Jesus Does Not Care? Tell Me Something I Don’t Know October 16, 2010

Jesus Does Not Care? Tell Me Something I Don’t Know

***Update***: A reader has registered both JesusDoesNotCareFor.us and JesusDoesNotCareFor.me. If you think you can make use of one or both of the sites, please leave a comment and the reader will send you the domains!

It seems like a perfectly honest atheist ad:

Of course Jesus doesn’t care.

He’s dead. So he can’t. (Talk about flawless logic…)

Unfortunately, a church beat us to the message. And it confused Christians too lazy to go to the website.

A local church’s “Jesus Does Not Care” advertising campaign is really a gospel come-on, but some of the faithful aren’t pleased.

“We actually had someone tear down our sign,” said Brian Swiggart, one of the pastors of The Community at Lake Ridge, a church near the border of Mansfield and Arlington.

Caitlin Smith, a member of The Community at Lake Ridge and a Dallas Baptist University junior, said her roommate was disturbed by seeing a card that says “Jesus Does Not Care.”

“Once she understood it, she was a lot better,” said Smith. “At first, it really did upset her because she thought it was an atheistic campaign.”

Swiggart said the church replaced an 8-foot-by-11-foot “Jesus Does Not Care” sign that someone tore down.

“We kind of take it as someone well-meaning,” he said. “If you just look at the words, you think, `Well, that’s not good. Jesus does care.’”

Let’s get the obvious out of the way: the church’s message is that Jesus supposedly “does not care” about where you come from or what you’ve done in the past. To that point, the pastor is right.

Because Jesus is dead.

(This shouldn’t be news to anyone, right?)

Even if Jesus didn’t care, though, Christians are plenty judgmental on their own so it’s all moot. (You walk into a church and tell them you’re a gay man and see whether they just accept that fact.)

Anyway, there’s another aspect of this campaign that’s more disturbing: Why is it that both the article and the church just gloss over the vandalism as if it’s no big deal? They act as if the ad campaign were put up by atheists, then the destruction would be justified.

If anyone in the Cedar Hill, Texas area has some money, they should swipe up JesusDoesNotCare.net, direct it to an atheist website (or a single serving site that just says “Jesus doesn’t care because he never existed”), purchase similar-style advertisements, and watch the hilarity ensue.

(Thanks to vanweezy for the link)


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  • JD

    Gotta love how these supposedly highly moral people are willing to vandalize property and break laws in the process. Where is their alleged superior morality now?

  • tim

    Assuming Jesus is dead is also assuming he ever existing at all. Which is a pretty big assumption to begin with.

  • Adam

    Most of the feedback on that site is just obnoxious. Just the fact that people think we need “rescued” pisses me off.

  • Lukas

    From a scientific standpoint, the consensus seems to be that Jesus actually did exist (Wikipedia), although the stories told about him are obviously highly questionable; he was a jewish carpenter who was seen as largely irrelevant during his actual life, and who was considered to be somewhat insane by his own family.

    Acting like there’s a good chance that Jesus never existed makes us atheists look kind of kooky and gullible. Let’s apply skepticism to the things we want to be true, too.

  • G

    Maybe having christian signs torn down (even if someone is misinterpreting their message) will teach them something about what it is we go through at their hands.

  • Hopefully they didn’t mean to make it sound like it’d be okay if it was an atheist sign getting ruined, but they probably did mean that.

    I doubt G’s right, though. They won’t “walk a mile” over this. They’ll just rewrite the message and never make the connection.

  • Beauzeaux

    “You walk into a church and tell them you’re a gay man and see whether they just accept that fact”

    I doubt they would because I’m a woman.

  • J. J. Ramsey

    Lukas:

    Acting like there’s a good chance that Jesus never existed makes us atheists look kind of kooky and gullible.

    Agreed, but …

    From a scientific standpoint, the consensus seems to be that Jesus actually did exist

    It’s not so much a matter of science as it is that the scenarios of a mythical Jesus end up being more far-fetched than scenarios where Jesus is a historical figure onto whom heaps of legend have accreted. For example, it’s trivial to explain the references to “brothers of the Lord” in Paul as Jesus’s flesh-and-blood brothers in the latter scenario, whereas explaining them in the former one has involved, say, treating “brother” as a synonym for “Christian” (which would hardly explain why Paul would refer to Peter as separate from the “brothers of the Lord” in 1 Corinthians 9:5, since he’s a fellow Christian) or speculation about the existence of “brothers of the Lord” as a religious fraternity. As James McGrath pointed out in a review of Robert Price’s section of The Historical Jesus: Five Views, yes, you can construct scenarios where Jesus is purely mythical, but that only makes them possible, not probable.

    Just some clarification here. I’d rather not go on and on about the pseudohistory indulged by the “Jesus never existed” crowd.

  • Lukas

    @J. J. Ramsey: Your explanation is what I meant by “science.” History is a scientific field, too 🙂

  • I was going to comment on this, but then as I read the post it came to my attention that there was a rather large banner ad for CatholicMates.com right up the top of the page. Think somebody might be missing their target demographic, just a weensy bit? 😉

  • Miko

    Lukas:

    From a scientific standpoint, the consensus seems to be that Jesus actually did exist (Wikipedia), although the stories told about him are obviously highly questionable

    For those too lazy to click the link, I’ll provide some quotes that summarize the alleged consensus:

    “According to traditional Church teaching the Gospels of John and Matthew were written by eyewitnesses, but a majority of modern critical biblical scholars no longer believe this is the case.

    “In these works, Jesus is mentioned twice, though scholars debate their authenticity.”

    “Pliny the Younger (c. 61 – c. 112), the provincial governor of Pontus and Bithynia, wrote to Emperor Trajan c. 112 concerning how to deal with Christians” (how does something that happened c. 112 tell us anything about the life of someone who allegedly lived several generations earlier?)

    “There is disagreement about what this passage proves, since Tacitus does not reveal the source of his information.”

    ” The term Chrestus also appears in some later texts applied to Jesus, and Robert Graves,[72] among others,[73] consider it a variant spelling of Christ, or at least a reasonable spelling error. On the other hand, Chrestus was itself a common name

    And it goes on like that.

    So, we have sources that even biblical scholars deny the authenticity of, anonymous sources, sources written far too late to be relevant, and sources speculating that one reference to a person who had a common name may actually have been a misspelling of Christ. Yep, that’s what “scientific” consensus looks like.

    I like to think of the existence of Jesus the same way I look at the story of George Washington cutting down the cherry tree. We know that all later sources got it from the same primary source and we know that the original primary source was a lie. This doesn’t mean that George Washington didn’t happen to cut down a cherry tree, just that there is no reason to think that he did (so that by Occam’s Razor, it’s reasonable to say that he didn’t). With Jesus, we again have the early sources not from eyewitnesses and the later sources mistakenly believing that the earlier sources were from eyewitnesses, with a few irrelevant claims and obvious forgeries thrown in for good measure. As with the Washington story, we’re left with no reason to think that Jesus actually existed and by Occam’s Razor we again conclude that he probably didn’t.

    The only reason that this conclusion is seen as unreasonable in even the slightest degree is because so many people have based their lives around the fact that he did exist.

    Acting like there’s a good chance that Jesus never existed makes us atheists look kind of kooky and gullible. Let’s apply skepticism to the things we want to be true, too.

    Why would we “want it to be true” that Jesus never existed? Personally, I don’t care whether he existed or not.

  • Why does essentially every post here mention gays?

    I guess religious people aren’t engaging in violence, destruction, or anything else bad in this world.

  • If my last comment wasn’t clear, I mean:

    If someone were to read this site, they’d come away thinking the worst thing religious people are doing is telling gays they’re going to hell.

  • Daryl

    Not wanting to derail this thread with Jesus did/didn’t exist stuff, but the actual historical evidence for the J man is surprisingly weak. None of it is primary (i.e. contemporary with Jesus’ life). None of it receives external and unambiguous attestation until way into 2nd century. And of course, any evidence from a non-Christian viewpoint is either too late or highly dubious (cf Josephus), to be of any real use. For sure, all this doesn’t disprove his existence, but it should perhaps make scholars think more than it does. But no, they simply plough on with the same paradigm…

    IMHO even liberal scholars like Bart Ehrman are making massive assumptions about the historical Jesus. The entire field is built on the shakiest of foundations.

    Anyway, Christians being silly. Usual good stuff.

  • Stephen P

    @J.J.Ramsey: no, it makes very little sense to interpret “brothers of the Lord” (or “brethren of the lord”) in I Cor 9:5 as “Jesus’s flesh-and-blood brothers”.

    Paul repeatedly and unambiguously uses the term “brethren” to mean the people he is addressing in his epistles – see, for example I Cor chapters 1, 2, 3 and 4. These are obviously not all literal brothers of each other. The wording of 9:5 is obscure, as evidenced by the different translations in different versions, but he appears to be referring to ‘we, as the brethren of the Lord’ – i.e. Paul plus the people he is addressing. And presumably Cephas (which version do you have that says Peter?) is listed separately because he is not present. Whatever it means, interpreting it as a suddenly-dropping-out-of-the-air reference to literal, yet unnamed, brothers of Jesus does not in any way make it clearer. Rather the opposite. If Paul repeatedly uses the term figuratively, why should one specific case necessarily be literal?

    Furthermore you would need to explain why Paul nowhere names these literal brothers, nor apparently draws on them in any way to provide actual first-hand accounts of Jesus.

    Earl Doherty provides a long list of passages which make more sense under the mythical Jesus scenario than the historical Jesus scenario. If the mythical Jesus is clearly more far-fetched, then the list of of passages which point in the other direction must be very long indeed (and they must be a lot stronger than the example you gave) – can you provide a link?

  • It looks like a rehash of the Alpha course web sites that I’ve seen.

  • Steve

    Off topic, but the NYT has an article on atheism:
    http://www.nytimes.com/2010/10/16/us/16beliefs.html?src=me&ref=us

  • So much for religionists having the “moral authority.” Endorsing vandalism because someone disagreed with/ thought the message wrong says it all.
    And they are too imbecilic to even understand the implications of that tacit approval.

  • Zach

    Because, OneSTDV, religion’s existence is generally an EXTREMELY sucky thing for gay people. In a culture that has up until quite recently declined to acknowledge that gays and lesbians exist (except as some cartoonish, vaudevillian threat to all things holy), I appreciate the way Hemant and the other writers on this site regularly document religion’s stupidity and inhumanity regarding those with something other than a heterosexual orientation. Religion may not be the only source of homophobia, but it routinely uses its unearned cultural legitimacy to make hatred mainstream and respectable.

  • Richard Wade

    We kind of take it as someone well-meaning,

    (Two hands slapping forehead)

    So, pastor Swiggart, what well-meaning intention do you think the vandal had? If the vandal had assumed it was an atheist sign, would that have been a good, positive, acceptable reason to destroy someone’s property and squelch their freedom of speech? Aw shucks, it’s okay because they meant well. They thought they were tearing down an atheist billboard, so that makes it excusable?

    The hypocrisy and irony mix together here in a bewildering way. If the sign was torn down by a disgruntled Christian, then the Community at Lake Ridge church is the victim of something that too many Christians are prone to do, jumping to prejudicial conclusions and self-righteously thinking that they are justified in destroying what they assume is a contradictory view, and Swiggart is apparently forgiving that because it would have been okay if it had been an atheist’s sign.

    Atheists in that town definitely should put up a non-offensive but clearly atheist billboard, and WHEN, not if, it is torn down, they should go to Pastor Swiggart and ask him if he thinks that was justified for the same “well-meaning” reasons that his sign was torn down.

    A suggested slogan for the sign:

    Atheists care.
    About people, civil rights, and liberty for all.

  • Because, OneSTDV, religion’s existence is generally an EXTREMELY sucky thing for gay people.

    I understand why Hemant thinks that religion is sucky for gays.

    But if one wants to countenance the idea that religion is a net drain on the entirety of humanity, focusing on one relatively small issue is inimical to the stated goal.

    And when one considers the violence and destruction caused by religion, the gay focus is surely not the best one.

  • The website has a feedback form where you can submit comments publicly…

  • Dasen

    OneSTDV, this site doesn’t just focus on gay issues. Your complaint is idiotic so just top now. If you want to talk about what you want to talk about, start your own blog.

  • Richard Wade

    I decided to give Pastor Swiggart the benefit of the doubt and ask him what he meant by his remark. I sent this email to the church’s site:

    Dear Pastor Swiggart,

    I was curious about a remark you were quoted as having said in the article in the Dallas News (dot) Com, about the tearing down of your “Jesus Does Not Care sign.” You are quoted as saying,

    “We kind of take it as someone well-meaning. If you just look at the words, you think, ‘Well, that’s not good. Jesus does care.'”

    I’m wondering what well-meaning intention you think the vandal had? If the vandal had assumed it was an atheist sign, as other people in that article indicated they had assumed, are you saying that would have been a good, positive, acceptable reason to destroy someone’s property and squelch their freedom of speech? Aw shucks, it’s okay because they meant well. They thought they were tearing down an atheist billboard, so that makes it understandable and excusable?

    Atheist groups occasionally have put up billboards around the country, usually as innocuous and inoffensive as they possibly can be. For the most part, they’re simply calling out to other isolated atheists in the community, telling them that they’re not alone, that there are other people who feel the way they do, and just like your ministry, they have a place to go for solace and support.

    Yet those signs are reviled, protested, vandalized and destroyed very frequently, usually by Christians who strike the pose of being “offended,” apparently only because atheists exist.

    I hope that you are not implying that the destruction of your sign was forgivable because it would have been okay if it had been an atheist group’s sign.

    Imagine if an atheist group were to put up a non-offensive but clearly atheist billboard in your area, basically saying hello to other atheists out there and nothing more. WHEN, not if, it is vandalized or torn down, would you say that that was justified for the same “well-meaning” reasons that your sign was torn down?

    I’m asking you rather than jumping to conclusions because I’m an atheist who tries to build bridges to theists, to work with them for a better community, and to protect ALL our civil liberties. Discrimination against atheists seems to be almost universally accepted, rarely resulting in social embarrassment or penalty at all. The only way that we can change that is to bring up people’s awareness that that bigotry is reprehensible, and to respectfully ask people to be more aware of how their remarks, whether deliberate or inadvertent, can deeply hurt others who mean them no harm.

    I thank you for your time in reading my letter. I hope that your efforts to help people in your community are successful, and I hope that your community responds by learning to tolerate all points of view, and nobody’s signs are torn down.

    Respectfully yours,
    Richard Wade

  • Richard Wade

    If anyone in the Cedar Hill, Texas area has some money, they should swipe up JesusDoesNotCare.net, direct it to an atheist website (or a single serving site that just says “Jesus doesn’t care because he never existed”), purchase similar-style advertisements, and watch the hilarity ensue.

    ***Update***: A reader has registered both JesusDoesNotCareFor.us and JesusDoesNotCareFor.me. If you think you can make use of one or both of the sites, please leave a comment and the reader will send you the domains!

    Uh, I’m not sure if I get it. Is this to cause confusion for the people whom the jesusdoesnotcare sign was trying to reach? If that’s the hilarity you have in mind, I think it’s immature and unkind. Think that one out again. Sorry to be a spoilsport.

  • J. J. Ramsey

    Stephen P.:

    “And presumably Cephas (which version do you have that says Peter?)”

    Cephas and Peter are generally understood to be two names for the same guy.

    The wording of 9:5 is obscure, as evidenced by the different translations in different versions, but he appears to be referring to ‘we, as the brethren of the Lord’

    Oh, brother. (No pun intended.) In the NRSV, the passage is translated as “Do we not have the right to be accompanied by a believing wife, as do the other apostles and the brothers of the Lord and Cephas?” In the NIV, the translation is about the same. The only translation that I have seen with “as” is the KJV, and the “as” is in italics, indicating that it is not a translation of the original Greek text.

    Paul is pretty clearly not saying “we, as the brothers of the Lord,” but rather is using “brothers of the Lord” to refer to parties outside that “we.” The usual metaphorical usage of “brother” as reference to “fellow Christian” makes no sense in this context, since those who would be called “brothers” in that metaphorical sense (i.e., “we”, “other apostles,” and “Cephas”) are not described as brothers here.

    Furthermore you would need to explain why Paul nowhere names these literal brothers

    I gather you mean nowhere in 1 Corinthians, since one such brother, James, is named in Galatians 1:19. Anyway, 1 Corinthians is a letter, not a biography or a history text, and as such, we’re lucky if a writer happens to offhandedly mention such details as names and places. It would be rather silly for him to break the flow of the passage by listing the names of the “brothers of the Lord.”

    Earl Doherty provides …

    I’ve seen Doherty’s line of argument before. Doherty basically imagines a cosmology with a sublunar sphere where Jesus was supposedly crucified, and tries through idiosyncratic translation to argue that Paul’s bits about “according to the flesh” were references to this sublunar realm. More generally, I have found Doherty’s mythicist interpretations of various passages to be strained at best.

    Now enough about this sidetrack.

  • SueP

    I hate to say this, but Doherty isn’t very well respected in academia. His book, The Jesus Puzzle, was published through a vanity press company and he’s known for hounding professors of textual criticism (one I’ve spoken to said that he actually had to threaten to call the police to get Doherty to stop calling him).

    That’s not to say that he’s wrong, but merely that he is not reflective of the consensus in the field. You would be hard pressed to find a scholar agreeing with him.

    The reason for the underlying assumption in the field that Jesus exists is, as others have already said, that the possible story-lines that posit an historical figure as the inspiration for the later myths are far more plausible, and account for the body of early(-ish) Christian literature far better, than those story lines that don’t. References to his brothers, for example, can be explained away, but only with difficulty. Without a plausible reason why a later author or scribe might have added such details to the narrative (and, in fact, we have evidence that later scribes preferred, instead, to eliminate references to Mary’s other children because it was considered theologically troubling), it’s much easier to assume that the term “brothers” in that context was used because Jesus really did exist and really did have biological siblings.

    @Richard Wade – I very much like your idea of contacting the pastor personally. I hope that you will post any reply you may receive.

  • Heidi

    Now enough about this sidetrack.

    Translation: I need the last word.

    I decided to give Pastor Swiggart the benefit of the doubt and ask him what he meant by his remark. I sent this email to the church’s site:

    Richard, I’m quite curious to hear whether you get a response to this. Please keep us updated.

  • I’ve registered jesusdoesnotcare.co, jesusdoesnotcare.info and put up a simple page that matches their advertising and adds ‘because he does not exist’. I tried to register jesusdoesnotcare.net as well, but that registration seems to have failed. Someone else must have got it first 🙂

  • Lukas

    I like to think of the existence of Jesus the same way I look at the story of George Washington cutting down the cherry tree.

    George Washington didn’t exist?

    A lot of what we know of history is not based on physical evidence, but on written accounts. Jesus is no different from other historical figures that we assume to have existed. If you honestly believe that Jesus didn’t exist, by the same standard, you have to assume that most historical figures that existed more than ~500-1000 years ago did not exist.

    Again, this kind of reasoning just makes us look kooky. Let’s stop doing it.

    Why would we “want it to be true” that Jesus never existed?

    You’re commenting on an atheist blog, writing a lengthy essay on why you think Jesus did not exist, an you’re telling me that you don’t really care about the topic? Either you’re not honest with me, or with yourself.

  • I’m too busy laughing at the asshats vandalizing themselves to comment… Now that’s funny.

  • littlejohn

    Since Jesus never existed, how could he have died? It’s like saying Santa died, only more pleasant to contemplate.

  • Crzyjoker

    I find it awesome that our Jesusdoesnotcare.com gets so much attention from you all! How many of you does any of this actually affect

  • Hi Everyone,

    Ok, before I get started, I am a member of The Community at Lake Ridge (the church with the JesusDoesNotCare.com website) and ended up on this website after finding out that the campaign is starting to get a lot of attention and just wanted to see what others thought about it. I’m not here to attack or beat anyone up, dispute your beliefs, etc., but I did just want to take the opportunity to let you know a little bit more about us. I’m just a a regular guy with a ton of mistakes in my past and no better or different than anyone else.

    First of all, TCaL is pretty much anti-religion. Religion is a construct of man, not God, and the product of that is what you see today and from which most of the world views Christians. From reading your comments there are a lot of conclusions that are jumped to, but that’s completely understandable. I grew up Southern Baptist and man did I ever get tired of the politics, the constant spiritual beat-down, the hypocrisy, the “playing church” all the while knowing what went on behind closed doors. Heck, the pastor even got caught having an affair with not one but both of his secretaries! I went to college and made up for all those years, believe me, and then some.

    The message has become so distorted by the tele-evangelists, the bible-thumping pastors, the HYPOCRITES, etc., that no wonder Christians in general get a bad wrap. But don’t just assume that “Christian” means judgmental finger pointing hypocrite, either (although there are plenty of those out there and this website is for them as well.)

    Our church is all about finding that intimate relationship with Christ…not “acting” church or trying to change your outward appearance to “seem” like a Christian. It comes from the inside out, not the other way around.

    Pastor Swiggart was not in any way implying that it was ok that the person tore down the sign because they thought it was atheist nor was it any type of tacit approval for their behavior. As you all know, anything taken out of context can be distorted or twisted to mean whatever you want it to mean, just like you can take a passage from the Bible to do the same or try to justify some judgment (that you have no right to make) or edit news clips to imply something other than what was actually said, or political ads, or….

    I’ll tell you one of the things that attracted me to the church was the fact that I didn’t have to check my brain at the door. They actually encourage you to question God, his intentions and share your doubts. I had just come out of a church that totally screwed me over and I was bitter and angry and a friend asked me to come. The first time I was there I thought “if they start passing out Kool-Aid I’m leaving” because like you, I thought church was just about being judged, pretending to be someone you’re not, etc. I was not used to a group of people that just accepted you for who you are, where you are, without question. As the slogan says, “Real Life, Real Community, Casual Atmosphere, Serious Faith.”

    I guess what I’m saying is don’t just see the message, take what text you’ve seen online and just automatically assume it’s just the same old thing. Take some time to dig a little deeper and see where the heart is. You don’t have to agree with it, you don’t have to like it..and THAT’S OK! You can go to the website http://www.thecommunityatlakeridge.com and click on the Media tab and listen to podcasts of the sermon series.

    P.S. Oh and by the way yes we do have some gay members 🙂

  • I find it awesome that our Jesusdoesnotcare.com gets so much attention from you all! How many of you does any of this actually affect?

    Well, probably not too many. Since this blog focuses on atheism and how atheists are affected by the religious culture around us, it’s not unusual for there to be posts about religious groups and their marketing campaigns. Personally, I would never have heard of your campaign otherwise.

    First of all, TCaL is pretty much anti-religion. Religion is a construct of man, not God, and the product of that is what you see today and from which most of the world views Christians.

    I guess that’s fine, but atheists don’t believe in gods. I don’t think there’s anything wrong with trying to market your religion (or faith or whatever term you prefer), but my issue with Christianity is not with the actions of Christians, or with Christianity’s image problem. I simply lack belief in the supernatural, which means that I don’t believe in gods, devils, angels, souls, etc.

    The message has become so distorted by the tele-evangelists, the bible-thumping pastors, the HYPOCRITES, etc., that no wonder Christians in general get a bad wrap. But don’t just assume that “Christian” means judgmental finger pointing hypocrite, either (although there are plenty of those out there and this website is for them as well.)

    I wouldn’t assume that. There are plenty of nice Christians out there who are sincere and honest about what they believe. However, that doesn’t make what they believe true.

    Our church is all about finding that intimate relationship with Christ…not “acting” church or trying to change your outward appearance to “seem” like a Christian. It comes from the inside out, not the other way around.

    Again, that’s fine, but I’m curious why you are directing your speech at us. We don’t believe in any of the tenets of Christianity, and I don’t think most of us would particularly care what your church is like, since we wouldn’t be going to services there in the first place.

    I’ll tell you one of the things that attracted me to the church was the fact that I didn’t have to check my brain at the door. They actually encourage you to question God, his intentions and share your doubts. I had just come out of a church that totally screwed me over and I was bitter and angry and a friend asked me to come. The first time I was there I thought “if they start passing out Kool-Aid I’m leaving” because like you, I thought church was just about being judged, pretending to be someone you’re not, etc. I was not used to a group of people that just accepted you for who you are, where you are, without question. As the slogan says, “Real Life, Real Community, Casual Atmosphere, Serious Faith.”

    You’re making a lot of assumptions about us. I don’t think church is “just about being judged.” There are plenty of progressive churches out there, some of which even reject the nastiest bits of Christianity, like original sin and hell. Frankly, I have no experience with any kind of church and don’t particularly care, simply because I don’t believe in any aspect of the supernatural, let alone your particular god or your particular religion.

    I’m glad you didn’t have to “check your brain at the door” at your church, but that really has nothing to do with people who don’t believe in gods in the first place. I don’t have “doubts” about your god. I simply don’t believe in it, and I never have. Your marketing campaign isn’t directed at people like me or fellow readers of this blog.

    I guess what I’m saying is don’t just see the message, take what text you’ve seen online and just automatically assume it’s just the same old thing. Take some time to dig a little deeper and see where the heart is. You don’t have to agree with it, you don’t have to like it..and THAT’S OK! You can go to the website http://www.thecommunityatlakeridge.com and click on the Media tab and listen to podcasts of the sermon series.

    But why would we want to do that? I’m perfectly willing to believe you when you say it’s a nice church with sincere people who aren’t hypocrites and who welcome doubters. For me, it’s not about whether your church is attractive. Attractiveness doesn’t make what your church teaches true. There are lots of attractive churches, but I don’t think any of them are teaching true things.

  • Oh, and tcaldude, while it is irrelevant to atheists, I think it is rather disingenuous for you to post this:

    P.S. Oh and by the way yes we do have some gay members

    No doubt even the most homophobic church in America has some gay members, but that says nothing about whether your church accepts homosexuality. Googling reveals that your church is affiliated with the Southern Baptist Convention. In order for that to happen, your church had to affirm this statement:

    Any affiliate church must agree with the foundational beliefs of the SBTC set forth in its Constitution and Bylaws. Affiliated churches must actively cooperate with the work of the SBTC through regular participation and financial support through the Cooperative Program. Any church which has taken action affirming, approving, or endorsing the practice of female senior pastoral service shall not be considered for affiliation or continued affiliation with this convention. Also, the SBTC will not consider for affiliation or continued affiliation any church that has taken action affirming, approving, or endorsing the practice of homosexuality. Such actions include but are not limited to the licensure or ordination of homosexuals, marriage or blessing of homosexual relationships, and endorsing homosexuality as an acceptable lifestyle.

    Your church is listed here. If you’re not aware of this fact, I apologize, but I bet you are aware of it. I think it’s dishonest for you to post something that makes it sound like your church welcomes and affirms gay members when that is clearly not the case.

  • I wouldn’t assume that. There are plenty of nice Christians out there who are sincere and honest about what they believe. However, that doesn’t make what they believe true.

    ..and vice-versa 🙂

    Again, that’s fine, but I’m curious why you are directing your speech at us. We don’t believe in any of the tenets of Christianity, and I don’t think most of us would particularly care what your church is like, since we wouldn’t be going to services there in the first place.

    I was simply stating that way it should be vs. the way it is and how that results in people getting treated the way they do and how “religion” has done such a bang-up job at alienating people and creating that image.

    I’m glad you didn’t have to “check your brain at the door” at your church, but that really has nothing to do with people who don’t believe in gods in the first place. I don’t have “doubts” about your god. I simply don’t believe in it, and I never have. Your marketing campaign isn’t directed at people like me or fellow readers of this blog.

    But isn’t that part of it? It’s not logical to you (in general, not “you” in particular) or the “science” doesn’t make sense…in other words there seems to be no empirical evidence to “prove” it. This could break out into a very lengthy discussion of it’s own 🙂

    No doubt even the most homophobic church in America has some gay members, but that says nothing about whether your church accepts homosexuality. Googling reveals that your church is affiliated with the Southern Baptist Convention. In order for that to happen, your church had to affirm this statement:

    The intention was not to be disingenuous or misleading, I was simply commenting on a previous post above about walking into a church and declaring you are gay. You are correct that is one of the tenets of the SBC. However, while I did not know about the direct affiliation with the SBC (I knew we were a member of a church planting network, of which the SBC is one of the members), but that does not change anything. The Bible is pretty clear on that point, and we believe in the Bible. I have gay friends and family members that I love and accept. That does not mean I agree with their homosexuality but I do not, nor do I have the right to, judge or condemn anyone for anything. Everyone has the freedom to believe what they want and live how they want. And that’s the root of the issue with the “church”…people saying one thing and then living another. My cardiologist tells me I should lose a few pounds and exercise more often while sporting a huge beer gut. Yeah, I’m real motivated by that…

    Again my intention was not to preach or convert, just address some of the assumptions that were posted due to a sign being torn down. Admittedly there will be assumptions made on both sides, which comes from a general lack of knowledge about the other. I was just attempting to fill in some of the gaps and give some context to the quote and the story.

  • Thanks for responding!

    I was simply stating that way it should be vs. the way it is and how that results in people getting treated the way they do and how “religion” has done such a bang-up job at alienating people and creating that image.

    I agree that it’s nice for churches not to alienate people, but it would be easier for them not to do that if they stopped preaching alienating theology in the first place. Your church would alienate me no matter how nice the people are because it promotes things that I find abhorrent, like the concepts of sin and hell, and it endorses sexism and homophobia. Those things make people feel alienated. There is no place in your church for people who don’t agree with your opinion on those issues.

    But isn’t that part of it? It’s not logical to you (in general, not “you” in particular) or the “science” doesn’t make sense…in other words there seems to be no empirical evidence to “prove” it. This could break out into a very lengthy discussion of it’s own.

    I’m not sure I understand what you’re getting at. You say that your church welcomes doubters, but people who don’t believe in your deity aren’t merely doubters. There would be no place in your church for people who don’t believe in any gods and don’t change their stance on that issue. I’m not knocking you guys for that. You’re a private group that’s centered around this particular belief, so it would be reasonable to expect your members to hold that belief.

    The intention was not to be disingenuous or misleading, I was simply commenting on a previous post above about walking into a church and declaring you are gay.

    Well, you said that you have gay members, and you added a smiley face, so it certainly came across as if you were saying it would be no big deal in your congregation, that a gay or lesbian person would be welcomed with open arms and affirmed for who they are. Since that’s not the case, and you knew that, it really did seem like you meant to give a false impression.

    You are correct that is one of the tenets of the SBC. However, while I did not know about the direct affiliation with the SBC (I knew we were a member of a church planting network, of which the SBC is one of the members), but that does not change anything.

    Really? Even when all your ministers are graduates of Baptist seminaries? I find it hard to believe that your congregation’s Southern Baptist affiliation comes as a surprise. You seem to be an active member, and you’re interested enough in the congregation to give such a positive review of it to outsiders.

    The Bible is pretty clear on that point, and we believe in the Bible. I have gay friends and family members that I love and accept. That does not mean I agree with their homosexuality but I do not, nor do I have the right to, judge or condemn anyone for anything.

    You’re certainly entitled to your opinion, but my issue was with making it seem like gay and lesbian people would be welcome at your church. You don’t ordain gay pastors. You don’t marry same-sex couples. Children with two mommies or two daddies are not going to be validated in your Sunday School curriculum. Surely you can see why gay and lesbian people would feel uncomfortable and rejected. There would be no reason for them to join your church, since they wouldn’t be affirmed or validated there. Again, it is irrelevant to me as an atheist, but there might be gay and lesbian Christians reading your original comment who would mistakenly think that they and their families would be welcomed.

    Everyone has the freedom to believe what they want and live how they want. And that’s the root of the issue with the “church”…people saying one thing and then living another. My cardiologist tells me I should lose a few pounds and exercise more often while sporting a huge beer gut. Yeah, I’m real motivated by that…

    Hypocrisy is bad, sure, but that doesn’t have any bearing on immoral beliefs. Even if every one of your church leaders follows your official doctrine to the letter, it doesn’t make those beliefs any more palatable to outsiders.

    Again my intention was not to preach or convert, just address some of the assumptions that were posted due to a sign being torn down. Admittedly there will be assumptions made on both sides, which comes from a general lack of knowledge about the other. I was just attempting to fill in some of the gaps and give some context to the quote and the story.

    I’m not sure what kind of assumptions you think we made that didn’t turn out to be true. Mostly we were responding to your pastor’s quote that tearing down a sign means that the vandals were “well-meaning.” Perhaps you could ask your pastor to respond to Richard’s e-mail about that? I’m not seeing anything else we got wrong. You’re clearly an evangelical church, and clearly one that believes in conservative doctrine.

    Hemant was not wrong when he posted the following:

    Even if Jesus didn’t care, though, Christians are plenty judgmental on their own so it’s all moot. (You walk into a church and tell them you’re a gay man and see whether they just accept that fact.)

    As you have admitted, your church does not accept homosexuality. There was nothing wrong in our assumption. Perhaps we have different definitions of “judgmental.” Even if the members of your church claim not to be judgmental, your church certainly is. It has made a moral judgment about homosexuality, and a gay man would not be welcome in your church unless he thought something was “wrong” or “sinful” about his orientation. An out-and-proud gay man isn’t going to be be welcome at all.

  • philippians1:23

    As a Christian it bothers me that non-believers are under the assumption that we Christ followers think we are perfect or morally superior. I encourage those of you who are critical of God’s grace and mercy to open a Bible and read it for yourself. One of the greatest problems in today’s church is that more and more people are putting down their Bible’s and turning their ears to the pulpit. Not to say that pastors are in any sense bad, wrong, or not to be listened to because that is in no way the case. All that to say, a true Christ follwer is in no way under the illusion that they are perfect or morally superior to other people. They are simply forgiven. Our good works are not attempts at salvation or merits for heaven, but they are the overflow of Christ’s love which we are called to share with the nations. Being judgemental is a two way street people.

  • Philippians, I don’t know if you will ever read this, but I think you’ve misunderstood. Atheists aren’t under the impression that conservative Christians believe themselves to be perfect and morally superior. On the contrary, we are well aware that such Christians consider themselves (and all humankind) to be inherently sinful and in need of redemption.

    This is irrelevant to our thoughts on your religion itself. Many Christians seem to be unaware that the problem atheists have with their religion is not with the people involved in the religion. It’s with the theology itself. We do not believe in your god. We do not believe that the Bible is anything other than a book of mythology.

    Personally, I have no vested interest in how your pastors behave or what your congregation teaches. I think it would be nice if they stopped being sexist and homophobic, but that’s neither here nor there. There are plenty of progressive Christian churches that I agree with politically, but they still assert supernatural things that I believe to be absolutely false.