Ted Turner No Longer Anti-religion April 2, 2008

Ted Turner No Longer Anti-religion

Mike Clawson here. I saw this article in the paper today and thought some of you here might be interested.

You maybe remember media-mogul Ted Turner as the guy who once called Christianity a “religion for losers”, asked employees who celebrated Ash Wednesday if they were “Jesus freaks” (and told them they ought to be working for Fox), and joked that the Pope ought to step on a landmine. Turner has said that he rejected religion after his younger sister died of lupus when they were both young.

Apparently Turner has recently had a change of heart as he is now partnering with several major Protestant denominations to raise over $200 million dollars to fight malaria in Africa. Turner will be teaming up with both the mainline (i.e. liberal) Evangelical Lutheran Churches in American and the United Methodist Churches, as well as the significantly more conservative Lutheran Church – Missouri Synod – groups that have already been working overseas to fight poverty and disease for over a century. Turner has likewise been known for his philanthropy and social activism throughout the years.

According to the article, Turner, who used to describe himself as an agnostic or an atheist, now occasionally attends church and has recently apologized for any disparaging comments about religion he had previously made.

What accounts for his change of mind? Turner said that he is “always developing” his thinking. “As I get older, you know, I get more, you know, more tolerant,” Turner said at a news conference. “Religion is one of the bright spots as far as I’m concerned, even though there are some areas, like everything else, where they’ve gone over the top a little, in my opinion. But I’m sure God, wherever he is, wants to see us get along with one another and love one another.”

Regardless of what you think of Turner or his apparent “conversion”, it is encouraging to me to see former antagonists set aside the name calling in order to make a real difference in the world for people in desperate need.


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  • I wouldn’t call it a “conversion” as much as Ted realizing that hurtful rhetoric is just that: hurtful. I don’t agree with religious people on science and the origins of the universe, but we can agree that suffering in the world can be eased if we all work together.

  • Well, when someone changes belief systems due to a highly emotional event, it stands to reason that there may be another change in the future. That goes for becoming atheist or religious due to emotional stress.

    Conversely, it is when someone takes the time and thought to make a real decision, you would see less change to the “other side”.

  • grazatt

    DAMN Those christians got another one of us!
    I HATE THEM ALL SO MUCH

    just kidding, I couldn’t care less.

  • Maybe he’s thinking this will take the focus off of abusing Jane Fonda. He’s a creep no matter what.

  • Cade

    At least he’s not a jerk anymore. Fewer jerks is always a good thing to strive for.

  • grazatt

    Maybe he’s thinking this will take the focus off of abusing Jane Fonda. He’s a creep no matter what.

    I had not heard about that, what happened?

  • ash

    it does sound like Turner was an atheist for emotional rather than intellectual reasons; perhaps, if so, he’s just made another choice on those terms.

    what would bother me is how they’re going to spend that $200 million once they’ve raised it. the fact he’s working with evangalical movements would lead me to question what percentage may go on proselytizing.

  • Sam

    it is encouraging to me to see former antagonists set aside the name calling in order to make a real difference in the world

    A beautiful thought. Unfortunately, it is posted right next to where you mock others as “misguided” and “poorly educated”. It comes after you say “It’s amazing what one can accomplish when an imaginary voice in your head tells you that anything you conjure up must come true”.

    You are about as friendly as Hitler.

  • julie marie

    Sam:

    you mindlessly express disagreement without any apparent counterpoint and are showing unexplained signs of irritability

  • Sam

    What are you, 12? My point could not have been clearer.

  • julie marie

    Um…no. I’m not 12.

    Look at the author of this blog entry. And try to quit acting like an enraged rhino, swinging to and fro at everyone and anyone within range of your big horn.

  • Jen

    You are about as friendly as Hitler.

    You are saying this to Mike Clawson, a Christian pastor who writes with Hemant, for what it is worth.

  • Karen

    A beautiful thought. Unfortunately, it is posted right next to where you mock others as “misguided” and “poorly educated”.

    No. This post is by a different author, not by Hemant. If you bother to read the first line of the entry you’ll notice that.

    Mike C., thanks for posting this. I’m encouraged whenever I see reports of people doing good things with their resources, no matter what philosophy of life they hold to.

  • A beautiful thought. Unfortunately, it is posted right next to where you mock others as “misguided” and “poorly educated”. It comes after you say “It’s amazing what one can accomplish when an imaginary voice in your head tells you that anything you conjure up must come true”.

    You are about as friendly as Hitler.

    Sam, as others have pointed out, this post was by me, not Hemant. I cannot claim responsibility for what Hemant posts here, nor should he be blamed for what I put up. I am grateful that he has given me the opportunity to contribute to the discussion here in this way, and whenever I can I like to highlight these kind of stories of atheists (or recently atheists) and Christians working together. If that sometimes conflicts with the tone of other conversations here, well, I’m just doing my part to change that tone as much as I can.

  • Sam

    A worthy cause. That certainly explains the difference in attitudes. What denomination are you?

    quit acting like an enraged rhino, swinging to and fro at everyone and anyone within range of your big horn.

    Oh, an “enraged rhino”! “Swinging to and fro”, you say. Hokay then. That makes perfect sense.

  • Claire

    Sam said

    That certainly explains the difference in attitudes.

    Oh, a christian said it, so then it must be ok. Yeah, right, that’s not stupid or bigoted, not at all. (That was sarcasm. You have to point it out for those intending to find offense, otherwise they will miss it. All others can skip the parentheses).

    Actually, the post was ok, but I’m basing that on the actual content, not something Sam would ever do.

    For those who have not met him, Sam is our newest troll, bent on finding offense everywhere, because hey, we’re (mostly) atheists, so we must deserve it. That’s not bigoted at all, either (ditto sarcasm). For other examples of his bigoted and sexist comments, you may want to check out his his post here for his charming “take a Midol” comment, or for an example of how friendly HE is, this one here where he said “If these are your smart women, warn me before the dumb ones get here”.

    Yep, he’s a asshole, born and bred, but the true sign of a troll is this: you will never get him to debate an actual idea, ever. All he does is spew. Abuse is all he has.

    So Sam, why don’t you go outside now and play with some of your little friends, assuming you have any that aren’t imaginary? I’m sure a nice game of patty-cake would be refreshing to you. Then when you lose, you can have a tantrum in more appropriate surroundings, and no will will expect any actual content in your sniveling.

  • cautious

    For your entertainment, a self-debate, in the style of Ctrl-+C and Ctrl+V.

    1: Does being mean to people bring you joy?

    2: I’m not trying to be difficult but I don’t understand your point.

    1: You are about as friendly as Hitler.

    2: If that seems valid to you, there’s nothing I can do to help.

    1: If you mindlessly express disagreement without any apparent counterpoint and are showing unexplained signs of irritability, there’s probably a reason.

    2: Oh, an “enraged rhino”!

    1: You do realize that makes no sense, don’t you.

    2: Identifying the “halfwit” is left as an exercise to the reader.

    1: That’s a ridiculous expectation to have.

    2: What are you, 12?

    1: A beautiful thought.

    2: Take a Midol.

    1: Apology accepted.

  • I don’t agree with religious people on science and the origins of the universe…

    What a bizarrely vague stereotype. I’m a religios person. I accept evolution and the big bang. Am I to imply you don’t?

  • Tracy

    I think the older Ted gets, the more afraid he gets of dying, so he’s just taking up Pascal’s Wager.

  • Sam

    Oh, a christian said it, so then it must be ok. Yeah, right, that’s not stupid or bigoted, not at all.

    Oh please. Did I say “a Christian said it, so then it must be ok”?

    why don’t you go outside now and play with some of your little friends, assuming you have any that aren’t imaginary? I’m sure a nice game of patty-cake would be refreshing to you.

    Very mature! That followed by “all he does is spew”. There’s nothing like calling another person an “asshole” and a “piece of shit” and then calling them the troll.

  • Joseph R.

    Thanks, Mike. I enjoy reading your contributions to this blog. Keep it up.

  • stogoe

    I think the older Ted gets, the more afraid he gets of dying, so he’s just taking up Pascal’s Wager.

    That was my first thought, as well.

    It’s funny; at this moment in my life I can’t think of anything that would make me shut my eyes and believe again, even if I wanted to. I’ve seen the fables and comforting stories for what they are, and I can’t un-see that. Maybe that will be different when I’m nearer the precipice of oblivion. Maybe I’ll reach out for a god I’m not even sure is there. Maybe the transhumanists are right and the rich half-cyborg oligarchs will live forever, subsisting on the toil of the rest of the meat-sacks. Heck, maybe I’ll find myself in a position where I can become one of the rich half-cyborg oligarchs.

    Anyways…Cooperation in fighting malaria is a Good Thing, no matter what I think of Ted Turner’s ‘conversion’.

  • JeffN

    When I Clicked over to this site I didn’t realize I was going to be treated to a comedy routine. You ought to take it on the road. 😉

    There are certain points in life when a person reexamines themselves and there life Such as when you become parents, when you reach middle age, and when you began to reach old age. It’s not surprising for an older person in there twilight years to find religion. It brings them hope and comfort as there life begins to wind to a close. That reminds me of a riddle; What walks on four legs in the morning two in the afternoon and Three at night. I will leave one of you smart individuals to ponder the riddle and give an answer.
    Whatever his motives I’m glad to see him using some of his resources to help those in need.

  • Kate

    Thanks Mike…I really enjoy reading stories like this where people make a sincere effort to be nice to each other.

  • sabrina

    What walks on four legs in the morning two in the afternoon and Three at night. I will leave one of you smart individuals to ponder the riddle and give an answer.

    Man. When he’s a baby he crawls, in his youth he walks on two legs, and in the later years of his life (ie night) he walks with a cane. I believe that is the riddle Oedipus had to solve.
    I’m glad that although Ted converted, he’s still using money to help people, as opposed to say funding the Discovery Institute:)

  • JeffN

    Correct on both accounts. You get two smiley faces. 🙂 🙂

  • Vincent

    Perhaps he’s just been hanging out wit Richard Gere and has become a Buddhist.

  • Ted Turner is a loose cannon. His inconsistency never ceases to astonish, and he can be counted on to make stunningly wacky statements. (Such as his recent assertion that global warming would turn us all into cannibals.) But still, overall I’d say he’s done more good than harm. I’m not going to complain about someone raising money to fight malaria.

  • Maybe he’s thinking this will take the focus off of abusing Jane Fonda. He’s a creep no matter what.

    I had not heard about that, what happened?

    I haven’t read the book, but I read an interview where Fonda was discussing her book, in which she discusses his tyrannical behavior.

  • I don’t agree with religious people on science and the origins of the universe…

    What a bizarrely vague stereotype. I’m a religios person. I accept evolution and the big bang. Am I to imply you don’t?

    Excellent point Dawn.

  • grazatt

    I haven’t read the book, but I read an interview where Fonda was discussing her book, in which she discusses his tyrannical behavior.

    Did he slap her around and stuff?

  • grazatt

    Sam is the wrost troll we have had here since that athiest troll olvlsl! What ever happened to him?

  • grazatt

    What a bizarrely vague stereotype. I’m a religios person. I accept evolution and the big bang. Am I to imply you don’t?

    Dawn, don’t you think you were a bit harsh on Zach? He is a gay and he lives in Alabama. I sure he has had to put up with alot from you Christians.

  • He is a gay and he lives in Alabama.

    what does that have to do with the point Dawn was making? because he’s gay we shouldn’t correct him when he promotes a false stereotype of Christians?

    I sure he has had to put up with alot from you Christians.

    yet another false stereotype. being a Christian does not automatically make one anti-homosexual. lumping Dawn in with those who are is unfair.

  • I meant no disrespect to religious people who do believe in evolution and the big bang. However, in my experience (which is only what I am qualified to represent), Religious people here in Alabama generally (yes, vague stereotype) do not accept evolution or any explanations of the origins of the universe that aren’t written in their red-letter King James version of the Bible.
    Yes, there are Christians in the world who are more progressive and accept scientific thinking. My point is that I don’t come in contact with them very often. The point of my original posting was not to demean anyone’s beliefs. Rather it was to point out that its to everyone’s advantage when people put aside theories and beliefs to help out the human race as a whole.

  • grazatt

    No, but Alabama is the bible belt, I am sure the poor gut has had a rough time. A little sympathy and tolerance may be in order.

  • No, but Alabama is the bible belt, I am sure the poor gut has had a rough time. A little sympathy and tolerance may be in order.

    I can’t speak for Dawn (though I can guess that she’d agree), but I can assure you that I’m completely sympathetic and tolerant towards Zach. And Dawn’s post didn’t come across as exceptionally harsh to me in the first place anyway. We’re just trying to have a conversation. I feel for Zach’s situation, but I still don’t see what it has to do with anything.

  • Karen

    Sam is the wrost troll we have had here since that athiest troll [redacted] What ever happened to him?

    SHHhhhhh! Please, don’t even mention … it.

    The number and virulence of theist trolls seems to have increased dramatically (in my limited experience online) in the past month. I don’t know whether it’s just computer usage rates ticking up or the holy spirit moving in believers’ hearts for Easter. 😉

  • No, but Alabama is the bible belt, I am sure the poor gut has had a rough time. A little sympathy and tolerance may be in order.

    I responded to something he said. I didn’t know his personal story and if I had I probably wouldn’t have weighed it in making my response. After all, I was responding to his comment, not anything about him.

    Zach – I apologize for coming off a little harsh. I’m up in Canada and most chirstians here accept a secular view of science so it always seems a little bizarre when people assume we’re all creationists.

    Mike – I should just let you talk for me! 😀

  • grazatt said,

    Dawn, don’t you think you were a bit harsh on Zach? He is a gay and he lives in Alabama. I sure he has had to put up with alot from you Christians.

    What a bizarrely vague stereotype.

  • cautious

    Sam is the wrost troll we have had here since that athiest troll [redacted] What ever happened to him?

    [name redacted] + time + random mutation + some combination of natural and artificial selection = Sam?

  • Sam

    Where “troll” is code for “thinks for himself”.

  • grazatt

    SHHhhhhh! Please, don’t even mention … it.

    What is this guy Voldemort or something?

  • tony cairns

    christians think theyre right but then people who believe in satan are no better where i come from in northern ireland, its all religious fight for god (yeah right you can fuck off) and i had to get away from religion because of loyalists and shit i hope churches are burned to the ground and wash out the madness