• How To Change A Mind – Woman Got Her Husband To Leave a Cult by E. Gordon-Smith

How To Change A Mind – Woman Got Her Husband To Leave a Cult by E. Gordon-Smith

How To Change A Mind by E. Gordon-Smith

Snippets:

Missy spent more than five years getting her husband to leave a cult, but the breakthrough was simple

Missy met Dylan when she took a job at the restaurant he worked at, waiting tables.

The couple moved in together and got engaged not long after, despite what Missy saw as a huge red flag: Dylan was a member of a religious sect that she believed to be a cult.

Missy was certain she could see through to the man Dylan would be without the sect, and certain she wanted to be with that man.

She did not, however, want to spend her life with a member of his sect.

“Did you consciously think to yourself, I’m gonna change this guy’s mind?” I asked Missy, years later.

“Yes. Absolutely. I made a five-year plan.”

I met Missy and Dylan while researching my book, Stop Being Reasonable: How We Really Change Our Minds.

Their story is singular, but many of us will someday find ourselves in something like Missy’s position, trying to talk the people we love out of believing — against all the evidence — what someone powerful is telling them.

If we do not understand the structure of our loved ones’ beliefs in situations like these, our attempts to change them may well fail.

….Everywhere we look, we see the gospel that reasoned argument is the currency of persuasion and that the “right” way to change our minds is by entering a sort of gladiatorial contest of ideas where we leave the personal behind.

But what if our eagerness to congratulate each other for employing that ideal stops us from asking whether it is worth aspiring to at all?

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• New Atheism Is Old News by J. Stonestreet

New Atheism Is Old News by J. Stonestreet

Even though I’ve been in a faith crisis the last few years – I wouldn’t exactly say I’ve rejected the Christian faith in total, but I have doubts about how true or useful it is – I’m not an atheist, either.

(Online, I tend to attract some atheists who sometimes seem to think I’m one of them.)

Concerning the variety of atheism referred to as “new atheism,” which started around 15 – 18 years ago, I always found its adherents to be very condescending, arrogant, and rude.

The new atheists are no better than the fundamentalist Christians and Muslims they criticize (ie., in that being very rigid in thinking, arrogant, and unpleasant) and so are not going to convert anyone to their worldview.

I am relieved to see that this “new atheist” movement may finally be dying off, though I’m not thrilled to see it replaced by  hyper rabid partisan political stances.

(I am not in agreement with all views expressed in this piece by J. Stonestreet or in the articles linked to at The Guardian and ARC. I agree on some points, but certainly not all.)

New Atheism is Old News by J. Stonestreet

In the early 2000s, across the digital and print world of Christian apologetics, the so-called “New Atheism” was a central topic of conversation.

Authors like Richard Dawkins, Sam Harris, and the late Christopher Hitchens generated quite an audience by attacking religion in general, and Christianity in particular, portraying both as irrational, evil forces in society.

Books like The God Delusion,God Is Not Great, and The End of Faith argued that belief in God was unscientific, and that unbelief would make us all better people.

You may be thinking to yourself, “I haven’t really thought of those guys in quite a while.” Exactly.

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• Hillsong Christian Church Song Writer Marty Sampson Says He Has Left the Christian Faith

Hillsong Christian Church Song Writer Marty Sampson Says He Has Left the Christian Faith

Before I get to listing the links to the news story about Christian song writer Marty Sampson saying on his social media that he has now left the Christian faith, I wanted to make a few comments first.

Some of the comments from Christians regarding Sampson leaving the faith are either sad or ignorant.

This is from Ken Ham of Answers In Genesis (who I’ve actually defended on this blog in the past, in another context) said this (link is below):

Answers in Genesis founder Ken Ham said Sampson’s rejection of his former beliefs reinforces the need for parents to instruct their children in doctrinal truths at an early age. “This sad situation about this person is a reminder the church & parents need to teach apologetics to counter today’s attacks on God’s Word,” he tweeted.
—–

I find that a lot of Christians who are still in the “Christian Bubble” do not grasp how and why adult Christians leave the faith, or are considering leaving.

I myself was brought up in the Christian faith and read a lot of Christian apologetics literature from my mid-teens to around my late twenties to early thirties.

And, of course, I also regularly read the Bible, and I spent a few years reading about the history of the Bible, in particular the history of English language Bible translations.

So believe you me, contrary to what Ken Ham believes, a lack of being instructed about the faith from childhood, and hearing defenses of it, and being educated about Christianity, are not at play in why some Christians leave the faith (or may leave it), at least not in my case.

I was steeped in Christianity as a kid and into my adult years, and I did a ton of reading on apologetics, and none of that has changed the fact I’ve been in a faith crisis the last several years.

Farther below, under one of the last links, I have several more comments.

Update August 13, 2019:  
Hillsong worship leader clarifies he hasn’t renounced faith, but it’s on ‘incredibly shaky ground’

Hillsong Songwriter Marty Sampson Says He’s Losing His Christian FaithHillsong worship leader Marty Sampson announces he’s ‘losing’ his faith

Hillsong writer reveals he’s no longer a Christian: ‘I’m genuinely losing my faith’

By Leah MarieAnn Klett, Christian Post Reporter
August 12, 2019

Marty Sampson, a prolific worship music writer known for his work with Hillsong Worship, Hillsong United, Delirious and Young & Free, revealed he is losing his faith and believes Christianity is “just another religion.”

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• Deconstruction, Deconversion, Joshua Harris, and the Awful Christian Reaction

Deconstruction, Deconversion, Joshua Harris, and the Awful Christian Reaction

Josh Harris is a guy who wrote a book about sexual purity and dating in the 1990s (“I Kissed Dating Goodbye”) when he was in his late teens or early 20s – it’s a book that upset a lot of Christians who claim now that as teens, that book stunted their relationships and harmed them in other ways.

In the past couple of weeks, Harris announced on his social media he’s divorcing his wife and is “deconstructing” from the Christian faith.

In one of his social media posts, Harris said something or other about apologizing to women and to LGBT persons he may have wounded with some of his former teachings and beliefs.

At no time (that I recall) did Harris say he is now a flaming liberal who is a big time pro-LGBT- lifestyle- affirming SJW.

But some Christians are assuming he is now such.

Some are assuming either he is now a liberal, or else that he was seduced to (possibly) rejecting the faith because he was seduced by liberals or liberalism.

It’s not immediately clear to me if Harris rejects Christ now or is merely reevaluating the faith.

Before I continue discussing Harris and the Christian reaction to Harris’ comments, I will point you to a few off-site articles or editorials, so that you may gain any additional background information you may be wondering about (I’m not interested in covering all the nitty gritty in my own post here):

Author Joshua Harris Kisses His Faith Goodbye: ‘I Am Not a Christian’ – via CBN News (Christian site)

Joshua Harris falling away from faith: ‘I am not a Christian’ – via The Christian Post

‘Purity’ advocate dumps Christianity, apologises to gays
– Via Patheos, non-religious blog

Regardless of where Harris is faith-wise, I am disturbed, angry, and horrified to see how 98% of professing Christians are reacting to Harris and dealing with the subject of leaving the faith.

I have not seen many Christians demonstrate kindness or understanding.

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• Soteriology – Are Some Types of People “UnSavable?”

Soteriology – Are Some Types of People “UnSavable?”

I was just asking this on another blog. I will copy and paste most of my comment from there to here.

I’ve been wondering about this for months now.

There are some Christians, who, unfortunately, make holding “correct doctrine” a necessary component of receiving salvation, though I do not recall the Bible anywhere teaching this.

At most, the Bible says belief of Jesus as the Christ and acceptance of Jesus as Savior is the barometer of saving faith, and not whether or not one agrees with or believes in things such as Gender Complementarianism, Transubstantiation, the Pre-Trib Rapture, a literal Hell, an allegorical Hell, Old Age of the Earth, Young Earth Creationism, and so on.

There is the OSAS (once saved always saved) Vs. Conditional Security debate: some Christians believe once a person accepts Christ as Savior, she can never have her salvation taken away or revoked, while other Christians believe it is possible for someone who accepted Christ to have her salvation nullifed or cancelled because of personal sin.

I’ve done a lot of reading about Sociopaths and Psychopaths, and I’ve watched documentaries about them. Continue reading

• America Godless? Number of People with No Religion Soars (2019)

America Godless? Number of People with No Religion Soars (2019)

There are now as many Americans who claim no religion as there are evangelicals and Catholics, a survey finds

April 2019

“Religious nones,” as they are called by researchers, are a diverse group made up of atheists, agnostics, the spiritual, and those who are no specific organized religion in particular. A rejection of organized religion is the common thread they share.

…The meteoric rise of religious nones began in the early 1990s and has grown 266% since 1991, he [Burge] said.

Burge estimates that ‘No Religion’ will be the largest group outright in four to six years.

Experts still debate the factors behind this wave of Americans declaring no religion.

America Godless? Number of People with No Religion Soars

The number of Americans who identify as having no religion has risen 266 percent since 1991, to now tie statistically with the number of Catholics and Evangelicals, according to a new survey.

People with no religion – known as ‘nones’ among statisticians – account for 23.1 percent of the U.S. population, while Catholics make up 23 percent and Evangelicals account for 22.5 percent, according to the General Social Survey.

Those three groups now represent the largest the religious groups in America. 

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• Why So Many Americans Are Turning to Buddhism by Olga Khazan

Why So Many Americans Are Turning to Buddhism by Olga Khazan

I find the timing of this article by Khazan in The Atlantic (linked to much farther below in this post) so interesting.

I just came across this article a few days ago, and for the last few months, I’ve been thinking about researching Buddhism more, and maybe taking up some of its practices.

(I do not intend on becoming a full-blown Buddhist, or identifying as a Buddhist, even if I may adopt some of its practices. I’m still at the research phase right now. Perhaps I will decide to have nothing to do with Buddhism after I look into things more. I don’t know.)

I once saw a documentary about singer Tina Turner a couple of years ago (yes, that Tina Turner).

According to this documentary, Turner was raised in Christianity but later converted to Buddhism in adulthood, when she was facing a lot of struggles, if I recall correctly. Her Wiki page says she practices Nichiren Buddhism.

I am interested in any practical teachings Buddhism may have, such as meditation, in dealing with things like anxiety.

I found no help in the Christian faith for anxiety and other problems I’ve had over the course of my life, which I wrote about in more detail in this post.

I was a very conservative, devout, run of the mill Christian from my childhood up to my 40s, and not only did Christianity not alleviate my problems, but it exacerbated some of them.

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• Christianity Did Not Help Me, It Did Not Work For Me

I was a very devout Christian from childhood up to my early, maybe mid, forties.

These days, I don’t know what I am (religiously speaking).

As I look back over my life, I can see that not only did the Christian faith not help me much, but as some of its teachings were taught to me, it created obstacles in my life, and kept me stuck in harmful patterns or ways of thinking.

Supposing there is an afterlife with a Heaven and a Hell, and acceptance of Christ means a ticket into Heaven upon death, that works out just fine. I can sure see how that is beneficial later on.

Christianity, though, did not really help me with very much in the present life.

Any pain, problems, or stress I’ve had so far were not relieved by the Christian faith.

Prayer, Bible reading, believing in Jesus, volunteering at charities, attending church – none of that alleviated my problems.

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• As Churches Struggle to Help Christians With Mental Illness, Many Flee by Leonardo Blair

As Churches Struggle to Help Christians With Mental Illness, Many Flee

I am not surprised by this. I was diagnosed with clinical depression at a young age, and I also had Social Anxiety Disorder, and to this day, I still have Generalized Anxiety Disorder.

During all that time, I was a devout Christian, but Christianity never brought me relief or healing from depression or anxiety.

Some Christians I met along the way (and a few I’ve met recently) do not understand mental illness. They incorrectly assume that mental health issues are purely spiritual and can be “prayed away.” They cannot.

Please note in the reporting below that Christian ignorance and insensitivity about mental health problems have caused some to reject the Christian faith.

As Churches Struggles to Help Christians With Mental Illness, Many Flee by Leonardo Blair 

Snippets:

As studies continue to show how ill-equipped many churches are in ministering to Christians who struggle with mental illness, some who were once among the faithful are now speaking out about how the spiritualizing of their conditions in church culture forced them to flee.

In a recent discussion sparked by a rant in a subreddit of more than 40,000 anonymous former Christians, many shared stories about how they were forced to suffer as their evangelical churches and family members urged them to pray away conditions such as bipolar disorder, anxiety and ADD before they were finally able to get help.

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• Insensitive, Clueless, or Off-Base Responses by Christians to Pedophile Preacher Article on Christian Site

Insensitive, Clueless, or Off-Base Responses by Christians to Pedophile Preacher Article on Christian Site

I wanted to discuss some of the comments I saw below the last article I just blogged about, which comes from the CBN Site. I blogged about it here:

The Pedophile in the Pulpit: How a Respected Pastor Abused Hundreds of Children for 40 Years, and No One Knew by Heather Sell

Article Comments

I skimmed some of the comments under that article (edit: link now fixed) on the CBN site.

Alex is an adult who says when she was a child that her preacher father sexually molested her. Later in life, she and her brother reported their father to the police, where the police discovered he had raped and molested other children, too. He was arrested.

Alex said she walked away from the Christian faith as a result of the abuse.

Here is what she said, and this is what some of the self-professing Christians in the CBN comment box were reacting to:

Alex has traveled a road that’s not uncommon for abuse victims of spiritual leaders. She stopped attending church and has no desire to go back. “I don’t like the idea of God as a fatherly thing,” she said. “If that’s who He is He wasn’t there for me. If my dad was supposed to be someone who was spreading His word – that’s not the case at all,” she said.

/////

Unfortunately, some of the Christians reacted to Alex’s rejection of the Christian faith inappropriately – rather than just express their condolences towards her that she was harmed by her father, they chose to defend the Church or God.

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• The Pedophile in the Pulpit: How a Respected Pastor Abused Hundreds of Children for 40 Years, and No One Knew by Heather Sells

The Pedophile in the Pulpit: How a Respected Pastor Abused Hundreds of Children for 40 Years, and No One Knew by Heather Sell

Some of the following story was shown on the Christian television program The 700 Club a few days ago, and I watched most of it.

This pastor was molesting at least one of his own kids, a daughter.

If I recall the interview with her correctly, I think she said that his molestation of her caused her to leave the Christian faith. I am not sure how she identifies herself today, if she would say she is an atheist or agnostic or what not.

This goes to show that yes, the behavior of self-professing believers of whatever world view (Christian, Islam, atheism, what have you) can negatively impact someone to the point they want nothing to do with the respective world view / faith.

I also related to the poor wife who said she was expecting people (I would gather especially Christian friends) to gather round her in her time of need (after her ex- husband was arrested) but nobody stepped forward.

I know that feeling of abandonment all too well, though in my case, it happened in the context of the death of my mother – Christian friends and family either avoided me during my time of grief or lectured and scolded me.

Here is the report?

The Pedophile in the Pulpit: How a Respected Pastor Abused Hundreds of Children for 40 Years, and No One Knew by Heather Sells

Snippets:

SOMERSET, Pa. – John and Clara Hinton arrived in Somerset, Pennsylvania in 1972. Just two years into their marriage and with a young daughter, the young couple was eager to start their ministry at the Somerset Church of Christ, a small congregation in the rural community.

John had completed a Bible degree at Oklahoma Christian University and served as a youth pastor when he stepped into the pulpit.

‘I wish my husband was like yours’: The Respected Dad

The two would go on to have eleven children and Clara considered John to be a model husband and father. She described him as soft-spoken and thoughtful, fixing her breakfast every morning.

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• Listening to Young Atheists: Lessons for a Stronger Christianity by L. A. Taunton

Listening to Young Atheists: Lessons for a Stronger Christianity by L. A. Taunton

Listening to Young Atheists: Lessons for a Stronger Christianity

Snippets:

When a Christian foundation interviewed college nonbelievers about how and why they left religion, surprising themes emerged.

by Larry Alex Taunton
June 2013

“Church became all about ceremony, handholding, and kumbaya,” Phil said with a look of disgust. “I missed my old youth pastor. He actually knew the Bible.”

I have known a lot of atheists. The late Christopher Hitchens was a friend with whom I debated, road tripped, and even had a lengthy private Bible study. I have moderated Richard Dawkins and, on occasion, clashed with him.

And I have listened for hours to the (often unsettling) arguments of Peter Singer and a whole host of others like him.

These men are some of the public faces of the so-called “New Atheism,” and when Christians think about the subject — if they think about it at all — it is this sort of atheist who comes to mind: men whose unbelief is, as Dawkins once proudly put it, “militant.”

But Phil, the atheist college student who had come to my office to share his story, was of an altogether different sort.

[The author discusses how he frequently talks with and debates atheists, and asks them, especially the ones who used to be believers,]

What led you to become an atheist?

Given that the New Atheism fashions itself as a movement that is ruthlessly scientific, it should come as no surprise that those answering my question usually attribute the decision to the purely rational and objective: one invokes his understanding of science; another says it was her exploration of the claims of this or that religion; and still others will say that religious beliefs are illogical, and so on. To hear them tell it, the choice was made from a philosophically neutral position that was void of emotion.

… To gain some insight, we launched a nationwide campaign to interview college students who are members of Secular Student Alliances (SSA) or Freethought Societies (FS).

These college groups are the atheist equivalents to Campus Crusade: They meet regularly for fellowship, encourage one another in their (un)belief, and even proselytize.

They are people who are not merely irreligious; they are actively, determinedly irreligious.

…Using the Fixed Point Foundation website, email, my Twitter, and my Facebook page, we contacted the leaders of these groups and asked if they and their fellow members would participate in our study. To our surprise, we received a flood of enquiries.

[The author listened to Phil the former Christian, now atheist, discuss why and how he had become an atheist]

….As the narrative developed, however, it became clear where things came apart for Phil. During his junior year of high school, the church, in an effort to attract more young people, wanted Jim to teach less and play more. Difference of opinion over this new strategy led to Jim’s dismissal. He was replaced by Savannah, an attractive twenty-something who, according to Phil, “didn’t know a thing about the Bible.” The church got what it wanted: the youth group grew. But it lost Phil.

An hour deeper into our conversation I asked, “When did you begin to think of yourself as an atheist?”

He thought for a moment. “I would say by the end of my junior year.”

I checked my notes. “Wasn’t that about the time that your church fired Jim?”

He seemed surprised by the connection. “Yeah, I guess it was.”

Phil’s story, while unique in its parts, was on the whole typical of the stories we would hear from students across the country.

Slowly, a composite sketch of American college-aged atheists began to emerge and it would challenge all that we thought we knew about this demographic.

Here is what we learned:

 They had attended church

Most of our participants had not chosen their worldview from ideologically neutral positions at all, but in reaction to Christianity. Not Islam. Not Buddhism. Christianity.

The mission and message of their churches was vague

These students heard plenty of messages encouraging “social justice,” community involvement, and “being good,” but they seldom saw the relationship between that message, Jesus Christ, and the Bible.

Listen to Stephanie, a student at Northwestern:
“The connection between Jesus and a person’s life was not clear.”

This is an incisive critique. She seems to have intuitively understood that the church does not exist simply to address social ills, but to proclaim the teachings of its founder, Jesus Christ, and their relevance to the world.

Since Stephanie did not see that connection, she saw little incentive to stay. We would hear this again.

They felt their churches offered superficial answers to life’s difficult questions

When our participants were asked what they found unconvincing about the Christian faith, they spoke of evolution vs. creation, sexuality, the reliability of the biblical text, Jesus as the only way, etc.

Some had gone to church hoping to find answers to these questions.

Others hoped to find answers to questions of personal significance, purpose, and ethics.

Serious-minded, they often concluded that church services were largely shallow, harmless, and ultimately irrelevant. As Ben, an engineering major at the University of Texas, so bluntly put it: “I really started to get bored with church.”

The decision to embrace unbelief was often an emotional one

With few exceptions, students would begin by telling us that they had become atheists for exclusively rational reasons. But as we listened it became clear that, for most, this was a deeply emotional transition as well. This phenomenon was most powerfully exhibited in Meredith. She explained in detail how her study of anthropology had led her to atheism. When the conversation turned to her family, however, she spoke of an emotionally abusive father:

“It was when he died that I became an atheist,” she said.

I could see no obvious connection between her father’s death and her unbelief. Was it because she loved her abusive father — abused children often do love their parents — and she was angry with God for his death? “No,” Meredith explained. “I was terrified by the thought that he could still be alive somewhere.”

The internet factored heavily into their conversion to atheism

When our participants were asked to cite key influences in their conversion to atheism–people, books, seminars, etc. — we expected to hear frequent references to the names of the “New Atheists.” We did not. Not once. Instead, we heard vague references to videos they had watched on YouTube or website forums.
/// end snippet ///

As to this portion of the article:

Ages 14-17 were decisive

One participant told us that she considered herself to be an atheist by the age of eight while another said that it was during his sophomore year of college that he de-converted, but these were the outliers. For most, the high school years were the time when they embraced unbelief.
/// end snippet ///

I don’t dispute that author’s findings, but, in all my reading on deconversion stories, I’ve noticed that the vast majority (including people who accepted Jesus as Savior while children and who were quite devout) leave the faith when they are age 40 – 49, not in their teens.

I myself am currently in my 40s, I was a devout Christian for years, accepted Christ as my Savior prior to age ten, yet in my 40s, I find myself wandering away from the faith and doubting it.

So I am not sure how to take the author’s point that most of the Ex Christians he met were atheists by the age of ten or age fifteen. That has not been my experience at all, anecdotally.

As to this portion of the article:

They [ex Christians who are now atheists] expressed their respect for those ministers who took the Bible seriously

Following our 2010 debate in Billings, Montana, I asked Christopher Hitchens why he didn’t try to savage me on stage the way he had so many others. His reply was immediate and emphatic: “Because you believe it.”

Without fail, our former church-attending students expressed similar feelings for those Christians who unashamedly embraced biblical teaching.

Michael, a political science major at Dartmouth, told us that he is drawn to Christians like that, adding: “I really can’t consider a Christian a good, moral person if he isn’t trying to convert me.”

As surprising as it may seem, this sentiment is not as unusual as you might think.

It finds resonance in the well-publicized comments of Penn Jillette, the atheist illusionist and comedian:
“I don’t respect people who don’t proselytize. I don’t respect that at all. If you believe that there’s a heaven and hell and people could be going to hell or not getting eternal life or whatever, and you think that it’s not really worth telling them this because it would make it socially awkward…. How much do you have to hate somebody to believe that everlasting life is possible and not tell them that?”

Comments like these should cause every Christian to examine his conscience to see if he truly believes that Jesus is, as he claimed, “the way, the truth, and the life.”
/// end snippet ///

I also find this quite odd.

Most non-believers I’ve run into get antagonistic with you if you try to share your faith with them – they get offended – so why bother?

Secondly, even when I was 100% on-board with the Christian faith myself, in spite of the fact I believed (and still believe) that there is an afterlife, I did not (and do not) want to argue or debate with anyone about any of this.

I am not usually going to try to cram my religious views down your throat.

I’ve always had a pretty much “live and let live, let’s get along in spite of our differing views” type personality, regarding most beliefs.

Further, I’ve always been a reserved, introverted person who does not relish confrontation and controversy, so it’s not in my personality type to march right up to people I don’t know (or even ones I do know) and start giving a “Jesus spiel,” where I try to sell Christianity to them.

I’ve never cared all too much if someone wants to accept Christ or not; I’ve always been wired this way. I recognized at a young age that an atheist (or other non-believer) cannot be argued into believing in Christianity, so there is little point, (unless the individual approaching me is sincerely inquiring about my faith and wants to truly know why I believed what I did), in debating or discussing the faith with them.

Jesus said don’t toss your pearls before swine – there is a category of atheist out there that does not give a rat about Christianity.

That type of atheist merely loves intellectual stimulation and debate for its own sake (or to feel superior to people of faith), and they hate Christians, so they love trying to make any Christian they converse with appear to be a backwards idiot – and that is what prompts one category of atheist to chat about the faith with believers, not a sincere desire to learn, exchange ideas, or to reach the truth.

A lot of atheists I’ve observed online have a lot of intellectual pride.

That is why, when I used to be a lead moderator at a heavily- visited Christian board, the moment I sensed an atheist visitor was at our forum just to argue with Christians, I would refuse to debate them.

I simply did not care if they believed or not, I respected their choice to disbelieve – and this would annoy, shock, or infuriate certain types of atheists.

So I am not sure what to say to this category of atheist who act like Christians who aren’t hell-bent to convert them are somehow wrong or insincere; I think it’s quite the opposite.

As to this portion towards the end, I agree with this:

That these students [who left Christianity and are now atheists] were, above all else, idealists who longed for authenticity, and having failed to find it in their churches, they settled for a non-belief that, while less grand in its promises, felt more genuine and attainable.

I again quote Michael:
“Christianity is something that if you really believed it, it would change your life and you would want to change [the lives] of others. I haven’t seen too much of that.”
/// end snippet ///

I can echo Michael on that. That definitely played a role in my drift from the faith.

After my mother’s death, I had my eyes opened. Most Christians I went to in my time of need, when I was in grief, weren’t living out the faith; they didn’t care to actually walk with me through that grief.

(My mother, by contrast, actually lived the faith; she didn’t just talk about it. She would offer practical assistance to people in need, such as, she would drive frail elderly neighbors to their doctor appointments.)

Many of the Christians I went to for help (as in, emotional support) after my mother’s death are the types of Christians who attend church, they read the Bible daily to weekly, and they pay the faith lip service, but they don’t actually practice the faith (see James 2:16 and Romans 12:15).

I have also regularly visited spiritual abuse blogs in the last few years and have noted a pattern in churches – when dealing with victims of domestic abuse or child sex abuse, most Christians victim-blame the victim and defend the abuser, which is the opposite of what the Bible teaches.

Christians who have depression or other mental health issues are also shamed by Christians – they are not empathized with, or, they are told if they have anxiety or depression, that they must “never have truly been saved” to start with.

These churches seldom provide actual help to victims (such as paying for them to receive counseling, putting abused wives up in apartments for free as they divorce their abusive husbands, etc).

And how often do these spiritual abuse sites, and secular news ones, report on pastors (who are self professing Christians) who are caught having affairs or manufacturing or looking at child pornography? It happens quite often.

If Christianity were true, I’d expect to find 99% of its adherents actually living clean lifestyles and helping (not condemning) victims of abuse and ministering to those in grief and so on, but I don’t see this. I usually see the opposite.

(And note, I did not say I expect absolute perfection from all Christians at all times, but to see most of them, 99% of the time, living clean lifestyles. But that’s not what I’m seeing. I’ll give any Christian a pass for the occasional fail here or there, but not for consistent and persistent sinful lifestyle choices and habits.)

I’m not sure the one percent who ARE living the faith consistently cancel out or “make up for” the 99% who are not.

The one percent are a big aberration in my mind at this point.

I see most Christians either ignoring the wounded, or feeding them platitudes to brush them off as quickly as they can, or else, many Christians shame the wounded.

I’ve not seen how Jesus Christ has actually made a difference in the lives of most self professing Christians I’ve run into in real life, or who I’ve read about online.

At any rate, you can read the that article in its entirety here, on The Atlantic


Follow-up to this post:

On Atheists Respecting Christians Who Believe the Bible, a Caveat

Why So Many Americans Are Turning to Buddhism by Olga Khazan

• Americans Trust Clergy Less Than Ever, Gallup Poll Finds By Carol Kuruvilla

Americans Trust Clergy Less Than Ever, Gallup Poll Finds

Americans Trust Clergy Less Than Ever, Gallup Poll Finds

Snippets:

Americans’ confidence in religious leaders’ honesty and ethical standards has been tanking in recent years.

By Carol Kuruvilla

The level of trust Americans have in clergy members has dropped to a record low, a recent Gallup survey suggests.

The polling organization found that only 37 percent of 1,025 respondents had a “very high” or “high” opinion of the honesty and ethical standards of clergy, according to a report published on Thursday. Forty-three percent rated clergy’s honesty and ethics as “average,” while 15 percent had low or very low opinions.

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