.

          We spend too much time as out church’s youth pastor says majoring in what God minors in. Too much time fretting over the things that God doesn’t actually take a stand on, but rather says “ Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: Love your neighbor as yourself. All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.” It doesn’t say love only those that believe as you do, or love only those that worship as you do, or love only those who call God by the same name as you do, or love only those who don’t drink alcohol except at communion, or love only those whose skin color is the same as yours, or who are native born to your country, or who don’t cuss, or….. If we love God and love EVERYONE else the rest of it takes care of itself, even if you go to a progressive church because those are the true cornerstone “values” that the “church” should be worried about… God through the teachings of Christ made it pretty clear those were the values he was worried about.

          God Bless

          • Andy, amen. What you wrote is exactly why all those years ago I started a yahoogroups list called “Celebrate What Christians Have in Common.” I’ve since moved that group to Facebook.

            I became so sick and tired over Christians arguing over every single thing, either major or minor, and had a vision of a place where we gather to celebrate what we have in common because when we stopped to consider it we actually do have far more in common than otherwise and His Name is Jesus.

        • Actually when two or three gather in Jesus’ name, there he is with you all. A church is a convenient place to do that but that is not the only place. Groups that help the poor, the disabled, the sick, and the troubled can be your church. Joining a group resisting our government’s march to waging war on the vulnerable can be your church.

          Helping others is my church. Talking to depressed youth is my church. Giving to the homeless is my church. Talking to LGBTQ people coming terms with family abandonment is my church.

          I do miss the church but the traditionalists in many Christian denominations have dug in their heels and doubled down on maintaining and expanding their attacks on the civil rights of LGBTQ people. It is not enough for them to cast LGBTQ people out of the church, for loving the wrong person, they must prevent cities, counties, states, and the Federal Government from passing non-discriminatory laws. They must prevent the outlawing of the quackery called “conversion therapy”. They must maintain their brand of Christianity as the supreme religion in their area and make it convenient for them.

        • Angela G, please define what you mean by “a more progressive church.”

          I ask because what I’ve read about what so-called progressive Christianity is much closer to what the NewTestament and the Early Church taught than what John Calvin, Melancthon, Robert D. Woodberry, Christian S. Smith, John Nelson Darby, Charles Hodge. E. W. Kenyon, Oral Roberts, A. A. Allen, T. L. Osborn, or any of the teleevangelists.

          Any of these 8 points of progressive Christianity is much closer to the original teachings of the church than any of these men mentioned above:

          The 8 Points of Progressive Christianity

          By calling ourselves progressive Christians, we mean we are Christians who…

          1. Believe that following the path and teachings of Jesus can lead to an awareness and experience of the Sacred and the Oneness and Unity of all life;

          2. Affirm that the teachings of Jesus provide but one of many ways to experience the Sacredness and Oneness of life, and that we can draw from diverse sources of wisdom in our spiritual journey;

          3. Seek community that is inclusive of ALL people, including but not limited to:
          Conventional Christians and questioning skeptics,
          Believers and agnostics,
          Women and men,
          Those of all sexual orientations and gender identities,
          Those of all classes and abilities;

          4. Know that the way we behave towards one another is the fullest expression of what we believe;

          5. Find grace in the search for understanding and believe there is more value in questioning than in absolutes;

          6. Strive for peace and justice among all people;

          7. Strive to protect and restore the integrity of our Earth;

          8. Commit to a path of life-long learning, compassion, and selfless love.

          https://progressivechristianity.org/the-8-points/

      • I’m solely guessing based off of anecdotal evidence, but I think I know why this is: I left the Baptist denomination for the much more progressive ECLA Lutheran church. I started seriously questioning a lot of the Bible and my faith as I got older and the Baptists don’t really like that. The Lutherans embraced questioning and challenging your beliefs. They embraced viewing the Bible through the lense of science and social justice, which made so much more sense to me. Being allowed to question everything and it being OK led me to dropping Christianity altogether. I saw way too many flaws to accept it as my belief system.

      • I have been around Unitarian Universalist since I was 6-7 years old. Tried the liberal Christianity thing: I didn’t and never have experienced the relational aspect of knowing Jesus Christ as my personal savior. Tried hard to hear that “voice” speak to my heart, but it was all crickets and nothingness. So I decided once I moved 800 miles west: I am going to check out the local Unitarian Universalist Church /fellowship. Have self-identified as a Secular – Humanists Unitarian Universalist and that seemed so authentic to my life experience and value structure, that I am OK with my self made label.

      • The “holier-than-thou” people have their own sins like severe child abuse, pedophiles, stealing from the church, etc… I could even list examples from my own life.

        • This reads like the experience I have of the moralistic, self-righteous stance of the self-described ‘non-religious’ campaigners for leftist atheism, which is yet another religion ; and everyone’s view of how life works is their religion, no matter how ‘organized’ or ‘disorganized’ it may be. I get self-righteous, holier-than-thou drips from most apologists of the left, politically, who are always ready to point out the speck in the eye of another and fail to notice the beam stuck in their own.
          Is this forum just a bunch of sycophants, stroking each other and themselves at the same time? Where are the challenges to the tangible ‘group think’ here?

      • Bena, I am so sorry this was your experience. It might have been mine also had I not discovered the mystic path and the Episcopal Church before I parted company with my brief flirtation with evangelicalism.

    • Please don’t reject Christianity because all who claim to believe are not Christ-like. Many become believer but stop growing in knowledge of the ways of their Savior almost immediately. Others choose to obey only the ways that don’t require them to make any changes. Some misunderstand Jesus’ teaching due to preachers or other leaders who are misguided or their own ignorance.

      • Well said, and comes immediately on the heels of my prior comment, showing how easy it is to be wrong. Yet again.

        Thank you.

    • You sound pretty judgmental to me. Scratch the surface sometime. Sometimes people, even Christians, are real people but hide behind their religion/science/baseball team to cover their own insecurities.

    • This is not directed at any one person on this feed.

      I am a Christian. As far as self-righteous, I consider myself to be one of the ugliest most sinful people I know! I have way more mercy for others than myself. I am only saved by the grace of God. But, you ask me to go against the one who suffered unspeakable torture, bled and died on a cross for me. You ask me to say things are OK with God that God has said over and over in His word are sin. I study my Bible because I love God. I follow what God says because I love God. I don’t do what I do to be self-righteous. In fact, almost all believers I know would label themselves the worst of all sinners.

      We’re not okay with things God calls sin because we believe He gets to define the world and not us. In fact, I am often so accepting of others I have to remind myself that God said certain things are not okay. I never separate myself from others based on their behavior. And, as the Lord has commanded, I do my best to love others. But your idea of love and the Bible’s description of love are different. God says I am to love people enough to speak the truth, not my truth but God’s truth according to the Bible. I don’t get to define right and wrong.

      As far as people leaving the church and there being fewer and fewer believers – God told us this would happen in the last days. That people would be lovers of self, care more about pleasure than obeying God. He also said people would be under a “strong delusion” not being able to discern truth from error. It’s God’s Word coming true before our very eyes.

      I know that persecution is coming for me. The more I stand for Christ, the more I will be hated. All I have to do is read through the comments. Did you know that the Bible says that in the last days there will be those who kill true Christians thinking they are doing God a service? Here I see the foundation of hate being laid not only by this article but by all the comments. Also, did you know that my life is given to Christ to be laid down for those who do not know Him, for those who do not yet know the Lord in hopes of leading them to repentance and faith so they can go to Heaven.

      You hate those who would lay down their lives for you. Every hateful word thrown my way – I lay down my life – every misunderstood action that brings contempt from others – I lay down my life – every friend that walks away – I lay down my life. Do you think I would choose this? I love you when you hate me. It is what God has called me and every believer to do. Not the worldly kind of love but true Godly love.

      Watch and see! Unless the Lord graciously intervenes, Hate for Christians will grow and persecution will come. And, I along will thousands of other believers will stand for the truth not only for our Lord but for you. We will accept our persecution in order to witness to you! In hopes that you will repent, turn to Christ, and be saved. If you find that offensive, that’s okay. The Bible already told me you would.

      May God give you eyes to see and ears to hear.

      Mary

      • Mary, I am glad that you have stated your position and try to follow the Bible the best you can.

        However I would suggest kindly asking Gloriamarie for sources to enhance your understanding of the Bible. I cannot state all I learned here in my 2 years at the Institute of Liturgy and Spirituality of the Catholic Diocese of Memphis.

    • . . . . And living in a state of continuous contempt of others just because you are certain you are better than them in some way must let you sleep better at night. H-m-m-m-m-m.
      As my grade school teachers marked my report card: “Room for improvement.”

  2. John, your words are consistently true, but I find that this post hits home harder than most. You see i know, fully and completely I know, that my upbringing in a consetvative xhurch is why I cannot stomach Christianity today. And having grown older, I realize that not every christian believes in a god who would condemn me for who I love; for my beliefs and my choices. But it’s too late for that now.

     Because nothing and no one can get rid of that sick feeling I get when I drive past a church; the wrongness I feel when my friends bow their heads to pray before a meal; the bile that rises in my throat whenever a street missionary tries to hand me some sort of book or CD.   

    I quite literally cannot stomach Christianity, and it’s exactly because of the reasons you’ve outlined here. 

    Small wonder your blog is the only thing I CAN look at without feeling sick

    • I’m sorry that it continues to impact you so. I assume that the church you were raised in would consider me a “so called liberal Christian”. But I believe with every fiber of my being that being a good person is more important than celebrating religion. I hope you can get to a place where driving by isn’t so painful.

    • MC, I entirely understand your POV. The hurt of the church goes deep and it poisons the very special places that God wants to be reserved for love, charity, service and communion with God. I beg you to look for a relationship with God, not the church, instead of just writing it off. I promise you that God can get rid of that “sick feeling” (and maybe even allow you to pity the hypocrites so safe in their faux piety), if you make that connection with the God who has the majesty, the grandeur, the love and the brilliance to make the world and all the good people in it, you will have all you will ever need. Then the Gospel of Jesus will be a balm even if the church who claims Him, never will.

    • All of those physical sensations, ‘feelings’, [not thoughts] are because of things you are telling yourself, consciously and unconsciously. It has been proven that about 95% of what people tell themselves in this manner is not true. If that rough estimate is true about you too, then the vast majority of the stuff you tell yourself is false, and you are living your life in this respect based on False Evidence Appearing Real.

  3. Describes my path. Twelve years of Catholic school didn’t indoctrinate me. I could not reconcile the judgement, hypocrisy and prevalent feelings of guilt with a loving God. Nature is my religion.

    • Meg. Leslie is right. You can do that. However, there is a right and loving way to do that—and a wrong and hateful way to do that. The wrong and hateful way that will make you ultimately hate the Maker of that nature and hate your fellow man—and drown you in guilt, mental illness, and sorrow is to become a Christian fundamentalist or conservative evangelical like Leslie.

      Please see the following post on my blog to I.D. the kinds of churches to avoid if you wish to worship the Maker of nature:

      https://faith17983.wordpress.com/2016/04/30/escape-from-abuse-at-your-church/

    • Ms. Meg …

      Nearly every atom of your being was born within a star which is not our own. It was born there, and was cast out into the Universe when that Mother gave her final breath. Cast outward, your atoms became planets around another star. When that steward breathed its last, once more you were propelled ever outwards until, after a titanic journey, you ended up here.

      You were part of this planet’s, the cradle of our Life, molten core until Destiny shot you upwards into the vacuum which had yet to be replaced by air. You became the mountain’s peak. You were lashed by the first rains and carried back down to the oceans’s floor.

      The cycle repeated until the first plants found you in their soul and turned you with the power of the Sun filtering down from high above, into true Life. You lived, died, lived, died and repeated that cycle millions of times until you were devoured by something new which instead of spawning seed, or dying, gave birth. That first time Life begat life. You have been prey and predator. Time and again, even as life trembled on the edge of extinction on this planet many times, what was to become ‘you’ hung on.

      Just like the minerals brought down from the mountains to the creeks which feed into the root systems of an evergreen shrub whose leaves are plucked so you can drink their product as tea which provides some comfort and energy … none of this has been a haphazard accident.

      Within you are elements greater than helium and hydrogen which only come from the death of stars. It can truly boggle the mind to consider how much energy it took to create the Calcium, Carbon, Iron and Oxygen in a single human body. The paths those atoms took on their road to creating us … to me is awe-inspiring.

      To me, that is Nature. It is also God.

      Peace.

    • Meg, there is nothing wrong with that. Nature is God in action so nature as a religion is God in a very pure form and there is a lot to be learned from it too.

      I happen to live in a community with a strong LGBTQ church presence so I do not think that every place and every church has the sickening bias against your community as it may seem. I would encourage you to keep looking and to be open to the love of Christ when it presents in a genuine form. And you will know it when it does.

  4. Thankfully, the behavior of modern Christians urged me to leave their unconditional love that has conditions.

    Best thing I ever learned from Christians & their organizations.

  5. The title of this piece startled me, given that today is Pentecost, and all over the world people are celebrating the birthday of the Church when the Holy Spirit came to all the disciples and Peter preached his first sermon as recorded in Acts.

    Then, as I read through it, I realized that this did indeed need to be said on Pentecost. When better to recall us to Jesus’s teachings and the empowerment of the Holy Spirit to become those teachings.

    The Christian Right, by whatever names they may call themselves do not practice becoming the teachings of Jesus. They have turned their backs, even if they are liturgical Christians ion the Right.

    One can’t help but notice the many voices of those who are disillusioned by their experiences in various churches in the USA. Hard not to be, really, if one is a critical thinker. Herd not to be when one is a caring, compassionate, tender person.

Refuge is offered in the Facebook group ”Celebrate What Christians Have in Common” where a daily buffet is spread of Asceticism and art, cartoons and quotes, comics and contemplation, memes and meditations, music and musings, photographs and prayers, just about anything that is one of the many voices from the many flavors of Christianity.

    There is one discipline required of all who join: one must not utter a negative word because this space is a refuge, a respite, a place of peace and quiet. If one chooses to engage in discussion one may only write about one can affirm in the selection. No arguments, no vitriolic words, no spammers and trolls will be tolerated,

Please come and celebrate what Christians have in common and let us together remember our faith is based upon God, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit and not the actions and choices of frail, sinful human beings.

    https://www.facebook.com/groups/1409874399270377/


  6. Dear John,

    You would be interested in a book that came across my desk awhile ago called, “Unchristian.” The research by the Barna group had some stinging comments that reflect what you are saying here. In their research they showed that the major reason why people are not gravitating to the church is hypocrisy. We love, but it like a salesperson who does the bait and switch. They promise one thing, but you get another. The kind of love you are talking about here is behavioral and belief compliance. In research circles, the church suffers with cognitive dissonance. Out of conflict, something new will develop.

    I remember preaching a sermon on Jesus’ sending his disciples and telling them that they are going out amidst wolves in sheep’s clothing. The enemy is not “out there” but in our midst, in our polity, our gatekeepers, our Pharisees, our business minded people, our “owners of the church,” our cultural bias, etc.

    Maybe Jesus needs to die so that Jesus can be resurrected. I have been spending a great deal of time and energy trying to imagine what the Body of Christ would look like without the church, with all its polity, cemented liturgical traditions, etc. We constructed the church. We can construct something better.

    Know that the hypocrisy won’t end. It is the human part of the Body of Christ. Failure is a part of us. It is why we need forgiveness and grace. That’s another post.

    • Ed wrote “Know that the hypocrisy won’t end. It is the human part of the Body of Christ. Failure is a part of us. It is why we need forgiveness and grace. That’s another post.”

      What you write is certainly true. But is neither an excuse or a reason for hypocrisy.

      Too many people have distorted Jesus’ words “The poor will always be with you” to mean is perfectly ok in the eyes of the Lord to turn their backs on human suffering.

      When we know we have been hypocrites, it is our bounden duty and loving responsibility to identify those whom we have hurt with our hypocrisy, confess our sin to them, and ask for their forgiveness.

      • Thank you, Gloriamarie,

        You are assuming that I accept hypocrisy. I used to be of those who played “Whack a Mole” with the sins of the world. All I did was bruise people.

        In a book, “Inner Growth, Outer Change” by Westerhoff, the opening begins with the paradox of the church. “It is one church, a paradox to the mind; sinful, yet holy; divided, yet one; continuously I need of reform, yet the bearer of God’s transforming eternal Word; a human institution and a holy community; a disparate assembly of baptized sinners living, sometimes unconsciously by grace, but also in intentional obedient, steadfast, faithful company of the converted, visible saints; a mystery even to its members, who are aware, nevertheless, in often incomprehensible ways, that the church has a mission in the world and a ministry to those who by birth or decision find themselves, not entirely by choice, within that family which bears the name Christian.”

        It is painful when the church is in the process of reformation. Yet, that is what is happening, and we must muster all the compassion and courage and faith to walk within the process. We must lay our self-righteousness at the cross and embrace the forgiveness and grace necessary for the birth process. It will require all the love of Christ and those who have the courage to love the same way.

        • Actually, Ed, I didn’t assume anything, I was attempting to agree with you while adding additional thoughts to your own.

          My apologies for failing to communicate clearly.

          Thank you for the quote from “Inner Growth, Outer Change”. Nothing like being reminded that dialectics exist. We are saints and we are also sinners.

          As someone with academic credentials in Church history, the idea that the church is always in renewal was true up until the actual Reformation when for various reasons, the RC turned its back on renewal and kicked people out. Martin Luther then demonstrated it was possible to live a life of faith anyway.

          “We must lay our self-righteousness at the cross and embrace the forgiveness and grace necessary for the birth process. It will require all the love of Christ and those who have the courage to love the same way.”

          I agree completely. But I also think my statement above is still true.

        • Ed, you may well be right about that reformation. The church has managed over the centuries to be both sanctuary and persecutor. It has been on both the right and the wrong side of history and the moral arc. I pray it can come back to the Gospel of Jesus and the humility to live it fully.

  7. John – You, Robert Reich, Dan Rather, and Stephen Colbert – are keeping me sane during this horrendous administrations reign. You are a voicing what so many are afraid to say. Don’t stop doing what you are doing. It’s time for extremists/radical Christians to wake up.

    • Thank you, Debra. Yes, we need these voices.

      We also need to take action against these extremists/Christian Right.

      One way to persist in resistance is my FB group, Gloriamarie’s Progressive Stuff, where I post actions, petitions, info, actual news, evidence, facts. There’s a pinned post that I highly recommend people read. I also ask a screening question so I can keep the spammers and the trolls out. All who read this are invited.

      https://www.facebook.com/groups/gloriamariesprogressivepetitions/

    • Those are my 4 sanity savers as well, Debra. Reading that others are as mortified & are speaking out helps , too.

    • Agreed Debra, there are those who are an oasis in this desert we find ourselves wondering in. Those you named and a few others help keep me hopeful too. I would add: Political Scott Mednick, Vox, Michael Arnovitz, Adam Hamilton and Nick Hanauer as folks to follow on FB too.

  8. Aren’t these self-proclaimed Christians really engaged in wholesale blasphemy? You are quite right in stating that they are driving away people from Christianity and making the Word of God nothing more than a treatise on hate. Certainly God and those of us with clear minds are not fooled.

    “Wherefore by their fruits ye shall know them.” (Matthew 7:20)

  9. I must say that what you wrote in this piece for me pretty much applies to all religions I’ve encountered in my lifetime, They all claim to believe one thing while practicing another and are the main reason I’m an agnostic. I believe God exists but have no faith in man’s interpretation of what he or she wants of us if indeed he/she requires anything other than we be decent human beings. I believe if there is in fact an after life where all these questions are finally answered there are going to be a lot of very surprised people.

  10. Oh John, you are so spot on. I was thinking about this earlier…..the Baptist “church” scared me off a long time ago. Even as a kid, I was like, “that doesn’t seem right at all to me….that all the other people in the world are going to hell except those who have been “saved”. I didn’t buy it at age 10 and I sure as hell don’t buy it now.

  11. Thank you John.

    It’s been refreshing to see that I’m not alone in this struggle and that I’m not going overboard in my resistance to everything that has happened because of this last election cycle. I think Christianity has been making Atheists for years, but within the past year, I would bet that number has increased dramatically.

    Growing up Southern Baptist, with their hell-fire and brimstone approach to belief, was enough to harden my heart toward Christianity. I’ve always felt I wasn’t quite “part of the crowd” growing up in church. I worked through it and moved more progressive in my political and religious beliefs. But I think this past year was my breaking point, when I watched people around me (family, friends) whole-heartedly support and defend despicable acts, not only from Trump, but from his so-called Christian supporters. Now I have a hard time bringing myself to attend church, as everything I grew up being taught has been thrown out the window in the span of an election cycle.

    Now I’m starting to see why my atheist friends left the church they grew up in.

  12. Yup! Lived through all that crap – people kept (forced) into support of the tale that dead people will suffer foreveeeer in “hell” – poor saps, the preacher didn’t even know correct interpretation of the biblical hell, that it referred to the continuous fires of villages burning refuse dump and was intended to be a metaphysical warning of misery in THIS life when we make poor choices.

    There is no us and them when it comes to the only thing that matters – all are from the same source.
    We have choice, some like it in spades of power, money & control, some like it in ‘follow the leader’ if they are likable and some say, no, but hell no, not following those who are the party of PEE, that is, Plunder, Exclusion, Exploitation & where we can pee.

  13. John,
    You are spot on as usual. To paraphrase Ronald Reagan, “I didn’t leave the CHURCH, the CHURCH left me”. I got out of organized religion a long time ago because I could not tell a church service from a right-wing, republican pep rally. I read the Tony Campolo’s book, “Jesus is not a Democrat” and realized I had been sold a lot of B.S. by my church. The Bible may be inspired by God, but it is interpreted by a lot of small minded, bigoted, hypocritical, self righteous Fundies who wouldn’t know Christ’s compassion from a hole in the ground. Keep spreading your message John, I just might come back to a church that preaches your message of love, forgiveness, inclusion and humility!

  14. Thank you for putting into words something I have seen and felt for years. I was brought up in the church, but back then it truly was about love and what we can do to show love to the world, that our actions spoke louder than words, that if we consistently showed love and inclusion and gentleness that that would draw people to us and they would then want to learn why we behaved the way we did. Then something happened and church became a place that demanded you march to their tune and that you blackball anyone who didn’t. I feel sad about this because my husband and I spent 40 years teaching and preaching the latter but seeing the church change anyway. We still believe but we are unchurched as is our son and his son. My son is one of the best versions of Christian I know but he will not go to church and his son is the same. My take, it is the Churches loss not theirs. So keep up the good work, thank you for being a place where I have found others who feel the same. I feel less alone and more encouraged. One can hope and pray that a better version of the Christian Community will come from this. Peace and Love,

    • Kathleen very well said, I grew up going to church until I was about 18, I am 69 yrs young. I loved our church, I remember the day that I was saved, as I got older I went to other churches, I do not like Mega Churches, TV Churches they are all about greed and money we don’t need a church to talk or pray to God, I still tithe every month, I love helping people no matter who they are, especially those who have lost hope, or need a hand up, that is what my Mom always said. I know my purpose in life.

    • Spot on Kathleen, some of the most Christian folks I know are Atheist and that is the truth. Many others are not in any church but practice the love of Christ every day. That is faith in action to me and I cannot believe God would discount it.

      • As it happens, the best friend I have ever had in my life is an atheist most of the time, sometimes she is agnostic and every single day of every single week of every single month of every single year, she loves me unconditionally. She is the most generous person I know.

        She seeks to feed the hungry, clothe the naked, care for the sick, provide the needy with what they require for no other reason than it is the decent, human thing to do.

        She lives as though the Gospel is written on her heart far more deeply than many a Christian of my acquaintance.

  15. My husband and I began our spiritual journey in Evangelical circles over 40 years ago. We have since left the institutional church altogether. It is has been almost 4 years and we are finally free to follow Christ. The casualties of our Evangelical years are our boys. One has declared that he is an atheist and the other believes in god, but thinks he is not interested in human interaction. Our latter was a youth pastor at a rich and predominantly white megachurch who got in the middle of church politics and had the kids actually do service to the poor. He was raked over the coals by the pastor and told to write a faith statement. Once the pastor read it(the entire board loved it, by the way), he made a unilateral decision to fire my son. I guess giving his son-in-law the job was more important to him. This event and many others over a 35 year period, helped to form our decision about leaving. It was not an overnight knee jerk reaction. Our children respect us once again and are impressed by the change. We love our two boys whether they follow Christ or not. We give them grace and space to find their way along this journey of life . We continue to find commonalities and have open communication about them. We no longer follow churchianity, but are led by God’s spirit to love those on the fringes and take care of the poor. It is lonely here in St. Elsewhere, but we know that it is where we are supposed to be. Free at last, free at last, thank God almighty , we’re free at last…. to love our neighbor without someone in a hierarchy looking down at us and expecting us to be a cog in the hamster wheel of their institution.

    • There are a lot of us in St Elsewhere. I get where you are coming from and send blessings on where you are going. Peace and Love,

    • Love this! “St. Elsewhere” is full of some really good people, serving God in a very direct way. I cannot fathom that God does not know this and see it as good.

  16. For me, you’ve captured one of two major items. The two are:

    1) believe impossible stuff, and
    2) be mean to people.

    The two, for me, make it quite comfortable to categorize Christianity as irrelevant-at-best.

    “Thanks but ‘no thanks’!”

    So glad to have been out of this religion a decade plus. It makes it so much easier to live a good, giving life.

  17. Patti. thanks for sharing your poignant story. sounds like you are looking at God, listening to God. i can hear in your voice, that you lack any bitterness, which is surely the stamp of God. blessings. +

  18. The problem is that the people in the church has distorted God’s Word to fit the physical. Yes, the church is dragging God’s Word though the mud, but God is the same, “yesterday, today and tomorrow”. That being said, it’s God’s Word (the Bible) that people should be reading and following. All these so-called, Christians that became Atheists, put their faith in man and not God (probably haven’t opened the Bible ever), so they never knew the “truth”. Don’t be fooled for God cannot be mocked. Atheism is just an excuse to not believe in God, but beLIEve in yourselves.

    • Crunchy. good point. but I think Progressives get upset if you place too much (or any) emphasis on The Word. [I’ve been bashed every time I mention it. ] Personally, I love The Word, read it every day, I conform to it, not the other way round. And if I don’t understand it, (I wait)… and if I disagree with it (I know I’m wrong.)

      • leslie m, as far as I am concerned, you lost all your credibility as a reliable witness for the Gospel when you turned your back on the Gospel to vote for Trump and the other GOP, many of whom intend to do evil in the name of Jesus, which is blasphemy and you now participate in their sin. You also turned your back to the truth and that is the sin against the Holy Spirit, apostasy.

        You are urged to repent, confess, and re-embrace the Gospel as Jesus teaches it.

    • Jesus Christ is the Word of God made flesh. The Bible is a book that too many folks hold up as an idol. Bibliolatry is not Christianity.

    • Apparently none of you knows any actual Christians-turned-atheists, but you all feel free to make up whatever suits your narrative.

      • Actually Kerry, I do. I was serving a small church in Southern Illinois. The church was, and still is, dysfunctional. I admit that I was not the best pastor. Realizing that I did not have the gifts or the skills to help this church, I left. I was ready to go into interim ministry and to lick my wounds but just before I went, the powers that be took me through a fitness review and stripped me of my standing (not my ordination). Of course, those who knew me believed it to be unjust, wrong, etc, but polity is law in the church. What I did not realize until later was that the sentence was a life-time ban from the church that I loved from childhood, and that my father had served as a pastor for over 45 years.

        It devastated me, but it devastated my family more. My point is that my children left the church. My oldest son told me that he did not believe in God anymore. Of course, he met other Christians in college that helped him realize that not all churches are cruel, insensitive, and condemning, but that did not make him a Christian. Neither will any of my children step foot in a church of that denomination again. By the way, that denomination is mainline and considered progressive.

        My story is not unique. The church does not realize the casualties it has left behind. My dad was right when he said that the church is the only institution that shoots its own wounded.

        As for me, as a result of the experience, I went for a Master of Science in Conflict Management and I am now studying for an EdD in Leadership. I am still trying to find a place in pastoral ministry. I am a Samaritan looking for wounded pastors and lay people before they lose their faith.

        • Thank you for sharing that. My husband was not stripped of his pastorate but he had to go to a psychologist to prove he was fit for the job because someone with a lot of money in the church he was serving wanted him moved and had the ear of someone higher up. The psychologist rendered his verdict that my husband was sane, nothing wrong with him but perhaps they needed to look at the guy who brought the charges. Long story short, he retained his job and as is the custom in this mainline church (which by the way is seen as progressive by many) they sent us on to a different charge, our boys walked out of the church, not out of their faith, and my husband and I were left with a very bad taste in our mouths. Can’t offend those with the big bucks. Anyway we have found new ways since our retirement, to take care of the least from outside the church. Peace and Love,

          • I’m glad your husband could save his standing. I did not have the power currency necessary to save mine.

            It has been 10 years now since that experience. I still get an emotional bomb around the anniversary. I don’t know the date, but my subconscious knows.

            I inherited a non-profit dream from my dad. It is called “Broken Tree Ministries.” Its sole purpose is to heal pastors that have been hurt by churches and churches that have been hurt by pastors.

            • Wow Ed, that must be a very healing ministry with a lot of sad stories. I have read about what a stressful job it is and I believe it.

            • After 40 years in the church, I know of some on both sides of the issue. It makes me sad when the church and pastor should be all about the love of Jesus, not some litmus test. My husband has been retired for 17 years but I will tell you he still hurts over some of the things that were done in “Christian Love”. Good for you and your dad, that is a worthy calling and God is smiling. Peace and Love,

            • Ed, that’s just awful. Politics infects churches just as insidiously as it does so many other human institutions. Your church suffered a real loss when they discarded you. You were clearly too good for them. Peace to you.

      • Kerry, I don’t understand the point of your comment. Are you referring to John P’s article? Are you referring to any one person’s specific comment?

      • Kerry, I confess I do not have any Atheist friends who say they were once Christians but I do have Atheist friends. Not sure what you are getting at here though. Is there a ‘one size fits all’ in your POV?

    • Crunchy, and others,

      A book I am reading that is simply wonderful and I highly recommend is:

      What Is the Bible?: How an Ancient Library of Poems, Letters, and Stories Can Transform the Way You Think and Feel About Everything by Rob Bell.

  19. The toxic evangelicals have spent the past 50 years demonizing those who reject them, not those who reject Jesus. Indirectly, they have been demonizing Jesus.

  20. Okay, for Ms. Saunders’ sake, I’ve tried to make this one a little less confrontational.

    **

    The thing is, I do know people who have left all Christianity behind because of their Evangelical upbringing.

    I also know people who have embraced Evangelical Christianity because of its clear-cut foundation it provides after being raised faithless.

    I can understand people being raised Evangelical suffering a crisis of faith as their adult perceptions have to confront their upbringing.

    I am far less willing to believe outsiders see the actions of Evangelicals and other Christian Conservatives and that makes them embrace Atheism. I think the root of their loss of faith would be deeper than that ~ some other doubt, pain, or question which has eaten at them which the actions of strangers only applies toxicity too.

    I do think ‘Christians’ who embrace hate and hateful ways are bad for all Christians. We cannot let the message of Love to be lost in their noise. We must answer with acts of personal, meaningful Love because it is the right thing to do, it is Jesus’ request of us and to stand as a goal post for others to see and draw strength from as well.

    Your act of Love may never draw another to God’s Light, but that doesn’t matter. Each come to God in their own way. We can help yet the final decision and step is always theirs.

    **

    Every generation laments the immorality of the next generation. In the Christian social tradition, this is the norm. As an example, remember why the Puritans came to the New World – they were fleeing the immorality of Europe and the perceived corruption of the Catholic Church.

    We have had Doomsday Cults whose Doomsday came and went, we have had gold-plated conmen of God ripping off the ill-informed masses since we have had a Nation. We have had believers thinking all non-Catholics went to Hell and those who were certain the Pope was the Anti-Christ. The KKK used to swear upon the Bible then go out and burn down Black Churches. Those Black Christians knew those White men went to Church on Sunday too.

    100 years ago, there were Atheists. The ability of the Christian World to punish them for their honesty was imposing, so many kept quiet.

    1000 years ago, there were Atheists. The ability of the Christian World to KILL them was clearly evident, so they almost all kept quiet.

    A big difference today is the ability for the Atheist and Agnostic communities to organize and gain a strong identity and voice. The ability for Christianity in our society in exert social pressure has greatly receded. Being an atheist, or agnostic is much more now an acceptable option because such an individual is both not alone and far less likely to suffer for their decision.

    But, those pressures were always there. Were people ever confronted with the horrors of war, told God was on their side and then decide they wanted no part of such a God before now?

    Did parents not lose offspring and find no comfort with their pastors, or in Scripture and instead decide they were alone in the Universe before now?

    Did no one ever leave the “True Faith” (whichever variant of Christianity they had been raised in) to marry someone their faith refused to let them marry before now?

    This does not mean there is not a message of Hate in Christianity today. It is misplaced today as it was yesterday as it was a thousand years ago. Hate has driven/been the excuse for Christians doing horrible things and certainly has caused other believers to doubt both their faith and God’s existence itself.

    In the same way, the Love Christianity projects has won over people, healed souls and restored those who have lost their way. That message is also here today. It has never gone away and we shouldn’t lose faith in it anymore than we lose faith in Jesus and His plan for us.

    • First off, that was much better and easier to consume.
      Second, My take, most of the people who have posted today have said they haven’t forsaken Christ, they have walked away from organized religion. Each seems to have their own story, but most I suspect believe as I do, you show love by your actions, the words are meaningless, the pledges are meaningless, unless they come with loving action. It is not loving to beat people over the head with dogma, if they are hungry they don’t care a fig about dogma, if they don’t have a home, they don’t care about dogma. If you give them food and loving help, no strings attached, they may be curious about this strange creature who is willing to help, no questions asked. Then perhaps they can be open to Jesus. That is how I see it and anymore, most churches are not there. I am sad about that but I don’t have enough time left on this earth to let that stop me from being who I am and believing what I believe. I don’t need anyone to agree but I also don’t need condemnation. I have faith in Jesus just not so much in a lot of his so called followers. Peace, James.

    • JD. I don’t think people leave the Christian Church because of their upbringing. There is something else behind them leaving the Church. … some deeper spiritual conflict.

      • Thank you, Ms. B.

        I would only argue that for some, right or wrong, dogma is everything. This is a powerful force which has moved people and communities toward actions fantastic and inhuman. They are not always wrong, such as a dogmatic vow of poverty and tithing even when it hurts.

        Fanaticism, zealotry and the unbending will are part of the arsenal of the faithful ~ to be used, or misused. Very recently Christians have been told to convert, or die and have chosen death even knowing the people with the guns would gladly slaughter them. They don’t expect God to save them for their show of bravery. They expect Heaven if they should be murdered … a place no one knows scientifically exists.

        Fanatics go into zones rife with disease outbreaks when there is no known cure and chances of containment are low. Yet such people go in anyway. They are armed with medical skills and the knowledge that if they don’t go, more suffering will happen and the disease will most likely spread even further. They go – not for pay, recognition, or awards. They go because the are the best capable do doing the job.

        It is the mind of those who place existential ideals over worldly concerns which fascinate me. Those who would rather pray and fast than sleep and eat. Those who endure deprivation for enlightenment.

        I find them interesting because at their most basic, they could be any of us.

        ***

        Ms. M, it isn’t upbringing itself, it is the lessons one is raised with and a moment in life when what we have been taught collides with what we witness around us. Some are better capable to deal with the crisis than others.

        As an example:
        We know young Christian men, wounded and dying on too many battlefields have taken comfort from Scripture.

        We also know other Christian men, having witnessed war, cannot rationalize what they have seen with the ideal of a compassionate, caring Creator and turn away from their faith.

        Both have been written about and discussed enough we all know it happens. It is a matter of many factors which lead to this crisis.

        Faith is both a community and alone in one’s heart. There are times when, no matter how we were raised, to hold on to the idea of a power beyond all our perceptions and understanding of how the Universe works ~ the blind acceptance which is faith ~ isn’t enough.

        **

        I recall a discussion about the Great Believers of Christ. One person mention St. Paul. Another person said St. Paul didn’t qualify as a Believer.

        Why? Paul met Christ Arisen thus KNEW he was real. That moved him beyond the realm of faith into the realm of what one knows to be true via personal experience.

        • James, I think we are talking about different sides of a coin. My point is perhaps that there are those who talk the talk, that is what they are about, they talk about loving then kick people when they are down, and then there are people who walk the walk, they pick those people up after the first kicked them. I prefer those who walk the walk, I keep saying talk is cheap, show me how you love. And I don’t mean how you love lovable people but how you love all people, even the most unlovable. My husband was involved in a prison ministry during his career and that was an eye opener. My grandson is working on his Phd so he can help prisoners come back into society as whole persons with a chance of a successful life. They don’t go around spouting bible verse, they don’t shout their beliefs from the rooftop, they did or are doing something for the least of God’s people. That is what I am talking about. The people who are so consumed with the letter of the law they see nothing else. There is good fanaticism and bad fanaticism and sometimes, IMO, that gets lost. Peace,

        • Excellent post James Dosher. I too find much to admire in those willing to sacrifice so much for others, for their faith or cause or just for enlightenment.

          Religion is too easily turned into fanaticism to make me comfortable and the more you know of the history of religion the more certain you are of the danger inherent.

          I think Frederick Douglass was right: “…Between the Christianity of this land and the Christianity of Christ, I recognize the widest possible difference…”

      • Leslie is right. There is a deeper spiritual conflict that makes people leave their fundie churches. It is the intense cognitive dissonance between what the people who leave fundie churches know about Jesus Christ, his words, and his deeds—and the way the fundie preachers and members behave:

        A) Holding onto ignorance as factual truth.

        B) Preaching and practicing Old Testament legalism when the Apostle Paul makes it plain in the Book of Galatians that this Old Covenant law does not apply to Christians.

        C) Bible idolatry.

        D) Ignoring or glossing over at least half of the sayings and doings of Jesus in the New Testament–and not applying them in their own lives or in their dealings with the fundie outsiders Jesus calls “our neighbors.”

        E) Creating a church environment that is almost devoid of the LOVE that runs throughout the New Testament. “We can’t given in to the LOVE that Jesus and the Apostle Paul talk about throughout the New Testament. That kind of LOVE leads to permissiveness and sin.” In other words, they know more about LOVE than both Jesus and Paul. Want to buy some swamp land in the Sahara Desert?

        F) Preaching hatred and bigotry against their neighbors—and actually engaging in them behaviorally by participating in discrimination and persecution of the people they despise out on our American streets.

        G) Hypocrisy that becomes institutionalized.

        Those will do for now—but this list could have easily been much, much, much longer.

      • leslie m, I believe you when you say that you “love The Word, read it every day,” and “conform to it, not the other way round” but your perception of The Word means that you are in conflict with the beliefs of this blog you for some reason frequent and most of the regulars who support it. Yet you still have no qualms in believing yours is the best and frankly only real interpretation. I call that hubris.

        You claim if you “don’t understand it” you will just “wait” and that if you “disagree with it” you know you are “wrong.” But what is it that you ever disagree with? Your posts here certainly speak of your certainty regardless of anyone else’s evidence or interpretation. The fallibility of man is legion and yet you cannot accept that the interpreters, editors or researchers of Biblical content could have had an agenda?

        If you do not believe people “leave the Christian Church because of their upbringing” maybe you can conceive of them leaving the church over their experience of it and how it conflicts with what they see, know and become educated about? It is all well and good until they are condemning people you love and know to be a child of God.

        While “Satan” and the forces of evil are very real, and the biggest enemy of God, I think the biggest enemy of religion is education. That is much more often the cause of agnostic and Atheist rejection of church. When you learn things like science, history, and genetics you see the hypocrisy so plainly it is stupefying to try and ignore it.

        Many can and do parse it out and cling to the good in their religion while ignoring the bad (Joe Catholic is a very prime example), but many cannot.

        It does not mean that one is totally right and one is totally wrong, but it means that all are not fully what they could be IMHO. Some can go along and get along and some demand more from themselves and any church they can commit to.

        I can be comfortable in most any church and have been among several denominations and found love, peace, acceptance and support, the pageantry and liturgy of the Catholic service is uplifting, the knowledge of their history…not so much. When the preaching is against only the “sexual sin” of the LGBTQ community, I am not comfortable because I KNOW the Bible finds many more “abominations” that go free of preaching (for a reason). When the preaching is against only the “sin” of abortion, I am not comfortable because I KNOW that our Biblical role is to be more than just “against it.” When the preaching is only against the “immorality” of liberals, I am not comfortable because I KNOW there is no acceptable immorality for the sake of political power for anyone. Can you even fathom why your certainty seems so galling?

        • Friend, I wish I had your gift. You said all the things I have thought but didn’t have the gift of writing it down. Thank you, Peace and Love,

    • Well done James Dosher! Well done.

      One quibble, you said, “I am far less willing to believe outsiders see the actions of Evangelicals and other Christian Conservatives and that makes them embrace Atheism. I think the root of their loss of faith would be deeper than that…” I am not sure that most Atheists had faith to lose. Atheists I have known have “faith” in science, history, facts, morality and ethics so they still have a very strong guiding compass. Many were raised that way, many in fact say they saw the harm in religion and chose to ignore it. I am just not clear on what you think is the “deeper than that.”

      But again, well done!

      • Thank you, Ms. Saunders.

        I must agree. Most of the atheists I communicate with have a great deal of ‘faith’ in the scientific world.

    • “I am far less willing to believe outsiders see the actions of Evangelicals and other Christian Conservatives and that makes them embrace Atheism.”

      I think you underestimate the effect hateful pseudo-Christians have had on the “Brand” of Christianity. You don’t have to have a personal relationship with a organisation to have an emotional association with them. The name “Christian” has been publicly devalued so that it now free associates with hatred, willful ignorance, bigotry, and sexual obsession and oppression. Pick up a book on Marketing and brand then try to wrap your mind around the American brand of Christianity. As a mother, I worry about protecting my child from “Christians”, who would teach her to hate and to ignore reason. I am looking for ways for her to experience a larger community that doesn’t contain so much moral poison.
      I was raised a Catholic and left the church in 4th grade when I decided that it[and the other churches] seemed to be designed to control and limit the thoughtful living of a peasant population for the benefit of a smaller selection of “real” people. I had only the best and most kind and helpful interactions with the clergy of my faith and they were the part I have missed most. As a college student I would occasionally wander by a nearby convent to sit and have philosophical conversations with the lovely folk there. To my mind, it is the structure of “Church dogma” and its over reaching into predeciding things for people that makes for unsound and dangerous situations. Any time large number of people have collectively abandoned their personal moral judgement/responsibility and passed the buck to a authority that they aren’t allowed to contradict without loss of membership a perilous situation has happened. They have made themselves a loaded gun to be picked up by whomever is most capable of climbing/swaying the church hierarchy.

      • Grace, what you so eloquently sum up is exactly what John P and many of us here want to change.

        Of course, you also find many here who attack John P for upsetting the status quo, but as that is exactly what Jesus came to do and is still doing, I am all for upsetting the status quo of the reprehensible Americanized Christianity.

      • Ms. Grace, I don’t believe I under-estimate the damage such groups do to the ‘Christian’ brand. I DO think they damage the Message. I also think that our Modern Age has allowed those who have been discouraged and disillusioned to congregate and share their stories like no other time in the past yet I think such evils have haunted Christianity for a very, very long time.

        In the past, people were just as upset by the actions of so-called Christian leaders doing un-Christian things … yet where could they go and what could they do when the Church and those invested in the the institution wielded so much power.

        Likewise, we didn’t really understand how miserable things were in the Soviet Union until after the fall of the Berlin Wall and the end of Communist Rule because to talk out against those who had the power was ‘counter-revolutionary’ and punished terribly.

        We now know priests molested children for GENERATIONS before the Catholic Church was forced to confront that evil. 300 years ago, what was the mother and father of an abused child to do though?

        Heck, one of the early, great works of American literature, The Scarlet Letter, confronts such an issue.

        We have no idea how many millions of souls lost their way over the past two millennia because the evils committed by those calling themselves Christians drove them away from God’s Love. I think we can both agree others have used the cloak of righteousness to do wrong long before now.

        Today we simply have a better chance of confronting such injustices and bringing such corruptions into the light. Those who once suffered alone in fear now can have a voice. This DOES hurt those who do love our Christian faith. It does make people leery of those who profess to be Christian. I have no doubt of that AT ALL.

        On a positive note, we can also better call those in authority to be responsible for their actions and their flocks. We can talk to those wounded by the evils inflicted upon them by others. We can try to heal and show them the true way is God’s Love, our souls are eternal and, most of all, be patient and trust in HIM so that when they are ready, we can be acceptable vessels to show that God has never stopped loving them and never will stop. He waits for us all.

  21. Let God Be True , Truth and Every Man, Woman,child a liar, if you want Truth You have to want to see Truth. No Believe Every Post from others .
    This is the End Times and Confusion is on the rise.
    If YOUR an Athiest , That s not from someone else.

    Take responsibility for YOUR self . IT is YOUR own fault.
    YOU Chose this.
    NO body’s fault but yours.
    Don’t Blame others , Christians for your actions, thoughts , response’s
    YOU have to give an account to God , Not me for yourself.

  22. World War II did more to destroy the credibility of Christianity in Europe than anything else could have. It is common knowledge that the strongest supporters of Fascist and Nazi political movements in Italy, Spain and Germany were Catholic and some Protestant churches, not atheists, who tended to be Communists instead. Once the fascists were defeated, the churches were largely abandoned. In the Netherlands, non-religious people are now the majority, while in England practicing Christians are a minority. The entire popular culture in many western European countries is religion free, a stark contrast to the USA. But we are getting there slowly: Americans who profess no religion has been growing massively for decades, because the internet exposes the younger generations to all sort of things that debunk what their parents and grandparents were brainwashed about. Not just dogmatic religion, but even the notion of America as some example of noble goodness and justice has been blown away by tons of embarrassing facts about how things REALLY were done in the mid and late 20th Century that mainstream (corporate controlled media) chose not to report.

    • Also an excellent point Dale! When the church is on the wrong side of history the damage is quite severe.

  23. I’m confused – how are the self-righteous Christian? As in disciples of Jesus. Seems to me a case of belief without discipleship, which has no impact on one’s behaviour.

    • hilary, There is this
      Luke 18:9-14New International Version (NIV)

      The Parable of the Pharisee and the Tax Collector
      9 To some who were confident of their own righteousness and looked down on everyone else, Jesus told this parable: 10 “Two men went up to the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. 11 The Pharisee stood by himself and prayed: ‘God, I thank you that I am not like other people—robbers, evildoers, adulterers—or even like this tax collector. 12 I fast twice a week and give a tenth of all I get.’

      13 “But the tax collector stood at a distance. He would not even look up to heaven, but beat his breast and said, ‘God, have mercy on me, a sinner.’

      14 “I tell you that this man, rather than the other, went home justified before God. For all those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.”

      The sad thing is that while most of us Christians like to think we are the Publican, the truth is most of us are really like the Pharisee. We see self-righteousness among many a self-proclaimed Christian right here in these comments.

      Of course, the truth is that we all shift around and sometimes we are the Pharisee and sometimes we are the tax collector. It is not for nothing that hubris, pride, was considered the very worst of the Seven Deadly Sins.

    • It is confusing hilary. The self-righteous consider themselves not only Christian, but the only true Christians…they just can never really pull it off.

  24. I remember my mother-in law’s funeral just a few years ago. She was a member of a small Missionary Baptist Church here in Tennessee. I attended the funeral, which was held in her church. The pastor was one of these fundie pastors who has a 40-hour per week day job somewhere other than the church. As we settled into the pews for what I thought would be a good funeral service like at a funeral home, I was very disappointed. The funeral was a preaching service. Very little was said about the person lying in the casket, even though her late husband was an active deacon of high esteem in that church. In particular, and this is the most important point, the preacher had a series of what I would call “truncated surges” in his sermon.

    The first thing I noticed about this preacher was his brimming with anger and hatred, which were tightly controlled–but you could still see the highly pressurized steam leaking out around his edges. I could tell that his “truncated surges” were the places in his sermons he would lash out at whatever he did not like in the world in his normal services—but knew he had to stop and hold it in because the people sitting in the pews were not all his church members. “Yes, she was a great lady—but when you think about all the things going on out there in the world!!!!!!!!—-well ugh—she was—ugh— a good Christian.” This happened several times because he could not preach a funeral based on his hatred of rock n roll music, high school proms, Democrats, and whatever else the republican Party, Rush Limbaugh, and local conservative talk radio had poisoned him with. The thing he probably did not know is that two of her most beloved grandsons, who had grown up as baptized believers in HIS church for 18 years, were gay.

    • Charles that has been the gist of every funeral in the South for generations. Nothing they can do for the dead at this point but notice they have “gone home”. Offer some words of comfort to the family and go after the living, breathing, often new blood of the captured audience.

      In addition to being a family reunion, a funeral is ‘tent revival time’ for most Southern preachers and many can barely contain themselves. What is seen as anger and hate is really just “the power of the Holy Spirit” moving in him… Seen this too many times to count and will never have a funeral service because of it.

      One of the worst was a preacher who exhorted the family of “our dear sister” who are living a life of sin…”she would want you to stop waiting! She would want you to commit to God and live your life so you can see her again!” ON and ON he drilled until I felt so sorry for them having to sit there and take it. He felt it was his “duty”, I found it cruel and knew that she never spoke to or of her family that way.

      A southern preacher is the original, ‘give them an inch….”

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  26. Thank you for this refreshing look at what is wrong with the evangelical (and one or two other) churches. I think you’ve hot. Several nails on the head. The current teaching of these churches, focusing on all the Old Testament strictures ignores the entire message of the New Testament. You cannot obey the two commandments of Christ and behave as these churches do, or teach what they teach.

    • I would like to add a description of the incident that began my exodus from my church. Our beloved pastor had retired, and his successor had just begun her tenure. I was on the Administrative Board at that time, and she floored us when she announced, without preamble, that she was shutting down our food pantry. Duplication of services with the community food pantry, she said. She did this without consulting the couple who ran our food pantry! These good people made themselves available any time, day or night, for anyone who had a need. And unlike the community food pantry, they were allowed to come in and browse the shelves to take what they needed/wanted – not just handed a bag of things that might not have addressed their needs or likes. Most importantly, there were members of our church who were in need – and they could get the assistance discreetly, without the entire church necessarily having to know about it. The couple in charge begged and pleaded with her to reconsider, but she refused. This minister set the tone for the church, and it went downhill from there. Prayer requests that were what I call “happy talk” (new babies, graduations, trips abroad) were gone over at length; requests for people who were ill, dying or had suffered great personal loss were mentioned and tossed aside. She never, ever did visitations anywhere. Not a really good representative of Christ, in my opinion. That one started me out the door.

      • Susan, I am so sorry that happened. How wrong.

        The kind of food bank you describe does not in any way duplicate community food banks. We desperately need more of the kind of food banks where people can choose what they want.

        I use the food banks and it is very distressing to be handed a pre-selected bag of groceries of the cheapest possible sorts of food that are dangerous for my diabetes.

        We have only one food bank that I have been able to find that allows a person to choose. It’s at Jewish Family Services. I used to be able to go there once a week, then it was changed to once a month and now I can only go every other month.

        Why? Because I am a single person, no matter how disabled and handicapped.

        • Gloriamarie, I know you have many burdens, and I’m sorry that you still have to struggle so much. I was close to your situation after my divorce many years ago, so I can understand and appreciate what you go through. I think that’s why I resented that minister so much – so often, people who haven’t had to struggle make no attempt to understand those who have. And that makes life so much harder for so many. You’re in my thoughts and prayers for your burdens to ease. I get it.

          • Thank you, Susan. The main reason I am so up front about my circumstances is an attempt to make the oblivious aware of what many USians are going through.

            And what they themselves might face should the draconian budget pass. People they know and care for, maybe even they themselves, will be severely adversely affected.

            We will see three or four generations living in a house. Two sets of elderly parents with no health insurance, a married couple, and their adult children, and maybe their kids too, all crowded into the same home. Because there is no money for anything else.

  27. Amen, John. I don’t think this can be said enough. And to those who have commented why not find a “progressive” church if you are dissatisfied with traditional churches, there aren’t any within reasonable driving distance in the rural area in which I live. And my goodness, why is it “progressive” to spread the inclusive, loving message of Jesus? The bible thumping, hell-and-brimstone, right-wing nonsense that has come to represent traditional Christianity is an absurd interpretation of the good news that the gospels bring. Check out oasisuk.org for a picture of what love can do.

    • in this age of Churches, spoon fed , milk needing people who believe the church is the answer to give temp satisfaction and relief from the guilt of sin.
      The Church is not the answer ( Jesus Christ) is
      It is Truth, Accountability, Repentant heart to Worship, Follow, trust, Believe in The one who can save the soul ( Jesus Christ) ( the Holy Spirit ) God

      Relationship , Holiness, True heart Felt Sorrowful repentance for ourselves. not what other s do , for our selves , our actions, our thoughts, our deeds, our motives , our own sinful, willful attitudes of rejection of truth ,

    • love with out God, Jesus Christ is Rebellion in another form , any thing you or i do that omits God, Jesus Christ is Rebellion and built on a foundation of self , selfish, self indignation , self centered , unholy
      Me ism , Godless, With out giving God , the True God the Glory he Deserves for not destroying the sinful man that hates him sooooo much in everything they do.
      That is Love , Forgiveness, longsuffering, unselfish Giving of ourselves when it takes away from , cost us dearly , and magnifies God , God alone , NOT Me, Us, YOU , WORLDLY organizations

    • Elizabeth Sterling, I have come to the conclusion that the reason some toss about the phrase “progressive Christianity” as if it is an insult, is because they intensely hate what “progressive Christianity” has re-discovered, which is the teaching of the Early Church.

      The teaching of the Early Church, now known as “progressive Christianity” is NOT the watered down version of Christianity known as Fundamentalist, Evangelical, or the Prosperity Gospel, but a thorough-going, robust commitment to the things Jesus actually told us to do:

      To love our neighbors as ourselves as God first loved us, knowing that the Parable of the Good Samaritan teaches us that our neighbor is every single person in the world with no exceptions, footnotes, or appendices to justify why some people are exempt from unconditional love.

      To feed the hungry, to care for the sick, to clothe the naked, to provide what the needy require without considering if they are the “deserving poor” or if once in a while someone might get a free handout as if that is the worst thing that could happen.

      When so-called Christians embrace authoritarianism, bigotry, bisexuality phobia, fascism, gynophobia, homophobia, intolerance of an informed disagreement, isolationism, misogyny, prejudice, racism, rape, sexual assault/molestation, transgenderphobia, white supremacy, and xenophobia, then these people have demonstrated that they do not follow Jesus at all.

      When they do these things in Jesus’ name, they commit blasphemy because these are not anything Jesus countenances because all of them contradict loving one’s neighbor as one’s self as God first loved us.

      It is imperative that we separate the Gospel and what Jesus actually teaches from the kind of so-called Christians that John P describes in this essay because it is utterly tragic that people are becoming atheist because they have not been exposed to the True Gospel and the Real Jesus.

  28. I guess you really believe that you go to heaven by what others do and you get their by your works alone.
    Get what you can , Do what you want, Live for yourself pleasure, satisfaction because tomorrow when life is over you have to have some reason for life as you see it.
    As Roman chapter s 1-3 states you are really lost.

    And as you state , it is because Christians drove you their , not by your own admission of guilt.

    Jesus was very clear about the end times and stated very well in the gospels .

    People will be lovers of pleasure , self, things, others more Than God. They will seek after what gives temporary satisfaction more than eternal life and Godly Values .

    They will Hate Christians for the Name of Jesus Christ and seek to destroy the Truth so as to hide their own sinful actions.
    But God giving mankind freewill and not willing to pass judgement until the very last second of time when the RAPTURE occurs and all the saints ( True Believers ) will be taken away so mankind can be left to Themselves.
    One Thing is Very Clear
    God is Holy and Nothing unholy can see God, or be in company with God. Thats why the intercessor ( Jesus Christ , His Blood on the cross for the sin’s of mankind
    NO Exceptions,
    YOUR not Good Enough,
    Your works cannot take his place
    With out a repentant, humble, sorryful attitude you will never , ever , see the kingdom of God.
    It is YOUr Choice. and no other person is to blame for YOU
    YES , YOUR accountable, YOU stand alone before God, Mighty God, Holy God, Righteous God.
    It does NOT matter what , who , if , when , why anyone esle does what ever they do.
    This will stand for eternity
    God is still King. I , YOU, We, Them will all face the SAME judgement for what we have Done.
    Physical is earthly , Spiritual is Heavenly
    YOUR Choice , Where will you spend eternity
    What will you choose
    And remember it is not someones else’s Fault for what , where, who you believe in.
    All will have the same opportunity s
    God wants YOU Back from sin, Rebellion, Hatred of god, Evil desires that take your heart from god, and rob you of life.
    Trust in Jesus Christ, Believe in his name, Get Baptised for the washing and renewing of your spirit to a new life , Start A new day spreading the Good News

  29. It was a pastor telling me that I couldn’t love my best friend, who was a gay man, that put my feet on the path to walking away. Another pastor telling me that I needed to go home and pray to be a better woman so that my fiancé wouldn’t “have to” hit me was the last straw. It was well over 20 years before I walked back into a church: a small Metropolitan Community Church congregation that eventually had so little income that it was unable to continue. It was in that church that I found people feeding the hungry, comforting the ailing, and loving their neighbors. I have tried a couple of others, and just not felt like staying.

    You hit the nail on the head again.

    • Sharon, I am so very sorry that pastor was someone who didn’t understand that the commandment to love one’s neighbor as one’s self as God first loved us is one of those people who thinks there are justifiable exceptions when there are none. Justifying the abuse your fiance subjected you to was just plain wrong.

      Oddly enough, as much as I love the Episcopal Church, too many of them around here use incense during the service and even though ecclesiastical incense is supposed to be asthma-friendly, I don’t find it so, and as a result, I am thinking of going to the Metropolitan Community Church myself.

    • “Another pastor telling me that I needed to go home and pray to be a better woman so that my fiancé wouldn’t “have to” hit me was the last straw. ”

      Ms. Cathcart … wait … what?!?!?!?

      Whoa … I’d like to go back in time and be in the room when your pastor said that to any woman I knew. I was WAY dumber back then.

      Me: “Pastor, why wait until she goes home? Why don’t we start right now? You, or that pansy-ass fiancé wind up a punch right now and I’ll start wiping the floor with the both of ya’ll.”

      Pastor: “I’m a Man of God!”

      Me: “Hit a woman in my presence and you’ll be a Man in Intensive Care. Is any part of this Gospel of a Southern Gentleman unclear to you two?”

      Fiancé: “She’s to be my wife!”

      Me: “I hope you enjoy your honeymoon in a body cast then, Sherlock. Cause her pain and I’m going to cause you to ingest your food for the rest of your life through a straw. Clear enough, or do I need to draw you a picture?”

      Yeah, I was way more an idiot 20 years ago. I still don’t know why my wife married me. She’s a real saint.

  30. We could debate forever and not get a consensus on why they are leaving but the fact remains that Americans are leaving the church, all churches and there is a reason.

    “Pew Research Center’s 2014 Religious Landscape Study finds that 14.7% of U.S. adults are affiliated with the mainline Protestant tradition – a sharp decline from 18.1% when our last Religious Landscape Study was conducted in 2007. ”

    ” Nearly one-in-five Americans (19%) were raised in the mainline tradition, but more than half of them (10.4% of all U.S. adults) have left the faith. Meanwhile, 6.1% of Americans have become mainline Protestants after being raised in another tradition. As a result, for every convert to mainline Protestantism, about 1.7 people have left the mainline tradition behind.”

    In a nation of laws, where freedom is enshrined, you are not going to gain disciples by assuring them of hell. You are not going to gain disciples by assuring them their children, their friends and their community members are condemned. And you most assuredly are not going to gain members or followers to a Christ that seems to preach hate, political division, bigotry and racism. What people want from church and what they are getting seems to be terribly disconnected. Almost as disconnected as the preaching is from the Gospel of Jesus.

    http://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2015/05/18/mainline-protestants-make-up-shrinking-number-of-u-s-adults/

    • The one and only reason why people reject Christ and leave His Church:

      “And this is the condemnation, that the light has come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil.  For everyone practicing evil hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his deeds should be exposed. ” (John 3:19-20)

      • Black Mamba, I think you assume all of those people “reject Christ” when they leave church and that is simply not true, not borne out in research and not the reason they leave either.

  31. I have said this before, and I will now say it again: John Pavlovitz is full of BULLCRAP with all capital letters! This man is Satan’s tool and conduit to spread falsehood about God’s redeemed people. He finds it very easily to condemn and denigrate the Church of our Lord Jesus Christ, all the while pretending to be a picture of holiness and godly virtue. Again, he is full of complete BULL DOOKIE!

    Someone needs to tell this stupid man that no one is “attacking Muslims unprovoked!” Great Britain has had three attacks in three months. Who provoked the Muslims to kill innocent people? How about in other European countries ?

    When did the innocent young people at Arianda Gande’s concert provoke the Muslims to kill 22 of their peers and injured many, many more?

    I hope that the SCOTUS upholds the ban on Muslims, and I hope that we get serious about completely wiping out Isis and other Muslim terrorist groups. We’re sick of seeing people gunned down, run over, sliced with knives, blown up, thrown off of buildings, beheaded, drown in cages, burned alive, all in the name of ALLAH!

    Amazingly, this jerk NEVER deals with the Muslims and their sick ideology, he just want to become a millionaire by criticizing Christians and the Christian church. John, you’re PUNK! I would say it to your face. You are a sissy and a PUNK!

    Here’s the real reason from the WORD of GOD as to why people reject God and His Son, Jesus Christ, and it has NOTHING to do with Christians:

    “And this is the condemnation, that the light has come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil.  For everyone practicing evil hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his deeds should be exposed”. (John 3:19-20)

    • Black Mamba, evidently you don’t like the reflection of yourself you see in John P’s mirror.

      Evidently you have also allowed fear to rule you when you wrote “Someone needs to tell this stupid man that no one is “attacking Muslims unprovoked!” Great Britain has had three attacks in three months. Who provoked the Muslims to kill innocent people? How about in other European countries ?”

      NO Muslims are doing this. Here is what actual, real, and true Muslims have to say:

      “Religious scholars issue unanimous fatwa declaring suicide attacks Haram”

      ISLAMABAD: Religious scholars from all schools of thought on Saturday issued a fatwa (religious decree) that declared suicide attacks, armed insurgency against a state and use of force in the name of imposing Shariah as ‘Haram’ or forbidden in Islam.

      The fatwa carrying signatures of 31 noted scholars was released at a seminar “’Reconstruction of Pakistani society in the light of ‘Mithaq-e-Madina’ (Charter of Madina) and announcement of ‘Paigham-e-Pakistan’ (Message of Pakistan). The event was organised by the Islamic Research Institute of the International Islamic University Islamabad.

      The unanimous declaration was presented by Professor Masoom Yasinzai while Mufti Rafi Usmani read out the fatwa. The religious edict condemned terrorism and extremism and declared suicide attackers and their supporters as traitors. It also declared Jihad a jurisdiction of Islamic state and disallowed use of force in name of enforcement of Islamic laws.

      On the occasion, a unanimous decalartion titled ‘Paigham-e-Pakistan’, also signed by religious scholars from all schools of thought, was presented. Paigham-e-Pakistan called for action against the forces fanning extremism, true implementation of the law dealing with blasphemy and discouraging mob justice in this regard.

      Rector IIU Professor Masoom Yasinzai, President IIU Ahmed Yousuf Darweish, Chairman Higher Education Commission Dr Mukhtar Ahmed, prominent religious scholars, including Mufti Rafi Usmani, Mufti Muneebur Rehman, Maulana Hanif Jalandhari, Mufti Naeem Ahmed and others attended the seminar.

      The decree fully backed the operations Zarb-e-Azb and Radd-ul-Fasaad.

      The fatwa was signed, among others, by Mufti Muneebur Rehman, Mufti Rafi Usmani, Maulana Hanif Jalandhari, Mufti Muhammad Naeem, Maulana Abdul Razzak Sikandar, Allama Riaz Hussain Najafi, Maulana Muhammad Yasin Zafar, Maulana Ghulam Muhammad Sialvi, Maulana Zahid Mahmood QasmiMufti Mahmoodul Hassan Mahmood and Maulana Hamidul Haq Haqqani.

      https://www.thenews.com.pk/latest/207047-Religious-scholars-issue-unanimous-fatwa-declaring-suicide-attacks-Haram

      Please allow the light of truth to pierce the darkness of your fear and set you free.

      • Stupid Gloria, MUSLIMS are killing people! MUALIMS are NOT nice people as you falsely assert. They have killed innocent people, and they practice Islam. John never criticizes Muslims, just followers of Jesus Christ, because people like him, you, Sandi, Kathleen B, and other dimwits are too stupid to see clearly.

        Arianda Grande made the statement: “Muslims are peaceful people”, and “Islam is a religion of peace”…….until they came into her concert and killed innocent 20 year old young adults…..all the while crying “Allau Ackbar”. So please spare me the false platitudes, as NOTHING you say about Muslims will do anything in my thinking about that false religion. It was founded by a demon-possessed pedophile that “married” and “raped” a 9 year old baby named “Aisha”.

        • Whenever someone starts out by calling another person “stupid”, that communicates to me that the name-caller has nothing of substance to say and therefore resorts to the abusive, bullying tactic of name-calling.

          I pray that the Holy Spirit will illumine your mind and soften your heart to be receptive to evidence, facts, and truth.

        • Black Mamba, I will have to agree, will do anything to change or enlighten you. Nothing. You are consumed by hate and ignorance and no one can change that. And you are a coward.

          • Black Mamba, (correction) I will have to agree, nothing and no one will do anything to change or enlighten you. Nothing. You are consumed by hate and ignorance and no one can change that. And you are a coward.

          • Here’s a piece I wrote on my blog

            There is no such thing as “radical Islam.”
            May
            29
            For those of you who follow John Pavlovitz’ blog, and if you don’t I recommend it, there was a comment yesterday by someone who said he was embarrassed by Obama’s failure to utter the phrase “radical Islam.”

            I did not respond with anything except an invitation to join this group because I am pretty fed explaining to people who have allowed misinformation and fake news to erode their critical thinking skills.

            There is no such thing as “radical Islam.” There are faithful Muslims who practice their faith in Islam. Then there are terrorists who do evil in the name of Allah, who doesn’t recognize this actions and weeps at the horrors committed in his name just as God and Jesus weep at horrors.
            Islam is no more and no less a religion of violence than is Judaism or Christianity. If adherents to these religions incite terrorism and violence, it is because they have interpreted their scriptures in an unholy manner that does not reflect what their Scriptures actually say. Sure, one can lift a verse out of context and by so doing distort and twist its meaning to make it say something it doesn’t mean within its context. Christians have been doing this to the Bible for centuries, and now they are proof-texting the Quran in their attempts to prove that all Muslims are terrorists, despite the fact that Muslims all over the planet are as equally horrified by terrorism as the rest of us. Plenty of Christians have committed acts of terrorism and no one claims all Christians are terrorists, now do they?

            I am tired of explaining that “Allah Akbar” Is something that Jews and Christians proclaim because it is Arabic for “God is great” which God most certainly is.

            Arabic Christians also say “Allah Akbar” because “Allah” is a title and not a name for God. We don’t know the name of God because it isn’t Yahweh or Jehovah.

            I may be tired of explaining it, but in the name of all that is Holy, I will persist.

            https://knitternun.wordpress.com/page/2/

          • Sandi, you are a poor and broken woman that needs the love of Christ. You are the hateful one. Just look at your postings, how you respond to people. There is nothing about you that makes anyone attracted to Christ. All you do when you post, is to protect John’s bull crap and hate-filled rhetoric. I’m willing to bet that even your husband don’t pay a bit of attention to you, and that’s why you’re always in John’s face!

            • Sorry, sad little Mamba, I am very happy in my life and my marriage, projection much?

              As Andy Atencio, so succinctly puts it above, it is our Christian duty “If we want to show people that Christianity is not hypocritical the only way to do that is to “smack” (with the love of Christ of course) those that make Christians looks bad.” It is more than clear who I am “mean” to and why.

              Do stop whining, you look more and more like a child.

            • troll, and probably one that needs some help because what sane person posts with an alias that is one of the most venomous vipers in existence?

              Of course, since this is really Joe/Theo…

        • Ah … No, Mr. or Ms. Mamba ~ terrorist inspired by a corrupt interpretation of the Koran and other associated Islamic works are killing people.

          If the 1.6 billion Muslims world-wide were killing people – we’d all know.

          I do believe Islam has problems and those problems must be solved internally. Despite the fatwas against terrorism, there remains underlying scripture which supports jihad ~ the taking of life and property from Unbelievers ~ under certain circumstances.

          The proof in this is roughly 1000 Muslims are KILLED by their fellow Muslims jihadists per every European who gets killed for the same reasons. They are slaughtering one another over who has the greater doctrinal purity.

          And they are going to keep dying until THEY figure out a way out of this internal struggle. The problem for all of us is there is no mechanism currently in Islam to make a system-wide change. Fatwas don’t carry much weight due to the nature of Islamic jurisprudence.

          Sure, it is a nice gesture for peaceful coexistence, but we certainly shouldn’t associate it with something like a Papal Bull, or a joint declaration from a World Interfaith Council. Those really aren’t going to stop the wave of Islamic terrorism gripping the World today.

        • Yeah, Muslims are evil… NOT

          A Church in Iraq Was Destroyed by ISIS. Then Muslims Came to Help Rebuild

          It’s an unexpected sight in the former ISIS stronghold of Mosul, Iraq, but a welcome one: Muslims and Christians working together to rebuild a damaged church. Posted to the Facebook page This Is Christian Iraq, these images of young men and women, most of whom are Muslim, bring a hopeful message of solidarity to a country wracked by conflict and religious sectarianism.
          The messages Muslims sent to their Christian neighbors through the church clean-up were simple ones: “Mosul is yours as it’s ours” and “our differences are our strengths.”

          https://www.globalcitizen.org/en/content/muslims-rebuild-christian-church-mosul-iraq/?utm_source=facebook&utm_source=Iterable&linkId=38216578&utm_content=global&utm_campaign=general-content&utm_campaign=iterable_campaign_US_Jun_5_2017_content_digest_actives&utm_medium=social&utm_medium=email

        • Well my your logic Christians are not nice people either… Would you care to compare numbers of how many have been killed in God’s name? 1.7 Million people were killed during the Crusades in “God’s” name. Thousands were killed by the KKK in the name of “God”. Christian Terrorists have killed thousands of innocents for various reasons (PP volunteers, government workers, etc.).

          So be careful of what stones you cast in the name of your “religion” before you consider the sins of your “religion” both past and present…

          The hate the pours from your words is strikingly juxtaposed to the love Christ calls for Christians to have for EVERYONE, not just those we like. So thank you for providing a very concrete example of the hypocrisy that is specifically discussed in this article. I will refer to you as Exhibit A.

    • I very much fear, Black Mamba, that you single-handedly are responsible for terrifying people away from the church. I hope I am wrong.

    • Sure Black Mamba, you are so brave you would say it to his face, just not brave enough to put your real name to it. We can clearly see who the “sissy” and “the punk” is here and it is not John P! Keep whistling, we know the truth hurts.

      • Something I was thinking is that since Black Mamba is so very dissatisfied with John P’s blog, that Black Mamba should start a blog to say all the things Black Mamba wants to read and that John P will probably never write.

        Because, if Black Mamba is here to write under a pseudonym in order to attack John P, tell lies about what he writes, then clearly Black Mamba is only here to be a troll.

        • Gloria, you are an old hag that has nothing better to do than to attempt to protect a mentally unstable youth minister, who is probably living on the Down Low! I realize that you have no romantic relationship going on in your life, but maybe John can service you since you are his appointed spokes person.

          • Joe/Theo, how very kind of you to worry about my romantic relationship status. I had no idea that you cared.

            One can’t help but notice the many voices of those who are disillusioned by their experiences in various churches in the USA. Hard not to be, really, if one is a critical thinker. Herd not to be when one is a caring, compassionate, tender person.

Refuge is offered in the Facebook group ”Celebrate What Christians Have in Common” where a daily buffet is spread of Asceticism and art, cartoons and quotes, comics and contemplation, memes and meditations, music and musings, photographs and prayers, just about anything that is one of the many voices from the many flavors of Christianity.

            There is one discipline required of all who join: one must not utter a negative word because this space is a refuge, a respite, a place of peace and quiet. If one chooses to engage in discussion one may only write about one can affirm in the selection. No arguments, no vitriolic words, no spammers and trolls will be tolerated,

Please come and celebrate what Christians have in common and let us together remember our faith is based upon God, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit and not the actions and choices of frail, sinful human beings.

            https://www.facebook.com/groups/1409874399270377/


        • Thanks for demonstrating what I suspected and that is that you are Joe/Theo once again posting under a cowardly alias.

          • My thought too and that is why I refuse to acknowledge the bile he is posting. We all know better, this is a very sick, hateful person and I am not sure there are enough prayers to help. Peace and Love,

            • Too right, Kathleen. As long as someone embraces hatefulness of their own free will, I doubt any of our prayers will have an effect. But we can continue to pray that the Holy Spirit breaks through. She has done miracles in the past.

    • Black Snake. The SCOTUS will not uphold the Muslim ban. Trump had at least a chance until this morning, but those four insane tweets he sent out this morning revealed his true intent—and SCOTUS will take those tweets into account just like the lower federal courts took other insane Trump tweets and campaign speeches into account to invalidate the Muslim ban. Those speeches and tweets this morning reflect “true intent” in the eyes of the SCOTUS justices. Your man Trump does not have enough sense to keep from shooting himself in the foot, as he did four times this morning on Twitter. What an idiot!!!!

  32. Each day, your witness heartens me, John. The fact that a Christian can critique the wrong turns being taken by the church, but still hang in there because of the saving message of love, gives me hope.
    Thank you so much for walking this truth, every day.

  33. You are incorrect. Nasty Christians are not making atheists, they are making people who don’t like Christianity.

    What is making people become atheists is information. Christianity’s claims do not hold up to examination – and gone are the days when it’s leaders could control access to critical information. You no longer have to try to find a book in a library that probably doesn’t have it; now Christian leaders can be fact-checked in real time from the smartphones in the pews!

  34. As a born-again atheist who was raised hard core Missouri Lutheran and transitioned into UCC and Episcopal before finally giving up on religion all together, and then the entire concept of ‘god,’ I can say the church had nothing to do with my decision. The hatred and discrimination of the first did drive me into the more accepting arms of the other two religions/branches, but ultimately, critical thinking finally won out. So I don’t think this is at all an accurate article on what ‘drives out’ people from church to atheism. The nastiness and closed mindedness may drive people into more liberal, tolerant, loving congregations, but overall, what makes us become atheists is the realization/acceptance that any book of ‘god’ is a work of fiction akin to Harry Potter or Greek Mythology.

    • I have to agree with you Frank, I do not know any Atheists who were once Christians but the Atheists I do know are very critical of the hate, hypocrisy, evil and selectivity of religion which they see as mythology. (I get a lot of “if they really believed the Bible they would not act they way they do…) A love of science and yes, critical thinking is more likely what leads someone to be Atheist.

  35. My uncle is a member of the church of Scientology. Would he be a Christian? Do you have to go to a certain Church?

    • Bradley, your uncle who is a member of the Church of Scientology is not, I am sorry to say, a Christian.

      No, one doesn’t have to go to a particular church. Although if one did, I would recommend that one avoid non-denominational churches and go to a mainstream denomination that requires its priests, pastors, ministers, have accountability to the wider church authority. Examples would be Episcopal Church, Presbyterian, Methodist, Lutheran, Congregational.

    • Bradley, the church you go to does matter, however, you don’t have to go to church every week or become an official church member to be christian. You can be a christian anywhere and have christians friends outside of church. There are services or sermons you can find online as well .

      Most christian denominations are fine– so it may be a personal preference because each denomination has a different style. I think it is good to be around other christians for fellowship and encouragement. However, as well, I believe christians need to serve outside church as well, and one only has so much time in the day or week for church participation.

      Another consideration– you may be someone who needs support because your faith is weak or you have questions ect.. finding a good church that can support you and disciple you is a real blessing. Try attending several churches in your area before joining one and eventually you will find a church where you are needed and where you fit 🙂

      As for Scientology ” they categorically deny the existence of the God of the Bible, heaven, and hell. To a scientologist, Jesus Christ was simply a good teacher “

  36. Why would he not be a Christian? Do you have to follow what Christian Church says? Some of my friends are Muslim. Wouldn’t everyone be like on the same level without regard to some specific order of beliefs? As it stands now it looks like my uncle would not go to heaven just because he is a Scientologist?

    • Bradley, I believe, God is saving everyone through Jesus, it is a matter of timing. How it all works is a great mystery.

  37. Bradley, first of all, I am not in any position to determine whether or not your uncle will go to heaven, if that is a geographical place, because I am not God nor do I pretend to read God’s mind. It is up to God.

    As for your uncle not being a Christian, I doubt your uncle considers himself a Christian. None of the Scientologists I know consider themselves Christian.

    As for your Muslim friends, based on the several books I’ve read, it is clear to me that Allah of the Quran is the same God worshiped by Jews and Christians. “Allah” is mere the Arabic word for God and not a name for God any more than is Yahweh or God.

    Hope this helps.

    • Yes it does. One of my Muslim friends was going to convert to Christianity. He will be glad to hear this is not necessary. Thank you

      • Ah, well, again, I don’t know if Muslims go to heaven or not. It’s up to God. Not to any human being. There are plenty in these comments who would categorically state without hesitation that all who do not profess Jesus are not going to heaven.

        OTOH, I profess Jesus and have been told by certain people in these comments that I will not be in heaven.

        My own personal conviction is that if heaven in an actual geographical place, then we will all be very much surprised by those we will find there.

  38. John and all, I hope you’ll listen to Mary Gauthier’s wise, compassionate, and timely new song, “Mercy Now.” (It’s on YouTube.) As she sings, we all could use a little mercy now.

    • One can’t help but notice the many voices of those who are disillusioned by their experiences in various churches in the USA. Hard not to be, really, if one is a critical thinker. Herd not to be when one is a caring, compassionate, tender person.

Refuge is offered in the Facebook group ”Celebrate What Christians Have in Common” where a daily buffet is spread of Asceticism and art, cartoons and quotes, comics and contemplation, memes and meditations, music and musings, photographs and prayers, just about anything that is one of the many voices from the many flavors of Christianity.

      There is one discipline required of all who join: one must not utter a negative word because this space is a refuge, a respite, a place of peace and quiet. If one chooses to engage in discussion one may only write about one can affirm in the selection. No arguments, no vitriolic words, no spammers and trolls will be tolerated,

Please come and celebrate what Christians have in common and let us together remember our faith is based upon God, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit and not the actions and choices of frail, sinful human beings.

      https://www.facebook.com/groups/1409874399270377/


  39. I was raised to believe that the Bible was the absolute word of God, and infallible. My father tried to “put the fear of God” into me, and I’m glad to say that he succeeded, and I will never go back, and I will never trust a Christian again. If it hadn’t been for his instruction as a Christian, I probably never would have seen what a vile book of filth they follow.

    He would never let me forget that I was a flawed sinner, and that I was never going to be good enough to get into Heaven on my own, and that it was his job to make sure I didn’t stray from the light.

    He said he was doing his Godly duty as a father to raise me up in the path I should go. He reminded me that the wages of sin are death, but that God is merciful. Instead of killing me for sinning, he would just hit me so hard things broke and I couldn’t sit. I believed him, because the Scripture says “to spare the rod is to spoil the child”, and “anyone who dishonors their father should be put to death”. I wish he had killed me.

    When I was 17, my boyfriend raped me. He held me down and put his hand over my mouth so I couldn’t scream. The Bible says that if a virgin is raped in the city, she is to be put to death because she didn’t scream. In the field where nobody could hear her, she is wed to the rapist. I thought very hard about killing myself for bringing dishonor on my family (as I was the only girl, and the eldest, and had just totally shot my chances of getting a good Christian husband), but decided that since nobody could hear my screaming, it fell under the bit that allowed me to get away with just marrying him. We were engaged for two years.

    The final straw was when the Church itself exposed it’s own hypocrisy to me. Up until this point, everything they had done and preached was consistent with the Scripture. However, a dear friend had suffered calamity when a storm brought a tree down on part of her house, and the state condemned it. They said that if she could seal off the damaged part, the condemnation would be lifted. I went to the Pastor for help raising a crew of people who could assist with the work, since she did not have much money. She was a Sister in Christ, but since she was part of a different congregation, the Pastor told me that she was not deserving. At that moment, the entire illusion was shattered. I spent hours crying and searching the Scripture for answers, but found none. I found the help elsewhere, from a local high school who were not all Christian, yet acted with greater moral integrity than a fully grown Man of God.

    Every other Christian I have told this to have acted in disbelief, tried to tell me that they weren’t “real” Christians, and that not all of them are like that. Except that is the exact same thing my Church said about them. That my dear friend was not the “right type” of Christian, and therefore undeserving of help.

    The only real help I have ever found have been from non-Christians, who have told me that I am not a failure, I was just abused by a failed system. That I do not need a God to be complete, I do not need to live in fear and spend every waking moment repenting for the sin of being born a human. And eventually I was reborn.

    I am still a flawed human, but without God, I am now good enough. I am truly free.

    • Neither your dad nor your mom nor your church nor your rapist behaved anything like Christians. The Christianity you experienced there was Christian fundamentalism, which is a minority sect within Christianity as a whole. You probably think the rest of Christianity is just like what you grew up with because it was the only Christianity you were ever exposed to from the moment you were born. I thought tat too at one time—until I figured out that fundie Christianity is an insane little cult that is well known for brainwashing (like North Korea) and abusing its church members. Quite frankly, my dear, the ones who brainwashed and abused you were the scum of the earth. The guilt and pain that persist within you are the after effects of the brainwashing. You have nothing to feel guilty about. We here love you and accept you just the way you are.
      lease feel free to visit my blog and learn about Christian fundamentalist and conservative evangelical insanity. You may access it at the following safe link:

      https://faith17983.wordpress.com/

        • If anyone wants to be safe from abuse by Christians in churches, the obvious strategy is to never enter a church. *duh*

      • Thank you.

        During my doubting period I attended Church at many different Churches across many different denominations, and never felt quite safe at any of them. From non-denominational Protestant to Greek Orthodox, the story of Christ the Redeemer is too similar to what I’ve been through.

        I am currently following a path of atheistic animism, and am quite happy with it.

      • All too often we see Christians behaving EXACTLY like Mary described her attackers behaving. Don’t you ever read the headlines?? This is commonplace within Christianity – because Christianity doesn’t acknowledge basic, fundamental, inalienable human rights (that’s a concept not found anywhere in the Bible, you know – and Jesus had no use for it) and, thus, the concept of “consent” is utterly foreign to Christians. The rest of us hold the concept of “consent” in the highest regard, as a principle concept front and center in human relationships. It’s a shame Christianity is so oblivious to such an essential concept. Beyond being a shame, it’s dangerous, too, that Christians actively REJECT such a crucial concept…

        • Kablam! You’re my hero, lambchopsuey! And I’m even a vegetarian who doesn’t eat lamb chop suey! 😉
          Well said

    • Mary, I’m so sorry. None of that was your fault. And I’m afraid there’s nothing anywhere within Christianity that will show that those who attacked and assaulted you were behaving in any way that should be expected to gain them God’s censure. YOU were the only one to take the fall, to be left to pick up the pieces, if you could. Everybody else gets off on verses and technicalities. Just not YOU. Truly sucks to be a woman in Christianity…

  40. {{{{{{{{{{{{{{{{{{{{{{{{{{{{{{{{{{{Mary}}}}}}}}}}}}}}}}}}}}}}}}}}}}}}}}}}}}}}}}}}}}}}}}

    Thank you for so bravely sharing your dreadful story and I am deeply sorry that you were so repeatedly abused. That is wrong in so many ways and I rejoice that you got out and got help and have decent friends supporting you now.

    I hope I do not offend when I say this, but I don’t believe you were raised by Christians in a Christian church. I think your father and others were members of a cult that stressed the Hebrew Scriptures and not the New Testament.

    I hope also that one day you might be able to experience Jesus as Himself and not as He was so shamefully portrayed in that cult.

    • Gloriamarie, thank you.

      I am not offended. However I hope you can understand that the Church I was raised in also claimed that other denominations were not “really Christian”, and used Scripture to back it up. Unless the Bible is faulty, they were truly following what was written. Even Jesus stated that when he returns, he will not bring peace, but a sword.

      I understand that many Christians find great solace in the Bible, but I cannot. There are too many terrible things contained in the Word of God for me to feel comfortable in a Church again.

      • “I hope you can understand that the Church I was raised in also claimed that other denominations were not “really Christian”, and used Scripture to back it up.”

        Of course, I understand that. It is also one of the ways that cults can be identified as cults.

        As it happens, I grew up in a church that said that too, the Roman Catholic church. Now they no longer say that.

        “Unless the Bible is faulty, they were truly following what was written” I tend to think they were truly following their interpretation. Were any of them able to read it in the original languages?

        “Even Jesus stated that when he returns, he will not bring peace, but a sword.” That has nothing to do with Jesus return, that is descriptive of what He did here on earth.

        “here are too many terrible things contained in the Word of God for me to feel comfortable in a Church again.”

        Well, yes, there are some terrible things in the Hebrew Scriptures and they are recorded so that human beings learn to do better.

        I am reading a wonderful book which points all sorts of things I did not kn ow about the Bible and I daresay the people you knew didn’t know this stuff either.

        https://robbell.com/portfolio/whatisthebible/

        • “Were any of them able to read it in the original languages?”

          I personally used the NSV translation, but my family did have an index Bible that referenced the original texts. This was not a wealthy area, so I very much doubt that any of the Pastors or the congregation could read Latin/Greek/Aramaic.

          “Well, yes, there are some terrible things in the Hebrew Scriptures and they are recorded so that human beings learn to do better.”

          As much as I would like to believe that, the Gospels do fairly clearly state that Jesus came to uphold the old laws.

          “I am reading a wonderful book which points all sorts of things I did not know about the Bible and I daresay the people you knew didn’t know this stuff either.”

          I do know quite a bit about the history of the Bible, much of which I’ve learned since I’ve left the Church. I know that it has a large amount of material that was discarded at the Nicean Council and that there are many historical texts that are incomplete or destroyed. I know that a fair amount of the material that was included in the King James version was changed for political reasons. It is a text of historic significance, and it has certainly been manipulated throughout time.

          However, none of this is particularly helpful as the core message is still about the same. A fatherly God who threatens eternal punishment for even accidental disobedience, and a mortal Son of God who died to pay the price for our sins, but only if we repent and beg forgiveness. It’s still too close to what I’ve endured at the hands of the Church.

          These days, I personally follow a path of animism and reject the idea of a divine being, which is perhaps a bit odd, but it works for me.

          • Mary, I wish you peace. It is heart-breaking the damage that self-professed Christians can do, but they are hardly alone. It is just more egregious to do harm with the name of God/Jesus on your lips.

            There is much to challenge a soul in the Bible, but there is also so much to lift up a soul and show us the love and peace of Jesus. I do not push anyone to accept Christ but I am more than happy to share why I do and the peace and hope it gives me.

            Again, I wish you the peace you so deserve but do always know that yes, they were wrong, not doing what Jesus wanted and not showing the love of God. Never accept that they were.

          • “As much as I would like to believe that, the Gospels do fairly clearly state that Jesus came to uphold the old laws.”

            Where does it say that, Mary? Because I can read the NT in koiné, and I’ve never seen that.

            Jesus tells all the Law and all the Prophets are summed up in the 2 Great Commandments and in Galatians, Paul comes down pretty danged hard on people trying to make Christians follow the Levitical Law.

            ” know that it has a large amount of material that was discarded at the Nicean Council and that there are many historical texts that are incomplete or destroyed. ” I am sorry, but if you that much, you don’t know the entire story. Please read vanCampenhausen’s Formation fo the Christian Bible. It is the definitive text.

            If you have ever read the NT Apocryphal writings, you would see exactly why they were excluded as they were either Gnostic, written by a forger or other reasons.

            “fatherly God who threatens eternal punishment for even accidental disobedience, and a mortal Son of God who died to pay the price for our sins, but only if we repent and beg forgiveness. ” That is what some Johnny Come Latelies teach but that is not the historical teachings of the church.

            And if you were taught that the Son of God is mortal, then what you were taught is not Christianity, but Arianism, because the Son of God is immortal, the Creator of the Heavens and the Earth. Here is orthodox teaching about the Son of God “We believe in one Lord, Jesus Christ,
            the only Son of God,
            eternally begotten of the Father,
            God from God, Light from Light,
            true God from true God,
            begotten, not made,
            of one Being with the Father.
            Through him all things were made.”

            “It’s still too close to what I’ve endured at the hands of the Church.” You were taught a vicious combination of an extreme from of Calvinism mixed in with a dose of Arianism. That is not Christianity, nor is Calvinism the only form of Christianity.

            I invite you to my FB group, Celebrate What Christians Have in Common where I daily offer readings, comics, music, meditations etc etc from the many flavors and voices of orthodox Christianity and not that gobbledegook you were taught.

            https://www.facebook.com/groups/1409874399270377/

    • Gloriamarie. That story told by Mary ripped my heart out. How can people who claim to be Christians treat an innocent little girl or any person like that? It is just insane to do that kind of abuse to any child. Marry your rapist? Good grief Charlie Brown!!!! But you know what? This is classic, diehard fundie business as usual—heard or read so many of these stories.

  41. Wonderful and thought provoking post, as all of yours are, John. Have shared it with many of my friends who are also questioning how Christianity, as practiced in the U.S., has moved so far from the teachings of Christ. And also shared it with a few friends who I’ve said called out on more than one occasion by asking, “Where did Jesus say that?” It will be the basis for a great discussion.

    • Catherine,
      That is the key to this… As Christians, we have to be willing to hold other Christians accountable. We have to be prepared to show those that are not yet believers that we do not under any circumstances accept hypocrisy from those who call themselves Christian. When a Christian says something that is not reflective of what Christ said to call them out, in public. When someone who claims to follow Christ says or does something that does not align with what Christ calls us to do they need to be rebuked on the spot.

      We have to “police” our own. Strongly. When someone that is not a believer repeats so nutty thing they heard some other Christian leader say we need to help them understand that is not what Christ says. That is not what Christ calls us to do. Not how Christ calls us to act.

      If we want to show people that Christianity is not hypocritical the only way to do that is to “smack” (with the love of Christ of course) those that make Christians looks bad. When you hear someone say they heard Pat Robertson say the hurricanes are God’s punishment for the lifestyle of people in New Orleans he needs to be called out as a complete wacko.

      We have to be light shining truth on the darkness.

  42. John,
    So I both agree and disagree with this narrative… I believe that what people see in the media, those “Christians” with the microphone, far too often fall into the camp you are discussing. I also believe they amassed a following that is corrupting the Church and providing an avenue for this duplicity you discuss to occur. However, as a former Athiest who left the church at a very young age in the 80’s I can tell you the state of the “Church” today isn’t much different than what it was 30-40 years ago. The “Church” is just as hypocritical today as it was when I walked away from God because “His people” did not look anything like him.

    However, I have found my way back to God. And I have found my way to three different churches that all demonstrate God’s love rather than the hypocrisy you discuss. The hypocrisy doesn’t come from “religion” it comes from man. In fact, it has always come from man… The Pharisees corrupted God’s word, in no different fashion than Franklin Graham, Osteen, or Robertson do today. People don’t go to churches that preach hate and discrimination because they don’t know any better, they go because it is what they want to hear. They want their inner darkness to be given credibility by religion.

    The problem isn’t that Christianity is bad or hypocritical, it is that those with the microphone don’t accurately represent what Christ called Christians to be. No point made this more clear than the 2016 election, which saw 80% of white Evangelicals vote for an open faced liar, bigot, racists, misogynist, and clearly non-Christian claiming to be Christian. They voted for him because he gave voice to their words of hate and persecution of others who are different from them and because “Christian leaders” lined up to support him in droves in spite of the fact that it was clear to everyone he was not in any way shape or form representative of Christ’s teachings.

    And why is that? My thought it because people don’t want to follow Christ, they want to follow a herd who gives support to what they honestly believe. Those beliefs are not that you “love everyone as you would love yourself”, or that you “do for the least of these”, or that “God gave his only Son for the sins of ALL”. Those beliefs are the ugliness of sin and hate and fear and anger and blame of others for their lot in life. They are too busy using the legalistic dogma of the word of God to support their hate and fear and to rate the sin of others which is always far worse that any sin they personally could be guilty of. But they are not Christians… They are not those that are walking the path of Christ…

    IF we as Christians want to help people find their way to God and create a true life changing relationship with Christ we HAVE to take the microphone back from the nutjobs, the crazies, the hate-filled, we have to take the microphone away from the Pharisees and start allowing people to once again hear the true Good News that Christ brought.

    I will be the first to admit I am not perfect, and I have sin in my life. My sin is not better or worse than the sin of others, but it is as irrelevant as the sins of others because Christ died for it and for me. And no matter what my sin is, God loves me and welcomes me. IF you want to change the way people perceive Christianity then be the picture of Christianity we are called to be. IF you want to welcome people into the love of Christ then every time someone says or does something to another that is against the teachings of Christ shine a light on it.

    As Mahatma Gandhi said — ‘Be the change that you wish to see in the world.’

      • You got it… I am so tired of hearing people question Christianity because of some whacked out thing the West Borough church did or Pat Robertson said or some idiot did on national television says or does in the name of “God”. We need to take our religion back from the idiots that think using the word “God” in a sentence gives them the right to spout or do any idiotic thing they want.

  43. When I read this post today, it actually reminded me of a Sermon I heard recently from Luke 18:9-14. Here is what it says:

    Also He spoke this parable to some who trusted in themselves that they were righteous, and despised others:  “Two men went up to the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. 11 The Pharisee stood and prayed thus with himself, ‘God, I thank You that I am not like other men—extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even as this tax collector.  I fast twice a week; I give tithes of all that I possess.’  And the tax collector, standing afar off, would not so much as raise his eyes to heaven, but beat his breast, saying, ‘God, be merciful to me a sinner!’  I tell you, this man went down to his house justified rather than the other; for everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted.”

    Too many of you sound like the Pharisee in the story. You think you’re more righteous than the people you are criticizing, but according to this parable by Jesus, many of you will be surprised when judgment day comes, so be very careful as to who you assign the “Christian” banner to, as the Scripture says, “The Lord Knows Those That Are His!”

    Be At Peace,

    Tina

  44. This would seem more probable if it weren’t for the fact that, on the whole, more liberal or progressive traditions tend to decline in numbers, while, on the whole, more conservative traditions continue to grow. Likewise around the world, where in more traditional regions with more conservative leadership, the numbers are growing. In addition, most American Catholics swing left of center. There are problems with the Church’s numbers, but the rascally Right and conservative leanings don’t seem to add up as an issue.

  45. This type of radical Christianity isn’t making atheists — simple disbelief in god/gods makes an atheist. But what these trump-style conservative Christians (as well as radical Islamists) are making is anti-theists. Anti-theists can come from the ranks of both theists and atheists.

    • Okay so anti-theist and atheist is by definition the same thing.

      Anti-theist: refers to direct opposition to organized religion or to the belief in any deity, while in a theistic context, it sometimes refers to opposition to a specific god.

      Atheist: a person who disbelieves or lacks belief in the existence of God or gods.

      As someone who was in the Christian faith and was driven away and became an Atheist only to return to the Christian faith 30 years later, I can tell you for certain the behavior of the church can absolutely create Atheists. I left the church not because I woke up one morning and questioned the existence of God. I left the church because the hypocrisy demonstrated by it members made me question the value of the church. Once out of the church and able to look into it from the outside I then began to question how God could possibly be real when those who said they followed him and his teachings were worse in many cases than those not connected to God.

      The behavior and actions of those who claimed to be “followers of Christ” were the cornerstone to my rejection of not just organized religion, but of the God at the center of that religion. So when you say that the behavior of “radical Christians isn’t making Atheists” you are incorrect. It is exactly what made me.

      • Exactly, Andy. I have only one friend who was an atheist by being brought up by atheist parents. The rest of my friends became atheist because of the behavior of their respective Christian churches. They see Christianity as becoming a bigoted and isolated cult, thanks to the millionaire televangelists and the “angry white Christians” they see.

  46. Pingback: The Christian Wedge – James Tedesco

  47. I stopped believing that Santa Claus puts invisible plums in my shoes because the people who also believe thag are total jerk-faces….not because I question the existence of an obese elderly fruit philanthropist that can sneak into MILLIONS of homes (in affluent western cultures)…. undetected…. in one night…. and put invisible fruit in their shoes of the home occupants….
    Human parthenogenesis is not real
    Turning H20 into fermented grape juice can’t happen without grapes and fermentation
    People can’t come back from the dead after three days
    There is no evidence of an omniscient, omnipotent and omnibenevolant diety who came to earth as his son, then sacrificed himself TO HIMSELF, so that we can be forgiven for the sins he KNEW we’d commit (because he’s omniscient)
    We should consider starting at that line of reasoning before jumping into the character assassination of pharisaical nature of religious fundamentalists. We’ve known that since….well, before the Pharisees. Let’s not overlook the 800lb polka dotted gorilla in the room playing tuba….Christianity is becoming irrelevant because it IS irrelevant. It’s a rapidly decaying vestige of our species snarky adolescence.

    • Well said, Matt D. I stopped believing in Santa Claus because I simply outgrew such a childish belief system, not because other kids in the Santa Claus fanclub were mean to me. And, shortly thereafter, I outgrew Christianity, another childish belief system just as nonsensical and ultimately unsatisfying as the Santa Claus one.

      The fact that Christians tend to be colossal jerks is simply incidental. At age 11, when I outgrew Jesus and Santa Claus and God, I was surrounded by Christians – Christians were all I knew. But even so, immersed in Christianity, I could tell it stank.

  48. John,
    I was born in 1961. I grew up Catholic, but by the age of 7, I was already noticing the hypocrisy. By middle school, I was done. Kids in the Catholic school I went to were HORRIBLE!! Not all, of course, but I was terrorized. And yes, for being “different.” Really, I wasn’t even effeminate! I was just not a typical “boy.” I never felt safe among my peers. Today, that hypocrisy is waiving like a proud flag. Christians had a huge part in my leaving religion and embracing spirituality. Thank you so much for your post!!

  49. QUOTE: “With every persecution of the LGBTQ community, with every unprovoked attack on Muslims, with every planet-wrecking decision, with every regressive civil rights move—the flight from Christianity continues. Meanwhile the celebrity preachers and professional Christians publicly beat their breasts about the multitudes walking away from God, oblivious to the fact that they are the impetus for the exodus.”

    What exactly do you mean by this, John? This picture is painted with an awfully broad brush. Is it a persecution of the LGBTQ community to say that homosexual acts are wrong? Is it a persecution of them to want to teach our children that while we are called to love the sinner, we cannot endorse his choice of sin? Is it persecution to politely decline to participate in a “gay wedding?” in some form, such as baking a wedding cake for it? Is that really persecution – or is persecution rounding up homosexuals and tossing them from a rooftop as is done in some Muslim countries? You need to define your terms better because they way you say is is so bland and all encompassing that a person could read this and think that any condemnation of homosexual behavior is persecution, no matter how kindly said.

    Other than that, I do share agreement with you on a lot of what you have said. Somehow, American Christians have forgotten that our life is not about the accumulation of wealth at the expense of the poor and the environment. American Christians, especially the Fundamentalist Right, have a very strong inclination to reach for a gun before sitting down to talk. Their whole mantra seems to be “Kill them all and let God sort out who is His.” But please don’t fall into the trap that is set for so many Christians today – those on the Left political spectrum excuse any and all sexual behavior as “between me and God,” as if no priest is supposed to state the truth, and those on the Right are so busy making money and hoarding gold against the coming apocalypse that they don’t see the poor who are in need of basics just to stay alive.

    Being like Jesus in America today will assuredly get you called a “Fascist” from the Left and a “Commie” from the Right – and both at the same time. I know. I’ve experienced it.

    • Edward;

      While I agree with much or what you’re saying, and have written blogs and sermons much like this one, I find your honest and forthright struggle with this question to be interesting. On the one hand, there are people who struggle with LGBTQ issues in good faith finding themselves in a difficult position, where they feel their faith calls them to condemn some behaviors yet not reject people while doing so. On the other,there are people who build their public reputations and fortunes on loudly condemning people, or otherwise do so for personal aggrandizement.

      I guess the question comes down to whether you can have such struggles without having a sign out in your front yard advertising that fact to the rest of the world. Is it possible to adopt a faith stance like that in the Sermon on the Mount, which not only pushes against judging others, but also against parading your faith around as a way to glorify yourself, while inwardly condemning someone else for making choices you would not make or being born with orientations you don’t have? I guess that everyone has to answer that for themselves, but I keep getting stuck on Romans 14 when my mind wanders over such questions.

      At the end of the day, I think that there is a line between holding personal convictions against something and aggressively seeking to force those convictions on others – particularly by force of law. Many who would choose to do so would also be inclined to portray their behavior as normative in some way, as if “Christianity” is synonymous with their particular stance. In other words, they’ve already painted the issue with a very broad brush, so is speaking out against such things really so wrong or is it merely addressing the larger issue of this post?

      • David Adams, well done! You put a fine point on the crux of the problem so many have.

        I find it endlessly fascinating how some fixate on what others do, but more so, where is it you get the job of ranking sin and deciding pain or punishment for what you see as more sinful behavior? I have never understood such motivations and I think I never will.

        Romans 14 is indeed an excellent lesson for us all! Thank you!!

      • David Adams wrote “At the end of the day, I think that there is a line between holding personal convictions against something and aggressively seeking to force those convictions on others – particularly by force of law. Many who would choose to do so would also be inclined to portray their behavior as normative in some way, as if “Christianity” is synonymous with their particular stance. In other words, they’ve already painted the issue with a very broad brush, so is speaking out against such things really so wrong or is it merely addressing the larger issue of this post?”

        Interestingly enough, I am reading David’s thoughts on June 7, 2017, when John P wrote a blog expressing pretty much the same thing.

        I think David’s conclusion is the only one to come to. As I have been reading this blog for several months now, I remember in the past there were a number of voices responding to the essay about whether or not God is in control.

        The loudest voices asserting that God is in control are also the very loudest voices who are “aggressively seeking to force those convictions on others – particularly by force of law.”

        Which implies to me that they do not really believe God is in control, nor do they trust the Holy Spirit to do the right thing because otherwise they would not choose “to adopt a faith stance like that in the Sermon on the Mount, which not only pushes against judging others, but also against parading your faith around as a way to glorify yourself, while inwardly condemning someone else for making choices you would not make or being born with orientations you don’t have.”

  50. David, you said a mouthful. I totally get it. I believe that today, Christianity — whether it’s “all Christians” or not — has no standing to speak out against anything.

    Love is the prerequisite for any speaking out that the Spirit may inspire a Christian to do. Love is exactly what a great many of the loudest, most public Christians are not doing, and what the world is *not* receiving or experiencing from Christians.

    The best Christianity can do right now to minimize the damage is to shut up until it loves. Until then, it’s not “speaking out,” it’s just condemnation based on our personal classifications of sin.

    • Amen, Terri, brava. yes, indeedy.

      I know many people who have said that their favorite bit in the entire Bible is 1 Cor 13 or that their favorite prayer is the one attributed to St. Francis which begins “Lord, let me be an instrument of your peace.”

      The thing I am frequently mentioning is that in both cases, the Holy Spirit requires me to work at becoming the sort of person who loves as 1 Cor 13 says or to become the sort of person St. Francis prays to become.

      Something both the Lord’s Prayer and St. Francis’ prayer have in common. Both are written in the imperative voice. In the Lord’s Prayer, Jesus tells us to order God to do these things for us. In St. Francis prayer “let” is also expressed as an order.

      When we pray these prayers were are not asking God to do something, we order God to make it so. In addition, we have to make ourselves willing receptacles for the action fo the Holy Spirit so that She may obey us.

      How do we do that? I suspect it is different for each of us as we seek to find the way God calls us to become better people. Each of us walks with Jesus according to the way we are called. Vocation is universally understood to mean we are called to become the very best versions of ourselves, the person it delighted God to create. Our responsibility is to realize that vision within ourselves.

      I am forever recommending books and one that really helped me with all of this was written by Margaret Funk, Thoughts Matter: The Practice of the Spiritual Life

  51. I have to agree with my friend John’s opinion of this article and I quote: “Can I just say with a really loud voice, “YUCK”. This article was pathetic. Not sure if that is what you expected, but I find this guy so far off base that it is a wonder this is even a Christian article.

    The issue with our society leaving the church is not the church. And it is not the lack of love in the church. It is the call to holiness that they church stands for. In a PC world where everything goes Christianity stands in the way with a little thing called “holiness”. I simply do not see the hate he is speaking of. In fact, I see most Christians continuing to be compassionate, giving individuals.

    Not one food pantry, soup kitchen, backpacks for school drive, faith based hospital, or charitable organization ran by the church that I am aware of asks anyone their race or sexual orientation or religion before they show them compassion. In fact I think the church should take one week off from American society and not contribute in any way, shape or form. That experiment would change the tone of such articles. All of a sudden the junkies would be out on the streets again, the homeless would be, well, really homeless, and the hungry would go unclothed and unfed.

    What this guy really wants is for us to just “love everybody.” But the problem is true love tells a brother there is a ditch up ahead. True love tells the truth in love. And true love has standards. The church got into trouble when they embraced the psychological term “unconditional love.” It isn’t in the Bible and it has led the church astray from its message.

    What we need is the HOLY Spirit invited back into the conversation.

    Come, Holy Spirit!”

    • Raven said

      “Not one food pantry, soup kitchen, backpacks for school drive, faith based hospital, or charitable organization ran by the church that I am aware of asks anyone their race or sexual orientation or religion before they show them compassion.”

      Let me count the ways:

      Salvation Army discriminates against LGBTQ people.

      St. Joseph’s Regional Medical Center was accused, and there is evidence, that it discriminates against Transgender people.

      In 2016 Federal District Judge Reed O’Connor blocked regulations prohibiting insurers, doctors, and hospital against transgender people and women that had an abortion in their medical history because that would “violate religious freedom”.

      Catholic hospitals are known to deny reproduce health care, even in an emergency.

      Shall I continue?

      • So-called Christian food banks discriminate against me all the time because I have diabetes and their pre-selected bags of groceries are full of the cheapest possible foods that make it impossible for me to control my diabetes.

        I try to explain that I need a different kind of food to manage my blood sugars because I wish to avoid all the complications and horrible things that can happen to a diabetic and the people at food banks have been known to say “Well, you must not be very hungry, then” as if I should be grateful to them for food that will cause diabetic neuropathy and retinopathy, cause my kidneys to fail, feet amputated, etc

        So-called Christian food banks only hand out groceries to what they call the “deserving poor” which are people who work, not the disabled who can’t. Not the homeless who are lost in many ways. And most of the time, one has to be a parent with a family and not an impoverished single person.

  52. I and others I know aren’t leaving due to either theology or the call to holiness. We’re leaving because the holiness currently espoused by our churches bears no resemblance to what we read in the Bible.

    It is bigotry and intolerance to which many churches are calling Christians, not holiness, but they still insist that it’s holiness. This is patent dishonesty, and they may be buying what they’re selling, but not everyone else is.

    I was amazed at the things I have heard spoken at church about various political candidates and their various views. Amazed. I realized that the sole goal of too many Christians is to enshrine their personal religious beliefs into civil law and steamroller all those who differ.

    This is not the God of the Bible, or the Jesus of the Bible, or the Holy Spirit of the Bible. It is not love. It’s not the kind of love that warns people of sin; it simply hates them, tries to exclude them physically and spiritually, and attempts to set the very laws of the country against them.

    It’s heartbreaking to me. I won’t go along with it and cry “Peace, peace” when there is no peace. I respect others’ right to their views and their conscience and I must obey mine as well.

  53. Pingback: Why I Left The Church And My Faith: A Summary | my musings:

  54. People (writer included) are making some pretty bold claims based on the actions of SOME Christians (and probably also, conveniently lumps in the unfavorable actions of non Christians as well). There are millions of Christians in the world and countless churches. I understand that people have been hurt by the church and people of the church, but lets not go ahead condemn all churches and Christians in existence based on those experiences and/or people. That behavior is just as closed minded as what you are accusing Christians of. Should I hate all of any classification or ace of people because of the actions of a few that I disagree with? Christ commanded us to love our neighbors as we love ourselves, and Jesus also told us that we will be judged in the way that we judge others. If you see a Christian who doesn’t act in harmony with those statements, remind him/her about Christ’s words! We are all human and we all sin, so don’t base your faith on the actions of people, not even Christians, base it on the word of God/Christ. Understand the word and learn the context it was written/spoken in, then make your judgment based on that, not the church or people. That all being said, we still must be obedient to God’s word and laws, even if they aren’t always “popular” in our culture. This is usually where the confusion and misinterpretations come in to play, and even if we may disagree with society or the actions of a person, we are still called to love our neighbors as ourselves in spite of them. That doesn’t mean we have to encourage or or turn a blind eye towards sin though. Our primary authority is God, not man. At then end of the day though, each Christian should know the two greatest commands, if you can show them that they aren’t being obedient to those commands and Christ’s words, first and foremost, they should be able to recognize the error of their ways. If they cannot, their motives are probably more selfish than they are motivated by their Christian beliefs.

    • Jimmy R, I am just not clear on where you see anyone “condemn all churches and Christians in existence?” If that is how you take the commentary or the comments, I think you have seriously misunderstood us all.

      No one is saying to “hate all of any classification or ace of people because of the actions of a few” in any way, shape or form.

      Sadly, if you think just “remind him/her about Christ’s words!” will work when we “see a Christian who doesn’t act in harmony with those statements” I think you are also dismissing the problem we face.

      Yes, “we are all human and we all sin,” but so many fellow sinners choose to use the faith they hold to seek power over others, seek the force of law to do their religious bidding and seek to use it to punish, exclude and harm those who do not believe like they do that the issues are far more substantive than you seem to understand.

      All of the bad things Christians have ever done was based on the word of God/Christ as they understood it. All of the pain and damage inflicted by Christians was because they felt they “Understand the word and learn the context it was written/spoken in” too.

      If you think you are being “obedient to God’s word and laws” by supporting Trump, being against equal rights for the LGBTQ community, wanting abortion to be illegal, wanting to take from people who already have little, wanting to sit in the seats of power and control people, then by your own comment, “even if they aren’t always “popular” in our culture” they are still right.

      When you believe your “primary authority is God, not man” and you use that belief and anything you can find to justify yourself when you “disagree with society or the actions of a person,” you can do a lot of damage and the church supposedly of God, has.

      The Crusades were all about being obedient to God. The burning of witches, the persecution of heretics, enslaving black people, the exclusion of the gays, the killings of the Jews…all were done by people who at then end of the day thought they knew and followed the two greatest commands.

      Would to God in Heaven that merely showing them that they aren’t being obedient to those commands and Christ’s words would be enough. That is why we are still arguing the question.

    • And you know what, Jimmy Rugelbaucker, John P makes it quite clear that he is only talking about SOME Christians and not the ones that truly follow Jesus.

      Please re-read the essay. Thank you.

      • Please explain how someone can tell the difference between a true Christian and a fake Christian.

        Oh wait, sorry, my bad. You can’t. And I know that.

        Generally, Christians use the term to mean “a Christian who believes what I generally believe, who hasn’t done anything I’d consider totally off-limits, and who hasn’t left the religion.” So you’d look at my ex and that church and say oh well they just weren’t really truly following Jesus–but they’d likely say the same of you, and have just as many reasons for saying it as you do about them.

        You have no idea, and neither does Jimmy, what it looks like when someone “truly follows Jesus,” or how to tell when someone’s faking it as long as they don’t step out of line or say the wrong things in public. Thousands (maybe millions) of ravening wolves roam your churches unfettered, serene in the knowledge that as long as they keep their victims quiet and the crimes on the down-low, nobody will ever even suspect them of any wrongdoing or abuse. If they get caught, they just move to another place and start over–nobody will ever question them or expose them, and they know it.

        And I know this personally, because my ex is one of those wolves. I’m lucky to be alive, no exaggeration at all.

        Egad! I’m glad to be out of all that mess. Glad, glad, glad!!

        • “Captian Cassidy” wrote “Please explain how someone can tell the difference between a true Christian and a fake Christian.”

          Not the issue. The issue is which Christians is John P talking about and which he is not. John P makes it quite clear.

          • Sorry, but you are the one who brought up this very important distinction–or at least, one that is very important in your own mind:

            John P makes it quite clear that he is only talking about SOME Christians and not the ones that truly follow Jesus.

            And I think it is quite fair to ask how in the world any Christian can actually tell who the real ones are from the fakes, when the fakes are absolutely indistinguishable even to them. Please explain this, in light of my objections above.

            Or, alternately, avoid the question again, which I really can’t blame you for doing as it is not something any Christian–particularly one who believes that there is such a thing as a TRUE CHRISTIAN™–could really adequately answer. It’s not hard to wonder why you pushed back like you did. Aside from “you can just tell,” which serves to protect so many Christian predators from exposure, there really isn’t a way to distinguish.

  55. The premise is that Atheism is a choice. As a Humanist, I love the teachings of Jesus. But even at 6 years old, I knew I didn’t agree with the people at church about what Jesus meant, and I also believed there was no God, although I would never have said so. Christians saying they are living out Christ’s teachings, instead of humbly LEARNING how to live out Christ’s teachings, are hypocrites, but they aren’t what “drove me from God.” I chose a liberal church, where the teachings of Jesus grow positive, loving relationships, but I was an atheist at birth; no Christian teachings have ever persuaded me to be otherwise.

    • Interesting point Lucy and I hear you. No “Christian teachings have ever persuaded me” as much as just observing the world we live in has. When I see the magic of a beautiful sunrise or sunset, the majesty of the oceans, the lavish life of a river or a silvery brook, the Rockies, the Alleghenies, the Blue Ridge Mountains, The Grand Canyon, Niagara Falls, rainbows, the birth of new life, the sacred bonds we can form with one another, the massive capacity we have for love of our children, and so many little things I have around me, I believe that a God of love, intelligence, purpose and grace created all that. The rest is really just window dressing IMHO. I seek to serve God, so I listen to the religious teachings and I enjoy church, Sunday School, hymns and prayer while I look for ways to say thank you to God and to prove I am worthy of the beauty and love around me.

      I tell people when I felt my baby move inside me, I knew there was a God. When I saw that face at birth, I knew that life has purpose. Religion can come and go, God is eternal.

  56. It wont happen. As it is said 50% of the population is below average. There will always be those that will be in the cult. Yes the church is a cult as much as any other cult out there. For many they need the church to instill moral values because they don’t have the character to have morals without penalty.

  57. This is pure tosh, I’m sorry to say, John. Hogwash. Balderdash.

    Bad Christians do not make atheists.

    Christianity makes atheists.

    I’ve never yet met an ex-C who said that mean ole evangelicals had driven him or her away from Christianity. Ever. Our reasons are incredibly varied, but evangelicalism itself was not the problem. Christianity itself was.

    That’s why we left Christianity as a whole and not just evangelicalism.

    Don’t ever make the mistake of thinking that a kick-start is the same thing as a journey.

    And don’t ever mistake the symptom of a disease for the disease itself.

    Cut evangelicals away from Christianity, and people will still be leaving in droves. You are building a narrative in this post about evangelicalism being The Big Problem Here, but it isn’t evangelicalism that caused your religion’s issues–and it is not evangelicalism causing its collapse. Evangelicalism is an outgrowth and expression of something way deeper and more serious in Christianity, something that exists even in the mildest, nicest, kindest progressive congregations in the world.

    That “something” is what ex-Christians see when we come face-to-face with the pure boiling hatred and rage and terror in the evangelical heart and then look past that heart to see where all that stuff came from. That is why we left. You can’t fix that any more than you can fix evangelicals’ hatred and rage and terror, because you’re still living in it and don’t realize it.

    But we do.

    • I agree this article is crap. Christians love to blame extremists for all their problems, especially for those who leave. I also didn’t miss the not-very-subtle “there is no such thing as an atheist” fallacy when he said that we weren’t really rejecting Jesus, just the church. Bull.

      I was raised as a fundamentalist christian, and I left that sect because I was tired of the anger and the arrogance. Yet when I began looking at more liberal/modern christians, they were just arrogant and angry about different things. In fact, I remember reading an open letter that John Pavlovitz wrote to those leaving fundamentalism. It was nothing more than a liberal christian looking down his nose at me, and it was obvious that the writer thought himself superior to those the letter was written to. When I actually began attending liberal churches, hoping for something completely different, I found nothing different except for the trappings. I know every christian thinks, “MY church is different!”, but so did the people in the churches I went to. Your basic flaw is in thinking there is something supernatural in christianity, despite all evidence to the contrary.

      I stopped believing in god when this finally became obvious to me. Christians don’t even have evidence that their god exists in the first place. Their bible is full of stories of fantastic, obvious miracles that not-so-mysteriously don’t actually happen. Even one of the biggest christian platitudes, “god answers prayer”, must be qualified with “but sometimes he says no, or wait” to explain why it doesn’t work, or “god works through people” to explain why there is always a normal explanation, and never a supernatural one. Expecting people to twist their entire lives around such completely unfounded ideas is ridiculous. So, yes, my skepticism did start as a result of the bad behavior of christians (and not just the fundamentalists), but ultimately I stopped believing in god because of reason and logic. There are many whose skepticism started without bad experiences with christians in the first place.

      • I didn’t leave the church because of unpleasant and hypocritical people. Religion does not hold the monopoly on that. We are all unpleasant and hypocritical to various degrees. I don’t expect all Christians to be perfect. I am not that naïve. I left the church because the Bible is a quagmire of contradiction and inconsistency. I left because I do not believe in the supernatural. I left because of the astronomic scientific probability that deities do not exist. I left because I realized I can be a good human being without a God. In fact, we are all trying to be good human beings without a God, some of us just realize it.

      • I left Christianity because it turned out it isn’t real. There is no evidence for “God”. I was also raised Fundamentalist & tried other denominations before I came to my senses.

  58. Excellent article Mister John Pavlovitz. Since my parents were both secular humanists/scientific personalities, they always gave me a basic moral understanding outside the doctrine of a church. So understood early on that the basic tenants of religious morality were mainstream in society now. And organized religions main function now was to hold onto power. And of course,absolute power corrupts absolutely. So as you said,with fundamentalist Christianity and Islam entering a strictly survival mode,they will alianate more and more people from those religions by holding on to fear and hatred in order to retain their relevance in a society where the morality they helped institute millennia ago has become normalized. Even secularized. At the end, organized religion of the sort as it is now will be generally recognized as little more than cults. That is just where the parade’s headed.

  59. It is hard to get past the hypocrisy of those who call themselves Christians, yet act as though they are completely unfamiliar with the Golden Rule, the Sermon on the Mount, Love Thy Neighbor, the Good Samaritan, and the story of Cain and Abel. As far as I’m concerned, those are the only really valuable parts of Christianity, and those are the parts the religious right wants no truck with.

    John Pavlovitz’s heart is clearly in the right place, but unfortunately for Christianity, the religion itself makes no actual sense. It’s just not possible for somebody to atone for somebody else’s sins. Nobody would think justice had been done if a murderer’s friend willingly went to prison on the murderer’s behalf. The sacrifice of Jesus is equally meaningless.

    And apart from the hypocrisy of the religious right and the illogic of the central doctrine, the supposed good guys in the Bible get up to some perfectly awful antics, like King David killing a guy to add yet another woman to his harem, St Paul’s general raging misogyny, and good ol’ Jehovah himself killing off everybody on Earth except for Noah’s family. Even Lucifer never did anything that bad.

    Never mind the unbridgeable chasm between science and any religion based on the idea of the supernatural.

    On balance, no thank you. I’ll take the tiny handful of morally uplifting passages from the Bible. They make decent shorthand for the morality that comes to us from our evolutionary history, in which we learned that cooperation improves our survival prospects. And once you fully grasp that all that supernatural nonsense isn’t real, you don’t even miss it. You can’t be upset over not being invited to a party that could never happen.

  60. I have visited your full post thst you have described on your website about the-Christians-making-atheists. I have got the more especial idea from this post. thank you so much

  61. Inasmuch as this article hits the nail on the head regarding the outward reputation of Christianity, I’d like to add that that there’s a huge inward factor pushing people out of churches that’s not mentioned: church politics. I’m not even going to get into it here because I could write a book on all the issues within churches, but needless to say, there are a lot of internal factors at play that can make the church experience less than welcoming for those seeking it. Case in point, my father was a protestant minister with a masters of divinity degree and 20 years of experience; because of church politics among the deacons and elders of the church at which he was serving, he was forced out and is now working as a janitor. If that’s the effect on the ordained clergy, you can imagine how easily it might impact ordinary attendees.

    • Ah, but, Robert Lynch, John P can’t say everything in every essay. A number of us elsewhere in these comments have spoken of the detrimental nature of church politics.

      The bottom line for me is this: if we act in ways that love our neighbors as ourselves as God first loved us, then our egos won’t be leading us into the evils that is church politics where people want to push their own agendas at the expense of others.

      The other bottom line for me is that my faith is not based on the actions of others or how others treat me or others. My faith is based on Jesus.

  62. “What a difference a couple of decades make.

    Just ask around. People outside the Church will tell you: love is no longer our calling card. It is now condemnation, bigotry, judgment and hypocrisy.”

    A couple of decades? Hardly. The tradition of mainstream nominal Christianity to which you belong was never about love, and was born in hypocrisy.

    Trump and recent events are merely making that more blatantly evident.

    Just a few decades ago Catholics and Protestants from Germany and Italy were killing fellow “Christians” from the US, Britain, etc., on the battlegrounds of WWII. Is support for Trump really any worse than that given to Hitler and Mussolini? (Or, for that matter, to the Bushes, Clinton, et.al.

  63. There are many reasons people are leaving the church.

    The Bible was cobbled together from other cultures’ mythologies. And the Catholic church edited it for political and crowd control purposes for hundreds of years until Gutenberg shut them down by printing the thing. The book is not “God’s perfect word.” It is borrowed mythology and propaganda. More and more people are realizing this truth. The Internet brings access to information and to people we’d never otherwise encounter in our lives, and when Biblical history scholars discuss the actual origins of the Bible and Christianity’s shameful history, people realize that the faith is baseless.

    Another reason is that Jesus has nothing to do with Christianity. Assuming he was a real person (and I want to think so), his teachings are unique, daring and totally contradictory to our tribalistic, cultish tendency to demonize the “other.” He rebelled against the conservative status quo with LIBERAL ideals. THAT is what made him special. However, others twisted his story by assigning to him characteristics borrowed from other mythological figures (including the resurrection story) to make him seem godly so they could attract followers, and fell into tribalistic tendencies so they could claim superiority and exclusivity over non-believers. That is all any religion is – a cult that thirsts for followers and insecurely defines itself as separate from the “other” by condemning the “other.” Christianity is NOT what Jesus had in mind. He was a Jew out to reform Judaism. The church stole Jesus and wove a convoluted and illogical doctrine around him. People are waking up to this and want no part of it.

    Yes, the bigotry, hypocrisy, anger, hatred, conservative political activism and other aspects of contemporary Christianity simply make it much easier to walk away from the church. But let’s face it …. the white supremacy is pushing people away. You don’t see POC churches preaching hate. You don’t see the ignorant conservative political activism coming from POC churches. You don’t see the anti-education, anti-women’s rights, anti-LGBT rights, anti-diversity attitudes coming from POC churches. You don’t see fear coming from POC churches. It’s coming from whites, white churches and white church leaders. Today, Christianity has become synonymous with white supremacy and all of its ugly symptoms.

    People are also walking away because they are waking up to the brainwashing. It doesn’t matter how many “nice” Christians may be in a church when the preacher is up there screaming hateful, insecure separatism and condemnation from the pulpit. All too many “nice” Christians will just sit there, nod their heads in agreement and then repeat their brainwashed programming later without any thought at all as to what they are actually saying. Jesus and brotherly love have NOTHING to do with this. This is mind control.

    I see more and more people saying, “I am not a Christian but I am a follower of Jesus,” because they choose love and grace over the church’s nonsense. So when you talk about people leaving the church, yes, many are leaving due to the hate, bigotry, etc. but many are leaving to follow Jesus.

    And really, when you look at the core of Jesus’s teachings – love and forgiveness, tolerance, grace – Jesus was a humanist. This is why both humanists and atheists will quote Jesus. Strip away all of the religious nonsense and you find a humanist philosophy from which all can gain wisdom and inspiration. It’s just a damn shame so many Christians don’t live by it.

    • I would like to thank you for this comment. I have ceased to use the word Christian to identify myself and consider myself a follower of Jesus, some days better at it than others. I read your comment to my retired pastor husband and he also says thank you, and my agnostic grandson liked it also. Makes more sense than a lot of comments I have read. Peace,

    • “Assuming he was a real person (and I want to think so), his teachings are unique, daring and totally contradictory to our tribalistic, cultish tendency to demonize the “other.” He rebelled against the conservative status quo with LIBERAL ideals. ”

      It doesn’t sound like you’ve ever *read* the Gospels. Many have noted that the teachings of Jesus that are good are not original, and those that are original are not good. “Jesus” was midrashed out of Old Testament scripture – there is no significant incident or pronouncement attributed to Jesus that wasn’t taken out of Jewish scripture. Thinking Jesus was “real” is like looking at West Side Story as a documentary about gangs in New York in the 1950s, when in reality it was a midrash of Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet.
      Taking an old story and freshening it up by translating it into a different time/place/culture is an old tradition – don’t confuse it with creating history. That history is false and misleading.

      Jesus was right about one thing – he wasn’t good (Mark 10:18).
      Jesus introduced the concept of “thought crimes”, for one. Banned divorce altogether, for another. He condemned *entire cities* because the few *men* he met weren’t impressed with his teachings or his little magic tricks. Jesus told his followers that they had to HATE their families, friends, everyone they knew, and ESPECIALLY themselves, or they were not “worthy” of him. What a jerk! Jesus apparently liked to see people squirm, too, which is unforgivable (Luke 9:60-62). Who did he think he was, the protoTrump?? Look at this:

      And Jesus answering said unto them, The children of this world marry, and are given in marriage: But they which shall be accounted worthy to obtain that world, and the resurrection from the dead, neither marry, nor are given in marriage: (Luke 20:34-35)

      Better not marry anyone, Rational Christian! Or else no heaven for you! Take a close look at John 14:12-14, while you’re at it – in that passage, Jesus vows to answer ALL prayers. ALL of them! No matter what! No qualifications, no restrictions, no limits, no waiting! But we all know THAT’s a lie, don’t we?

      If you’d read the Gospels, you would have run across that little incident in Matt. 15:22-27, where Jesus first *ignores* a foreign woman seeking his help for her disabled daughter, and only addresses her because his buddies complain that she’s bothering them. Then Jesus tells her he’s only about the Jews and it’s not right to give the children’s bread to “dogs” (one of the worst insults in that culture/place to this day), and it’s only after she grovels and says, “You’re right, we’re dogs” that he says “Go on home, your daughter is healed.” Of course, we don’t hear anything else – what if nothing happened? Jesus just got rid of her; he and his boys would be gone if she tried to come back and confront him over his lies.

      “Dogs.” You can’t get much more “othering” than that, can you? And that’s all Jesus! What about Luke 19:27? “But as for these enemies of mine, who did not want me to reign over them, bring them here and slaughter them before me.” Tell me again about how Jesus was NOT about “othering” – I could use a chuckle. What’s “liberal” about killing everyone who disagrees with you??

      Ever read any of the Jesus parables? In one, he defends an employer’s “right” to pay workers anything he pleases, framing the payment as the employer’s “generosity”. Jesus had no time for workers’ rights. Other parables describe an all-powerful master/ruler/owner/boss who does whatever he pleases with the unfortunates who displease him, and they have no recourse – no protections. This extends to KILLING them. Only the powerful have rights; the powerless have none and are completely at the mercy of the powerful. Something tells me you wouldn’t enjoy living in a society run according to Jesus’s understanding of human relationships.

      Jesus had no awareness of the concept of basic, fundamental, inalienable human rights – we’d have to wait for the brilliant atheist minds of the Enlightenment to clarify that concept. Jesus didn’t understand that slavery is wrong – but WE do. OUR morality is superior to Jesus’s. Monarchy was the only system of government Jesus understood, yet we’ve advanced past monarchies (the only functional ones remaining are in the Muslim theocracies). Since the Bible does not acknowledge human rights, only accepts monarchy as a legitimate form of government, and never ONCE declares that slavery is wrong – not a SINGLE verse – the Bible is clearly inappropriate for modern people. It’s the product of primitive, ignorant, superstitious people whose violence and barbarism we would not tolerate today. And Jesus was part and parcel of all that.

      Hey, remember in Matt. 10:34 where Jesus says, “Do not assume that I have come to bring peace to the earth; I have not come to bring peace, but a sword.” Do you still think Jesus was a humanist? He himself repudiated that “Prince of Peace” nonsense – he intended to destroy families. Mission accomplished.

      The humanists of today are FAR better people than the Jesus of the Gospels. He was an egocentric, self-important, petty, nasty piece of work. Charles Templeton, in “Farewell to God: My reasons for rejecting the Christian faith”, bluntly concludes, “If one approaches the New Testament account with an open mind and unflinching realism, the evidence clearly indicates that Jesus was an illegitimate child who, when he came to maturity, resented it and was alienated from his parents and siblings.” (p. 93)

      I haven’t met any atheists who quote Jesus, because atheists aren’t required by Christian faith to regard Jesus as the bestest, smartest, nicest, most brilliant ethicist and moralist in forever. As I’ve pointed out above, that view is delusional and easily demonstrated wrong.

      Reformed Christian, what is good about Jesus and Christianity that you see is just you projecting your own good qualities onto these. It’s not warranted from the source material, and THAT’s the whole problem with Christianity. Let’s face it – if Jesus belief motivated people to behave ethically and morally, through some “spiritual infilling” or “presence of the Holy Spirit”, then Christians wouldn’t have such bad reputations (being terrible tippers and horrible to do business with, tip of the iceberg) and Christianity wouldn’t be losing members right and left.

      • I have a feeling I’m going to regret this but here goes.

        1. Almost all historical scholars be they Christian or not believe that Jesus was an actual man who actually walked this earth. They cite secular sources that give accounts of his life.

        2. It might appear that there are no new teachings by Christ because He in fact came to fulfill the Old Testament. The purpose of the Old Testament was to tell of His coming and His sacrifice that would reconcile man to God. There are in fact numerous teachings in the New Testament that absolutely floored the religious Jewish people of His day. See Sermon on the Mount in Matthew “You have heard it said…[insert Old Testament teaching], but “I say…[insert Jesus’ teaching]. Christ came to show the way of mercy and grace. The complete opposite of the earn your way to Heaven by obeying the law teaching that the Pharisees taught. “The law came through Moses but grace and truth come through the Lord Jesus Christ.” Or how about Old Testament “eye for an eye, tooth for a tooth.” Jesus, “but I say love your enemies, do good to those who hate you.” Matthew 5. “Bless those who persecute you, bless and curse not….Never pay back evil for evil to anyone” Romans 12.

        3. Mark 10:18: “And Jesus said to him. ‘Why do you call Me good? No one is good except God alone.'” Jesus does not say He is not good. He is trying to get the young man to see that He is God. Jesus is using a logical form of discussion. The basic logical formula we all learned in Logic 101: If a = b and b = c then a = c. Jesus, “If you have seen me you have seen the Father.” “I and the Father are one.” “In the beginning was the Word [Jesus] and the Word [Jesus] was with God and the Word [Jesus] was God” John 1.
        The Bible is actually very logical in its reasoning. In fact, Paul’s argumentation in Romans is held up as one of the best examples of logical reasoning in literature.

        4. As far as “thought crimes,” Jesus was dealing with a group of religious people who thought they were good enough to go to Heaven. He loved them enough to endure their harsh treatment of Him to tell them the truth. That no one is good enough to go to Heaven because even our thoughts are evil. Because God is so holy our sins must be taken away, atoned for. So, Jesus loves them so much that He’s trying to tell them to “quit trying to be good enough, you can’t; I came to be good enough for you. I’ll do the work, I’ll take the punishment your sin deserves, and I’ll give you my righteousness which is perfect and without sin.”

        5. The word used for hate means to reject one thing in favor of another. It means you might have to choose God over say your family if you live in a culture where you are excommunicated for becoming a Christian. Jesus is warning people that there is a cost to following Him. He tells us that the world hates Him and that it will hate those who follow Him as well! He is far from being a trickster or using magic tricks. Jesus is forthright to the point of shocking people. He pulls no punches. He tells it like it is! Jesus teaches us to love to the point of caring for others even above ourselves.

        6. The giving in marriage passage refers to relationships in Heaven. It has nothing whatsoever to do with relationships on earth.

        7. John 12 “Truly, truly I say to you, he who believes in Me, the works that I do shall he do also; and greater works that these shall he do; because I go to the Father. And whatsoever you ask in My name, that will I do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son.” Notice this scripture is addressed to believers.

        8. Luke 19 is a parable – a story. Jesus is telling the parable about a Nobleman not Himself. These are not words that Jesus is saying he would say. The beginning of the paragraph even tells us that Jesus is telling a parable and why, “He went on to tell a parable, because He was near Jerusalem, and they supposed that the kingdom of God was going to appear immediately.

        9. Those brilliant minds of the Enlightenment period drew largely on the Bible. I received a magna cum laude degree in Political Science and have studied intently the philosophies upon which inalienable rights are founded. For example, John Locke considered himself a Christian and drew from what he felt were God-given rights. In fact, he argued against the “divine right of kings” by saying it was a man-made idea and not a Biblical one. He was right. God gave judges to rule over Israel as a government. The Israelites saw the cultures around them had kings, so they begged God to give them a king. So, God established Saul as the first king of Israel. He gave them what they asked for.

        10. Jesus was not a humanist. A humanist worships humans and looks to humanity to cure the ills of society. It’s rather an oxymoron because the very evil humanity tries to cure comes from our own hearts. It’s like giving a sick person another disease in hopes that the first sickness will leave the body in fear of the second disease.

        I realize I did not address every point. I would be more than happy to answer all of them, I’m just too tired right now.

        Wishing you the best.

  64. I get what John is saying. However, I think he is giving too much credit to the Church. Some people (me included) left the faith for other reasons. Let’s be honest here, there are verses in the Bible that can support any type of Christianity you want. You want a hippie-liberal Jesus? You can find it. You want a judgmental Jesus? He’s there too. You may be able to read the letters of Paul and find a bit more grace, but then you get to James and there’s the judgement again.

    Some of us who left were serious about god and the Bible. We wanted to do whatever it was he wanted us to do. We didn’t fault people for speaking out against homosexuality, fornication, etc. We saw in the Bible that it is wrong. We read where Jesus called out people’s sins and told them to go and sin no more. But it was through more study of the Bible, where we couldn’t deal with the inconsistencies within itself and with science. Furthermore, if the Bible was what it claims to be (sharper than any two-edged sword) one should be able to speak to the sinner and it transform his life. But, you know what? It doesn’t. If it did, this blog post wouldn’t exist.

  65. As a former Christian, there is another point I would like to have noted. Years ago it was easy to go to a church and subscribe to a certain set of beliefs. It was easy to surround yourself with people who believed like you did, especially in small communities. However, we live in a connected world now. You can talk with people across the world and we are constantly exposed to different belief sets. Almost every religion, church, and group believe in something different. By saying you are right, you are invalidating the beliefs of billions of other rational human beings. As I made my way from Christianity to Atheism, I found this concept to be terribly arrogant. Education and open-mindedness are what pulled me from the church. It was until after I left that I began to see the bible thumpers for their negative aspects.
    I raised my children to believe whatever they would like. We always had a bible in the house, and they attended various churches and church camps with friends. They are atheists because hypocrisy and contradictions within religion fail to appeal to open-minded and thinking individuals. As older teenagers, the worst hate they have faced in life so is from Christians who have found out they are Atheists.

      • Scratch a “loving” Christian, and you’ll find one who is happy to use threats to try to force compliance.

        Thanks for demonstrating exactly why this religion deserves to collapse there, Jeanine. You didn’t even bother trying to pretend that your comeback was ever going to be anything but a foul threat. I’m almost impressed. Usually Christians at least squinch up those preacher eyebrows and kinda pretend to be loving before they deploy the worst threats they can muster to terrorize their marks into bending knee. Nope, not you! You just plunged right in with the threat.

        Since “Christ” isn’t talking to anybody and there’s no evidence whatsoever that your supernatural claims are true, literally all anybody has to go in when evaluating this religion is how its adherents behave. As you’ve just shown us, its adherents do not behave as if they are inhabited by anything divine. They don’t even behave like they take their own holy book’s commands and directives seriously. In fact, they seem to be in the religion because it gives them a chance to trample over others and threaten people to their hearts’ content.

        If YOU are what your “lamb” likes to see in a follower, then he’s not worth worshiping. Thankfully, there’s no reason to think there is a “lamb” or a “book of life” or anything supernatural at all, but if there were, you would be the anti-salesperson for it. Good job!

        • Exactly, CC. If a god is so capricious in blotting out names in his book of “Love” then why should I worship such a god? Any god that acts like an abusive alcoholic father doesn’t deserve my fear, respect, or attention. He cannot coerce or punish me enough to “love” him and respect him. This is not what I read of the Jesus in the Gospel.

  66. Poked through the comments to see if it was full of Christians who didn’t get it and yep. There you all are.

    I’m not a Christian anymore, because Christians forced me out, and every #notallchristians I see from a self-proclaimed liberal Christian who claims they’re more understanding but will have a hernia if they see a happy atheist is one more nail in the coffin that I made the right choice.

    I don’t have religion any more and I’m not suicidal now that I’ve finally left the toxicity of the church and if I hear someone post a reply saying I just haven’t found the right fit, know that what I hear is you want me to kill myself.

    This article really spoke to me. And I wish I wish I could say that and say why without yet again having Christianity shoved at me like I’m supposed to appreciate the fact that his poison is designed to kill me now and cure me in the afterlife.

    • I see so many comments such as this. People who turned from Christ not because of Christ but because of other people. I am a Christian. I live in a small town in Texas and I see lots of Claim to be Christians whose fruit is rotten. Would I ever allow them to destroy my relationship with Christ? Never. Those are the people that Christ warns us about. You see there is good and evil in this world and each one originates from a source. Evil will do everything possible to destroy your relationship w/Christ. Read your Bible.

      • There is a reason for this that is not the fault of the person who walks away. Our culture as Christians have made unbreakable connections between God, religion, and the people of the “church”. Very few people, even those doing their best to follow Christ are able to separate these three things. They talk about religion as though it was God, and the rely on the people to be the “hands and feet” of Christ. This triad means that if “religion” meaning the dogma of the church does you wrong, God did you wrong. If the people of the church do you wrong then Christ did you wrong. No one leaves the church because God did them wrong. They leave the church because of circumstances they thought would be better if they just prayed enough, went to church enough, and did enough good. They leave because the dogma of “religion” (a creation of man not God) becomes counter to what they think it should be or have been told it would be. They leave because the people of the “church” are hypocritical or disingenuous or just plain ignorant in what Christ has asked of them.
        I left Christ and became and Atheist for almost 30 years because the dogma I was being fed by religion did not match the actions I saw of the people of the church. As it turns out neither of those things has any impact on my relationship with God, but that is not how religion is sold to people. Religion is sold that the rules matter and are not to be questioned (like the Pharisees). Religion is sold to be only as good as your small group, or volunteering effort, or tithing, or mission work, or the dozen of other things that are used to measure how good of a Christian you are.
        When in fact none of that matters. All that matters is the relationship I have with God through my acceptance of Christ and the rest of it is all bullshit. But people are taught that if they can’t accept the people if they can’t accept the Church if the can’t accept the dogma then there is no place for them at God’s table and so the walk away.

      • More tosh and nonsense, I’m afraid. Without evidence that your supernatural claims are true, all people have to go on is how the religion affects its adherents. We can clearly see that none of you actually act like there’s anything supernatural living inside you and inspiring you to be better people than anybody else (and that includes you, with the comments of yours I’ve seen today). Christianity’s various social systems–even in the “nice” denominations like John’s–absolutely do not produce good people, happy families, lifelong marriages, and harmonious societies. Its teachings don’t help anybody, and demonstrably harm a great many others. And for all your wittering and blathering about how saaaaaaaaaaaaaad you are about all those Bad Christians™ wrecking your religion’s image and credibility, don’t imagine for one moment that anybody misses the fact that you can’t actually STOP them or do anything about the damage they’re wreaking!

        You’d rather lecture an ex-Christian for taking into account Christians’ own behavior when evaluating your religion, it seems, and I can’t blame you. It’s a lot easier. But to someone like me, who has been damaged repeatedly by Christians in my life (like most people have), what you’re implicitly suggesting that we ignore those hypocrites and rejoin the religion–in essence putting ourselves in harm’s way just to make you feel better. You cannot or won’t ensure that we’re safe. You just want us to rejoin anyway–based on preposterous claims about the supernatural that you have no proof for at all.

        FIX YOUR RELIGION. Then ask people to look at joining it. You’re trying to have an Open House with a home that needs to be condemned and destroyed, and then getting mad when people laugh at the idea of buying it. It’s a defective product, through and through. You’re the only one who doesn’t see that.

        Or, you know, get together with your fellow Christians and come up with plausible, credible, objective evidence for your claims about the supernatural. Good luck with that one though–y’all have been trying to find some for 2000 years, and haven’t yet. But who knows, maybe you will. Or continue to lecture people for not wanting to put themselves into harm’s way in your churches full of hypocrites and predators. It’s up to you.

  67. This article is completely off the mark for several reasons.
    First, I don’t know what you mean by, “is no longer our calling card. It is now condemnation, bigotry, judgment and hypocrisy.” I was brought up as a Christian and from the time of my childhood in the 70’s onward that’s all the church ever taught. I left the church long before I deconverted and realized that all gods, including the one I was taught to believe in, were myths.
    Second, atheism is something you come to, it is the default position. We are not born believing in gods or religious ideologies. Religion of any kind requires indoctrination, usually of the young and impressionable.
    Third, people are not turning from or rejecting religion because the faithful doo not live up to the ideals of Jesus (though it doesn’t help). they are leaving/rejecting religion because they have looked for the evidence of a god’s existence and there is none to be found. They are choosing to value logic and reason over platitudes and blind faith.
    Poorly behaved Christians are not driving people to atheism. They are driving them from the church. Most still believe, they just refuse to listen to hate that most churches spout. People remain atheist or deconvert from faith because they are looking for true answers and they are discovering the church has none.

  68. Yous begin with “. . . the Christianity prevalent in so much of America right now isn’t just failing to draw others to Christ, it is actively repelling them from him. By operating in a way that is in full opposition to the life and ministry of Jesus—it is understandably producing people fully opposed to the faith that bears his name.”

    1. ‘Christianity’ that does not reflect the words and life of Jesus is not Christianity, it is something else no matter what someone calls it.
    2. The behaviors of those you refer to ‘not drawing but repelling’ is an example of false cause. It is what those who experience those behaviors think about the behavior that inspires their choice. They equally have the choice to learn the truth about the life and words of Jesus and behave accordingly. However, most people are too lazy to do their homework to separate the wheat from the chaff.
    3. Furthermore, many people like the lazy, hedonistic decision process about what they will choose as the standards for their life; ‘going with the flow’ of contemporary culture. See https://bible.org/seriespage/3-cults-christianity-and-culture-acts-151-31 This issue is addressed in the epistles: “This I say therefore, and affirm together with the Lord, that you walk no longer just as the Gentiles also walk, in the futility of their mind, … But you did not learn Christ in this way, if indeed you have heard Him and have been taught in Him, just as truth is in Jesus, that, in reference to your former manner of life, you lay aside the old self, which is being corrupted in accordance with the lusts of deceit, and that you be renewed in the spirit of your mind, and put on the new self, which in the likeness of God has been created in righteousness and holiness of the truth.” (Eph. 4:17, 20-24).

    4. Failure to learn deeply and in detail what you believe about all the elements of your cultural indoctrination, conscious and unconscious, you will never have real freedom of choice, only a caricature of it. You must stand for something or you’ll fall for anything.
    “Most beliefs are fossils of experiences that were once alive.
    Beliefs chosen in clarity are touchstones for a new life.
    To know which is which is to have a choice.” KBB

    That is real ‘Freedom of Choice’ and that is the basis for choosing to follow him that I think Jesus wanted us to use; not cultural, ‘follow the heard’ ‘choosing.’
    5. How will you objectively verify the truth or deception of what you consciously and unconsciously believe?
    6. “Soon these Christians will ask why humanity has rejected Jesus and we will remind them of these days, and assure them that they have not rejected Jesus at all—they just found no evidence of him in the Church.” This and other passages above erroneously conflate rejection of various churches with rejection of the teachings and life of Jesus. That some who profess to be ‘Christian’ behave in ways that others reject neither makes it so, nor, even if so, does not constitute rejection of the essential tenants of Christianity. This important distinction needs more emphasis.
    7. it is also true, I think, that the essential tenants of Christianity run counter to ideas and behaviors within contemporary culture that many people have conformed to and want to hold on to anyway. Just because a large segment of the population likes or does not like such essential tenants does not make them valid or invalid and to suggest that Christianity, per se [not any particular church] needs to conform to any particular cultural norm to be more ‘acceptable’ or ‘relevant’ would be a demonstration of ignorance of why Jesus was with us.
    34 “Do not think that I came to bring peace on earth. I did not come to bring peace but a sword. 35 For I have come to ‘set a man against his father, a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law’; 36 and ‘a man’s enemies will be those of his own household.’[e] 37 He who loves father or mother more than Me is not worthy of Me. And he who loves son or daughter more than Me is not worthy of Me. 38 And he who does not take his cross and follow after Me is not worthy of Me. 39 He who finds his life will lose it, and he who loses his life for My sake will find it.”
    “. . . go and learn what this means: ‘I desire mercy and not sacrifice.’[b] For I did not come to call the righteous, but sinners, to repentance.”[c]
    “I did not come to call the righteous, but sinners, to repentance.”[c]
    “He who believes in Me, believes not in Me but in Him who sent Me. 45 And he who sees Me sees Him who sent Me. 46 I have come as a light into the world, that whoever believes in Me should not abide in darkness. 47 And if anyone hears My words and does not believe,[i] I do not judge him; for I did not come to judge the world but to save the world. 48 He who rejects Me, and does not receive My words, has that which judges him—the word that I have spoken will judge him in the last day.
    “. . . the most important Christmas verse you will [probably] never hear on Christmas. Here it is:

    Therefore, when Christ came into the world, He said: “Sacrifice and offering You did not desire, but a body You prepared for Me; with burnt offerings and sin offerings You were not pleased. Then I said, ‘Here I am—it is written about Me in the scroll—I have come to do Your will, O God.’” (Heb. 10:5-7 NIV, Ps 40]

    “First, in His Sermon on the Mount Jesus commends not the poor per se, but rather the poor in spirit. To them, He says, belongs the Kingdom of Heaven. There is a reason the Kingdom belongs to them—not because they are poverty stricken (their income is irrelevant to Jesus), but because they are morally broken and they know it.[4] That is what “poor in spirit” means. Picture the tax collector in Jesus’ parable—hardly a destitute man—beating his breast pleading, “God, have mercy on me, a sinner.”[5] This man proclaiming his spiritual poverty goes away justified, Jesus says, while the Pharisee, whose spiritual arrogance clouds his genuine spiritual need, does not.

    The second qualifier I want you to keep in mind about Jesus’ comments on the poor is this. In the vast majority of cases where Jesus mentions the poor, He does so not to commend the poor as such, but to make a point about something else—hypocrisy, a widow’s generosity, Zaccheus’s repentance, the rich young ruler’s confusion, or a lesson about the afterlife.[6] Even when He mentions them, the plight of the poor simply was not the focus of Jesus’ teaching.

    Now, we must not conclude from this that Jesus didn’t care about the poor and so we need not care, either. He cared very much about them, and the Story has much to say about their situation. Do not miss, though, that He also cared about the rich and powerful. Jesus helped everyone and anyone who came to Him—poor beggar or prostitute, wealthy tax collector or Pharisee. The divide for Jesus was not between the poor and the rich, but between the proud and the repentant, regardless of income or social standing. Miss that, and you miss everything.”

    As to those who profess to be Christian, but conform to mores, and behaviors that are not as Jesus taught, that is “because they are morally broken,” 13 “You are the salt of the earth; but if the salt loses its flavor, how shall it be seasoned? It is then good for nothing but to be thrown out and trampled underfoot by men.”

    • You seem very sure in your faith, and quote the bible frequently. Approximately 31% of the world in Christian, in some form. Christianity consistently agrees that the only path to salvation in through accepting Jesus, in some form. This means the rest of the world, the vast majority, is damned because they do not believe as you do. I am not trying to be taunting or demeaning, but this idea is one of the core beliefs that allowed me to break from the church and open my eyes. Can I ask you feelings on this?

    • RFBrown, that is an awesome explanation of what Christianity is supposed to be. Unfortunately that doesn’t help people that came from churches that don’t believe in that. What you have stated in the insider’s view of Christianity and I am familiar with that, being on both sides.

      It does not help those aliened from the church. It does not help the exiled Christian in finding a church around them that will take them in. It is unbelievable how few welcoming churches there are in the rural areas. In the South there are almost none in the most rural areas. People like to believe no LGBTQ people live in the rural areas but that’s not true so they are left without Christian fellowship, which in the rural areas are one of the only positive places for fellowship. Do you not see the problem here?

      This is what is killing the Christian church. Most of us unchurched will remain so until there is equality for all, and even then we may never come back.

      • Robin, a Pastor I greatly admire, John Hamilton has said, “The
        premise of the Bible is that the God who created the universe wants to be known by human beings.” I believe that is true and I think that since mankind figured that out, they have sadly been jostling each other for a seat at a table they see as limited instead of unlimited. If they can exclude any group, even though we are all sinners, they see it as some victory. It is the reason for so much of the division in the world IMHO.

        • I would add that it seems to me to be a case of If I can find something wanting in you than I am better than you. None of us is better than the other guy. This one upsmanship is so disappointing in humans and I think perhaps there is a group of people that don’t feel so good about themselves so need someone to blame. I wish we could just listen to each other, marinate what each other says and respect. I have to say that I have never been so disrespected in my 75 years as I have been since commenting here. That is disappointing and it is also why I don’t comment as much. I love the blog but the comments can be quite uncivil. That is my two cents for the day. Peace and Love to all of you.

          • I hope I have not disrespected you in any way.

            I was hoping to enlighten RFBrown that, as valuable as an insider’s view of what the church is doing wrong, more must the done for those now outside the church to reconcile the ones they hurt. People need to know that apologies only go so far, restitution of some sort needs to be offered as well. If doesn’t have to be big, just something, anything, meaningful to the victim which affirms acceptance.

            • No, you have never disrespected anyone that I am aware. My comment was general, kind of like if you do it you should know it and if I have to tell you than it means nothing comment. Rest assured you are fine and it is telling that you worried. And you are so very correct about rural churches and that includes up here in the north. I like you Robin so peace and love.

    • RFBrown, pretty sure the decent thing to have done would have been to give Greg Koukl the credit for the thoughts of his you quoted.

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  71. I strongly agree that the church has a love problem, but this article doesn’t really present a love-focused solution. Despite the initial railing against “political bed-making” in the church, the rest of the article simply tries to argue that loving the world requires advancing a litany of hot-button issues of the political left. Both sides need to quit hijacking God’s authority to advance their political views–we have very little hope of getting back to understanding Christ’s love if we claim that love requires celebrating the culture’s push toward skin-deep diversity, turning up the volume on environmental issues, or embracing the notion that people are best loved by celebrating their identities. We don’t positively impact the culture by emulating the culture any more than we positively impact the culture by despising it. So, instead of simply reversing which side of the aisle that we make our political bed, we could start ever so slightly moving toward a love that embraces all (including our enemies) if we could at least stop labeling those with differing political views as the devils who are condemning us all.

    • When feeding the poor, housing the homeless, and fully providing for the weak and vulnerable is considered “leftist” then indeed I and John P. are “leftists”. I have taken pledge to follow what Jesus said in Matthew 25. Will you?

    • Jeff, I strongly think you have grasped the crux of the matter “that the church has a love problem,” but failed to see that it is especially because of the “political bed-making” in the church that he is railing against.

      I do not think it takes a Biblical scholar to see that loving the world will require advancing many “hot-button issues of the political left.” Because they are among the “hot-button issues” of the Bible. Is that a coincidence? I do not see the Left as “hijacking God’s authority” but it could be an argument.

      Personally, I do not know if Christ’s love “requires celebrating” whatever the culture offers as diversity, but I can see how it might at least argue for not punishing or excluding them.

      I do not know if Christ’s love means “turning up the volume on environmental issues” either, but what does being “good stewards” mean? How ARE people best loved? How do followers of Christ positively impact the culture?

      I do not for one second want to choose “simply reversing which side of the aisle that we make our political bed.” I promise you that. I want us to move politics out of the bed and move the love of God and service to mankind in.

      “Moving toward a love that embraces all (including our enemies)” is a very hard turn to make while mired in the entrenchment of bearing false witness against anyone who dares ask the Church, “where’s the love?”

      When the objective truth is that those with differing political views look to be harming us and the people the Bible tells us to look out for, it is very hard not to see them as the devil we are to fight.

      • I think the love problem in the church is the twisting of the Gospel toward a personal comfort that prevents us from getting engaged and a disdain towards imperfection that prevents us from being genuine with each other. We need to break out of the false narrative that God exists to primarily advance our agendas and desires and start focusing on what we can do to let go of our fears and our pride in order to pursue His agenda.

        I don’t see how we can move politics out of the bed if we claim that loving the world “will require advancing many hot-button issues of the political left.” Questions about life, our responsibilities and the service that we owe to those around us are apolitical questions that we will always face, regardless of our politics. The Bible points us to a complete change in perspective that asks us to live life based on the interests of others, rather than ourselves. This change in perspective does not push us to the right or to the left; it simply pushes us outside ourselves so that genuine love can become a logical possibility.

        The concept of left and right split us into groups who primarily think differently about the way that life’s big problems should be handled–whether individuals should be forcefully compelled to employ a set of prescribed solutions or whether the best solutions are free solutions that can only be advanced by persuasion and volunteerism. People from both sides offer Biblical justification for their political choices. While its true that the Bible helps us to keep our hearts and our motivations straight as we sort out our political leanings, love is not being served when we try to claim that people of the opposite end of the spectrum have surely misplaced their Bibles or failed to take love seriously. This is where “political bed-making” becomes a legitimate issue in the church—there’s nothing wrong with the church getting engaged with the big questions of the day (I wish that they would be more engaged, personally); the problem is when people in the church start falsely calling upon the Bible as a means to wall off any group of people as enemies of God who are unworthy of love.

        Christians should know better than anyone else that you don’t have to agree with someone in order to care about them and actively pursue their good, and yet our natural bent constantly leads us to draw lines between those who are worth loving and those who are not. If we find ourselves saying that like-minded people in the church are surely on God’s side, while those outside our group are surely working against Him, we’re likely guilty of the same failure to love that we’re crying out against in the first place.

        • Jeff, that “twisting of the Gospel toward a personal comfort” is what led so many Christians to conclude they needed to marry the Republican Party and become a political force (a la “Moral Majority”). They used the Gospels, church attendance and their faith as the backdrop to claim both God and “family values” only for their political party; that is wrong.

          I agree, we do “need to break out of the false narrative that God exists to primarily advance our agendas and desires and start focusing on what we can do to let go of our fears and our pride in order to pursue His agenda.” Amen 4!

          The way we “move politics out of the bed” while still “advancing many hot-button issues of the political left” is to acknowledge the truth of how the Gospel teachings of Jesus meet that need and stop claiming it is some artificial or made up Jesus we created for political power.

          Nothing about that honesty will usurp or preclude “Questions about life, our responsibilities and the service that we owe to those around us” as that too is clearly part of the Gospel of Jesus. We are only fooling ourselves if we claim they are “apolitical questions” as I see it.

          I am NOT saying that we just “trade parties” because that is not my intent. Not to mention, we would still have problems because the Gospel of Jesus is not going to EVER be in lock step with how a nation is run. It was never meant to be.

          The Bible points us to a comprehensive perspective as it asks us to live life based on the interests of ALL as one and gaining afterlife. That is no small feat! Whether people want to admit it or not, that perspective does push us toward the left’s concerns; but again, not INTO the Democratic Party! There is still a world of difference. Which is the “in the world but not of the world” part.

          And I am sorry if it hurts anyone, but “genuine love” that is “outside ourselves” and our interests, is what must happen for a full faith journey. We are compelled to care for and about others, even those we disagree with, don’t like, or don’t want to love or care about. THAT is the whole point of it. The easy part is loving those just like us, who think like us, look like us, vote like us and worship like us. As the Gospel says, that is no credit to us. If I did not care, I would not confront.

          The concept of left and right will always split us into groups and there is nothing inherently wrong with groups, that too is human nature. But we have to retrain our thoughts to the whole, not the part when our eyes are on Jesus.

          All the voices who “think differently about the way that life’s big problems should be handled” need to be heard, need to be listened to and the best decision for the best outcome needs to be reached.
          We do not have a Theocracy so this has to be done in the secular political arena. We can bring our Christian values into it but we cannot manipulate the process with them.

          Government and worship were separated in the time of Jesus and they must remain so now. Individuals were “forcefully compelled” then and they will continue to be now. That is the nature of 300 million people in one nation.

          We have already proven that ” persuasion and volunteerism” is not going to solve the problems.

          Until we can solve the problem of our lack of the love of Jesus, it will remain an issue of one side claiming what the other side fails to see.

          Every action of a nation is not going to have “Biblical justification.”

          Clearly the Bible does not help ALL of us keep our hearts and our motivations straight and that we must tackle first. Then we can “sort out our political leanings” in the light of that comprehensive perspective.

          Love is not being served when we try to claim that people of the opposite end of the spectrum have no place in the church or God’s plan either, but it still goes on.

          Where in the Bible are we told to get “engaged with the big questions of the day?” We are very specifically prescribed what we are to get engaged in and it is not choosing a side in political arguments.

          Again, it is specifically when Christians get into the political realm that they seek “the Bible as a means to wall off any group of people as enemies of God who are unworthy of love.” That is where they get the power to do so. Joining up with the Democrats would be the same result. Remember the famous comment attributed to John Dillinger? “Why do you rob banks?…That’s where the money is!” Political power is where the money is for Christians who want to control others.

          We cannot fix the problem of love until we end the marriage to politicians IMO. I think we agree more than we disagree on this subject. And I call that a blessing!

            • Wow, thanks Robert! Sometimes I put my truth out there and wonder if anyone will even read it much less see any value in it. Thanks for that!

          • You think that the left’s agenda is better aligned with the Biblical pursuit of “life based on the interests of ALL,” while I think that the right’s agenda is better aligned. I feel that the left tries to forcefully push people into uniformity, with the belief that these uniform solutions will mandate a more loving society. I think that forced mandates are tyrannical and fundamentally incompatible with love. You probably feel that the right’s agenda abandons those with the biggest needs in order to focus on grabbing more for themselves. For those on the right who have those motivations, they are also embracing a mindset that is incompatible with love.

            My personal belief is that love and freedom go hand in hand, and both sides are unintentionally crushing both. Republicans cannot expect to be on the side of freedom if they don’t continuously work to get free people actively engaged in serving each other in their local communities. If free people fail to serve one another, the government is forced to intervene in order to preserve stability/security for its citizens. Democrats cannot expect to be on the side of freedom if they extend government compulsion into the personal choices and pursuits that define us as individuals. Neither side has any business claiming the mantle of Christ as they try to pull politically-motivated (self-driven) ideas of disengagement or compulsion into the church, even more so when claiming that anyone who disagrees is God’s enemy.

            The cool thing, is that I think the Bible asks us to pursue solutions that push us down a different path that should really bring both sides together. It asks us to focus on serving each other, loving each other and pursuing what’s best for each other. So, to use one of the hot-button topics of the day as an example: God is not served when people on the right shun or even ignore homosexuals in their communities in some misguided (and truly selfish) pursuit of personal cleanliness. It stands in stark opposition to how the Bible calls us to love one another. God is also not served when people on the left try to force everyone to celebrate homosexuality or to participate in activities that violate their conscience in an effort to create superficial appearances of harmony. That also stands in stark contrast to what it means to love. Instead, both sides can agree (and are really compelled by the Bible) to actively seek the good of homosexuals, to show them selfless love and compassion, to acknowledge that all of us struggle with sin, all of us need a savior, and that our agreement/disagreement on moral issues has nothing to do with our value as people.

            As far as being “engaged with the big questions of the day,” I think that love compels that we are engaged with the big questions that people are struggling with, rather that acting as though God and scripture are either irrelevant or are meant to be hoarded inside the walls of the church. The Gospel isn’t there to bash people over the head, condemn and degrade them. It’s there to remind us that all of us can have hope, that life is much better when we live it for others instead of ourselves and that true reconciliation is available to everyone no matter what you’ve done. When selfishness tempts us to lean hard into the left or the right and to demonize those on the opposite end, the Bible points us to something else entirely. So…instead of falsely claiming that the Bible requires us to have the poor help themselves or that the Bible requires that the government become a substitute for charity, we can all pursue a unified path that everyone is meant to be loved and we have a responsibility to help each person as much as we can.

            • Jeff, I think it is clear that we do not agree on whose political agenda is better aligned with the Gospels as we understand them. I think that the Left is better aligned with the Gospel than the Right but neither is going to be able to meet the total purpose of the Gospel because a large part of it is still on us.

              Oddly, I feel that the Right “tries to forcefully push people into uniformity,” with the belief that these uniform solutions will mandate an equal society. Which is even more ludicrous than thinking that you can force love IMO.

              We are a nation of laws, and a nation of 300 million requires it, so claiming all “forced mandates are tyrannical and fundamentally incompatible with love.” is not something we are going to agree on. We may not like them all, but some are needed.

              My point was not and is not to argue the merits of the Right or the Left because as I say, that is part of the problem, not the solution.

              Of course I feel that the Right’s agenda “abandons those with the biggest needs” (because it does) but they do not do that just “in order to focus on grabbing more for themselves.” They do it because they fundamentally do not believe in helping people as a government, taxpayer funded program. And yes, either way “they are also embracing a mindset that is incompatible with love.”

              I am not sure we both define love or freedom exactly the same nor am I sure I want the government in the love or freedom giving business. And please do not keep implying that only the Left seeks to “extend government compulsion into the personal choices and pursuits that define us as individuals.” That dog won’t hunt.

              I do not see the Left trying anywhere near the level of “claiming the mantle of Christ”with their politicians or their policy that the Right has done. So I am not going to assign an equivalence here.

              Absolutely I also “think the Bible asks us to pursue solutions that push us down a different path that should really bring both sides together.” I do not understand why it got so off course.

              I agree that the Gospel “asks us to focus on serving each other, loving each other and pursuing what’s best for each other.” And while you want to claim the equivalence of excluding up to denial of Civil Rights is the same problem as some who celebrate the diversity of mankind and fight for equality, I do not. If it takes artificial harmony to insure equality, I am ok with that. And your paragraph sounded an awful lot like you saying ‘yeah it is sin but we all sin’ and I am not comfortable with telling anyone their being is a sin so they must live a celibate life. There’s a hubris there I do not fathom.

              Not sure where you got the notion I think Christians should not be “engaged with the big questions of the day,” (or the little ones), I just think that does not mean marrying a political party and ignoring the stink of that rot because it gives you power. I never said or implied
              that “God and scripture are either irrelevant or are meant to be hoarded inside the walls of the church.” Nor would I. Far from it.

              I agree that the Gospel “isn’t there to bash people over the head, condemn and degrade them.” I agree that “It’s there to remind us that all of us can have hope, that life is much better when we live it for others instead of ourselves and that true reconciliation is available to everyone no matter what you’ve done.” When selfishness tempts us, we need to resist. So instead of falsely claiming that all solutions for society and governance have to be literally from the Bible, we can instead see that we have the tools, God given, to decide the best course of action for the nation.

              Very much enjoying the dialog because this is the only way we are ever moving forward in love.

          • More concisely…
            The Right: Nobody can compel me to do what I don’t want to do
            The Left: I will find a way to compel people to do what I think they should do.
            The Bible: Love will compel us to do what we are meant to do.

            • @Jeff, who says, “More concisely…
              The Right: Nobody can compel me to do what I don’t want to do
              The Left: I will find a way to compel people to do what I think they should do.
              The Bible: Love will compel us to do what we are meant to do.”

              More accurately –
              The right: The *government* can’t compel me to do what I don’t want to do. Well, unless it’s about females and reproduction, gays and sex, transgenders and bathrooms, homeless people and sidewalks, poor people and welfare, brown people and prison–really anybody that isn’t straight, white, male, Christian, and well-off should be legislated as rigidly and punitively as possible. Oh, and of course big business can abuse employees, the environment, or the economy, and the government can’t tell them what to do either. Because the only true reflection of society’s values is whatever the Invisible Hand decides. Not God, of course, but Wall Street. But as long as the government keeps its filthy hands off my wallet, everything will turn out for the best. *Government* must not coerce uniformity, but it’s not a problem if the private sector does. Only the meanest parts of the Bible need apply. You have zero obligation to anybody but yourself and your loved ones, and devil take the hindmost. There’s no such thing as civic responsibility because there’s no such thing as society.

              The left: Nobody can compel me to do what I don’t want to do with my body or my love life. But of course the government needs to provide services that private enterprise can’t or won’t, so it obviously needs money to do that, and I should pay my share because I’m not a freeloader. Also, government is often the most efficient and frequently the only feasible means of helping others. And government is the only counterweight to the power of big business, so it needs to ensure that markets adhere to fair rules. And whether drawn from the Bible or reasoned directly from game theory evolutionary principles, these are some pretty good rules to live by: Love thy neighbor, Do unto others as you would have them to unto you, You are your brother’s keeper, Emulate the good Samaritan, and remember the Sermon on the Mount. We have myriad obligations to our fellow citizens, because we are all heavily interdependent. Helping the less fortunate helps everybody.

              The Bible: Actually does, in fact require followers to emulate Christ and follow his teachings. It’s not left up to love to “compel us to do what we are meant to do”. We’re just supposed to do it. Unfortunately, the Bible also contains another 10,000 or so commandments, most of which have nothing to do with a society not built around nomadic shepherding, and most of which are extremely contradictory or nonsensical.

  72. I am a former evangelical, now atheist.

    At 18, I walked the aisle in a Southern Baptist church, and prayed the prayer of salvation. I was baptized. I put myself through Bible college. I led prayer groups and Bible studies. I even shared my faith with people, both people I knew and random strangers, and led a few to say the “sinner’s prayer” with me. And I’ve worshiped in many, many churches.

    The reason I left Christianity had very little to do with Christians. Yeah, there’s a lot of bad ones out there. But there’s a lot of good people, too.

    No, the reason I left focused on a few things:

    1. I couldn’t look back over 27 years since my conversion and say my life was objectively better off; and in a lot of ways, I was worse off for being so hardcore about my faith.

    2. I couldn’t tell you that prayer worked. Period. I’ve said every kind of prayer there is to say, big ones and little ones. I even chanted prayers quietly to myself. I could not objectively say that prayer outcomes were any different from random chance.

    3. This is the big one — I finally had to be honest that science, history, and scholarship had some really big problems with the Bible. All Christians play that game where they read the authors who tell them what they want to hear about the Bible and faith, and filter out anything negative. I just reached a place where I wanted answers as to why the life of faith was not working out, and I didn’t care where they came from. And if those sources were wrong, I would rebuild from there. But once I started studying critical scholarship and REAL science, I never came back. I found that truth that had always eluded me as a Christian.

    That’s really the biggest issue facing religion — science and scholarship are so readily accessible in this information age, and the church can’t hold back the critical information any more.

    • I can identify, Heisenberg. I had a similar experience with an “areligious” awakening

      Honestly, if anything made want to stay in the church, it was the people, the Christians. Most people in my old church weren’t/aren’t pious and self-righteous. If anything, they were more self-aware of their shortcomings than most (albeit in a solipsistic, overly self-effacing way). The majority were awesome people who were doing the best that they could and were trying to become better human beings. Humble. Kind. Generous. Loving. And mind you, this was in a conservative baptist church in the Deep South. They didn’t make me an atheist. They didn’t push me away. If anything they drew me closer.
      My “problem” was that I can’t reconcile the supernatural guilt-trip storyline that the Bible is trying to sell, let alone the OCEANS of physical, cosmological, chemical, geological, biological, biochemical, paleontological, genetic, anthropological, archeological, and historical evidence that refute many of the supposedly inviolable truth claims made within It.
      But most of the Christians are awesome. They’re my friends and my neighbors. Christians like to say “we’re so reviled and persecuted”. Uhhhh, no you’re not. Not in America. You’re the majority. Secularists aren’t trying to take Christian’s rights away. Not praying or teaching the Bible in public schools, for example, isn’t taking your rights away. It’s keeping you from infringing upon the rights of others in the public domain. In fact, when the Christians were in charge, y’all tortured and executed atheists/apostates like me. Nobody’s doing that to you in America now. Most of the secularists I know don’t really care if the religious worship as they choose, provided they don’t infringe upon the rights of others who do not believe in the same way as them. Your right to swing your fists, ends at my nose so to speak. That’s not persecution. That’s morality. Thats being fair. That’s all. Thanks Heisenberg

  73. This is not directed at any one person on this feed.

    I am a Christian. As far as self-righteous, I consider myself to be one of the ugliest most sinful people I know! I have way more mercy for others than myself. I am only saved by the grace of God. But, you ask me to go against the one who suffered unspeakable torture, bled and died on a cross for me. You ask me to say things are OK with God that God has said over and over in His word are sin. I study my Bible because I love God. I follow what God says because I love God. I don’t do what I do to be self-righteous. In fact, almost all believers I know would label themselves the worst of all sinners.

    We’re not okay with things God calls sin because we believe He gets to define the world and not us. In fact, I am often so accepting of others I have to remind myself that God said certain things are not okay. I never separate myself from others based on their behavior. And, as the Lord has commanded, I do my best to love others. But your idea of love and the Bible’s description of love are different. God says I am to love people enough to speak the truth, not my truth but God’s truth according to the Bible. I don’t get to define right and wrong.

    As far as people leaving the church and there being fewer and fewer believers – God told us this would happen in the last days. That people would be lovers of self, care more about pleasure than obeying God. He also said people would be under a “strong delusion” not being able to discern truth from error. It’s God’s Word coming true before our very eyes.

    I know that persecution is coming for me. The more I stand for Christ, the more I will be hated. All I have to do is read through the comments. Did you know that the Bible says that in the last days there will be those who kill true Christians thinking they are doing God a service? Here I see the foundation of hate being laid not only by this article but by all the comments. Also, did you know that my life is given to Christ to be laid down for those who do not know Him, for those who do not yet know the Lord in hopes of leading them to repentance and faith so they can go to Heaven.

    You hate those who would lay down their lives for you. Every hateful word thrown my way – I lay down my life – every misunderstood action that brings contempt from others – I lay down my life – every friend that walks away – I lay down my life. Do you think I would choose this? I love you when you hate me. It is what God has called me and every believer to do. Not the worldly kind of love but true Godly love.

    Watch and see! Unless the Lord graciously intervenes, Hate for Christians will grow and persecution will come. And, I along will thousands of other believers will stand for the truth not only for our Lord but for you. We will accept our persecution in order to witness to you! In hopes that you will repent, turn to Christ, and be saved. If you find that offensive, that’s okay. The Bible already told me you would.

    May God give you eyes to see and ears to hear.

    Mary

    • “May God give you eyes to see and ears to hear.”

      And if he doesn’t, you certainly shouldn’t be condemning and chiding US O_O

    • Mary, I am not convinced you understand the definition of “self-righteous.” You claim you cannot be because you consider yourself among the “ugliest most sinful people” and you claim others like you cannot be either because they too “label themselves the worst of all sinners.” Well, I hate to break this to you, but you can think of and label yourself any way you like, but your post was indeed self-righteous, which is defined as “convinced of one’s own righteousness especially in contrast with the actions and beliefs of others: narrow-mindedly moralistic” If your post was not self-righteous, none here is.

      I am sure we all appreciate how much mercy you have for us but, I am not clear on who has asked you “to go against the one who suffered unspeakable torture, bled and died on a cross” for us? Can you be more specific how you see that being requested of you?

      Who has asked you “to say things are OK with God that God has said over and over in His word are sin?”

      Many of us study the Bible too, also because we love God. We also follow what God says, as we understand it, because we love God. We do not do what we do to be “self-righteous,” or full of sin, or to mock God, or to question God either. We simply have educated ourselves as to how the Bible was transferred, translated, edited and packaged as well as interpreted over the centuries and we do not feel as righteous as some of you in claiming that God wants us to call our LGBTQ brothers and sisters some sin racked “other” instead. We do not see how only forbidding abortion or punishing a woman who chooses abortion is loving God. And we most assuredly will not agree to use our faith or God’s love to rank sin and punish only some.

      It is NOT that we are “okay with things God calls sin,” but rather that we are not positive where sin is ranked and punishment is ours to mete out. God does “get to define the world and not us” but, what if there is more we do not know that God wants us to figure out? There are so many things we have figured out over the centuries that the Bible does not even mention or hint of. Why is it not possible that there is even more?

      What if the love he told us to give means doing that hard thing and forgiving without punishing (or calling out) other people’s sin, even if we think we see it?

      According to the Bible, God said MANY things “are not okay,” yet very conservative Christians can find a way to ignore most of them and even vote into office some deeply flawed sinners.

      Oddly, the least hurtful thing we can do, is what you proudly claim not to do. You “never separate myself from others based on their behavior. And, as the Lord has commanded, I do my best to love others.” Which is all well and good, but separating yourself does not impact anyone else.

      Then you claim “God says I am to love people enough to speak the truth, not my truth but God’s truth according to the Bible. I don’t get to define right and wrong.” Which you know the Christian Right Party has used to choose, exclude and punish some of those “sinful people,” God speaks of, BUT only some people and only some sins. How faithful to God is that?

      Correct me if I am wrong, but there were cities and peoples in Biblical time who also were “lovers of self,” and who cared “more about pleasure than obeying God” so how is that only in “the last days?” I thought the very reason he destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah was because people (even the babies and animals apparently) were “under a “strong delusion” not being able to discern truth from error.” So, then every hurricane, wildfire, earthquake, tornado, and flood is “God’s Word coming true before our very eyes.” How can you believe what you said and claim otherwise?

      I am sorry that you believe you will face “persecution” and “be hated” because you “stand for Christ.” My experience is just the opposite, everyone I have seen “persecuted” and “hated” was standing for their self-righteous interpretation of Christ while others were steadfastly trying to show them the error of their thinking.

      I have to wonder at your stability if you think the comments here mean any of us would support “those who kill true Christians thinking they are doing God a service.” If you think that earnest and clearly painful reflection means someone is laying “the foundation of hate,” you are not discerning the message being given.

      No one needs or wants you to lay down your life, metaphorically or literally. What you should plan on is to live your life for Christ. With the love of Christ. Laying down your will accomplish nothing, living your life as an example of Christ’s love will change you, and us. THAT is what makes people want to know the Lord. That is what makes people want to serve the Lord. Heaven is the reward for believing, for serving and for living Christ in our actions and in our love.

      I think you are hung in a metaphor where you are the star, but Jesus laid down his life, so we do not have to. Jesus paid the price so we can be free to love and disagree and try harder and keep loving and work to be an example of his love.

      Love it all you like, no one here hates you. But I also do not think we believe this is what Jesus called you or any of us to do. You want to be a martyr, when it is not required.

      I stand for the truth as well and I do not think God needs me to condemn or punish anyone on His behalf. What I find “offensive” is you believing that was a witness to us.

      May God open your eyes and your heart to what He really wants.

      • Sandi,

        I imagine we will have to agree to disagree.

        In the context of religion, righteousness means living in a just and morally correct way in which God is the source. In other words, I recognize that any good that is in me or that I do is done by the grace of God and because God lives in me. I can do no good thing on my own. To be self-righteous is to believe that you can be good and live up to a high moral standard of your own accord. This is something I am quite aware I can not do! I realize the postmodern definition of self-righteousness varies from the historical Biblical definition. This is precisely why we will probably have to agree to disagree.

        I do not know why you assume I am addressing you or any other person on this feed personally. I am addressing those who demonstrate hatred and bigotry toward Christians by making blanket assumptions.

        I also do not know why you assume I am in any way referring to LGBTQ people. That came from you.

        I’ll try to address a few of the Biblical accounts your brought up.

        1. Last Days refers to the time from Christ’s resurrection till He returns.

        2. The Bible never says Sodom and Gomorrah were under “strong delusion.” That is a concept applied to the last days.

        The rest of your reply is simply an ad hominem attack. You appear to know what’s right and dismiss any point I brought up by attacking me, even going so far as to question my sanity. “There can be no dialogue when those you seek to converse with have labeled you with societies most popular terms of derision. You will be the label and not the human speaking.”

        Lastly, as for laying down one’s life for Christ, “Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.” John 15:13 Laying down my life for Christ is living for Him.

        • Mary, what we need to agree to do is admit that words have meanings and that “righteous” is not the same word as “self-righteous.” They have two different meanings. Let’s start there.

          Righteous: “(of a person or conduct) morally right or justifiable; virtuous.” “very good; excellent.”

          Self-righteous: “having or characterized by a certainty, especially an unfounded one, that one is totally correct or morally superior.”

          Do you see that they are different words and cannot be used interchangeably?

          Your explanation of righteous when you used “self-righteous” is not helping anything. I am sorry that you feel you are not and cannot be a good person without God, but again, that is not the issue. You chose your words, I did not assign them to you.

          I did not “assume” you were addressing me (or anyone else in particular). When someone puts up a post in a discussion blog, people will reply. Just how it works. We are often addressing those who demonstrate hatred and bigotry towards others by making blanket assumptions and accusations too; people sometimes choose reply to our comments as well.

          If you do not want anyone to assume anything from your remarks, try being more specific in them. That is always helpful.

          1. I did not ask you for the meaning of any word or phrase you used, I asked why things that happened in Biblical time means we are heading to the end time now if it did not then?

          2. The Bible says “The outcry to the Lord against its people is so great that he has sent us to destroy it.” How do you know it had nothing to do with “strong delusion?”

          Well Mary, now you know how I felt. You appear to know what’s right and dismiss what others say because you do not agree with it.

          I felt attacked with several of your points. and I say again, I question the stability of you or anyone who could think the comments here mean any of us would support “those who kill true Christians thinking they are doing God a service.” If you think that earnest and clearly painful reflection means someone is laying “the foundation of hate,” you are not discerning the message being given.

          I am not sure I want any “dialogue” with you, given your view of those who disagree with you. I just wanted to offer a rebuttal.

          I am sorry you have to lay down your life to follow Christ.

    • “God says I am to love people enough to speak the truth, not my truth but God’s truth according to the Bible. I don’t get to define right and wrong.”

      It is only ever possible for any person to speak their own interpretation of the Bible. If you think you are speaking “God’s truth”, that is profoundly arrogant. That is claiming to know the mind of God. And this is why any religion is a bad idea. You are either submitting to somebody else’s interpretation of the will of God (and why would you do that?), or you are mistaking your own interpretation for the will of God, setting yourself up in his place, which is the very definition of defining right and wrong.

      And as for Christ’s torment, many, many people have suffered far, far worse torture for far longer than Jesus supposedly did. I don’t know why so many Christians are so impressed by his suffering. At least it was brief. The typical Holocaust victim had it much worse. People dying of cancer have it worse. Burn victims have it worse.

  74. Thank you for making plain what I predicted years ago. That the church, as it is current presented, would die by its own hand.

    I left the church in all of its forms, by the age of 14, as even then I could see the shame, hate and hypocritical behavior, all the unanswered questions, the by rote pat answers, but mostly I saw mostly vile people who professed a faith I did not want to be associated with anymore. I had been a regular church goer since I was old enough to be in Sunday school.

    But at 14 I could no longer stand the stench. I did not just.. give up on following the Christian way. In one fell swoop… No indeed…I spent the next 5 years, studying and talking to others of just about every faith I could find and as should come to no ones surprise, every brand of Christian, had the same disease. I re -discovered the faith of our forbears, and have been happy following the Great Mother, for over 40 years.

    I have come to understand that I have no problem with the Christ, or the original religion that was founded in his name. No reason for me to, as due to a great deal of plagiarism in the early days of the faith ( very common to new religions, to take the ways of the dominate religion and put it in a new dress.. the Great Mother became Mother Mary, etc etc.. )
    However, most of the current Christian faith has forgotten their origins. They have forgotten their theft of the old ways, and have totally forgotten the faith of love and care, and healing. The followers of the Great Mother however, we remember. We act on making the world a better place, one action at at time. And that is something I can and do, get behind and practice with a will.
    Are there good Christians ? Of course their are, just as there are bad Pagans, who profess the faith and do not follow it.. these kinds of people are in ALL religions.. The good, the bad and …. the totally Ugly, who shame the very name of their religion. ( it is these shameful people who are crowding out the “good” people, and it is so very sad to see it )

    However, my whole point is, if I had NOT found my way back to the old ways.. and heard her voice.. I would be one of the non believers.

    Current Christianity, as it is practiced by so many, has just grown worse and worse, to where what I saw as just a girl, has come true with a vengeance.

  75. John, I can tell your heart is in the right place. Unfortunately, due to your jesusblinders, you are not seeing what’s right in front of your face. Christianity is all about coercion. Always has been; can’t survive without forcing people to be in it. Traditionally there have been many ways to accomplish this complete disregard for people’s freedom, rights, and agency – from the savagery of the Inquisition to the shunning Christians *still* readily engage in. Christians are mostly impossible for a non-Christian to be friends with; as soon as the Christian has learned that this target won’t be acceptingjesusashispersonalsavior or joining the Christian’s church, that Christian is off in pursuit of another target. That’s all we are to most Christians – people with bull’s-eyes where others see faces. We don’t like being regarded as “projects” to be remade in the Christians’ own image. No one does. It’s SO disrespectful.

    Notice how some Christians defend their “right” to refuse to acknowledge the rights of others. This used to be widespread within Christianity; it’s only because society has changed that Christians have basically been dragged, kicking and screaming, into the understanding that ALL people have the same rights – Christianity never produced that. Society decided, set in place laws to enforce compliance, and Christians adjusted. Only THEN did Christianity adjust – sometimes. Christianity dominated society for HUNDREDS of years, and presided over the worst social inequalities known. This was no problem whatsoever for Christianity.

    That was another way Christians enforced submission to Christianity – by treating “outsiders” so badly that they couldn’t even survive unless they “played ball” with their Christian overlords. Those who were “different” were ostracized; Christians refused to do business with them; they were bullied and assaulted with impunity – by Christians. Look at some history of how Jim Crow affected the African American people living among those good white Christians in the South – the same Christians who believed that the African Americans’ proper place was as their slaves. Even now, we see Christians declaring that slavery isn’t so bad, and that atheists should be punished for their nonbelief by being enslaved to Christians who will force them to do “the right thing”. Seeing nonbelievers going through the motions has ALWAYS been acceptable to Christians, because then they can pretend the nonbelievers actually DO believe. They’re just recalcitrant malcontents, but c’mon – EVERYBODY believes in Jesus! RIGHT??

    Wrong. It’s Christianity that makes FORMER Christians. People are born atheists – they have to be indoctrinated into religion. Most of those who left Christianity did so because they realized Christianity itself was not true – and if you *asked* any of them, they’d tell you. If you would only listen. Life is better without Christianity. Without the time-wasting-suck of church. Without such conditional “love” that only those within the church can be considered “friends” – and as soon as anyone leaves, forget it. It’s more like work friendships, where you’re “friends” because you’re all at the same place and making the best of it, than true friendships, which are based on genuine affection and respect, without any urge or hope to change the other person into more of a carbon copy of oneself. Not wasting time on religion frees up a LOT of time and energy for pursuing one’s life goals, meeting new people with whom one shares interests in common, and living the life one chooses as an individual. All theistic religion expects some level of conformity and obedience from its members, and even the *nicest* forms of Christianity fall into this pattern. People are expected to attend church, aren’t they? Yeah…

    There is not a single verse to be found anywhere in the Bible that acknowledges the concept of basic, fundamental, inalienable human rights. Likewise, there isn’t a single verse that declares that slavery is wrong. But we know better, don’t we? We figured it out, no thanks to Christianity. No thanks to the Bible. Since the Bible and Christianity couldn’t even get THIS right, this most important and foundational concept of human rights, why should we think we need it for anything?

    The answer is that we don’t. THAT’s why Christians are leaving churches and Christianity behind. They don’t need it. None of us does. YOU don’t – but WE respect your freedom and your right to choose a religion for yourself if you wish.

  76. The weight of the religious right on Christianity is surely significant but not all Christians are of this persuasion. Millions of Christians in the U.S. are not aligned with the right-wing and millions of Christians over seas certainly are not. We should not let the religious right define Christianity in no way shape or form. It does malign the faith but this is not a fight I will surrender to or allow to change the commitment of my faith, not a shred. I have been through too many battles to lay down now.
    I want to change the wrong perceptions about Christianity into the right perceptions. Somehow the marriage between the political right and evangelical Christianity must come to an end. I consider that alliance a great delusion based mostly on politically manipulated selfishness in economic issues and magnification of
    primarily two social issues used so well to co-opt the faith.
    The importance of love, equality and justice must be elevated again among those who talk of a close relationship to God so that they see those are of equal importance. You cannot underestimate how the power of money steers the minds of yes, even the faithful.

    • You wrote, ” We should not let the religious right define Christianity in no way shape or form. ” I say, likewise to any political or social persuasion, left, right, center, up or down. Jesus has already done it for us, in multiple ways. Here are three specific examples:
      1. Matthew 5-7
      2. Ma 22:36-40 Jesus said to him, “‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.’[a] 38 This is the first and great commandment. 39 And the second is like it: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’[b] 40 On these two commandments hang all the Law and the Prophets.”
      3. Ma 28 “Jesus came and spoke to them, saying, “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. 19 Go therefore[a] and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” Amen.
      No one ever needs to look to others in any group for the most explicit description of what followers of Jesus Christ [Christians] are to do and how they are to be while doing. We all have Jesus’ own words, at least as they were recorded at the time, to provide that direction. Those who profess to be Christian but do not conform to such direction are either Christians who miss the mark [sin] from time to time, and repent and ask forgiveness then move on, or those who profess to be Christian who miss the mark repeatedly as perpetrators, deliberately not thinking or behaving as they profess to. Such people are not Christian no matter what they say; but only they know for sure,no one else has the knowledge or authority to say.
      I suggest elimination of the notion that any one of you or anyone else knows what is in the heart of any individual, including you and me, and is in no position to judge others in this manner. You might want to knock it off and develop more of the humility Jesus indicated we should have.

      • Many have suffered because of mistakes by the right and left and that is ongoing and should not be ignored. As the original article points out, many are being driven from the faith and some into atheism do to policies pushed by this political right/Christian alliance.

        Will we not take a much stronger look at ourselves, recheck ourselves and what we project to see if we can change the result of what we project.

        From what I have seen on the right-wing the reaction is more likely double-down rather than an introspection of humility. I know that people want integrity in religion, no capitulation to money and greed, no capitulation to personal sin and no stiff-neck prideful stubbornness that impedes beneficial even crucial change.

        I care about the testimony and witness of the faith and it’s real world consequences and that is what we all should care about. It helps people to Jesus or repels them. That is exactly what this article is all about and what our Christian lives are all about.
        If in this it seems to I lack humility please understand what is at stake.

        You wrote: “Such people are not Christian no matter what they say; but only they know for sure, no one else has the knowledge or authority to say.”
        You might want to clarify such thoughts by rather stating “Such people are not demonstrating Christian behavior but we cannot judge whether they are actually Christians”. In this way the statement doesn’t appear contradictory.

        You wrote: “No one ever needs to look to others in any group for the most explicit description of what followers of Jesus Christ are to do and how they are to be while doing.”
        But many do who are not Christians and that is the point of John’s article
        If you mean here we should not exhort the behavior of Christians in certain groups I of course disagree. I do not nor want to judge whether they are true Christians, period, however neglect in exhorting those groups probably mostly from within their own in-group, which would be most effective, has led to turning many off to Jesus Christ.

        There are many upon many i believe that are actually Christians in evangelical and fundamentalist circles. I love them and pray we can heal the faith so that we have the most powerful witness to the world we can offer.

  77. The bible has a whole lot more to say about idolatry than atheism. We (as a species) have created idols or wood, rocks, gold, words and ideas. False or incomplete statements about God are violations of using the Lord’s name in vain. Sometimes, it’s best to say nothing at all– to be caught up in awe when love and creative, healing energy break forth in our lives. I’m a Christian. I do to church on a regular basis. I preach from time to time. I think that “Christians” tend to heap a lot of accolades on Jesus and then say “Jesus is God.” But what we are pointing to is not the Jesus of scripture but the adornments we have forced upon him. Instead, I believe that God sent Jesus into the world to show us the type and nature of God’s love towards us. If we want to know what God is like, we need to look at the Jesus of scripture, not the Jesus of theology. Apart from some things in John’s gospel, I am relatively sure that Jesus did not set out with an understanding that he was the Christ. That was discovered on the way and from the biblical stories, he really wasn’t sure how to best handle that growing awareness. (“Go and tell no one!”) It was Paul who created much of the “Christianity” that we know, or at least followers of Paul. We can be an obnoxious lot. Seventy plus years ago, Dietrich Bonhoeffer suggested that we forgo “religious language” for 100 years in order for Christianity to have a fertile ground so it might return to it’s powerful essence. Faith, hope and love will abide and they will be nurtured by the Christ, in and among and around all of us. The church will be fine and continue to exist but that existence may have to come as a resurrection following the death of our cultural institutions called “churches.” Jesus’ church never had a steeple.

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