The Worship of America

Disclaimer: Controversial Opinions is a series in which I’m essentially thinking out loud. I don’t think every one of my opinions is right, and I’m open to changing my mind when shown a new perspective. If any of this starts feeling like a manifesto, I assure you my intention is just to get my thoughts out and off my chest. You’re welcome to agree or disagree, I’m doing this for myself as much as anything, but I do hope you get something out of reading this.

Even though I think religion itself, particularly Christianity, is to blame for the majority of the world’s problems throughout history, it seems to me that there is a religioun in America that often goes unnoticed: the worship of America itself. Nationalism has become an American religion. Growing up in America, I have always been very disturbed by the way Americans treat this particular country and especially it’s symbols.

As a child I was taught to stand at my desk every morning before school, place my hand over my heart, and recite a cult-like chant in which I pledge allegiance to, of all things, the American flag. Even as a child, I was struck by the Orwellian nature of this, though I didn’t know how to express it at the time. The flag is a symbol of America, but it is so revered that it is treated as a religious object, the same way certain icons are in temples and churches. If you didn’t know, there are a set of rules about what you should and should not do with a flag, which are often taught in places like the Boy Scouts. I don’t know all of them, but I have absorbed a few of them from cultural osmosis, and I do know you are never supposed to let it touch the ground and you are not supposed to wear a flag as clothing, or hang it upside down.

What’s even creepier than the fact that children are expected to essentially recite a prayer each morning to the religious icon of the American flag is the droning uninterested monotone with which an entire school does so. As I stood in class reciting the pledge of allegiance, hundreds of other students did it at the same time within my school, and within my state and country there were millions of children, all droning out the monotonous prayer at once, not really concerned with the meaning of the words. Most first graders don’t really know what the word “indivisible” means, but because we have this chant drilled into our heads from our youngest age, we are psychologically prepared to accept the words of the pledge as gospel truth when we are old enough to understand them. It doesn’t occur to use to question it because we were indoctrinated, just like we were with religion.

Indoctrination occurs everywhere. The most popular video games in America are almost entirely shooting games, specifically war games, and even more specifically a lot of those war games are set directly in the middle east, priming young people, mostly boys, to view killing middle eastern people as sport, not to regard them as human. Is it any wonder then, that non-white people and particularly middle eastern people are treated with such racism in America, or automatically assumed to be terrorists?

The national anthem is equally creepy to me. I know that every country has a national anthem, but the way you are instantly ostracized for refusing to stand for the anthem or refusing to say the pledge is terrifying. I tried on a couple of occasions as a child to abstain from saying the pledge of allegiance (think about that, for a moment, the weight of that: CHILDREN RECITE A PLEDGE OF ALLEGIANCE. That is third world dictator type shit), and I was reprimanded by teachers and given looks of confusion by other students.

There’s also an attitude in America that we are the best country in the world. And I mean that literally. I couldn’t tell you how many times I’ve heard people say “America is the greatest country in the world.” But WHY is it great? If you ask most people they’ll give you some platitude about “freedom,” as though we’re the only country in the world with a bill of human rights in our constitution. The vast majority of industrialized countries in the world have the same personal freedoms Americans do, but Americans don’t consider that. As a child, I was told by my mother that in China, no one is allowed to have their own personal property, and people have to stand in line in bathrooms to receive their share of toilet paper. I was told that America is essentially a utopia where people from all over the world come to to escape persecution and share in our freedoms.

That is, of course, bullshit. America ranks incredibly low on a lot of factors that we consider to be marks of a great place to live. We have terrible education scores, we are almost single-handedly destroying the planet, we contain an incredibly small amount of the world’s population and use a larger share of it’s resources than any other country.

The thing that has always confused me about America’s place in the world is HOW it’s allowed to get away with all the things it does. With contributing to climate change, with affecting the environment, with not allowing people to have the same personal freedoms (such as marriage equality or voting equality) that other countries enjoy.

I think about it like this: imagine a house full of people, and this house represents the world, and the people represent countries. If one person in the house is sitting in the corner starting a fire that’s going to spread and burn down the rest of the house, isn’t it the responsibility of all the other people to step in and stop the fire, or stop that person from lighting a fire? Sure, he could say “this is my corner of the house, I’m allowed to do what I like here,” but he shouldn’t have the ability to do something that can endanger the safety of everyone else in the house. So why is America allowed to run rampant and unchecked like a bull in a China shop? Why do all the other countries in the world not sit down and say “Look, America, we can’t let you destroy our planet. Destroy your own country if you want to, but once you’re affecting the rest of us, we have to put a stop to it.” How is America allowed to do what it does?

I know that there is more nuance to all of these things, I do. What I’m doing here is essentially thinking out loud, I’m shouting questions into the void and hoping someone will hear them and consider them. I’ve wanted to do a series about some of my controversial opinions for a while now, and I hope to continue doing these. I know it’s essentially just me ranting, but I like ranting, and I think ranting is useful. My opinions are not set in stone, they’re open to change when new information is presented to me, and I’m open to admitting I’m wrong, but I hope that someone will see the sense in some of what I’m saying.

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Opposing Christianity

An Accidental Book

So I’m accidentally writing a book about Christianity. Here’s how it happened.

Back in 2015, I started to immerse myself in atheist culture and literature, mostly through audiobooks, which are fantastic to listen to when slogging through RPGs and grinding levels, which as it happens is one of my favorite activities. First I read God Is Not Great by Christopher Hitchens, which quickly became my all time favorite book. Next I read the Richard Dawkins’ The God Delusion, which quickly become ANOTHER of my all time favorite books. After that I began a marathon of atheist literature: I listened to audiobooks of Dawkins’ The Blind Watchmaker, The Greatest Show On Earth, The Ancestor’s Tale, The Magic of Reality, An Appetite For Wonder, Brief Candle in The Dark, and then of course listened to the God Delusion several more times, realized that I actually had been listening to an ABRIDGED version, and then listened to the complete unabridged version. I’m currently on my second listen of the unabridged version right now.

I listened many times to Julia Sweeney’s brilliant one-woman show Letting Go Of God, then Sam Harris’ Letter to a Christian Nation. Currently I’m working my way through David Silverman’s book Fighting God. I started to watch episode of an Austin-based public broadcast television show called The Atheist Experience, worked through almost their entire catalogue of podcast The Non-Prophets, then I listened to hundreds of episodes of the podcasts Cognitive Dissonance, The Scathing Atheist, God Awful Movies, The Skepticrat, Ardent Atheist, Citation Needed, Be Reasonable, and Skeptics With A K. I watched dozens of debates, interviews, and lectures involving Christopher Hitchens, Stephen Fry, Lawrence Krauss, Richard Dawkins, and others.

Naturally, being steeped in all this atheism has given me a lot of time to think about my feelings on religion, on God, and most of all on my experiences with Christianity. When I’ve felt the need to go on a diatribe about religion, I’ve grabbed my phone, iPod, or whatever device is near me and started frantically taking notes. Without realizing it, a few years had passed, and I had amassed enough notes to realize that I wasn’t just writing disjointed blog posts, but writing a book, my own contribution to the work of the New Atheists and others.

The funny thing is, I still don’t know if I’m an atheist. What I do feel confident in is that I’m an anti-Christian. I think Christianity is an entirely corrupt and harmful enterprise that should be left in the past where it belongs. Listening over and over to books like The God Delusion and God Is Not Great has helped me to learn, and also to understand exactly what it is about Christianity that appalls and angers me so much.

There’s so much to write about. So much to say. So much of my own story to tell. I’ve written a few religiously-themed blog posts here, but most of what I’ve written has been in notepad documents, collated later in emails to myself for safekeeping or in documents of fractured ideas. Some of my notes are paragraphs of harsh criticism, some are single lines for me to expound upon later.

I want to share some of this with you, whoever you may be reading this. I’m not going to post everything I have, but I want to share some of what I’m working on. Remember that these are notes, not a final product, not even really a first draft, just thoughts that have been written down. Some of them need editing, many of them are repetitious or sometimes miss larger points, but I’m proud of what I’ve written so far, and I’m excited to share it with you.

I currently have the majority of what I’ve written collated together in a document, seperated by subheadings which can be later expounded upon, condensed, or cleaned up into proper chapters. There’s still a long way to go, and honestly I can’t say what the end result will be.

I don’t think any of the New Atheists like Richard Dawkins or Sam Harris would approve, because I don’t think I’m really setting out to fight religion. I’m setting out to shine a ray of light on Christianity, to talk about the harm it’s done to me and to everyone else. As for myself, I still don’t know that I can say I’m an atheist. I still love aspects of Paganism, I enjoy tarot and some kinds of mysticism, I enjoy hearing Tori Amos wax philosophical about the goddess energy and celestial consciousness, I find those kinds of things to be beautiful poetry. I don’t know that I actually believe any of them, it would be difficult for me to condemn Christian belief on the one hand and then turn around and say I believe in Neo Paganism, which as religions go is a pretty spastic cobbling together of whatever an individual happens to agree with. I still take comfort in some spiritual practices, and for that reason, I can’t find myself denouncing belief in the same way that Dawkins does. I would be lying to myself if I tried to.

There may be atheism at the end of this journey, or there may be some other kind of spirituality I haven’t discovered yet. There may be an agnosticism with a leaning toward the mystical. All I really know is that I just HAVE to get my feelings about Christianity down on paper. I have to say what I feel. That’s what this blog has always been about. So, with that explanation out of the way, I’m going to begin sharing some of the raw material that I’ve been cobbling together. I hope that if nothing else, it makes you think about things in a different way.

 

The Most Harmful Enterprise

It is my belief that Christianity is the single most harmful Enterprise in all of human history. More deadly than the Huns, Alexander, the Nazis, or even nuclear bombs. Christianity is a system of subjugation and bigotry which spreads like a virus from parent to child, or if not then from adult to child (but make no mistake, it is always children who are targeted, because Christianity’s claims are not generally strong enough to hold up to the scrutiny of a full developed and educated adult), and either perverts or destroys everything it touches. Christianity warps our ideas of truth, goodness, compassion, and where to appropriately place our outrage. Christianity abuses and victimizes us, teaches us to abuse others, and then claim that we ate the one being abused. Christianity teaches us never to be satisfied with decency or morality or kindness or love, but to be ever self-flagellating sycophants, braying at the feet of God for the forgiveness of our petty thought crimes against the almighty. Christianity teaches us to harass and degrade other people, to control them as we were controlled ourselves, and to remain endlessly vigilant in the persecution of every race, Creed, belief, and orientation. Christianity is a disease of the mind spread memetically that erodes decency and compassion, and sows the desire for murder and destruction in every person it touches.

Christianity impedes the progress of medicine, health, mental stability, fulfillment, relationships, families, sexual wellness, and resorts constantly to underhanded dirty trucks, lying to the vulnerable and trying to substitute medicine for prayer, dedication to God, and incidentally money for the church. Christianity preys on the most vulnerable people. Children, the sick, the infirm, the starving. American missionaries travel to countries ravaged by poverty and hunger and they give the people food, but only at the cost of making them sit through lectures about their God, and giving them Bibles and telling them to believe in their God. Is it not obvious how utterly despicable this is? Missionaries prey on the most vulnerable people in the world. If I saw a child alone, huddled, shivering and dying of starvation, I would help them out of the kindness and compassion of my own heart, not because I saw  the opportunity to indoctrinate a potential Christian.

It is wicked enough to subjugate and persecute innocent people, to spread hatred and discord and encourage violence against people you dislike. But I takes a special kind of evil to perpetrate murder and abandonment and mutilation onto the whole world, and then claim you are the one who is being oppressed, claim that you have been the victim of the people you victimized. This is what Christianity does.

Name me one group who fought for their civil rights against prejudice and hatred, who was not oppressed by hated by Christians. Name me one group who has suffered violence in hate crimes for whom the perpetrators of at least some of those hate crimes were not Christians, or motivated by Christianity. Name me one societal injustice that has been overcome where Christianity did not stand on the wrong side of history.

Christianity would drag us kicking and screaming back into the dark ages if it could. Let us not forget how Christians acted when they thought they could get away with it. When Galileo postulated that the earth revolves around the sun, there was no scramble from Christians to teach the controversy, they sought to kill him for apostasy.

Today’s Christianity often speaks in softer terms than the one from antiquity, but that’s only because it’s been forced to soften up in order to stay relevant. As we make social progress, Christians pretend that God was progressive all along. Eventually there will come a day when there is no more widespread homophobia or bigotry against LGBT people, and if Christianity still exists, it’s believers will say that Jesus was the first real trans activist or the first proponent of gay rights, or some other nonsense, by picking and choosing from vagueries in the Bible and pretending that they had it right all along. Indeed, Christians are already doing this now in regards to slavery, saying that the Americans who fought against the Confederacy to end slavery were doing the proper Christian thing, while Confederates held up the Bible as their justification for slavery, because it very explicitly encourages slavery, not just throughout the old testament but in the new testament as well.

As our morals evolve, Christians pretend that God had it right all along, and that we’re just evolving to suit his moral standards, when really it’s the other way around, Christians are changing the character of God, or re-interpreting it as needed, to conform to our standards of morality, in order for Christianity to remain relevant. But man created God, and not the other way around, and Christianity betrays it’s man-made roots in the fact that though it claims to be unchanging, it is forced to change in order to keep it’s congregants pouring in, and to retain control over the minds, bodies, and presumably souls of it’s followers.

But even still, Christianity still relies the same old dogma of self destruction, self loathing and absolution are exactly the same. The words may change but the dogma doesn’t. After all, the Bible does say God is “the same today, yesterday, and tomorrow.”

 

The Bible

Christianity’s doctrines and edicts come from it’s holy book, the Bible. The Bible is a horrific tome, filled with examples of all the worst aspects of the human experience, as well as injunctions to commit all manner of evil against other creatures.

Try as hard as you can to imagine the most vile, despicable, horrific acts of which any human being is capable, and you’re very likely to find it in the Bible, most often being done by the supposed heroes of the stories. God himself is often the perpetrator of these evils, but his faithful servants and revered Biblical heroes are often the ones who commit these atrocities.

Think of every abominable action you can: rape, murder, molestation of children, the abuse of innocents, kidnapping, murder of babies, indiscriminate slaughter, genocide, incest, degradation, imprisonment, cannibalism, betrayal, burning alive, drowning, torturing humans, torturing animals, ritualistic blood sacrifices, eating entrails, drinking blood, the continued injunctions to (and proscriptions for) slavery, the treatment of slaves, the taking of slaves, the rape of slaves, the selling of slaves, taking advantage of the needy, the sick, and the insane, self-mutilation, castration, torture, the Bible is an orgiastic feast of all the most abominable actions to which human kind is capable of. And the vast majority of these atrocities are committed by God himself, when not being committed by his servants who are commanded directly to do it in his name.

 

God, The Abusive Husband

Christianity is a system of cyclical emotional abuse that inculcates and indoctrinates new members (almost always as emotionally vulnerable and mentally impressionable children) to believe that they fundamentally disordered in such a way that they are evil and worthy of eternal torment from the moment they are born. Not only this, but they are taught to believe that they CANNOT be anything other than evil and worthy of the most horrific kind of torture and punishment, because the only way to be truly good, moral, and decent, is to allow Christ to take on your own sin (whether you’ve committed any sin or not), and Christianity takes care to institute such rigorous regulations that most normal, healthy, biologically necessary actions are considered sinful, and thought crime is preached by the central deity, so that absolutely any moment of anything other than complete lobotomized silence is viewed as sinful and in need of correction or forgiveness.

To be naked is a sin, to experience physical arousal is a sin, to desire to be close and to express love is a sin, to even think about exercising a completely healthy biological function like masturbation is a sin, even unavoidable biological functions like menstruation are sinful and “unclean,” in short: everything that any normal human being might do is considered a sin, so that no matter how hard you try, you cannot escape God’s righteous indignation.

This tactic is sometimes employed by the military, during basic training, in which a drill Sergeant will emotionally abuse his pupils by setting such absurd regulations on behavior that it becomes literally impossible for the rules to be followed, and so the entire unit is punished when one pupil slips up. The drill Sergeant will also give conflicting orders and punish a cadet no matter their actions, regardless of if they obeyed or not, simply to torture them. The reason for this barbaric method of training is to purposely bring the unit together in their utter contempt of the drill Sergeant, and yet also to fear and obey him, regardless of his orders, because it is the only way to avoid punishment, even if avoiding it is futile. Soldiers are placed under such extreme mental and emotional stress in an attempt to completely break their spirit, and then rebuild their demolished psyche into that of a ruthless killing machine whose only goal and joy comes from following orders and serving the military.

This kind of barbaric treatment is contemptible, but when it’s done in the military, people recognize it for what it is. Even those who justify this cruelty say that it’s done for a purpose. No one pretends that this medieval method of training is done out of love and compassion. I personally don’t think there is an excuse for this kind of treatment, but at least the people who do it will admit that they are being cruel, as means to an end.

But when God does the same things, and worse, people will make any excuse to justify his contemptible behavior, and most sickeningly of all: that God abuses and tortures his creations because he LOVES us. God is the ultimate abusive boyfriend. Countless times throughout the Bible he presses into service those same excuses we know abusers use: “You brought this on yourself,” “Look what you made me do,” “I’m only doing this because I love you.” If any man were on trial for doing a fraction of the things god does to his children, he would most certainly be sentenced to prison or worse. Yet his actions are excused and justified by his victims, who trip over themselves to believe that two plus two equals five if God says it does.

God is the abusive husband who torments his way day and night, haranguing her with threats and blows, keeping her so frightened that she doesn’t know whether she’s done anything wrong, where she is tortured in the knowledge that regardless of what she does or does not do, the angry man will still come home and beat her, rape her, abuse her in every way. And when her friends see her black and swollen eyes, her bruised legs and arms, they will try and persuade her to leave him, but she will argue on his behalf, as the abused do of their abusers, that he is a good man, that he loves and cares for his family, that he is justified in his cruelty, that her friends don’t understand, that they must forgive what seems to them an injustice, because assuredly he has his reasons.

But we know the truth of this, don’t we? We know that the abusive husband is a sadist and a monster, who must be stopped and thrown into prison where he can at most change his ways and understand the suffering he caused, or at the very least ensure everyone’s safety by his removal from society. God is that man, the abusive husband, and Christians are the tired and manipulated wife, searching desperately for an answer amidst the torture and grief, trying to make excuses for God. Except that God is one step worse, because he doesn’t even exist. God is a thought process implanted into the vulnerable, most often children, teaching people to hate themselves and to subjugate and torture themselves, and to feel remorse and shame if they think for a moment to stop this self-induced torture. Christians are victims as much as the Witches who burned at the stakes or the Muslims who fell to the inquisitors sword.

Ironically, when people of good and decent moral character stand up to Christian prejudice, Christians love nothing more than to proclaim that they are being “persecuted.” Christianity has the largest following around the world, the vast majority of modern human history has been controlled and decided by Christianity and it’s countless armies, yet Christians see any attempt to usurp the blatant immorality of Christian doctrine as persecution, and love nothing more than to play the victim. Indeed, the entire philosophy of Christ is to play the victim, as he did in his crucifixion, in which God sacrificed himself to himself so that he could forgive a man he created for doing exactly what he created him for and knew he would do. The whole episode has more the air of a comical farce than an uplifting morality tale. But the point is that Christians confuse moral evolution for persecution. And why shouldn’t they? The God they worship is an immoral monster.

 

A Monopoly On Ideas

Remember that when Christians had their way and could do what they wanted, they just stomped all over everyone and their views weren’t nearly as seemingly nuanced as they are now. Before evolution was taught in schools, there were no Christians rushing into science classrooms and demanding that we “teach the controversy,” because they don’t actually care about that, they care about getting their way. As for abortion, Christians viewpoints have strangely reversed. It used to be that any time a young woman became pregnant out of wedlock she would be “sent to stay with an aunt,” which was their code for her getting an abortion, because they viewed babies born out of wedlock as sinful. There was never any attempt to “save the lives of innocent babies” then. All of Christianity’s viewpoints today are clearly contradicted by the way Christians behaved when they knew they could get away with it, when they knew no one would oppose them.

At the end of the day the reason Christians oppose things is because of plain old prejudice. They say they oppose gay marriage because it defiles the institution, but they’re doing nothing to fight against outlawing divorce. They claim that the constitution was shaped by Christians under Christian doctrine, and yet the vast majority of the founders (particularly the most important figures) were non-Christian deists who openly denounced Christianity. They want to stop abortions and claim to be pro life, but they give no thought to the autonomy or free will of the woman in question, and in a move the betrays the deep Christian misogyny, don’t seem to mind women being bodily raped by a child they didn’t ask for.

Remember that one of Christianity’s central figures, Mary the mother of Jesus, was a virgin girl who was bodily raped by God during sleep and forced to carry his child without her consent. This betrays the deep misogyny inherent in Christianity: Mary, the revered mother of Jesus, was a woman who was simply commanded by God to carry and give birth to his child, and on top of this, she had to have her sexuality completely excised from her, hence the radical obsession with her being a virgin upon Jesus’ conception. And even if you argue that God didn’t actually have sex with Mary to impregnate her (again, there is the obsession with sexual deprivation and masochism present throughout Christianity), she was still forced to carry a child without her consent. Of course it doesn’t really matter that these events never actually happened, and maybe the character of Mary did find herself overjoyed at her own bodily autonomy being stolen from her for the privilege of delivering God’s son, but that doesn’t change the fact that the entire religion is built on the rape of a virgin girl. Not a woman, by the way; the character of Mary was probably around twelve years old in the story.

The most obvious way in which Christianity is imbued with the prejudices of it’s creators and it’s leaders are in Christian attitudes about homosexuality. Christians treat homosexuality in a very obtuse way that borders on protesting too much. They seem to have this notion that people can be “turned gay,” whenever a young gay person comes out to their family the first thing they will hear is that they’ve been “influenced by gay people” and that they “became gay,” or even that they “made the choice.” Christians imply that being gay is a choice, when even gay people say it isn’t. This means that for gay people, they’re gay just because that’s who they are. But the Christians who say that being gay is a choice are openly admitting that they as Christians COULD make the choice to be gay, which is tacitly admitting to bisexuality. They’re saying that if they wanted, they could choose to be attracted to the same gender. Well since that isn’t possible, it shows that they already ate attracted.

 

They also act as though being around gay people can turn you gay, as though their own heterosexuality is so fragile that the mere presence of a gay person will cause THEM to want to be with another person of the same gender? It seems to be protesting too much: they’re essentially saying “If I’m around gay people I’ll be so tempted and allured by them that I’ll become gay myself!” Well that isn’t how sexuality works, so obviously you have homosexual tendencies that you aren’t dealing with, and you’re projecting your own fear and self loathing onto everyone else. Of course, it’s not surprise that most homophobes are secretly gay. Christopher Hitchens quoted Shakespeare when discussing the topic of Christian sexual abuses, and I’ll do it again here: “The policeman who lashes the whore has a hot need to use her for the very offense for which he plies the lash.”

If God is indeed a celestial being so petty that in addition to creating nebulas, black holes, and galaxies, he can concern himself with the inconsequential minutia of who touches who else’s genitals, then he’s not worth worshiping in the first place.

But the problem isn’t just Christianity’s homophobia, or the fact that nearly all the homophobia in the entire world can be attributed to religion. It’s time we acknowledge the role Christianity plays hate crimes and murders, like the Pulse Massacre, or the murder of Matthew Shepherd. Because of preachers and faith leaders referring to us as “the homosexuals, the sodomites,” blaming hurricanes and natural disasters on us and talking about God’s judgement, Christians dehumanize us and normalize the idea of our deaths. We become less than people. We’re not humans who think and feel, we don’t watch television and read books and make dinner with our mothers on Thanksgiving, we’re just sodomites. We’re just a target, a threat to God’s people and his kingdom. Killing us isn’t the same as killing a real person.

And really, this is just scratching the surface on what makes Christianity so dangerous. And of course it’s not just Christianity that is the real problem, but religion itself. Religion has always been dangerous, but it was conceived in a time when it’s tools and weapons were significantly less powerful. In the days when religion dominated every aspect of culture and life, the most terrible possible attack from one group to another consisted of ransacking cities, murdering soldiers and civilians alike, raping innocent people, burning house and toppling castles with trebuchets. Even such horrors as these pale in the face of modern nuclear weapons, drones, bombs and machine guns.

Religion was conceived in a time when the worst of it’s followers could be convinced to take up a sword or a bow against an innocent, but the worst of today’s followers could be convinced to quite literally destroy the entire world with the right nuclear arsenal. This is why religion must not simply be abandoned, it must be combated, and future generations need to understand why that is, what makes it so dangerous, and why it should not be allowed to prosper, and to control the minds of otherwise decent people who fall prey to it.

 

Hiding In The Shadows

“What is impressive about Catholic mythology is partly it’s tasteless kitsch, but mostly the airy nonchalance with which these people make up the details as they go along. It is just shamelessly invented.” – Richard Dawkins, The God Delusion

The simplest proof against Christianity, and religion in general, is the way it betrays itself, the way it shows it’s motives. When Christians were in charge, God was the all knowing creator of the universe. When we discovered evolution, God took a step back and became evolution’s guiding hand. When we discovered that the universe was created during the big bang, God became no more than the one giving the order for creation to begin. As we gain scientific understanding of the world and the cosmos that surrounds us, Christians have to try harder and harder to squeeze God into the gaps of our knowledge. Christians will claim that we don’t need evidence to believe in God, because God must be discovered through faith, but we all know that if there were any real evidence for God’s existence (apart from philosophical exercises of trying to define God into existance) Christians would be all over it. Christians say that science is incompatible with religion only because it’s convenient to say that, if science DID produce any evidence for God’s existence, Christians would be shouting it from the rooftops.

But there is no evidence. As time goes on, the role God plays in the universe is shrinking. God was once the almighty and omniscient creator, and now he is an imp who hides in the shadows cast by Darwin and Hawking, and as we shed more and more light onto our own existence, he has fewer and fewer places to hide. Surely if God were the omniscient father of all things, it would be no difficulty at all to stand up to scrutiny, there would be abundant evidence. And yet the universe behaves in exactly the way it would if there were no God at all, making God, at best, utterly useless.

Christians count the hits and ignore the misses when it comes to prayer and divine intervention. When something a Christian prays for comes true, they regard it as an answered prayer and divine intervention, when their prayer is not answered they decree that their prayer was still answered anyway, only God in his infinite wisdom said “no.” No matter whether he succeeds or fails, God is given the credit for his action or his inaction. And this is considered to be decent evidence by many people.

If God exists, he behaves in such a way that his action is indistinguishable  from his inaction. Many sudden recoveries and coincidences are attributed to him, but curiously, he only ever heals someone in such a way that it can’t be demonstrated to have been some other means. He seemingly spends a lot of time healing people of cancerous growths or relieving pain, but not once in history has he ever regrown a lost limb, or healed third degree burns, and surely there were devout Christians at the time who prayed as fervently for those injuries to be healed. God is supposedly so powerful that he can create universes and destroy millions with floods, but the only miracles he seems capable of performing now that we have reliable methods of recording such things are trivial miracles that can’t be distinguished from chance. He only seems capable of passively doing things that might otherwise have been done without his interference. If God’s existence is indistinguishable from his nonexistence, then he’s so useless he might as well not exist anyway.

 

If He Existed

If the God described in the Bible did exist, the megalomaniacal, tyrannical celestial dictator who is more concerned about a nonexistent man eating a magical fruit than he is about poverty or disease, a being so prideful and contentious that he shows moral character worse than that of a petulant child, a fascist dictator willing to commit genocide on a whim, then I would oppose him. If the day of judgement the Christians talk about come, and God descends from the heavens in the form of Christ on a white horse, and I must stand before the throne of judgement, and God asks me to prostrate myself, I would be under a moral obligation to oppose him, to call out his bigotry, his insolence, his indefensible abuse of his creations.

Any moral personal who believes that God is worth worshiping is deluding themselves. Replace the names “God” and “Jesus” with “Zeus” and “Heracles,” and then read the Bible and tell me if you believe that the deities in question have any moral character. God is a tyrant, a ruthless petulant fascist, and if he DID exist, I would be the first to stand up to him, even if I were powerless. I would rather burn in hell for eternity knowing that I did the right and just thing, than to live in Heaven for eternity because I was willing to bend my knee at the threat of violence. At the end of the day the character of God is a malevolent villain, and we should all be exceedingly happy that he doesn’t exist, because any universe created and governed by such a monster would be a hopeless universe indeed.

Luckily, we have the ability to break the chains of ignorance, to cast away the shackles of God and his Bible, to be set free from Christianity, and from it’s family of religions, it’s mother religion, Judaism, and it’s daughter religion, Islam. We live in a time and place where it is possible not only to oppose God’s tyrannical rule, but to understand that we have no God to fear, only one another to fear, and it is in this knowledge that we can work toward a world not ruled by fear, but by compassion and understanding.

Humans have gotten a lot of things wrong. But we’ve seen the power of human empathy, and we’ve seen what God can do to stifle it. It’s time to send this fictitious monster back where he belongs, in the darkness of human history, and keep shining the light of knowledge on the shadows of ignorance, so that he has nowhere left to hide.

God Is An Abusive Boyfriend

god-by-perin-del-vaga

(After finishing the God Delusion by Richard Dawkins for the third time in the span of about a year, and having also read Hitchens’ God is Not Great a few times as well, I found that my many opinions about Christianity finally started to take some coherent form. I could write an entire book [and I hope to at some point] about my feelings on Christianity, as well as religion in general. In an effort to work toward that, I’ve started taking notes. The following is more less copied and pasted from my notepad so it isn’t entirely fleshed out or well-organized, but it is a good place to start. I wanted to point out that these are notes for myself so that it’s clear that this isn’t the final product, just the early stages of something I’m working on.)

Christianity is a system of cyclical emotional abuse that inculcates and indoctrinates new members (almost always as emotionally vulnerable and mentally impressionable children) to believe that they fundamentally disordered in such a way that they are evil and worthy of eternal torment from the moment they are born. Not only this, but they are taught to believe that they CANNOT be anything other than evil and worthy of the most horrific kind of torture and punishment, because the only way to be truly good, moral, and decent, is to allow Christ to take on your own sin (whether you’ve committed any sin or not), and Christianity takes care to institute such rigorous regulations that most normal, healthy, biologically necessary actions are considered sinful, and thought crime is preached by the central deity, so that absolutely any moment of anything other than complete lobotomized silence is viewed as sinful and in need of correction or forgiveness. To be naked is a sin, to experience physical arousal is a sin, to desire to be close and to express love is a sin, to even think about exercising a completely healthy biological function like masturbation is a sin, even unavoidable biological functions like menstruation are sinful and “unclean,” in short: everything that any normal human being might do is considered a sin, so that no matter how hard you try, you cannot escape God’s righteous indignation.

This tactic is sometimes employed by the military, during basic training, in which a drill Sargeant will emotionally abuse his pupils by setting such absurd regulations on behavior that it becomes literally impossible for the rules to be followed, and so the entire unit is punished when one pupil slips up. Drill Sargeant will also give conflicting orders and punish a cadet no matter their actions, regardless of if they obeyed or not, simply to torture them. The reason for this barbaric method of training is to purposely bring the unit together in their utter contempt of the drill Sargeant, and yet also to fear and obey him, regardless of his orders, because it is the only way to avoid punishment, even if avoiding it is futile. Soldiers are placed under such extreme mental and emotional stress in an attempt to completely break their spirit, and then rebuild their demolished psyche into that of a ruthless killing machine whose only goal and joy comes from following orders and serving the military.

This kind of barbaric treatment is contemptible, but when it’s done in the military, people recognize it for what it is. Even those who justify this cruelty say that it’s done for a purpose. No one pretends that this medieval method of training is done out of love and compassion. But when God does the same things, and worse, people will make any excuse to justify his contemptible behavior, and most sickeningly of all: that God abuses and tortures his creations because he LOVES us. God is the ultimate abusive boyfriend. Countless times throughout the Bible he presses into service those same excuses we know abusers use: “You brought this on yourself,” “Look what you made me do,” “I’m only doing this because I love you.” If any man were on trial for doing a fraction of the things god does to his children, he would most certainly be sentenced to prison or worse. Yet his actions are excused and justified by his victims, who trip over themselves to believe that 2+2=5 if God says it does.

God

A Farewell To My Mother

I’ve wanted for a long time to write about my relationship with my mother. I’ve wanted to try and explain the many ways in which she’s harmed me over the course of my life. Today, she sent me a message, asking me to come back and work for her again, and asking for respect. This message was my response to her. It contains most of what I have to say.

How can I respect you? You told me I would burn in hell. You don’t care about people making fun of me for my sexuality. You don’t accept and love for who I am, even though I’m different than you. You bring judgement and anger toward me every day. You hurt me on a very deep level with your words and actions. How could I ever respect that? All you bring to my life is pain and misery.

I’ve tried for so long to try and see past the things about that hurt me. I’ve tried to still love you and treat you like my mother and show you honor. But when I do, you return that favor with anger, bitterness and hatred toward who and what I am. You’ve always claimed to love me, but your actions are not that of a loving person.
I have friends who are mothers, who would never in a million years tell their child they’re going to hell. Who would never for any reason tell their child to try and change who he is and be miserable for the rest of his life instead of embracing himself and being who he is meant to be.

You think only about what your perception of Christ is. But Christ is not about judgement, or hell fire, or anything but love. Love, even for people who don’t believe. Christ showed love to the non-believers, not judgement, not threats of hell fire. If Christ spoke to me he wouldn’t say “Jesse, if you don’t change who you are, you will burn in hell.” He would say “Love one another as I have loved you.”

You are so caught up in your tiny perception of Christianity, fueled by television evangelists and money-grubbing schemes, that you’ve lost the point of the whole thing: one commanded I give to you, love another as I have loved you. You don’t seem to understand what that means. A loving mother does not say to her son, “Don’t come crying to my when you’re hungry,” or “You’re not my problem,” “or “You’re nothing but a thorn in my side,” or “If people were calling me a fag, I wouldn’t be a fag,” or “You’re going to hell,” or “You’re possessed by a demon!” Those are not things that a rational person with a rational mind would say or think.

So, respect you? How can I? How I would love to respect you, to have a relationship with you, but just like my father, you’ve turned your back on me. You’ve told me that I’m not good enough because of who I am. I can’t keep coming to your house and not mentioning the fact that I’m gay or that I’m not Christian, knowing that it will cause you to on a tirade and yell at me about fire and brimstone, telling me stories about Sodom and Gomorrah that you yourself don’t really understand. There are people in the world who aren’t Christian, and they live happy, successful lives. You live in a vacuum of denial, because you’re miserable with your life. You married someone for their money and not for love, and now you’re trapped in a loveless marriage and you’re trying to replace those feelings with things, like all these rings and jewelry you have Lee buy for you. You preach to people about Christ’s forgiveness, but you show none to other people. You yell at your daughter to be compassionate, yet you show her no compassion when she cries her little heart out. You say you’re proud of me, that I’m your favorite, that I’m talented, but then you call me names, you tell me I’ll burn in hell, you judge me and criticize me, both of which I would remind you are sins.

And more than anything, you chose to give love and support to the man who abused me as a child. On his death bed, you brought him home, you took him into your own house where both me and my sister were, and sat around talking to him, asked me to play piano for him, had Brianna call him “paw paw,” and then you even set up his funeral service, made a memorial to him, and read a eulogy for him. This was the man who hurt and abused me in the most heinous possible way as a child, and you chose to show him compassion and forgiveness and love, rather than putting him in prison where he belongs. It’s possible that I could forgive you for calling me names. It’s possible that I could forgive you for telling me I’d burn in hell. But I say this without any anger toward you, this is simply the truth, you betrayed and destroyed me when you brought your father down here from Georgia, sheltered him, cared for him, called him “Daddy” and looked at him as though he were a sweet old man, when in fact he was a monster who terrorized you, me, your mother, and everyone he ever met.

If I had been in your shoes, mom, and I were you, and I found out Jerrie were on his death bed… people would have had to hold me back to keep me from going up there and pulling the plug on his ass. Instead you chose to treat him as though he deserved your kindness. You blame what he did to me on a “demon,” or “the devil possessing him,” or “he was an alcoholic,” or “his mind wasn’t right.” Those are excuses. He made a choice to take me out into those woods and rape me. If you’ve forgotten, he raped your four-year old son. And you chose to stand by him in his final hours, you chose to officiate his funeral, you chose to bring him into your house and introduce him to my little sister, which you had NO business doing.

My father, crazy though he might be, at least had the decency to hate that man. You chose to love him. And you made your choice. You picked him over me. And when I told you this, years ago, you said “What does it matter? You don’t love me anyway!”

Think back. All of those tiny little hurtful things you’ve said over the years have remained in my mind. I remember when you came up behind me on the couch in our blue house and pulled my hair, I remember when you pushed me in my chest and knocked me down on my bed, I remember when you screamed and screamed, when you called me a freak, when you told me I was a thorn in your side, when you told me I was possessed by the devil. And I even watched those videos on your phone you said you didn’t want me to see until you were dead, where you go on and on about how I need to change who I am, how I’m allowing the spirit of the devil inside of me.

You’re just an empty person, mom. You’ve lost everything. You lost your first son, you lost your first husband to madness, your second husband to death, and you lost your mother. You got into a marriage you didn’t really care about and you try to fill this big void in your heart with material things, and with religion. You spend all your energy researching the bible, but you don’t even understand what the bible is about. It isn’t about “speaking in tongues,” or the judgement, or the end of the world, or even salvation. The message of the entire Bible is summarized in Christ’s words at the last supper: “Love one another, as I have loved you.” Love will never be a sin. You have been led to believe it, but it isn’t so.

But that’s all your problems, and I can’t handle them for you. Nothing I’ve said here has been out of anger or rage. I’m not mad right now. I’m not seething with anger or throwing things, I’m very calm, and I’m speaking to you from my heart. I am sorry for you. I wish that life had been better to you. I wish you hadn’t lost so many things you hold dear. I wish you didn’t suffer so much. I wish you didn’t feel so alone. I wish you didn’t have so much to worry about. I wish your health weren’t failing you. You may think I’m cold and heartless, but I’m a very open, loving, and caring person. But you have spent years upon years hardening my heart toward you, and no amount of small apologies will ever fix that. Only your actions can show that you love me, and your actions have been actions of hate. Mothers don’t kick their sons out of their homes. Mothers don’t threaten to call the cops on their sons. Hell, mother’s don’t actually DO it either. Mothers don’t tell their children they’ll burn in hell. Mothers don’t tell their children they’re possessed. You know a lot about how to be Cissy the person, but you’ve never known how to be Cissy the mother. You gave Brian up, and your reasons may have been justifiable, but when you had me, you were given another chance to be a mother. You claim you protected me, but it’s taken me a long time to come to a conclusion.

You knew what your father was like. You grew up around him. You’d heard the stories from your mother. You knew he couldn’t be trusted, yet you let me go out and be alone with him anyway. The truth is, I never blamed you for being molested or raped, whatever you want to call it, but now that I look back on it, now that I know that you knew at the time what a monster he was because of what he’d done to you and your family, because he even told your mother he’d had sex with you girls, you should have known better than to send me out into the woods with him. And when it did happen, you should have pursued him and made sure his ass got put in jail for the rest of his life, not just left it up in the air. You didn’t want to “put me through” being on trial? Why? I had to talk about it to a million therapists anyway, why not have me talk about it to a judge so that man could get justice?

You were weak, and selfish. You have always, essentially, been selfish. You’ve done for us, yes, but at your core you’ve been a selfish person, because you’re scared. I don’t know what of. Oh, you can tell me that I”m “Greg Williford” all over again, but I’m not diagnosing you with disorders you don’t have or making up a past for you that you didn’t have. I’ve seen you, all this time, I’ve seen your actions. You say you’re kind and giving, but you can be remarkably cruel, particularly to your own children. You say you want to get away from your family’s drama, but you relish in hearing all of their gossip. You say you want to lead a Christian life, but you do nothing but give money to TV preachers and go to Joyce Meyer seminars. That’s not what being a Christian is about. And even worse, you’re hurting my sister with the way you treat me. It breaks her heart to hear you tell me I’ll go to hell, or tell me I’m a fag. It breaks her heart to see you treat me the way you do, but you don’t care about that. You just have to be right.

Well I’m sorry, but I can’t be your punching bag anymore. As a child, you leaned on me. As a little kid, when there were troubles in your marriage, you came and talked to me, a child, about them, and held me and cried. You did it my whole life. I was too young for you to do that. Because of you, I’m afraid of the world. All the hatred, bitterness, rage and anger in the world that you’ve warned me about, I’ve seen it all in you. I’m too sensitive to be gay? No, I’m perfect, just the way I am, and that’s what a real mother would say. I have friends who are old enough to be my mother who tell me every day that I’m great, that I can accomplish anything, that I’m a wonderful person just the way I am. It hurts me that for some reason you can’t do the same.

Do I need your help? Yeah, I really do. I’ve got a mountain of debt at my bank, my tags are going to expire next month, I have a car payment and rent due, and I still haven’t found another job. Do I need money? Do I need a job with you? Hell yeah. But what cost would I have to pay? Even if you told me you genuinely loved and accepted me for who I am I wouldn’t believe it. In the short time I’ve been away from you, cutting you out of my life, I’ve felt strong, confident, and hopeful, for the first time in my whole life. Your anger, your rage, your sadness and your misery drag down those around you, and it’s turning your daughter away from you. She’s beginning to see what kind of person you are, and I don’t think she likes it. I can’t speak for her, but all I ask is that you try and treat her better than you did me. Stop calling her names. Stop putting her down. Stop telling her she isn’t enough. Build that child up. Tell her that she’s beautiful, that she’s capable of anything, that she’s great, just how she is! That’s what a mother does.

I guess there’s nothing else to say. In the end, I’m sorry for you. I’m sorry that your life has been so hard. But it’s your burden to bear, not mine, not Brianna’s, not Brian’s, not Lee’s, not Greg’s. It’s yours. And YOU must live with it, not me. I have to move forward with my life. And one day, when I’m a success, I’m sad that I won’t be able to look back and see you as someone who pushed me forward, who helped me to become great, I’ll see you a stumbling block set in my path to test me, and that’s a real shame. I’m sorry for you, but I can’t bear your burdens or your sorrows anymore. Keep your prayers, you don’t know how to pray. Keep your money, you dont’ know how to love. Keep your love, because it’s dysfunctional and it isn’t truly love, it’s need, need for another person, and I can’t be your crutch forever. I hope you find some fulfillment in your life. I hope you do well. But I have to go on without you. You have proven to me that you’ll never truly love me. I go forward in life thinking of you not as a loving mother, but as an unfortunate setback in my life. I wish I could love you, I wish I could forgive you, but I can’t. And I’m sorry for that.

May you find some peace within yourself someday, and may you realize the deep harm and sadness you’ve inflicted upon me. Goodbye.