Tuesday, March 06, 2007
What's most important to us?
The following was posted by Richard Wade over at the Friendly Atheist blog. I thought he did an excellent and humorous job of capturing the fact that many Christians these days seem to care more about their conservative politics and so-called "family values" than they do their core theological beliefs.

A possible future news broadcast:

“On this third of May, 2018 we take you now to our Vatican correspondent, Jenny Sayqua for more on our continuing story about the discovery of the remains of Jesus Christ. Jenny?”

“Well Jack, the big story here is that nothing out of the ordinary is happening. Last week’s discovery of irrefutable scientific proof of the bones of Jesus Christ hidden in the catacombs of he Vatican for centuries, proof so undeniable that most of the world’s 2.1 billion Christians acknowledged it to be true, had little or no effect. This is an inescapable refutation of the Christian belief that Jesus Christ rose from the dead and ascended bodily into heaven. His conquering of death was up until now thought to be the major, central belief of Christianity, and that the religion would stand or fall on this. But to the surprise of theologians everywhere, life for Christians around the world is continuing normally. Catholics, Protestants, those of hundreds of denominations are just fine. They’re going to worship, to work, taking their kids to school; it’s as if it doesn’t matter. Back to you in our newsroom, Jack.”

A little further into the future:

“On this tenth of July, 2029 we are broadcasting from our emergency newsroom in Atlanta Georgia. We’ll continue broadcasting as long as we can. We are getting sporadic reports from our correspondents around the country and around the globe about the growing chaos that was unleashed earlier this week when irrefutable scientific proof that homosexuality is a natural occurrence and not a lifestyle choice threw the world’s 2.1 billion Christians into a state of utter confusion. The effect was immediate and devastating: They started staggering around, disoriented and dazed. It resembles the “wandering sickness” portrayed in the 1936 film “Things to Come,” based on the H.G. Wells novel. They’re just wandering around by the hundreds of millions in the streets of cities all over the world. They’re not reporting for work. They’re not even eating. Busses, trains and airlines have stopped moving. The electricity is out in most cities. No one is delivering food to the markets. Atheists and non Christians are trying to help, to get them to sit down, to eat, but there are far too many of them and they don’t respond. Some of you may remember some 11 years ago when the discovery of the bones of Jesus Christ had no effect on Christians around the world, but apparently this astonishing revelation, that the belief that homosexuals were making a lifestyle choice is false, appears to have been the true pillar of the Church. As a result of this mass catastrophe, our civilization is in ruins. Uh-oh, our emergency lights are flickering. I’m sure we can continue to repor…..”
posted by Mike Clawson at 7:18 PM | Permalink |


At 3/07/2007 08:39:00 PM, Blogger John

"Friendly atheist Blog"? I'm glad he can speak for all of us Christians. Well, its free speech I guess.


At 3/07/2007 08:49:00 PM, Blogger Mike Clawson

So you don't think he captured something true about the way some Christians these days behave?


At 3/08/2007 06:00:00 PM, Blogger Richard Wade


I don’t presume to speak for all Christians. I wouldn’t presume to speak for a single Christian. What I wrote, a joke, was intended not to mock but to provoke thought and dialogue among Christians. My use of the obviously absurd hyperbole that all 2.1 billion Christians would go into a fugue state is what makes the joke work. I’m sorry if you thought it was a blanket slander.

As an atheist I never spend a moment arguing with people of faith about their core beliefs. That is none of my business. But I do, and will continue to my last breath challenge anyone’s ridiculous superstitions they may have about other human beings. In a word, their bigotry. This even includes arguing with other atheists about the bigotry some of them have against Christians.

In my view as an outsider, the worst way that many (not all) Christians discredit their religion is by intruding into two realms that are not essential to their core belief: sex and science. Clerical-secular controversies over homosexuality, sex education, birth control, STD’s, abortion, science education in public schools. medical research and even climatology have degraded public dialogue and derailed positive and needed activities that Christians could be otherwise doing. For instance, the time, money and effort put into bashing gays or insisting the earth is only 6,000 years old might be better put to use helping people struggling in poverty. Something if I remember correctly, Jesus thought important.

The problem is that I am an outsider, and the worst possible kind in the eyes of the same Christians I’m describing. Homophobic Christians tend to have even more bizarre beliefs about atheists than they have about gays. They’re not going to listen to someone they consider a demon. That is why I appeal to critically thinking Christians to begin an earnest dialogue with their fellow Christians who have become distracted by such peripheral issues. Perhaps I’ve missed it, but I don’t hear much debate going on between Christians about these things. We seculars are doing most of the challenging against scripture-justified hatred, and we’re not reaching them. Don’t leave it up to us.

Thank you John for listening. I would very much appreciate hearing your views.


At 3/08/2007 09:51:00 PM, Blogger Mike Clawson

Thanks for giving a gracious reply Richard. I agree with almost everything you just said.

However, I want to encourage you by letting you know that there are many of us who do challenge our fellow Christians on these issues. For instance, you may have noticed my most recent post about Jim Wallis of the progressive Christian organization Sojourners challenging Dr. Dobson to a debate about what are really the most important moral issues of our time. Wallis and others are part of a growing movement of progressive Christians (and even progressive evangelicals) who care just as much or even more about social justice than they do about sexual ethics.

Not to mention that the liberal mainline churches have been champions of social justice issues for decades now.

And then there is the emerging church, which might be described as a blending of the best of the evangelical and mainline traditions, again with a strong commitment to social justice.

Unfortunately the media only focuses on those Christians who say the most ignorant things, and the intelligent debate never gets reported on. But don't worry, it is happening.



At 3/08/2007 11:12:00 PM, Blogger Richard Wade

Thank you Mike. That is encouraging. If such discussions are publicized or archived, I'd appreciate your pointing me in their direction.

I hope Mr. Wallis gets his formal debate with Dr. Dobson, although as you, I doubt it will happen. Mr. Wallis is a brave man. Another option might be for him to just keep increasing the frequency and volume of his challenges, taking the opportunity to elaborate on the details of his points one at a time even if Dobson does not respond. That way the ideas are put out there to bring up people's awareness.

Yes, sadly the extreme stuff gets the news coverage; two people may be engaged in a meaningful exchange of opinions, but meanwhile the cameras are turned to those shouting at each other over a picket line. Absurd gets front page. Substance is buried in the back, if printed at all.

But you seem to be far from giving up. I hope your efforts prove fruitful.


At 3/09/2007 12:27:00 AM, Blogger Mike Clawson

"If such discussions are publicized or archived, I'd appreciate your pointing me in their direction."

The God's Politics blog is a good place to start. As is its parent organization Sojourners.


At 3/09/2007 09:43:00 PM, Blogger John

Hello Richard,

Appreciate the response. I don't think I've ever had the opportunity to converse in this way before.

You are correct in what Jesus thought on the people struggling with poverty. A lot of Christians also forget what kind of people Christ hung out with as well. If we spent as much time loving and accepting people instead of tearing them down the world would be a much better place.

Mike is correct in saying what "Christians" the media pays attention to. It gives us all a bad name. I hope Richard that a lot of us really try to live and love as Jesus Christ did over 2000 years ago. Its our core belief. Its what we would die for. He paid the price for everyone. Sometimes we get so wrapped up in issues and politics that we forget that. I hope I've explained myself well.

Thank you again,



At 3/11/2007 03:40:00 AM, Blogger Richard Wade

Dear John,

This kind of dialogue with people of faith is still fairly new to me as well and it is a genuine pleasure to discover mutuality in others with whom I had assumed I had no chance of connection.

You and I seem to have much in common when it comes to here-and-now issues. We care about people and we live by principles such as kindness, fairness and respect. We only disagree on there-and-then issues, and since those will only be resolved later, (much later we all hope) we can spend our whole lives cooperating on the things we agree on. Imagine what we could accomplish.

Every group or category of people has those who embarrass the rest by their extremism or their negativism. I spend much of my time arguing with such people in my "camp." (I hope someday the whole adversarial mentality becomes so obsolete that no one would understand what I meant by the word "camp." Probably not in my lifetime, but I'm happy to keep contributing toward that.) Atheists are an independent lot, and can be even more disparate than Christians. We disagree on what issues are important as well as what methods are acceptable and constructive. Most of us have only recently discovered that we have a community. Keeping our views secret for fear of what can be very bad and even dangerous repercussions, we had no idea there were others out there. The internet has been a, if you'll excuse the term, revelation.

I hope that people like you and I can continue such dialogues, and that we can introduce our more positive colleagues to each other. We may even be able to compare notes on what works to reach the more extreme or negative members of our own groups.



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