Where Are the Christians with Real Courage? September 9, 2010

Where Are the Christians with Real Courage?

I’ve been reading several articles this week about Pastor Terry Jones and how his church plans to burn Korans on 9/11. Christians don’t want to be associated with this guy.

Clergy members, academics and elected officials in Gainesville have planned nearly a dozen events to counter the plan, starting on Wednesday with an interfaith prayer service. On Saturday, hundreds of local residents and visitors are expected to rally against Mr. Jones, an evangelical pastor, with signs containing messages like “Peace among religions leads to peace among nations.”

“He represents only 30 people in this town,” said Larry Reimer, a local pastor, noting the size of Mr. Jones’s church, the Dove World Outreach Center. “It needs to get out somehow to the rest of the world that this isn’t the face of Christianity.”

The National Association of Evangelicals agrees:

“To all followers of Islam: Please do not judge all Christians by the behavior of one extremist,” NAE President Leith Anderson said. “One person with 30 silent followers does not speak for 300 million Americans who will never burn a Qu’ran.”

I’m sure many Christians share Anderson’s sentiment.

But let’s not forget: it’s easy to jump on this bandwagon.

It’s easy to condemn Terry Jones for burning Korans.

It’s easy to disavow Fred Phelps because of his “God Hates Fags” signs.

It’s easy to say Jerry Falwell was wrong to blame 9/11 on everybody from pagans to homosexuals to the ACLU.

It’s easy to distance yourself from Scott Roeder, the man who murdered abortion provider Dr. George Tiller.

But none of that takes guts. You don’t have to think twice about saying any of those things. They’re so obvious, we all pretty much knew where our Christian friends stood before they said anything.

I’d like to see more Christians who say things that raise our eyebrows. I want them to shock people within their faith. Where are those Christians? The one with the real courage, who are willing to say things that may be unpopular in Christian circles? Why don’t we hear much from them?

I asked friends on Twitter and Facebook to share their thoughts on what qualities a “courageous Christian” would have and they offered up quite a list…

It takes real courage to stand up in your church and say you proudly support same-sex marriage.

It takes real courage to tell a group of anti-abortion protesters that you are a Christian who supports a woman’s right to choose whether or not to have an abortion.

It takes real courage to tell your campus Bible study that you had pre-marital sex, that it was fun, and that it didn’t ruin your life.

It takes real courage to teach others that there’s nothing wrong with masturbation.

It takes real courage to fight against abstinence-only sex education.

It takes real courage to throw off that “purity ring.”

It takes real courage to publicly express doubts about your faith and admit that Christianity doesn’t have all the answers it claims to have.

It takes real courage to tell your pastor that he’s completely wrong about Creationism or Intelligent Design and that evolution is supported by all the available evidence. It also takes courage to educate other church members on the matter in defiance of your church’s teachings.

It takes real courage to tell street preachers and testifying co-workers that people are tuning them out, not converting to Christianity.

It takes real courage to remind any proselytizing superiors in the workplace that they’re out of line and you’ll report them if they continue doing it, even though you share their beliefs.

It takes real courage to be the first in line to defend atheists, Muslims, homosexuals, and any other frequently-defamed minority groups when someone in your church spreads lies about them.

It takes real courage to let your children decide for themselves what religion (if any) they want to belong to.

It takes real courage to admit the Bible is full of glaring inconsistencies.

It takes real courage to put your faith under the microscope of logic, reason, and demonstrable evidence, and to admit that if/when the evidence directly contradicts your faith, faith should lose.

It takes real courage to apply the same standard of reason and evidence to your religion as you apply to every other religion.

It takes real courage to admit that what you once thought was a miracle was really just a coincidence.

It takes real courage to realize that Christians are no more moral than people of other faiths or no faith.

It takes real courage to say that an atheist won the debate you just watched.

It takes real courage to recognize that churches are really businesses.

It takes real courage to walk away from a church you’ve gone to your whole life because you no longer agree with what the pastor teaches.

We need more Christians with real courage to speak out. I know they’re out there, but we atheists don’t hear from them nearly enough.

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  • keddaw

    Where are the atheists who say:

    While I do not encourage anyone to burn ANY book, now that you have planned to do it as an act of free speech I support you and encourage you to go through with it in the face of public outrage. Because of public outrage.

    This is exactly the same feeling I have towards the “ground zero mosque”.

    Free speech is only valuable when it protects the unpopular minority.

    Before asking anyone to surrender their 1st Amendment rights we must think of what Voltaire may (or may not have) said:
    “I do not agree with what you say, Sir, but I shall defend unto the death your right to say it.”

  • Just one problem.
    Once they did all those things, they’d hardly qualify as Christian anymore. 🙂

  • Narvi

    @keddaw: Every atheist blogger out there have defended their right to burn the Koran. If you haven’t noticed, you need to learn to read.

  • mkb

    Actually Godless Monster that’s cute, but not at all true. Most of the things listed here would not require any courage at all for a Christian in a liberal church. They would just would be every day occurences (well not telling the minister his/her creationism is wrong because while you would have no trouble finding a minister who admits that Christianity doesn’t have all of the answers, you’d never find one that believes in creationism).

  • keddaw

    @ Narvi
    I agree most do, like most supported the GZM, but where is the support?

    Agreeing that someone has the right to do something but then suggesting they shouldn’t doesn’t really count.

    I actively support and encourage this idiot Pastor to do what he planned to do. I would have advised against it beforehand, but given the flak he has taken since it was announced I want him to go ahead.

    And have you read the MRF’s response (two posts before this one?

    Or, worse, the State Department’s response? “We would like to see more Americans stand up and say that this [exercise of the 1st Amendment] is inconsistent with our American values. In fact, these actions [exercising one’s freedom of speech] themselves are un-American.”
    By PJ Crowley the official State Dept. spokesman.

  • I appreciate the list. I think it covers a lot of things that I see happening with the younger set in Christianity (people like Rachel Held Evans and Jason Boyett and Matthew Paul Turner and Nicole Wick leap to mind).

    And while I understand that you (general) want to hear from them, but how do those who are like that let you know? It seems to me that coming here and telling you how courageous they are is just about as obnoxious as the folks who they are standing up against. I’m on the inside of Christianity and I still had to go searching for other folks who represented more closely my views when my views went against the norm. They’re out there, and they have a pretty strong, unapologetic voice, but I’ve found that they’re also not all that pushy. Which means that their views are more likely going to be found by people looking for them rather than by them pushing those views on any particular group.

    I do think that some of those who fit your list are gaining a voice in the media as well, but ultimately, the message of, “I don’t know everything. Let’s sit down and talk and figure out how to get along,” isn’t as sexy on the news as Mark Driscoll calling Twilight demonic or Pat Robertson telling us that all of the world’s evils are caused by feminists and homosexuals. There’s no “courageous Christian” soundbite.

    I’m not saying that your list is bad or to want to hear from these folks is wrong. I’m just suggesting that if their primary goal is to change the face of Christianity rather than to convert souls, you may have to find them rather than them finding you.

  • Valhar2000

    Keddaw wrote:

    Agreeing that someone has the right to do something but then suggesting they shouldn’t doesn’t really count.

    This is just the old “you are denying me my 1st amendment rights by criticizing me” garbage that every blowhard has spewed since the 1st amendment was written down. No, we do not have to agree with what you say or do even while we agree that you have the right to say or do it.

  • keddaw

    @ Valhar2000

    Please read the thing in context before criticising.

    I was pointing to the lack of SUPPORT for him doing it. Agreeing that someone has the right and then criticising them for doing it is categorically not supporting it.

    What a US citizen does with his property is his business. I support not only his right to do it, but actually encourage him to do it if he so wishes.

    People who disagree with his actions are more than welcome to disagree.

    I was questioning where the Voltaires were.

  • Ron in Houston

    I’m still waiting for someone somewhere to make the “no true Christian” argument.

  • That list seems a little dubious to me. It’s like saying, it takes real courage to go over to Pharyngula and tell them that there are some serious merits to Intelligent Design. Sure, it might be somewhat courageous to take all the slander they’ll hurl, but to what point? If a Christian really did those things, for the most part, they wouldn’t really be in the realm of Christianity (and I don’t mean just the extremists, you’d be well outside mainstream/liberal Christianity as well).

    Which is not to say that people don’t DO them (ie have premarital sex) but for the most part it is with the understanding that they are human and sinners. Certainly not something they are proud of.

    What I would rather see from real Christians is not them trying to go against their own personal beliefs, but them speaking out against Christianity’s regime. IE the same sex marriage one, as that is a legal issue and not a personal one.

    If that makes sense, it’s kinda early!

  • saltdeezy

    You know… inciting a riot is not protected under the First Amendment… just saying…

  • Narvi

    You seem to have misunderstood Voltaire’s statement (or, more accurately, the paraphrasing of Voltaire’s views that has mistakenly been attributed to Voltaire).

    Defending people’s right to say what they want without supporting them was what Voltaire was all about. And it’s what the modern atheists are doing in this matter.

    You’re asking where the Voltaires are. They’re everywhere. You’re looking for something else (and by all means, if you want people to support them, go for it, but don’t claim it’s what Voltaire did, because that’s just false).

  • @mkb,
    Gosh, thanks for setting me straight.

  • cypressgreen

    The National Association of Evangelicals agrees:
    “To all followers of Islam: Please do not judge all Christians by the behavior of one extremist,” NAE President Leith Anderson said. “One person with 30 silent followers does not speak for 300 million Americans who will never burn a Qu’ran.”

    I guess these idiots haven’t heard that christians all over the nation have been mailing those book burners more copies of the Koran to burn…

    I support their right to free speech, but I am against their actions nonetheless. Their actions may endanger our troops overseas. They are just throwing gasoline on the fire.

  • I prefer my Christians cowardly and so do my lions. I think it gives them a better flavour.

    Actually I think it is fine for Christians to say “they don’t represent us” but I do think that it would get awfully tiresome to keep repeating it.

    It takes real courage to tell your god that you’ve had just about enough of his nonsense and that you are leaving him until he apologises and makes amends. How’s that?

  • Molch

    “To all followers of Islam: Please do not judge all Christians by the behavior of one extremist,” NAE President Leith Anderson said. “One person with 30 silent followers does not speak for 300 million Americans who will never burn a Qu’ran.”

    And yet, the same is done to Muslims…

  • L.Long

    What do you call a xtian that disagrees with your list of bigots?
    A hypocrite!
    If you are a buyBull thumping xtian then you HAVE to agree to the bigots and ignore your list.
    If you are ‘love & peace’ xtian that just says ‘jepus is the way’ and ignores the buyBull (ie Ok with gays & sex), then the list is easy and you are not a xtian. You call yourself such but really reading the buyBull and you find that being a racist, sexist bigot is the WAY.
    So checking off points on the check list will only show how you are leaving christianity and heading toward deist and maybe onto Atheism.

  • Alex

    I’d settle for the press asking the tough questions. Democracy Now won’t even do it!

  • kbeen

    Completely different than everything anyone has commented on until now… I wish to speak about courage, and the negative effects. I am totally with you on every point, but I do not have the courage to “come out” as an atheist, because my family, whom I love, despite their beliefs, would be crushed to think that I will burn in hell for eternity for *my* lack of belief. I can not change their belief, no matter what I say, so I choose to hide it to protect their feelings.

    As I read your post I nodded my head at every point, but in the end, I still can not cause my parents that much pain, no matter how much I agree with the concept.

    I wonder what your take is on such a situation.

  • Bob

    I’m beginning to think that it’s not a question of espousing ‘radical’ or rational views.

    I think the Rapture-ready crowd and other violent religions need lots and lots and lots of rope. Let them hang themselves by their words and deeds.

    If rational discussion doesn’t win the day, then perhaps a more personal experience will prove sufficient to dispel the illusion of religion-as-panacea.

  • Fingon Celebrindal

    Where Are the Christians with Real Courage?
    The same place where are all the Muslims with real courage in all probability.

  • @kbeen,
    It’s a sacrifice that you make, but not completely unbearable, I suppose. You do this out of kindness and consideration. One might ask if your family would do the same for you if the tables were reversed.
    Food for thought.

  • @kbeen you don’t have to come out as an atheist to take make statements on ethical situations, you have to understand your motivations and arguments so you are not fumbling to defend your statements. My dad is in his 70s and became a churchgoer after my mom’s death. I have never said I am an atheist to him although it’s pretty clear from my ethical opinions that I am at least a secular humanist. I even told him if I *had* to choose a religion I would choose Bahia (our family is RC).

  • David

    What’s the difference between burning the Koran and eating “a cracker”?

  • Iggy

    In regards to the “pastor” who is going to burn the koran, and the possible backlash to our war effort..

    As a U.S. Servicemember who is about to go to Afghanistan, may I be the first to say “Fuck you”.

    That being said, I do support this new-found media-whore’s 1st amendment rights.

    Now what was that about none of us in foxholes?

  • JulietEcho

    I think there are plenty of Christians who go to churches that teach things like “homosexuality is sinful” and “abortion is murder” and “non-Christians are all going to Hell” and don’t agree with their pastors. However, they have social reasons for staying at a church – maybe because their kids make friends there, maybe because they find the other members good company, maybe because it’s good for their business, maybe because it’s important to a spouse, etc.

    Speaking out within a church like that is likely to cause you to lose many of the benefits you were staying for. Unless liberal members of conservative churches (and there are plenty of those – I know some personally and am willing to bet there are a few at almost any conservative church) agree to stand up and disagree with their churches’ teachings together, I think such displays will only create tiny ripples and punish the people who stand up. Sure, maybe the ripples will make the other members think twice about some of their beliefs, but then again, maybe not.

    I’ve been out of my parents’ church for seven years now, but I still receive their newsletter. The pastor printed an anti-gay marriage screed on the cover back in June, and I didn’t write to him or encourage anyone who still goes there to say anything about it. I don’t think they’d care what I have to say, as an atheist. But I think they’d care just as little (except to badger the person to change their beliefs) if a liberal Christian member did the same thing.

  • Hitch

    There are some courageous christians, but they also fall for ostricizing.

    Take Hans Kung in Germany, or John Shelby Spong in the US. Also cheers for Mary Glasspool.

    But yes, more is better.

  • For what it’s worth, I’ve been encouraging other Christians to hold “Read a Qur’an Day” as a peaceful response to “Burn a Qur’an Day.” This seems to me to be a way that Christians (and everyone!) can acknowledge the freedom of others to burn books, while using our own freedom of speech to express our dismay, and our conviction that reading, including reading and disagreeing with what you’ve read, is preferable to burning, for so very many reasons.

  • I support “Burn A Koran Day”
    I think Atheists should show up in large numbers and start tossing all sorts of Holy Books into the bonfire, including the Bible. We should turn it into “Burn A Holy Book Day”

    The more of these religious texts we can burn, the better.

  • Bob


    Re: Your upcoming tour of duty … stay safe.


    Crazy thing is, while I think Jones is a total nutjob and disagree with his idea in every aspect, I think it’s important that he have enough freedom of expression that everyone can see him for the hate-filled loon he is.

    This is true whether it’s a kook wanting to burn the Koran or a protester burning the American flag. The sentiment doesn’t go away if you censor the expression, it gets stronger.

  • Xnilo

    These are not acts of courage because anyone can do these things.

  • @Iggy,
    Thanks for your service. Good luck to you and to your family.

  • Hitch

    Indeed, best wishes Iggy. Stay safe.

  • @Keddaw– thanks for reminding me that the book burners *do* have the right, as much as I think it’s not a good idea, to burn the Korans.
    “First they burn books; then they burn people.”
    A lot of people bring up the question, though, of what we mean by courage. Yeah, liberal Xians do all this, so then what? What would be courageous on my part, in this context?

  • keddaw


    People can do what they like with their own property. I’d rather they didn’t burn books or damage art, but as long as they don’t go after the books in my house or the library then have at it.

  • Courage in the aspect you describe comes from realizing that those in authority positions don’t always know what is right and should be challenged. Given the statements you listed, how likely is it that the Christian would even still be involved with a conservative fundamentalist church anyway to have any effect?

    For myself, when I started asking similar questions and statements to what you have listed, I was told I was no longer welcome at most churches and it was a lie to call myself a Christian since I didn’t believe or agree with almost everything else that most churches believe in. That turned into an internal struggle to separate my belief in “God” from the teachings of any pastor, priest or church body. Someone who has the courage you speak of not only loses their community that they have known – they often are left without any community as they are neither Christian nor Atheist nor anything else.

  • abadidea

    I think the Christians with Real Courage are busy hanging around sites like these, or will be fairly soon in their life.

    “you’d never find one (minister) that believes in creationism”

    You must live in a much chiller place than I. I’ve been to probably two dozen churches in Virginia that I’ve heard preach Genesis literalism. They’re absolutely insistent on it to the point that No True Christian could possibly think otherwise.

  • Roxane

    @James F. McGrath: Reading the Bible was dreadful enough, so I have no intention of reading the Quran. I am, however, reading Stephen Prothero’s “God is Not One: The Eight Rival Religions that Run the World and Why Their Differences Matter.” It’s a way of increasing my religious literacy without raising my blood pressure.

  • Xnilo: I don’t understand how the fact that anyone could perform an act negates the courage needed to actually do it.

  • Not just Christians, but we need real courage from anyone.

    What we don’t need anymore is people giving these attention-starved fuckheads all of this media coverage. While posts like this one, with a call to arms message are needed, it’s the national media that’s giving this freak in Florida the attention he’s looking for.

  • Actually, this is what REAL Christian courage looks like.


  • Bob


    The problem is, in a large part, that media attention now proceeds from the ‘everything is equal’ approach.

    If Pastor Jones was out there railing about how 2+2=5,897, you can be sure the media would be out there, with banners and graphics saying that very thing as if it were a valid standpoint or possible truth.

  • This reminds me of Paul Graham’s essay on “What You Can’t Say”.

    Back in the era of terms like “well-adjusted,” the idea seemed to be that there was something wrong with you if you thought things you didn’t dare say out loud. This seems backward. Almost certainly, there is something wrong with you if you don’t think things you don’t dare say out loud.

    It’s actuall kind of a modern freethinker manifesto, especially because it goes well beyond religion and considers various “social fashions”, as well as prescribing multiple methodologies for committing thoughtcrime and how it will make a more rational, “quicker” person.

  • @Jason,
    Pathetic and a major fail. Christianity didn’t exist in the times these particular events occurred. They were still just another wacky Jewish sect.
    No “Christian courage” to be found there.
    BTW, instead of pointing to scripture and running away, how about “manning up” and contributing something of substance to the discussion?

  • There was one very obvious item missing: standing up to the Catholic Church for its protection of child abusers/pedophiles and pressuring of victims to keep quiet, for spreading ignorance and fear with regard to safe sex in AIDS-ridden countries, etc.

  • Mike

    Just one problem.
    Once they did all those things, they’d hardly qualify as Christian anymore.

    While I did find myself mildly uncomfortable with (only) a couple items on the list*, I find no hypocricy in identifying myself as a Christian.

    A Christian is someone who follows (almost always in a highly flawed manner) the core message of Joshua, son of Mary and Jospeh, a wandering Nazerene Rabbi in the early first century. The actual set of beliefs about this man probably has as many different flavors as there are Christians. The Christianness of an individual is not determined by membership rosters.

    As always, I find myself much more in agreement than disagreement with this and other articles posted on this blog.

    (*) My discomfort items

    The question about a woman’s right to choose is not solely drawn along religeous lines. There are Christians who support a “woman’s right to choose” and there are non-Christians who would not support the “murder of the unborn.” To make this issue a divining rod of where one stands religiously does not seem fair.

    While I would like to think I could stand up in a bible study and state that I had premarital sex and enjoyed it… this would cross the line from courage to lying.

    Finally while all church institutions are structured as businesses and have all the fiscal concerns of a business, it is unfair to say that they are all nothing but businesses. Within this institution you will also find a sense of family and koinonia that transcends the buisiness aspects.

  • Mike S

    What I hear very few people saying is the President is perfectly right is condemning this act of religious intolerance. It is very obviously against the founding principles of this country. But it is not forbidden, under the constitution.

    The man does have the right to express himself- but only to a certain point, because what he is doing might constitute hate speech. Wikipedia, while not exactly definitive, is correct in saying this:

    In law, hate speech is any speech, gesture or conduct, writing, or display which is forbidden because it may incite violence or prejudicial action against or by a protected individual or group, or because it disparages or intimidates a protected individual or group. The law may identify a protected individual or a protected group by race, gender, ethnicity, nationality, religion, sexual orientation, or other characteristic.

    I think this fits this situation rather well.

  • @Mike,
    Please quote me correctly, or don’t quote me at all…you left THIS: 🙂 off. It was put there for a reason.

  • So let me get this straight: the gist of this post is that the only Christians who show real courage are the Christians who agree with the author (and his Facebook commenters)? Sorry, but that’s a load.

    Do you realize that any of these could apply in a reversed situation as well? A college student who goes against the grain by refusing on principle to have premarital sex is demonstrating courage. A person who takes an anti-abortion stand when the majority is pro-choice is showing courage as well. Or does it only count when someone takes a stand for something that you approve of?

    And Godless Monster, the passage Jason referred to depicts the first person killed for preaching about Christ; so I think it applies even if it predates the term “Christian”. If you want more contemporary examples, try here and here

  • Brad

    @odgie This is a good example of how common secular terms can be used to describe “implied non-secular” characters. The terms “premarital”, “anti-abortion” and “pro-choice” exist as words but when spoken or written they imply religious values. Perhaps a re-edit to under-emphasize their religious association, in the following manner, would express the point more clearly.
    “A college student who goes against the grain by refusing on principle to have sex is demonstrating courage” or “A person who takes an stand to not have an abortion, when she is being encouraged by her peers to do so, shows courage.”

    But then once those terms are removed from the statement it becomes moot, to the context of these forum. Go figure.

  • Jonas

    A few articles on the International View 11 Countries speak out.

    I am with those who say let this pastor burn the Koran. Let him make any speech he wants. — Yes he doesn’t speak for all Christians, but he has the right to express his views.

    “Indonesia and the US are building or bridging relations between the Western world and Islam. If the Koran burning occurs, then those efforts will be useless,” Indonesian President Yudhoyono says – Wanting Obama to step in and stop the event.

    “We hope that the US authorities will take strong action to prevent such an outrage being committed,” said Indian Minister P. Chidambaram

    These people do not understand the uniquely American concept of Freedom of Speech. (And this is only the first two, of 11 countries)

    The Daily Show recently put this Pastor in the same camp as Fred Phelps, and Pat Robertson (who blames Hurricane Katrina on a pact w/ the devil & 9/11 on American immorality)

    Further if all of Indonesian / American relations will fall apart because of one pastor with 30 to 50 followers, the relations must be fairly weak right now.

    No way in H*ll should or can the US stifle this pastor’s freedom of speech.

  • Mike

    @The Godless Monster,

    I aplogize for misquoting you. I did select the emoticon for the copy, but it apparently did not come through with the paste. (And I failed to note the omission.)

  • @ godless monstor:

    Wow, what side of the bed did you wake up on today? I hope you didn’t waste too much time thinking of something clever to say to me in response. I’m hardly worth the effort!!! I suppose I should look to you for developing my skills on how to “man up.” I didn’t shy away. I didn’t drop a comment ambiguously. I spoke my mind and came back only to find a baseless attack on my statement and manliness. So, apparently I have a lot left to learn about what it means to be a man.

    Christianity didn’t exist in the times these particular events occurred. They were still just another wacky Jewish sect.

    You speak very freely about Christianity not existing at the time of the Steven, but I don’t see any proof of your claim. I’m assuming you have studied the base of your claim and will enlighten me with at least a small portion of the knowledge you have on the subject? You see sir, to my knowledge (and mind you I am a Christian, so my mental capacity is limited) Steven was one of the earliest followers of Christ, who claimed Christ and Him crucified (which makes him a ‘Christian’). He just so happened to also be Jewish. He was stoned by the Jews for his blasphemous belief and proclamation of CHRIST (a major aspect of Christianity) which was why he was stoned by the Jewish people (including Paul–Saul).

    BTW, instead of pointing to scripture and running away, how about “manning up” and contributing something of substance to the discussion?

    Based on your previous comments concerning my post (and my manliness for that matter) I find it very hard to believe you will take anything I say as “substance”…but regardless of my emotions…here I am sir!!! Let’s discuss.


  • @bob – That’s true. We need less of that.

  • Brent

    In my case, by the time I discovered I had the courage to stand up for any of those things in a church setting, I also found that I had the courage to admit that I didn’t believe in God anymore. Kind of makes it hard to stand up from within.

    In this situation, I will defend their right to burn whatever they want, as long as they’re not mugging Muslims on the street and taking their Qurans. What makes this particularly obnoxious is not that Jones & company want to burn a holy book. It is the knowledge that if someone did it to their holy book, they would likely go through the ceiling. Just like most fundies, they’ll appeal to free speech when it suits their needs, and then try to silence others when their own sensibilities are offended. (Do I know that for sure? No. It’s just an educated guess. But I think it’s a good one.)

    As for MRFF’s response (referenced earlier) I thought that was fairly appropriate given their agenda. MRFF is not an atheist organization–their thrust is maintaining that everyone has an equal right to their own beliefs. Of course, the fun godless response would be to set up shop across the street and burn a Bible for every Quran that goes into the bonfire…

  • Carlie

    As I read your post I nodded my head at every point, but in the end, I still can not cause my parents that much pain, no matter how much I agree with the concept.

    I wonder what your take is on such a situation.

    I would say you’re not the only one doing this.

    As for the Koran burning (which is now not happening), I’m against it simply because there is already a lot of hostility brewing towards Muslims in this country, and such an event would give more social cover to people who want to pick on Muslims. How far of a distance is there from a public mass hysterical bookburning to a lynching? Or if not that far, to a firebombing of a mosque? (Oops, already happened.) It’s encouraging violence towards a group of people who are already marginalized and in danger.

  • I am totally with you on every point, but I do not have the courage to “come out” as an atheist, because my family, whom I love, despite their beliefs, would be crushed to think that I will burn in hell for eternity for *my* lack of belief. I can not change their belief, no matter what I say, so I choose to hide it to protect their feelings.

    I have never had to deal with this issue personally, so I may be totally off the mark, but I say let your parents feel the discomfort. They believe a reprehensible thing. They believe it’s perfectly moral to torture billions of people for eternity simply because they don’t believe in a particular god. They may not have consciously chosen this belief system, but, IMO, they should have to face the consequences of having it. They should have to justify it to themselves when it hits close to home. Maybe knowing that their son or daughter is one of the “condemned” will cause them to think seriously about the morality of their beliefs. Or maybe not, but I don’t see why they should get to skate along happily and cause you to feel like you have to spend your life in hiding. Make them face their discomfort head on. If it causes them pain, so be it. IMO, they should feel bad about having that kind of belief system. It’s a lot easier to support eternal torture when it only happens to nameless, faceless “heathens” and not their beloved child.

  • Robert


    You post was spot on. Stephen was stoned for expressing his belief in Christ as the messiah in front of clearly a hostile crowd knowing that would be the outcome. True courage indeed.

  • Ben

    uniquely American concept of Freedom of Speech

    Uhh, sure. Only Americans have that concept. Just like only Christians have the concept of “do unto others”

  • fundie troll

    The fact that the Christian community is being criticized for speaking out against Pastor Terry Jones speaks volumes of the author’s opinion of Christianity…

  • Scott Studham

    Most of these things are opinion, not fact.

    One thing I really agree with is: It takes real courage to put your faith under the microscope of logic, reason, and demonstrable evidence, and to admit that if/when the evidence directly contradicts your faith.

    You should challenge yourself to look at your faith. The faith of being an atheist. I just ran across your blog for the first time. I couldn’t agree more. Most Christians don’t get it. They have made a religion out of Jesus Gospel. Remember Jesus hated the Pharisees and would probably despise most American Christians for the same reason. Jesus gospel was one of Love. I don’t see that in most of American Christianity. But I also don’t see that in your posts.

    I would challenge you to consider that as you condemn all Christians as weak minded – that some of us are incredibly logical and find the faith of atheism even harder to believe than the gospel of Jesus.

    In love – Scott

  • You should challenge yourself to look at your faith. The faith of being an atheist.

    Sigh. I was born an atheist, Scott. I was never taught to believe in any deities, so I never started believing in any of them. If I saw a shred of evidence for anything supernatural, I’d be more than willing to consider it, but so far I have never seen even one thing that would make me doubt that we live in a purely material world.

    No one is born believing in deities, Scott. It takes faith to start believing, but it doesn’t take any faith to remain in the natural state you were in when you were born. If you’d been raised in a secular environment and never introduced to the concept of deities, you’d still be an atheist, too.

  • Kate

    To begin, I should probably say that I am a theist rather than a Christian. Nevertheless, while I have not done everything on this list (I’m only 17) I’ve been in situations that have required me to do the vast majority. I realize it’s not the same as it would be if a Christian posted this, but I just wanted to prove that we do exist, we understand (I’ve been subject to many of the same cruel comments my atheist/agnostic friends are forced to endure), and we’re trying.

  • Sally

    Christians with courage?

    Look no further than the former Soviet Union where believers were persecuted, killed or sent to gulags.

    Or even here in Canada where natives tortured and killed missionaries and priests.

    How about those Christians that just pursue day to day activities under the scorn of ever-growing secularism, materialism and atheism?

    None of those things mentioned by the blogger take any particular amount of courage.
    Anyone can have sex, say that evolution is true and so on. This is another debate as well, while life forms have definitely shown change and mutations over time, no one in the scientific community is telling us WHAT makes the mutate, WHY they mutate and so on.

    I’m yearning daily for the day when we can build a human from scratch, when we can build a planet, a sun, a star from scratch..because that is what will be needed to put the nail in the coffin of organized religion as a whole.

    And “from scratch” I clearly mean…you take scientific processes and produce a human from random events, mutations over an extremely long period…a kind of longitudinal study, if you will. That is what is needed.

  • Paul

    Interestingly most of the things you have listed that it would be courageous to stand against are the things that Christians believe in. It would seem that courage, as you have described it, is for a person to reject the beliefs and values that they hold to. If the shoe is then put on the other foot; that of the atheist, would the list of courageous activities not be…
    • It takes real courage to stand up in a church and say you reject same-sex marriage.
    • It takes real courage to tell a group of anti-abortion protesters that they are destroying a life that has been created in the image of God, and despite that, God still loves them.
    • It takes real courage to tell a campus Bible study that you had pre-marital sex, and hurt a future relationship, whether yours or the another person’s.
    • Etc…
    My point is that I think your logic isn’t really standing up for what you are arguing. For a person to deny their beliefs does not make them courageous.

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