Rechelle Welcomes Local Baptist Congregation To Her Website!

March 8th, 2010

Friday night during a wine guzzling gathering with a few friends, I learned (after the wine had loosened our lips) that a local Baptist congregation has distributed my website address to their congregation via tiny slips of paper on a recent Sunday morning.  I am not sure why the slips of paper had to be so tiny, but I am guessing it would be so that the recipients could easily chew them up and swallow them if they were ever taken into custody by the local Jesus police. 

I have also heard that the Baptists are praying for me.  

Let me check and see if they prayers are working.













I am still an atheist.

But then, it is not that surprising that the prayers wouldn’t work is it?  

Prayer has been proven to be completely ineffective over and over and OVER  again! 

In fact, prayers for medical recovery can result in further complications!  

So stop praying for your sick friends and relatives!

Or at least stop TELLING them that you are praying for them!

You are only making it WORSE!


And welcome local Baptists!  

I am glad you are here!

Feel free to join in the conversation.

If you are looking for the ‘cornerstone posts’ that explain why I became an atheist after 41 years of devout christianity – here are the links…

How I Became an Atheist  - A Parable

Former Christian Apologizes for Being Such a Huge Shit Head for All Those Years.

CDW Writes Better Ten Commandments Than God and It Wasn’t Even HARD!

And here is the story about when Two Baptist Missionaries Visited Me!  

Feel free to poke around my web site as much as you like.  If after exploring this site you discover that you are experiencing a few small twinges of doubt yourself and would like to talk to someone who will not fill your head with bronze age bible verses, please consider emailing me.  If you have long suspected that there really isn’t a man who lives in the sky who gives even half a mouse turd about the plight of humanity, you are not alone. There are many of us. Check out this post for some great resources.  And please don’t forget to read the comments. They are often the best and most entertaining part of my blog these days.  

Thanks for stopping by!


In Other News….

Yes, I live in a small town and yes small towns have a tendency to be all up in everyone’s business which can be wonderful if your house burns down or you get really sick or you lose a loved one.  There are some nice advantages to small town life and my community does respond to people’s hardship if they know about it and can figure out a way to help.  Lots of different kinds of people respond to crisis in our town – both religious and non-religious.  The church-goers don’t have a corner on the market when it comes to helping out their neighbors.  

A few days ago, I was depositing my recycling in the big trailers down by the railroad tracks.  As I reached into the back of my van to pull out the last stack of newspapers, I looked up and there was ‘Bob’ (not his real name). Bob and I went to church together for eight years.  We served on committees together and even taught a Sunday school class together for two years. I had thought about Bob more than once over the past few months since my new ‘outlook on life’ became public and I knew in the depths of my heart that of all the people in my former church, Bob would be okay with it.   

Short note about my former church – I attended a somewhat liberal church.  The focus was truly service and fellowship.  It was not a bible beating type church nor a lunatic fringe church. The church had rubber walls and lots of people with different shades and severity of belief felt comfortable there.  But of all of the people that I knew in my former church – Bob was one of the most questioning, the best guitar players and the least likely to judge me for my stormy departure.  

So when I looked up and saw Bob leaning out of his truck and calling out a greeting, my face broke into a relaxed smile.  I knew he wouldn’t condemn me, wouldn’t hate me, and wouldn’t try to change my mind.  We talked for about fifteen minutes and it was a great conversation. He told me that he respected me for saying what I believed.  I told him that I always knew that he would be okay with my change of heart.  We talked about why we were the kind of people that could have this conversation without feeling defensive.  We talked about life and life after death and the difference between agnostics and atheists.  We talked about my kids and his dad and how life is so valuable.  We both teared up a few times.  The wind picked up and drug my tears across my face.  We finished the conversation by saying we hoped we could talk again some time.  Bob started his truck back up and headed back to work.  I closed the back door of the van and slid into the driver’s seat.  And that’s when I  glanced up at the rear view mirror and noticed that my left eye had dribbled mascara down my cheek in three black rivers.  I looked like a total freak!  I looked like I was channeling Richmond from the IT Crowd.  Thank goodness Bob was a longtime rock and roller so my goth look probably didn’t bother him much!

Have you not heard of Richmond?
Here’s a link to a brief synopsis of the life of Richmond and how he went from rising business executive to all around strange goth guy.

I think Richmond is my new all purpose metaphor.


  • Isn’t it great to know that people like you and support you no matter what your religious beliefs are? Nice to know that not everyone is judgmental and condemning.

  • So if praying for a sick person can make that person sicker, does praying for an apostate make them more atheistic? In which case, the Baptists are doing you a great service. Perhaps you could get them to pray for me as well?

  • Cheyenne:

    Whew, thank goodness for a new post. You took the weekend off, Rechelle, and we about beat that last one into the ground in comments. Now we can have some new things to say!

  • Thanks to a post you did a while back about The IT Crowd, I started watching clips on YouTube. Good stuff! Then they started showing the episodes on IFC on Sunday afternoons. Love the show, and love Richmond.

    I wonder if someone prayed for me to get fatter, if I would actually lose weight? Is prayer some sort of cosmic reverse psychology?

  • Nadine:

    Oh my, Richmond is pretty awesome.
    Glad there are people in your town who aren’t completely freaking out on you. I think that’s the surprising thing about “coming out” – there are definitely people who may condemn you, or at the least be very perplexed by and a little afraid of you, but on the other end of the spectrum are people who are interested in your decision, or (and these are sometimes the best ones) just don’t care, and see you for the person you were before and still are.

  • Brian V.:

    Rechelle, as a Baptist minister’s son, I was very touched by your words with that little boy who had to accompany the Baptist missionary to your door. You treated the child as worthy of honesty. You respected his right to be involved and not an appendage of the adult dragging him around. You gave him some love. My eyes are just now as wide as his were on your steps. If you had not been honest with yourself and become an atheist, that boy might not have had even one person treat him as an equal that day, not one person would have acknowledged that he deserves honest feelings and opinions. You reached into his very likely delusionary world and you are very very correct to say it will likely live with him for a long time. (And right now they probably have that boy on his knees prEying for you…)

  • Martha in Kansas:

    Oh, I’m so laughing and trying to be quiet at work. I’d forgotten about Richmond, what with all the latest carryings on. And then the opposite effect of praying! And the mischief it could cause!! And Richmond!!! Really, I’ve got to do something serious to get calmed down. (Wouldn’t it be amusing to go to work with Richmond’s makeup some day, just to see what would happen!)

  • Brian V.:

    sorry to leave out the reference to my comment:
    Two Baptist Missionaries Visited Me!

  • Megan:

    THIS is why so many people are turned off by Christianity. There is lots of suffering in the world you could be praying for, one woman’s atheism shouldn’t even register on the radar.

  • Joel Wheeler:

    The problematic corollary to all of the ‘good work’ done by believers seems to be the tendency toward ‘busy-bodyness,’ an out-of-scale willingness to secretly meddle. So good to know that all of those Baptist prayers are a waste of perfectly good breath.

  • Revyloution:

    Megan, in their defense, Christianity isn’t really concerned with worldly suffering. They are concerned with getting as many souls across the finish line as possible.

    Look to the example of their heroes, like Mother Theresa or Martin Luther (the German, not the US civil rights guy). Worldly suffering is nothing compared to the burning and raping I’m looking forward to suffering in the afterlife. (Well, actually i’m not looking forward to it at all. I think it’s just a silly story, but it makes the prose look better.)

    With all honesty, if I was comparing an eternity of hell to a little bit of worldly suffering, I would act the same way most Christians do. I would try to shut down Rachelle, or bring her back to the Church. She has a loud persuasive voice, and a big platform. She might turn other souls aside.

    Alas, I’m not a believer. So I’m doomed to a life of concern about others. Im cursed with a vow of charity to improve the lives of those with little. Im damned to educate and inform wherever I go. Im stuck with this one brief,beguiling, beautiful life.

  • Revyloution:

    And Rechelle, I’m really sorry I spelled your name wrong. Proof reading has always been one of my weak points.

  • Nanc in Ashland:

    Wait, you attended a church with rubber walls? Real rubber or metaphoric rubber? Real rubber walls would be . . . strange? Wouldn’t they smell if it gets hot? No wait, rubber is great insulation–protects from wetness, etc. Crimony, I’m typing like a valley girl–ending every sentence with a question. But, like, you know, I’m really, like, intrigued by the use of rubber as wall material outside the asylum setting. I’m just going to quit digging this hole now . . .

    • nanc – yes rubber walls. For the loonies. That’s why I felt so at home there for so long.

  • No worries Revyloution.

  • AnnB:

    Ummm, Mother Teresa? Wow. I think maybe she should be above reproach regardless of which side of the God debate you come down on.

  • Isabel:

    “Alas, I’m not a believer. So I’m doomed to a life of concern about others. Im cursed with a vow of charity to improve the lives of those with little. Im damned to educate and inform wherever I go. Im stuck with this one brief,beguiling, beautiful life.”
    I really enjoyed this.

  • DirtyKSmama - Nikki:

    The Baptists passed out your website address? Zoinks! Makes me want to go to their next service and be a fly on their wall (rubber maybe?) Why? I wonder if it will spread to other local Baptist congregations (i.e. the small town church grapevine.) The Baptist minister’s wife in our town is the assistant in my daughter’s Kindergarten class. Warm, wonderful woman. Hmmm… how do I bring up your website in conversation to see what the buzz is from 40ish miles away? Hmm…. Maybe I can ask the Baptists about it when they all show up here. Howdy people!

    People like Bob should be cherished – they enrich this “brief, beguiling, beautiful life.” Rechelle is one of my “Bobs.”

    Kelley – I’m with you. Everyone please pray for us to get fat.

    Cheyenne – I never know whether to check the site 3-4 times a day to keep up, or once a day so I don’t feel like such a dweeb checking the comments so often.

  • Action Squirrel:

    You should put a few colorful atheistic curses on them (in the language of the Great Spaghetti Monster, of course, which they won’t understand, and with an interpretive dance) next time you see a few running around to bless something or whatever. That’ll upgrade their concern to not just slips of paper but color photographs and possibly prayer circles, which will entertain us.

  • Dear Baptists,

    WELCOME! Please make sure to click all the ads on the website. Rechelle supported your religion for a very long time in the form of tithes, do her the favor of giving back and clickity click!

    Also, please keep your arms and legs inside the vehicle at all times. We are not responsible for lost limbs or tempers. The exits are clearly marked in several spots on this website so if you feel any nausea or headaches, please locate your nearest exit and use it.

    Thank you.

  • Oh, and I love Richmond, I am now going to have to locate and watch every single episode of the show.

  • Take a gander at Chris Hutchings April Vanity Fair story, re rewriting the 10 commandments. I believe he stole his ideas from you.

  • LucyGolden:

    Great post! I’ve gone from telling people I’m praying for them to saying I’m sending positive, healing energy from the Universe…Kind of new age-ish sounding…

  • LucyGolden:

    Oh, and HOORAY for Bob! It’s friends like that you don’t ever want to loose.

  • Revyloution, I would like to briefly defend the Christians you attacked with your defense. The truth is, many Christians are deeply concerned with worldly suffering, and are a huge force for social justice worldwide. Now unfortunately, those particular Christians aren’t nearly as loud or obnoxious as the ones who are busy damning us to hell or protesting homosexuality at the funerals of fallen soldiers, but nonetheless a lot of Christians take Jesus’ message of social reform and economic justice very seriously. MLK, for example (the Martin Luther you didn’t mean!) and more recently, Rev. Jim Wallis’ Sojourners movement (Christians for peace and justice). There are innumerable social service and relief agencies run by religious institutions–agencies which do no proselytizing whatsoever but believe they are called to be compassionate (Church World Service comes to mind). In the LGBT-rights movement, there are reconciling (LGBT-welcoming) congregations all over the US, and SoulForce, an inter-faith organization promoting freedom and equality for LGBT people. Even Rick Warren (I’m going to have to do some kind of ritual cleansing to get the stink of saying something good about him off of me) has taken it as part of his mission to combat poverty, illiteracy and pandemic disease. My point here is that where we can find points of agreement, we should stand with religious people, not try to tear them down just for the sake of it. The Baptists who stop over here aren’t going to be won over to the side of reason if the side of reason is calling them assholes. If the side of reason is saying, “Look, we disagree with you on a lot, but we share some really basic common values,” then we’ve opened the door to real dialogue that might get us somewhere.

  • efrique:

    Serah said: So if praying for a sick person can make that person sicker,

    Actually, they only get sicker if they know they’re being prayed for. Otherwise, it doesn’t do anything. So if you must pray for someone, for pity’s sake don’t tell the poor victim.

  • I know, I know, but Rechelle is aware that the Baptists are praying for her immortal soul…so I’m thinking the result will indeed be to make her more atheistic!

  • lol, I can totally see how being preyed over could make people worse. certainly if I was told a bunch of people are preying over my recovery, I’d start freaking out that this is one of those “only a miracle can save her now” situations; and stress is not good for recovery! :-p

    Bob sounds like someone who’s good to have for a neighbor and friend :-)

  • erica from canada:

    Amused by the side bar ads running on this site , “Meet Baptist Singles”, “Need Ordination”. I guess they are triggered by word in the posts.

  • Toad – I know – He SO stole them!

  • Revyloution:

    Toad, I think you meant Chris Hitchens, but ya, he nailed it.

    That is, nailed it for reason and logic.

    The all time 10 commandments basher goes to George Carlin. Search on Youtube, there are a couple different versions. He is both logical and hilarious.

  • Melinda Gerow:

    “preying” Jadehawk?

  • Well – you won me over with your picture on this one. I haven’t seen The IT Crowd (why has the world been hiding it frm me?!!). But I LOVE Vince Noir and The Mighty Boosh… and Howard Moon – whom my husband aspires to be.

    More important – I hope all those Baptist folks do visit your blog and spend some time. Atheists really aren’t that scary! We’re nice people – we care about others and want to see the best for people in the world. We just don’t believe that praying will have any effect – it takes WORK!

    Cheers to you Rechelle! Thanks so much for speaking from your heart.

  • Brian V.:

    Melinda, “preying” indeed… It’s a fundamentalist spelling and differs from the original in fervor and intent, I suspect.

  • Jimmy-boy:

    Please could I get you all to pray that my boss cuts my salary – and reduces my annual holiday entitlement? And I think, if I’ve understood this praying thing right, someone has to email him to let him know about it?

    To really get things into a proper theistic framework, how about I get all of those praying in on a cut of the eventual takings? So I’ll distribute 50% of the salary “cut” to anyone who can demonstrate that their prayers were instrumental in the eventual outcome.


  • preying, praying, same thing :-p

  • Ellie:

    This blog makes me so happy. Hooray for rational thought!

  • km:

    Did you turn it off and back on again???

  • Froot Owl:

    Praying for anything is a waste of time. As soon as you start thinking someone else will take care of it for you, the motivation to actually do anything constructive about a problem drops faster than a bag full of shrieking church ladies.

  • Whirled:

    I thought you went to the church that we had stormed out of a year or so earlier because the minister was praising the congregation for voting to not allow gays in any form of church leadership (even though the national governing body had voted to allow it). Liberal is such a loosely defined term in this state :).

    Of course, I think that minister was subsequently fired for having an affair with a church member…which then revealed that he had never actually been married to the woman who was living with him as his wife. (Wow, I guess that does sound pretty darn liberal!)

    I used to poke fun a little at the tree-hugging, braid-wearing, organic eating, candle-light vigiling people in the town we used to live in (actually named “the most enlightened city in America” several times running.) Now I’ve turned into one of them myself, living in this looney state,…and I miss them so much!

  • Marilyn:

    Isn’t it odd how happy this discussion makes some and how sad it makes others? Wow…we’re all so very different. Bob is a fine example of a great friend and Christian.

  • Rechelle,
    have you seen The Invention of Lying? Hilarious.

  • Nanc in Ashland:

    Thanks for clarifying, Rechelle. Real rubber walls. Wow!

  • Megan – yes I saw it. And I really enjoyed the concept and the story. Very creative take on religion. Also Ricky Gervais! He is so danged funny

  • km:

    and the Pizza Hut boxes…I’ll never look at them the same way again.

  • Heidi:

    If praying for sick people makes them sicker – will praying that I lose weight make me fatter?

    Dear God, Help me to eat and eat and eat…

    NOW will I lose weight? I’m totally going to try this.

  • Rechelle, I have humbly requested my husband NOT inform anyone in the bathtist faith if I ever fall ill. They are ruthless with their prayer chains and slips.

  • Heidi – I think you have to have OTHER people praying for you to get fat. You can’t make the mojo happen to yourself. Good luck!

  • joann in tx:


    you must be famous!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    you have all the baptists talking about your little blog!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
    now how cool is that?

    you know if people worried more about the BIG things in life instead of the small things and got their noses out of their ass small towns would be a wonderful place to live. no peyton place there is it?


    maybe next you should admit to being gay and seeing what kind of reaction the small minded baptists of your town do. seems to me these people need to GET A LIFE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • They passed out your website? Jeeze! thats crazy

    I was going to ask if you had ever seen the movie “Inherit the Wind”, I’ve been watching it in school and it’s really interesting and informative! It’s a true story based on a man who tried to teach Darwinism in school and was arrested. If you haven’t seen I really recommend it!

  • brightmom:

    Hello Baptists!
    Here’s another great website to visit.

  • Keith Allison:

    The best comment to someone saying “I’ll pray for you” is “While you are on your knees praying, I’ll be on my feet thinking for both of us.”

  • ann:

    I am perplexed as to why they would pass out your site name. Since people have said before that they like to have respectful discussions with various types of people I will throw my hat in here as someone who does pray and just explain what it does for me. I don’t pray for good parking spaces and things like that, although I have heard this is quite popular in certain circles. I usually pray for peace of mind or things like that. If someone I know is going through a horrible illness or something like that I also pray that I can be supportive and that people around them will be kind to them. My SIL was in a coma a few years ago, after undergoing brain surgery, and ended up dying. Interestingly, I didn’t pray for a mircale but I did pray that if she had any idea what was going on around her, she felt some sense of comfort and was not scared and that she knew how loved she was at that moment. Believe me, it is hard looking at a 38 year old woman in a coma and not having some thought that she not be scared and at that point, no amount of medical intervention was going to do the trick, so prayer was all we had left. My brother, who does not believe in God, asked that we pray for her, just in case, so I could not refuse him. And I think this is why prayer helps people sometimes. At some point we all find ourselves in awful situations that are beyond our control and the only thing we can think to do is offer up our thoughts and hopes to a bigger power. By we, I mean people who pray, I am not saying this applies to everyone. Also, there are different kinds of prayer. Contemplative prayer has definately worked for me. This is prayer where you are not asking for huge favors but are trying to get in tune with what you really need to be doing in your life. There is also centering prayer, which is difficult and enlightening as well. Many people I know use this type of prayer to get to the root of what is causing them on-going battles, like if they have a drug addiction or something like that. On a daily basis I pray that I can remain calm with my children. If nothing else, my prayer helps me focus on what is important at that moment. Do you need to pray to do that? No, I suppose you can just slow down and listen to yourself think, but prayer has worked for me in the past. Sometimes people honestly think prayer is about getting what you want in life and that is not really what it is. I only wanted to give an informative comment about why I do it.

  • ann:

    I would be remiss if I didn’t point out that for people who believe in God, prayer ultimately focuses us back on God and reminds us that we are only human.Again, this is the perspective of someone who believes in God. I am not trying to force my belief on anyone, just trying to calmly and rationally explain my point of view, which is not always easy for me to do. But of course I prayed before I did this…JUST KIDDING :) Come on, I had to say it.

  • Christine from Canada:

    Whoa! (Wrong thread, I know, but…)

    Mrs. G. has resigned as contributing writer to PW’s blog.

    Check it out!

  • Nadine:

    Rechelle, I just want you to know that I’m now obsessed with The IT Crowd, and I blame you for all the (delightful) hours I will lose to it.

  • Nadine:

    …and by “blame” I mean “thank.”

  • Brian V.:

    I was reading about the religious love-bombing over at PW, those who mobbed Mrs. G. and got her phone number so they could stalk her for Jesus and it reminded me of something from Jack Henry Abbott’s memoir, In the Belly of the Beast. While in jail, Jack took the bible left in his cell and soaked it in the toilet till it was a very heavy, soppy mess. Then he put it into a pillow case (I believe) and used it like a sledge hammer on someone! Now that is a real John 3:16, right in the noggin…WHUMP! For God so loved the WHUMP! He gave it right to his son..WHUMP! This honest, straightforward use of scriptures has remained with me. It has such integrity and is so unlike the average missionary at my door.

  • Brian V.:

    hi anne, you say you are perplexed by the church giving out the address for Rechelle’s site. I am going to hazard a guess and say that you are not well churched. If you were, you would understand the need to bring on the prayer war. Onward Christian Soldiers is not about eternal peace.

  • Brian V.:

    apologies, ann, for adding the “e” to your name…

  • Anonymous:

    @Brian V. I am “well-churched” (your words), and my church would never give out a web address for this purpose. We also don’t march onward toward a “prayer war.” Brian, you must understand that all churches are not alike, and all Christians are not alike. It is not a cookie-cutter religion. Please, don’t criticize the many for a few. Can’t we all just try to get along and respect each other for who we are? Thank you, Ann, for openly sharing your faith without bashing and making fun of anyone elses.

  • Another Lee:

    Hi Ann, thank you for sharing something so personal to bring the discussion back around to what is important. Ultimately we all need to connect and experience love. Religion works for some people, rejecting religion works for others. But we need to end up in the same place, caring for our fellow beings if we want this life thing to work out.

  • @ Christine from Canada, not only has Mrs. G resigned, but if you read the comments, a lot of readers who actually found Mrs. G through PW have said they will no longer go to PW’s site. One even claimed to have burned her PW cookbook.

    For me, this whole event underscored the fact that there are some christians who will go to any extreme, including looking up someone’s contact info on facebook, to tell them that they are condemned to hell for not believing as they do. And, considering that PW did a lot of comment moderation to make sure that only the positive, supportive comments stayed on her blog, shows that she’s not ‘keeping it real’, but rather she’s keeping it as non-offensive as possible so as not to drive either her core readers or sponsors away.

  • I can’t help but wonder if Rechelle’s “coming out” in some way influenced Mrs G’s post which caused her to resign from PW’s blog.

  • I can’t speak for Mrs. G., but reading her article, it was more about teaching her own children about different religious beliefs and then letting them decide what they wanted to believe. I’ve read that article several times and still dont’ see what the catholics got their rosary beads in a knot over.

    From what Mrs. G has said, her resignation came about more because the hate crossed a very distinct line and came in to her home. It’s one thing when someone tells you you’re going to hell on a blog, but for them to take the time and effort to look you up and call you late at night is a whole other ballgame. As a parent, I would fear for my kids’ safety. It seems to be inferred from several different comments that PW bascially washed her hands of the whole thing, saying that she wasn’t responsible for what her readers did, that she had been a victim of hate as well, etc. And while she may not very well be responsible for her reader’s actions, she could have and should have done something to calm everyone one the hell down, not wait until Sunday night to prattle on about eating cookie dough. She could have said that hateful words from anyone would not be tolerated on her site. She could have said that she supported Mrs. G. But she didn’t do either. PW just kept quiet and deleted the posts condeming Mrs. G to hell, and deleted the posts from people who were asking where the discussion was on her blog, where was the dialogue. She deleted posts from people like Rechelle, she deleted posts that challenged what catholics believed. She kept only the shiny, happy comments because that’s what looks the nicest.

  • Jayne:

    Christine from Canada……. Thanks for that link. I found it interesting that Mrs. G was paid “good money” by PW for her contributions.

  • ann:

    Hi Brian V, I don’t know if I am well-churched. I don’t really know what that means. I do go more than once a week. I went today and our priest talked about how we should never stop learning and growing in our faith and how we need to stretch ourselves beyond the comfortable and challenge ourselves and he reminded us that when we are not struggling we aren’t learning anything. He even mentioned using the internet as a source for learning if that was all we could get our hands on. Maybe I should have stood up at that point and yelled out the link to this blog and we could have prayed for Rechelle. That would have been kind of funny. Maybe I will do that tomorrow. Do I need to say I am joking? Anyway, I never feel like we are sent out into the world to judge other people and be like warriors. We have never had a prayer war or anything like that or whatever someone referred to it as. There are people who are intolerant and foolish in every area of life. I have been intolerant and foolish in my life because, well, because I’m human, but I do try and learn from my foolishness. We need to be honest, really honest and not pretend that only Christians are intolerant. As a matter of fact, Mrs G. stated taht some atheirst had even made stupid comments and she referred to the stupid comments of both groups as a convergence of misfits, or something along those lines. My comment on prayer was meant to communicate what I experience in prayer. I’m sorry the only thing interesting you found about it was the first sentence.

  • Brian V.:

    @anonymous, I do realize there are more friendly Christians among those who came out to attack Mrs. G at PW. Some of them are blood family. I was not referring to them. I acknowledge your message that you and others like you would not participate in such a Christian mob as the one that has harmed Mrs. G. and her family. Still, I am concerned about what appears to me to be growing numbers of extremist Christians who spout verses and harshly judge even whole countries that have suffered natural disasters even while their Christian neighbor is offering to help the relief effort. Atheists I am exposed to debunk and sometimes poke at Christian beliefs with humor but they are not condemning others to the lake of fire. They don’t hound and stalk. It seems a great escape from personal responsibility: You can tell others they will bow before your god and they will go to eternal fire if they don’t get saved by Jesus but its GOD talking, not you, so you are off the hook. You shouldn’t be rude, no, but you are off the hook because God told you to do it. You can force little children to accompany you to a stranger’s door to try to save the stranger… and then you can say you do it because God ordered it. Does it perplex you that disrespecting others like this can lead to more and more disrespect of and from others? I keep telling missionaries to stop coming to my home and I have been quite blunt but it does not work! God is talking to them and ordering them to save me. My uncle was a good Baptist, a nice vacuum cleaner salesman/repairman and a wonderful soloist at his church until one day he got “convicted” with the idea that all the lost souls needed him and he had to go and preach on the street… till he broke down and ended up on meds. Poor fellow. He’s never been the same…
    Oh gee, too bad, says the obsessive preacher but that doesn’t change God’s requirements in HIS WORD. Oh brother… it sure makes me tired, anonymous.

  • Brian V.:

    ann, I was interested in the whole post. It made me think that what you were saying was very much like a kind of meditation/thought but you call it prayer. As a non-believer, I still meditate on things and spend time considering my actions and inactions. I just don’t do the sky-god part. Thanks for sharing your thoughts. Oh, and I agree with the priest about stretching and keeping on keeping on…. Also, you are very funny. Your quip about stopping the priest for a Rechelle prayer made me laugh out loud. (Don’t prEy for me now!)

  • Steph :):

    I’ve heard of sole persons being targeted by local church types, to pray for them to make them do something, or not do something, or whatever. Seems like the kind of attentio somebody would not want, at least from where I stad. I mean, I thik I would probably consider restrainig orders and draw the shades if I foud out the entire church down the road was prayig in my general direction. Because historically, the church hasn’t been very kind to us gay types. And I’d feel more nervous tha I already do.

    P.S. I spilled Dr. Peepers on my keyboard so sometimes my ‘n’ key does’t work :)

  • sandy:

    In my opinion PW is a lot like Fox news….

  • Sue:

    Whats wrong with you?? I am beginning to think this is all about you, and control, it seems that this is all you can talk about you don’t seem like a happy person anymore but seem to be consumed with this stuff , can’t you have your beliefs struggle with your mind without being consumed with it ?? I don’t think that this is about GOD at all , but about you being in control of everything ,you knowing best , you having all the answers .
    Get a grip on it .

  • The funniest part of this post is that you are relying on the Los Angeles times for proof that prayer has no benefit/could supposedly cause complications. This to me proves you’ve lost your mind.

    I will continue to pray for the safe return of my son from his deployment to Afghanistan in the service of our country and I will continue to pray for God’s mercy and grace upon my dear sister-in-law who is about to lose her painful battle with pancreatic cancer. If only to comfort myself through these times of stress.

    I would say God bless, but I think I’ll just wish you good luck instead.

  • Christine from Canada:

    Again, sorry, not a “homeschooling” thread, but thought I’d get this in while it’s still topical:

  • Priss:

    Janet, here is the study that the Los Angeles Times article was referring to:
    Also, the LA Times article was from a Templeton foundation link. The Templeton Foundation is hardly anti-religion so isn’t prejudiced in favor of studies showing the ineffectiveness of prayers. Rechelle hasn’t lost her mind. Rechelle is using her mind.

  • Ted Powell:

    Janet wrote: The funniest part of this post is that you are relying on the Los Angeles times for proof that prayer has no benefit/could supposedly cause complications. This to me proves you’ve lost your mind.In the first of these two sentences, she implies (correctly) that one cannot use material found on the Internet as proof. In the second, she uses material found on the Internet (this blog) as proof.Assuming that was deliberate, thanks for the chuckle, Janet.BTW, except for the purpose of casual discussion, one should really go to something a little better than a daily paper, for example PubMed.P.S. I think Priss just scooped me…

  • Cheyenne:

    Ah, I was wondering when the Baptists were going to arrive, looks like they made it. Welcome Sue and Janet!

  • km:

    Janet, a quick note to let you know I went over to your blog. I hope your handsome son comes home safely.

  • ann:

    Brian V…Yes, you are correct, I am very funny. I am glad you noticed.

  • FL Liz:

    I can’t add anything new here about the subject matter, BUT I have to tell you I’ve spent the past couple nights watching The IT Crowd on netflix.. almost non-stop. Thanks for the reference – I haven’t seen anything that funny in a long time.

  • Steph :):

    Weird… my comment didn’t show up after I submitted it. Maybe a glitch in the Matrix?

  • This is why I’ve all but stopped talking about it. It’s pointless. — “Bob Barth of Silent Unity, the prayer organization in Lee’s Summit, Mo., that was the Protestant
    group involved in the study, said the results didn’t shake his confidence in prayer. ‘People of
    faith don’t need a prayer study to know that prayer works,’ he said.”

    It’s like saying “The Bible is true. Because it says so.”

    People of faith are exactly that – of faith. They can look scientific fact in the eye and unflinchingly say “NO, It’s blue” when it is clearly RED.

    There is no arguing with anyone who refuses to participate in any sort of logical discussion. The “God card” trumps all, and makes resistance futile.

  • Megan, I am the same way. There is no point in arguing with people who refuse to acknowledge the validity of the scientific method or evidence.

    Kind of ironic seeing as they are completely against it until they need to, you know, buy that new car, type on their computers, go see a doctor, buy food at the grocery store, and so forth. All those things were made possible due to major advances in science.

    It is offensive to scientists who work to the bone to make a scientific breakthrough, toil to reproduce the results, and then have it evaluated by a jury of their own peers, have it published, only to have it waved off by a religious zealot as puffery.

    I always say I am willing to take any religious claims as fact as long as there are 3 unbiased sources backing the claim with tangible evidence, and can reproduce the results. So far I have seen zilch.

    I am so weary of them saying they have proof that their god exisits, then quote the bible, and relay anecdotes as their proof. I don’t even care anymore, I just let them show me how stupid they are, and it reaffirms just why I started looking for real answers as a young child. Yes, even at the age of 8, I knew that something was fishy with religion.

    Oh, and Long Live Richmond!

  • Catching up on comments. To Heather – yeah – my post to your post is probably worth a bit o’ scorn from you. I wanted to send out support, but more than that I wanted to scorch the christian homeschoolers. I am just broken that way. I am trying to get better though! Trying! TRYING! PROMISE!

    Janet – I so appreciate your son’s service.

    Sandy – Yes – Fox News. PW is the human interest story that never, ever, ever, ever ends. Ha ha!

    And yes – The IT Crowd rules. So freakin’ funny! Moss is my secret boyfriend. I LOVE that guy!

  • Jim:

    Hi Ann,

    I really appreciated your post. I hope I can say this without offending… but your comments on what prayer means to you don’t sound very Christian to me! (That’s my best compliment by the way: perhaps I should work on that..). OK – so before I go down in flames I’ll try to explain what I mean – with a story.

    Back in 2001 my wee lad, aged 21 months, was diagnosed with a pretty bad leukaemia (this isn’t a sob story: he’s doing really well now – and you’d never know he had ever been ill). At the time though we were given 40% chance of recovery if he had a bone marrow transplant (which he subsequently did). I happened to live 20 minutes from the hospital that arguably has the best survival stats in the world for his specific condition – so in very good hands – but still: that statistic is the wrong side of 50% to allow for good sleep.

    I was emerging from nearly 30 years drowning in religion (mostly Catholicism but with some flirtations to Evangelicalism and Pentecostalism, via the Baptists). While I really had some pretty serious doubts by that stage (the ranting about homosexuals really upset me for eg: how could god create them that way and then condemn them!). But I did not yet describe myself as an atheist. And so I prayed – and so did a very large number of people all over the world.

    Through the usual process (observation) I realised that praying really does not do anything tangible for the target (and suggesting it did was just open to science proving otherwise). Plus it would have been insulting to the doctors to credit god with a cure if it came when a) I’d be dissuaded from blaming him if Fynn died and b) I would blame the docs (to some extent)! The very Catholic solution: god used the doctors struck me as a ridiculous cop-out. After all: those same doctors cure believers and non-believers alike. Prayer has no impact.

    The intellectual compromise I came up with was that prayer changes the prayer.

    Not great I know – but then…I was really struggling to work out what the point of praying was! The idea of prayer as a slot machine is just offensive (ie I prayed for your kid and he got better). I had a fair bit of that stuff afterwards from theists who couldn’t work out why their words were so offensive. I suggested to those poor souls a discussion with the mother of the child in the room next to us whose child died – and asked them to come back to me when they were done. After all: hundreds from all over the world had prayed for him too. Didn’t they pray hard enough? Or does god just ignore us? (In which case why pray?). Clearly there is no causal link between praying and events. Prayer does not cause a deity to intervene. And if it did – why that particular deity?

    So I had my compromise. “Prayer is good because it changes the way I see the world.” I happen to believe that this is probably still true – but only insofar as sincere contemplation of the world does that to us. I had to conclude that there was no chance that there is a good, interventionist god. No CS Lewis ‘The Problem with Pain’, no sympathy talks from relatives, no preaching on ‘gods mysterious ways’ actually cut the mustard when it gets down to the reality of your child dying of a horrible disease. One’s thinking becomes acute at such moments – as I think you are clearly aware.

    However, if god doesn’t intervene – and prayer doesn’t actually do anything, then…there is a problem. A very big problem.

    But that’s as far as I want to go: I don’t want to convert anyone to atheism (though I must in good conscience note that I am much happier and much freer than I was, now I’m rid of all that baggage). I am delighted to live in a world with Christian’s as moderate as you sound. I am sure I have lots to learn from people like you. I see absolutely no conflict. And I do not believe that many atheists would disagree.

    The conflict comes from those who are aggressive in their defence of their god (it’s a difficult point: but it is not unreasonable to ask such people for some evidence of his/her existence and there really is none). The intellectual idiocy of answers like ‘the Bible tells me so’ makes me want to scream! And of course there is a problem with those who want to impose their morality on others either directly or through the ballot box. Conflict arises there too of course.

    So I wonder if you agree that what you have said about prayer does not really evidence a strong conviction of the existence of a personal, interventionist god? You don’t seem to expect god to do anything when you pray (which strikes me as healthily realistic!). The sorts of Christians that atheists get into fights with, would likely have quite a lot to say about your beliefs too!

    Those who would insist that praying does change things, and cite experience as evidence (a common but poor quality error) are always going to get a strong response. Likewise those who want us all to belong to their club or their god sends us to burn. Horrible! But sort of funny when you get a perspective on it that sees the plethora of conflicting claims from different theists on a level platform: they have about equal merit… But while theists are happy to get along happily without imposition on others, then that’s all just tickety boo! I believe in that too.

    All the best,


  • usawife:

    Why is there the assumption that science and religion do not go hand-in-hand? According to an extensive study produced by a Washington Times writer and a Pulitzer prize winning professor from University of Georgia, 40% of scientists believe in a personal God. I’m a Christian and science fascinates me. I believe in aspects of evolution – just not the one that suggests my origins. But isn’t the theory of evolution simply that – a theory – so isn’t your belief in that theory actually based on your FAITH in it?

  • Jimmy-boy:

    Hi usawife

    In the UK in a survey of members the Royal Society (our most eminent scientists), 3.3% described themselves as theists of some kind – with the rest being either agnostic or atheist.

    In a survey of the American National Academy of Sciences found that 93% described themselves as atheists (

    I think the issue is that there is a direct contradiction between science as we know it and religion – simply put like this: science is about repeatable, provable, evidence based fact. Religion is about faith – which is kind of the opposite. Faith is about believing things for which there is no evidence. Once there is evidence, you don’t need faith any more. Right?

    So the debate is whether it is reasonable to believe things for which there is no evidence, I think.

  • Jimmy-boy:

    And to my mind the theory of evolution is a theory in the same way that the theory of internal combustion engines decribeds how your car moves. It is seriously disingenuous to suggest otherwise, without a credible (evidence based) alternative…

  • ann:

    Jimmy-boy, I don’t think you are going to go down in flames. I didn’t think I said anything about prayer being like a slot machine and am sorry if I implied that I thought of it that way. I don’t at all. I promise you that comtemplative prayer is part of the Catholic tradition and very Christian. I was always taught that the greatest prayer was the Lord’s Prayer. In it we were taught the way to pray. We thank, we praise, we ask God for help in conforming to his will, we ask for help in our everyday life and we ask for help when dealing with temptation and sin. We remind ourselves that we don’t have control over everything. As far as why people get sick and die and why we have suffering and people saying “oh, God’s ways are mysterious” I myself do not say things like that to people, although many people do, in attempts to make people feel better and at some point in my life I probably have made that cringe worthy statement. Asking “why” about huge things like that is circular, we’ll just go around and around. A good Franciscan friar once told me that better question is “what can I learn, how can I change, how can I grow from this?” It is hard to do that but after going through various trials in my life it works for me and I know atheist or theist can think that way so I am not saying this is exclusive to a religious person of faith. I am your glad your son is well and I am glad you feel freedom. I tried my hand at not believing in God back in my 30′s. I really did. I was on my way to church one day and I said, no way, I don’t believe this anymore and I spent most of my 30′s not believing. I mean it was long thing coming, but that particular drive to church was the turning point. Like many people have said, we all have to get where we are going and be the best person we can be. I turned back to God little by little and with plenty of hesitation and like you , I started to feel free again, for you it was by becoming atheist, for me it was believing again. Maybe the way I think and pray is not “really” Christian, but I believe in God and I believe he loves me, so I’m okay with that. There are billions of people in the world, with billions of opinions so I am learning day by day to let it all go. I really am happy your son is well.

  • Ted Powell:

    usawife wrote: But isn’t the theory of evolution simply that – a theory – so isn’t your belief in that theory actually based on your FAITH in it?First of all, the word “theory” in “the theory of evolution” is used in the scientific sense, as opposed to the sarcastic or ironic sense (as in “well, that’s the theory” or “theoretically, that should work”). Scientifically, a theory provides a unifying explanation of a set of observations. For it to be a real scientific theory, it must be usable to predict future observations, and it be at least conceivable that future observations might contradict the theory’s predictions. (Note that goddidit fails this test, in that there are no conceivable observations that would contradict it.)Secondly, change in the inherited traits of a population of organisms through successive generations happens whether people like it or not. It is observable in the wild and in the laboratory. Sometimes such a population gets split into smaller groups, e.g. by geographical separation. Sometimes those groups’ inherited traits change in different ways over time so that if/when members of different groups meet, many generations later, they find that cross-group matings either fail or have sterile offspring (e.g. mules). This, too, happens whether people like it or not. Evolutionary theory is about how and why, not whether.If somebody tells you indignantly, “I never saw a dog give birth to a cat!” they are doubtless telling the truth. But this has nothing to do with gradual change of inherited traits over time. Genetic shift happens.

  • usawife:

    To Ted and Jimmy-Boy -
    I’m no doubt over my head in terms of being able to adequately debate scientific issues with you. My question was rhetorical – but I don’t think that’s allowed on a blog.
    The thing you must realize is that -even though I am educated and try to be a good person – my intellect level is nowhere near that of a scientist. With that said, I do believe that I represent more of the norm than someone of an extraordinarily high i.q. level. There are left-brained individuals and right-brained ones. My creative tendencies supercede my analytical ones. The population of the world is divided by those that find themselves on either side of the brain divide. It’s similar to the “Men are from Mars, Women from Venus” argument. Generally speaking, we will never think the same way. But that doesn’t mean that what each of us believes isn’t valid in our own minds.
    I have had prayers answered and I have been strengthened to accept the prayers that have been answered differently than I had hoped. I have experienced God in my life (and I do know the difference between God and a chemical response to stress). I have had people pray for me (unknowingly on my part) only to feel God’s Spirit motivating me in certain ways that I couldn’t explain at the time – it didn’t make any sense – until I found out that prayers were raised on my behalf. No proof for you. Only my word. Millions of people have had the same experience. You can believe it or not. It really doesn’t matter to those of faith other than that they would love for you to know that God is real.
    This submission is just another piece of evidence of how different we are in our thought processes and how wide the gap is between those of spiritual faith and those of worldly fact.

  • Ted Powell:

    usawife wrote: I’m no doubt over my head in terms of being able to adequately debate scientific issues with you.The question of whether or not change in the inherited traits of a population of organisms through successive generations happens over time has not been an issue of scientific debate for many decades, just as the fact that unsupported objects generally fall to earth has not been a subject of debate for even longer. I was not proposing a debate, but rather attempting to provide a simple explanation of what a scientific theory is, and to differentiate between the body of repeatably-observed relevant facts and the set of explanations that has been derived from them, in response to what I took to be a sincere question.

  • Brian V.:

    Was something wrong with this woman’s three weeks of prayers? Or will her death by sky-god bring untold others to glorious slavation (oops, interesting typo there!) and will that mean her death was worthwhile??? As usawife says,
    This submission is just another piece of evidence of how different we are in our thought processes and how wide the gap is between those of spiritual faith and those of worldly fact.

  • Jimmy-boy:

    Hi USA-wife,

    No worries: there is loads of rhetoric on a blog – and plenty of space for it.

    While I think you are certainly right: we do all think differently, I don’t believe that has any bearing on whether a personal, interventionist god exists. Either he/she/it does – or doesn’t. I’m not aware of any faith that would allow that concept in their suite of beliefs either (ie it can be true for me, but not for you). It really doesn’t matter while people believe funny things privately (and we all do after all). It does matter though if you are a catholic and therefore provide either explicit or tacit support to the organisation that:

    1) rapes our children (it seems, almost routinely, despite their protestations to the contrary);
    2) protects the rapists as a matter of policy (the Vatican banned clergy from cooperating with civil authorities investigating abuse in 1962: any who break the rule are excommunicted – and the rule is still in force. That means it’s OK – in fact the required practice – to move a paedophile to a new parish with nice fresh new children to rape. But helping the police deal with the paedophile gets you sent to hell).
    3) tells appalling lies all over the world about condoms. A Bishop in Mozambique tells his flock (such a telling word) that condoms are deliberately infected with the aids virus. A better example of deliberate wickedness would be hard to imagine. The vatican refuses to intervene and correct him, despite much pressure – and he is one of many such;
    4) While apologizing for historic misdeeds is deeply implicated in current ones (note Rwanda and Croatia in the 90′s if you like).

    Their biggest crime though, was inventing a god who does not exist and terrorising millions of people in a million ways over centuries with that invention.

    Etc, etc, etc. I could go on but you get my point. If you are a Catholic, then this is your church. They are the easiest target for me because I very nearly became an RC priest – so I know the institution pretty well. But others exiting other faiths and denominations have their own lists of atrocities…

    So: some differences on this and that are one thing. But science is science and is, by definition, not open to opinion. And membership of, say, the International Child Rape Mafia (aka the RCC) is just that. I’m not trying to be offensive here: but before knocking me back tell me which of the facts I mentioned above is wrong, and therefore why my representation of the church is wrong. There are after all no ‘good deeds’ that can overcome that little list…and fairly clearly if this institution is led by a deity (‘you are Peter and on this rock…’ then that deity is unbelievably wicked.

  • Jim:

    Ann: thanks for your reply – much appreciated.

    Your view of prayer is one of the refreshing bits of catholicism. ie many routes, and many things can be considered to be prayer. I spent a fair while at Taize in France, where contemplation is a big part of the approach – and in many ways, it was great. Largely a very peaceful place and I know a lot of people really do feel benefit from participating.

    I really don’t want to convert anyone to atheism (the world would be a boring place if we were all the same). The modern atheists though are pretty militant in confronting those who would:

    a) re-write science (and I notice a zillion small instances every day);
    b) restrict the freedowms of those around them (like my freedom to choose when to die for example, which I would want to do if in permanent and serious painn – while a bloke wearing a dress in Rome with a funny hat and strange views would want to stop me);
    c) inculcate children with unproven theories (surely we can let people choose religion as adults?). It is child abuse to teach lies to children – and while any faith will not think that their version is untrue (by definition) they must at least be able to appreciate that their views are strongly contradicted by a squillion competing faiths. Can’t we teach about evidence to children and let them choose which ‘faith’ (belief in the things for which there is no evidence) they want to adopt when they are adults?

    Your faith sounds lovely: you find it fulfilling and liberating. No one should seriously want to attack or confront that (I might have some interesting discussions about it though!). The issue is the bed fellows you may be assumed to have (as I noted in my other reply) – by reason of association. I’ve never reconciled that piece – including with my family by the way.

    I do wonder whether the way forward is to try to find common ground to the extent possible, between theists and atheists. So, for example, many theists find great beauty in nature – and ascribe to god. I too find wonderment and stunning beauty in nature here on earth and the wider cosmos (but miss the god bit). Still: I have that much in common (and I think it is the bigger piece, perhaps unsurprisingly).

    All the best,


  • @ Usawife – There’s nothing wrong with rhetorical questions, but in this case there are some interesting (at least, I think so) answers and explorations that come from your question(s).

    “Why is there the assumption that science and religion do not go hand-in-hand?”

    The short answer is that they are fundamentally different ways of looking at the world. At the risk of grossly oversimplifying, science is a method for learning about the physical world through observation and testing, while religion concerns itself with the spiritual and divine elements of existence. If you’re willing to be a bit flexible, the two views can be complementary instead of contradictory – but that may be easier said than done.

    “But isn’t the theory of evolution simply that – a theory – so isn’t your belief in that theory actually based on your FAITH in it?”

    No, because – as I mentioned above – science is not just another kind of religion. Science is based on observation and testing; faith doesn’t really come into it.

    I don’t really want to quote myself here, but I recently wrote a post on my own blog about why Creation vs. Evolution is a stupid subject to debate. I mention this because one of the things I was responding to is the assertion that science is just another kind of religious belief. It isn’t, and I think it’s important to understand the difference between the two.

  • that’s that MIGHTY BOOSH Guy!! funny stuff but i hate laugh tracks…