Question – Does Religion Keep The Unwashed Masses From Annihilating the Rich?

May 5th, 2010

Christianity teaches us that

1. The first will be last.

2. The poor are blessed for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

3.  The poor will always be with us.

4.  To render unto Caesar what is Caesar’s.

5.  To not store up treasure on earth where moth and rust will destroy and thieves will break in and steal.

6.  But to store up treasure in heaven where moth and rust will not destroy and thieves will not break in and steal.

7.  Man cannot serve two masters – god and mammon – he will either hate the one and love the other or serve the one and despise the other.

I just came up with all the above scripture references from memory.  That is how imprinted the bible is into my head.

In general, the New Testament regards money with derision – as something to avoid or to give away.  However, the Old Testament regards money as something to loot from the tribe whose ass you just kicked (along with the virgin girls) and to use the booty to build massive monuments to the war god known as Jehovah.  Wealth is not really frowned upon in the Old Testament.  Several of the OT heroes were wealthy (Abraham, David, Solomon, Jacob, Isaac).  It wasn’t until Jesus showed up that wealth started to bear a significantly sinful stench.

So intelligent, thoughtful, and often volatile readers of this blog from all different stripes of belief and non-belief systems…

How much impact does religion have on keeping the less economically endowed members of society from demanding a much fairer share by whatever means they can summon?

And even more compelling (and conspiracy theory worthy) -  Is it possible that powerful wealthy people have a vested interest in helping to maintain religion as a controlling force over the working classes in order to keep them from storming the gilded castles?

Comments

  • Nevermind:

    Or…. does religion stop people from reaching their full monetary potential when they believe that god will provide instead of get off your rump and provide for yourself?

  • jalf:

    No clue. That would certainly make sense, but I have no clue how common it is. Historically it’s probably been an important factor for a lot of rulers and other wealthy people. If you were in a position of power, you were generally also better educated, and so you’d be less likely to be particularly religious yourself.. So of course many people have exploited this in the past.

    Today, it’s hard to say, since we’re influenced by so different and diverse sources. Assuming I’m an evil wealthy and powerful person, would it even be possible for me to do anything maintain religion’s grip on people? Where would I start? And would it be the most effective use of my time? There are so many other things I could try to do to keep people down. Would I really focus on religion specifically?

    I don’t know. I’m not evil, wealthy *or* powerful.

    But I’ve been wondering something else, and completely unrelated:
    Why do (some) Christians wear a cross around their necks? Is it purely ornamental? Is there something in the Bible saying you get bonus points for it? Is it to ward off evil, or for good luck? Is it just a secret sign to other Christians that “it’s ok, you can talk to me, I’m Christian too”?

    The question struck me a week or so back. I’ve never really been religious, so it just struck me that I don’t really know *why*. Of course, I can think of lots of reasonable explanations (see above), but why does a Christian *actually* decide “I think I’ll wear this necklace with a cross hanging from it today”? And what does God have to say about it? Can anyone enlighten me?

  • Carrie:

    I would say it has a huge impact. Organized religion is a pretty powerful form of crowd control. This was especially true when very few people other than clergy and kings were even able to read, but I think there’s still a lot of power there today.

  • Nevermind-I’ve often wondered this myself! I think there maybe something to this.

    Jalf- I wore my cross as a reminder of what jesus did for us. You know died on the cross and all. I supposed it is supposed to be a powerful reminder of just how crappy we are and that someone died on a cross for us, so Christians might get into the gates of heaven some day.

    I of course no longer wear my cross anymore, but can’t part with it because it was a gift from my father and it is beautiful, but now for a different reason.

  • I think you have Republicans confused with Christians.
    Or maybe you don’t.

  • CidsMomma:

    @Nevermind: You have something there. We have a family member who is now praying to get a particular job…I guess it’s easier than actually working hard to portray yourself as worthy to fill the positon & then if the job doesn’t come through, well, “it wasn’t meant to be.”

    Intersesting questions, Rechelle. I don’t have any answers as of yet. I’m going to have to mull them over today…

  • Darlene:

    Of course, and that is why leaders have controlled religion.

    Napoleon Bonaparte: “Religion is what keeps the poor from murdering the rich.”

  • I don’t think that religion actually causes a cast system but I think it is an EXCUSE that people use not to rise up from their misery. “oh it’s God’s will” or “if God wants me to have money he will make me rich”. They use God and religion as an excuse not to better themselves but as soon as good fortune come their way they will again use it as an excuse “oh it wasn’t me, it was God.” Really? No Free Will?

  • km:

    I always found it odd that we never looked at Marxist theory in grad school having completed a BA in Europe. It always made me chuckle that the college self censored. So for those who aren’t familiar;
    Religious distress is at the same time the expression of real distress and the protest against real distress. Religion is the sigh of the oppressed creature, the heart of a heartless world, just as it is the spirit of a spiritless situation. It is the opium of the people. The abolition of religion as the illusory happiness of the people is required for their real happiness. The demand to give up the illusion about its condition is the demand to give up a condition which needs illusions.
    Karl Marx, Critique of Hegel’s Philosophy of Right

  • It’s definitely a function of religion. It would be interesting to see someone argue that it isn’t. Oddly enough, I just read a little about this in “The Demon-Haunted World” by Carl Sagan. He’s talking about how science is viewed by some people as boring, inhuman, etc, and mentions that religions offer the idea of heaven to those who are suffering, and it certainly doesn’t encourage people to act in the name of social justice (uh, please don’t kill me, Glenn Beck) despite their station.
    Religion certainly makes it easier to sit back and accept that god has given you your lot – and sometimes that lot is a McMansion in Johnson County.
    (Before anyone freaks out on me, I’m not trying to say that upper middle class people never donate time or money to the poor. I’m merely saying that believing a sky fairy has decided what you get makes it easier to accept your comfort in the face of someone else’s discomfort.)

  • Karla Neese:

    Good post. I like the questions you’ve asked us to ask ourselves.

  • Jimmy:

    I think religion has all the impact in the world on keeping poor people poor. In the very poorest places in W Africa for example (they are truly shocking) I just don’t understand why the locals tolerate their appalling lives. Why don’t they rise up and rob the wealthy – when the alternative is mostly death for them, their children etc, in horrible circumstances?

    Religion definitely plays a huge part in it. In Liberia and Sierra Leone specifically any European or American church that wants to feel good about itself has “planted” there. The Muslims have responded by pouring in aggressive Imams from Northern Nigeria. Everyone is religious and observance levels are really very high. Atheism is almost unknown – and can cause violent reactions when expressed.

    Cynically devout political leaders appear to have all read and understood the quote sometimes attributed to Lucretius (BC 94): All religions are equally sublime to the ignorant, useful to the politician, and ridiculous to the philosopher.

    Well – exactly so.

  • Kat:

    This doesn’t contribute to the conversation, but I saw it a few days ago and I’m still laughing!

  • Erin:

    I just always looked at it as “Share what you have been given” and that’s what we do. We are very fortunate to be in the place that we are, and we give to other who are not.

    The “God will provide” people are usually off their rockers. I saw a news story one time about this family who was basically destitute because the father kept saying that God would provide, so they weren’t really doing anything to help themselves. I always liked this joke:

    So there’s this huge flood one day, and an entire town looks like it’s going to be swallowed up by the waters. And the Police and Rescue Agencies are running all over the place trying to get people to safety.

    So they send the rescue boat over to this house where a guy’s sitting on the roof with the water lapping around his ankles and they say “Come on, quickly, there isn’t much time”

    To which he says “Nah, it’s ok, God will Provide”

    So about an hour later they’re zooming past in the boat again and they notice the guy’s still there, only the water’s up to his waist, almost at the top of the roof.. “Quick” they say, get in the boat, it’s going to get worst before it gets better.

    “Nah, don’t worry – God will Provide”

    An hour after that a rescue helicopter flies over the area and notices the guy, who must be standing on the peak of the roof now, with only his head and shoulders out of the water. “GRAB THE ROPE!” they cry “IT’S YOUR ONLY HOPE!”

    “Don’t worry” he replies calmly “God will provide.”

    So he gets drowned of course. And he goes to heaven, and is a little ticked off with god for drowing him like that, and expresses his concern saying “I had FAITH, I BELIEVED in you – and still you didn’t help me”

    “HELP YOU?!” God replies “What MORE did you want – I sent you two boats and a helicopter!”

  • Whoa. Nice thinking point. Will get back to you!

  • Excellent questions, to be sure. I’m a Christian…or rather I should say I’m a Lutheran. Christian seems so vague. Anywho, I like money. I like that when we have more money, the cause for spousal arguments decreases exponentially. I just hope that as we make more and more money, that it doesn’t turn me into a reality show nutbag…eg. Pretty Wild, Housewives of New York City, or any city for that matter, Kendra, etc… vain, vapid, and unkind to each other. Though I love watching reality tv, I don’t want to be the star of the show. I just want enough money to buy groceries, register the car (again, ugh) and still have some left over to buy a new book, and fill up the truck with fuel. Maybe I’m not a very good Christian, but I’m a pretty good Lutheran…and I fully intend on being a rich one…and still “go to heaven Lieutenant Dan”.

  • Anna:

    Well religion is a sure way to control people, so why could it not be a protection for the rich? Catholics in poor countries are told they can’t use birth control, continual child birth keeps them poorer and busier so no time to rise up against the powers that be. Christians in the US are told who to vote for and who to hate …going by family here so I don’t know if that’s in religions other than Baptists, and they are indeed conditioned to follow orders and stay in line.
    The church has god on it’s side after all. Don’t want to tick off any supreme beings.

  • I think that religion definitely “teaches” the poor to accept their poverty. Their god is responsible for it, of course. And he moves in mysterious ways, so theirs is not to question his will. Interestingly, it also reassures the rich, for the same reason.

    Witness all the idiots who give money to evangelists because their god has decided that they really, really need a private jet in order to spread the word more efficiently.

    It isn’t just the Devil who wears Prada – Pope Ratso does, too. And Gucci sunglasses.

  • Joel Wheeler:

    That spiritual ‘work’ requires cold hard cash will never make sense to me.

  • Emily:

    IIRC, Christopher Hitchens touches on this in The Missionary Position (about Mother Teresa). If you have time to check it out, you might want to. It’s quite short, and a quick read. MT firmly believed as you speculate: The poor are here to teach us a lesson, and their poverty ought to “inspire” them as well. The book estimates how much she received in donations and awards (millions, if not billions of dollars), yet almost none of that made it back to her “hospitals”. According to her belief, it was no use trying to bring people out of poverty because “the poor are always with us”. The most important thing was to baptize them (by force/deception if necessary), and use the supposed glory of the afterlife as a means of quelling them.

    I do believe that religion was historically used to keep people in ignorance, and to maintain order with little effort. Poverty probably could go hand-in-hand with those conditions, under many circumstances.

  • Cooter:

    In many ways, poverty is the egg to religion’s chicken. I suppose that there are religions that do not survive off of giving hope to the poor masses – while also perpetuating the poverty and protecting the wealthy few – but that is not the current norm in the U.S.

  • “How much impact does religion have on keeping the less economically endowed members of society from demanding a much fairer share by whatever means they can summon?”

    Contrary to what a lot of people have said here (and not to deny that they’ve raised a lot of valid points)…

    In my experience, religion doesn’t have a lot of effect on most people’s behavior. They think about what they want to do first, consider religious ramification second (if at all), and if necessary bend/interpret/ignore the beliefs in order to justify what they wanted to do in the first place. Consider as an example the widespread acceptance of the “prosperity gospel”, which flies in the face of most of the New Testament by insisting that God wants you to be rich.

    Now, I’ve met plenty of exceptions to that rule, and maybe I just need to get out more. But I’d argue that religion (modern religion, at least) doesn’t do a lot to prevent people from rising up in favor of social justice. Instead, I think the limiting factors are a lot more practical: revolution takes work, and requires sacrifice; it’s dangerous, and the rewards are uncertain; and most people have a lot to lose.

    That’s not to say that religion doesn’t or can’t have an effect, just that it’s probably more of an influence than a cause.

  • Another Lee:

    I just finished reading “Losing My Religion” by William Lobdell. He was a born-again Christian that began writing the religious stories for the Los Angeles Times. During the course of his investigative journaling, he found many stories of Christians in a position of power abusing that power (and many who didn’t, for the sake of balance).

    One story reported on Trinity Broadcasting Corporation, a media company that ran religious programming. Mr. Lobdell wrote of pastors that encouraged people with high credit card debt to use their credit cards to donate – “showing God an ultimate act of faith that will result in that credit card balance being paid off within a month.”

    A few former employees had come forth with proof of lavish spending by the owners of TBC, but everyone was basically afraid to point out that the emporer had very expensive designer clothes paid for by donations from poor people’s credit cards. Making religion the proverbial iron fist in a velvet glove.

    I’m going to stop now before my metaphors completely derail, but this is certainly an extreme example of how religion keeps the poor from annihilating the rich.

  • I find it funny that your cute gardening post didn’t get as much attention as your religion postings.

    I am not in the mood to tackle the money/religion thing today, I have already reached my limit on the whole “rich, scheming church/poor ignorant sheep” topic this year. I’ll leave it for everyone else.

    I’m, um, gonna go thin the spinach. I kinda have to.

  • Michael, I think you have a point there. I agree that religion doesn’t necessarily stop people from fighting for themselves, but it certainly does soften the blow of inaction, to varying degrees.
    If all you have is the here and now, you might feel more compelled to act in your best interest, and in the interest of future generations.

  • These comments are all very interesting to me. Maybe I was an unusual Xian – but my religion really did sort of guide pretty much all of my decisions – including how I used my money. Religion for me dictated everything I did. Sometimes I was able to override what my religious beliefs taught me, but most of the time – I did not. So when it came to money – I felt that it came from god and it still belonged to god. I felt like it was my job to give money to the poor and to tithe ten percent. I frequently tithed ten percent even if it meant that we ran out of money before the end of the month. I was sure that god was taking care of us no matter what. I wish I could have that money back now. All of it. I would put it in savings for my four kids college. At least I don’t have to give it away to the church anymore. That whole belief that god blesses those who faithfully give (and the idea is that god blesses those folks economically) is such pure crap.

  • Mary:

    The Bible was used for years by a powerful wealthy class to not only justify slavery, but to also keep the slaves in check. Feudalism was dependent on the crushing control of religion.
    A paternalistic hierarchical structure, like most religious organizations are, will, of necessity, exert control over “the masses.”
    We all know examples of people who are told “God will provide,” or “It’s God’s will.” Certainly there are rich and powerful people who play on people’s faith in God and trust in the rich and powerful in order to control at least some segment of society. How big is it? Hmmm.
    Nigeria wants to ban homosexuality (punishable by death), and several fundamental leaders from this country were apparently consulted by the Nigerian government.
    Good food for thought.

  • I’m sure this isn’t going to come out coherently, but here goes: According to a Discovery Channel program about Jesus, his family had lost their land and therefore were among the lowest of the lower class. Jesus built his following by preaching what the poorest of the poor wanted to hear and believe. The meek shall inherit the earth, the last shall be first, almost all of it is music to the ears of the have-nots. Realizing that was one of the stepping stones toward my disillusionment with the God thing. Jesus wasn’t building an army for God, he was using the myth of God to build a following for himself. If TDC is to be believed.

  • Lori E:

    Rechelle, that is funny you should say that. Now this is just off the top of my little christian head but didn’t you post a while back in repsonse to another poster about all of the donations you had given to the city (or church or something)?? And didn’t you just take a trip abroad? And these are purely questions, not meant to be snarky. I would say you HAVE been blessed… You strike me as someone that would give even if you weren’t being “told” to do it. I give my 10% to the church because I truly want to. We support missions and service organizations b/c we WANT to. I never feel forced. And I want to show my kiddos that it is good to give and to know there are people with waaaay less than us. Even though we are at poverty level while my hubs is working and in school. lol

  • jalf:

    And I want to show my kiddos that it is good to give and to know there are people with waaaay less than us

    And yet you’re not giving those 10% to those who have waaay less than you. You give them to the insanely rich church, in the hope that they channel *some* of the money to those who truly have less.

    Just sayin’ ;)

  • DS:

    Interesting thoughts all around. I have never felt that God would provide for me IF and only IF I gave the traditional 10% or any other church suggested giving/charity. And I have certainly never felt that God keeps poor people poor by teaching them to be meek and settle for less. I believe that giving what you can, when you can, to those you feel it can help is what counts. And that’s not religion but good practice as human beings. I think if you stop counting what YOU have that someone else doesn’t and try to give other folks a hand when they need it that it really becomes a “pay it forward” movement, or at least has the potential to. I feel that “meek” doesn’t mean letting yourself get walked on, I think it means to stop, think, don’t blow steam off and start trouble but to think things out and act responsibly on your beliefs as best you can. Those are not necessarily religious beliefs but Life beliefs in my book. There is corrupton, anger, sin, wrongdoing, cheating, stealing, etc. . . . among the poor, the rich, the atheists, the Christians, the working class, the privileged, the politicians, etc., etc. There is also good being done, and good people, in each of these same categories. It is what people choose to look for and seek out. If you want to see good, and do good, and try to stand up for good and lead by example, that is what you will hopefully see. If you are looking for the darker side, it’s there as well. You can also look at the dark side of things and use it to learn and grow . . . perhaps learning to change some of the wrongs to rights. It is not limited to religious affiliation by any stretch of the imagination.

  • elena:

    “How much impact does religion have on keeping the less economically endowed members of society from demanding a much fairer share by whatever means they can summon?”

    Religion, in general, gives hope to everyone in need. Just like politics is used as a tool for hope (‘Yes we can’) or science is viewed as hope. Religion does not demand that certain members of society have to stay in their social class, unlike a caste system, say in India. Therefore, religion does not ‘keep the less economically endowed members of society from demanding a much fairer share’ (sounds like a political rant, by the way).

    I would instead ask, from whom do members of society demand their fair share? Interesting question you pose, but what is the reasoning behind it? That religion is the downfall of the poor? A church, an educational institution, a corporate office, and a political institution all have one thing in common: they are made up of human beings, not God. Each one of those institutions can be blamed for being unfair in one form or another. But life is unfair, period. Anyone who lives in a free society (maybe from your perspective, a truly free society is a society free of religion) can make demands if those policies are deemed unfair.

    “And even more compelling (and conspiracy theory worthy) – Is it possible that powerful wealthy people have a vested interest in helping to maintain religion as a controlling force over the working classes in order to keep them from storming the gilded castles?”

    Are ‘powerful wealthy people’ only to be found within religious institutions? So the Bill Gates’, Oprah Winfreys, and other fuzzy non-religious billioinaire types can get away with their varying forms of control, but your aim is continuously squared at only one instution in particular: religion. Wow, that’s some deep food for thought. I don’t know how your religion or church used to work, but mine works like this: help your community, even the non-Catholic down the road, tithe up to 5% to the church and the other 5% to whichever organizations you support, and give your time to your community. Hmmm, I wonder if your aim is truly at the Catholic Church and its hierarchy. Not surprising.

    Now lets look at other organizations who take ‘donations’ and see how much they pay the princes to run these so-called non-profit businesses. Should we paupers storm their ‘gilded castles’ and demand our fair share?

    My dear Rechelle, I used to love reading your gut busting stories (your sister’s DWTS rendition, the time you and the CD went on a retreat with other writers, your circus days with your mother while you were growing up — good stuff). But you are a truly angry person and it shows in your posts. You constantly whine about Pioneer Woman because of her Christian homeschooling and for other nonsensical reasons, such as her wealth and how ‘unfair’ it is that she gets more advertising dollars. Your anger in lowercase G ‘god’ and religion has taken precedence in all your posts of late – oh ya, and your anger towards your husband for ruining your vacation to England last summer. Born-again atheists are just about as annoying as born-again Christians in their desire to prove how the other side is just simply foolish for their beliefs. You may as well stop writing posts and sum up everything in a headline each day “lowercase G sucks” “The orange jumpsuit complements my hate-filled innards” “My show cats hate your church” “My damn perennials didn’t get watered because a religious freak interrupted my day” “Does PW needs to spread the wealth” Good day and good luck.

    elena

  • Lori E:

    Elena, thanks for bringing up Oprah. The same lady that gives and gives and then throws herself a GINORMOUS birthday bash. Wonder how many hungry kiddos could have been fed with that money…

    Jalf, actually last year we sponsored a girl from Africa so she could attend school, eat and basically be safe. It just about killed me to not be able to sponsor her this year as we took a 40% pay cut… I give my boys old clothes to a family that is strapped financially, I make meals for people, we support missions, give money to relief organizations and also try to do service projects. And that is above and beyond our 10%. And I truly, deep down wish we could do more. It is one of my greatest frustrations in life to not have more to give. It may sound corny and dorky but it is true…

  • I swore I would leave this alone, but Elena is so full of misinformation. I just have to tell her that before she speaks she needs to look crap up first! And not just with sites practicing confirmation bias, but actual information sites.

    Because you know, Bill Gates is such a controlling billionaire. Oh, he so selfish. Have you ever heard of the search engine Google?

    Just type in “Bill Gates Donations” on that there website.

    I’ll wait.

    Yeah, he is a secular humanitarian donating BILLIONS of dollars to health issues around the world. Read his biography and learn something.

    While I am at it, if you go to http://www.kiva.org and hit the community button at the top of the page, you can see the running totals of interest free loans given out by specific groups.

    The Atheists, Agnostics, Skeptics, Freethinkers, Secular Humanists and the Non-Religious group has been number one on that list for the longest time, with the Kiva Christians coming in at second, a DISTANT second. Every time I look at that list, the gap widens. Seems that Atheists are far more charitable than any other group. If you do the math (do you know how to do simple math, or does your religion forbid that kind of demonic science?)you will figure out that while the Atheists may give just under two less loans per person, their loans are only $2 less than Christians. So, obviously Christians aren’t as charitable as they profess.

    Hmm, you know, if the Christians stopped tithing that 10% to the bottomless pit of the church to pay their electric bills and for the the minister’s Lexus, maybe they could afford to give a lot MORE money to the needy of the world. The numbers don’t lie.

    FYI, Kiva.org is an awesome humanitarian site. I recommend it for anyone looking to do help others in a more personal manner. And there are no “princes” to pay, you can look up how the program works.

    Oh and every time someone tells Rechelle how much they used to love her blog, but she’s become bitter, etcetera, and they are bidding her adieu, everyone here has to take a shot of whatever they have in the cabinets… even if it’s barbecue sauce.

  • Kay in KCMO:

    Yes. What Anna said. And, Anna, it’s not just the Baptists – the Mormons might even be worse. In fact, they probably are what with telling the members to contribute to the whole Prop 8 thing plus all the other crap the members are told to do/support. Plus they demand tithing plus demand all kinds of other monetary contributions. The level of control that’s exerted – micromanaging doesn’t do it justice – is mind boggling. And it’s all toward the goal of getting into the make believe Celestial Kingdom. “If you don’t do everything we ask you’re not going to the CK and you will never see your family again.” It’s f-ing sick.

    And I’ve also long thought that the whole “no birth control” admonitions from various religions was just a ploy to keep people down. AIDS is running rampant in parts of Africa and the Catholics tell the populace that condoms are bad/don’t work. Why say that unless your goal is to subjugate people and keep them dependent on your institution?

    I could really go on about this, but I’m going to restrain myself.

  • Nadine:

    More misinformation to point out in Elena’s post: the caste system in India is indeed rooted in religion…specifically Hindu. India’s secular constitution aimed to eliminate caste-based discrimination. As Heather suggested, a simple google search will get you that information.

  • AC:

    @LoriE

    “didn’t you post a while back in repsonse to another poster about all of the donations you had given to the city (or church or something)??”

    She did, as I recall. So what? My guess here is that Rechelle would prefer to have her tithes back to give to organizations outside the church, instead of that money being funneled into who knows what. An organization with an agenda that does not actively promote hate of the different (@elena: no, religion, in general, does not provide hope to “everyone” in need, only to those who subscribe to its tenets) would be much preferable to blindly throwing money at one that does. Or, she might simply see the monies as having been wasted on something she now considers to be built on a lie, and sees how that money could have been used differently.

    “And didn’t you just take a trip abroad?”

    Again: so what? Are you suggesting that no one should take a vacation because they should be giving the money they would have spent to some random organization in order to make themselves feel better? Does your pastor/priest/whatever never take a vacation? Have you asked them why they spend their money on that instead of giving it away? Do you never take a vacation? Buy something that isn’t absolutely necessary for your survival? I would wager that the aggregate tithes Rechelle has given over the years amount to quite a significant sum of money – money that she now believes was given out of a sense of duty because of false pretenses. Like you, I doubt Rechelle would not give what she could, as she could, to any cause about which she felt deeply. In her former life, that would have been the church, because it is impossible to escape the message from the church to give, and clearly she felt very deeply connected to the church. In her current life, obviously she is examining many years worth of activities, which will just as obviously raise questions like those in this post. Your followup to elena about Oprah proves just how ingrained it is for you and runs parallel to Rechelle’s post: you slam Oprah for not giving more to those you perceive to be in need the most and for having the nerve to not lead as austere life as you think she should. Your behavior is a learned behavior, and interestingly enough, one taught very often by religious organizations.

  • Boz:

    Rechelle said: ” I frequently tithed ten percent even if it meant that we ran out of money before the end of the month. I was sure that god was taking care of us no matter what. I wish I could have that money back now. All of it. I would put it in savings for my four kids college. At least I don’t have to give it away to the church anymore. That whole belief that god blesses those who faithfully give (and the idea is that god blesses those folks economically) is such pure crap.”

    Rechelle, look at this site:

    http://unreasonablefaith.com/2010/03/10/how-i-got-a-refund-from-my-church/

    you may want to follow this course of action to get your tithes back.

  • I am going to completely ignore all of the “Rechelle-slamming” going on here, because I cannot even begin to address how incredibly hypocritical they are in yelling at her.

    *ahem* On to a serious discussion well worth bringing up:

    Rechelle, I think you have a point. It may not be as all-encompassing or blanketing as we would like it to be. I would actually argue that it is not simply religion that keeps the commoner down, but any ideology that promotes ignorance, encourages or even forces belief in something, and makes people blindly follow, eg…not thinking critically. Take for instance, Stalin: not interested at all in religion, but dangerous ideology = brainwashing. Same thing with Pol Pot, and early communist Chinese leaders. Any ideology that discourages freethinking is harmful, and usually involves a higher class, or ruler, trying to dominate the lower. Of course, this is just off the top of my head, it’s just an idea, and I welcome any corrections! It is dangerous to make all encompassing statements.

    As to money, and the ‘trusting god’ issue…well, I used to be a missionary, and fell in that camp, but then it became clear to me that my raising support was asking people for money. I don’t understand how missionaries justify this. I always felt uncomfortable doing it, and finally I realized that I was mooching. My entire family believes in this sort of living, and it is desperately sad to see them sitting back, waiting for god to ‘move’ when they could do so much more! It is especially painful when my husband and I usually have to rescue them out of their financial pit, or see my parents give so much money tithing when they are practically broke.

    That is all.

  • Lori E:

    AC, my point was she IS blessed. Being able to take a trip abroad is a blessing. I am in no way faulting her for that. My dream vacay is to go to Ireland. I think it is awesome she did that with her kids. Great memories! :) I often feel blessed to have running water, indoor heating and plumbing but I also LOVE Coach purses. :) Which I mainly buy used from eBay or at outlets as I hail from frugal roots… But I digress… lol Does that make ME a bad person? Nope. I think most people enjoy nice things. As for Oprah, I stand by that. I mean, come on, who needs a birthday party like that?? Ridiculous!!! I am not sure why people think christians only help the ones that come to church. I know many christians that care about people, regardless of where they attend, how many times they attend, whatever. And now we christians “actively promote hate of the different”? Geesh… Are you sure you don’t hate the christians?

  • AC:

    @LoriE

    Sorry, I thought you were trying to make some kind of serious point about how and why Rechelle decided her own, personal dollars should be spent, based on the post she made. I see now that it’s simply that you are the sole arbiter of how people should spend the money they’ve earned. My mistake.

    And to address yet another one of the typical responses from people like yourself: no, I don’t hate “the christians”, as if “the christians” is one big blob of people, with nothing to differentiate one from another, and as if “the christians” are the only religious people on the face of this giant planet we all call home. Would that I could say as much for religions, which continually demonstrate through writings and teachings the contempt each has for anyone who dares think differently than whatever their particular holy book has to say, and would that I could say as much for some of their followers, who continually demonstrate that they believe themselves to be the center of the universe and that no other groups exist, and I’d like to thank you for aptly illustrating that point. I would suggest that you, like elena, need to do quite a bit of research.

  • Lori E – using the word ‘blessed’ to describe someone who can take a vacation to Europe is troubling to me. Does that mean that people who can’t afford to take vacations are not blessed? Why does the word ‘blessed’ so frequently have an economic connotation? Does god really bless people with money? The same god who sent his son to tell people to sell everything they have and give it to the poor? How is that possible? It doesn’t make any sense. If on one hand god is ‘blessing’ people with money so they can take expensive vacations and on the other hand he is telling people to sell everything they have and give it to the poor – it would seem that this ‘god’ is very confused.

    In reality – I stopped all that crazy tithing and found that I could afford a nice vacation – so I took one.

    PS – I gave to several charities ON TOP of my tithe to the church not wanting my charitable giving to take away from my duty to ‘god’. I still support all the charities I did before – I just don’t tithe anymore.

    Boz – I have read that story. I think it is great that the church was willing to give the money back. I think the pastor’s remarks were very thoughtful, but I could never ask for my money back. This town is just too small for the problems that would cause.

  • efrique:

    I came to give the Napoleon quote that already appeared above, but here’s another:

    “Religion is excellent stuff for keeping common people quiet.”
    – Napoleon Boneparte

    and then there’s:

    “Religion is regarded by the common people as true, by the wise as false, and by the rulers as useful.”
    – Seneca

  • 8 years ago, my husband’s parents’ annual tithes to their Tulsa megachurch were so massive that a family of 4 could live off the money.

    Unfortunately, they never stopped to think that their own family could use the money. At that time, I was in and out of the hospital after almost dying twice, had mounds of medical bills, couldn’t work, and we only ate because we had credit cards. We lived in a shithole apartment and had pared down our bills to only necessities, and we still couldn’t make ends meet. We didn’t get a penny from them, they didn’t acknowledge that we were even in need, even though my husband repeatedly told tham we needed help.

    Their church, on the other hand, received so much money that they built an even BIGGER megachurch to funnel money into.

    Think how much money that is, and how much it must cost to run. Wouldn’t that money be better served in the hands of charities, grants for alternative energy research, college scholarships, and um, needy family members?

    I think so.

  • Clay:

    The state of poverty has fallen from grace in the modern church. Once upon a time poverty was considered a virtue, it was the lot of Jesus, and there was much emphasis on how difficult it is for the rich man to enter heaven. Then along came the big church evangelists and the message that God wants you to be rich (please donate as much as you can and God will reward you many times over). We are in materialistic times and that extends to religion as well. What the hell, that pitch doesn’t cost them anything. They are big business as well.

  • tess:

    OH! How I hate to think of all that money I tithed to the church over the years!! What a freaking waste. It makes me feel sick.

  • Lori E:

    AC and Rechelle, are you serious? let me see if I can “answer” all of this… I don’t think christians are the only religion on the planet. Why would I?? I value the freedom of ALL religion (muslim, mormon, etc) in this country. I obviously don’t agree with them, hence the reason I chose christianity, but I am just crazy enough to believe people have the right to choose. You have the right to disagree with me and I have the right to disagree with you. Ain’t it grand?? And yeah, sometimes when I see the inequity of how funds are dispersed it makes me a little crazy. I do struggle with being judgmental in the area of finance. I think exorbitant amounts of money spent on cars, homes, etc is a little nuts. With people in the world bathing their children in poopy (literally) water, trying to feed their kids, etc, yes, seeing multi-bajillion dollar homes and multiple cars (I know of a family with a stretch Hummer and several other cars for a family of four) it does make me a bit sick… I am working on my issues with that… ;) And I take issue with churches that build multi-bajillion dollar buildings and such. Once again, the starving people come into play. One of the reasons we left our last church is because they were asking for money to build even more fancy stuff from a community so strapped financially. Couldn’t they take the “building fund” and pay some house payments, heat bills, buy groceries? Just my opinion. And I never claim to be all-knowing or right in all of this. Just my thoughts really…
    As far as the European Vacation, yes, you are blessed. My family of four, even though we are currently considered at poverty level, do not take fancy vacations, have fancy cars (my grandma has a cooler car than we do… lol), we are VERY blessed. We have 2 healthy, ornery, smart, rambunctious boys. We have a nice house, good neighbors, running cars, heat, plenty of food, running water and big, yellow dog named Emmett. :) I think the whole point for any of us is to not hold on to tightly to “things”. The Bible teaches the LOVE of money is the root of all evil. Money is a necessary tool to get things done. If you want to build a house, you would grab a hammer, not a butterknife. I believe in working hard, being wise with the cash you receive and giving to help others in need. Crazy stuff I know…

  • Hallie:

    Yes, absolutely.

  • km:

    Rechelle, during the famine in 1840s Ireland relief was provided by prosletysing (?) religious groups as well as the Quakers who weren’t bent on converting anyone. The Catholic church literally put the fear of God into their starving Catholic minions telling them they would be damned for taking the relief food from the (mostly) Protestants. “Taking the soup” became synonymous with damnation. It’s an interesting Google. People actually died because a bowl of soup would send them to hell. I’m not sure that’s the hope that a previous poster referred to.
    We also have a tradition of religious apparations when times are tough. I think it’s a phenomenon in many countries. Knock, Co Mayo- apparation of the Virgin Mary during tough times, Ballinspittle during our last recession. That I suppose is the opiate.
    I do know in the 80s in Ireland, when in our area, there wasn’t a father in any house because they were all in England, America, or the oil rigs in Saudi, the families struggled to send the envelope to the Church but the only one eating meat daily was the parish priest in his 5 bedroom mansion with his housekeeper. I will not forget that. Extrapolate that to the riches of the Vatican and you can see how we Irish Catholics could be a little bitter.
    So I can pray on my own and not fatten a priest. I can help the poor myself. I can do good deeds. I can use my own mind and not be manipulated.

    Maybe the next post could be “Women in Religion (especially Catholicism) , why do they hate us so much since we do most of the grunt work”.

  • Marilyn:

    A few thoughts:
    1. The New Testament doesn’t “regard money with derision.” It’s not money itself, but the love of money that is troublesome. That tenet can be applied to anything that separates a person from God.
    2. Jesus never commanded us to sell all we have and give it to the poor. He was speaking to one man – the rich young ruler who had made money his god. Again, the separation thing.
    3. Each of us will come to a different conclusion about how we should use our money. I make my decisions based on faith and prayer. I do not fault you for your way of deciding.

  • Mindy:

    Well, yes. I think religion to the poor is like buying a lottery ticket every day in hopes of hitting the big one. Winning the PowerBall is only slightly more likely than god intervening in financial matters, but people are desperate so they put their hope in unlikely things. As long as they can hold onto something, they’re more likely to just wait and see rather than saying “screw it all” and robbing banks.

    I find the whole megachurch thing interesting, especially when shows of poverty are a good thing in the bible. It seems like a lot of christians cherry-pick what they want and ignore the rest.

  • I’m wondering what the line is between “the love of money” and just “money.” If you’re just sort of friendly with your money, is that okay? If you lock it away and pay it no attention, that’s not love, right?
    What about Luke 6:24-26?

    24″But woe to you who are rich,
    for you have already received your comfort.
    25Woe to you who are well fed now,
    for you will go hungry.
    Woe to you who laugh now,
    for you will mourn and weep.
    26Woe to you when all men speak well of you,
    for that is how their fathers treated the false prophets.”

    (Yes, I checked the context. Jesus is speaking to a crowd here, not just one rich person.)
    I’m just wondering where the line is between being rich and loving money, because it often seems like Christians are trying justify wealth as a blessing and call “love of money” something else. How do you really know if you’re serving god first if you also have “stores of riches” on earth?

  • Marilyn:

    To Nadine:
    1. In the Mark passage, Jesus looked at the rich young ruler and spoke to him personally (even though there were others listening). Why did Jesus give this man a harder task than others? He knew what was in his heart and what the block was to surrendering his life to follow him. It’s one thing to know the law it is another to do it. This man could not do what was necessary.
    2. To answer the question: “How do you really know if you’re serving God first…?” I don’t. It’s a day to day, minute by minute way of living. Even the most pious Christians struggle with this. Again, it’s one thing to know the law…another to do it.
    3. When Jesus warns the rich, he’s not classifying people according to what they have, but how attached they are to what they have. There are many with little net worth that will cling fiercely to what little they have. Have you ever tried to get an old bone out of the mouth of a stray dog?
    4. The story of the rich young man is a challenge to both the wealthy and the poor.

  • Marilyn,
    When someone says that they use prayer and faith to make their decisions, I hear two things.

    1) You are mentally ill
    2) you are lazy

    It’s so easy to sit on your butt (knees) and talk to an imaginary friend (your own voice in your head), and maybe your imaginary friend will randomly spout out something useful on occasion.

    Why don’t you try something that is actually HELPFUL.

    Instead, use your brain (you know that thing rattling around in your head that hurts when you try to think for yourself) and research some damn charities.

    They go through all the trouble of tracking all monies received, put it in a readable spreadsheet, and post it online (they will send it to you as well in the mail if you ask) so that everyone can read their bottom line and how much of their money actually is passed on to those in need. It is flat out INSULTING to completely disregard their hard work that they put out JUST FOR YOU, and instead opt to “pray”.

    You probably believe the Earth is 6000 years old too. Admit it. Did the Devil put the fossils in the ground to trick humans? And the Shroud of Turin is REAL!!

    Sorry, to go off like that but it’s people who disregard the advancements in modern society (and common sense) whenever it suits their “god” and their laziness that set me off.

    This chart is for you:
    http://commonsenseatheism.com/?p=1662

  • Cheyenne:

    Lots of great comments here already, though several abrasive ones as well, ouch! I guess that’s a result of hitting a nerve, huh.

    Anyway, I think the word religion is too broad a term, as there are innumerable religions/beliefs out there. I do think that an organized religion is an excellent way to control people, however, because who can argue with the deity/ies? Obviously rulers throughout history have used religion to legitimize their rule, to give weight to their authority, and keep people in line. As power and wealth generally go hand-in-hand, it makes sense that so often the rich and powerful suppress the poor, and using religion as their ally helps to sugar-coat that bitter pill for the poor masses. Someone beat me to the observation that the Hindu caste system is the prime example of religion in this function. As for Christianity, I think the reason it’s so successful is that it is so fluid and contridictory that people can find justification for a broad spectrum of beliefs and actions.

  • Action Squirrel:

    Among the people I know, the Republican party in its present form, which takes big cues from Christianity, has taken over the role of controlling the masses from the Church for the most part. And the born agains I know are neo-conservative without exception. It’s easier to control Americans today by appealing to their social outrage/birthrights than by appealing to their guilt/generosity.

  • Marilyn:

    Wow, Heather…that was hurtful. I don’t expect you to understand my beliefs any more than I understand yours. I’m not even sure why I feel the need to share the following, but here goes…
    1. I don’t “sit on my butt,”; actually, I rarely get on my knees.
    2. I spend about 40 hours a week doing volunteer work in my community.
    3. The governor of my state awarded me “Volunteer of the Year” a few years ago.
    4. I not only know about charity spreadsheets, I often create them.
    5. I am neither lazy nor mentally ill.
    6. I also know that any or all of the above will not get me into heaven nor make me any better than anyone else. I do it because I want to, and the joy it brings is priceless.

  • Lori E:

    You rock Marilyn! :)

  • Maria:

    I have not even begun to read all the comments, but I think you are on an interesting wavelength here, Rechelle. But bigger…we need religion to condone wars, don’t we? To say it’s okay that God is on our side. Conspiracy? I don’t really think it’s that much of a conspiracy, I think religion is used pretty liberally by politicians and religion uses politics pretty liberally themselves. They scratch each others backs. Why on earth this is considered “Christian” is beyond me, because I don’t remember Christ getting all that involved in politics. Seems he died because he WASN’T involved in politics. Anyway…as far as keeping the poor down…it’s a wonderful by-product for religion and politics, isn’t it?

    I read as far as jalfs questions and I’ve never understood the cross wearing. If my husband/daughter/son/mother (insert loved one here) took a bullet to save my life, I would never wear the gun on a necklace to remind myself of what killed him. Not to mention idols are not all that encouraged in the Bible, and it seems rather idol-esque to me. Can you imagine Mary wearing a cross? Then again, I don’t actually believe Christ died on a cross….but that is another can of worms to most people, I”m sure.

    My two cents. I’m yawning so will read some comments tomorrow perhaps~~

  • Marilyn, that’s where you are wrong, I DO understand your beliefs, I was brainwashed Christian at birth. I was baptized as a baby against my will, and force-fed religion at a young age. I really hate when religious people say former Christians (or other religion) don’t understand. Like we forgot what it was like or something.

    What gets me is that you didn’t even touch upon the point I was trying to make. I could give a crap if you were named Jesus of the Millenium, or made spreadsheets of the National Debt, it still doesn’t explain why you would bypass actual research of charities in favor of prayer and faith.

    Saying you do 40 hours a week of volunteer work means nothing to me. So what? You could sit behind a computer all day for all I know. You have been randomly posting here all day so either you are off today, or your job isn’t as demanding as you claim.

    By the way, if you are going to write a list to glorify yourself in an attempt to make people feel bad, maybe you shouldn’t add number 7 on there as an attempt at humility. Truly humble people never tout their accomplishments, they don’t even want recognition. I would have respected you more if you had simply said ” I do what I can for those in need”.

  • Marilyn:

    I’m sorry you are so angry with me Heather. I wish you really knew me. You might even like me.

  • Heather -

    Whatever the merits of your point, you’re *way* over the line in terms of being hostile and hurtful. It’s perfectly possible to make your points in a civil fashion; please do so.

    This link is for you:
    http://headtripcomics.comicgenesis.com/d/20100319.html

  • DDM:

    What’s the point of doing charity work if you can’t bring it up in a conversation/debate as a point for your side? Well, aside from the court forcing you, I mean.

  • Jimmy:

    For what it’s worth and to ensure that there are two views on this: I disagree Michael Mock – and I think your comic is simplistic. I think being really angry with theistic assumptions isn’t that outrageous – given what they represent in terms of appalling abuse over millenia around the world. I try not to get angry personally (it makes me less rational and coherent): but its not that outrageous if it happens.

    After all moderate theists create the space for the abuse. RCC priests couldn’t rape children without all those people giving them the platfrom to operate via their unquestioning church membership (and cash). Etc.

    So I think that Marilyn has missed the point: I suspect Heather doesn’t have strong feelings about her as an individual at all. It’s the views represented which cause the reaction. If you read Sam Harris you will find there well reasoned arguments (I instinctively find them hard to swallow – but can’t fault the elements of it) that we no longer have the luxury of tolerating a society that includes belief in the irrational. Sounds harsh? I’d say – read it.

    The expression of these kinds of reaction to theism are going to become more prevalent – and the tone will sound hard and agressive. But then…something has to give!

    After all: it is the wasted effort and resources that well meaning theists put into totally non-productive (and parasitic) activities that is at issue here (as well as the pollution of productive activities with nonsense, myth and voodoo). And then we are asked (constantly!) to admire or respect individuals who indulge in this stuff.

    So I understand the letting off steam: and Marilyn – well…I have massive issues with theists on this stuff, but I really get on fine with individuals who hold the views at a personal level.

    I’m guessing here – but maybe Heather is the same? (Could be wrong of course!) Maybe ‘liking you’ has absolutely nothing to do with this? And maybe her points have some validity? Like – prayer and faith are a truly rubbish basis for anything at all. Isn’t that the point to discuss? Show us we are wrong!

  • I have no idea what that comic has to do with me. I also didn’t call her anything that I couldn’t point to about 100 psychology books and journals and prove. (would you like my report in MLA format?)

    But, I am sure Michael doesn’t care about evidence. It took me 2 seconds to find his blog and find out which religious team he played for (I looked at the Christmas posting). Yep, I looked because I am actually a really nice person. I had to see if he might have been an Atheist and my own peer thought I had crossed the line in my irritance. I wasn’t surprised when I found out which team he bats for.

    I have now asked Marilyn TWICE to answer the same simple question, and TWICE she has evaded me.

    She hasn’t even acknowledged my question AT ALL.

    Marilyn, I *may* like you in real life, but if you evade questions in person as much as you do in print, it won’t take me long to hate your guts.

    The funny thing is, I am still ready to apologize for being wrong about you. I don’t loathe you, I just want you to answer the damn question using your brain: You are either condemning people and animals to (possible) death or giving them “salvation” based off the way you determine who gets your charitable donations. Why would you forego intelligent research of the charities in favor of prayer and faith, which in no way offers tangible and credible evidence for an informed decision?

    That’s the third time I have asked.

    Damn, you are gonna make me late for Pilates.

  • @ Heather – Um, what? Which Christmas posting? Which team did your two-second assessment lead to you believe that I play for?

    My blog is here:
    http://nagamakironin.blogspot.com/

    My religious views are here:
    http://nagamakironin.blogspot.com/2009/11/varieties-of-religious-perspective.html

    I posted as I did because your questions are phrased as thinly-veiled accusations. You’re making an assumption that Marilyn’s comments about “prayer and faith” automatically precludes any possibility of additional research or of Marilyn having direct knowledge from her own volunteer work. You equated the comment with laziness, mental illness, or some combination – and given that mental illness is a genuine problem for a great many people, I don’t think that throwing it around this way is even remotely appropriate. You told Marilyn directly that she is not thinking for herself – how is that not unnecessarily hostile?

    Your point about the assumption that you “don’t understand” Christian beliefs was well taken, but your phrasing was hostile: e.g. “brainwashed”, “force-fed”, “really hate”. That’s not to say that you shouldn’t feel that way about it, just that those feelings are obscuring the point that you were trying to make.

    I linked to the comic because I think you’re being a giant, annoying douchebag about this. I think that’s self-defeating, and I think that Marilyn comes out looking like the reasonable adult in this exchange.

    @Jimmy – “I think being really angry with theistic assumptions isn’t that outrageous.”

    Not always, but I think that at the very least it’s counterproductive here.

    “If you read Sam Harris you will find there well reasoned arguments … that we no longer have the luxury of tolerating a society that includes belief in the irrational. Sounds harsh? I’d say – read it.

    The expression of these kinds of reaction to theism are going to become more prevalent – and the tone will sound hard and agressive. But then…something has to give!”

    There may be something to that, but unfortunately I don’t think it’s a realistic goal. Human beings are not, fundamentally, rational. (…I hope I’m wrong about those last two assertions.) The urge to religion seems to be built into the species; I think the best we can hope for is to channel it into constructive forms.

  • Cheyenne:

    As a fellow atheist, Heather, I’ve gotta say that I also think your post came across as attacking Marilyn personally. I agree with you that money given to a church would be much better spent on a secular charity, but your wording @1:35pm seemed to really be slamming Marilyn using lots of “you”s, which really obscures your point with the whole tone of the post. I’ve read your other posts here, and you’ve never come across this way before, as I remember. As for your simple question, I don’t feel like Marilyn’s avoiding you, she probably feels like she’s just been punched in the gut by a mean person. I’m a totally unrelated third person, but what I see from what I’ve read from Marilyn is that she’s a kind, giving person of faith. It seems natural to me that someone like Marilyn would pray and volunteer in a church setting. She believes there’s value in things that we atheists think are a waste of time. That’s just the nature of our differing viewpoints. I was a Christian for almost 31 years (born into it and totally accepted it) until last year. It took me at least 10 years of various life experiences and my own need-to-know, skeptical personality to finally leave religion behind. If any of a number of things had happened differently over those years, I might still be a Christian today, who knows. So, I’m convinced that people’s beliefs are only partly a choice. I don’t think we can simply decide to believe or not believe, there are many things that go into it. While I understand that there is reason to be angry at religion, and some of the religious deserve ridicule (Fred Phelps, phedophile bishops, slimy televangelists, etc), I still feel that we need to practice the golden rule in dealing with each other. Marilyn’s comments did not deserve that kind of bashing, and she shouldn’t feel like she can’t participate in this blog. So, my two cents would be to apologise to Marilyn and rephrase your point if you feel you need to, even if you need to get a generalized rant out of your system. FWIW.

  • Lori E:

    Well said, Cheyenne, well said.

  • For the record, I feel perfectly justified in the way I answered her, based on the way she has commented. There won’t be an apology for that. I am sorry to the rest of you for having to hear me go off on her. She deserved every word though.

    When you reward that kind of logic with respect, it gains credibility. I have known some serious religious zealots (most of them in my own family) and even THEY would take the time to research before they donated. Marilyn did not say that she did that, didn’t even allude to it.

    And even in her reply, she didn’t say she read charitable spreadsheets, just knew about them and created them on occasion. She was very crafty in the way she framed that to not answer my question at all.

    I know what you are trying to say, “be nice”, but that’s not the golden rule. It’s more “give to others what you want in return”. I want her to come back at me with the same passion I went after her. If she so believes what she said, she should have no problem emphatically coming at me with her reasoning. She can call me whatever names she likes. I can take it as good as I give it. I don’t mind. I don’t hate her at all. It’s just that if someone is going to talk like that, they better show their work.

    Oh, and the other posts she put out before that were wrong, wrong, wrong as well. I only fixated on that point because she is actually making life or death decisions for OTHERS, who cannot help themselves, based off prayer alone. That isn’t kind at all, that is pretty horrible.

    And, uh, sorry for the rest of you who had to hear me scream at her.

    Except Michael… who seems to think I can’t properly find my way to his blog from his official website. Yes, I was right about you from the beginning. <—-See there, I answered your question (it isn't that hard).

    But, I must admit, you did make me go back and take a deeper look at who you are, because I am always willing to be mistaken. Everyone should take a look. It's, um, interesting. I was disappointed that you are a pseudonym though. It's easy to talk like you do when you can be virtually anonymous. I am not. My blog may be fluff, but I own my name. I am not hiding.

    At least Cheyenne didn't call me a douchebag while acting like a douchebag.

    And no more mean outbursts from me on this.

  • Oh, and the cartoon is about refusing to accept an apology for being wrong and taking it too far.

  • “Except Michael… who seems to think I can’t properly find my way to his blog from his official website.”

    No, I was pretty sure you’d seen the word “Blog” in the menu. I just don’t recall having any Christmas posts on the blog itself. And honestly, I’m still puzzled. You said, “It took me 2 seconds to find his blog and find out which religious team he played for (I looked at the Christmas posting).” I guessed that meant that you saw that I attended some sort of church service (?) (without spontaneously catching fire, I mean), and you were therefore assuming that I’m a Christian. I’m not; I’m not a believer at all.

    However, you then turn around and say, “Yes, I was right about you from the beginning.” So maybe you didn’t think I was a Christian? Again, I’m confused.

    I’m also more than a little disturbed that my opinion apparently only counts if I’m an atheist – perhaps only if I’m an anti-religious atheist as well.

    “I was disappointed that you are a pseudonym though. It’s easy to talk like you do when you can be virtually anonymous.”

    Yes, heaven forfend that anyone should be anonymous on the Internet. Anyone who does so must be hiding. For whatever it’s worth, I talk like this in person, too.

    I thought you went overboard; I thought your post was accusatory and hostile and made you look like a rather unpleasant person. I thought it made you look like the stereotypical “angry atheist”. So I said so, in the clearest way I could think of. I was, basically, trying to show you the same passion that you showed Marilyn.

    You’ve found someone who actually does make charitable donations, who does charity work, who – in other words – is trying to help. And as far as I can see, your first reaction to that is to lambaste her because (you think) her methods don’t measure up to your standards; her giving and her work isn’t as efficient as it could be. That doesn’t strike you as a bit… undeserved? If you want to attack somebody on that topic, attack me – I’m horrible about charitable giving: stingy, irregular, lazy, unwilling to put the effort into research. Really, truly awful.

    “And no more mean outbursts from me on this.”

    Agreed. The douchebag bit was overboard; I apologize for that.

    “Oh, and the cartoon is about refusing to accept an apology for being wrong and taking it too far.”

    That’s one way to read it, yes. I think it’s also fair to read it as saying that it’s possible to be completely right and still lose an argument by virtue of being too obnoxious. Which, as you point out, I may also have done myself.

    I’m still curious, though: did you think I was a Christian?

  • Nope, never said you were. I just said I knew which team you were batting from. I can read!

    • Time out for Heather and Michael! Hey! I appreciate both of you guys and the contributions you make to the conversation that happens on this site. I think you might find that you have more in common than you think – not that that is all that important either. But I just wanted to say something here so that you know I am not ignoring this. Hope to not come across like a playground attendant.

  • Oh, no! You’ve figured out that I’m secretly a deranged cultist. Now you know why I’m pseudonymous!

  • I can’t speak for Heather, but I think we’re good now. And yes, I think we actually do have more than a little common ground in terms our basic views. I’m sorry for the disruption, and I accept my Time Out in an appropriately penitent fashion.

    ::goes to sit quietly in the corner.::

  • Brian V.:

    Michael and Heather, I appreciate your voices here too. Sometimes we clash and sometimes that is a good thing because the forum allows us to have at it openly, to let it out and even as some dear person recently said, declare open season. This makes me breathe deeply and fully unlike all my years in the Baptist church where anger was just plain bad and only the ‘unchurched’ stood firmly in opposition to anything in front of the pastor… So much is lost when people get ‘saved’ and ‘churched’. They are often so so happy it just makes one gag….. religion drugs. Michael, you stay in that corner until I tell you come out!
    Thank-you both for sayin’ it out loud.

  • Jimmy-boy:

    Darn! I looked away for three seconds and everyone’s on the naughty step! I wanted to wade in again. But probably it wouldn’t have helped in fact. I was loving it though! A shame that Marilyn you didn’t come back and provide your best arguments. I know many theists who would have had loads to say here.

    I’m going to have to try hard not just to bring it all up again in the next thread – particularly the subject of what notice we should take of those who get involved in charitable activities…or whether those activities, in themselves are intriniscally worthy? After all, many total scumbags do “good things”, and vice versa.

    Right. I’ve set it up for next time!