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Death-Porn On The Playground PDF Print E-mail
Swift
Written by Brandon K. Thorp   

In the current issue of Harper's Magazine, you'll find a long article by Rachel Aviv entitled "Like I Was Jesus," subtitled "How to bring a nine-year-old to Christ."

In it, Aviv writes of infiltrating - and that's an ugly word, but apropos - a chapter of a group called the Child Evangelism Fellowship during the summer of 2008. The chapter comprised 40 young missionaries who "roamed the housing projects of Connecticut," accosting unsupervised young children and pressuring them to accept Jesus into their hearts.

According to Aviv: "The goal was salvation, but the missionaries rarely used that long word. They employed monosyllabic language and avoided abstract concepts and homonyms. ‘Holy' was a problem, the missionaries said, as children thought it meant ‘full of holes.' ‘Christ rose from the dead' was also tricky because children mistook the verb for a flower."

Once approached, kids tended to take the missionaries' claims seriously. Most converted on the spot. And then, only then, after the pitch had been made and the kids' lives were safely pledged to Jesus, did the missionaries seek to consult a parent. This was to obtain permission for the children to attend the afternoon Bible club that the missionaries would host all summer. A few parents said no. Most said yes. Many overworked and underpaid parents viewed the clubs as "free babysitting."

Overworked, underpaid parents are extremely good news if you're in the business of stealing kids' souls. If you are such a person, you will prefer latchkey kids who need as much "free babysitting" as they can get. They're easy marks, and you're easily pleased. They'll crave the solicitous attention of an elder; you, the soul-stealer, will dig the chance to upload your uncensored theology into the kids' uncritical brains without having to pass it through a parental filter.

When at rest, or while strategizing, Aviv's missionaries disagreed on how best to approach the children. Should Hell be soft-pedaled? Should damnation go unmentioned? Ultimately, most decided that it shouldn't. (The Fellowship's expeditionary leader, or whatever you want to call him, said: "Yes, we do have to make it clear that there's a punishment if they don't accept Jesus as their best friend.") And what about the story of Jesus' life? Should it be simplified? Many thought it should, though no one suggested editing out the crucifixion. The missionaries used, and presumably still use, a tool called the EvangeCube, which tells the story of Jesus in pictures. The crucifixion is included. It is not the most graphic depiction of the crucifixion you've ever seen - it certainly doesn't swoop to the Cthonian death-porn depths of The Passion - but it does show a nearly-naked man being murdered.

If that doesn't strike you as evil, consider how you would feel if your 8-year-old your carefree little 8-year-old came home from the playground newly washed in the Blood of the Lamb, saved without warning by a bunch of out-of-town Christians who hadn't bothered to ask your permission before showing your child images of a freshly-killed corpse. If your spleen twinges even a little at the thought, grab the magazine and take a read.

Really, do. It may be your last chance to read about the doings of these Christians, who have been doing their missionary work since 1937 and have done a remarkable job of flying below the radar of the secular press. Although the Fellowship is vast and international in scope, very few of its chapter heads would have anything to do with Rachel Aviv when they realized she wrote for a secular publication. (Naturally, they would have had fewer reservations about speaking to her children.) She was denied access to Fellowship groups in both New York and New Jersey, and the group that did open its doors to Aviv did so only because the Fellowship's Connecticut director, a 24-year-old idealist named Josh Guido (the same fellow who insisted the kids be told that there's a "punishment" for not accepting Jesus as their new best friend), worried that she'd been sent by the Lord. I suspect he regrets his decision already, and will assume that the next secular journalist to come knocking has been sent by someone else.

Aviv's story is shocking, virtuosic, and devastating. In cool, precise writing, through which one may detect Aviv's outrage seething beneath layers of craft, Aviv creates a piece of objective journalism that nevertheless reads like an indictment. She appears to have three central points: that the Fellowship is well aware that children have an instinctive belief in grownups' infallibility; that those who proselytize to children consciously exploit children's inability to think critically; and that it is an unofficial policy of those who evangelize to children to do so without parental supervision whenever possible. She notes that the group's founding by the minister Jesse Overholtzer was such a secret business that even his own parishioners didn't know he'd started ministering to their kids. She quotes Transforming Children into Spiritual Champions, by Fellowship fave George Barna, in which Barna writes that children between the ages of five and 12 are the most psychologically susceptible to proselytizing. And in vignette after vignette, she reveals how unformed are the minds of those targeted by the Fellowship, and how utterly unprepared they are to think critically about cosmic claims. (The Fellowship blithely illustrates the point with a Barna quote, reproduced by Aviv, in which Barna complains: "[...] subtle worldly philosophies have persuaded the majority of Christians that children cannot make a decision for Christ until they can ‘reason.'")

Consider this vignette, in which Aviv visits three fresh converts after the missionaries have left town:

When I asked the three boys if they could imagine the world if God had never existed, they got lost in a mess of apocalyptic plot details.

"The world would be crappy," said Scott, under his breath.

"No one would be living," added Lamar. "We wouldn't be here."

"The dinosaurs would still be killing us!" Jamal said.

"No," Lamar corrected him, "there wouldn't be any dinosaurs. God wouldn't have ever created dinosaurs, because He wouldn't be here."

Jamal looked around the park. His eyes darting, he pulled a clump of grass from the ground. "True, true. The tree wouldn't be right here. There wouldn't be grass. We'd probably be beat up by a lot of people and never die."

"How can we be beat up when we're not even alive anymore? We wouldn't be thinking. We wouldn't even know what's happening."

"We would be in the caves, tortured," said Jamal, as if he hadn't yet processed his older brother's words.

"We wouldn't be alive!" insisted Lamar.

Scott, who had been quiet throughout the conversation, suddenly perked up. "Mary. Mary would be there."

"Who's Mary?" Jamal asked.

"God's mom."

"Oh yeah," Lamar said. "Then she would have created us. God's mom."

With the possible exception of Lamar, none of these boys are obviously competent to make binding contracts extending even to the temporal and corporeal world, never mind to a hypothetical, eternal, incorporeal one. They are immature minds, and the Fellowship knows it. "The Muslims understand the importance of youth," says Josh Guido in the story. "So did the Communists."

I predict that most non-Evangelicals will feel a rare and restless anger skittering around their intestines when they see such words, as though they're reading a tale of organized and legally-sanctioned child molesters prowling the playgrounds of the northeast. And depending on how you define "molestation," they are. There are all kinds of differences between Josh Guido and the Communists and Muslims he mentions, but they are not particularly salient. What is at issue is not ideology, or even theology, but the obvious truth that humanity's capacity for critical thought is among the species' greatest virtues, and that those who seek to short-circuit that capacity in children are criminals in fact, if not in court.

______

Postscript: I went to the Fellowship's for-kids website, WonderZone.com, and registered. Once registered, I was able to play a game called "The ‘Why I Believe Jesus Is Alive' Adventure." In the game, I followed a cartoon news correspondent, "Dan Lather," through ancient Jerusalem, seeking to prove that Jesus had risen from the dead. (During this adventure, Lather routinely interrupted me with an invitation to play Tic-Tac-Toe and other games, perhaps fearing that all of this Jesus stuff was over-taxing my attention span.) Before I could prove that Jesus had risen, I had to prove that he'd died. To do so, I spoke with some Roman soldiers. They had this to say:

Of course he was dead! We beat him with whips. This whip had glass, metal, and bone on the ends. It's very painful. Then we beat him with our fists. We beat him so badly he was hardly recognizable.

Gruesome, no? The Roman soldiers then went on to discuss other horrors - the crown of thorns, the nailing to the cross, the stabbing with the spear, etc - in equal detail. Through all of this, I was logged in as a seven-year-old.

 

 

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written by Squid, August 07, 2009
Catch them young when they're vulnerable... that's the way.

I was a projectionist at a theater when "Passion of the Christ" was released. The very same people who, less than a month earlier, were screaming at us because some under 17 year old kids snuck into a R rated film were again screaming at us because they wanted to take their children, of all ages, including babies, to see "Passion". (If you haven't seen "POTC" it could easily qualify as slasher porn. It's brutal and very realistic. I've seen movie makeup artists throw up from the depictions on the screen, even though they know it's fake and could do that work themselves.) We were told by our corporate offices that we had to let them in.

One set of standards for evangelical groups, but woe to you if you try and have their standards for yourself.

Squid
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Wha...?
written by CelticGoddess1326, August 07, 2009
Words just fail me at how awful this is. As a public school teacher, I am simply appalled by this infiltration of children without their parents' consent. I don't have kids, but as a person capable of being a parent, I question the legality and morality of this practice - I can't correct gross teenage misconceptions about sex in my classroom for fear of igniting parental outrage (which ends up causing more teen pregnancies because they can't separate fact from fiction and I can't help), but any yahoo can proslytize to BABIES!?!

Speaking of which, I grew up in Chicago in the '80s, and my parents always taught me not to speak to strangers. Whatever happened to that?
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written by Lahurongirl, August 07, 2009
Can someone please give some insight as to what the heck the post above mine is about? I have seen it before. I don't get it?!
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written by Noadi, August 07, 2009
Lahurongirl: He's a troll. I'm fairly sure he's one who has been banned before here and on several other skeptical sites. Name is different but text is almost exact. Ignore him
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written by daveg703, August 07, 2009
Things-To-Do-Today for Jeff:
First: Please eradicate the troll's comments, so the rest don't have to be annoyed by them. It's really like cleaning up road apples after the mounted team passes by.
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written by Bruno, August 07, 2009
Overworked, underpaid parents are extremely good news if you're in the business of stealing kids' souls. If you are such a person, you will prefer latchkey kids who need as much "free babysitting" as they can get. They're easy marks, and you're easily pleased. They'll crave the solicitous attention of an elder;

A fact very well known and understood by paedophiles (regardless of whether they're of the child-molester or child-lover variety). Interesting to see religious nutters fishing in the same pond using the same net. Says it all, doesn't it?
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Child Abuse
written by Michael K Gray, August 07, 2009
This egregious child abuse is sickeningly obscene.
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Troll is putting it mildly
written by epok205, August 07, 2009
The guy that posted that low brow and rude comment twice is from the SCEPCOP forum. They have posted on their site that its members should post that on our forums.
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written by MadScientist, August 08, 2009
Whoa - does the censorship board know about those games for minors?

My neighbor's kid did come home from school one day and she was very upset. "Why did they kill jesus?" she asked. So I took the time to explain that some people tell nasty stories and believe they're true.
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Tone of Article, Lowly rated comment [Show]
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written by NewCoaster, August 08, 2009
This is child abuse, plain and simple.
I recently rented "Jesus Camp" and had a similar sick feeling about the death cult indoctrination of innocent little kids.
Is this not illegal under some stature, somewhere?
It's interesting that this group has kept itself so low-key and under the radar, as if they know on some level that what they are doing is wrong.

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written by NewCoaster, August 08, 2009
"statute" not "stature"
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written by Ruxias, August 08, 2009
Good article, Brandon. And I must say, that is some impressive reporting on the part of Rachel Aviv. Truly grotesque how they use children's lack of questioning to convert them so easily.

About the troll from SCEPCOP:
Out of curiosity I went to the link he posted. It is a jumbled mess of embedded video content, with little or no formatting, and tucked between the videos are short one-liners obviously written by someone who is consumed by hate for anyone who is slightly different from them. Some of the videos are even music videos - WTF?

Looking around the SCEPCOP site I found this incredibly laughable statement:
"First of all, just because something hasn't been proven and established in mainstream science doesn't mean it doesn't exist or isn't true. If it did, then nothing would exist until proven or discovered. Bacteria and germs would never have caused illnesses until they were proven and discovered, smoking would not cause cancer until it was proven, the planet Pluto would not have existed until it was discovered, etc."
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Oh, man...
written by Brookston John, August 08, 2009
Now, correct me if I'm wrong, but if I were to descend on a playground with a picture book depicting various acts of sexual intercourse and I wanted to show it and talk about it to the kiddies, or if I wanted to hand out hits of LSD, there wouldn't be enough of my body left to arrest after the parents got done with me.

But let me bring the same style of visual material about the alleged "life" of a fictitious character and his "daddy" the Bronze-Age Hebrew war-gawd, and that's just okie-dokie?

People are just so gullible. I have an acquaintance on a social network site who posted a link to a story about a man looking into the coffin of his infant son before the funeral and discovering the boy was still alive. He (my correspondent) called it a "miracle". I called it a botched medical examination. He criticizes me because my "worldview won't allow for any other possibility". I asked him how my "worldview" was any more narrower than his. I do not accept the possibility of a supernatural "miracle", he will not accept the possibility of anything BUT the supernatural.

I wonder how much Saatchi and Saatchi would want to market "The Baloney Detection Kit", because it's sure not in as many hands as it needs to be....
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8 year old = not so young, Lowly rated comment [Show]
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written by Alencon, August 08, 2009
Disturbing, but not surprising.

Celsus, in the 2nd Century, complained that "...Christians sought out uneducated and gullible people because they were unable to give reason or arguments for their beliefs."

Religion, as well as political extremists, have always targeted the young, the ignorant and the frightened. Wasn't it Lenin that said something to the effect of "...give me a child until he is five and after that you can have him because he's mine."

I am sort of surprised they're not breaking some sort of law. Then again, American society will tolerate a great deal if it's done in the name of religion, including the molestation of children.
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Doesn't sound like Vacation Bible School to me, Lowly rated comment [Show]
Somebody want to buy shawntr a Baloney Detection Kit?
written by Brookston John, August 09, 2009
They really could use one.

Next time you're talking to some of those "kindest, nicest" christian people, just for grins and giggles, let it work it's way into the conversation that you don't believe the bible is the un-errrant word of gawd. Oh, and by the way, tell 'em you're Gay, too.

Bet they change their tune in a HUGE hurry.
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Word, Alencon...
written by Brookston John, August 09, 2009
"Then again, American society will tolerate a great deal if it's done in the name of religion, including the molestation of children."

America gives christianity a free pass, why, I can not fathom. It puzzles the hell out me. It scares me, too. Because if somebody can get away with advocating the "annihilation" of Atheists, how long before people who think that's a grand idea get into positions of power?
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The next time ...
written by Zen66, August 09, 2009
someone says 'Militant Atheist' I'm going to punch them in the face. It wont help to change their minds, it may even reinforce the notion. It will make me feel better. Ok, no I wont. Know why? Because I know better.

If I've said it once, I've said it a million times: religious people have no moral center. Its got to be a genetic disorder. They need a god to give them the pretense of morality. The real question then is how do you fight that? And how do we fight it within a society that permits this kind of psychotic behavior?

And if you are a religious person yourself, how do you not stand up to this? Is this alright by you? Did you, Mr. Hal Bidlack, really feel singled out at the last TAM? Do you think atheists would even attempt something like this? Militant atheism my rear end! We aren't militant enough. And the casual believer is complicit in this. Don't think so? Then prove me wrong, 'cause there are more of you than there are of us. Do something about this, demand something be done, don't except this extreme fundamentalism. YOU have let this go for too long. Every day you have this laissez-faire attitude about god is another day the nuts will take one more step away from sanity.
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written by Holey Cow, August 09, 2009
I'm gonna have to stand by clray; 8 is not that young. I was a fanatical little believer when I was 6, but that quickly waned in the few years after.

Also, quoted for win:
‘Holy' was a problem, the missionaries said, as children thought it meant ‘full of holes.'

Seems to me kids have a good intuition about the nature of holy books smilies/wink.gif
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No baloney detection kit needed for me
written by shawntr, August 09, 2009
Brookston John -- I am correct in saying I've met plenty of fine, nice Christian people. I do not claim I have a representative sample. If you think Christians are the only people who oppose homosexuality, you've got a lot to learn about the world.
Zen66-- "If I've said it once, I've said it a million times: religious people have no moral center."
If you ever want to sell points this is not the way to do it. Morality is only as good as it is practiced for any person. There is a columnist WorldNetDaily named Vox Day who makes claims that atheists have "social autism." This is the same slander you are shoveling but it has a different target. I do not believe his claims or yours. I look at individuals.
It is a fact that the Christian religion is centered around the death/resurrection or Jesus. It would be correct for them to demonstrate that if they were teaching about their religion. Incidentally, I have not seen the Passion of the Christ but I've seen some of the passion scenes. The intent of the filmmaker Gibson was to portray an accurate crucifixion. I suppose they are bloody and awful.
Do you consider Saving Private Ryan death porn? How about Kill Bill? How about Schindler's List or the Killing Fields? Let's face it: "Death porn" and "child abuse" are just slander terms aimed at Christians.
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Shawntr
written by bkthorp, August 09, 2009
Greetings.

Thank you for writing. I am curious about your statements about both homosexuality and R-rated films.

Obviously, many non-Christians dislike homosexuals. (Here's a great example of non-Christian gay-bashery: http://www.indymedia.be/node/25698) But relatively few non-religious people share that dislike, and even those non-believers who do feel an automatic twinge of revulsion at the thought of two men getting it on tend to grok that their antipathies rightly lose their dictatorial clout beyond their own bedroom walls. Religious people often lack that understanding. If God is everywhere, and if God sees everything, then it is pointless to mind one's own business. Clearing your neighbor's bedroom of sin is a charitable act: better you than God. If God gets stuck with the job, he'll be pissed. My question to you is this: Can you think of a non-religious justification for the stigmatization of gay people?

And surely you understand the difference between Kill Bill and the Crucifixion -- not that I'd want my eight-year-old to see either, least of all without my consent and at the urging of a stranger. But even if there were some Tarantinan Evangelists stalking the streets of Fort Lauderdale, showing Kill Bill to impressionable little kids, they would not emphasize that Lucy Liu had to die because my child's sins. This is a big deal with the Child Evangelism Fellowship:
kids have to know that it was their sin that mandated Jesus' death. Now, my question to you is this: In any context other than a religious one, would you allow me to lay a guilt trip on your child?

Thank you,
- BKT
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Oh, my mistake...
written by Brookston John, August 09, 2009
OK, shawntr, forget the reference to homosexuality, since you keyed in on that and ignored the rest of the scenario. Put the "gay question" out of your head. Good.

Now... Let's consider the FIRST part of my statement, the one you IGNORED.

Do you have any ideas on how, if at all, the demeanor of these nice, kind christian folk you know would change if you told them that you didn't consider the bible the un-errant word of gawd?

Yeah, I know some really nice people who claim to be christians, too. They usually go for a mega-jeebus superstore style of worship that's all about the FEEL GOOD stuff in the bible, and not much said about Deuteronomy, Leviticus, Revelations, etc. Most of them never heard the story of Jepthah. They're still nice people.
On the OTHER hand, we have our ultra-Calvinist, Dominionists, Reconstructionists, and the rest who really get their rocks off reading about armies in the air and flaming swords 100-year tribulations and "taking America back for Christ".
These are not nice people.

And whether they're nice people or not, I really could care less, I still don't want them out on the playground playing with the kid's heads. That's really dishonest, indeed, it is a form of molestation..
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That's 1000-year tribulation...
written by Brookston John, August 09, 2009
100 years, 1000 years, a MILLION years. What does it matter? It's not going to happen anyway.
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written by shawntr, August 09, 2009
BKThorp-- "In any context other than a religious one, would you allow me to lay a guilt trip on your child?"

BrookstonJohn-- "Do you have any ideas on how, if at all, the demeanor of these nice, kind christian folk you know would change if you told them that you didn't consider the bible the un-errant word of gawd?"

I think I can answer both of these questions. Let me first state that my upbringing was in a church where the pastors took liberal positions. One of them was in the March on Washington in the 1960s. Another writes Bush-bashing letters to the local paper. I believe it is called neo-orthodoxy.
One of the positions approved of by Luther from what I remember reading in college was that children were not to be taught about apocalypse, hell or any of that until they had reached the age where they could understand the concept of sin. I think it was in a three-volume book called What Luther Says. It had his opinions categorized by subject.
So
Bkthorp you would be right in keeping your kids away from the people in the housing projects telling this stuff, just like you would be right in keeping your kids away from the kitchen chemicals. I think it would be wrong though to shield them from the story of the crucifixion and resurrection. How else would they know what Christian believe if they ask? Of course, another part of the Protestant tradition is that the crosses themselves do not have a body on it in the churches or on jewelry. I forgot why. Maybe it is because Protestants don't have many icons or statues. But I certainly don't believe it is death-porn since it is made to commemorate the death of Jesus rather than to evoke sexual arousal.
And
BrookstonJohn-- I don’t specifically know what would happen if I told the Christians and other religious people I was referring to if I was gay. I believe one of them would disapprove of it to me vocally like she did when I was a drinker. But I'm not gay so I don't know. I am referring to the times when I've needed a hand or needed rides when I was young or when they would come over to my family’s house and treat me kindly. The church I went to a lot and the ELCA in general I believe follows the statement of Christ when he said something like "Love God and with all your heart, mind and body and do unto others as you would have them, do unto you. On those two commands hang the entire law and the prophets." That would be the entire Biblical justification for religious liberalism. Sam Harris is wrong when he says there is nothing in the scriptures that justifies liberalism in the Letter to a Christian Nation (I'm going by memory).
I also have met many people who claim to be atheists, now that I am older. They are fine, kind and law abiding too and I am glad to call them my friends.
I believe I have been wordy enough and will not leave another comment. Feel free to comment though. Good luck to the both of you.
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and
written by shawntr, August 09, 2009
There is no religious justification for stigmatizing anybody from what I've read in the texts. Brookston John asked me what the religious people would do if I told them I was gay. I'm just guessing. I'm not gay and I don;t know a gay person that has spoken to the religious people I know.
For a clear answer, Andrew Sullivan is a gay Christian and has debated Sam Harris. Look him up if you want a better view.
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I think I wandered off by rambling.
written by shawntr, August 09, 2009
So I guess it's not the last post.
bkthorp -- no I would not want you to lay guilt on my child specifically for the death of Christ. I would lay a guilt trip on my child if he or she swore at or taunted other children, damaged property, stole or did anything like that that kids would do for fun.
Brookston John-- I have told one of the people I am thinking about as a fine example of a nice, kind religious person that she was kidding herself if she thought the Bible was inerrant. I think she told me I was being smug because of my tone.
I still get that way when I correct others. However, she is still a kind, nice and generous person.
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SUFFER THE LITTLE CHILDREN TO COME UNTO ME
written by RicW, August 09, 2009
smilies/angry.gif The Jesuits got there first. "Give me a boy until he is 11 and I will give you the man" smilies/angry.gif
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shawntr...
written by Brookston John, August 10, 2009
Still hung up on that "Gay angle", I see...
2 declarations of your "straightness" (I could give a crap who you sleep with, I really could give a crap, so enough with that, OK?)

And an almost-afterthought response to my other question.

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So... we're all 'pseudo-skeptics' here then?
written by metzomagic, August 10, 2009
Just checked out that SCEPCOP site and, oh my, is there a massive amount of hate directed from there to here.

One wonders what we collectively need to do to become 'true' critical thinkers rather than your garden variety 'pseudo' critical thinker? I suspect that even it was possible obtain a degree in critical thinking, that it wouldn't be enough to satisfy that lot.

A proposition that I would like to put to the SCEPCOP woo-woo merchants: how about presenting some concrete/verifiable evidence of paranormal activity? Rather than expending all that effort writing page upon page of vitriolic drivel, wouldn't your energy be better spent on something productive? Something that might make us 'pseudo-skeptics' sit up and take notice?

But of course... you can't produce any such evidence, can you? If you could, it would have happened years ago. Why is it that no 'psychic' with a public profile has ever stepped up to the JREF million dollar challenge? Could it possibly be that they themselves know it's all bunk, and that failing the challenge would put them out of business?

Apologies in advance for feeding the trolls.
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Get them young
written by nelson650, August 10, 2009
The same method used by Al Gore's minions, forcing kids to watch "An Inconveient Truth", no?
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Shawntr...and anyone who missed my point
written by Zen66, August 10, 2009
Vox Day be damned, if he/she could be, especially since 'atheist autism' doesn't mean anything beyond a lame attempt at insult. Same goes for my saying that religious people have no moral center is a genetic disorder, however hyperbolic I meant it to sound.

As for religious people having no moral center, that I stand by. They may have had the capacity for moralizing, just as they probably had the ability to rationalize or think critically, but it has become so beaten down it doesn't seem to exist in them anymore. Its my opinion and I think its a topic worth discussing.

We can argue about this on another post, I do think it deserves a deeper discussion. For this article though I only make the point in order to ask the question: Where are the casually religious on this? Where are the people who continually tell me the bible is open to interpretation? Am I to assume that ALL interpretations are A-Ok? Instead of a few 'militant atheists' arguing for a law against this sort of child molestation, how about a community of live-and-let-live quasi-dogmatists standing up to the fundamentalists? There must be some christmas mass only attendees willing to yell from the rafters. What say you? Is this victimization by your standards? Yes, no. If so then how do you plan to fight this, because us atheists can't do it alone (Hell we can't even run for office in most states!). Just for the record I don't want you to become an atheist! Keep your religion, please. If it keeps you moral as you claim, if it makes you happy then fine. But if it does give you the ability to distinguish true good from true evil, if it fills your heart with righteousness and good will toward all then when are you going to decide how far over that line you stand? Because others are defining you right now. Their radical agenda is out shouting your silence.

As an atheist I really don't care what, if any, deity you pray to so long as you do no harm to others and leave this world better then when you came into it. Isn't that enough common ground to stand on when we see injustice? Especially so when that injustice is done in your name, under your silent permission. Haven't the radicals like Vox Day and Fred Phelps driven the wedges deep enough? How radical is too radical for you regular folks? Because they say god made me do it, is that all it takes for you to look away?

"Selling points" that the best discussion you got. I make no selling points because I ain't selling anything. Also fyi, I have seen Vox Day referred to as 'he' but I don't care. I say 'prove it'. Show me a birth certificate! - that's a joke to see how sidetracked you get.
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More ad hominems,
written by shawntr, August 10, 2009
Reading boards on the different websites I do leads me to believe that everyone has their own ideological side. People sell their points by stating them and backing them up with evidence. I am sure you could find people who claim religion but have no moral center. I am sure you could also find people who calim atheism, secularism, humanism etc. I am sure people are trying to sell their beliefs all the time. If no one at the JREF was tring to sell or persuade me of the naturalsit worldview, I would be at a loss to explain why they are even around or why there are even chat boards.
Another thing I see on the boards is that people throw slanders at others. If I call call the crucxifixion death-porn, I am inserting some sort of gory sexual context which is not present in the story. If I say that telling this story to children is some sort of "molestation" I am further attaching sexual slanders.
Brookston says I mentioned I wasn't gay twice. I was just writing from a train of though to his question. I suppose I should have read my previous post first to avoid redundancy. Maybe I also shouldn't have speculated so much about the homsexual issue that he brought up and just given the succinct answer I could with his Bible-inerrancy question. But that having been said... I didn't bring up sexuality and I haven't used sex terms to denegrate people who don't yet have my beliefs.
Zen66--I think what you've done is what Glenn Beck and Rush Limbaugh does with liberals -- they finds a few people he doesn't like and presents it as the norm. You can stand by your error of religious people having no moral center and say it a million times but let's be accurate-- some of them have morals you don't like. I learned about univesral statements in fifth grade and I'm sure that if I were to say "ALL religious people have no moral center (the billions of them that exist on the planet)" I would be just as silly as if I said "Atheists wear bad suits," a claim that I did actually see. I'm sure I could always find a few example but to say it is regular is false.
If you go around and tell people they have mind viruses and genetic disorders they probably will tell you to go to hell. Be prepared for "mental abuse" or whatever claim you are preparing to level.
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Usage
written by bkthorp, August 10, 2009
Shawntr:

If I call call the crucxifixion death-porn, I am inserting some sort of gory sexual context which is not present in the story. If I say that telling this story to children is some sort of "molestation" I am further attaching sexual slanders.


Quick note on terminology. I didn't use the phrase "death-porn" in any intentionally sexual context. I meant "porn" in the broader sense -- porn as a lurid thing, or as a thing that transgresses the ordinary boundaries of social decorum. To reproduce an image of a person in a vulnerable, ordinarily private moment, such as death, and to broadcast that image widely -- that is pornographic. I do not mean to suggest that these Christians are popping wood while looking at a crucifix, and I honestly didn't expect any readers to draw that meaning from it, either.

Similarly, "molest" does not strictly mean sexual molestation. To molest could also be to interfere with a person -- especially to interfere with the ordinary course of their development. A less odious usage involves annoying interruptions: to be molested by a salesman, or by a police officer. There is not necessarily a sexual connotation -- merely the connotation of violated space.

I hope this clears things up.

Regards,
- BKT
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No problem
written by shawntr, August 10, 2009
I appreciate the JREF and its contributions to the investigations of paranormal claims. I know many people have good reason to be anti-reigious. I just prefer tighter use of language. Maybe "Grand Guignol" would be appropriate. I certainly don't mean to attack people personally. When I see an claim made that looks outlandish in it's possiblities (paranormal), it's insinuations (ideology rhetoric like "Liberals are...", "Religious people are...") or it's language (porn, molestaion, etc.), then my own baloney detection kit goes into action. I'll probably buy Shermer's too rather than just watch the RDF video.
Speaking of which, Shermer is a fine salesman for the naturalist point of view and one of the world's fine men like Randi is on both counts. It can be done.
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The First Amendment
written by Erik, August 10, 2009
I believe that the first amendment protects the right of these evangelists to say and publish what they want within very broad limits. The answer to this stupid and offensive speech is not to ban it, but to add to the discussion and let children decide for themselves.
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Oh.. the end is near
written by Chicken Coop Plans, August 15, 2009
this is so very.. cool. smilies/cheesy.gif
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