Friday, April 10

A memo to non-believers about Blog Against Theocracy

[image above from Tengrain, and the post below revised from 2007.]

Dear non-believers, athiests, and others participating in Blog Against Theocracy from a position different from my own:

Thank you.

Thank you for participating, and for your open-mindedness and love toward this little Christian lady.

Here's something paraphrased from some earlier posts, but which really say what I want to say.

So often I talk or email with fellow lefties who have just had it with the religious right to the point that they can't stand Christianity or even religion in general. It's as if there is such a slippery slope in their minds between any admission of faith and total fundamentalism that it's just not worth it to go down that path. No religion is better than any religion, because in the end we all become Pat Robertson or Al Qaeda.

I'm actually quite sympathetic to those lefties who think they hate Christianity. Funny thing is when you engage with atheists in conversation, a great many of them think Jesus was a cool guy, and some actually revere him. Even those who reject Christianity outright are not nearly so angry as they let on.

Let me point something out here, again. Jesus of Nazareth was nailed to a tree by the political and religious CONSERVATIVES of his day because they mistakenly thought they had power and that he threatened that power. ANY Christian, myself included, who thinks they would have rescued Jesus from the cross, that certainly WE wouldn't have gone along with Pilate and Judas and abandoned him like Peter, are just kidding themselves. And those right-wingers who think they're really serving the cause of Jesus by electing Republicans, or working to make America a "Christian" nation? Little Christian ladies can say fuck off, can't they?

It's that the religious right/Republican Party has so often set the discourse that "God/Jesus equals us" that some of us lefties tend to believe that. Rejecting hate speech, intolerance, and fundamentalism becomes rejecting all religion.

But see, I love Jesus, and I'm strongly committed to making sure YOUR right NOT to believe is protected. I also believe, while we're at it, that I would be SINNING against my God to attempt to convert you. That's His provence. And if I believe (and I struggle to, at least) that God is Love and that God loves his creation, I think smart, funny, gifted non-believing bloggers have one of the better tables at Divine Love's cocktail party. You certainly do at mine.

Here's the deal about Christians, though. We're not all Pat Robertson, and I refuse to allow the Religious Right to define what Christianity is, for me, or for my readership.

Blog against Theocracy is this weekend. Everyone is welcome.


  1. 'Jesus was all right, but his disciples were thick and ordinary. It's them twisting it that ruins it for me.' - John Lennon.

    Much love to you for what you do, BG. May the true light shine on us all.


  2. Taylorbad1:11 PM

    I do not practice or subscribe to religion. I value Love, Compassion and Forgiveness as ends in themselves. I believe in family and community. I believe in defending the weak and young. I believe in letting individuals believe what they want, and encourage them to have willingness to examine and re-examine their beliefs. These values are ones which I hope Christians and non-believers alike are willing to respect in themselves and others.

  3. I believe Jesus was a cool guy. I just don't believe he was the son of any sort of "god" or supernatural being. Those who threaten the status quo, those who question power and authority, and those who put forth the radical idea that all people are worthy of love and respect have always been targeted and killed for their beliefs. Jesus doesn't have to have been some great immortal being to have been a great man with high ideals, big dreams and a lot of hope for humanity - a good role model for us all.

    So while I am an atheist and think religion is primarily superstition and a way to answer some pretty big scary questions, I have deep respect for Jesus the man and for those who seek to follow his teachings. And if it provides comfort and peace to those who believe he is the son of "god", that's wonderful because we all need something to get us through this life because it gets mighty hard and lonely.

    Happy Easter, BlueGirl. I enjoy your writing. Thanks for sharing it with us.

  4. I was born and raised in what most would describe as a fundamentalist Christian home – church every Sunday and Sunday school, Summer Bible School during vacation, Baptismal studies every Saturday morning for half a year before being baptised, and the first year of high school in a private Christian high school.

    I left the church for the hypocrisy I saw between what was professed and what was preformed. That and the superior attitude some assumed from their professions of faith. But the people in the church which I left were the veriest pikers considering the hypocrisy I have seen practised by what is termed the Religious Right.

    I still follow much of the behavioural teachings I was brought up with, and note that most of those whose church I left have continued to quietly ignore the extremes of the Religious Right.

    I feel confident that there are more, like the people in my old church. While still following what would necessarily be described as a fundamentalist religion, they have had their religion co-opted, perverted, and used as a political tool.

    If we can get the pseudo-Christians out of politics, the fundamentalist Christians in my old church will stand a better chance of seeing those pseudo-Christians leave their religion.

  5. I need a break from my blog against theocracy after losing a couple hours of work from some crazy malfunction. Sigh. It's like the dog really ate my homework.

    Believers who fight for separation of church and state would do their utmost— to respect the wishes of Jesus. But Jesus made it clear to his apostles when they sought to defend him that night in the garden, that if he cared to asked, his Father would provide him with more than twelve legions of angels (that's a celestial host numbering 71,663,616 individuals, any one of whom could have done the job) to deliver him from the hands of a few men. He also made it clear to Pilate that he could have no power over him "except it were permitted from above."

    But Pilate was a coward. Judas, a traitor. And the Christians who attempt to "rescue Jesus" by cramming their religious ideas into government policy are ignorant, confused, and often unwitting secularists themselves; we do right to keep their machinations out of our government of the people. Thanks for all you do.

  6. Anonymous9:05 AM

    As usual BG, you get right to the crux of the matter. Excellent essay, but then you always did have the chops....

    BAT brought me out of retirement, if Tengrain will be kind enough to post my submission.

    As always, all the best to you BG.

    Traveling Man

  7. i put a small post up.
    my sister's husband died unexpectedly yesterday but this is an important issue so...

  8. Faith ain't the problem. Any problem with Christianity or any other faith only raises its ugly head when it's co-opted by political powers-that-be or vice-versa.

    Hey, wait a minute. Isn't that what we're supposed to be blogging about?

    Render unto Caesar what is Caesar's. (Ouch. Major spelling demon.) Yadda yadda yadda.

  9. Then there is this man Carlton Pearson
    Even Paul the Apostle didn't need all of the mythology surrounding Jesus to have faith. From wiki: "Little can be deduced about the historical life of Jesus from Paul's letters. He mentions specifically the Last Supper (1 Corinthians 11:23ff), his death by crucifixion (1 Corinthians 2:2; Philippians 2:8), and his resurrection (Philippians 2:9). In addition, Paul states that Jesus was a Jew of the line of David (Romans 1:3) who was betrayed (1 Corinthians 11:23). Paul concentrates instead on the nature of Christians' relationship with Christ and, in particular, on Christ's saving work. In Mark's gospel, Jesus is recorded as saying that he was to "give up his life as a ransom for many."[50] Paul's account of this idea of a saving act is more fully articulated in various places in his letters, most notably in his letter to the Romans."

    No apologies for your faith BG.
    I will defend anyone's freedom of religion as long as they will defend my right to freedom from religion. A not original but nonetheless compelling idea for me.

  10. It's a story. Made up and written by men of means, who sought to implement a set of standards governing human behavior.

    In its inception, likely a great piece of work and similar to a covenant of laws to keep order.

    Sadly, it all long ago became a propaganda tool to manipulate the masses.

    First testament, second testament, teachings of Lau Tzu, Guatama Bhudda, Koran/Quron, etc.

    The rest is faith v. science.

    Science will ultimately win the physical world.

    With any luck, faith WILL win the human soul and make the species better than it was, but not by imposing the books, teachings, story's and worship upon other.

    Faith, it has to work quietly, inside. It's a solo trip, no matter which version of faith one considers, even that of agnosticism.

    It all boils down to finding faith in oneself to do the right thing. Even for the agnostics.

    The rest is piss poor marketing.

    And that's my BAT treatsie for this year.

    Thanks BG, for the faith. Keep the faith, baby. ;-)

  11. Great choice for a redux, BG!

  12. Good morning.

    I'd like to say that as a hard-boiled, some would say militant atheist( though that term defies logic.) I have come to realize that the people working the hardest to keep my rights as a nonbeliever intact, are themselves Christians. Please know that I am grateful for all the hard work, especially those fighting the insertion of creationism into the science classrooms, and for the rights that the GLBT folks are denied, though they pay the same taxes as anyone else.

    Thanks again.

  13. Slippery slopes totally surround the topic of religion, doncha think?

    Though I walk though the valley of the slippery slopes....

    To my eyes, religion is (more or less, by definition) faith in the dubious, and it's the source of ungodly amounts of peer pressure. Two things I'm not too keen on.

    Many people practice religion in benign and even noble ways, but that doesn't -- IMHO -- mitigate some of the more troubling slopes.

    In any case, thank you (and everyone else behind it) so much for Blog Against Theocracy, which stands for the sort of America where you and I are free to peaceably disagree about this.

    I would love a society where people were truly free not to respect religion, and where that wouldn't be misconstrued as disrespecting the believers themselves or disrespecting their right to believe.

  14. Luke Skywalker grappled with and fought the power and lure of the Dark side of the Force. Jean Luc Picard did his utmost to ensure the safety of those under his command and uphold the Prime Directive. Odin sacrificed his eye at Mímir's spring in order to gain the Wisdom of Ages.

    When it comes to reverence, Jesus is in the same place as the above 3 in deserving such from me for the same reasons. Stories well received and loved by people are just that. Be it historical fiction or Sci-Fi, the projections of the human experience onto a narrative does not fully make reality or make it anew. Reality is reality and carries on as it is no matter the writings of authors that may or may not correlate their musings to such.

  15. It's very sad that people turn away from God because of the sins of religion. But to cite crimes committed in the name of religion as some kind of "evidence" that there is no God is an absurd non-sequitur and fundamentally unscientific.

    What atheists need to understand - particularly the arrogant, evangelical ones - is that theirs is as much an article of faith as any other religion. And they are oblivious to the irony that in acting like they're better or smarter than everyone else, they're indulging in the same arrogance and hypocrisy that they accuse religion of.

    I bet they'll still take the chocolate though. Do you still want to talk about hypocrisy?

  16. Anonymous3:51 PM

    Would love to attend any cocktail party you're throwing - and if Jesus is going to be there, I'll just bring another bottle of wine.

  17. I didn't think of a topic to write about until late last night, so couldn't be part of the swarm. Nevertheless, I have a related post that covers ground no one else appears to have. At least, I hadn't seen anything related yesterday. The question I pose is "how popular is the idea that church and state are separated?"

    Thanks to all the blogswarmers for the inspiration.

  18. Bill, your idea of why people become atheists is largely nonsensical. Yes, I'm sure you can find a few people who would say such a thing, but most of us are atheists because, for whatever reasons, we've come to the conclusion that the idea of gods doesn't make any sense. People who convert to a more deistic view of gods do so for similar reasons.

    Anyone who becomes an atheist, agnostic, or deist because of the hypocrisy or criminal behavior of some of their religion's adherents won't stay one for long.

  19. Cujo, why then do evangelical atheists like Hitchens and Dawkins always fall back on the behaviour of religions as justification for their own belief. I'm only going on what they have said.

  20. In the case of Dawkins, he argues about the amorality of religion as a counter to the argument that you have to have religion in order for people to behave ethically. His arguments for the non-existence of gods have nothing to do with the amorality of the people who run the religions that believe in them.

    I haven't read much of Hitchens' work on the subject, but I can't imagine he'd make such a foolish argument, either.

  21. You mustn't be too familiar with some of his arguments. They're usually pretty foolish.

    My main point is that evangelical, fundamentalist atheists are just as arrogant, tiresome and pigheaded as any other type of evangelical fundamentalist.

    I respect others' beliefs. If they don't respect mine, or claim superiority over me because of what they believe (another Dawkins trap, along with cherry-picking the facts), then we're going to have a disagreement.

    So long as atheists can recognise their position for what it is - the belief in something that cannot be tested or proven,just line mine - then we'll get along just fine.

    In any case, you don't have to be an atheist to disagree with theocracy any more than that you have be religious to be ethical.

  22. Good post, BG. It's important to separate religious authoritarians and theocrats from religious people in general, and it is sad that "Christian" is often viewed as belonging to the rightwing, at least on cable news. For authoritarians, their actual beliefs are somewhat arbitrary, if absolute. As I wrote this year, I think respect for atheists and atheism remains the most important gauge for the health of church-state separation, and on the national political stage, it remains pretty safe to trash atheists and pander to religious folk (Mitt Romney's anti-JFK speech was one of the most noxious examples). But I have quietly religious friends and family who have felt condescended to for being religious, and who have encountered the notion that anyone who is religious cannot possibly be intelligent as well. So I'm sympathetic to their experience, and I feel it's wise to remember that we might live in very different communities and with different personal experiences. I like Jesus' moral teachings, and also like those of Buddha and several Zen monks. I'd also throw in Socrates, Gandhi and several dozen artists. I'm happy to work with anti-theocrat liberals.

  23. Hey, a tolerant Christian, go figure!

    I've got a humorous take on Jerry Falwell at

    ...and some other stuff. Come visit!

  24. So, its no big secret that I am a Christian ... and I find Jim Wallis very refreshing.

    There is a new book out called UnChristian by the Barna research group that details how people of the 16-25 crowd are rejecting Christianity because of people like Pat Robertson, but actually like Christ and would like to live a life similar to Christ.

    Rev Adam Hamilton of United Methodist Church of the Ressurection did a sermon series on "When Christians Get it WRONG" which I think quite a few people might enjoy. Check him out www.cor.og

    I don't know why religious right people feel the need to legislate their morality, and really I think they are just pimping Jesus out for votes.


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