High School Holds ‘Fictional Character Day’; Atheist Student Dresses Up as Jesus April 24, 2012

High School Holds ‘Fictional Character Day’; Atheist Student Dresses Up as Jesus

A couple of months ago, Summit High School in Spring Hill, Tennessee held a “Fictional Character Day” in which students could come to school dressed as their favorite fictional character. Like the Mad Hatter. Or Darth Vader. Or SpongeBob SquarePants.

Jeff Shott came dressed as Jesus.

Before class even started that day, Shott was asked by the principal and other staffers to remove his costume. It was inappropriate, they said.

Shott did what he was told, but he explained how everything went down — as well as the other problems with religion in his school — in the essay below, reprinted in the April, 2012 issue of Freethought Today.

For what it’s worth, the Freedom From Religion Foundation issued him a $1,000 scholarship as the first recipient of the Paul J. Gaylor Memorial Student Activist Award 🙂

Here’s his story:

I’d arrived at school this Monday before 8:15 a.m. and waited in the cafeteria until classes started, eating breakfast with friends and adding finishing touches to my Jesus costume.

The head principal, Dr. Farmer, soon came up and asked me to come to his office. The assistant principal, Ms. Lamb, and Officer Pewit, school resource officer, were waiting outside the cafeteria. Dr. Farmer asked me whom I was portraying. I told him that I was Jesus Christ. He said he had been hoping my answer would have been Zeus (or some other variation of a mythological deity).

Even though I’m typically very openly atheistic and have no problem discussing my views, I was a little distraught that all three school authority figures were addressing me at once. Dr. Farmer claimed I couldn’t have things both ways — I couldn’t complain about teachers talking about Jesus and also dress up as Jesus on Fictional Character Day.

I’d had a long talk with him earlier after my science teacher, in reply to a question about evolution, had publicly said things such as “Evolution is just a theory,” “I don’t believe it at all,” and, “We actually come from Adam and Eve.” It’s fairly clear that she openly advocates not only Intelligent Design, but straight-up biblical creationism.

I immediately asked her, “Can you honestly say that as a science teacher?” She told me that she could. That upset me a lot.

When I mentioned this to him, Dr. Farmer had wondered if we should just teach “both theories” equally, essentially advocating that we “teach the controversy.” I explained why creationism doesn’t belong in a science classroom, that my teacher wouldn’t be able to substantiate her claim with empirical evidence or the scientific method. I compared it to the “Intelligent Falling Theory” of Pastafarianism.

I also pointed out that by teaching the bible as true, she was teaching Christianity as fact, which further implied she was teaching that non-Christians are going to hell. He had said he would talk to her and give her a warning.

Now, he told me my costume was controversial and likely to disrupt the learning environment. I explained that my quarrel with my science teacher wasn’t one of personal offense, but of professionalism. I told him that by teaching creationism, she was teaching something unconstitutional and flat-out dishonest. As a science teacher and an educator, she was out of line teaching biblical creationism. She was only adding to the already dishearteningly prevalent misconceptions on the theory of evolution, the very basis of our understanding of modern biology.

Both principals said they were worried my costume would spark religious debates in every class and take up large amounts of time. I was sternly warned that if even one teacher reported the slightest disruption, I would have to take off my costume. Then and there, I decided to take it off.

Even though the vast majority of students in my school are religious, many told me how much they liked my costume and how disappointed they were that I had to take it off. Even my teachers thought it was funny. Only a very few of my peers said they thought it was in bad taste, and none did so during instructional time.
I wondered, if a religious debate had been sparked, wouldn’t it be up to the teachers to control the classroom and deal with students who actually disrupted class time? I was merely participating in Fictional Character Day.

When I went home, I posted photos and details of what had happened to the r/atheism section of one of my favorite websites, Reddit.com. My fellow Redditors were, with very few exceptions, overwhelmingly supportive and said my civil liberties had been violated. Many urged me to contact the Freedom from Religion Foundation, so I did.

I soon received a reply from FFRF Staff Attorney Rebecca Markert, who sent a letter to the school district on my behalf, and I greatly appreciate that.

Statistics show that the least trusted and most despised American minority is the atheist community. I, along with most of my atheist friends and family, have experienced this firsthand.

My younger brother and I have both been told that we are only atheists because we are possessed by demons. We’ve been told that when we read the bible as nonbelievers, the devil himself literally changes the words, making it impossible for us to gain an adequate understanding of the word of god. After telling someone that I am an atheist, it’s not uncommon for the initial response to resemble a personal attack such as “You’re a bad person,” or a threat, “You’re going to hell.”

One religionist asked me why I had become an atheist: “Was it family trouble, abuse?” Others assume that atheists are simply rebelling against “god and his rules,” or that we put as much “faith” in science as religious people do in their doctrines.

I’ve even met a very fundamentalist Christian who told me that science is a left-wing conspiracy made up of people rebelling against god.

Last year, a teacher leading the class in prayer openly criticized my brother for refusing to bow his head. One of his peers caught him reading my copy of Richard Dawkins’ The Greatest Show on Earth: The Evidence for Evolution, picked it up and threw it on the ground.

We smile whenever one of our friends tells us we’re on their church’s prayer list. I made one list four times in one day.

People seem less likely to treat you poorly as an atheist once they get to know you and develop a deeper understanding of the reasoning behind your disbelief. I post Facebook status updates of atheist quotes, YouTube videos made by atheists, etc. I share and explain my views and opinions with a sizeable number of the most devout Christians from my school and in my area, including pastors, the Fellowship of Christian Athletes leader at my school and other adults and teens.
I’ve had Christian peers say things like, “I read that debate on your Facebook wall last night, and it really made me think.” In fact, I first really started to get to know my girlfriend after she read some of my anti-theist sentiments on Facebook and struck up a conversation with me.

Being a bible belt atheist has highlights and lowlights. One of the best things any atheist can do, especially in the South, is to come out of the heathen’s closet. When nontheists are open with others, it debunks misconceptions. As Dawkins would say, we act as consciousness raisers, and if enough of us do so, we can shed favorable light on the atheist community and perhaps one day shift the statistics in our favor.

If you had told me two years ago that I would one day be receiving a scholarship and award from a group like FFRF as a result of my secular activism, I wouldn’t have believed you. You see, I was previously quite the quintessential, vehemently fundamentalist Christian — a young Earth creationist, a biblical literalist, a Calvinist, a homophobe — the whole nine yards.

It’s been two years since then, and, though it’s still difficult to wrap my head around the fact that I’ve won an FFRF student activist award, needless to say, I’m honored.


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  • What a civil but firm statement in a largely uncivil atmosphere. Bravo. That was classy.

  • Ryan Booth

    As a teacher who prides himself on teachable moments, the idea that a classroom debate is inherently a disruption is sickening.  A quality teacher can take a classroom debate about anything and provide an amazing teachable moment to the class.  I would love to talk to this “Dr.” Farmer. 

  •  It would be nice if school officials had the slightest clue about the Constitutional rights of students.


  • Xeon2000

    I found it funny that they were okay with a costume of Zeus (any moron knows he’s fiction), but they drew the line at Jesus (he’s totally real).

    Interestingly, when they had the World Olympics in Athens and created goofy cartoons of the Olympian gods as mascots for advertising, a group protested because the imagery was disrespectful to the gods. Just sayin’…

  • At first, I thought the teachers and principal might attempt a “religious characters are not included” sort of argument, and I’d see the point they were trying to make…

    But saying that Zeus is okay, but Jesus isn’t? That’s just stupid.  They’re both deities, and if one is offensive, so’s the other.

  • Great post about an unfortunate incident. You could have at least not propagated a common mistake, however. The nail marks should be on the wrists, not the hands. I’m always frustrated when people get that wrong (even most Bibles have it translated improperly).

  • He should have just said that he was dressed as “White Jesus”.  No one can successfully argue the fact that version is completely fictional, not even the most ignorant of fundamentalists.  😉
    Good on him for calmly and respectfully voicing his stance in class, he seems to be giving people pause with his use of reasonable logic instead of huffing and puffing unsuccessfully.

  • Walker

    Just an observation, but why is he the only one dressed up in the first picture of the lunchroom?

  • Keep being you and being awesome, Jeff! Congrats!

  • Cincinatheist

    It’s ok. Those nail marks are mythical too.

  • Mike

    Jeff – great post and well done for the way you handled the situation. Would you please explain how you went form fundamentalist Christian to outspoken atheist is such a short time? I think there must be an interesting story there…

  • bismarket

    I had a chat with this guy on reddit the day it happened & he seems like a nice guy and all, but $1000 for dressing up, really? I get the feeling FFRF have more money than they know what to do with & if this is anything to go by i’d think twice before making a donation.

  • Kevin

    In Jeff’s rendition, apparently Jesus shaves.

  • bismarket

     youtube.com/watch?v=3TM0yN-upt4……Just sayin’…..

  • ortcutt

    “Fictional Character Day”?  Don’t schools have teaching and learning and stuff to do?

  • Argh! The pun!

  • Well done my friend… well done.

  • Cmaldona

    Atheist from TN here, I don’t know how I feel about this. Does he have a right to? Sure, that’s the boring question.

    I really like that people cannot tell that I am an atheist until they talk to me about religious subjects. They are so surprised, that they cannot help but question their misconceptions about atheists. Kids dressing up like Jesus to make a statement or a laugh (I don’t think anyone seriously thinks he didn’t choose Jesus for either of those reasons) reinforces the perception that atheists are “out to get them” and they become paranoid, convinced they are being persecuted. That’s the southern preception of atheists.

  • Miko

    I tend to disagree.  Since Zeus is widely regarded as fictional, dressing as Zeus would be participating in the festivities.  Since Jesus is not widely regarded as fictional, dressing as Jesus would seem to be an attempt to deliberately offend people who disagree.

    On First Amendment grounds, the school is probably not justified in saying that one is okay and the other isn’t, but that doesn’t mean that one wouldn’t be widely regarded as more offensive that the other.

  • Miko

    No.  Classes are on specific subjects.  A debate on that subject can be quite useful.  As a mathematics professor, if my students started arguing about whether Jesus was a fictional character, I would have no qualms about telling them to stop wasting everyone’s time.

    Why are you putting “Dr.” in quotation marks?  Do you have evidence suggesting that Dr. Farmer’s PhD is fabricated?

  • DG

    I missed where his civil liberties were violated.

  • Lucilius

    I suspect the need for a “quality” teacher is why that didn’t work in Spring Hill.

    From the pictures, Shott’s school appears to be pretty nice. That’s probably because of the huge influx of General Motors money/jobs from 1990 to 2004, when Saturns were built there. I lived in Nashville when the plant was built, and I remember all the hype about the wonderful things GM was going to bring to this bucolic community (as portrayed in commercials), including better education.

    Just goes to show that the fanciest school building doesn’t necessarily make its inhabitants any smarter. But we already knew that from “universities” like Bob Jones, Liberty, Oral Roberts and Patrick Henry.

  • Vicki

    I think you missed the point. It wasn’t for dressing up, but for taking a stand for atheism by choosing the costume he did.

  • chris

    See? This is the thing. You are mocking christians saying hey look jesus isn’t real which in reality, he actually is. Its ok to speak your opinion on the matter, but not mock a certain group of people. The bible has scientific evidence that we didn’t find out until 2000 years later. Mind you that these certain biblicle stories were written in BC. For instance it says that the earth is circular. We thought the earth was flat for the longest, but before we got the chance to ever circle the globe, the quote from god says the earth is circular

  • Jenkins

    I agree whole-heartedly. We have a serious rhetoric issue in the atheist community. If Jesus were actually his favorite fictional character, fine. But dressing up as Jesus specifically as a political statement? That’s intentionally antagonistic and is not helpful to the cause. These things might make us feel vindicated in the moment, but they negatively affect theists’ perceptions of us, which gets in the way of our goals for public acceptance and secular government.

  • Tfloyd85008

    i think they reenacted the pictures, i think he said something about this happening 2 years ago? i didn’t read the whole article, i’m tired. 

  • “We’ve been told that when we read the bible as nonbelievers, the devil himself literally changes the words, making it impossible for us to gain an adequate understanding of the word of god.”

    Wow, how can you fight that kind of reasoning?

  • guest

     Zeus is only “widely regarded as fictional” because religion has changed since Ancient Greece.  Zeus was “worshiped” then just as “Jesus” is now.  If that’s the basis of your argument, what hope does Christianity have?  Or, any religion for that matter?

    The real issue is that our Jeff Scott, here, had to dumb down his open-minded concept for those that refused or potentially refused to think openly if even for one passing day.

  •  It’s especially unfair as many modern Pagans still use the Hellenic/Roman pantheons as a part of their religious practice.  Clearly, there are far fewer Pagans than Christians, but if we’re going to view the latter’s deity as “protected” then the former’s should be as well! 

  • Renshia

     Hahaha… you have got to be kidding me. You have been listening to your bible school teacher without double checking your facts haven’t you.

    I am sure you cannot name one source outside the bible that shows any record of jesus that was written during his life. No Roman records, No Hebrew records outside of a few documents that are known to only have come around long after he was dead .The scripture you refer to says he is sitting on the circle, so if you take that as a scientific accurate fact, then you better be able to show me where his fat ass is sitting.

    Take some time to read before you spout off crap you know,  no more about than what you were taught in Sunday school.

    Shame on  you for being so gullible.

  • Abc

    First Amendment freedoms as well as other civil liberties are not fully protected in public schools.  There is a more stringent standard.  School is not a court of law, it is an educational institution. 

  •  The Eath ISN’T circular, it’s spherical.

    (Actually, it’s an oblate spheroid, but ‘spherical’ is close enough). The people who thought it was circular, have been proven wrong.

  • TnkAgn

    As a retired teacher, I can only regard this science teacher as beyond help, with Dr. Farmer not far behind. Jeff’s Jesus aside, and Tennessee or no, for this teacher to be allowed to work in a public high school is inexcusable. I certainly hope that FFRF and Americans United are taking note of the blatant Creationism being taught in this school, aided and abetted by it’s principal. I hope Jeff’s parents consider a law suit.

  • Stev84

     Laugh in their face? Bash your head against the wall?

  • James

    Jesus was  an English speaking whiteman who never had sex….yessiree bob!

  • Sdf


  • TnkAgn

    Not Summit High, if it allows Creationism to be advanced in science class.

  • There is no accredited evidence that Jesus existed, much less that he was the son of God.

    The Earth is not circular, it’s spherical. The Gospel of Matthew says the Devil tried to get Jesus to worship him by taking him to a mountain tall enough that the whole world could be seen. If the Earth was a circle (although Isaiah 11 verse 12 specifically says “the four corners of the earth, as if it had four straight edges, and consequently four angles [corners] between these edges”), a mountain tall enough would be able to overlook all of it. But there is no single point on the surface of the Earth where all of the planet’s surface can be seen.

    You can argue that it was just figure of speech. But that argument doesn’t work because if parts of the Bible are literal and parts are not, who gets to decide which is which? If the Bible is the word of God, why didn’t he make it totally clear, so that we wouldn’t have these kinds of issues today. Did he want some of
    us to go to hell due to his word not being clear enough for us to understand it?

    Kinda evil and/or imperfect for a loving and perfect god, huh?

  • My younger brother and I have both been told that we are only atheists because we are possessed by demons. We’ve been told that when we read the bible as nonbelievers, the devil himself literally changes the words, making it impossible for us to gain an adequate understanding of the word of god.

    Wow. This sounds like something out of the Dark Ages. It’s hard to believe that normal people in America, in the 21st century, believe in the existence of literal devils and demons. It’s just sad and tragic. We’re an advanced, modern, industrialized nation, and somewhere in Tennessee, there are teenagers and adults stuck in a time warp talking about demon possession. These people would fit right in at the Salem witch trials.

  • Dea

    Very well written. This young man obviously deserves his scholarship. There have been so many great examples of young people making articulate arguments for atheism. I really give me hope for the future of our movement.

  • Carmen

    In college, I took a course on mythology, and the first thing we read was Genesis from Adam & Eve up to the Noah / flood story.  Some people were pissed but most were amused.  At the time, I was a Christian but was starting to have my doubts.   It opened my mind tremendously to think about the bible as a collection of mythology–I always had a strong interest in ancient mythology–and I started to see it as such.   We went on to read other flood stories and other myths and I started seeing the familiar patterns of mythology.  I can honestly say it was a turning point for me.  I don’t think the professor was even an atheist…he just wanted us to open our minds.  (Why college is so great!)

  • TnkAgn

    A teacher for years, I can tell you that students over the years have been less and less inclined to participate in what they perceive to be “topped-down” or activities that are “uncool.’ Jeff, as a freethinker, seems immune to this tendency.

  • DG

    Your questions aren’t altogether unreasonable.   But despite what some will say, there are answers.  Study the disciplines of historical theology, development of doctrine, and especially scriptural interpretation in the early Church (from a Christian POV that is).  There are actually many schools of thought in answering those questions, just like there are many theories regarding just about anything.

  • It just generates a paradox: nonbelievers maybe would become believers if they could read the Bible, but only people who already believe are able to read it. So who already believes, believes, and who don’t, the Bible wouldn’t help.

    Kinda like a 300-pages textbook teaching how to read. By the time you’re able to read it, you don’t need to.

  • Firstly, I clicked ‘like’ on your post accidentally. Secondly – talking about Jesus in the current tense?

    The other guys posting before me covered the rest.

  • guest

    Which is another problem with our education system. In uni, it’s quite a bit different, where students are encouraged to have opinions and learn through critical thinking.

    If you’re so quick to embrace that ideology, then I think you have as many problems as the next right-wing fundamentalist.

  • AtheistCranberry

    I worship Zeus and I would find that offensive.

    Okay, I’m lying, but seriously?!! No, Zeus is not okay is Jesus is not okay. Just like Shivva wouldn’t be acceptable or Allah or any other that these people don’t believe in. If one is out, they all are out, even if the religions aren’t believed anymore.

  • pgray1

      I’m actually shocked that you’re shocked at this revelation.    Sometimes I forget that most people aren’t aware of the religious fundamentalists in their midst.

  • edwin

    but its not. the earth is a semi- pear shaped sphere. the quote from this god says circular and circles are flat. that makes this statement false.

  • I think that the issue here is that all of the teaching staff had overblown the issue. This is a teenager making his religious views clear. He does not believe in Jesus, and therefore Jesus would be a fictional character to him. Though Jesus was most likely a real person (most myths are steeped in fact), I still feel that it was not inappropriate gesture to make. Teenagers are biologically inclined to question, which is a portion of the development of the teenage brain. Obviously he grew tired of the tyranny of the religious teaching staff and found this gesture to be one that would not be illegal or overly offensive to anyone except a few who are overly uptight. He was not saying that the Christians at the school should change, he was saying that he doesn’t believe in Jesus or god. 

  • AtheistCranberry

    That’s really cool. When I was having my final crisis of faith, I actually turned to Ancient mythology and found many of their stories to be compelling. Of course, after more research into other things, well, the rest is history. But I would have honestly stuck with it if it had not been for the fact that I would have been mercilessly made fun of, living in the bible belt and all, I would have been laughed out of any conversation I ever happened to mention it in. Because, as we all know, God is MUCH more believable than Zeus!! XP

  • ugh!

    When I was in high school, my Biology teacher opened the section on Evolution by saying, “This is not what I believe. But the school won’t allow me to teach what I believe, but keep in mind evolution is just a theory.” I was immediately sickened into silence, this woman went to college and learned what the fuck a “theory” is in science and still her dogma is making her forget that gravity is “just a theory”!!!!

  • SamWiseGingy

    No beard? Everyone knows Jesus had a beard. A golden halo wouldn’t hurt either.

  • The fact that there are many theories and schools of thought is in itself a reason not to believe. If God is perfect and his word is absolute, there should be no room for interpretation.

    God is supposed to be perfect. How come he created a set of rules that, whoever didn’t follow, would be eternally damned, and couldn’t even enunciate them clear enough for us to understand them without have to interpret them?

    I can’t think of a reason why God would give us the rules we need to follow to go to Heaven in a way that is so complicated and sometimes contradictory that we, imperfect humans, would have to interpret then for them to have any meaning.

    So if I misinterpret the Bible and don’t follow its rules because of that, who is really to blame? The imperfect me or the perfect divinity who should know this would happen and still let it?

    I know, science has several theories for the same problems, but science never claimed to be perfect and beyond reproach.

  • I live near San Francisco, so there aren’t a lot of fundamentalists here. I’m sure there must be some, but they seem to stay pretty quiet, or else I’m just not coming across them. I’ve never heard anyone talk about devils or demons as if they were real things.

  • Guest

    I disagree. In the South, you have to fight dirty because Christians are clean players. I was incessantly mocked in school, losing huge amounts of friends just by coming out. It wasn’t until I got out of high school that I became an activist of any sort and now, my brass nature and “in your face” posts on Facebook and statements in person are getting much more debate in intelligent conversation that my suffering in silence ever did. People respect you if you stand up for what you believe in.

  • Guest

    Christians ***aren’t*** clean players

  • Glasofruix

     I’m sorry, but the words “bible” and “scientific evidence” in the same phrase just make you seem like an utter nutjob.

  • Why don’t you believe he chose Jesus simply because Jesus is his favorite fictional character?
    Jeff was a Xtian. He followed the teachings of Jesus. He was a follower, and a true  believer.
    If I were to cross from the place of  sincere personal belief in Christ to the understanding that Christianity is a man-made fable, I would choose Jesus as my favorite fictional character, too.
    Beyond a doubt.

    As a side note, simply stating the fact that I am a non-believer is enough to make the Xtians around here believe that I am out to get them. 
    Surrey, BC, Canada 

  • Glasofruix

     Just plain theories or scientific theories like evolution? Not the same thing…

  • Ryan Moran

    While much of what Jesus said/did was fictionalized, historians do generally consider him to have been an actual preacher in the first century.  There are no documents mentioning him that were written while he was alive, but that’s true for the vast vast majority of people who lived and died in the ancient world.  He almost certainly lived, he just wasn’t particularly important until a cult grew in his name after he died.

  • DG

    I was thinking in terms of history. 

  • First let me say I think he’s awesome for doing what he is doing. But ”
    Statistics show that the least trusted and most despised American minority is the atheist community.” Really? More than Arab Americans? More than gays? You are a white middle to upper middle class male. I think that unrealistic playing the victim move hurt your ethos.

  • It offends me that you use the word “us” to describe atheists. You do not speak for all atheists….

    I disagree wholeheartedly with your view on what may or may not get in the way of my goals.

    Not being a believer in ANY religion is not antagonistic. 

    Anyone should be allowed to dress in character of any deity without it being an affront to the believers of that particular theism.  Acceptance of  all beliefs~ theist or not~  is what my goal is.

  • Mark W.

    So it’s true…according to these pics Jesus was real and he was a blonde Anglo-Saxon and apparently American, just like Pat Robertson’s been saying all these years.  Quick, spread Good News!

  • Yes, really. There is actual evidence to show that atheists are the least trusted and least accepted minority in the United States, even more than Muslims and gays.


  • Nik Warrensson

    So the number of followers if low makes it ok to regard that deity as fictional?

    Argumentum ad populum…i.e. not an argument worth anything…

  • Nik Warrensson

    Are you suggesting that all Hellenistic Pagans are morons?

  • Qatnip

    “Jesus Shaves”.  If only I could click the “like” button a thousand times!!!

  • Christina

    I personally was impressed with his writing ability and logically arguments.   And truly am appalled that the science teacher got away with teaching about Adam and Eve.  (A teacher in my school district 20 yrs ago lost their job over similar comments.)   While evolution is “just a theory” but the simple technicality, we can’t reproduce it, it has tons of scientific proof to support it. 
    If this kid keeps using his abilities to reason and write, he will go far in life.

  • Bboryla

    I find it ironic the Principle was okay with Jeff if he was dressed as Zeus, dismissing it as mythology but frowned on Jesus.

  • Believers.  Nonbelievers.  Faith.  After reading many of the well-articulated comments posted here, ONE thing clearly stands out:  That Jeff Shott confidently demonstrates what is the greatest belief of all…the belief in one’s self.  You are a class act, Mr. Shott.  Bravo!

  • Coyotenose

     How exactly is Abc pointing out a fact without any implication of personal opinion the same thing as him embracing a “right-wing fundamentalist ideology”?

  • Nik Warrensson

    If the purpose is solely to mock or insult then its not cool…

  • Hi.

     A similar, but reversed, thing happened in my high school.
    My high school biology teacher mentioned that in many schools, teachers teach both schools of thought. Then, she said, “But that’s stupid,” and we moved into our unit on evolution.

  • Daniel

    For the majority of people on the planet, Jesus is fictional.  Or at most, the view of him as a deity is fictional.

    He completely qualifies.

  • Coyotenose

     Perhaps more accurately, fundie Christians, homophobes, bullies, bigots of all stripes come to expect and profit by their targets playing “clean”. That’s why they have to cry persecution when they’re publicly rebuked; the only thing with which they can defend their actions is the silence of others. When that’s gone, they’ve got nothing but playing the victim.

  • Onamission5

    You are lucky indeed! Me, I grew up with people who told their own children that having your own ideas about things was the influence of satan, and rebellion (aka, not agreeing with mom and dad) was demonic.

  • beatlefreak9

    My hat’s off to this kid! If only I were so clever!

  • Annie

    I would start by asking, “Then doesn’t that make the devil more powerful than god?”

  • Reginald Selkirk

    Dr. Farmer claimed I couldn’t have things both ways — I couldn’t
    complain about teachers talking about Jesus and also dress up as Jesus
    on Fictional Character Day.

    I’m sorry, but I don’t see any contradiction. Unless the teachers are openly referring to Jesus as being fictional, which seems highly unlikely.

  •  Sometimes the only logical response to nonsense is mockery. If you can’t take it, I suggest that’s YOUR problem, not the mocker’s. And since when is failure to agree to believe something the same as an insult? The very existence of atheists (and gay people, and Muslims, and feminists, etc) is an insult to these people …

  • Coyotenose

     Jeff had every right to make that statement, and from his letter, was provoked into actions that were mature from start to finish. But that same letter indicates that he’s well read on the subjects of atheism and secularism and knew that what he was doing was activism.

    However, either way, the school was extremely out of line. The fact that he COULD have been sincerely just taking part in the event and would have still gotten that rebuke* demonstrates the need for him to make the point.

    *And I do not believe for a second that the school employees would have gone after him if they didn’t know him to have evil liberal atheist leanings.

  • Coyotenose

     It takes tremendous bravery to act the way he did in that environment. Constant social pressure like that is oppressive, and he highlighted what was wrong with it instead of quietly putting up with it like most people do. The money represents recognition, admiration, and encouragement.

  • TheAnalogKid

    “Scientific evidence” I like you. You’re funny. Keep posting.

  • Reginald Selkirk

    Since Zeus is widely regarded as fictional, dressing as Zeus would be
    participating in the festivities.  Since Jesus is not widely regarded as
    fictional, dressing as Jesus would seem to be an attempt to
    deliberately offend people who disagree…

    That reduces freedom of religion to a mob majority rule.

  • lohrn4

    While I enjoyed reading your article and thought you quite articulate what I don’t understand is the need for either camp to try to persuade a person who definitely believes one way or the other to change their mind. Also, I’ve never understood the insistence of teachers (or people) to take the “one way or the other” stance. Perhaps, there should be three camps of thought. One, that God made the world and all in it. Two, that the world evolved. And, three, God made the world using evolution. That to me makes the most sense and supports all the evidence that both sides present. In all sorts of situations we elect leaders to guide us in our endeavors. It seems unlikely to me that the world would just evolve, given the complexity of everything upon the earth without some thought behind it.

  • Coyotenose

     No, the Bible makes reference to “the circle of the Earth”, which is nothing like an actual description of it.

    The Bible ALSO says that the Earth stands upon “four pillars”.

    The Bible also says that bats are birds.

    The Bible also says that the value of Pi is 3.

    The Bible also says that disease is caused by evil spirits.

    The Bible also says that men were created before women… so why then do men have nipples? (I’d insert a joke here about God later tweaking men a bit, but that would be childish.)

  • Reginald Selkirk

     “Mocking a certain group of people” is a right guaranteed to me by the constitution, specifically the first amendment. You should read it some time.

  • Stev84

    Those documents don’t mention him directly. They mention the resulting cult and were written a couple of decades later.

  • Rwlawoffice

     Shame on you for insulting someone else without knowing your facts.  If you are implying that Jesus not live because nothing written about him while he was still alive, then you would have to make the same claim about quite a few famous historical figures.  The historicity of Jesus living and being crucified and some would even say the reports of his resurrection is well documented by ancient history standards.  The records of Jesus’ life and death outside of the Bible is documented by multiple sources, including Josephus, Pliny, Tacitus, the Talmud,  all written within a few years to a generation of Jesus’ life.  Even if you do not take the gospels as being divine, they were written as biographies within a generation of Jesus’ life by professed eyewitnesses.  Paul’s letters were written even earlier, some think as earlier as 50 A.D. or so.  that is pretty good for a poor traveling rabbi would had a ministry for about three years and clearly at the time was not the figure of importance he is today.   If you want a point of comparison,   the first autobiography we have of Alexander the great is about 200 years or more after his death.

  • Captain Obvious

    Our school usually has something like this.  Next year I’m planning on being Moses 😀

  • Rwlawoffice

     Quite a few really bad assumptions about the Bible and Christianity in that post.  Too many to address in detail, but to answer one of them- in using hermeneutics to interpret scripture, you read the scripture literally, but that does not mean that a literal reading would exclude obvious figures of speech.

    Are you saying that you reject the Bible and are an atheist because you don’t understand it? Or do you understand it and don’t believe what you understand?  

  • This is the state that has a bill before its legislature to protect students’ rights to freedom of religious speech in schools–which of course would protect atheists’ rights to freedom of religious speech and their right to wear “editorial comment” costumes such as this on Fictional Character day.  

    What a straight line the head principal offered: ” [Dr. Farmer] said he had been hoping my answer would have been Zeus (or some other variation of a mythological deity).”

    “Why yes, I am.”

  • Tom

    Read the book aloud next to them.

  • Ryan Moran

    Josephus does mention him directly.  Twice, although the first mention was later altered by Christians so it’s hard to say what he said about him exactly.  Also Paul, while not an eyewitness himself, does talk about meeting with Jesus’s brother James and the apostle Paul within a few years of Jesus’s death.  That’s a secondhand eyewitness to Jesus at least existing.  As I’ve said, many of the things he said and did are fictionalized and hopelessly wrapped up in theology, but his existence is fairly well attested given the time period.

  • Rwlawoffice

     And do you think that part of the reason for that could be stunts like this?  Done for no other reason than to mock and ridicule.  And that makes him a hero among those here, not because he was standing up for something that you consider unconstitutional but because he chose to mock and ridicule Christians. Just as other Christians should be called out for treating him the way he describes, so should he. But you won’t because you agree with the sentiment.  

  • Tom

    It strikes me as a mite hypocritical to go the “teach the controversy” route then turn around and say “we don’t want debate.”  It’s a bit difficult to have one without the other.  Heck, the two words are damn close to being synonyms.

  • Ryan Moran

    A couple of things. first the idea that his resurrection is well documented is false.  It’s not mentioned in any non-Christian sources and the Christian accounts of it contradict each other wildly.  Also, you would need much better sources to attest to something impossible (rising from the dead) than you would to something mundane (a preacher named Jesus existing).

    Secondly, none of the gospel writers claim to be eye witnesses.  All of the gospels were written anonymously and were only assigned authors centuries after they were written.  It is incredibly unlikely that any of the names ascribed to them are their true authors.  For instance, they’ve never in the first person, if John the disciple wrote the Gospel of John it would be written more “Jesus and I did this” or “We went here” as opposed to “Jesus told John whatever” or “Jesus and the disciples went here.”  Also, all of the gospels were written by writers who were trained in Greek composition, not aramaic speaking most likely illiterate followers of Jesus. 

    That’s not to say some of the things in the gospels aren’t true (Jesus was most likely crucified for instance), but the authors are not eyewitnesses and are using earlier sources as well as their own theological viewpoints to construct their stories.

  • bismarket

     Fair enough i suppose, i guess i don’t realise how hard some people have it in the US. Being in the UK, i don’t get to see any discrimination against Atheists. I have to wonder though, if it’s that difficult over there wouldn’t it be better to pick your battles. What exactly did this achieve except to say “We don’t believe in Jesus”? I think they know that already & when it boils down & we get to the nub (Mixed metaphores;-)) all he actually did was dress up. I know it’s not a popular opinion, but i’m used to that!

  • Uh, you’re putting words in my mouth. I never stated that I approved of Jeff’s stunt.

    More to the point, it doesn’t matter how nice atheists are. Just stating that we don’t believe in their god is enough to provoke offense. It wouldn’t matter what Jeff did or how he behaved. In Tennessee, it seems that simply being a nonbeliever is enough to get him accused of being possessed by devils and demons.

  • Yikes, that’s scary. It almost sounds like something you would see on National Geographic, in a remote tribe where people still believe in witchcraft, or else back in the days of The Crucible, where people blame everything they don’t like or understand on malevolent supernatural forces.

  • TnkAgn

    Not only is including the Creationism (even the “Intelligent Design” sort) “school of thought” stupid, it is patently unconstitutional. Case after case after case demonstrates this. The way schools like Summit High get away with this is by bullying their actual science-minded students. Hurrah for Jeff for not allowing this to happen to him.

  • GatorVetJRH

     Check out Nigeria where children are being turned out in the streets or killed because they are witches…  at least according to the Fundamentalist Missionaries!   http://articles.cnn.com/2010-08-25/world/nigeria.child.witches_1_witches-godwin-orphanage?_s=PM:WORLD

  • DG

    FWIW, I find it interesting that this young fellow has received praise for this when Bart Ehrman has just shaken things up with a book that basically smacks down the notion that Jesus wasn’t at the very least a historical figure.  Timing is everything I guess.

  •  Jeff Shott here. As a fellow lover of puns, I tip my hat to you.

  • SusanQ

    Uncle Sam is often said to be a fictionalized version of real-life 19th century meat packer Samuel Wilson. Would students be allowed to dress as him for Fictional Character Day? 

    If so, how is Jesus (the deity) any different? Millions of people (even some Christians) think that he was most likely a human man whose story was largely fictionalized? 

  • TnkAgn

    I was a public school teacher in Alaska, the “Bong Hits 4 Jesus” case state. Generally, the courts side with the school administrators if they can show that the “speech” (a Jesus outfit) would be disruptive to the learning environment. Never mind that the learning environment is woeful at Summit High, at least in science class. The fact is, that Jeff’s costume was worn as it was in order to make a rather political point against the prevailing religious sentiments of his school. I agree with Jeff’s views, but the time and place of his “speech” was not optimal, nor likely to be found constitutionally protectable. 

  • GatorVetJRH

     Here here!  Being in a mixed marriage (my wife is christian), I struggle with “indoctrinating” my kids vs. respecting my wife’s beliefs.  I would be absolutely THRILLED and immeasurably proud of any of my 3 kids if they had the confidence and critical thinking skills portrayed my Mr. Shott!  His parents should be very proud of him.  I am… and I don’t even know the guy :-)!

  • I’d think the Dr. is in quotes because it’s intimating that he might not be smart enough to be deserving of a doctorate.

    Having the degree and deserving it are two separate things.

  •  I believe I went with the former.

  •  Jeff here. Unfortunately, it’s becoming easier and easier to get away with this in Tennessee: http://blogs.discovermagazine.com/badastronomy/2012/04/11/tennessee-passes-law-allowing-creationism-in-the-classroom/

  •  Thank you very much, kind sir.

  •  Thank you very much, Ms. Finch! Reading your post filled me with joy.

  • TnkAgn

    The scholarship of David Fitzgerald, Eric MacDonald, Ben Goren put the lie to that statement. Most recently, Richard Carrier tore Dr. Ehrman “a new one” as to Ehrman’s conclusions on the historicity of Jesus:  http://whyevolutionistrue.wordpress.com/2012/04/20/carrier-finally-responds-to-ehrman-on-the-historicity-of-jesus/

    BTW: Bart Ehrman concludes that Jesus was most likely an historical figure. Nothing more.

  •  Well, my mother is proud of me. My father, however, is a fundamentalist Christian.

  • Bong Hits 4 Jesus

  •  Short version:
    I was raised in a very Christian home by a father who wanted to become a Pastor (but never did) and a mother who had converted him. I wasn’t in public school,so really the only “educational” facility I ever went to was church, which I did multiple times a week (around four). As I grew older, even though I was in public school, I still studied religion a lot. I read the entire Bible, and have done so more than once. I read a lot of books about Christianity, whether they were from a Catholic, Protestant, Liberal, Conservative, or Orthodox standpointetc. etc.You get the idea.So, basically, at around age 15-years-old or so, I was a Protestant, Calvinist, Young-Earth Creationist, who was particularly homophobic. The whole nine yards. I was leaning more toward Eastern Orthodoxy shortly before I became an atheist, though. Eventually, however, I came to the conclusion that rather than only accepting Christianity because it was how I was raised I would have to research all of the religions and find out for myself. Thus began a almost year long period of study. I decided that the best thing to do was to drop all previous convictions, study the evidence, and that I would, by the end, believe whatever was true. However, I actually never even considered atheism. I was still pretty convinced that even if Christianity was not true, one of the other religions was. So, I studied Islam, Buddhism, Judaism, Hinduism, Daoism, etc. and all of their denominations (well, most), and I tried to study the evidence for all of them (including Christianity, of course). Eventually, what I found was that none of them had any real evidence that could convince me, someone who was using the standpoint of no opinion. I became an atheist.

  • Bubba Tarandfeathered

     As to whether he lived or not is still be debated. Skepticism is the core tenet of my Atheistic position. In the subject of he existed or not I am severely skeptical due to the vast number of theological sources claiming his existence. That fact alone is cause enough for me to be skeptical. As it should be for others.

  • TnkAgn

     Little did H.L Mencken, Clarence Darrow and John Scopes dream in 1925, after the Monkey Trial in Dayton, that teaching of evolution in Tennessee would be so endangered in a public high school.

    Keep questioning, and I hope your parents are supportive.

  •  No, you’re absolutely right. I knew exactly what I was doing. You’re also correct about the fact that the administrators at my school already knew I was an atheist. After all, I had previously complained to them about how my science teacher was espousing creationism as truth.

  • Drrjamd

    Next year go as that other fictional character, “Christian Tolerance”.

    That way you should get a free day off school.

    Seriously, though, it takes a lot of guts to stand up for your principles. 

    Kudos.  You deserve the scholarship.

    I wonder what the reaction would have been if you’d dressed as Muhammed . . .?

  • Neil

    Remove the beam from your own eye, oh wise one.  Let me go ahead and assume that a gentle, fun-spirited mocking is truly one of the most offensive things that can be done to a believer.  Even though I think that most people are better than that, I’ll play along. 

    The standard, everyday chrisitianity of tens or even hundreds of millions of believers teaches that non-christians are lost, deluded, or downright evil simply because they can’t make themselves believe multiple obvious absurdities and aren’t willing to lie about it.  Standard, common christianity teaches that all people are dirty, foul, unworthy of  god’s love, and that believing obvious absurdities is the only way to get clean.  Those who cannot do this are to be punished with enternal torment, or, if you want to go more liberal and loving, met with death while believers get life and heaven, or maybe, if you go really liberal chrisitian, just eternally separated from god and joy and love because of their inability to believe absurdities. 

    This ludicrously foul belief is one of the most common in monotheistic religion, including just about all of the myriad forms of christianity.  The very foundations of your religion-original sin, considering all humans evil, the need for the sacrifice of an innocent, the belief in heaven and hell-these beliefs, by their very nature, are infinitely more offensive than anything I could possibly tell a believer. 

    As believers, people are expected to believe that I will burn in hell for all eternity, and that I deserve infinite punishment for my inability to believe.  The worst I can say back as far as belief itself goes, is that they are factually wrong, and their god and heaven and hell are fictions. 

    Believers can tell us they believe we deserve eternal torture, and we can tell believers that they are mistaken…. and we’re the offensive ones?

    I hear a of of claims about christianity providing morality and compassion, but the evidence I’ve seen seems to show that while positive outcomes are possible, the only thing that chrisitianity is GUARANTEED to produce are cowards and bullies, in huge numbers. 

  • Ryan Moran

    There is not much debate about his existence in academic circles.  Tons of debate about what exactly he said/did, but that he existed and a few basic facts about his life (was a preacher of some kind, was crucified) is fairly well established at least in comparison to other historical figures.

    A good summary of the evidence can be found here –> http://www.amazon.com/Did-Jesus-Exist-Historical-Argument/dp/0062204602/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1335304756&sr=8-1

  •  Actually, I did have one: http://i.imgur.com/iDBfn.jpg

  • Nicolft

    Dude what the heck? So they’re accusing children of being witches when they’re the ones that are torturing and murdering their own children? Gosh, hypocrites…

  •  I see your point. However, in a way, it was more than just dressing up. Sure, it wasn’t hard to actually dress myself up as Jesus Christ. Getting on the bus and walking into a school filled with Christians was the nerve-racking part.

  • OCRazor

    Here’s a conundrum:  If Jeff had been allowed to wear his costume in his religious hometown, that would likely have been considered a miracle.  Which of course would disallowed his costume as no longer fictional, and thus no miracle would have occurred.  
    Next year maybe you can go as “god”.   When the administration gives you the same song and dance, you can just say, “oh, not THAT God.  Just a god.”  Since Zeus is ok, you’re good!

  • Jeffxst

    Jesus built my hot rod! (Ministry, psalm 69)

  • shirt guy zach

    keep it up, jeff.

  •  As a Pagan, I would have to vehemently disagree.  Zeus or any of the other multitudes of Pagan gods are hardly fictional…at least not any moreso that the Judea-Christian Pantheon. 

  • Eric A Blair

    Is your father a true believer? Do you fear Deuteronomy 21:18-21?

    Keep up the freethinking and stay clear of stones!

  • R

    What an idiot. Even atheists should know Jesus Christ was not a fictional figure. They may not agree he is what Christians say he is or that the biblical gospels are a true account, but he was a real person who did walk this earth. There are hundreds of historical accounts, including that of Pontius Pilate who served under the Roman Emperor. This is absurd and about as funny as someone dressing up as Muhammed or Siddhartha, the Bhudda… Or let me guess, do atheists believe these people are fictional? You can’t rewrite history folks.

  •  Then why was it a heresy to read the bible if you were not a priest? Wouldn’t that mean that the believers would be able to understand it either since they couldn’t read it themselves? 

  • You live in a backward theocracy if you’ve got science teachers like that.  Trouble is their tentacles are reaching over this side of the pond.  Can’t you control them before we face what you have to endure?

  •  Is it any wonder we are behind the curve with the rest of the world?

  • Adventurouscritic

     I have to say, i’m not an Atheist. I don’t believe in gods as beings, but as symbolic representations of the natural forces of the world.

    I would like to take a moment to thank your for keepin’ it classy and staying on the intelligent and sociable side of atheism.

    The other side being the “Atheists” who exists solely to call everyone else stupid or inferior for believing in something. The ones who openly  try to kill any religious conversation amongst their circles.
    Those who stifle and choke the livelihood of those around them.

    Stupid Mike.

    So thank you, you’re helping everyone co-exist.

  •  So are we Jeff.  It is good to see people stand up for the constitution and what is right rather than just act like sheeple  and allow people to get away with murder.  Stand tall and keep fighting the good fight.  That is what i served in the military to protect and it is what i do to this day. 

  • R

     I should add that true atheist are not about trying to attack and disprove religion. Most of these people who are in this group should not associate themselves as atheists but as misotheist, which is the hatred of religion.

  • Esnake

    Jeff, I applaud u for your bravery and peacefully standing up for your beliefs that of which I share with you. I once was a closet atheist and hid from fear of social out casting. Dawkins was right when he said that we should not be afraid of speaking and standing out publicly. Kudos to you my good sir.

  • And that’s why no matter the rationalization, it still doesn’t make sense.

  • You know, I’m all for your right to dress up as whoever you want to, but it was fictional character day. Jesus was not a fictional character. Regardless of your religious beliefs he was real and is accounted for in secular historical documents. The school’s reason for not allowing it was stupid as hell, especially if they aren’t going to be more respectful of your beliefs, but the fact remains the character was suppose to be from fiction.

  • I dunno where the principal got Zeus when he doesn’t really ever not have his epic beard. Jesus, I could understand, even though he’s pretty commonly depicted with a light beard of a man in his 30s. But Zeus? You’d be better off saying he’s Thor

  • Xeon2000

     That was not what I was suggesting.  Read what I wrote again.

  • Murrayc

    Ryan, which is more a disruption and sickening… A student dressing up as a student for a day, or having to teach CREATIONISM in science class for an entire school year?

  • Steve

    I’m curious as to why you assert that Jesus was most likely a real person. I have looked hard and have yet to find any objective data , or correspondence that verifies this.

  • Please, do enumerate my bad assumptions. I don’t see things going far with the “you’re wrong but I don’t have the time to tell you where” argument.

    The Bible described the Earth as flat. No matter how Christians try to rationalize it, the Bible says the Earth is either a circle or a quadrilateral, and that’s the fact.

    People used to believe that. Now that we know the real shape of the Earth, they say “well… it was a figure of speech”. Typical “god of the gaps”.

    In the past it was interpreted as literal, now it isn’t. So, which figures of speech are obvious enough to be always understood as such and which could be mistaken as fact? And again, who gets to decide?  The fact that I can ask this question shows that it isn’t nearly as clear as it could be.

  • TrollfaceTechnocrat

    Remember those years that Jesus never appeared in the bible? This is that. TEENAGE JESUS.

  • Of course if he had said he was dressed as Zeus, Thor or some other ancient god it would have been OK.  Calling other people’s gods fictional characters is acceptable.  Calling the Christian god fictional  is offensive.

  • I’m glad you got some of my FFRF donation money, padawan.

  • Sean O’Brien

    What do you call a doctor who graduates with a “D”?

  • P. J. Reed

    There may have been a man who was born around 0 AD who was worshipped as the son of a diety, but the Jesus Christ as portrayed in the Bible is no more real than Abraham Lincoln, Vampire Hunter.

  • Tom Walters
  • Eli Santoyo

    CONGRATS!!! i applaud this young man! way to stand up for atheist without being rude in any way. I love how he knows exactly what he is talking about. =) wow im still amazed at someone so young that is so wise. Wish him the best. 

  • Hmmm, interesting 🙂

  • Brian

    Many people do not know how to approach or discuss Christianity. As a former atheist, try reading “The Reason for God” by Tim Keller. Logic and reason I could not debunk. He also has the book as sermons at redeemer.com

  • Gary Hill

    A science teacher who doesn’t know what ‘theory’ means? There really is no hope for some kids….

    In any case, he didn’t even look like Jesus, the guys got blonde hair…..

  • ZeroGods

    I love the costume idea, but agree with the decision to take it off.  Not because Jesus isn’t a fictional character, but for the potential for disrupting the classroom.  You held your side of the argument perfectly, though.

  • Voraxith

    Just goes to show that my long-time catch-phrase is even more valid: “Religion should be like a 1-900 number — for entertainment purposes only.”

  • DG

    I admit, you have me with Ben Goren – don’t know where he teaches.  As for the others, the remarkable thing of Ehrman is that he is, well, not a Christian.  I’m not the least bit shocked that secular and/or atheist scholars would – shock! – conclude the glass is half empty.  What makes Ehrman’s work so surprising is that he is not sympathetic at all to the Christian faith, but instead basis his findings on a consistent approach to historical studies.  Let’s face it, if Rush Limbaugh came out and said folks should reelect Obama, that would carry some weight.  People would certainly be slow to dismiss it.  More than, say, Harry Reid saying so.  That’s what we have here.  Because, in the end, the vast majority of scholars accept that someone was a historical person upon which the Christ story was based, if nothing else.  Ehrman simply points out that there is not enough reason to conclude otherwise, ending with his statement that Jesus was most likely an historical figure.  And that’s worth more than the reaction I’m seeing from folks saying ‘there weren’t no Jesus guy and only them dumb religious folks without them fancy brain things think otherwise.’ 

  • Renshia

     I don’t generally come to conclusions about things without fairly careful considerations. So first of I will agree that there are multitudes of stories professing a magnitudes  of  truths and such that appeared 50+ years after his death.  I will even give you the befit of the doubt, that there could have been a dude named jesus, preacher or not. However, we are not talking about a dude name jesus here we are talking about a character who is, “the son of god”. So your right if it was just a rowdy mouth preacher, I can easily except your excuses of why there is nothing.

    However, were not talking about just a dude, we are talking about a known political activist that was charged for crimes against Rome, but were not talking just about that, how about going on a rampage in the temple and raging against the man, but not only that, what about all the multitudes of people that were magically fed, and the dead guys walking and the blind seeing, never mind being nailed to the cross, going missing, earthquakes, the walking around dead, with a bunch of other dead guys, you would think someone might have thought to write it down, somewhere.

    We are talking about the Romans and the Hebrews, these peole keep track of who shits what and when, you think there not going to write this stuff down. not a scrap of it, until 50+ years after he is dead.

    Okay, this is why this jesus thing has gotten out of hand. People will believe anything, either because they want it to be true, or their afraid it’s true. People are generally quite gullible. You know why? Because were dumb. Because we know we don’t know anything. We want to believe others do, especially on the hard questions. So when some guy seems nice and tells a nice story, people get sucked in. You know why? Because were dumb.

     But nobody knows and they’re all just making it up. The jesus story was pretty good. It got popular. It was a good step in our social evolution. One of the many between being cavemen, clubbing each other and ripping people apart on a stretching machine. It was just one step and it is time to let the mythology go and get beyond it. We can do better, way better than 2000 year old stories. Damn how can you  not see this. Come, take the next step in our evolution with us, you might just be surprised how great it is. Your gonna be dragged along no matter what you can’t hold back on humanities advancement, so you might as well take off the binders of faith and enjoy the ride. it’s great.

  • Renshia

     Yeah but that is not what I meant.

  • JackVSage

    Bravo. Very well-written.

  • DWJS

    While I’m all for atheist activision, I feel this was a case of pick your battles. I do feel as though you were out of line in wearing that costume, simply because it was obviously intended to draw attention. I will openly declare my atheist, gladly debate anyone who wishes to debate, stick up for the teaching of only verifiable scientific facts in the classroom, but one thing I cannot advocate is this kind’ve aggression. I’m sure you know your school better than I and maybe you knew they would not take it the wrong way, but I would have never done something like this at my school not out of fear but because I want people to be open to my beliefs. I find criticizing theirs too harshly only closes their mind further to what I have to say.

  • Phil Spencer

    Hey Zeus was the Boss God of the Greeks. Yahweh aka YHWH aka Allah aka “The LORD” is the boss god of the Israelites (there were lots of other gods around at the time, just read your OT – Baal was one mentioned fairly often; 2 Chronicles 2:5 for an explicit quote; also remember Exodus 34:14 – YHWH is jealous of worship ging to other gods). Now quite a few religions hold that there is only one real Boss God, and that all the various contenders are merely different views of the same Supreme Being. So under that view Zeus = YWHW …

  • oh hey nice shoes J-man!

  • Annie

    “I do feel as though you were out of line in wearing that costume, simply because it was obviously intended to draw attention.”

    Isn’t that the whole purpose of wearing a costume… to draw attention?  I can’t think of any costume that isn’t.  Except maybe camouflage.

  • Scottie

    I can imagine that! I lean toward Wiccan and was moved to the bible belt, Missouri, when I was in the tenth grade. I was invited to church so many times I thought there was a bounty on my head. This was back in 1978 but I think if I would have tried what you did I would have been at risk for being beaten. I think it was a brilliant idea and that you executed it with style and taste!

  • Smiley37075

    You know, i agree with you. I’m religious, ( not in a certain religion) but i believe if one god is off limits so are the others. As far as debate in the classroom, i believe its good for the children to learn how to debate properly without getting angry and what better way then in school. I believe in science and god so it would be fun for me if i was involved cause i could see both sides. He should be able to voice his opinion openly.

  • Dewdrop034

    I am a Pagan who worships Zeus and a whole pantheon of other Gods and Goddess’s.  Jesus is just as fictional to me as the Greek Gods are to you.  So, please, don’t make it sound like you have a monopoly on religious truth.

  • Dewdrop034

    33% of the world population considers themselves Christian.  Only Americans, trapped in a personal paradigm, believe the world population is 75% Christian.

  • Stardreamer

    I’d offer to put that to a scientific test. You read one Bible, they follow along in another copy of the same edition. As soon as you hit a place where your version has been changed from theirs, they sing out. Do it in a very public location. 

  • Jeff Kangiser

    You sir, are AWESOME! I recently “came out of the heathen’s closet” and I must say, it feels great. I don’t know how many fundamentalists there are in Nevada, but I’m happy to say at least my friends don’t mind if I have differing beliefs from them.

  • CT

    I’m glad to see younger folks standing up and challenging old superstitions. Stay skeptical, my young friend, and always keep it classy…
    Much Respect,CT Jaynes

  • Dewdrop034

    As a parent I would scream blue bloody murder to the State Education Department and THEN call the ACLU and THEN the press.  These fundies love to cry and complain about a corroded Constitution, but have no problem omitting the seperation of church and state.  Do not teach MY child YOUR religion.

  • Scottie

    As a San Fransisco native I can tell you it was a major culture shock for me when I was moved to rural Missouri in 1978 my tenth grade year of high school. I grew up in Golden Gate Park and Oakland with hippies, war protests and black panthers but nothing prepared me for the attitudes I encountered out here. I am worried that our culture has gone from having some respect for people who are different than us to having contempt for everybody who is not exactly like us. By us I mean everybody not just (religious/aethiest) (gay/straight) (republican/democrat)

  • eMail

    What a cool and reasonably respectful thread on a sometimes dicey subject.  Well done, Folks, and nice work, Jeff. 

  • Anton

    Until I read this I thought making the prayer list many, many times had something to do with my cancer. I guess it worked. That was 5 years ago. I’m still an atheist.

  • kullervo

    A young man who will go far, and should start by going far from Tennessee.

  • Sarvopama

    Both creationism and Darwinian theory are lame. Emanationism is the only credible explanation. 🙂

  • gorillasandbananas

    Brilliant! Great to see young American minds shaking off the bronze age coils of religion and prejudice! Good work! And Jesus shaves! HA! :o)

  • Docabd

    Actually you can’t get a doctorate with a ‘d’ average at most accredited universities! I’ve always hates that saying!

  • Scottie

    I disagree, I think his costume and character meet the qualifications that the school set. If there would have been a disturbance I doubt it would have been caused by Jeff. Posably other students reacting inapropriatly to Jeff and his costume but that issue should be attributed to the other students not Jeff.

  • Rwlawoffice

    Trust me I have investigated the historicity of Jesus in some detail.  Your arguments have been addressed and discredited by people far more knowledgeable then myself. The truth is that for any other historical figure, far less evidence is accepted as being enough to day it has historical validity.  Atheists who claim to accept evidence as their guide ignore or change the evidence for the historicity of Jesus because it doesn’t fit what they want to believe. Let me give you an example- do you believe that Homer wrote the Odyssey? if so based on what evidence? So you know how long it takes for a mythology to grow in ancient times?  Even from a grain of true events.  It takes many generations.  That is not what happened with the story of Jesus.

    If you really want to read a good study on the subject- you should read “I don’t have enough faith to be an atheist” by Norman Geisler. Goes through this in great detail,


  • Rwlawoffice

    So the more evidence that someone existed makes you more skeptical that   the person existed?

  •  I have to say, i’m not a Religiot. I don’t believe in gods as beings, but as something in fables.
    I would like to take a moment to thank your for keepin’ it classy and staying on the intelligent and sociable side of religion.
    The other side being the “christians” who exists solely to call everyone else stupid or inferior for not believing in something. The ones who openly  try to kill any non religious conversation amongst their circles.Those who stifle and choke the livelihood of those around them.
    See what I did there? 
    You just come across as arrogant. And thanks, but no thanks on the civics lesson. The reason some of us Atheists get angry, and “rude” is because we are sick and tired of hearing stories like this. And equally sick of the attitude that we should be polite. I have NO respect for religion, and don’t pretend that I do. I also have no respect for a racist, or a homophobe. And I’ll be damned if I will be quiet when these neanderthals speak. It turns my stomach to hear someone like Santorum, or Perry talk like this. And use their religion as an excuse. Respect for religion is the only reason these pinheads lasted as long as they did. Oh….and lets not forget the threat of persecution. 

  • Richard Denson

    What about the big elephant in the room? there is historical evidence confirming the fact that Jesus actually was alive. Therefore he is in fact not fictional therefor he was not wearing a valid costume and should have been asked to remove it. He may or may not been trying to offend people, but it does’t stop the fact that he probably would have. Atheist or Christian A human being should be thoughtful of others feelings even if some people aren’t of yours. 

  • Ryan

    What you should have said is that your “religion” says you must pretend to be Jesus Christ and then so figure of authority can force you to remove it. It works the same way with a yamaka or a cross on a chain. Wearing of these symbols are protected under the establishment clause, the free exercise clause and freedom of religion.  

  • Renshia

    So have I, I guess we will just have to disagree.

  • Andrew

    Yup, Masters and PH D programs are A/B/Fail.

  • Ash

    I’d just like to say, as an atheist HS student, I look up to you for what you did. Before I went to a new HS, I was constantly looked down on for my beliefs, and this kind of thing just makes me feel incredibly angry. This is a blatant disregard of the constitution. 

  • Rwlawoffice

    First that “there is no accredited evidence that Jesus existed or that he was the Son of God”-  simply not correct.

    Second your quote of Matthew is wrong.  That is not what it says.

    Third, The verse in Isaiah is a figure of speech if you look at that phrase in the context of the passage. He is talking about gathering the scattered Jewish nation, he is not talking about the physical attributes of the Earth.

    Fourth, you assume that because there is dispute about what some parts of the Bible say that God didn’t give us enough information about Him or what it takes to be saved.  The fact that you want more evidence does not mean there isn’t enough.

    Fifth, the idea that some of the Bible is clearly metaphorical and not written to be literal in some passages is a the same as other writings.  For example, there are similes, metaphors, personifications,  etc… If one is being used is determined by looking at the context of the passage, not to fill in a gap.
    Finally, your comment about what God would do and because he doesn’t do it the way you would want makes Him imperfect is a very big assumption that is trying to explain his attributes based solely upon your  lack of understanding. 

    Now if you could answer my question- Do you reject God because you do not understand the Bible or do you reject Him because of the parts you understand?

  • Sanna

    The way the school responded was poor, but the costume was still offensive. Choosing to be offensive is a bit of a dick move. However, it would have been just as offensive if Jeff had been dressed as Zeus. Would the school have done anything then?

    I would hope so, but somehow I doubt it. After reading how the school reacted in this instance, I have this terrible mental image of a polytheist complaining and getting ostracised for it.

    (Just saw some of the Pagans chiming in in the comments, and had a happy moment.)

    I honestly didn’t think it was legal to teach Creationism in the science classroom. I am surprised.

  • Neil

     Re; the historicity of Jesus, in reply to DG as well as several others:

    I have a certain amount of fascination with history, and the debates about whether certain people actually existed or not, particualry religious figures and other figures who became the stuff of myth and legend. I have to admit a certain skepticism that Jesus existed as a single, real person, or that any of the New Testament is historically reliable. It seems to me that historical accuracy just isn’t the point or purpose of such writings, and the lack of hard evidence doesn’t help.  I haven’t read Ehrman’s whole book yet, and I’m no prefessioanl historian,  but what I have seen wasn’t very convincing.  I don’t think that any historical analysis at this late date can give us a definitive answer.  There just isn’t enough evidence to go by either way, and I don’t see any reason to conclude “historical jesus” without evidence.

    As far as can be proven to any kind of standard, a few famous people, like Herod, a king, and Pilate,  a Roman official of the time, are the only persons in the New Testament whose existence left any real, verifiable trace, in the form of contemporary accounts of Herod and still-existing partial inscriptions on monuments that Pilate ordered to be built. And it makes sense to use a real Roman official and a known king in the story for basic credibility and as wordly villians, even if it’s the only “real” part. I always assumed Paul really existed too, as pretty much the first notable popularizer of christianity, but even his existence isn’t a proven thing, and even if there was a Paul or “real inspiration” for Paul, that still doesn’t mean that any of his history in the NT is accurate. Beyond Pilate and other rulers, all accounts are really sketchy, and all accounts of Jesus and the rest of his people were written decades after they supposedly existed, and the few historians who remarked on them later didn’t really say whether they thought the stories were based on a real person or whether they were just recording folk tales. It was also a time when even many of the educated believed in god(s), miracles, healings, demons, and a lot of other BS. The fact that a Jewish-Roman historian heard some stories second-hand, 70 years or so after the alleged events, and recorded them, and may have believed the essential non-miraculous elements of the story doesn’t really mean much to me. Especially as ALL of his writings have come down to us through copies made by church historians, with some known and some suspected forgeries and changes involved. 

    The only thing that we have that even claims to be direct evidence of Jesus is the bible itself, which is obviously BS.  The only portrait of the man is a man who cannot possibly have existed, a comic book character.  Why would I need to say “well it must have been based on someone real,  but distorted over time”?  People believed it without evidence then, and they still do today, with or without an actual Jesus.

    There might have been a real Jesus who directly inspired the New Testament and actually said some or most or all of the things ascribed to him, or it could be a composite based on several different historical people, or a blend of real and mythical people, or it could be a complete myth, but I’ve never seen a fully convincing argument for any of those options, and I don’t really think any of them could be “proved” in any real or meaningful way at this point.   

    I think that the slight-majority concensus  (it’s by no means a solid consensus, there are scholars in both camps, and espite Ehrman, many of the historicists are believers)of Jesus being a real historical figure is based on assumptions and “not rocking the boat for no reason”. It also takes a lot of second-hand, over-worked sources as absolute and trustworthy.  It saves non-christians a lot of career trouble if they can assume a real Jesus, even if they are not “saved”, and it prevents a lot of additional backlash against academia. When I hear a story as obviously bullshitty as the jesus story, it makes me doubt the entirety of the story except any parts for which there is good evidence, and what little evidence I’ve seen for a historical Jesus just doesn’t convince me. I think that the consensus of “probably real” is based as much on cultural assumptions and keeping the peace as anything else. The “character” of jesus as presented in the bible is ridiculous, why should I have to go around believing in some stripped-down “reasonable” version? The writers were completely obviously lying their asses off for their own reasons front to back, yet plenty still believed it,  so what’s one more fiction? Since Jesus obviously didn’t perform any miracles or rise into heaven, and nobody who became a christian later ever met or saw or heard jesus, why bother using a real person for inspiration? Why should we think that ANY of the story is real? It certainly doesn’t need to be true to be believed!

    In the end, it doesn’t really matter, since the “meaning” and mythical parts of the tale are obviously horse puckey. There are real people today who believe themselves to be messiahs, and who knows, maybe 2000 years from now somebody will be debating the existence of David Koresh. But he still won’t be the messiah…just a very naughty boy.  They may also be debating the existence of a different messiah, a kind of “superman” who saved the human race ,and people will spend a lot of time making fancy, after-the-fact, evidence-free arguments that while this “god-like man” certainly didn’t come from another planet, or fly into space (of course not! Be reasonable!), he was still a very influential, real person, a visionary truth-teller of his times,  and he gave us the legend that influenced the whole world.  This visionary story teller was named Clark Kent, of course, and in 2000 years there will be a lot more evidence for His existence than there will be for the existence of Jesus or David Koresh.     


  • Rwlawoffice

    You can say back all you want that you don’t believe it and as such, a believer saying you will spend eternity in Hell should have no effect on you. You should not care in the least.

     If you do not see the difference between a young man intentionally poking fun at his fellow students’ beliefs and  simply saying I don’t agree with those beliefs then you really need to think about that again. 

  • Rwlawoffice

    Just saying that he didn’t believe is not what he did here.  But I do agree that if in fact he was not confrontational or mocking in his posts and the Christians responded as he says they did, they were wrong and should apologize to him. If in fact he was mocking their beliefs like he did with this costume then he should be the one apologizing.

  •  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MvleOBYTrDE

  • Coyotenose

    There’s not actually any evidence of a historical Jesus. Mostly we don’t bother arguing that there wasn’t any such person because we also lack strong evidence that there wasn’t, and because it isn’t a useful debate except in academics.

    You say he should have been asked to remove the costume on the basis that it wasn’t a fictional character. I’m not psychic, but I seriously doubt that you would be criticizing his choice if he was wearing a Julius Caesar costume.

    What elephant? All of us here are aware that he offended people. Read his letter. His fellow students, teachers and other faculty had no problem with offending him personally. If he intended offense, he still committed an act that was several orders of magnitude less offensive than what he and his brother are regularly subjected to.

    Less than that even, in my opinion. I don’t consider reacting to bullies and bigots with mockery to be the least bit offensive. Those around him asked for a lot worse than he gave them. If his letter is even close to an accurate description of events, that school district could easily be broke from lawsuits by now if he’d chosen to go that route.

  • Coyotenose

     Believe it or not, I’ve seen nitwits argue that Jesus was white on the grounds that “‘Black’ meant peoples from south of the Congo back then.”

    …yeah. Because Egyptians and Nubians never existed, among many other peoples.

  • Basedinreality1

     There is no evidence besides the bible , and with the hundreds of contradictions and historical errors in the bible, it cannot be regarded as accurate. Now I have read many works debating whether christ was a real person, and no one has demonstrated positive evidence. I would really like to see what you believe is historical evidence, please share. But if think you have the evidence get it peer reviewed and confirmed by somebody other than christain apologists and collect your nobel prize. 

  • GAD

    Being an atheist personally and a sales manager professionally I have learned two very important things about trying to convey your point:

    1) A convincing argument never starts with making another feel inferior.  All it does is shut them down to what you have to say.  You’ve lost, now walk away.
    2) People don’t like to be sold, they like to sell themselves.

    You need to watch this video if the above is truly how you feel.


  • Good for you! I wish I had a chance to do this in high school

  • Winstonfella

    I’m sorry you are stuck at this “school.”  People with intelligence like yours deserve better!

  • I’m not following your train of thought, Robert. You were saying that atheists’ low acceptance/trust is due to people like Jeff. I was pointing out that Jeff’s costume isn’t the problem here. Atheists have been feared and distrusted for many decades, long before the public rise of atheist figures like Dawkins or Hitchens who many perceive to mock religion. Our approval rating has not gone down since atheism became more public, which is what you would expect if mocking religion made people angrier. They seem to be angry at us regardless, unless we’re deferential in the extreme. We can be super- happy-nice-cheerful all the time, and they still find the fact that we don’t believe in their god (and are willing to say so) offensive.

  •  Even if there WAS “historical evidence” that Jesus “actually was alive” (although I think you mean “existed”), that does not preclude him from being a fictional character as well:
    1) Jesus as a deity, white, dressed in white, miracle worker from the bible is not the same as having evidence of a person identified as Jesus 2K years ago.
    2) There’s a difference between a fictional character and a historical figure even if they go by the same name.  Case in point, a new film is being released called Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter.  Dressing as Abraham Lincoln as president of the US as a “fictional character” day might be technically inaccurate.  Dressing as Abraham Lincoln the Vampire Hunter would not be.
    3) If there’s an issue with people being “offensive” dressing as fictional characters, then maybe they should not encourage students to dress up as them and express themselves, eh?  What if dressing as Santa or Superman offends someone’s sensibilities?  Or dressing as Dracula.  Anyone can be offended by anything.
    4) The school is using a non sequitur, one of the most annoying logical fallacies to preclude this student’s “rights” to dress as Jesus.  Schools must respect separation of church and state because they must be careful not to force religion upon people.  Therefore a student may not question religion and it is equivalent to teaching creationism?  This is not logically connected.  Students are ALLOWED to practice their own religions and voice their own opinions.  If this logical fallacy were true, students would be punished for privately praying, wearing crosses, adorning themselves with any religious memorabilia.  Public schools cannot force students to practice a religion.  That does not mean students cannot express their religious ideas.
    5) Offending people is not illegal in and of itself.  It is also not against most school policies.  Just because people believe in Jesus and may be offended does not (and especially in the case of a public school) should not preclude his expression.  A lot of younger children believe in Santa Clause.  If a student dressed for this day as Santa, should he or she be banned simply because a lot of kids believe in Santa?  Where do you draw the line about beliefs vs. freedom?  People dress as Jesus and other characters in pageants all the time — it is not dressing as Jesus that is offensive, it is questioning of beliefs and dogma that offends people in this instance, and therefore, it is exactly his freedom to question the existence of Jesus that is being impacted.  In contrast probably *MOST* of the bible belt does not believe in Mohammed, but it should actually be MORE offensive to dress up as him since it is explicitly banned to do so according to Muslim doctrine.  The fact that fewer people consider the Prophet Mohammed “real”, does that make it less offensive?  I go back to the school policy — if they are going to restrict his expression on this, then perhaps they should not have “fictional character” day.

  • Snowy

    Kid…  You rock.  You’re mature, well spoken and reasonable.  Keep giving atheists a good name.

  • Neil

    You have either been lied to, or you are a liar, or else christians in general have a huge and amazingly coincidental problem with not being able to read anything that they don’t already believe. 

     The first accounts of Jesus outside the bible are two small mentions by Josephus, 70 years or so after the alleged events.  He gives a plain and short description of what some people were saying about that jesus guy, 70 years after the alleged events.  The second mention is also rudimentary and may be a forgery added by clerics later.  We don’t even have any original Josephus, it’s all been handed down, translated, and sometimes changed by clerics. 

    That is the closest to evidence for a historical jesus that there has ever been, or ever will be.  An offhand footnote about his believers, not even him, seven decades down the road.  Everything else is even later and less direct.  You might guess that I give no weight whatsoever to the bible itself, and you would be correct.  It is simply not a history at all, but an obvious  fiction with a purpose.  It’s a badly written emotional appeal to desperate, ignorant people, with lots and lots of triumphant, amazing tales and glorious promises to astound and enliven an audience who wants very badly to believe in triumphant amazing tales and glorious promises.  There could possibly have been a historical jesus, and if it helps you sleep at night, well, whatever, dude.  But there is no real reason to think there had to be, or to care very deeply one way or the other.  Even if there was a “real” jesus, he’s certainly nothing like he’s presented in the book.  Because ridiculous, impossible beings don’t exist, so they can’t be wandering around doing ridiculous impossible things.        

    And for the record- as for Norman Geisler and his uninformed opinion- why listen to another christian lie to you, when you can get the honest truth straight from the horse’s mouth?  It takes NO FAITH WHATSOEVER to not believe in jesus or god a single jot or tittle.  In fact, it’s the easiest, most natural thing in the world.  And I know this, because I have no faith whatsoever, and I still don’t believe in either Jesus or god, the biblical ones or  “real” ones. 

  • Pierdellevigne

    As an English teacher, I’m going to introduce the idea of “rhetorical questions.” As a Ph.D. candidate, I’ll say that doctoral degrees have little to do with being smart – there are a lot of people way smarter than I am who have crashed and burned by the wayside. Doctorates are generally, as it would turn out, given for completing doctoral programs, which leads to the last point: I’m not sure what else ought to be required for deserving a degree beyond earning a degree. 

  • Fluffystick

    In the UK no one cares if your religious or not! When I first came to live in north America I couldn’t quite believe how religious people are here. I was brought up Christian but that was not my choice and quite frankly I can think of better ways to spend my Sunday’s! This does not mean I’m going to hell, I will die and will no longer exist, the end! :@)

  • Neil

    I think there’s more debate about the historocity of jesus than you think there is. 

    I’m going to have to go ahead and read Ehrman’s book and see what his Great Revelation is that allows him to make such a claim….although I just can’t put much stock in historical anaysis of such limited source material from 2000 years back, with so little real evidence of any kind.  I’ve never seen any reason to look at the bible, or even the earlier documents that became the bible, as an accurate history of anything at all except the beliefs, conceits, and cultural baggage of some groups of people at a particular time in the past.  It’s all so purposefully aggrandized that I don’t think separating myth from legend from fact is possible anymore, except in the cases of the clearly impossible.

    Realize, I’m not even professing a belief about jesus, I’m not saying he didn’t exist as a real preacher….I’m just saying that there is no good evidence that he did exist, and no real reason outside religious faith to need to take a stand on the issue.  I wouldn’t even care about the status of the debate, if it weren’t such an important issue for so many others and such a cultural “given”.  I wish that more people would accept the fact that the jesus we all know, the one as presented in the bible, most certainly did not exist, and the possible one doesn’t matter. 

  • Lstardancer

    Although I am not an athiest, nor am I christian, it please me to see a young person use his intellegence and his critical thinking skills. Part of our personal and human evolution is to question the manner and origin of things to gain understanding. Kudos to you for qwesting for understanding of the universe but inspiring others to seek answere not blindly follow someone elses belief system..

  • Ryan Moran

    I’m not saying that mythicists don’t exist, just that they essentially don’t exist among historians and biblical scholars.  They’re like intelligent design proponents among biology professors…  a few exist but they hardly represent the consensus.

    Separating legend from fact is possible to a point, but only about certain things.  They use many criteria to try and figure out which is which like multiple sources telling the same stories about Jesus independent of each other and the criteria of dissimilarity.  Basically, the more inconvenient a fact is for Christian theology, the more likely it is to be true.  A main example is that Jesus was from Nazareth. Christians generally didn’t want him to be from Nazareth since it was a one horse town and they thought the messiah should come from David’s hometown of Bethlehem.  That’s why Matthew and Luke each come up with (different) crazy ways to make him really from Bethlehem (the census that never happened, Herod killing the first born sons which also never happened).  The only reason that would have had to do this is if everyone already knew he came from Nazareth.

  • Jesus is fictional, whether it’s “widely regarded” as such or not. 

  • That’s what it is anyway.

  • There is no historical evidence. What utter b.s. Show the proof from a real university (not a bible university) with real, double-blind tests. 

  • And not only that, but they believe that they are a hideously oppressed minority. At the same time as believing that the world population is 75% Christian.

    Fundamentalism, also known as “how to hold two completely contradictory beliefs at the same time and never notice that they’re contradictory.”

  • Hell yeah.  We need a million more like him.  

  • School? No, as Heinlein put it, it’s just overgrown kindergarten. I hope that Jeff moves beyond that and studies independently. It’s obvious this “school” has nothing to teach him of any value. 

    To Jeff: Good on you, mate. Keep up the good skepticism and good work. 

  • Thejollyjoker414

    This kid wins at life. As an atheist American educator (math, not science, although I study the sciences as well), it’s utterly preposterous that science teachers side with religion and not… well, science. One of the many reasons why American secondary education is laughable compared to the rest of the world. They facepalm at us while we “debate” whether or not evolution is true, or if we came from Adam and Eve. We’re such laughingstocks, it’s embarrassing. The Jesus costume is ingenious too.

  • Peopleater95

    This made my day as these same things have happened to me because of being Atheist in a small mainly Christian town.

  • Thanks so much for informing us what “true atheists” are all about.  Because after over 25 years of being one I needed a theist to come set me straight?  Oh, please.  Give me a break.  We’ve spent too long listening to theists telling us to just be quiet and nice and pretend we don’t exist.  That’s gotten us exactly nowhere and we’re not going to do it anymore.  At least I’m not!

  • Ciroccomoody

    I know what he means about being an atheist in the bible belt. Try it in the 60s.

  • Bubba Tarandfeathered

    If you want to take what I am saying out of context, then I guess I sound crazy.

    But when the bulk of, if not all of, those sources of evidence are secular and since there are almost no nonsecular documents referring to this person’s existence then my skepticism is justified. It’s just evidence and not fact. Anecdotal at best.

  • Jesus isn’t a fictional character… He is documented by Roman writers of the period who referenced troubles in Israel.  The only argument is whether he was the son of god… Therefore the school was perfectly in the right to ask the student to remove his costume as he was not dressed as a fictional character, regardless of any theological stance 😛

  • Kevin

    … to which I return the tip, Jeff, for having rattled the administrators’ cages.  Laughing with each *clang*, it seems.

  • Lori Musson

    Wow!! You seem like a very intelligent young man.  You speak very clearly about your own beliefs and yet I can’t help but to bring to your attention how wrong you are for your actions.  I believe you have every right to challenge your teacher and her conduct in the class room regarding her obvious confliction of teaching evolution verses preaching creationism.  I believe creationism has no place anywhere in school along with the ideas of an atheist.  You had a valid point and I even applaud you for being a brilliant student and bring this issue to the fore front.  However I believe you went to far by dressing up as Jesus Christ to further your assault on creationism or even Christianity as a whole.  While you are a self confirmed and obviously committed Atheist, you yourself shared your thoughts and point of view regarding being heckled and ridiculed for your own beliefs.  Why then would someone so intelligent, make the decision to participate in inflicting the same type of degradation upon other people by ridiculing them for their beliefs and mocking the very center of their religion by dressing up as Jesus Christ to portray him as a fictional character.  A fictional character is by definition- being of or associated with a product of the imagination / made up or not real.  Now I admit that I do not keep up with the latest information released by science or its recent discoveries but I would be willing to bet that neither the science community nor the Atheist community has provided undeniable proof that Jesus Christ himself did not ever exist,  nor is there absolute proof that Jesus Christ was not resurrected or that God himself does not exist.  So Until  science can absolutely prove this with out a doubt,  just as you have stated in your own article regarding the lack of scientific proof to support creationism,  you have no real basis to state your claim that Jesus Christ was fictional or qualified as a proper candidate to be portrayed as fictional.  If you, as an Atheist want to say that religion should not be taught in science then I would and do  agree.  I have viewed such an out pour of negativity towards  people of  different religions  (especially Christians)  from members of the Atheist community that I feel the need to point out how unfair and unjust these attacks are.  While you made a great point by correcting your teacher and streamlining the teaching process and content of material being taught in your class, you went to far by proceeding to escalate your arrangement to include a religious twist to insert your own beliefs while degrading other beliefs.  The definition of religion varies greatly depending on the source, but most agree that religion is the belief or set of beliefs concerning the cause of nature and purpose of the universe.  By this definition Atheism is also called a religion even if the belief denies any power other than man.  So if your main concern was  making sure religion or creationism was taken out of your science class, why would you choose to exploit or put the Christian religion on display by dressing up as Jesus Christ to mock him as a fictional character.  One can only view your actions as an attempt to use this opportunity as a forum or platform to actual promote your own beliefs or the beliefs of the Atheist religion because FICTIONAL CHARACTER DAY HAS NOTHING TO DO WITH SCIENCE.    I believe in this great country and our wonderful constitution.  I am very grateful to live in a country which allows the freedom of religion along with the freedom of speech.  So I feel the need exercise my freedoms and speak out about the right to freedom of religion.  As an Atheist you believe there is not a god and  you do not want to have Christian beliefs share in your science class .  However in most cases I have seen only blatin disrespect and rude comments made from members of the  Atheist community towards Christians beliefs.   Take for example, you had a teacher state they believed in creationism, your reaction was to mock Christianity.  No one was rude to you about your religion were they?  I don’t recall you mentioning that anybody dressed up as Madly Murray O’Hair,  for dress up like an American Cult Leader Day, to use as a visual aid in their quest to secular activism,  because they were denied the right to say Under God, when reciting the Pledge of Allegiance in school even though they are Christian.    I am very glad to see the youth of today being proactive in their education.  While I can appreciate your enthusiasm towards your beliefs,  I would caution you to recognize when your actions defraud your campaign causing others to detect a defect in your convictions.        Congratulations on your scholarship award from FFRF. 

  • This is a fantastic story.

  • Renshia

     Come to think of it, I don’t think I would have traded the raging drunken angry violent father I had for that.

    Okay I’m kidding, But it’s close. LOL

  • Renshia

     When religion took over Iraq, it destroyed the education system. that was 800 years ago and they still haven’t recovered.

    I wonder if the US will suffer the same fate.

  • But he was dressed as Jesus Christ, not Yeshua.

  • Dagazmosdieter

    The principal saying things like he doesn’t want a religious debate or controversy in class is like saying he doesn’t want his students given the opportunity to really think.

  • My goal is to not let other people’s religious beliefs infringe my rights.  They absolutely have the right to their beliefs, and the right to express them, loud and public.

    But the instant they tell me I can’t do something, or must do something only because their god told them that, I draw the line.

    And I think mockery is one of the ways of illuminating that line.  I don’t think it should be done only for personal kicks, but my impression is that Jeff was pointing out the 
    hypocrisy  and Christian Privilege rampant in the school.  I’m not sure if the message got through to the school administration, but I think the goal was purposeful.

  • If you could get a compatriot, how about Abraham and Isaac?  Although I guess that might be hard to make recognizable.  One of you carry around a bunch of sticks?

  •   the first autobiography we have of Alexander the great is about 200 years or more after his death.

    Wow, so Jesus wasn’t the only one to come back from the dead!


    Seriously, strike Josephus from that list.  You have read his stuff in context, right?  Like what he said before and after mentioning Jesus?  Even Biblical scholars treat that as a forgery now.  Not that that negates your argument, but that source won’t help.
    http://www.sacred-texts.com/jud/josephus/ant-18.htm Ch3 paragraph 3.

  • Fatcow7713

    Disclaimer: I’m Atheist.

    Is this a private school or a public school? If this is a Christian private school I think it would be offensive to dress as Jesus. This sort of costume was only meant to poke fun at those who believe in him.  Since private schools aren’t funded by the government, they are free to teach/enforce whatever they please regarding religion (I know because I went to one). If this is a public high school then they had no right to tell him to remove his costume on a RELIGIOUS basis, but considering his costume COULD, and probably WOULD, cause some sort of disturbance in class I think they had every right to ask him to remove it. The primary function of school is to educate and if the students are distracted by someone’s costume to the point where their education is jeopardized, then of course they could tell them to remove it. The fact that a science teacher was talking about, and trying to teach, Creation doesn’t have a place in this story other than to show some sort of revengeful action. And again, if this is a private Christian school of course they are going to teach Creation, it comes with the Christian territory. That’s what they believe so that’s what they are going to teach. Other people treating Atheists bad is just the way it goes. No, it’s not fair. Yes, it’s unfounded. But, like Jeff said in his article, coming out of the heathen’s closet is the only way to change minds. It’s incredibly hypocritical to claim the want to change people’s (in this case Christian’s) minds about Atheists and then dress up as one of their most beloved Religious figures. I’m not going to get into all the various ways to change people’s minds, but I will tell you that antagonizing people isn’t one if them. Be an activist, speak up and speak out, but poking fun at people will only make them cling to their beliefs that much more.

  • Fatcow7713

    Well said. I agree.

  • Fatcow7713

    Anyways, he should have dressed as god since Atheism is the rejection of the belief of deities. Jesus wasn’t exactly a deity, at least not in all religions. The Jews and Buddhists, for instance, don’t accept him as the one true son of god but they agree that he was a real person who actually walked the Earth. Not that it would make it any less offensive to dress as god for Fictional Character Day, but it would make it a whole lot more relevant to the Cause.

  • I don’t think it’s just for dressing up as Jesus, or even dressing up as Jesus and facing the disapproval of his peers, but because he was also able to articulate why he did it in a reasonable calm manor.

  • NiekL

    I read the comments of, what it seems, mostly Americans and i’m flabbergasted. I’m from the Netherlands and i’m lucky enough to live in country where you don’t have to come out of the closet as an atheist. Teaching creationism during biology is something I can’t even imagine. Over here we get taught evolution without the excuse that it’s just a theory. To be honest, I can’t even imagine I ever had a lesson about religion passing as truth…,when I was in elementary school, around Christmas the teachers used to tell the nativity story. It is a wonderful story, as many fellow atheists will agree, but
    we weren’t told that it actually happened. And I don’t think there were much people who thought that it did. And in high school we were taught of the major religions in the world, which I think us really good. So you can see there are people with different views.

    I’m not saying we’re perfect, there’s lots of other things wrong in this country. I’m just expressing my surprise.

  • You Lori do not understand the way burden of proof works.  The burden of proof lies with the one making the claim… thus when Christianity makes the claim that Jesus and god are real, then it is THEY who must provide evidence.  What you are asking science to do is provide evidence that something does NOT exist, which is an impossibility. (and no this does not prove your point).  It would be the same if I made the assertion that there is an invisible, intangible unicorn in my back yard… now prove he doesn’t exist.  It doesn’t work like that. I would have to prove to you that the unicorn was there.  So far in every religion, in the history of the world, NONE have been able to provide the proof of god, and there is still doubts as to the actually existence of a Jesus like person, since almost all evidence has been proven false.

  • Write a book.

  •  And therefore they shouldn’t be doing anything fun? People like you are why school is so stressful and causes people to hate education.

  • very creative=no pun intended

  • amycas

     I just read about this again over on Richard Carrier’s blog:  http://freethoughtblogs.com/carrier/archives/667

  • amycas
  • Murray

     I have actually met Jesus…loads of them.  I went on holiday to Mexico and they were everywhere!  Nice guys for the most part!

  • Jjdelangelrdz

    That’s AWESOME Jeff!!  I’m an atheist in the military and when I hear the phrase; “there are no atheist in foxholes”  I calmly correct them.  They are surprised to hear that. It’s hard for them to comprehend that atheists also love  this country as well and are willing to die for the Constitution and protect the First Amendment.  Good Luck and stay strong.

    From Kandahar, Afghanistan:
    SGT Hernandez, Juan

  •  You, sir, are my new role model. I wish I could be even half as open at school about my nonbelief as you are! And respectfully and very well-spoken, I might add.

    I honestly enjoy learning about my friends’ religions and engaging them in the subject — some of them have lent me books and invited me to visit their youth groups, which I have — but unfortunately, I tend to tiptoe around my own beliefs. So (unsurprisingly, of course) right now I’m stuck being seen as an easy convert who just needs a little more pushing towards Jesus…

  • Fatcow7713

    I think Lori misspoke on that particular point, but on everything else she’s spot on. It was a dick move to dress this way and he knew it would be. It was a potential disruption to the school and that much can’t be denied. 

  • Heliosprimus

    Glad to hear someone is making a difference in the atheist community. Persecution, though it may be horrible, still means we are making a difference somehow. Thanks jeff!

  • johnp7

    Awesome job, buddy. Stick to your beliefs no matter what anyone says.

  • Donaving

    Wow. This is a teen-aged kid being a typical teen-aged kid (AND POSTING FOTOS ON THE FACEBOOK!! TO THE X-TREME!!!)

    You people are just–Wow.

    But thank you for reminding me why I’m a Christian.

  • AxeGrrl

    This bit made me smile:

    “Even though the vast majority of students in my school are religious, many told me how much they liked my costume and how disappointed they were that I had to take it off. Even my teachers thought it was funny. Only a very few of my peers said they thought it was in bad taste, and none did so during instructional time.”

  • Donaving

    I’m curious–have you ever read any poetry?

  • The Ruxin

    No.  It sets up the First Amendment debate.  The school had to say it would disrupt the classroom to justify it.  Constitutional rights for students are lowered.  A blanket statement likely covers their ass if the student files a 1st Amendment claim against them.

  • Donaving

    Yeah. That’s totally it. You’re a genius, Adam. You’ve cracked the code. 

  • I don’t even know what to think of this post.

  • AxeGrrl

    You nailed it.

  • idontknowanythingman

     You aren’t dying for anyone, except rich cunts who sat on their ass all day while you’re sitting in the heat melting your balls off. (depending on what and where you’re stationed)

    Only reason people sign up for the military; college/university, money, and to lose weight/get courage/etc. Not to mention, get killed.

    I appreciate what you are doing and hope you well, I just don’t understand how people can keep lying to themselves.

  • Blinderpeter

    I hope you have a source of evidence for that statement David. My current reading suggests otherwise.

  • Ben

    Smart kid. The world needs more people like you. Luckily Atheists here in the UK aren’t treated with as much contempt.

  • Their is a business owner in my area called “Tony Stark”
    Does than mean he’s Iron Man and the comics and movies are true???

    Just because someone has the same name as a fictional character, It’s not proof of the fictional character’s existence…

  • Tallgirlkelly96

    Dude, you’ve gotta get yourself a pair of Birkenstock sandals for the next time you do this… 🙂 

  • Mark

    At the point he was asked to remove his costume, he should have complied, and gone as another fictional character – Adam.

  • Patterrssonn

    It does seem logical though, if god is in the gaps when it comes to science then why shouldn’t the devil be in the gaps when it comes to christianity, and there are an awful lot of gaps. Perhaps that’s why Christians see the devil as so powerful.

  • Monty

     Actually if we are speaking globally, Jesus is widely regarded as fictional.  He is certainly fictional to every Hindu, Muslim and Bhuddist on the planet.
    I wonder if this kid had come dressed as Gnesh or Bhudda if anyone would have even batted an eyelash?

  • Monty

    There is less evidence that Jesus existed than there is that Robin Hood, King Arthur, Romeo and Juliet or Count Dracula existed and yet I don’t think anyone would have considered those inappropriate costumes.  Jesus is a character of legend, possibly based in some actual historical person with the same name, but this is why Christianity requires faith.  There is no evidence that the Jesus of the Bible actually existed. You just have to “believe”.

  • AxeGrrl

    He should have just said that he was dressed as “White Jesus”. No one can successfully argue the fact that version is completely fictional, not even the most ignorant of fundamentalists. 😉


  • I just hope Bart Ehrman doesn’t hear about this. LOL

  • Desty

    just one thing here.. whether or not Jesus existed or not is irrelevant to the “not a fictional character” argument…. how many “Christian” believers of jesus beleive in a middle eastern man with dark skin who looks more like a ‘muslim’ than a “white father” (sometimes with blond hair??) … think of it.. where did the events all take place and at what point in history, what do people look like from that part of the world???  whether or not Jesus Christ existed as a real person, and i believe he did, in much the same way that Gautama Buddha did and Mahatama Ghandhi & other such sages & healers and evolved people throughout history.. ( the healing hands-you ever heard of reiki? walking on water-walk on a salt lake & it looks exactly like that.. also take some psychedelics or add extreme hunger & spread the bread and fish & it looks like it never ends… Basicly what im saying is that, Yes, i believe he existed-i have no qualms with that, amazing people have existed throughout history & continue to do so today… BUT JESUS AS A DEITY, THAT WE KNOW OF TODAY.. HE DIDNT EXIST..REMEMBER CHILDREN HE WOULD HAVE BEEN DARK SKINNED NOT WHITE.. AND THE REAL JESUS, AS ALL SUCH SAGES THROUGHOUT THE AGES,  WOULD HAVE PREACHED NON-VIOLENCE & FORGIVENESS (& LETTING OTHERS FOLLOW THEIR OWN BELIEFS..)  & LIVING IN HARMONY WITH NATURE…  & WOULD HAVE BEEN ALOT MORE BALANCED IN FEMININE/MASCULINE WAYS.. NOT FIGHTING WARS AGAINST MUSLIMS IN THE NAME OF “GOD”
    the Jesus we know of today was manipulated by the falling Roman Empire (after they executed him) as a way of continuing dominance over the people.. Previously they were pagan, after Julias Caesar & Constantine realised they were fighting a loosing battle against followers of Jesus they decided to end Pagan religion as the Roman religion and coinciding with the “breakup of rome” and the beginning of europe/britain, commenced the Crusades, abolishing all acts and rites of paganism, and feminine beliefs (& feminine healing, knowledge & strength) which were all linked to earth, and therefore “pagan & evil” , in favour of CHRISTIAN & GODLY AND (MASCULINE) ways.. (the end of common sense as we need both masculine and feminine qualities and balance, but look at life now and its all very one sided.. conquering, competing, winning, beating.. no harmony… SO THAT IS THE STORY OF “JESUS”..  AND THEN AMERICA WAS FORMED, & THE CITIZENS INDOCTRINATED INTO A FALSE BELIEF SYSTEM & A FALSE VERSION OF GOD TO JUSTIFY GREAT WRONG-DOINGS, & THINKING THEIR NATION HIGH & HOLY JUST LIKE THE ROMANS DID.. & NON-BELIEF IN THEIR RELIGION & NATION A SIN, AND BELIEF IN THE INFIDELS RELIGION A CARDINAL SIN… BUT ONE DAY ROME FELL.. AS WILL AMERICA FALL.. AND SOME DAY ALL RELIGIONS WILL BE TOLERATED WITH A GRAIN OF SALT FOR THE AVATARS OF PHILOSOPHY & PEACEFUL LIVING THAT THEY ACTUALLY ONCE WERE BEFORE VARIOUS EMPIRES TURNED THEM INTO RELIGIONS… AND THE WORLD WILL LIVE IN PEACE….

  • T-Rex

    Cognitive disonance anyone?

  •  So… where is this evidence?

    Everything reputable points to Jesus being 100% myth.

  •  *groan*

    Well played, sir. Well played.

  •  Oy. Josephus is a proven fraud.

  • rtfgb

     I always figured they meant once people are getting shot at they start finding it in themselves to prey or ask god to protect them.

  • Onamission5

    Except it doesn’t present “all sides,” because none of the thousands of non-christian creation stories are represented. If we were to present all religious creation stories *in science class* there would be no time left for actual science. Therefore, religious stories should be left out of science class altogether.

  • AFD

    “a teacher leading the class in prayer” WTF??! Does that still go on in the states? I’m from the UK but am pretty sure there are laws in place (here if not there) that separate church and state and include making any public school children fall in to this type of indoctrination.

  • Onamission5

    Things are different in many places on this side of the pond. Teenaged girls get death threats for asking school administrations to uphold the US constitution, for example. Being open about ones atheism may not be terribly risky in some regions/towns here, but in others, it’s tantamount to putting a target on your own back.

    — atheist in the bible belt

  • EmilySommers989

    I am just surprised that this kind of attitude of “educators”  is allowed in a public school setting.  This gives “religious freedom” the meaning of:  I’m free to rub my religion in your face, especially if you practice a different one, or don’t practice one at all.  Thank you, Jeff, for your articulately written story of the events that happened to you.  You will do very well in college.  Don’t let this get your hopes down.   

  • Nhills

    nice troll

  • Engineercody

    I agree. As I read this article I felt as if this “science teacher” should be unemployed due to his/her blasphemy.

  • Zachary Woods

    I respect anybody’s religion, but dressing up as Jesus on a Fictional Character day is a little much. It’s basically mocking the christian religion. He go offended because people critisize him for being an athiest and showing their views and he goes and does this. I was a little much. No rights were violated. If he were to dress as Buddha with a Buddhist in the school he would have been reprimanded for it.  

  • Chris

    Correct me if I’m wrong…but wasn’t this done as a way to try and get a reaction out of people?

    You just as easily could have come as anything else.

  • Ryan Moran

    Parts of Josephus were altered by later Christians to make it sound like he believed Jesus was god, that does not make all of Josephus a fraud, and he casually mentions Jesus at least existing in a later passage that’s not considered to be fraudulent.

  • Dmmiley64

    It is not only hard in the US but in certain places of the country it can be downright dangerous . This young man is smack dab in the middle of the “Bible Belt” he is not only a smart young man but he is also very brave for doing What he did. He could very well be hurt or killed by the many fundies from the south. The well know KKK claims to do their bidding in the”name of god” and their are many other such groups. You are very lucky to live in a country that does not live in such intolerance and utter stupidity. I hope this young man gets out of Tennessee as soon as possible and is able to get to a state that he is able to freely live his life and be able to help others come to the truth that he has found.

  • Ryan Moran

    Interesting post.  Reading though the article and comments now.  The one thing that’s struck me so far is how similar mythicists in IDers sound when complaining that they have the real truth and are being kept out of academia by those close minded scholars! 

     Not that this means none of their points are valid (although I’m unconvinced of most of them), but talking in such a paranoid and conspiratorial way does not help their credibility much. 

  • Thackerie

    Correction appreciated, but not needed. Having encountered our share of dirty christians, most of us know what you meant.

  • Fsq

    check uyour facts. There is no evidence in the archeological records to show that a messiah named Jesus ever walked the earth.

    There is actually a dearth of chronology showing this dude was fiction, not fact.

  • Fsq

    And it needs to be sadi….but once again, it is the south. Always the south.

  • There is plenty of evidence outside the bible for Jesus’ life and work. Google “Josephus.”

  • Regardless you believe in Christianity or not, you actually think that the person of Jesus was/is fiction?

    Regardless how many people prove that what we now know of Jesus was not true, do you still think that Jesus himself, a person born so many years ago, was actually a fabricated story? Like stories of Zeus et al?


  • Jeff should have vehemently refused to take off the costume.  Furthermore, he, his brother, and their family should have contacted the ACLU of Tennessee to effectively remedy the school district’s constitutional infractions.  In all honesty, the ACLU is much more effective than the FFRF in expediting and effecting change.

  • Fatcow7713

    Really, you have a point…at least in the first 2 lines anyway! 😛 He was being a rebellious teenager, no doubt about that. 

  • Juan, the phrase “there are no atheists in foxholes” doesn’t mean that atheists don’t become solders, it means that when anyone is laying in a foxhole scared to death they will turn to praying to God

  • Renshia

     Yeah I know what you mean. There are all kinds of old writings about the Egyptian god Horas to and there are people that don’t believe in him either, Imagine the lunacy…

  • wellifwe’resplittinghairs

    While I agree with you in general, he actually said he was “willing to die for the Constitution and protect the First Amendment. ” The key word there is “willing” and in that respect, can’t be judged by you or me as being accurate or otherwise. 

    Jjdelangelrdz, I don’t approve of these wars, but I still
    appreciate your service.

  • But, um, most scholars and other religions believe Jesus of Nazareth to be an actual historic person, the controversy is whether or not He was the Son of God…….so the kid wasn’t wearing a costume of a “fictional person” after all. 

  • Onamission5

    Why do you devalue teenagers? Are they not people with valid opinions, just because they are betwen the ages of 12 and 20?

  • The schools have the right to ban articles of clothing they believe to be disruptive. They always have.

  • Onamission5

    “Troubles in Israel” =/= Jesus as described by the bible existing.

  •  If people apply the same arbitrary standard of rejection of all historical evidence to other ancient historical personages, such as Julius Caesar or Alexander the Great, they would be forced to reject all history as myth.

  • Thackerie

    So christians criticizing an atheist and “showing their views” is perfectly fine and dandy but when the atheist shows his views, literally, it’s a “little much”????

    Careful, kiddo, if you’re trying to defend your religion, you’re going about it all wrong. What you’re doing in the above post, for example, is reinforcing what many non-believers think about people like you — i.e, that many christians tend to be hypocrites who can dish it out but not take it.

  • Aprilcopeland21

    Jeff as a Christian I’d like you to know that some of us believe in God with all we are and yet still support your right to believe whatever you want. I am sorry you haven’t encountered any of us yet, but I promise we exist 🙂 Too many people forget that it’s not our place to judge, and in fact Christ told us not to! I don’t recall the part where He said, “judge not your neighbor… except if he’s an atheist, then go postal”. Maybe I missed that chapter. Everytime someone proclaims you’re going to he’ll, be comforted, for by their own belief system they will be judged for how they treat you. Irony ftw.

  •  Josephus isn’t a first hand resource, and there is some debate as to whether the mentions of Jesus in his works are genuine or if they are interpolations. 

  • Xemnaught

    Reddit is lucky to have you, man.

    Seriously, you deserve that scholarship. You’re very intelligent and are so great at making your beliefs known while not harassing people. It fills me with pride to see fellow atheists act with such poise and grace. Good job.

    P.S. shoot me a PM on reddit sometime if you like. my username is xemnaught

  • Mike

    This article clearly shows that when the typical Christian is outed as believing in religious mythology, they simply can’t take it. Christians simply want to push there religion on everyone they can possibly get their message to and never want resistance from others. Most typical Christians (the cult followers of Christ) will  do all possible to keep people from speaking against their invisible friend. Some will argue loudly and try to over talk other people, where other cultists will simply walk away and sing (out loud or in their head) lalalalalalala.A believer’s delusion of having their belief in an invisible sky daddy shattered is simply too much for most cult members (Christians and followers of other religions) to handle.

  • TnkAgn

     Most “Christian” scholars accept the historicity of Jesus. And why? Because they are biblical scholars, and almost universally, Christians. Th same reason most Americans think Jesus existed. And yet there is a healthy and growing body of scholarship that finds no evidence for the existence of one individual known as Jesus.

    I recommend the work of David Fitzgerald, Richard Carrier, Eric MacDonald, Ben Goren and Steven Law, all prominent so-called”Jesus Mythers.” It may open your mind to the strong possibility that no such single person ever walked Galilee.

  • Thegoodman

    We had a fictional character day in my high school in 2000 and a student dressed up as Jesus. I thought it was funny, a few people were offended, but in general it was a non-issue. This was in Indiana 12 years ago, I am curious how it would go down today.

  • If  they really believed God would protect them, why would they hide in a hole?

    I put it to you that there are ONLY atheists in foxholes. 

  • This young man made my day! 

  • TnkAgn

     I have read Bart Erhman’s books, including “Misinterpreting Jesus,” Jesus Interrupted” and “Forged.” I also know that he is no longer a Christian. BUT, Prof. Erhman was a Christian; further, he was a “fundie,” having gone to Moody Bible Institute, not a place that encourages New Testament criticism. That he has now become a prominent critical scholar of that committee-constructed compendium of stories, imbedded as it is with at least 35 magical events (miracles), does not necessarily make his scholarship on the historicity of Jesus anymore creditable to me than the work of the so-called “Jesus Mythers” I listed in my post.

    If Rush Limbaugh had transformed from right-wing nut job to pro-woman progressive, and called for the reelection of Obama, I can tell you that most lifelong liberals would harbor just a seed of distrust as to Rush’s true sincerity.

    Now to the actual premise for Erhman’s conclusion:
    First, the fact that Christian scholars of the Christian New Testament accept the existence of an individual named Jesus is hardly surprising and for the same reason, an unconvincing argument for Jesus’ existence. For that matter, since the vast majority of Americans self identify as at least nominal Christians, should we be surprised that they would agree to the existence of Jesus? No. Does that qualify as a convincing argument for Jesus? No, according the logical fallacy,”argumentum ad populum.”
    Second, the researchers who argue against an historical Jesus have the more sound principle: “Where is the evidence that Jesus existed?” It is a profoundly more solid base to work from than yours and Erhman’s: “If we begin with the premise that Jesus existed, what evidence is there that refutes that premise?

    As for myself, I have not yet ruled out the possibility of an historical Jesus, but I lean towards a combination of Egypto-Judaism and Mythraism and the incidence of radical and apocalyptic rabbis in a Jewish province chafing under the yolk of Rome and Tiberius. Was Jesus a composite?

    You may be interested in a book I am reading now: “Revelations: Visions, Prophesy and Politics,” by noted scholar Elaine Pagels. Hatred of Rome after the destruction of Jerusalem, and politics between the author of Revelations and Paul goes a long way to explain how and why the last book of the accepted New Testament was written.

  • KateSherlock

    As a former resident of Spring Hill and parent of 3 high school students from the locale 
    I energetically applaud you.  I empathize for I am aware of the environment there.   I also was an ardent bible student  for years until I saw the light.    Ostracism and ignorance are what we currently are obliged to contend with.   But with brilliance such as yours I believe that there is hope.   One day intelligence and the facts of the matter will prevail.    You indeed are OUTSTANDING!

  • Darby

    This reply is Jesus’ message in action based on my understanding of it. My hats off to Jeff for standing up for his belief with conviction. Love and God Bless

  • Basedinreality1

     Josephus was not born till 37 years after jesus’ death. Not a reliable source.

  • Fakhercom

    RESPECT from a Tunisian Atheist

  • Danalogsdon

    Jeff! You nailed the portrayal. We all know that Evangelical Christians secretly desire Jesus to be white! The Mormons already believe he is (was). Thanks for having the cojones to get the conversation going! KUDOS!

  • Basedinreality1

     Wrong and ridiculous statement. There are countless CONTEMPORARY first hand accounts from multiple sources including writings, records, coins, statues, inscriptions, etc. for these other fellows. Jesus, on the other hand, has no evidence or eyewitness accounts. This is why there is so many contradictions in the gospels. In addition, no one is making claims that Alexander the great has magical powers that people claim of jesus. Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence, which is lacking for the case of jesus’ divinity.

  • Joe_Friend

    What’s a FOTO?

  • ReadsInTrees

    Even if there was evidence for a person known as Jesus of Nazareth….he stated that he was dressed as Jesus Christ. “Christ” is a title specifically made for a deity Jesus, not a man Jesus. Jesus Christ is certainly a fictional character.

  • LifeInTraffic

    I hadn’t, either, until I moved here. Now I see people who actually believe their wife was raped by a demon (no, I am not making that up), that possession is real and frequent, etc. It’s fucking terrifying.

  • LifeInTraffic

    Yep. And they’ve brought one of the leading accusers, Helen Ukpabio,  to—wait for it…Texas to preach and cast out witches. The woman responsible for thousands of children being tortured, abandoned, and killed was welcomed with open arms in 2010, and again about a month ago. 

  • in fairness to the administration; the way this reads is as though they gave him the choice and he chose to remove the costume.  i would not inherently insist that his rights were violated by the act of talking to him in an office.  i think we hide behind the concept of freedom of speech because it’s hard to say what we really want to say, what the truth is, that no one who believes in religious doctrines should be in charge of any type of education whatsoever. they have already proven themselves ignorant. that’s the reality.

  • Jordan Sugarman

    Jeff, you rock. I’m one of the Redditors that urged you to contact the FFRF, and I’m glad to hear you followed through.

  • Rwlawoffice

     You do know that dearth mean “a lack of” or a “scarcity” ?  So with that in mind, I agree with you that there is no evidence that Jesus was fiction.

  • Rwlawoffice

     So Adam, what other historical facts would you want proven by double blind studies?  Also, did you know that most of the Ive League schools like Harvard for example were founded as religious schools and are considered real universities?

  • Onamission5

    That totally sickens me. Is there an article I can read on this, that I may further expand my outrage?

  • Onamission5

    I knew about this, and am ashamed to know that some of the churches I attended as a youth are part of the driving force behind it. At least my childhood exorcisms were only accompanied by a mob of delusional adults and the occasional parental beating, and not fear of death.

  • Rwlawoffice

     That is a bold statement. What is your evidence for everything “reputable” points to Jesus being 100% myth? What is your definition for reputable?

    Contrary to your assertion, by all standards of historical documentation for the times, the historicity of Jesus is extremely well documented in the number of sources, the short time the sources were written following Jesus’ life, the references outside of the Bible, etc…   

  • There’s a facebook page about her 
    Hemant wrote about her a while back, but Patheos’s new search sucks.

  • Nicolft

    …This just makes me so mad. Ditto to Onamission5.

  • LifeInTraffic

    It’s crazy that she was even allowed into the US, let alone allowed to speak.  But, you know, religious freedom and all. That obviously trumps the lives of the children she caused such abuses to.

    And I’d bet an awful lot that the churches sponsoring her are “pro-life.” How appalling.

  • You’re fantastic Jeff! I recon we’ll see great things from you in the future.

  • Neil

    And if your faith is honest, one person dressing up as Jesus should have no effect on you.  I doubt it would bother jesus all that much. 

    He didn’t run screaming through the halls that god is fake and christians are stupid, he simply made a single, simple statement by dressing a certain way.  It should be no more offensive to a christian than it is to non-chritstians to see a believer wearing a t-shirt that has, say, a very mild joke about heaven and hell, or even that damned smug “not perfect, just saved” line on it.  By wearing anything even as mild as that, the christian is still, even if only lightly or obliquely, threatening or chastising the non-believer.  The non-believer may see through the threat and not be bothered at all, but the intent is still there…it’s still a worse and more threatening message than “you’re mistaken about that”.  And yet we all put up with it, all the time, at school, at work, on the street, without getting our panties in a twist over kids wearing annoying t-shirts.    

    I am also amused by your dismissal of real-world concerns about your religion….no matter how nice christians may act toward non-believers, there is a definite social component going on, beyond the content of the beliefs.  If the majority of people around me truly believe in  heaven and hell, and believe that I am among the hellbound, there is bound to be some spillover into the real world.  The threat of hell is stupid…but the threat of righteous clowns doing their best to convince you of hell, or of fearing and shunning the “hellbound”, is a whole other thing.  A thing that many of us deal with daily, with more patience and grace than many good christians seem able to muster. 

    So again, in no way at all can you demonstrate that what this guy did was any worse than the daily, normal experience of the non-believer.  But you guys always have to whine like babies, every time a non-christian dares to shows signs of openly existing happily without your bullshit.   

  • Rwlawoffice

     So historians today that write about people that lived prior to them are not reliable sources?

  • Rwlawoffice

     He did not need to run through the halls.  He knew what he was doing and it was intentional.  Frankly if I was a teacher  there I would have used it as an opportunity to show how wrong he was in thinking that Jesus was fictional and go into a discussion of the historicity of Jesus. You seeing nothing wrong or disrespectful about what he did and yet feeling offended when a Christian wears a t shirt that says not perfect but saved (which on its face is referring to the wearer, not anyone else) proves my point that the reason you see it that way is because you agree with the student’s sentiments and not the t shirt wearer.

    As for Christians behaving badly, you are correct, it happens.  Far too often.  But before you cast stones, I would look at yourself when you say that Christians don’t respect your beliefs and then you call their bullshit.  All in the same post.  Respect goes both ways.

  • Rwlawoffice

     Maybe I am confused.  I agree with you that the favorable rating for Atheists is low.  My point is that from a Christian perspective part of the reason is that some atheists, like Jeff go out of their way to mock believers and yet at the same time expect respect for their own beliefs.

  • aLittleLeftofCenter

     That is exactly what that phrase means, however, as an Army Infantry solider with two deployments (many firefights) and an anti-theist; I can tell you I have never prayed to a god during troubling times. I relied heavily on my training and my brothers to my side, and that is all!

  • Rwlawoffice

     If you believe that the only references to Jesus outside of the Bible is Josephus, you are mistaken. In addition, before there was the “bible” the gospels and the letters from Paul were simply that, letters. Scholars accept this type of evidence from ancient history all of the time.  There is no basis besides a bias to exclude these histories in your examination.  For example, i am sure that you would accept histories of Roman generals written by other Romans would you not? Why only accept history written about Roman leaders from non Romans?

    I disagree with you that it takes no faith not to believe something that is historically proven to be true.  You have to have faith that what is historical proven to be true is really false.   That takes alot of faith.

    I take it from your comments about “ridiculous impossible things” that you do not believe in the supernatural and that everything is explained by the natural laws that we have.  Is that true?

  • aLittleLeftofCenter

     Too bad not all Christians think as you do. I know plenty of them though. I have many friends (in the broad spectrum of things most of my friends) that are Christian. I have lost a few because of their beliefs. If one is not willing to at least listen to he other positions on the topic, then they limit the level of intelligence they can acquire. 

  • aLittleLeftofCenter


  • digidee

    he’s got a pair on him. go, jeff!

  • Wcrowley

    this is BS, I did this years ago, in the heart of Polk County (pronounced by the locals as “Poke Ow Knee”).  My friend and I dressed up as matching Jesuses (Jesi?) for Twin Day, caught a lot of shit for it from fellow students. Where’s my check?!

  • Chris D.

    I’m a Christian and I think it is wrong that people tell you that your wrong and r going to rot in hell everyone is entitled to their on opinions nd shuldnt be told that their Opinion is wrong they Shuld just be able to say it as long as its not a cruel comment
    This is an opinion^

  • Nicome

    I commend you for your effort in challenging authority! 🙂

  • While I wouldn’t label myself a complete atheist, I do not subscribe to organized religion.  I have my own spirituality, and it is unique to me.  David Icke has some great ideas, as does Abraham-Hicks…  Anyway, Jesus may very well have been a fictional character, but I highly doubt it.  But what I do doubt is the Bible and how it misremembered a ton of information.  The people who wrote the Bible never even met Jesus, as he’d been dead for at least a generation.  Not only that, the Bible has been translated and re-translated, and politically edited, and pages have been ripped out of it, etc. etc. etc.  So, whatever these Christians even believe is completely a fairy tale at this point, even if Jesus did exist. 

  • Deadite_hunter01

    You win good sir

  • ahab

    I think I’d trust a historian from 2000 years ago as much as I’d trust a doctor from 2000 years ago.

  • Pete

    Jeff Shott, you are a class act.  🙂

  • Onamission5

    It does indeed go both ways.

    You first.

  • I don’t think it’s part of the reason, simply because atheists have been hated and distrusted for years, long before the rise of atheist blogs and publicity stunts. People weren’t openly mocking religion back in 1958, yet the percentage of people who said they would not vote for an atheist candidate then was 75%. Now it’s only 53%. So, actually, the public perception of atheism has improved, albeit more slowly than that of other minorities. This couldn’t have happened if people were angry at atheists simply because they perceived us as mocking them.

    I was trying to point out that it doesn’t matter how nice atheists are. People who are upset about atheism don’t care if we’re nice. Jeff was mistreated long before he dressed up in his Jesus costume. He was accused of being possessed by devils and demons simply because he’s a nonbeliever. I’ll admit that dressing up as Jesus probably didn’t make the people at his school realize that atheists aren’t evil, but I doubt that it could have made things worse.

  • Onamission5

    I reject gods because magic, invisible daddies are imaginary.

  • What’s really scary is that it seems like it would be easy for them to slide back into hysteria and persecution. All it would take would be an economic and legal collapse, and some of these communities would be right back in the 17th century.

  • You’re a Christian because… Christian teenagers never do anything considered silly/immature/offensive?

  • Harrison

    I don’t see why any Christian should give a fuck if someone dresses up as Jesus on a “fictional character day.” Seriously? The school officials must be very insecure in their beliefs if they cannot even stand to have their beliefs questioned by a fucking high school kid.

  • Patrick Elliott-Brennan

    It’s a nice sentiment, if not misguided.

    He doesn’t ‘believe’ in aetheism. Being an aetheist means you don’t ‘believe’!

    Thus there is no belief associated with it.

    There’s no ‘belief’ associated with a scientific mind. There is the study of material which can be identified and tested and/or which can lead to predictions.

    This is the polar opposite of a ‘belief’ which requires no evidence. As soon as their is any, it’s not longer a belief – it’s called ‘a fact’.

    Thus, religious people have ‘belief’ and those who find no reason to have an unsubstantiated belief use facts.

    Conversely, you are culturally constructed into having your belief. This is a fact and statistically proven time and again. You did not wake up one morning and become a Hari Krishna. Weirdly there are more Hari Krishna’s in those countries where – ta dah – it is culturally entrenched. Similarly there are more Christian’s in those countries where it has cultural inertia.

    This is not a ‘belief’ but shown to be statistically correct anthropologically,  sociologically and psychologically. It can also be tested.

    So, it’s lovely that you say ‘don’t judge your neighbour’ (yes, I know you US-ian’s like to remove the ‘u’ but that’s really another argument ;)). It’s lovely that you support his rights. It’s wrong and factually incorrect to say that you support his right to his ‘belief’.

  • Patrick Elliott-Brennan

    I’d tend to agree that Jesus is not regarded as fictional and thus you have quite a good point.

    It would have been a sharper delineation had he dressed as God (with big swirly, spaghetti arms and a beard :)). 

    Maybe a sign saying ‘God’s son’ would have been even more accurate.

    Jesus (the man) is real (I’m led to understand) but Jesus the son of God and/or a member of a deitical (my made up word for the day) triumvirate is certainly fictional.

  • Patrick Elliott-Brennan

    If they made it up. Sure.

    However, if they were able to source first hand, independent material. No.

    For instance, there is a huge amount of first hand material regarding Caesar, Boudica etc, thus we know that they’re not mythological.

  • TJ

    I’m an athiest and had I been in your shoes i would have refused to remove my costume. You were well within your rights as an american and as a human. I stopped Believing in god, satan, heaven, and hell when i read the bible. Everything in the bible contradicts itself somewhere else in the bible. Also Jesus may very well have lived but was by no means the son of god. Mary was obviously cheating on Joseph and Jesus was an obvious schitzophrenic that imagined many many things.

  • some guy

    If there’s no atheist in foxholes, does that mean there would be no war without religion?

  • Bible007

    Too bad you couldn’t just call on God (Jesus). By the way, don’t you care where your children wind up for eternity?

  • Bible007

    Amen brother! See you in heaven! I can’t wait….this world is so tiresome and evil. Praise God that he will put an end to all of it soon, and some will go to heaven and others to hell. But I believe in choice, my choice is of course the opposite of those who want to wind up in hell and separated from God for eternity.

  • Bible007

    You’re right about San Francisco. Generally speaking, it’s turned into a much more pagan than Christian town. Suffice it to say….you sure won’t find many people there warning you about Satan or Hell, or showing you the way of salvation.

  • Robert

    That’s really inspiring.  From someone who wants to know the facts to you, my friend, follow what you believe and not what everyone else pushes you to do.  You will find yourself the way you want.

  • Bible007

    That is so true. No one doubts that all those other gods are fictional. The only one they doubt is Jesus. Jesus prophesied that he would be hated by a great number of folks. Looks like he was right. I just find it interesting that so many people want to hate a fellow who only wants heaven for them. But like he said, it’s your choice.

  • Bible007

    Jesus told his followers to just brush the dust off their feet if folks didn’t want to receive their message. That’s why most Christians won’t waste their time on those who would rather go into perdition for eternity. Would you? Wouldn’t you rather give the good news message of salvation to those who want it?

  • Bible007

    So….let me understand. You want to see your children follow an athiest rather than know the way of salvation? Wow….what a….father?

  • Bible007

    As a Christian I think Jeff should have the right to wear what he wants. Those ignorant of Jesus (God) will find him entertaining, and all the Christians will have further proof that the Bible is true. Jesus was the most ridiculed person in history.

    I say let everyone have their say. Then we’ll all know who was right before you know it. 🙂

  • So…let me understand.  You would worship a God that would demand that a man gut his kid to show his obedience?  Wow..what a father?

  • It’s illegal, but it goes on all the time. There are lots of schools, especially in the Bible Belt, where teachers and administrators simply ignore the law.

  • Kiwi_is_schwul

    I wish I went to public school so I could do what you did xD

  • Lucky for us! I’d hate to live in the Bible Belt.

  • Jack Black, 

    You have balls is all I can say and I am a Pagan and a Wiccan. By the way there is another irony about your costume, that is the European looking Jesus. If there was one he probably would look a lot more like a Palestinian. Even more fun he would have been a Jew, not  a Christian, as that had not been invented yet. Humor is often the best attack. It is hard to defend a silly argument while laughing. 

    You are right that most people would find that atheists are like other people some which they might like.this is exactly the reason more Atheists have to come out of the closet. We Wiccans discovered the same thing. Meanwhile the best revenge on the extreme Christians is become a real good and qualified human and always look more reasonable than they do.let them look crazy.

    Yes I am sure it sounds a bit weird, as I do happen to believe in gods and goddesses. But then your not believing in no way threatens me. I am not required to convert anyone and if it works for you,that is all that matters. I am a great believer in whatever works.

    Local crazy desert Witch.

  • JC

    My mother fought for this country that she loves for 30 years and my father for 25 years, so that weak poeple like you can lay your head down at night and sleep safely. Were are also a strong catholic family and with out a strong faith times of war are almost impossible to live through. my siblings and i were all under 10 when my parents had their first tours in iraq during Desert Storm. eventually everyone turns to god, some just wait till its almost too late. will that be you

  •  I spend most of my free time studying by reading books or via the power of the Internet.

  • Reg Garr11

    Things like that prove you are unable to understand the world. There are billions of people on this planet, most of which do NOT believe in the Christian god. Don’t discredit those of us who have moved beyond the small minded, scared beliefs that Christianity traps you into. Expand your mind, question, really listen to others as they explain their beliefs. Trust me, I said the EXACT same thing 12 years ago. Now, I have a greater understanding of life and of what Christianity really is. I am much happier and healthier now that I am agnostic in my beliefs.

  • Chris

    you are amazing (from a 50 year-old atheist).  You remind me so much of you.  I was a BAC in my last year of high school and throughout undergrad.  I find it much easier living my life as an atheist.  It’s been over 25 years since I opted out of theism.  No offense to theists as long as everyone respects the other’s opinion.  Public policy and public institutions must be secular.

  • Chris

    that was supposed to read “You remind me so much of myself”!

  • By preventing you from wearing the costume they were saying “Jesus Christ is not fictional”, which is endorsing Christianity.  Further proof: they admitted they would not have had any concern if you were dressed as a deity from another religion (Zeus).  That is preferring one religion (Christianity) and is a violation of the establishment clause.

  • BTW, here’s why you CAN have it both ways: you are not an official of the school.  School officials are NOT allowed to encourage one religious point of view over another.  STUDENTS ARE.  So, you’re allowed by the constitution to BOTH object to your teacher biasing science with religion AND to state your opinion that Jesus was a fiction.  Teachers are limited by the constitution.  You are not.  That is THE LAW.

  • Kayemmdee

    That was my immediate take on things.  Blond, clean-shaven kid – what about this makes a person think of JC?  My only guess is that someone heard the buzz and reported him to the principal.

    Also, WTF is up with having a “resource officer” (i.e., cop) in attendance.  Geeze…

  • Kayemmdee

    Jeff, you rock!  I live in Nashville and was proud to learn that this happened in Tennessee!

  • Kayemmdee

    Ditto here – “kayemmdee” on reddit!

  • Kayemmdee

    The course work in *many* PhD programs is not that difficult.  If you have the money to support yourself and you can stomach that many years of school, you’ll make it.  I know plenty of folks with a PhD who are of mediocre intellect.

  • Kayemmdee

    What historical evidence?  Listen to what the late, great Christopher Hitchens had to say on this topic (short version):


  • Kayemmdee

    Save your breath.  I don’t think Janine gets what counts as historical evidence and what doesn’t.

  • Jeff, anyone would be proud to have a son like you.  And don’t let anyone ever tell you different.

  • I have never understood why Christians who are supposedly so God-fearing and filled with faith get mad at this. Shouldn’t they just say “oh well I know Jesus is real and you don’t so jokes on you” and just leave the kid alone? 

  • Kayemmdee

    Uh, Kristen.  See what Basedinreality1 says.  One person’s minor mention of Jesus is not “plenty” of evidence.

    Think about it.  If Jesus did all the remarkable and newsworthy things that are claimed of him in the Gospels, it seems incredible that NO contemporary historian mentioned him, at all.  Not once.  None of his alleged miraculous works got reported.  His arrest and crucifixion did not get reported.  His resurrection did not get reported.  The religious movement that grew up around his person did not get reported.

    Not once by a contemporary historian.  The same historians who were reporting on all the other events, politicians, religious movements, etc. going on in the area.

    Doesn’t that seem odd to you if Jesus really existed?

  • Not to take away from your story Jeff, but honestly, If I was going to go as a made up character, I’d go as Goku from Dragonball Z. By comparison, hes a million times better than jesus, with comparable lives. 😉

  • Kayemmdee

    enuma, don’t go using big words like “interpolations”.  You’re only going to confuse folks who are already confused about what constitutes a valid historical source.

  • Kayemmdee

    Dude, this is just wrong.

  • Brandon the blasphemer

    Kudos to Jeff! Keep it up! My favorite part about being an atheist and having atheist friends, is being surrounded with such well-read, well-spoken, intelligent human beings who aren’t afraid to question and challenge their own beliefs. I was once a conservative catholic turned liberal catholic turned deist turned agnostic turned atheist. I’m glad we have another bright individual like Jeff in our ranks

  • Kayemmdee

    Double-blind studies are not really relevant to historical persons and events.  That’s how science works, but not so much history.  Regardless, there is no good “historical” evidence either.

  • kayemmdee

    I assume my kids will end up like me – ashes to ashes, dust to dust.  Death is the end.

  • kayemmdee

    Jeff, I know that the Bible Belt gets a bad rap, but if you look around, it happens all over.  The Dover case was in Pennsylvania.  I grew up in New York State and, believe me, people are just as backwards there.

  • kayemmdee

    Jeff, your generation is so lucky to have the Intertubes.  When I was your age, anyone who claimed to be an atheist would have been even more ostracized.  As I mentioned, I grew up in New York State and during those years public school students were allowed time off, during the regular school day, to attend religious instruction at local Catholic schools. 

    I know because I did it.   Mostly to get out of regular school.  And then when I realized that no one at religious ed. was taking attendance, I just went home instead.

  • Ah, but It’s still fun to tell an Atheist that their religion is just as annoying as theism..  >:)

    We agnostics like to say that we don’t know, and neither do you.  “Do What Ye Will, Harm None.” works for me.  

    Good for this young man for standing up for his rights!

  • kayemmdee

    Very good point.  I try not to get in people’s faces for this very reason.

    That said, there *is* a place for the Richard Dawkinses and the Christopher Hitchenses of the world because they unabashedly get the ideas out there.  Then when the more “moderate” atheists come in, they might get a better reception.

    Heck, even a generation ago, almost no one would even say, much less discuss, atheism or agnosticism.  Now even some hard-core Christians seem to have become a *little* more tolerant, if only in granting them the freedom to be (in their minds) wrong.

  • Mail

    My father-in-law who was often in heavy shelling in the Korean war, would be the first to tell you there ARE atheists in foxholes, because he was one.

  • Gabelrd04

    As a christian let me point out to all you who are so fast to jump on Jeff, we are called to love as believers in Christ, as Christ loves us, to die for us no matter how many times WE mock him…To all of you “believers” who slammed Jeff, look at your walk with the God we believe in and ask yourselves, are the comments we are making reflecting Gods love that he has for us and for Jeff, or our you being the pharisees Jesus came to rebuke?  I pray you “Christians” who tore this man apart are convicted of what you did, and learn how to love as God calls us to love.
      To Jeff I say this, since you are a non-believer I would ask that you forgive the people who claim to be Christians who are ridiculing you.  These people are not reflecting the way people who claim Christianity should live, and I’m truly sorry for that.

      p.s. you did a good job with the look, accept that blue stripped shirt…not sure they had that style back then lol

  • kayemmdee

    As mentioned elsewhere – I grew up in NYS but now live in “The Bible Belt”.  Things are essentially as backwards in the North as they are here – it’s just in ways that people are more used to.

    For instance, in NY, publicly funded school buses pick up and transport kids to Catholic school.  In other words, taxpayers pay for the transportation of kids to go get indoctrinated in Catholicism.  Here in TN, if you send your kids to a Catholic or other religious school (or any private school for that matter), you have to provide your own transportation.

    As also noted elsewhere, when I grew up, we were let out of public school early one day a week to attend religious education at nearby Catholic schools – on school time.  In my case, the Catholic church was within walking distance, but other kids told me that SCHOOL BUSES transported them to religious ed. because the Catholic churches / schools where they attended school were not within walking distance.

    The school lunch menu was designed around Catholic dietary customs (back then, no meat on Friday and/or during certain days of Lent).  That’s probably not an issue any more with so many different choices in school lunches.

    Until the Supreme Court ruling, we said prayer in public school during assemblies.

    I have a picture from a Christmas (winter) concert in my grammar school that has a drawing of the Virgin Mary on it – complete with halo.

  • it’s Tennessee, where science, fact and the 21st Centuty not permitted, as they conflict with Jim and Tammy Faye, to say nothing of Falwell and Pat Robertson, When your elected leaders have no knowledge of any law but the Bible, truth is screwed…

    A “science teacher” who believes the Adam and Eve myth? And disbelieves Evolution? Only in the pseudo-Christian South.

    If you are intelligent and live below the Mason Dixon line – get out while you can, it is going to get very nasty in the next few months. There is a good possibility Tennessee is where the Civil War will begin, it appears this is where the greatest concentration of Fox and Falwell-fed Xian bigots are concentrated.

    This deliberate, in-your-face ignorance of the religious right is really beginning to piss me off. I pity the next poor practicing Christian who wants to give me the “good news.”

    The good news is that he may be out of traction within a month – or two…

  • kayemmdee

    One of the pivotal things that helped cement my atheism was a course I took in the *divinity school* in Old Testament as part of my major.  It counted as an ancient history / literature course.  That semester I also took Anthro of Religion and a course in my major titled Pagan and Christian in Early Antiquity.  That was the type of experience that college *should* be (but rarely is) all about.

  • kayemmdee

    OK, I graduated from high school in 1970 IN NEW YORK STATE and things may have changed since then.  But we had prayers at graduation even then – over a decade after the Supremes ruled that school prayer was no good.

    People, erase the “this is a Bible Belt phenomenon” tape.  It goes on all over the US.

  • kayemmdee

    Watch this and weep:


    The Creation Musem is in Kentucky, but it’s really not far outside of Cincinnati.  Which is in Ohio.  Which continues to illustrate my point that this is NOT a phenomenon confined to the Bible Belt.

  • Welcome to what is the  ” Medieval “reactionary southern bible belt.When I was in high school I was kicked out and banned from sporting events for having “long hair “. The backward social attitudes there are an embarrassment for the nation. 
    In other modern countries this wouldn’t even be an issue ,but there must be 4 churches for every soul between Columbia and Spring Hill.

  • For being so preachy and opinionated , try learning how to spell properly.

  •  I was on the same, uh, boat, being in the Navy. At NTC, Great Lakes, several of us urged the chaplain to allow “alternative meditation” time in the chapel for non christians, pagans and athiests to just kind of unwind and we succeeded! That way, all religions were more or less respected and allowed. Though, sadly, when I joined, I was informed that “agnostic” was as bad as “athiest” on the dog tags and to put, “nondenominational” on them instead because I could get left behind if I was ever injured. I don’t know how true that is but made me sad.

  •  Way to go, Reg. “Godless Heathen and Proud of it.”

  •  I have always wondered about that… If christians are so certain that their god will save them and protect them, why be safe at all? Throw it all to the winds and tempt fate! What’s the worst that will happen? They’ll die? But if they die, they go to “paradise” and that is the ultimate goal, isn’t it? 

  • What a great way to stick up for yourself. Christ is the greatest fictional character ever created! Just ask the guys behind South Park!

  • Rex

    I have just one counterpoint to creationists. What makes the story in the Bible any more credible than that of other cultures? Why not teach the Hindu creation story as well, there are plenty of American hindus enough to take offense at what they can perceive as an attempt at conversion.
    Or how about native American stories?
    Or buddhist and Shinto creation stories?

    Finally how can all of these be simultaneously true? Oh wait, Christianity’s version is the only true one because you say so?

  • Poop

    You were wrong to dress up as Jesus on fictional character day. Most historians agree that Jesus was a REAL person that was executed by the Romans. The disagreement is in whether he actually had magical powers or not.

    Your teachers were right in telling you not to dress like that, just for the wrong reasons.

  • Yoss

    As if Fictional character dress-up day, in and of itself,  isn’t likely to disrupt classes at all?  I can think of characters more disruptive than Jesus that would still fit within school dress-codes…..

  • SnoopyChicken

    Christ on a bike! I just cannot wrap my head around the idea that atheists could be persecuted against in this day and age in a western country.
    I’ve got no problem with religion but I’m glad the UK is well on it’s way to growing out of it.

  • machintelligence

    It’s probably an EdD  (doctor of education) –usually considered a “cheap” degree.

  • Love it! Well done

  • Cozmiccowgirl

    I can’t help but wonder why when a male wants to make an extremely derogatory remark, he immediately goes to a word that denigrates women. What a remarkable command of the English language you have! I sure hope that you’re not married or even have a girlfriend. 

  • corps_suk

    Not any cheaper than a PhD in history or sociology…

  • corps_suk

     Even the earliest gospels admit Jesus wasn’t a real person but an Ideal…they mention over and over “if Jesus walked the earth he would do this…”

  • A science teacher who doesn’t understand what a theory is? That’s a quality education right there.

  • bismarket

    No argument here!

  • Micky G

    You realise whether you’re religious or not, or believe what
    Jesus taught or not, he was actually a real person. The events happened,
    weather they have the same significance to you or not, is another question-perhaps
    it didn’t happen as the bible said… but technically Jesus isn’t a fictional
    character…. he is fact-he was there. The only things you may believe to be
    fictional are his act, his purpose on earth and everything he stood for and
    symbolised since…. you would have been more correct going as God….. but
    still- disrespectful/dick move.

  • Being from the Pagan community, an often misunderstood group in which many  are necessarily in the “broom closet,” I applaud you for your courage – and sense of humor. I would however, like to kindly point out that the term “Heathen” is actually refers to a  religious group similar to Pagans, so maybe a different word choice, next time 😉 

  • Don’t place too much blame on the individual educators for this particular point. They’re working within a system obsessed with compliance to a standardized testing regime. This kind of education system demands rigorous time management devoted solely to getting kids to pass standardized tests so the school doesn’t have its funding taken away.

  • kayemmdee

    I agree.  Farmer’s argument is a non sequitur.

  • indigovagrant

     When I hear that there are “no atheists in the foxhole”, I kindly tell them that “there’s no preachers in the foxhole either”.

  • indigovagrant


  • ColleenPatriciaWilliams

    I would point out that we women do the same. We automatically call men “dicks” and think it’s not insulting to them. 
    It is. 
    I would also point out that it’s a cultural thing, as men in places like the UK use it as a form of endearment towards other men. 
    If it hurts you is entirely up to you; any word can really only have the power that we give it. I give it none. 
    In the US, we use phrases like “he cried like a little girl” and yes, I’ve heard women say that incredibly stupid thing, too. 
    As long as we women say stupid stuff like that, we are no better. 
    And if we really don’t like to be called names, might not want to be calling them, ourselves. It is just as offensive to man to be called by his sex organ as it for a woman to be called by her sex organ. 
    There are more similarities between men and women than there are differences. I raised two of each. Other than plumbing, no real differences in what hurts our feelings. 

  • ColleenPatriciaWilliams

    That’s an overgeneralization that is NOT true. I would love to see your data for this assertion. Peer reviewed, and NOT from the Vatican as that would be biased. 
    I’ve done end of life care, and if they were an atheist, they STAY atheist. As they have a right to. No one has the right to dictate to others their religious beliefs, or lack thereof. It is intensely personal, and should stay that way. 
    Pope Benedict, the former Hitler Youth member, has no moral authority over me, and I like it that way.
    I’ve been dead and back, and no one has the right to force others to worship ANY deity. I would suggest a good grounding in world history. Europe is blood soaked due to the idea that someone else has the right to force their personal beliefs on others. 
    Nope, dying didn’t change MY beliefs. I am NOT a Christian. Nor will I ever be. I know too much about your books, 13 of the 26 books of the New Testament are known frauds. 
    The books were known to be fraudulent in ancient times. 

  • Which of the gods do people turn to?  Personally, I like the god of Zarathustra the best, but Zoroastrianism does not accept converts.

    By the way, I am a veteran of the USAF, 9.5 years.  I spent those years with NONE on my dog tags because they refused to give me atheist.

    My brother died in Viet Nam.  No gods helped us through our grief.  My dad went to his grave with kamikaze shrapnel still working out of his skin.  No god helped him through  it — just medical science. 

    As far as I am concerned, Catholicism is one of the worst of the Christian cults because of it’s wealth and attitudes toward child molesters.  Too bad for you.

  • I’m an atheist living in nearby Columbia. I understand. I completely understand. 

  • Loren Scott

    You are my hero! 🙂

  • Neil

    Funny part is, I never said anything about respecting beliefs, or asked for any respect.  Most of us get along just fine without the respect of believers anyway, as we’ve had much, much more practice than most christians. 

    I was trying, apparently in vain, to point out that your beliefs, are, by their very freaking definition, completely and totally disrespectful to ANYONE who isn’t the same kind of christian.  Your beliefs (whether I take them seriously or not) threaten hell, devalue everything human, and place faith and group pressure over the results of actions or human reason.  Mine say only, “you’re wrong about that.”  The only way that can even be disrespectful at all is if you require complete agreement or dead silence from everyone else to feel “respected”.  

    The worst thing you could ever accuse this student of, is telling people, in a visual way, “you guys are wrong and maybe a bit silly.”  Even if a non-believer has thick skin and doesn’t fear threats of hell, we still deal with the social effects and  consequences of having a majority of those around us thinking, saying, and treating us as if we are not just wrong or innocently mistaken, but dirty, deluded, sinful, and worthy of eternal torture, and in desperate need of their beliefs.  It is profoundly disrespectful, belittling, arrogant, and in the worst situations, dangerous to our social standing, careers, and sometimes even our lives.  Can you really see no difference, or still say that he was committing some kind of offense that isn’t a pittance compared to that received?  If so, then you are blind.  And not “spiritually blind”, but blind in a way that actually matters for something in this world.     

    Hell is the ultimate disrespect for everything human.  “Not perfect but saved” while essentially harmless most of the time, is still acknowledging the belief that the rest of us will burn forever, and it doesn’t matter how snotty or mean or even evil the t-shirt wearer may be, they’re “saved”.  Again, while mostly harmless in real life (like the students jesus costume) it is, by it’s implied meaning, every bit as disrespectful as his costume was in it’s implied meaning.  His costume implies “you are silly and wrong in the here and now”.  A “saved” t-shirt implies “god loves me, but you will burn forever”.

    So seriously, are you blind?  And are you capable of actually addressing what I say?

  • Rwlawoffice

     Well then you should trust Josephus and the Gospel writers.

  • Rwlawoffice

     Sorry, but you are mistaken. 

  • Rwlawoffice

     You are correct in that Christianity teaches that all men are sinners and are in need of a savior. But saying that this is disrespectful is where I disagree.  It is a recognition that we have fallen short of the glory of God and are in need of a savior.  It also means that we are all the same, we are not perfect.  When someone says that they are not perfect but they are saved, it is a comment about them, not you, unless you project something into that. 

    Christianity is not a closed shop.  All are welcome and all are invited. If you do not believe it that is your choice and by our beliefs it will dictate your eternal destiny. But that is no reason to treat you in anyway disrespectful here on Earth. If you think that this mere belief is disrespectful then I really do not know what more I can tell you.

  • Neil

    Goddamn it, can you do anything other than lie?  Can you even read? 
    I never said Josephus was the only early source of information about jesus or christians.  I said, perfectly factually, that he was the earliest account of jesus outside the biblical writings, and that all he wrote was essentially a footnote or two about the beliefs of early christians, 70 years after the alleged events took place, and that all other sources were even later.  In some quotations and transaltions, Josephus writes as if the events actually took place, but
    in others he makes it clear that he is just recounting what he has been told by others decades after the fact. He never claimed to be a christian himself.  All this is completely true, feel free to prove me wrong by citing something other than your opinion.  I also pointed out that even if Josephus believed all he heard, it wouldn’t do much to provide real evidence for jesus, since it was a decades-later account, based on the legends of later believers.  It wouldn’t be any more convincing than somebody believing in the Loch Ness monster 70 years ago.   
    I do not reject the bible as evidence of people’s beliefs at the time…but I do think that regarding them as sources of accurate history are problematic, to say the least.  The fact that two of the gospels ocasionally get their stories straight doesn’t inspire me with much confidence, as they had years to do it and still failed a lot of the time.  Yes, they were letters to each other, but they were letters meant to be evangelistic in nature, and are still full of obvious horseshit.  For example, yes, I would accept a letter from a Roman emperor( his existence would likely have many contemporary evidential sources) to a roman general about an invasion as a piece of evidence of that event (or a least a plan for that event).  But when a part from the bible talks about jesus being a real man, but then goes on to describe healing by touch, killing a fig tree by touch, raising a long-dead corpse, and talking to the devil, it makes me suspect that there is a chance that the entire letter is fictional and written for the purpose of evangelism.  It COULD be a fictionalized, added-to account of a real person…or not.  It doesn’t really matter much to me whether the fictions of the bible were loosely ased on real people…but I’ve noticed it seems to matter very much to those with an emotional attachment to a belief system.  If there was a “real” jesus, he’s still nothing like the “Jesus” of the bible, and therefore still fictional.  If there was a “real” jesus, he’s dead, gone, rotted, scattered, and never to return.  He’ll have to be content living on in the minds of believers and frauds.
    You are quite correct that I don’t believe in the “supernatural” as I have ever heard it defined.  I don’t believe because not one “supernatural” thing, event, or being has ever had any real evidence behind it, AND I have
    never heard of or experienced anything that could credibly be called “supernatural.”   I have never heard of another person’s “supernatural” experience that wasn’t an obvious lie, easily explainable, or just plain stupid.  Feel free to prove me wrong.
    Last thing…please stop it with that whole “it takes a lot of faith to be an atheist” crap.  It just makes you look like a shitty-pants little kid yelling “I know you are but what am I?????”
    A historical jesus has never, and at this point, most likely cannot ever
    be “proven”.   It’s been too long, and the only first-hand “evidence” is an evangelistic narrative that is full of discrepancy and horseshit, with ocassional agreements among the discrepancies.  Faith is not a virtue in my opinion, but it’s supposed to be a virtue to christians.  So believe all
    the horseshit you want and be happy about it, but quit lying and trying to make skepticism a faith.
    If you want me to believe, get better evidence.  The evidence of a historical jesus says, AT BEST, “eh……maybe.”  So that’s all the credibility it will get from me.  That is not faith, so QUIT LYING about it.   

  • Neil

     I think that beliefs can partially dictate one’s fate, along with many other factors.
    No eternal destiny or final judgement from outside reality are necessary for that.  I also think that imposing concepts like miracles, eternal destinies, heavens and hells can do a lot of damage to otherwise healthy people and their relationships with others.

    I also know that many believers can respect non-believers here on earth, even though that is at complete logical odds with their beliefs.  By your theology, I am a danger to the souls of your children.  I’m glad that you are able to step outside your beliefs enough to not act on them in harmful ways, or at least to choose the compassionate teachings and preachings over others. 

    I simply see no need to believe the ridiculous to make sense of the world, and I can’t help but notice that believing the ridiculous can have serious personal and social side effects, including the fact that you have to either twist and interpret beliefs constantly to make them fit the real world, or else try to force the real world to conform to your beliefs.

    As far as “not perfect just saved”  goes, even if you, from your position within, can’t or choose not to see it, “not perfect, just saved” as a t-shirt slogan implies a whole lot of things it doesn’t say directly, much more than dressing as jesus could, and is entirely smug and snotty while pretending to be humble.  Classic passive-aggressive christian BS, using the common knowledge of centuries of culture to  pretend humility while obviously asserting superiority.   You can hide behind your bullshit all you want,  but that doesn’t change the fact that anyone wearing that shirt believes a lot of ridiculous and horrifically ugly things about anyone who isn’t in the club, and is just saying  “but not ME, I can screw up all I want ’cause I’m saved.  Thanks, Jesus! *wink*”
    I think a fair comparison would be a t-shirt that said “not saved, just smart”.  That might imply something smug enough to be equivalent. 

    As far as real respect for other humans goes from my non-believing viewpoint, I think there is a good chance that religious ideals as practiced by humans will prevent our necessary growth enough destroy humanity, the planet, and everything on it, with no miralce ending to save us.  But you still wouldn’t deserve “eternal” punishmnet for your finite crime.  Can you even comprehend what that level of respect for others is like?  I doubt your beliefs allow you that.    

  • kayemmdee

    Probably not.  Although I think history might be more difficult than people imagine.  A serious and well-versed historian is no one to scoff at.

    Sociology?  You’ll get no argument from me.

    I know that standardized test scores do not paint a perfect picture, but they do mean something.  Here are the average GRE scores (verbal / quantitative / combined) based on intended graduate school major – for lack of any other strategy in more or less ascending  order of  *combined* score.  I’m sorry I don’t have a link to the site from where I downloaded the pdf a few months ago.

    Physical Education:  389 / 487Student Counseling:  419 / 489 / 908
    Adult and Continuing Education:  438 / 480 / 918
    Educational administration:  430 / 520 / 950
    Educational supervisor:  429 / 527 / 956
    Interior design:  430 / 543 / 973
    Educational Psychology:  448 / 529 / 977
    Dance:  463 / 520 / 983
    Nursing:  452 / 531 / 983
    Higher Education:  455 / 537 / 992
    Curriculum and Instruction:  460 / 544 / 1004
    Sociology:  490 / 541 / 1031
    Education – Gifted Students:  475 / 564 / 1039 (!!!)
    Secondary education:  484 / 586 / 1070
    History, European:  554 / 555 / 1109
    Zoology: 505 / 609 / 1114
    Biology:  477 / 606 / 1083
    Theology:  537 / 583 / 1120
    Electrical Engineer:  426 / 717 / 1143
    Genetics:  496 / 651 / 1147
    Paleontology:  531 / 621 / 1152
    Chemistry:  483 / 681 / 1164
    Finance:  466 / 721 / 1187
    Economics:  508 / 707 / 1215
    Physical Chemistry:  513 / 706 / 1219
    Biomedical Engineer:  504 / 717 / 1221
    Aerospace Engineer:  498 / 725 / 1223
    All Philosophy fields:  591 / 630 / 1221
    Astronomy:  525 / 706 / 1231
    Classical Languages:  619 / 633  / 1252 (included since this major consistently gets the highest
         average verbal score, is one of only a few majors to have average verbal scores over 600,

         and one of the few non-science majors to get over 600 on the quantitative portion and also

         – eh hem – one of my college majors)
    History of Science:  596 /661 / 1255
    Math:  523 / 740 / 1263

    These scores are worth some discussion about what they reveal and what else, if anything, they mean.

  • 87rmaguire

    I applaud your honesty and bravery. Keep belief where it belongs, in yourself. Kudos, man

  • This guy is pretty much awesome.

  • Evidence?

    Links or GTFO. 

  • sara

    I’m sure all of his other issues are legitimate, however I find this to be blatant disrespect towards Christian beliefs. You can be Atheist and leave other people’s religion alone…
    There are thousands of fictional characters to choose from and he thought that dressing up as Jesus would be funny/appropriate? I have trouble finding sympathy for him.

  • Lunel

    Two different words. One is sexual organ the other is a character trait. Dick is another but slightly different trait.

  • Lunel


  • Lunel

    Which is very stupid!!!

  • Effing eloquent statement! Clear as day, isn’t it??!!

  • Lunel

    You would think god would figure out they need help without hearing their prayer.

  • Lunel

    Must be very confusing. They would be better off if they focus on survival. But if they save themselves they will never know who save them. Brain-wrecking.

  • kayemmdee

    Oh, this is rich!  A Christian saying that atheists should leave other people’s religions alone.  Many Christians try to ram their beliefs down the throats of non-believers all the time.  Jeff Shott was only trying to express his beliefs by portraying JC – that’s all.

  • kayemmdee

    Rene, a few years ago when my husband and I visited the historic beaches at Normany, France, we also visited the American cemetery there.  As you may know, all the graves are marked with either crosses or stars of David.  I remarked, rather cynically, to my husband that I found it amazing that of all the soldier who died, not a single one was an atheist or agnostic.

  • Annie

    Is there a way to remove oneself from this thread?  I just feel that people are saying the same thing over and over again, and I would love to put a stop to the incessant mail.  If anyone has any advice, I welcome it.

  • kayemmdee

    While I think I understand your sentiment, this is not really an issue about feminist sensibilities.  While I agree with you that there is rarely a time when the use of the pejorative “cunt” is acceptable, there are plenty of words that denigrate males as well.  Such as prick, dick, dickhead, wanker, and jerkoff.  Other words, such as bastard, asshole, douchebag, and SOB are almost exclusively used against males.  I’ve even seen people, in certain “debates”, suggest that a given man should get the same treatment as Lorena Bobbitt dished out – which was cutting off her husband’s penis in case you are too young to have lived through that media circus.  Anyway, in those situations, I don’t think I’ve ever seen anyone get all PC and make accusations of male bashing.

    There’s plenty of fodder for debate about the decision to dress up as JC without getting one’s feminist feathers ruffled.

    Just my (female) take on things.

  • kayemmdee

     How about quit reading the thread if you’re not enjoying it?

  •  Yeah, scroll down to the bottom, and there is an “unsubscribe” option. I’m about to do this myself due to the redundant nature of many comments — mostly from Christians claiming “Jesus was REAL! Hurr durr, GOSPELS!”

  • kayemmdee

    Again, please quit thinking this is ONLY an issue of the Bible Belt.  Religious-based stupidity knows no geographic boundaries.

    I grew up in New York State.  When I was 16 or 17 years old, I wrote a letter to the editor about, of all things, a “mother of the year” award sponsored by the afternoon newspaper.  The recipient, that year, was a mother of a bunch of kids, and much was made of the fact that she had so many kids.

    My letter pointed out that a mother did not have to have a lot of children to be a good mother.  I didn’t advocate birth control or even abortion (which I don’t think was even legal then).  I merely wanted to point out that quantity did not equal quality.

    I need to interject that, in those days, it was a policy/rule of the newspaper to publish the street address of any letter writer.

    A day or two after my letter was published, on an evening I was not home (probably at my part-time job), a woman showed up at our house unannounced looking for me.  My father answered the door and explained that I wasn’t home.  The woman then proceeded to ream my father a new one – in my stead – for my letter to the editor.

    My father never did quite get to the bottom of what her complaint was, but it had to do with her religious views.  I can’t be sure, but since I grew up in a heavily Catholic town, my best guess is that my letter incited her because she thought I was advocating for birth control.

    When I got home that night, my father reamed *me* a new one for writing letters to the editor and told me never to do it again.  Of course I ignored him, have written numerous letters since then, and have appeared on the TV news and been interviewed by newspapers numerous times for a variety of issues.  As a result, I have gotten my fair share of threatening phone calls and snail mails in response, including death threats.  (YES!)

    I have plenty of family and friends left in New York State and, believe me, many of them are very religious.  Lots of kids attend Catholic school and also attend religious education one week a night.  Members of my family and friends have gotten sucked into the Jehovah’s Witnesses as well as some relatively extreme Christian cults.  Some of these folks – mainstream religion or not – are homophobes, anti-abortion, and think that all atheists (or anyone not of their religion) are going to hell. 

  • kayemmdee

    See my posts about why this is NOT just a Bible Belt phenomenon.  I am from NYS and I lived with it there.  I have friends all over the US who deal with this sh*t on a regular basis.

  • As someone from TN, I can finally say that there’s some good news coming from home now! Thank you Jeffrey for giving me hope for my home state! I’m really proud of you! Stay strong and don’t let the bastards get you down. The problem is that so many believers refuse to even discuss the matter and immediately condemn anyone who doesn’t think the way they do.  this makes it very scary for “non-believers” to exercise their freedom of speech. There needs to be open and honest discussion about the matter. There also needs to be an overhaul of the whole TN education system as well, but that’s another matter.  

  • Steve

    These stores of closed minded religious fundamentalists teaching in schools sound like a medieval horror.

  • Annie

    Thank you, wmdkitty. 

  • Sixninecat

    Dude, you rock  🙂

  • Basedinreality1

     Science and history are not about trust. They are about finding and recording truth through testable evidence. Sorry but the bible doesn’t measure up. If you are to “trust” the bible, then yo have just as much reason to believe the quaron(Koran),the book of mormon, or scientology. What you “Feel” is correct doesn’t guide us to truth.

  • Rwlawoffice

     I didn’t say that my trust of the bible is about “feel”.  I said Josephus is a respected historian and his work is accepted by historians for its accuracy.  As such it is a reliable source document for evidence of  Jesus outside of the Bible.

    As for the gospel writers, there histories are equally reliable when they are viewed under the same lens as other histories or biographies in the ancient world.  It is only when skeptics try to hold them to a different standard are they viewed as unreliable. 

    As far as an historical text the Bible has been the subject of thousands of years of investigation and despite your claim it has held up extremely well.  you may not want to believe that but if you look at the evidence you will find that it is true. 

  • http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Josephus_on_JesusMost historians consider Book 20, Chapter 9, 1 and Book 18, Chapter 5, 2 to be accurate and faithful. Book 18, Chapter 3, 3  however is a joke.  As I said elsewhere, showing a single case of a forgery by a single historian doesn’t negate your position any more than Piltdown man negates evolution.  However, do know your Book 18 Chapter 3.3 from your Book 20 Chapter 9.1 so that you are not presenting false evidence.

  • Awesome…that’s all I have to say about that.

  • Tom

    You call us weak because we *don’t* rely on god?  Just read that back to yourself a few times and see if it really makes any sense.

    Also, don’t lie to yourself that everything’s just fine in the military with rosy images of keeping your fellow citizens (whom you perversely don’t actually seem to hold in very high regard, what with belittling them for being weak and all) safe – the people who decide when and where to send you to war rose to power on the votes of those who care about such things, but that’s no guarantee whatsoever that it’s their own top priority.

  • Tom

    It may have made more sense a few hundred years ago, when weapons were ridiculously inaccurate.  I’m sure I read somewhere that there used to be the weird notion that when two armies with muskets lined up and blasted away at each other, and didn’t even bother to aim (indeed, muskets had no sights!) because it didn’t make a damn bit of difference where the musket ball went other than “probably forward” anyway, the righteous army with god on its side would have more hits and win.  Presumably this notion arose because there’s nothing quite like random chance, especially when coupled with the prospect of death, such as the crazily unpredictable trajectory of a musket ball, for making people grope around for gods.  It’s basically a variant of god-of-the-gaps; you can’t rationally predict where a musket-ball will go, so maybe god could direct it.

    The whole thing should have broken down with the advent of rifling – it’s much more difficult to think “maybe, if I’ve been a good person, god will make all the bullets fly past me today” when you know your opponent is now holding a weapon that will put the bullet exactly where he points it – and yet, in these times of more “deterministic” combat, surprising numbers of people still turn to gods, even as the gaps shrink, just as they do in science.

    (interestingly, though, this did lead to a lot of soldiers on both sides deliberately aiming to miss during the trench stalemates of WWI.  There were, at certain times and places, apparently unvoiced agreements that each side would mostly aim off if the other did, especially during the early years).

  • TP1134

    You could go as far as to argue that there is ONLY atheists in foxholes. What truly devout Christian would need to take cover from bullets that would ultimately, in their mind, send them to meet their god? How could a few little bullets change god’s plan? Doubt causes them to duck and cover. Doubt causes them to put on a seatbelt. 

  • A stylish Jesus, and a brave kid.  I’m glad he got the scholarship.

    His principal needs a long, long talk with a lawyer.

  • ARhubarb

     “My mother fought for this country that she loves for 30 years and my father for 25 years, so that weak poeple like you can lay your head down at night and sleep safely.”

    Odd I do not recall the United States of America being invaded between 1982 to 2012.  Hard to accept fighting for your country, in another country, so you can sleep safely, in your own country. But hey you believe in an invisible man living on a cloud.

  • I’d say he’s OVER 9000 times better!


  • Johntaylor

    Excellent costume. Very good way to make the point that Jesus is fictional.
    And, even if some preacher was using that name at that time, we do know that the majority of the Jesus life story is pure fiction. 

  • Kevinlhs3637

    If you are living  like there is no God…you better be right!!!! 

  • Danthedreamer

    So I don’t think you should have been made to take off the costume, and I don’t think it’s right for Christianity to be taught in schools at all, Creationism is absolutely ridiculous and those who are literalists need to be taught better. However just for posterities sake, I have to say Jesus wasn’t a fictional character. The outrage was ridiculous yes, but saying Jesus was fictional is a slap in the face to people who believe in him and trust in his words. I’m all for secularism but that doesn’t give us the right to slap other people in the face. I probably would have thought the costume funny, even as a Christian, but then I also would have understood why Christians would get upset. I don’t know, I’m with you man, but I just wanted you to know that Christ wasn’t fictional and saying he was is just wanting trouble. I totally agree you should have gotten the award however. Well done sir, well done. 

  •  Nice costume, Jeff – you nailed it…

  • There is still hope for the world with people like Jeff Shott in it. I am quite ancient by comparison and although I dislike religion, and some of it with a vengeance, I am not an atheist. However, Jeff Shott leads us into a future where the truth can surface and we no longer have to suffer the Christianity, Jesus-is-real scam. Well done Jeff. I wish you every success in opening people’s eyes to the lie they have been sold.

  • My favorite response to the “no atheists in foxholes” comment I’ve ever heard, “Oh, there are plenty of them.  What you never find in foxholes are chaplains.”

  • Mooonobergman

    awesome, stand up for what you know

  • Brit

    As a Canadian, I pleased that generally in my country, kids don’t have to deal with this sort of crap.  As a Christian (especially one who believes firmly in evolution) I am SO disappointed to hear that your actual science teacher would try to force creationism down kid’s throats!   Good for you for expressing yourself and although I believe Jesus existed (historically and religiously) I think your costume is pretty funny.

  • To my mind, even more outrageous than not being able to participate in Fictional Character Day is the fact that the school has a Fictional Character Day. High schools should be preparing their students to go to college, not to go trick-or-treating. But the most outrageous part of the story was that biology teacher, sheesh!

  • Anonymous

    Ok you need to stop, your an idiot, Just becuase you served this country does not give you the right to put people down because they don’t believe in the same things as you, not everyone believes in god, not everyone has the same opinions as you, Plus these freedoms you speak of include freedom of religion, you need to learn to keep your mouth shut when spewing out your Christian extremist hate, grow up and get over the fact that some people don’t believe in god, that does not make them bad people, and you have no right to judge them, so quit whining about it

  • Awesome Jeff, at least you stood up against those ignorant bible pushers. Cheers Buddy

  •  Atheists prefer gunships.

  • JDog_90305

     I really like this one.  Thanks Hog Themighty.  I’ll be sharing it with many others.

  • I understand the fear. The last thing we want in our educational institutions is the free exchange of ideas.

  • JDog_90305

     I don’t think that’s an opinion, that’s a belief and it’s not a good thing to force-feed you belief on others.  That would be like someone telling a Xian, you’re not going to heaven.  How insulting would that be to you Chris?

  • HasteinD

     My experience in the military in the early 70’s informed me that there were many atheists  around. I basically became one then, but not in any formal, declarative, or educated way.  When one enlisted, like all military enlistees, we were asked our religious preference. This gets stamped on ones “dog tags.” I don’t think they allowed people to choose “atheist” when asked. (could be wrong about this , though.) I walked around with my dogtags reading “LUTH” for 4 years. I never thought to change it though i no longer identified as a Lutheran any more-I don’t think i would have been allowed to change it. The military still  does not allow for any mechanism for changing  to “ATHE” that I know of…

  • catalinda8

    Great job, Jeff! I applaud your courage — and sheer ballsiness. 😉

  • catalinda8

     Thank you for serving, Sgt. Hernandez! 🙂

  • catalinda8

     And I would go so far as to say many atheists (like me) support Christians or other religionists right to believe in whatever they do. Where we draw the line is having that religion forced upon us. I hope someday we can all learn to live in harmony.

  • Shadoweater

    I’m not an atheist I surely believe in a higher power but the bible is a crock of  BS  with so many contradictions it makes your head spin.  No way God created something so imperfect.

     The Christian
    religion is a parody on the worship of the Sun, in which they put a man whom they call Christ, in the place of
    the Sun, and pay him the same adoration which was originally paid to the Sun.” –Thomas Paine, Age of

  • MorganZee

    Yes, we women call men “dicks” , but no one calls a woman a dick . Cozmiccowgirl is pointing out & objecting to the use of a derogatory term for female genitalia  to insult a man, because that is considered by many to be the worst. Look back to idontknowanythingman’s original comment & substitute “dicks” or “pricks” for “cunts” – it doesn’t carry the same amount of hate, does it ?And if he hadn’t used “cunts”, think of all the many other derogatory words for female genitalia he could have used in its place.  

  • Apparently Zeus is an appropriate fictional religious icon, but Christ is not? Hmm…

  • Tina Surman Scully

    This is a very impressive written account of your equally clear reasoning — your scholarship is well-deserved! Wishing you a bright future, fellow atheist. 

  • Hunter

    I am constantly amused that atheists who are so quick to cry “offensive” or “unconstitutional” when other people discuss or display their faith are also very quick to discuss or display their own “religion” of atheism at any opportunity.

  • Suzanne

    Jeff, I don’t know if you are considering college for your future, but if you are, you will find many more people who are not just sympathetic, but who share your dedication to reason. If you are staying in TN, consider the University of Memphis. I am a professor in the history dept. and we would love to have more students who can argue and articulate their case as well as you do. 

  • ConViet

    It is such shame that because of “jesus,” a fictitious character (a slight possibility if he existed, he died in Kashmir http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9DXCZFRsyl8&feature=results_main&playnext=1&list=PLD4B259ACC7D32BBA) caused so much suffering to my beloved country of Việt Nam; as described here by Avro Manhattan, the world’s foremost authority on Roman Catholicism in politics http://www.reformation.org/vietnam.html#Contents The result was genocide http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rBDKzcjMHEs

  • Wbhicks

     I used to call myself agnostic, but decided it didn’t make sense.  Do you believe there may or may not be unicorns, Santa Claus, or the Easter bunny?  Just as much evidence for them as there is for a deity.  Are you agnostic towards ALL gods, or just one of them?

  • Props to him for not being a hypocrite and confessing Jesus while secretly not believing. 

    However, I would warn him. Being a former atheist who the real Jesus saved, I would warn him to look to Christ again. Jesus Christ took your punishment and was separated from God on your behalf. If you reject His covering and safety for your soul, you will be lost. Stop sinning and believe.  

  • Stud_muff_202

    I think it is somewhat funny and hypocritical when people can bash on religion, but when someone stands up for religion, everyone gets up in arms. I guess lack of tolerance is on both sides. But I assume this is the wrong place to bring up religion in a positive way.

  • Ryan

    Jeff, I only wish I was as thoughtful about religion, reason-based beliefs and the like when I was in high school. It took me well into my 30’s to even begin to critically examine my own beliefs. You’ve got a great head-start and a promising future. I hope to see you one day soon leading the charge on a national stage against those who seek to force their religious beliefs on others.

  • Vegandontiger

    I’ve heard that’s the only people that ARE in foxholes are atheists. If they believe their gods protect them then what are they doing in a foxhole?LOL

  • Vegandontiger

    Next time go prepared with the list that calls into question the existence of this yeshua/jesus character. There’s many you can find as well as a couple good youtube videos. And it’s definitely not your job to control the other kids in the classroom. That’s the teachers job. What a joke. As for your “science” teacher take her the definition of a scientific theory because apparently she’s never looked it up. Personally I think the term needs to change because the general public doesn’t know that it means the same as a fact. That stupid arguement has been going around for so long it’s ridiculous especially when there’s been dictionaries to look it up in and now the internet.

  • charlie decker

    k i’m sick and tired of the assumption that me not going to *the other side of the planet* to kill people who for the most part have *nothing to do with us* (except oil, that is) is some sort of character flaw, or that it makes me weak, or my favorite ‘unpatriotic’ which i really don’t even think applies since the term is just an endorsement of fascism or in p.c. terms ‘nationalism’- 

    as far as waiting to find god ’til it’s ‘almost too late’  how’bout this- if he doesn’t find *me* and give *me * evidence then he is either A not all powerful (e.g. he can’t show me the evidence) B not all knowing (e.g. doesn’t know i require it in order to believe in something ’cause i’m not gullible) or C – a huge prick (because he knows what i need to sustain belief, is perfectly capable of rendering it, but doesn’t because, well, just because i guess)
    i don’t see this philosophy as a weakness, just imagine all the sad stupid bullshit we would believe if we didn’t expect consistent evidence, think of all the used cars we would buy, think of all the pyramid schemes we’d be scammed by- think of all the crazy stupid things we would believe.

  • charlie decker

    er… check this out.  agnosticism  means that you accept that no matter how much proof you have for something you can still be dead wrong – either by flawed evidence or by flawed logic in your conclusion.

    agnosticism as a term has for some reason been used incorrectly referring to people who believe in the existence of a higher power but don’t know which one is true.
    now atheism means you do not believe in an all powerful creator being (i’d like to point out that i’ve never met an atheist who believes in ghosts, ufos, or anything spiritual either- but the actual definition only refers to a higher power) which has *no proof* 
    there is no contradiction here, i’ve been an atheist- *and* an agnostic for more than two decades now
    and incidentally, seeing as an agnostic doesn’t really *believe* in things even if he does have evidence he damn well doesn’t believe in things when there’s no evidence therefor any good agnostic who’s done his homework is also an atheist, or he’s got the terms mixed up.

  • giphangster

    Unintentional double post…thanks, Disqus!

  • Rick in Ferndale

    But being Zeus is OK …..  because there were no Greeks in the school to be offended, apparently

  • Pickerpiet

    Oh God, (Who?), I love this guy. Thank God (Who?) there are still people who can think for themselves.  It’s so refreshing to see and hear of somebody who is not a brainwashed sheep and doesn’t baa along with the flock. He gives me hope that one day in the future, we will evolve sufficiently to realise that most organised religions are direct descendants of the principles used in mediaeval times to control the peasant illiterati.

  • Joseph

    Atheists are hung up on the concept that anyone who subscribes to spirituality believes in a magical Sky Daddy who sits in the clouds and farts lightning. 

    I subscribe to Einstein’s views – the universe and everything in it is God. There is a universal network of energy flowing through every part of the cosmos. All the mathematical improbabilities that make life possible on this planet — that’s God. Those fundamental particles that we have no hard evidence that they actually exist — that’s God. 

    It’s no wonder that atheists are some of the most distrusted members of society: they represent a cold and calculated close-mindedness. They are firm in the conviction that science is infallible and God cannot possibly exist. Indeed… they have FAITH in God’s non-existence. How’s that for irony? 

    The absence of evidence is not necessarily the evidence of absence. 

  • Royrick392

    the fact that you lumped Santa Claus, unicorns, and the Easter Bunny in the same category as deities makes me seriously giggle. 

    try thinking some more on it in a few years, when you’ve had a chance to grow up…

  • Joseph

    Your condescending use of “lovely” is… lovely. Looks like it’s time for a reality check for ol’ Patrick. 

    Science is more faith-based than you might think. Ever heard of fundamental particles? There are elements in science that we BELIEVE exist, but have no actual proof that they do. We kinda need them to be there, though, or a whole load of equations fall flat. There’s actually a brand-new hypothetical particle that, if proven it’s existence, will ultimately reshape the foundation of physics as we know it. It’s already changing the conventional model of physics we know today. 

    *gasp* “You mean the infallible Science has been compromised?! What does this mean?!” you might say, in exasperation. 

    It means that we are just human. We don’t have a grasp on this universe, not just yet. We’re always learning. To presume ANYTHING beyond our scope of knowledge is just childish. 

    Slamming your fist down and saying “Nope, deities don’t exist” makes you about as open-minded as a southern baptist.

    In a nutshell, you can take your “statistically correct” way of thinking and shove it. 

  • You’re right.  Zeus, Apollo and Odin make much more sense.

  • Do you carry garlic to protect yourself from vampires?  Or do you just have faith that they’re not there?

  • atheistisright

    atheism doesn’t mean you don’t believe, it means you don’t believe in god, or so i learnt at school. problems? take it outon my atheist religion teacher.

  • Wouldn’tYouLikeToKnow

    You are my hero. I heard about this story awhile back, when my dad mentioned it, since I’ve grown up an atheist. I wish I have the confidence to do what you did. Though my school doesnt openly support Christianity, the teachers underhandedly preach their beliefs and so when I wrote a paper on the unconstitutionality of “Under God” in the Pledge, it sparked a little war between myself and my LA/SS teacher. She said in a lesson that the pledge does not lend itself to a particular religion, just the acknowlegment that there is a higher power. So, whenever I could, I got my side across in the form of many projects and essays. Even a poetry project. Not sure how well that one worked though. It was just me trying to get across my message though. And to a very small extent, it worked, cause she stopped promoting a higher power. And I was quite pleased with myself.

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