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Goodbye Jesus

Does Atheism Lack An Impetus For Proselytizing?


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My cousin’s husband is a campus ‘missionary’ with a well-known aggressive (soul-bagging) campus ministry. He raises his own paycheque support through private donations. His wife, my cousin, is also a fundy and stay-at-home-mom to several children.

 

I’ve been engaging my cousin’s husband in an attempt at dialogue, spurred on by a Facebook status that got us into some deeper discussion by private message. He does not know of my atheism, but only knows (from what little I’ve revealed) that I am looking for better answers to the many questions I have. In our discussions, we cannot see each other’s perspective and are simply talking past each other. To preserve the relationship I have thrown in the towel. In short, he fails to provide answers to any of my (very valid but probably impossible to answer) questions, and instead of answering “Question A”, he answers “Question 21” which I have not asked.

 

e.g. Me: Why am I more compassionate than God?

Him: God healed me once, and that helped me believe.

 

I myself have used these techniques when I was a believer. The point of this approach is to avoid facing the growing mound of ill-fitting puzzle pieces and admire instead the one obscure, contralateral corner of the puzzle that is a pretty blue color. ("It's blue, therefore God!")

 

At least he has the grace to say “I don’t know” sometimes. But overall, his answers are most unsatisfactory.

 

Anyhow, it got me thinking. In fact, I felt quite angry last night and this morning. I find his certainty (read: arrogance) grating, probably because I am still smarting from losing my faith; I lost my certainty first, then my faith, and could not get it back. I find it abhorrent that he is paid to prey upon young people in their most confused and passionate state, to skim the fat of soul-saving off the cream of their lives. I find it abhorrent that his ‘job’ is to bend the minds of young people to believe in unicorns Jesus. I have found the Jesus thing to be a dead-end that almost sapped me of my very life and of much of my talent and personal resources. I rue the day I cast myself in front of God’s bus.

 

I can’t help but think that this campus ministry is a mind-rape organization. (I apologize for the sexual assault connotation—I’m trying to capture the intimate, foundational and intellectual violence that is perpetrated upon young people by these types of ministries.) It is a form of hi-jacking: young, impressionable students leaving the safety of their families embark on a journey of self-discovery, only to be hi-jacked shortly after take-off and the flight plan irreparably altered. Of course, these ‘missionaries’ truly believe they are saving souls from hell.

 

This morning, as I lay in bed nursing the latte hubby made for me, I wondered why atheists don’t have such a ‘ministry’ as this. Can you imagine having overwhelming compassion on all of the young fundagelical minds, fresh out of their parents’ oppressive religious nests, and setting them free? It could be like Greenpeace or Amnesty International. We could have a “Set the Students Free” campaign. Or a “Know God, No Peace; No God, Know Peace” campaign. Or, like the bus campaign “There is no god. Enjoy your life.”

 

We could have special humanist courses and programs and outreaches that teach you how to be a better person, how to be a part of something bigger than yourself, how to start grassroots change organizations that improve the world, and how to enact good in a world full of pain and excruciating need. We could help students develop their own code of ethics and give them the words and tools to develop a set of aspirations by which they will live.

 

Is the modus of atheism one of apathy, or is it/can it be a passionate pursuit of purposeful living? I know for me, my heart breaks every time I see a couple of students sitting on the grass around campus, praying to a god who is not there.

 

As atheists, do we have a moral imperative to act?

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Goodbye Jesus

Heyyyy, finally, somebody who wants to rescue the lost souls!

 

Maybe we do. Is it right to let people waste their lives serving an imaginary zombie? Is it right to let strong-minded women languish under the "spiritual leadership" of husbands who aren't made to be leaders? Is it right to allow the Xians, no matter how well-meaning they are, to terrorize people--especially children--into believing in the boogeyman who died for their sins?

 

Heck yeah, let's start a ministry for victims of Jeebus! I'm in!!! Reminds me of that movie "Jesus Camp", which I'd like to see.

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Many young adults deconvert soon after moving away from their folks. Churches know this. Sex, booze and freedom open the eyes of so many. Why do you think pastors preach against these "vices". If young adults don't have time for church or choose to stop going they emotions wear off. Pastors have 18 years to get the brain washing right or else they lose a mark.

 

And Lilith I would love to rescue the Christians from their enslavement but I believe in most cases that is impossible. The theology is designed to keep someone trapped. The individual has to get to a point where they will listen to outsiders before you can help them. What would be great is if we would make it illegal to indoctrinate anybody under 18. That would kill religion. But that would be impossible to implement.

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I was a student leader in Chi Alpha, the Assemblies of God sponsored group. Campus ministry at the secular campus is more like a baby sitting service for Christian college students who dont' want to lose their faith, there's not much conversion going on. Those guys are pretty good at cutting their losses and knowing who their primary targets are who their targets are not. He probably considers you a thorn from God/Satan that he has to avoid in order to focus on his ministry.

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As atheists, do we have a moral imperative to act?

 

Short answer, no.

 

An atheist simply has found no reason to believe in gods. It's not a belief system that one should feel compelled to convert the world to. I was actively drawn into religion, but I found my own way out, and I think that's how most people end up leaving; perhaps it's the only way. Confronting a believer usually puts them on the defensive, they insert their fingers firmly into their ears, and you wind up the bad person who is mad at God or just wants to sin.

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Heck yeah, let's start a ministry for victims of Jeebus! I'm in!!! Reminds me of that movie "Jesus Camp", which I'd like to see.

My hubby won't "let" me see Jesus Camp. He know's that'll be a one-way ticket off the deep end for me!

 

But seriously, those kids are gonna need some major therapy when they're older and they find out none of that shit is real!

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...I would love to rescue the Christians from their enslavement but I believe in most cases that is impossible. The theology is designed to keep someone trapped. The individual has to get to a point where they will listen to outsiders before you can help them. What would be great is if we would make it illegal to indoctrinate anybody under 18. That would kill religion. But that would be impossible to implement.

So true, mm.

 

The theology itself encapsulates believers so there is no way logic and reason can get in. Best to keep followers so busy that they don't have time to think. Best to keep the buzz happening as people go from spiritual high to spiritual high. What I find truly stunning is that the shepherds that keep the highs rolling in don't realize that they are part of a huge sham.

 

And I agree--religion would take a huge hit if indoctrination of minors were illegal. I can't imagine how underground this would go--we've already got homeschooling and the mixing of myth and science within the classroom to appease the religious folks. And they already feel so persecuted.

 

It would be terrifying for a parent to not be able to indoctrinate their child--they know that after the age of 18 all hope is lost for believing crap. The early formative years are very important.

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And Lilith I would love to rescue the Christians from their enslavement but I believe in most cases that is impossible. The theology is designed to keep someone trapped. The individual has to get to a point where they will listen to outsiders before you can help them. What would be great is if we would make it illegal to indoctrinate anybody under 18. That would kill

religion. But that would be impossible to implement.

 

I know it's impossible to save most people....I've tried and got very frustrated. But maybe a few would come around. And yeah, I'm pretty sure prohibiting indoctrination would be unconstitutional, as the courts would say parents have the right/obligation to instill values in their children.

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Reminds me of that movie "Jesus Camp", which I'd like to see.

 

Your wish is my command: http://topdocumentaryfilms.com/jesus-camp/

 

I want to post on this topic, but I need to get ready to go out, so will come back later and add my thoughts :)

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Reminds me of that movie "Jesus Camp", which I'd like to see.

 

Your wish is my command: http://topdocumentaryfilms.com/jesus-camp/

 

OMG! Thank you thank you thank you thank you thank you!!!! You just saved me from renting it on iTunes or waiting two weeks for another library to send it here. Thanks so much Pudd!

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Reminds me of that movie "Jesus Camp", which I'd like to see.

 

Your wish is my command: http://topdocumentar...com/jesus-camp/

 

I want to post on this topic, but I need to get ready to go out, so will come back later and add my thoughts smile.png

 

Okay, so I'm 7 minutes into Jesus Camp, and an obese woman is hurling criticisms at people about how they don't fast enough? I doubt this woman has missed a meal in her life, and has probably added a great many extra meals over the years. Blatant hypocrisy? Yup, that's the Christianity I remember all right.

 

After 11 minutes, I don't think I can finish watching this. Its creepiness is all too familiar to me, and I can't believe I used to be a part of this. Maybe I'll be able to come back to it and watch it a little at a time. Maybe.

 

<shudder>

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And Lilith I would love to rescue the Christians from their enslavement but I believe in most cases that is impossible. The theology is designed to keep someone trapped. The individual has to get to a point where they will listen to outsiders before you can help them. What would be great is if we would make it illegal to indoctrinate anybody under 18. That would kill

religion. But that would be impossible to implement.

 

I know it's impossible to save most people....I've tried and got very frustrated. But maybe a few would come around. And yeah, I'm pretty sure prohibiting indoctrination would be unconstitutional, as the courts would say parents have the right/obligation to instill values in their children.

 

If you want to work on one person then have them read all the bad parts of the Old Testament and think about what it means. However if you do that you will risk being seen as Satan. It's very risky. Reading the Bible is the way to break Christians free of their chains. Judges 19-21 is a great place to start. For the sake of two women who were victimized and killed thousands of innocent women and children were killed. Then hundreds of women were raped. And it was all done with the blessing of an all powerful, all knowing God. The kicker: the innocent people killed or raped by God's plan were Israelites - "God's chosen people". If God had the power then God could have stopped it at any point.

 

Have a Christian read that.

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Evangelizing of all kinds pisses me off.

 

I'd tell an atheist missionary to fuck off just as fast as a christian one.

 

Telling people what to think is a dickheaded move.

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I think it's natural, for many of us, when we realized the truth to see at as self evident (and it is), so we want to show it to the world. However, it only takes a couple attempts before we realize that the religious world doesn't care about evidence or fact. The only way to deconvert someone is to sow a couple seeds and hope they come to the right conclusion.

 

Because of this, many atheists end up feeling that it's useless to pursue christians and give up. I say our key is to be subtle. Plant seeds of doubt, but not be too forceful as that only results in angry backlash of faith. It may not seem like we're doing much, but that person may deconvert a couple years down the road because of us.

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As atheists, do we have a moral imperative to act?

 

No but maybe that is partially conditioned by self preservation. In a society largely religious atheists are one step behind satan. For me, I would be unemployed in short order if I "came out" or even openly questioned a fundy's assertions.

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Evangelizing of all kinds pisses me off.

 

I'd tell an atheist missionary to fuck off just as fast as a christian one.

 

Telling people what to think is a dickheaded move.

 

Luna your religion does not harm you, correct? Not every religion can say the same. I'm glad you have a religion you like but it isn't about you. There are some people where Christianity messes up their lives. It's wack. But showing somebody the evidence that Christianity is brainwashing them isn't telling them what to think. It's helping them on the natural path to get free.

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As atheists, do we have a moral imperative to act?

 

I personally dont think there is the need to actively do anything.

 

Although if you feel like doing something, one thing that has crossed my mind is to start a website, a blog or youtube videos. I found a number of Atheist sites such as godisimaginary helpful in my deconversion.

 

Dont know what things are like stateside but the trend here is for more secularism anyway.

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.. To preserve the relationship I have thrown in the towel. In short, he fails to provide answers to any of my (very valid but probably impossible to answer) questions..

 

Cousins husband, is not a close relative. you could tell him you are a "God hating" Atheist, contradiction in terms but language they understand :) and have done with it. At least this is being honest.

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there is no zealot stronger than the newly converted.

 

Nor one as dangerous.

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I dunno, I always kinda thought this site was the closest thing to that sort of ministry.

 

The truth is, I think humanists and atheists have the numbers, but not the concentration. There's plenty of us, but we're very spread out. There's what, one other person on this site that lives in the same state as me? We don't have many secular gatherings in the area either. The closest thing I have is a SSA group that meets at VCU on a campus downtown on days that I can't make it. Same with a naturalist group that meets at a restaurant each week. We don't have the flexibility Christians have where they can do ministry any day of the week.

 

Long-story short, we don't have the large-scale organization that's needed to pull something like that off. Not around where I live especially.

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...Campus ministry at the secular campus is more like a baby sitting service for Christian college students who dont' want to lose their faith, there's not much conversion going on. Those guys are pretty good at cutting their losses and knowing who their primary targets are who their targets are not. He probably considers you a thorn from God/Satan that he has to avoid in order to focus on his ministry.

 

Wow, you were "one of them", Chikirin! I love the babysitting analogy. My cousin's campus ministry is actually very aggressive, holding "Does God Exist?" debates, taking polls, and holding other proseltyzing events. They've even published their own books.

 

And yes, I am a thorn. I am the side of Christianity that Christians fear actually exists.

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Short answer, no.

 

An atheist simply has found no reason to believe in gods. It's not a belief system that one should feel compelled to convert the world to. I was actively drawn into religion, but I found my own way out, and I think that's how most people end up leaving; perhaps it's the only way. Confronting a believer usually puts them on the defensive, they insert their fingers firmly into their ears, and you wind up the bad person who is mad at God or just wants to sin.

I guess the best thing we can do is probe people to think, and to be there when it all comes crashing down for them.

 

I just feel like I want to spare someone the ordeals/years I went through. But looking back, it'd have done no good: I was hell-bent on "seeking God" and living life like a nutter.

 

Sigh.

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I say our key is to be subtle. Plant seeds of doubt, but not be too forceful as that only results in angry backlash of faith. It may not seem like we're doing much, but that person may deconvert a couple years down the road because of us.

Good point, good approach. I do this when my male Mormon students (for some reason) seek me out for discussion. I seem to be a Mormon magnet. They make me crazy but it's fun to ram sticks into their theological spokes. GONZ9729CustomImage1539775.gif

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Evangelizing of all kinds pisses me off.

 

I'd tell an atheist missionary to fuck off just as fast as a christian one.

 

Telling people what to think is a dickheaded move.

 

It seems to take a certain arrogance and/or compassion to give rise to the compulsion to evangelize (of any kind). Be it Amway, Melaleuca, Christianity, or atheism, being targeted for changing one's thinking (esp. on such a foundational thing as religion or epistemology or ontology) is belittling and requires arrogance on the part of the evangelizer.

 

Three cheers for epistemological, ontological and religious pluralism, then? beer.gif

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As atheists, do we have a moral imperative to act?

No but maybe that is partially conditioned by self preservation. In a society largely religious atheists are one step behind satan. For me, I would be unemployed in short order if I "came out" or even openly questioned a fundy's assertions.

Good point. We live in a relgiously deluded country--delusion is the norm. Sometimes it's best to keep one's head down!

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