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"Have friends who are atheists? Agnostics? Into Wicca? Or New Age?"
April 8, 2011 8:47 AM   Subscribe

Dare 2 Share Ministries offers profiles and tips on how to "share your faith" with fourteen different types of friends a teen Christian might have, such as Andy the Atheist, Marty the Mormon, Jenna the Jew, Sid the Satanist, Mo the Muslim and Willow the Wiccan. If none of those strategies work, they also offer articles on how to "use the buzz in current teen culture to initiate God-talk with your friends" by "sharing your faith" through Indiana Jones, Halo 3, Brokeback Mountain, Kung Fu Panda and The X Files.
posted by jardinier (299 comments total) 30 users marked this as a favorite

 
If you didn't bring enough faith for everybody, don't get it out.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 8:51 AM on April 8, 2011 [18 favorites]


Willow the Wiccan? Someone just outed themselves as a Buffy fan.
posted by the bricabrac man at 8:51 AM on April 8, 2011 [45 favorites]


If only all my friends were this black & white. Then it would be so much easier to deal with them.
posted by chavenet at 8:52 AM on April 8, 2011 [3 favorites]


Whether Willow knows it or not, she is in the grips of Satan, so like Sid the Satanist, be sure and cover your relationship and conversations with her in a ton of prayer.

Dear Woman. . .
posted by Danf at 8:53 AM on April 8, 2011 [6 favorites]


The entry for Andy the Athiest says, essentially, "we got nothin'".
posted by Legomancer at 8:53 AM on April 8, 2011 [65 favorites]


Hm. I only read the Andy the Atheist page, but... it was actually pretty well done. A more or less accurate description of atheism, without any particular judgment or criticism, and decent advice for how to share faith with someone who is an atheist. Mostly based on not trying to argue against rationality, but rather to live well and share your experience with faith.

As an atheist, I would be well pleased if Christians followed this advice when dealing with atheists. Very respectful and, well... reasonable!
posted by gilrain at 8:54 AM on April 8, 2011 [91 favorites]


The tips are actually way more tolerant and thoughtful than I was expecting them to be, honestly. There's a respectful attempt to understand and explain how and why people believe things that I haven't often seen in the conversion literature I've been exposed to.
posted by titus n. owl at 8:54 AM on April 8, 2011 [10 favorites]


Gilrain is clearly in the grips of Satan. And it's a Kung Fu grip.
posted by spicynuts at 8:55 AM on April 8, 2011 [1 favorite]


The tips are actually way more tolerant and thoughtful than I was expecting them to be, honestly.

I thought the same. OTOH, they think satanists really exist.
posted by DU at 8:55 AM on April 8, 2011 [14 favorites]


They think it's more likely that this Christian kid they're writing to is friend with a Satanist than with a gay kid? Why is "Ryan the Religious" even needed?
posted by ego at 8:57 AM on April 8, 2011


Andy the Atheist

They found me, I don't know how, but they found me.
posted by IvoShandor at 8:58 AM on April 8, 2011 [2 favorites]


ego: "Why is "Ryan the Religious" even needed?"

"How's your walk?"

Accountability to each other is a big part of the Christianity I've been exposed to.
posted by gilrain at 8:58 AM on April 8, 2011 [2 favorites]


I guess they've just given up on the Bahais and the Zoroastrians. Shame; they'd have been great for the softball team.
posted by not_on_display at 8:59 AM on April 8, 2011 [7 favorites]


the bricabrac man: "Willow the Wiccan? Someone just outed themselves as a Buffy fan."

Even better:
Like Tara the Typical, Willow is extremely sensitive toward anything that sounds intolerant and/or judgmental, so approach with extreme caution!
posted by specialagentwebb at 8:59 AM on April 8, 2011 [8 favorites]


"they think satanists really exist"

DU - well, they do. There are scholars in the New Religious Movement field who do work on contemporary religious Satanism.
posted by jardinier at 9:00 AM on April 8, 2011


The tips are actually way more tolerant and thoughtful than I was expecting them to be, honestly.

I agreed with you till I got to this part on Jenna the Jew:

"Your main goal is not to persuade Jenna that Jesus is the Messiah - it is a means to an end, and that end is that she needs to see that she fails to keep God's Law. It is not good enough for her to do her best; God requires perfection, so you need to get Jenna to the point where she knows that God will not overlook her failures or forgive her on the basis of their mitzvot (good deeds). Show her that God requires the shedding of blood for the forgiveness of sin (Leviticus 17:11; cf. 16:15-17, 27, 30), which was why the Messiah (Jesus) came to earth 2000 years ago. "

That pisses me off a lot. And it's also a little creepy.
posted by leesh at 9:00 AM on April 8, 2011 [40 favorites]


This is a lot more even-keeled than most of the evangelical materiel flogged to attention by non-religious netizens. It's almost as if the author's intent was to educate young Christians on how to engage with people about philosophy without irretrievably pissing them off within the first five minutes.

If I were ever to foist a pack of damned dirty lies on people, I would hope to do with the sensitivity and care demonstrated here.
posted by Construction Concern at 9:01 AM on April 8, 2011 [24 favorites]


'Youth services always find a way to get a cross into your druggy teenage life.'

I was a Satanist for a bit. The 'enlightened self-interest' kind. I didn't take it too seriously or believe in any supernatural aspects.
I do remember talking about the X-Files with my Catholic best friend, since Scully was Catholic. Both Scully and my best friend claimed saints bodies didn't decay.
She also said I was going to Hell but I was a good boyfriend. It was sweet, and I'm not being sarcastic.
posted by Lovecraft In Brooklyn at 9:01 AM on April 8, 2011 [5 favorites]


Christian Discover Marketing. News at 11.

I've met people who are Baha'i and Wiccans. It would be interesting to meet a Satanist.
posted by theora55 at 9:02 AM on April 8, 2011


What about Xerxes the Zoroastrian? Barry the Bahá'í? Eustace the Unitarian?
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 9:02 AM on April 8, 2011 [8 favorites]


Gary the Gnu was well done, too.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 9:02 AM on April 8, 2011 [2 favorites]


Basic Description

Buddhism is an Eastern religion which revolves primarily about suffering.


Bad grammar and shaky theology...not a good start.

Later on....Ultimately, you want to get the conversation to the point of sharing the gospel, so don't get too sidetracked with confusing Buddhist beliefs.

Well, I suppose that is pretty good advice for Carrie the Christian!
posted by kozad at 9:03 AM on April 8, 2011 [4 favorites]


The first thing you need to ask an atheist is "do you really seek to discover the truth - even if it costs you your reputation, and even your friends?" If the answer is no, then realize that he/she is not willing to go where the evidence leads; you won't be having an honest intellectual dialogue, but your conversation may still have a spiritual impact.

Pot. Kettle. Black.
posted by three blind mice at 9:04 AM on April 8, 2011 [75 favorites]


This is a lot better than the Chick tracts that got shoved at me when I was in college. Still, it's kind of hard to talk respectfully to someone when you're doing it to try to undermine their worldview. "I really respect you except the foundation of your thinking is totally fucked."
posted by immlass at 9:04 AM on April 8, 2011 [12 favorites]


Didn't read them all, but was impressed with the restraint and the urging to --above all-- first listen when dealing with your Muslim brethren, and value the friendship between you as a preliminary to the proselytizing. Now if they could just get rid of the proselytizing. Of course...
"...be sensitive to the fact that if he rejects Islam, his family and culture will reject and perhaps even plot to kill him. "
....it wouldn't be Christian without some wacky. It'll be ok if they kill him after he's saved, though. All square, in Allah's God's eyes.
posted by umberto at 9:04 AM on April 8, 2011 [3 favorites]


". . .when he is being really sarcastic, refers to Jebus (a sarcastic reference to Christ)."

Heh.
posted by HabeasCorpus at 9:04 AM on April 8, 2011 [4 favorites]


The Athiest entry reminded me, at one point, of a turn of phrase from Dave Barry.
posted by Wolfdog at 9:04 AM on April 8, 2011


People's responses to this post can go in many directions. Here is one path I would like to point out it is possible to follow.

From the page about atheism: "Bottom line...you cannot argue someone to faith in Christ, but you can (and should) live such a Christlike life that those around you sense something different, which opens the door for you to explain the 'evidence'. "

Evangelical Christians--especially those who live in areas where evangelical Christianity constitutes a dominate, normative subculture--can be just as heavy-handed and prone to poor judgment as anyone.

But I hope you can imagine a person who earnestly believes a dear friend is in eternal danger, seeking desperately to find some life-line to help that friend. I don't think there is anything the least bit hateful or mean-spirited about these materials. Yes, they are simplistic. Yes, they participate in the fallacy of reducing people to dogmatic, monolithic beliefs. Yes, they presuppose that every worldview only has an existence as a reaction to Christianity. Yes, all of those realities are terribly problematic.

But please temper your reaction with the awareness that, by attempting to "personalize" worldviews through depiction as individual people, the arguments are appealing to one individual's love for another individual.

Mutual Communication fosters better mutual understanding than reference to any third party "explanation" of what one individual believes. Hopefully these pages could help start those conversations. A long-ago version of me, for one, learned much about the beauty of Judaism and the internal coherence of atheism by attempting to covert Jewish and atheist friends in much the same way. I listened to their responses not perfunctorily, but with intent to understand them. I was the one ultimately changed by my conversations.

Perhaps the authors of these materials hope the teen Christians who read their won't actually listen with an ear toward being changed themselves. But I but the love for a friend that would seek out something like this is love that would end up changing both people for the better.

Please endeavor to see love here and not hate.
posted by jefficator at 9:04 AM on April 8, 2011 [20 favorites]


Like titus, I'm surprised at how ... balanced their description of others' faith or non-faith is. I mean, a lot of evangelicals would just lump Wiccans, Atheists, and others into "Satanist" for purposes of their own world-view.

One of my atheist high-school friends -- seriously, he worked together with Ann Gaylor of the Freedom From Religion Foundation -- went through an epiphany with this girl who said, roughly, "How can you criticize Christianity if you don't know anything about it?" which got him to go with her to Bible study class (using one of those modern translations). He eventually became a full-on non-denominational Jesus-something-or-other. (Of course, he's in the Air Force, notoriously a hotbed for that sort of thing.)

I was instantly reminded of him watching Four Lions, the "jihad satire" by Chris Morris, which includes a character named Barry -- a BNP Muslim-basher who picked up a Koran to out-argue his victims, and "accidentally converted himself" according to the DVD commentary.
posted by dhartung at 9:05 AM on April 8, 2011 [1 favorite]


I know satanists. They don't believe in Satan. Also animal (and human!) sacrifices - not so much.
posted by Devonian at 9:06 AM on April 8, 2011 [7 favorites]


be sure and cover your relationship and conversations with her in a ton of prayer.

gross gross gross gross gross
posted by Greg Nog at 9:06 AM on April 8, 2011 [7 favorites]


It's Raining Florence Henderson: Gary the Gnu was well done, too.

I was always partial to Clever Camel.
posted by ego at 9:07 AM on April 8, 2011 [1 favorite]


Polly the Pastafarian? Trent the Tarvuist? Jeremy the Jedi?
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 9:07 AM on April 8, 2011 [4 favorites]


I thought some of the claims made about atheism were a bit off.

"Bottom line with an atheist (or anyone else for that matter) - you cannot argue someone to faith in Christ, but you can (and should) live such a Christlike life that those around you sense something different, which opens the door for you to explain the 'evidence'."

They should have just left it at this.

lesh: This is one of the reasons why I don't buy the idea of "Judeo-Christian" because it's obvious to me both that Judaic thought has some radically different ideas about these issues, and that most Christians don't do more than pay lip-service to learning from them.
posted by KirkJobSluder at 9:07 AM on April 8, 2011 [3 favorites]


The balance argument is interesting. It is true. And the précis are well written and obviously designed so that the readers that self-identify with one or the other of the categories don't immediately find LOL faults for mocking and snark.

That said, in the end the "balance" really is: "What Exy the X thinks; The Biblical Truth"

And all the "get yer God armor on and lay down covering prayer"? (eyeroll.)
posted by chavenet at 9:08 AM on April 8, 2011


Ming the Merciless?
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 9:08 AM on April 8, 2011 [40 favorites]


The Atheist and Halo 3 links were just fine by me--reasonable, low-key. I'm glad they are included, and I'm glad to see people took the time to look them over before replying so this doesn't become some kneejerk LOLXTIANS thread.

But reading the comments here, that Jewish one is really offensive, and equating Wiccans with Satanism? Way off the mark.
posted by misha at 9:09 AM on April 8, 2011 [1 favorite]


Please endeavor to see love here and not hate.

But I love hate. So now I'm conflicted.

I know satanists. They don't believe in Satan. Also animal (and human!) sacrifices - not so much.

I believe in sacrificing animals for my insatiable hunger. But only because human sacrifice is illegal in my pinko-commie-liberal state.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 9:09 AM on April 8, 2011 [2 favorites]


The whole thing is asinine, inasmuch as the only ammunition they give the reader is Bible quotes, as though an atheist or Jewish person might say "Oh, I was unaware that such a sentence existed. Well, it's in print, so it must be true."

As others have noted, for a guide to proselytizing, it's pretty even-handed and objective in the descriptions I read. But if you're able to have such a balanced notions of others' views, what conclusion can be reached other than "leave these people the hell alone. they have their own well-considered views."

And I believe the answer is that better proselytizing is not the goal of this site at all. It exists to harden the faith and dedication of sympathetic readers-- anyone reasoned enough to author it is also reasoned enough to know that conversion of most of these archetypes is extremely improbable. So I'm torn in appraising it-- it's not ugly (not the parts I read anyway), but it's disingenuous.
posted by Mayor Curley at 9:11 AM on April 8, 2011 [19 favorites]


Buddhism is an Eastern religion which revolves primarily about suffering.

Bad grammar and shaky theology...not a good start.


How is that bad theology?

Buddhism is pretty clearly about suffering:

Suffering exists
Suffering arises from attachment to desires
Suffering ceases when attachment to desire ceases
Freedom from suffering is possible by practising the Eightfold Path
posted by Jahaza at 9:12 AM on April 8, 2011 [5 favorites]


If they ask questions like: "how do you know which God?" - focus on the claims of Christ as being the only way and his proving it by coming back from the dead. Remember to bring this up as a conversation starter, and not as an intimidating threat.

"Hey, I'm a friend of Dan's. He's got a nice place, eh?"
"Yeah, and this is some great music."
"The Strokes, I think."
"Oh yeah?"
"Yeah."
[awkward silence]
"What are you drinking?"
"Oh, it's just Seven Up."
"No Seagrams in there?" [laughs]
"I'm recovering, actually."
"Oh."
[awkward silence]
[buddy gives thumbs up from across room]
"So..."
"So..."
"Were you aware that Christ proved his relevance by returning from the dead?"
[both tear of shirts, mash mouths]
posted by Terminal Verbosity at 9:12 AM on April 8, 2011 [30 favorites]


There are scholars in the New Religious Movement field who do work on contemporary religious Satanism.

The page on Sid explicitly rules out LeVay-style Satanism and says that "Ritual sacrifices of animals (and in extreme cases humans) are sometimes part of the rituals that Sid may engage in" as if there are large numbers of death metal fans that just happen to do animal/human sacrifices in their spare time. The description of Sid seems to mainly be formed from the sort of Satanic Panic urban myths about Satan-worshiping teens that created all of those false memory trials in the 80s.

It's too bad they didn't have a Susan the Scientologist page, that would have been funny to read.
posted by burnmp3s at 9:14 AM on April 8, 2011


I was a little disappointed with the claim that atheists believe the bible consists of: "a collection of myths, half-truths, and lies designed to lead ignorant people astray and give power to religious leaders over the masses."

I don't think this is a fair depiction of all, or even most, athiests' attitude towards the bible.

Certainly, I don't believe the bible to be a holy document, nor do is everything I find in it to be relevant or useful. But that is not to say that there are no moral lessons to be extracted from the document. But like many works (e.g., the Socratic Dialogues), you can approach the bible with a critical nature and an understanding of modern conditions, and with these produce a useful ethical framework by which to lead your life.

The bible in some places hates on gays, shrimps, and shellfish. In such situations it clearly reflects and outmoded and archaic understanding of the human condition. But it's also the document that gave us the sermon on the mount, useful ideas about love and charity, etc.

I, an athiest, don't know what exactly I would call my relationship with the bible, but I really don't think it can be simplified to "myths, half-truths and lies" designed to mislead.
posted by HabeasCorpus at 9:14 AM on April 8, 2011 [17 favorites]


Bullshit misinformation about Islam.
posted by Burhanistan at 9:14 AM on April 8, 2011 [3 favorites]


Perfect guide for Kevin the Ku Klux Kristian.
posted by punkfloyd at 9:14 AM on April 8, 2011 [1 favorite]


...Zubin the Zoroastrian, Singh the Sikh, Quentin the Quaker, Martin the Mennonite, Ursula the Taoist, Sigrid the Sami Shamanist...
posted by Iridic at 9:15 AM on April 8, 2011 [2 favorites]


that Jewish one is really offensive

Why?
posted by Jahaza at 9:15 AM on April 8, 2011


Bullshit misinformation about Islam.

I liked the part where they said Mo's parents may plot to kill him if he converts to Christianity.
posted by burnmp3s at 9:17 AM on April 8, 2011


Also "Deep and Wide Ministries" is the most salacious name I've ever heard.
posted by Mayor Curley at 9:17 AM on April 8, 2011 [12 favorites]


Bullshit misinformation about Islam.

Yep.

Mo does not believe in the God of the universe revealed in the Bible as Yahweh, rather his 'god' is called 'Allah'.

This is complete crap. Arabic-speaking Christians use the same word for God and philosophically, they're clearly talking about the same being. This is moon-God B.S.
posted by Jahaza at 9:18 AM on April 8, 2011 [17 favorites]


GAAAAAH, PASCAL'S WAGER ABUSE! Also, misspelled Pascal.

Every few years Pascal's Wager Abuse becomes a popular evangelical conversion strategy; I can watch it come and go in my philosophy 101 classes based on people's reactions when we do Pascal's Wager.
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 9:18 AM on April 8, 2011 [9 favorites]


Hey - I *am* Erin the Evolutionist.
posted by ChuraChura at 9:19 AM on April 8, 2011 [1 favorite]


It would be interesting to meet a Satanist.

Perhaps you have but they aren't much for proseltysing?
posted by biffa at 9:19 AM on April 8, 2011 [1 favorite]


Yeah, the atheist one didn't seem too off, but the Muslim one is icky, and I stopped reading there.

Why they're saying Yahweh isn't the same entity as Allah, I'm not sure.
posted by orthogonality at 9:20 AM on April 8, 2011


They go to pretty great lengths to distinguish between "atheistic" evolutionists and "theistic" evolutionists - so I will grudgingly give them plus points.

But my gut feeling is that there not real down with "theistic" evolutionists, either.
posted by Benny Andajetz at 9:20 AM on April 8, 2011 [1 favorite]


there they're
posted by Benny Andajetz at 9:21 AM on April 8, 2011


I don't think this is a fair depiction of all, or even most, athiests' attitude towards the bible.

Agreed, especially relevant now that Hitch is praising the KJV as great literature.
posted by KirkJobSluder at 9:21 AM on April 8, 2011


I was a little disappointed with the claim that atheists believe the bible consists of: "a collection of myths, half-truths, and lies designed to lead ignorant people astray and give power to religious leaders over the masses."

I don't think this is a fair depiction of all, or even most, athiests' attitude towards the bible.


You're different from me and most of the atheists I associate with, because if you appended "myths, half-truths, and lies" to "some verifiable facts, typically butchered oral histories, and outright fiction" I think it would be pretty good.
posted by Mayor Curley at 9:23 AM on April 8, 2011 [1 favorite]


a collection of myths, half-truths, and lies designed to lead ignorant people astray and give power to religious leaders over the masses.

I wouldn't say it was designed to lead ignorant people astray and give power to religious leaders over the masses, but it pretty clearly evolved that way.
posted by immlass at 9:28 AM on April 8, 2011 [9 favorites]


I found this one (For Tara the Typical) sort of baffling.

At the heart of Tara the Typical's worldview is tolerance, individualism, self-expression, self-effort and self-gratification (can you say myspace.com!)


Is myspace a sin? I mean, yeah, sort of. . .
posted by alight at 9:28 AM on April 8, 2011 [5 favorites]


Atheistic Satanists don't proselytize. Most of us will say, when pressed, that we are atheists, because there's this whole 'self-preservation' thing in our minds. I am surprised by the acknowledgment of the two types, but not surprised that they think kiddie devil-worshippers are relatively common, nor surprised about the techniques suggested.
I can guess why there's no 'Susan the Scientologist' - they know the way these scripts go, not the precise words, but the faux-interested or faux-analysis techniques.
posted by Weighted Companion Cube at 9:28 AM on April 8, 2011 [2 favorites]


Gary the Goth
Eric the Emo
posted by Chocolate Pickle at 9:29 AM on April 8, 2011


Andy the Atheist

Yep, pretty much.
posted by gagglezoomer at 9:29 AM on April 8, 2011


I half expected the "Andy the Atheist" page to go off the reservation.

About Atheism:
Andy believes that atheism is the most rational and reasonable worldview, sometimes because of the 'damage' done by religion throughout the centuries, but mainly because it seems to be the most consistent with the observable world according to the scientific method.

About the Bible:
Andy believes the Bible is a collection of myths, half-truths, and lies designed to lead ignorant people astray and give power to religious leaders over the masses.

Now that I Think About It:
Andy's points make a lot of sense. I mean, other than tradition and upbringing, I don't really have any compelling reason to belie . . . NO! La la la la la. ♫ Bringing in the sheaves! ♫ Bringing in the sheaves! ♫

On Second Thought:
Don't talk to atheists. Or at least don't listen.

posted by General Tonic at 9:29 AM on April 8, 2011 [54 favorites]


As a card-carying Discordian, I want to write my own page for them. I wonder if they take submissions.

I'd also like to pick nits with the idea that the bible was 'designed' to do anything. I prefer to think of the bible as an evolutionary result of various changes made by intentional selection.
posted by Mad_Carew at 9:30 AM on April 8, 2011 [8 favorites]


It's too bad they didn't have a Susan the Scientologist page, that would have been funny to read.

Well there's no Susan but there is Tom
posted by fearfulsymmetry at 9:30 AM on April 8, 2011


> Why they're saying Yahweh isn't the same entity as Allah, I'm not sure.

This is a pretty common tactic. I'm not sure who started doing it first, but it was probably an American Baptist evangelical type that got mileage out of claiming that "Allah" is not the same, or is a pagan moon god or something. Never mind that it's the same word Arab Christians use for God, or that the second sentence of the Qur'an says explicitly that it means lord of all possible worlds.
posted by Burhanistan at 9:30 AM on April 8, 2011 [4 favorites]


What, there AREN'T human & animal sacrifices in Satanism? Well, my faith in the validty of old British Witchfinder horror movies is DESTROYED. Thanks, Metafilter. Thanks for NOTHING. Now I'm never gonna get laid at Colonial Williamsburg and other 17th century reenactment tourist traps.
posted by KingEdRa at 9:31 AM on April 8, 2011


Also, is X-Files a thing among teenagers today?
posted by KingEdRa at 9:33 AM on April 8, 2011 [3 favorites]


Peter the Pastafarian

What Peter Believes:

Peter believes that Discordians weren't tedious enough.
posted by FAMOUS MONSTER at 9:35 AM on April 8, 2011 [36 favorites]


I demand a Quentin the Quaker.
posted by willhopkins at 9:35 AM on April 8, 2011 [2 favorites]


Why is "Ryan the Religious" even needed?

From the profile: ...he believes that good works are the key to religion...

The Catholic papists aren't going to come to God all by themselves, you know.
posted by bonehead at 9:36 AM on April 8, 2011 [4 favorites]


(i kid because i love)*

*(i love kidding)
posted by FAMOUS MONSTER at 9:36 AM on April 8, 2011 [1 favorite]


The reason religious proselytizing is evil is because their goal is to get you to stop considering evidence that doesn't exist inside of one specific book of their choosing. Just as the falsifiability of an argument is evidence of its strength, the demands of any ideological system to stop considering alternatives is evidence of its weakness.
Your main goal is not to persuade Jenna that Jesus is the Messiah - it is a means to an end, and that end is that she needs to see that she fails to keep God's Law...
I remember overhearing a conversation when some missionaries returned from Guatemala (I think) to build an orphanage. I was very impressed with their selflessness -- giving up their vacation, paying their own flights, and working instead of just lounging around on a beach somewhere -- until I heard them all agree that their favorite part of the trip was winning over other Christians with what seemed like trivial differences in the interpretation of the Trinity.

When dogma starts displacing tolerance and love, I can only think of what Jesus said to the Pharisees:
Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites, because you travel around on sea and land to make one proselyte; and when he becomes one, you make him twice as much a son of hell as yourselves...

Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you tithe mint and dill and cummin, and have neglected the weightier provisions of the law: justice and mercy and faithfulness; but these are the things you should have done without neglecting the others. You blind guides, who strain out a gnat and swallow a camel!
That Liberal Jewish Philosopher is definitely my homeboy on this subject.
posted by notion at 9:37 AM on April 8, 2011 [21 favorites]


Not sure how well 'Christ proved he was God by coming back from the dead' is going to play with people who don't believe in the Bible.

Actually, I am...
posted by Devonian at 9:37 AM on April 8, 2011


This is a major improvement on burning us at the stake - Henry the Heretic
posted by duncan42 at 9:37 AM on April 8, 2011 [6 favorites]


Things To Remember

Like Tara the Typical, Willow is extremely sensitive toward anything that sounds intolerant and/or judgmental, so approach with extreme caution! If you upset Willow, she may tear all of your skin off.
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 9:37 AM on April 8, 2011 [34 favorites]


Re: the 'sacrifice' of Jesus: "Remember to bring this up as a conversation starter, and not as an intimidating threat."

How is it even possible to see that as anything but a threat?

"If you don't do exactly what I tell you to then you will be tortured for ever and ever".

That's a threat, it is always a threat. There is no way around it being a threat. That's the whole **POINT** of the doctrine of hell, it's a great way to extort people into joining your religion.

I know Evangelicals like to describe themselves as beggars telling other beggars where to get free bread, but that's not a metaphor that even remotely describes what they're doing. They're mafia types telling you to join their little spiritual protection racket or else Yahweh will break your soul's kneecaps (forever).

three blind mice Yeah, my first thought was that if anyone started in on the "would you be willing to go where the evidence leads, no matter what?" bit as part of a conversion attempt I'd definitely want to know if they could say the same about themselves.

That said, the atheist section really wasn't bad.
posted by sotonohito at 9:38 AM on April 8, 2011 [11 favorites]


My favorite bit of the Andy the Atheist one:
What the Bible Teaches
If Andy believes that the bible is a bunch of myths and half-truths, why would appealing to the Bible as an authority be part of any tactic? The Bible says that The Bible is without error? Of course it does!

My favorite part of all the others:
Whether Willow knows it or not, she is in the grips of Satan, so like Sid the Satanist, be sure and cover your relationship and conversations with her in a ton of prayer.
Wait, is Andy not in the grips of Satan???

Disclaimer: I was a teenage evangelist. I apologize to all my atheist/agnostic summer camp friends who had to listen to me try to share my faith. I was often thoroughly schooled by people much more thoughtful and engaged with the world than I was.
posted by muddgirl at 9:39 AM on April 8, 2011 [3 favorites]


Well, as one of the "targeted" religions, it looks like they're arming their followers with lies and inaccuracies. Telling someone "you may not be aware of what you actually believe" is sure to go over well.
posted by blue_beetle at 9:39 AM on April 8, 2011


Wow Jenna the Jew is disturbing. Like scary disturbing.

Apparently "Jenna does not like to be stereotyped with others from her religion, so ask a ton of questions to learn where she is coming." But it's ok to have a picture of her with a giant "Jewish" label slapped across her chest?

And of course the strategy:
Jenna has been raised with little knowledge about Jesus Christ, so when you feel it could be appropriate, talk about how Jesus literally and perfectly fulfilled over 300 prophecies made about the coming Messiah. Ask Jenna to read Isaiah 53 and ask her who she believes that Bible passage is describing. Here is a link that goes through all the prophecies:
When exactly would you "feel it could be appropriate?" What situation exactly leads itself to a natural segue to "let me tell you about my friend Jesus?"

And then we conclude with the creepiest part:
Your main goal is not to persuade Jenna that Jesus is the Messiah - it is a means to an end, and that end is that she needs to see that she fails to keep God's Law. It is not good enough for her to do her best; God requires perfection, so you need to get Jenna to the point where she knows that God will not overlook her failures or forgive her on the basis of their mitzvot (good deeds). Show her that God requires the shedding of blood for the forgiveness of sin (Leviticus 17:11; cf. 16:15-17, 27, 30), which was why the Messiah (Jesus) came to earth 2000 years ago.
Yeah, this assumes Jenna is such a nice person she won't just punch you in the face at this point. Frankly, this reads like a death threat if you aren't up on the liturgical context: Jenna is a sinner; God requires the shedding of blood to forgive sin; ergo Jenna's blood must be shed. Wtf?
posted by zachlipton at 9:40 AM on April 8, 2011 [1 favorite]


Sometimes I think these "fair and balanced" folks are more dangerous than the screaming Evangelicals on the corner. Anybody who presents Caleb H. Price "as a social research analyst on homosexuality and gender" -- and doesn't mention he's a research analyst for Focus on the Family -- is disingenuous at best (even if labeling him such wouldn't sway this particular's audience opinion against him) Telling people that they are damaged is dangerous but at least when people are lunatics about it, those who feel damaged have a better shot at coming to the conclusion on their own that maybe the screaming lunatics are the crazy ones.
posted by MCMikeNamara at 9:41 AM on April 8, 2011 [3 favorites]


immlass: Still, it's kind of hard to talk respectfully to someone when you're doing it to try to undermine their worldview. "I really respect you except the foundation of your thinking is totally fucked."

Sadly/amusingly/whatnot, the same can be said of many "serious" LOLXian comments online. "I respect that you believe in some old dudes in the clouds, but I think it's preposterous, and that you are actually a fool." (Note: I'm a former Christian)

In essence, it's really hard to debate topics of faith. If you can be reasoned out of your faith, it wasn't really faith in the first place.
posted by filthy light thief at 9:44 AM on April 8, 2011 [1 favorite]


But it's ok to have a picture of her with a giant "Jewish" label slapped across her chest?


Well, they thought the big fake nose and giant ears were a little too obvious.
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 9:44 AM on April 8, 2011 [2 favorites]


From Jenna the Jew:

About the Afterlife:

Jenna believes that there is an afterlife where God rewards the good people and punishes the evil people, but beyond that she is not sure how it all plays out. There is definitely a heaven, but she does not view hell as a place of eternal torment.


Jenna obviously didn't go to my yeshiva. We were taught such niceties as "When you get to shamayim (= heaven, or the afterlife), everyone you know and love will gather around to watch a movie of your entire life, inner thoughts included." And there was plenty of hell talk. Maybe they need a new guide for Chaim the Chasid.
posted by greatgefilte at 9:46 AM on April 8, 2011 [3 favorites]


"When you get to shamayim (= heaven, or the afterlife), everyone you know and love will gather around to watch a movie of your entire life, inner thoughts included." And there was plenty of hell talk.

At the same time, no less!
posted by FAMOUS MONSTER at 9:47 AM on April 8, 2011 [3 favorites]


From the Andy page: but you can (and should) live such a Christlike life that those around you sense something different

Telling gay kids that they are going to hell and bombing abortion clinics is a great start.
posted by xedrik at 9:47 AM on April 8, 2011 [1 favorite]


When you get to shamayim (= heaven, or the afterlife), everyone you know and love will gather around to watch a movie of your entire life, inner thoughts included.

That's a very odd definition of heaven. Not judging, just saying.
posted by bonehead at 9:47 AM on April 8, 2011 [4 favorites]


I've a friend who is a christian (well a liberal Anglican - which is probably not the real thing according to these people) and he never makes a big deal out of it and you can quite productively engage with them

The Bible alone is the word of God and is absolute truth. It is without error. It cannot and should not be added to or subtracted from (2 Timothy 3:16-4:4; Revelation 22:18-20)

No, that one ain't gonna fly with me... especially after looking up those quotes and completely disagreeing with the interpretation.
posted by fearfulsymmetry at 9:47 AM on April 8, 2011 [1 favorite]


If you can be reasoned out of your faith, it wasn't really faith in the first place.

I don't really know what to make of this, because when I was a teenager I had megawads of faith. I don't know what the difference is between me, who stereotypically stopped believing in God during college, and my classmate Shelley who is still pretty devout. It's certainly not a difference in reasoning capacity or in faith. I think it's just circumstances.
posted by muddgirl at 9:48 AM on April 8, 2011 [3 favorites]


if he rejects Islam, his family and culture will reject and perhaps even plot to kill him
posted by freebird at 9:48 AM on April 8, 2011


Wot, no Danny the Taoist?
posted by rifflesby at 9:48 AM on April 8, 2011 [1 favorite]


zachlipton: Apparently "Jenna does not like to be stereotyped with others from her religion, so ask a ton of questions to learn where she is coming." But it's ok to have a picture of her with a giant "Jewish" label slapped across her chest?

The same could be said about anyone from a major religion (don't stereotype me as a typical [religious nut]), but these seem to be decent primers on other viewpoints. To be a broad primer on a whole ancient belief system with many sub-sets, stereotypes are necessary.

What I found most ... odd ... about Jenna's page was this line: It is one of the oldest religions on earth, and was started by the Biblical character Moses. Biblical character, as in not a real person, but a work of fiction?
posted by filthy light thief at 9:48 AM on April 8, 2011 [1 favorite]


People, the most important lesson to take away here, clearly, is to make sure your belief system forms an alliterative phrase with your first name. Is that really so hard?
posted by cottoncandybeard at 9:51 AM on April 8, 2011 [6 favorites]


The best brainwashing tactics are the ones that sound the most reasonable.
posted by Aquaman at 9:52 AM on April 8, 2011 [1 favorite]


Biblical character, as in not a real person, but a work of fiction?

As in, "Oh, that Moses. He's such a character!"
posted by xedrik at 9:52 AM on April 8, 2011 [5 favorites]


Data the Android

Basic Description

Data's worldview is strongly influenced by the United Federation of Planets, a galaxy-spanning system of government that preaches noninterference, the value of exploration, and scientific progress. Data is strongly resistant to the idea that humanoid life forms should be forced to undergo technological implants against their will, even if those technological implants are beneficial. Above all, Data believes in self-determination within the framework of the Rule of UFP Law.

About God:

Data believes in a creator called "Noonian Soong," an extremely intelligent human who brought Data to life from lifeless components.

About the Trinity:

Along with Soong, Data believes in Juliana Tainer, Soong's female counterpart, roughly equivalent to the christian idea of "The Holy Spirit". In place of Jesus, Data believes in "Lore", an evil android who uses his emotions for self-gain and deception.

About Jesus:

Data believes that Jesus, if he existed, was a member of Homo sapiens who had far-reaching influence upon humanity's social mores and cultures.

About the Bible:

Data does not express interest in the Bible except insofar as it influences his Secular Humanistic philosophy. Data has a storage capacity of roughly one hundred petabytes, which means that he could retain over seven billion copies of the bible in his positronic brain.

About the Afterlife:

Data believes that consciousness may be transferred from an organic brain to a positronic one, as in the case of Dr. Tainer.

About Salvation:

Data is often included on Away Missions, where he is responsible for the salvation of his organic crewmates. Similarly, his crewmates occasionally perform soteriological functions when Data himself is in danger.

Things to Remember

* Data is devoid of emotion, but is still capable of feeling familiarity and affection; his neural pathways become accustomed to the sensory input patterns provided by those he considers "friends".
* Data is unable to use contractions with ease, but is still interested in language as a method of communication between humanoids. He has experimented with poetry in order to explore oral communication.
* All Data/Riker sexual pairings are considered officially non-canon. The only explicit canon pairing is Data/Yar, with a further implied pairing between Data and the Borg Queen.
* Data owns a cat named Spot, which is able to alter its physical appearance between episodes. This power is never explained.
* Data has an "off" switch beneath his left armpit; should theological discussions prove unfruitful, you can always activate this switch.
* Data does not have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ, but did once have a personal relationship with Samuel Clemens, due to time travel.
posted by Greg Nog at 9:53 AM on April 8, 2011 [146 favorites]


"especially after looking up those quotes and completely disagreeing with the interpretation"

One of the funniest things to me about bible quoting is the failure to acknowledge how much of the text can easily be traced back to pre-jewish and pre-christian religions where there were many, many gods and they did wild things like tear each other's bodies apart to make the world. It's a compendium of text from the history of the ancient near east, and reflects that if you pay attention to the diversity, rather than pull out single sentences and shine a light on them as though they represent a coherent moral code... Of course, New Testament lends itself better to this in many ways, but still - a collection of different texts by different thinkers across times and cultures.
posted by jardinier at 9:53 AM on April 8, 2011 [9 favorites]


This is mostly fine except the proselytizing part.

If more Christians focused on living well, rather than presenting pure hokum as fact (the Bible is literally true? Seriously, that precludes the water cycle), it'd be a lot easier to be around them.

Coincidentally, those are the Christians I hang out with — the ones who won't ever try to convert me because they know it'll end badly.
posted by klangklangston at 9:54 AM on April 8, 2011


If you aren't reading Christians are to the world as Dwight is to The Office, you're missing out on some amazing commentary.

The same could be said about anyone from a major religion (don't stereotype me as a typical [religious nut]), but these seem to be decent primers on other viewpoints. To be a broad primer on a whole ancient belief system with many sub-sets, stereotypes are necessary.

In no way are these "decent primers on other viewpoints." I fully recognize that a brief article can't sum up the entire range of beliefs that exist within a concept as broad as "Judaism," but serious people have made good efforts at summarizing the major beliefs of world religions. These are cliffnotes for "opposition research" to use for brainwashing purposes, not legitimate primers of religious beliefs.
posted by zachlipton at 9:55 AM on April 8, 2011 [12 favorites]


Aquaman: "The best brainwashing tactics are the ones that sound the most reasonable."

Not really. And if everyone felt this way, not only would religious people have no hope of sharing faith with non-religious; but similarly, non-religious could give up trying to reason with the religious. You don't really want this.

In practice, it's much more pleasant and productive to engage with reasonable religious people. To avoid being brainwashed by them, well... keep your intelligence, skepticism, and wits about you?

Everyone playing defense all the time is what got us in this mess in the first place.
posted by gilrain at 9:56 AM on April 8, 2011 [1 favorite]


greatgefilte, we've had other folks post on Metafilter saying that in their Orthodox Jewish education they were taught that there was no Hell.

That's the whole **POINT** of the doctrine of hell, it's a great way to extort people into joining your religion.

What? This is silly. There are obviously other points to it. You'll find for instance that some people believe that others (or even they themselves are evil) and that their idea of a just God requires that bad people be punished. Since they see that not all bad people are punished in this life, they see that punishment as taking place after they die. This is not an exposition of the doctrine of Hell, but an alternate functional account.

Jenna is a sinner; God requires the shedding of blood to forgive sin; ergo Jenna's blood must be shed.

Uh... no? The whole point is that her blood doesn't need to be shed because of either a) Old Testament blood sacrifices or b) the shedding of Jesus's blood. (This penal substitution view is not a universal Christian take on things.
posted by Jahaza at 9:57 AM on April 8, 2011 [1 favorite]


I was in college with The Matrix first came out, and I saw it with some friends and friends-of-friends. One of the people I didn't know was a cute girl who started chatting to me after the movie. She asked me what I thought of the movie, and tied it into the world of Jesus. I forgot most of the discussion, but remember feeling it was a weird thing to discuss in detail. The groups parted ways, and my group of geekier friends (including a Jew, a Muslim, and me, the semi-Christian) talked about the technology in the movie ("How do you think the Squiddies could find people? Was it heat-based or movement based?")

I did end up joining a campus church group and got into discussions about religion with friends. But in the end, my doubts and cynicism outweighed my faith, so I count myself a former Christian.


xedrik: As in, "Oh, that Moses. He's such a character!"

I was thinking about that option, too. Moses: charismatic, comedic leader - such a cut-up!
posted by filthy light thief at 9:58 AM on April 8, 2011


"In practice, it's much more pleasant and productive to engage with reasonable religious people."

Though kind of obvious, it's probably worth adding that what's considered "reasonable" depends heavily on your metaphysical worldview.
posted by jardinier at 9:58 AM on April 8, 2011


ergo Jenna's blood must be shed. Wtf?

technically, not Jenna's blood. IIRC, your options are

perfect, white dove
perfect, white goat
perfect, white bull

any blemish or lameness of the animal negates the sacrifice. I can't recall if you have to be physically at the temple, or if any Levite can perform the ritual for you.
posted by nomisxid at 9:59 AM on April 8, 2011 [2 favorites]


The best brainwashing tactics are the ones that sound the most reasonable.

That seems so reasonable.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 9:59 AM on April 8, 2011


Jenna does not like to be stereotyped with others from her religion

Wow....that is like a Mobius strip made out of words.
posted by Uniformitarianism Now! at 10:00 AM on April 8, 2011 [27 favorites]


Hmm. They're missing Amos the Amish, Aggie the Agnostic, and Betsy the Bestial.
posted by orange swan at 10:00 AM on April 8, 2011


Ollie the Open Minded? What the hell do we do about him?!
posted by BigHeartedGuy at 10:01 AM on April 8, 2011 [1 favorite]


Neil the Nihilist

Basic Description

Neil doesn't care, because he believes that religion doesn't matter.

About Nihilism:

Neil doesn't care.

About God:

Neil doesn't care.

About the Trinity:

Neil doesn't care.

About Jesus:

Neil doesn't care.

About the Bible:

Neil doesn't care.

About the Afterlife:

Neil doesn't care.

About Salvation:

Neil doesn't care.

Things to Remember

* Neil doesn't care.
posted by Mister Fabulous at 10:02 AM on April 8, 2011 [35 favorites]


jardinier: "Though kind of obvious, it's probably worth adding that what's considered "reasonable" depends heavily on your metaphysical worldview."

Hm, sort of. I mean it fairly literally. The sort of people you can discus atheism with genuinely, without worrying about being attacked, and whom might usually respond with something like: "I see your point, and I've thought about that... here's how I deal with that in my life. Blah blah blah." Then he or she stops and listens to the response.

I know this can be rare. I have Christian friends like this. It's delightful. And they're not liberal Christians, either; very conservative in all respects. In can be done well, even if I don't believe their conclusions are correct.
posted by gilrain at 10:02 AM on April 8, 2011


Willow the Wiccan and Warren the Wicked: they could rule a small medieval fiefdom in alliterative harmony.

In all seriousness, this is why I don't preach Quakerliness. To me, true faith can only come from personal discovery and no amount of Willow the Wiccans will suffice to make it happen for someone else.
posted by willhopkins at 10:04 AM on April 8, 2011 [2 favorites]


How about Stephan the Shintoist, Vallery the Vodouisant, Sammy the Sufi, and Penny the Post-Religious?
posted by coolxcool=rad at 10:05 AM on April 8, 2011 [1 favorite]


filthy light thief: "I was thinking about that option, too. Moses: charismatic, comedic leader - such a cut-up!"

Especially in Exodus 32 when he comes down from the mountain and is like "damn, why did y'all have to go and make that idol? Now I want you to go all over the camp with your swords and kill all 3,000 of our brothers, family and friends who participated in that pagan BS."
posted by jardinier at 10:05 AM on April 8, 2011


Why are Hindus always left out of lists when it comes to faith? People on the news will list Christians, Muslims, Buddhists, and that leaves Hindus for Other or Etc. JUST ONCE, I'D LIKE TO BE INCLUDED!
posted by Fizz at 10:07 AM on April 8, 2011 [3 favorites]


Fizz: You missed Hari!
posted by jardinier at 10:08 AM on April 8, 2011


"and kill all 3,000"

All the numbers in the Bible like this remind me of 4chan.
posted by klangklangston at 10:09 AM on April 8, 2011


Shoshanna the Shaker
Not worth the effort.
posted by AugieAugustus at 10:12 AM on April 8, 2011


It's Raining Florence Henderson: "Gary the Gnu was well done, too."

I thought it was Emacs that was the religion?
posted by namewithoutwords at 10:13 AM on April 8, 2011


I demand Emma the Episcopalian. She's a bigger threat than the rest of them combined. I dare you to take on a half dozen or so Altar Guild members who have had a long, liquid lunch meeting...
posted by pentagoet at 10:13 AM on April 8, 2011 [2 favorites]


This kind of reasonable proselytizing is the most dangerous. It's easy to laugh off a Chick tract or the Phelps whackos. It's much more insidious to have an outwardly reasonable person who asks you many open questions about the details of your Jewish faith, slowly building an argument that your religion is lost and meaningless and you really need to Come to Jesus to be a complete person.

If I had time, I'd write a description of Frankie the Faggot.
posted by Nelson at 10:16 AM on April 8, 2011


"It would be interesting to meet a Satanist."

Perhaps you have but they aren't much for proseltysing?


Not too much for proselytizing, but for saying look there is the Satanist he is perfect.
posted by goodnewsfortheinsane at 10:18 AM on April 8, 2011 [11 favorites]


It's much more insidious to have an outwardly reasonable person who asks you many open questions about the details of your Jewish faith, slowly building an argument that your religion is lost and meaningless and you really need to Come to Jesus to be a complete person.

Indeed, the world should have much less reasonable discussion!
posted by Jahaza at 10:18 AM on April 8, 2011 [1 favorite]


What about "Spinifex23 the Commuter Who Just Wants to Sip Her Tea and Listen to Her Black Metal in Peace Instead of Hearing About Your God For the Next Thirty Minutes While We Are Stuck in Traffic."
posted by spinifex23 at 10:19 AM on April 8, 2011 [12 favorites]


Fizz: You missed Hari!

My apologies. But we tend to get grouped in like this.
posted by Fizz at 10:20 AM on April 8, 2011 [1 favorite]


The Buhddist page is misleading at best and does not at all reveal the real heart and core beliefs of Buddhism. Also, not every Buddhist believes in reincarnation. Just as Christians have been different sects and schisms, so do Buddhists.

What bothers me about this endeavor is warring nature of it. On several different pages it reminds you that you are in a "spiritual battle" with these other people. I do not think that is a fair or accurate description of two people from different religious/spiritual backgrounds. You cannot force-feed someone. You cannot wrestle someone into a particular religious belief or creed. Then it's not spirituality; it's dogma.

But what do I know? I'm not a Christian.
posted by fignewton at 10:20 AM on April 8, 2011 [6 favorites]


spinifex23: I found another site, just for you...
posted by jardinier at 10:22 AM on April 8, 2011


Sheila the Scientologist

Basic Description

Sheila believes that she is the embodiment of an ancient alien soul that is trapped on earth and possessed by evil alien souls.

About the Bible:

Sheila doesn't know the Bible from Adam, but she has a book that she can let you read a chapter at a time for $10,000 a chapter.

About the Afterlife:

You get to hang out with Tom Cruise.

Things to Remember

Sheila is even more interested in you joining her religion, than you are having her become a Christian. She believes more crazy shit before breakfast than you'll believe in your entire life. Sheila's religion has more lawyers than yours, so give a Sheila a wide berth.
posted by doctor_negative at 10:22 AM on April 8, 2011 [22 favorites]


The Mormon info was a mix of half truths and full lies. They only got a couple of things right.
posted by TooFewShoes at 10:25 AM on April 8, 2011 [3 favorites]


So, no one else thought it was odd there were separate entries for Atheists and Evolutionists? That really stuck out as odd to me. It makes sense that fundies would view evolution as a huge challenge to their world view and I would have guessed it's a slap at non-fundamentalist Christian groups that don't subscribe to literalism, (thus the resulting separation of it as it's own category) but the description is almost the same for both.
posted by Mcable at 10:25 AM on April 8, 2011 [2 favorites]


I wonder why they haven't realized that by demonizing "Allah" as not really being God, they're actually hurting their case. A kid armed only with this as a tool goes up against an informed Muslim - another religion that proselytizes heavily - and believing that what's wrong with Muslims is they don't recognize God -- sounds like a recipe for disaster.

The same heavy-handed tone that they use to make their case against Judaism is right there waiting to be used against them. Islam sees itself as a perfection of Christianity every bit as much as Christianity sees itself as a perfection of Judaism (though they may not use that term).

Seems to me if your religious goal is trying to convert someone whose religious goal is to try to convert you, having an incomplete understanding of the other faith (given to you by your own church, no less) is only going to end badly for you.

And I for one plan on staying in the background with Jenna, fingers in our ears singing neener neener neener, while they take each other out.
posted by Mchelly at 10:26 AM on April 8, 2011 [4 favorites]


Fizz: so true, and it happens to many religions, certainly also to Christians who get bunched together when they can have incredibly different view. I've written about this before around the question of "indigenous religions."

There's this group that has been historically called “World Religions.” This category sometimes refers to the many “religions of the world” as in Huston Smith’s “The World’s Religions” but usually it mean something more like “religions of the majority.” Tomoko Masuzawa (University of Michigan, and currently a scholar at the IAS School of Social Science) problematizes the construction of this category in her book “The Invention of World Religions: Or How European Universalism Was Preserved in the Language of Pluralism.”

The book has been waiting on my shelf for a careful reading but I’ve had a quick look at the introduction in which she notes “everybody, in effect, seems to know what ‘world religions’ means, more or less.” Discussing the role of the phrase in the academy, she observes that the list of world religions “almost invariably include Christianity, Buddhism, Islam, Hinduism, and Judaism, and also typically count among their number Confucianism, Taoism, and Shinto . . less typically but still very frequently included are Zoroastrianism, Jainism, and Sikhism.”

Masuzawa argues that the demarcation between “Eastern” and “Western” religions is “articulated from the point of view of the European West.” An observation that while seeming initially quite obvious, has a profound consequence when you consider, say, a Buddhist in California talking about their practice in an “Eastern religion” from a geographic position in which Asia lies directly to their West. Of course, they might practice in a line that considers itself rooted more in Colorado than India. But clearly “Eastern” means something else here. Masuzawa proposes this positioning is rooted in the nineteenth-century origins of early linguistic studies (philology), which identified the “Semitic”, “Aryan” and “Oriental” languages as matching up with contemporaneous ”racialized notions of ethnic difference.” Amazingly, these divisions sometimes persist in religious studies departments without much attention to their basis in colonial logic.

...with this oddly positioned binary of religious categories in hand, the academy categorizes everything else – whatever doesn’t fit in East or West – into “Indigenous” or “Tribal” religion. This includes the “animism,” shamanism,” and any other practice once called “primitive religion.”
posted by jardinier at 10:27 AM on April 8, 2011 [8 favorites]


It would be awesome if some talented and knowledgeable worshiper of Eris could write up Dan the Discordian. (Seriously, I know you're out there.)
posted by skymt at 10:27 AM on April 8, 2011 [2 favorites]


On several different pages it reminds you that you are in a "spiritual battle" with these other people. I do not think that is a fair or accurate description of two people from different religious/spiritual backgrounds.

I haven't dug around too much, but I was taught that I was in a (metaphorical) "spiritual battle" with Satan, not with people of different religions. We learned that we had to protect ourselves from the world before we could save anyone else (Did anyone else have to memorize that prayer featured in that episode of Venture Bros. that was like "Gird our loins in Truth"? Yeah, spiritual armor was a pretty big metaphor)

To me, these pages read as less about converting people, than tips on how to shield yourself from the beliefs of others. "This is what they believe, but the Bible says they're wrong! Don't fall for it!"
posted by muddgirl at 10:29 AM on April 8, 2011


> To me, these pages read as less about converting people

That one about Mo the Muslim is all about how you can mirror Mo's hospitality habits and secretly get him to convert so his family won't kill him as an apostate, though.
posted by Burhanistan at 10:31 AM on April 8, 2011


The Jewish entry is terrible precisely because it makes the usual evangelical errors: it assumes that a) you can find out everything you need to know about Jews from reading the Tanakh*, and b) that Jews themselves read like evangelicals. Er, hello? The Talmud? Kind of seriously important? More to the point, some of the questions are guaranteed to make any Jew immediately write an evangelical off as simultaneously uninformed and non-serious, like the ones about the temple, forgiveness, and sacrifices. We took care of that question at the time (note: the links are from a variety of perspectives, from Reform to Chabad Lubavitch). Nor does the writer seem to have any sense that Jewish attitudes to such things as original sin (also) or atonement might be significantly different than the Christian. If Jenna the Jew is Orthodox (which I think she's supposed to be), then in all likelihood she would spend much of this conversation trying not to roll her eyes.

(Or she could follow the tactic of one of my Lubavitcher relatives: "You believe that I'm going to Hell. But I don't believe that you're going to Hell. We're done with this discussion.")

*--Jenna the Jew would no doubt gently point out that there is no "Old Testament."
posted by thomas j wise at 10:34 AM on April 8, 2011 [8 favorites]


From Any Atheist page:
Every person born on this planet is born into sin, is destined for hell and needs a Savior. Salvation is by faith in Christ on the basis of His death on the cross. Good works or self-denial have nothing to do with being saved.

Why would I want anything to do with such an insane belief system?
posted by Scoo at 10:35 AM on April 8, 2011 [18 favorites]


Re: Buddhism: How is that bad theology?

Well, if I was going to summarize Buddhism with a single sentence to someone completely unfamiliar with it, saying it's all about suffering is like saying Christianity is about being sad God got tortured to death. It's cutting away so much as to be completely misleading.

The many types of Buddhism generally agree in word (if not always in deed, but what religion isn't like that?)- in aiming to be compassionate and to discover one's original nature/self/undefined mind, etc. Talking about that in a few sentences seems more informative and accurate than the weird snippet they dropped.
posted by yeloson at 10:37 AM on April 8, 2011 [7 favorites]


Why would I want anything to do with such an insane belief system?

You get a free cracker and a little bit of wine on Sunday mornings
posted by Greg Nog at 10:37 AM on April 8, 2011 [4 favorites]


Please endeavor to see love here and not hate.

So I'm doomed to eternal hellfire because I don't think about God the same way they do? And I'm the one who needs to chill out? Give me a fucking break.
posted by Scoo at 10:38 AM on April 8, 2011 [6 favorites]


Man, I didn't even read the Mo one. It's awesomely sucktastic!
Mo's view of God (Allah) is one of anger and demand. Use your own testimony as a way to show how it is possible to have a personal relationship with the personal God of the universe (Yahweh) who loves and forgives unconditionally on the basis of Christ's death and resurrection.
Dude, Allah is soooo much angrier than Yahweh. You know, the guy who killed all the first-born sons of Egypt. And demanding! He didn't demand shit - he commanded. Way cooler.

Also, all the writing that is anti-good-works is just plain bullshit.
James 2:14 What does it profit, my brethren, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can faith save him? 15 If a brother or sister is naked and destitute of daily food, 16 and one of you says to them, “Depart in peace, be warmed and filled,” but you do not give them the things which are needed for the body, what does it profit? 17 Thus also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead.
posted by muddgirl at 10:39 AM on April 8, 2011 [8 favorites]


I swear I dated Willow the Wiccan in college. She worked at an overpriced smoothie shop and liked my drumming.
posted by Afroblanco at 10:39 AM on April 8, 2011 [5 favorites]


This sounds a bit like some of the stuff we got as part of our evangelism training back when I was an evangelical (I got better, and am now a respectable atheist, albeit one with a Dark Past).

At one point, there was a movement away from treating gospel outlines (like Two Ways to Live) as some kind of magic, and towards engaging with other worldviews. At that point we started looking at the stuff by Nick Pollard in his book Evangelism made slightly less difficult, where you'd identify a person's current worldview and try to point out the problems with it (Pollard has a couple of articles on the Bethinking.org site, here and here which outline this method).

I think this sort of thing is actually good to the extent that it encourages evangelicals to learn about what other people think. Sure, in a popular presentation, it'll be a broad brush where we can find stuff to argue with (for instance, atheism isn't synonymous with physicalism, although I'd guess there's a lot of overlap).

I do think that this new "worldview" apologetics is associated with a number of fallacies, though, and I once wrote a blog post about them: hope it's not naughty to mention that here.
posted by pw201 at 10:40 AM on April 8, 2011


I was surprised there was no page for Catholics. There are a lot of Fundamentalists who consider us idol-worshiping pawns of Satan so I just assumed we'd get a page. Or maybe we just get a hybrid approach between the Buddhists and Satanists. Either way I'm disappointed.
posted by tommasz at 10:40 AM on April 8, 2011 [5 favorites]


I've actually had some professional interaction with this group, mostly on the corporate end. They do a dozen-odd conferences across the country every year; my former employer was involved on the logistics side. They are, from what I can tell, significantly better organized and just all-around competent than a lot of evangelical groups. Which was nice for a change.

Really though, I think there's a deeper problem here. Don't get me wrong, I'm all for evangelism--in theory--but it's kind of hard for me to see the point of what this group is about.

Some background.

There are, in North American Protestantism anyway, two general "schools" of apologetics. The first can be called "Classical" or sometimes "Thomistic" apologetics, and tends to focus on arguments for the faith, i.e. why Christianity is right and every other philosophy/religion is wrong. This was pretty damned popular in the Modern period, as it was widely believed, and not just by Christians, that reason and rationality could lead one to ultimate Truth and would eventually solve all of mankind's problems. You can see hints of this in how triumphalist both scientific and political writings were in the nineteenth century. Most of the different "schools" of apologetics throughout history and all of the well-known arguments for God's existence fall in here somewhere.

The other main branch is a little more recent and is generally known as "presuppositional apologetics". Inklings of this as a system are present throughout history, but it was really only formalized--and the contrast with Classical apologietics described--in the 1920s. The basic premise here is actually a bit post-modern, as it operates from the vaguely neo-Kantian assumption that everyone has certain more-or-less a priori assumptions, or "presuppositions," which form the metaphysical and epistemological framework with which they view the world. These things aren't really subject to rational examination a lot of the time, and unless one engages in a rather significant degree of self-examination, it's entirely possible that one would be ignorant of one's own assumptions.

That, so far, shouldn't be terribly controversial these days, or at least it's not nearly as controversial as it would have been a hundred years ago. The implication for Christians here is that it is impossible to argue anyone into belief in God. Which, given the materials in the FPP, should sound pretty familiar. One should always be prepared to explain the reasonableness of the Christian position, but one should not be trapped into debating those points while there are underlying differences of opinion about more basic assumptions such as the nature of knowledge and truth. Conflicts about second-order beliefs will never be resolved while there are first-order issues which remain unresolved.

Fair enough. But two things here. First, it isn't evident from the materials linked above (or from my passing familiarity with the organization) that Dare2Share has any kind of understanding of what it's doing or how that fits in with the Christian intellectual tradition. This should not be terribly surprising, as the founder, Greg Stier, may not actually have any kind of formal theological training. But second, and this is where things start to get more interesting, the implication of the whole package of presuppositional apologetics is that since arguing people into the faith isn't really something that happens, Christians should spend a lot more time 1) coming to know and understand what they believe so as to better live that out, and 2) living that out through faith and good works. Dare2Share doesn't really seem to get that step. Again, given their lack of any kind of overacrching theory for what they're doing, this shouldn't be surprising, but it is worrying.

Think about it. They spend a ton of time telling kids how to "share their faith," and their materials on that subject are better than most. But they don't seem to spend a lot of time making sure that kids actually know what they believe. Or why. And if you've spent any time in an evangelical church, you know that most of the people there have a pretty vague sense of what their own traditions believe the Bible teaches. Which raises the interesting question, "How exactly is one supposed to share something about which one is largely ignorant?" So, umm, hooray, you now know how to talk to unbelievers about your faith without them thinking you're a dick, but, umm, what exactly are you going to talk about? Picking out a few verses here and there does not constitute functional knowledge of the Scriptures.

So points to them for taking the evangelistic calling seriously, and more points for understanding, seemingly intuitively, that beating people about the head is not how that's done. But all of that seems to be mitigated by an absence of anything of substance to actually share.
posted by valkyryn at 10:40 AM on April 8, 2011 [42 favorites]


I've never understood the need for someone to convert another person. The idea of selling a religion seems insulting to me. If your religion is strong, it will stand on its own. I'm not sure why I frequently encounter situations like this but I have been approached by several people from the Christian faith (my face must scream heathen!). "Do you believe in God?" "Are you saved?" "Have you found the lord?" Usually I am handed some kind of business card with a website and a small passage from the Bible. It is insulting to me (on two fronts) first: that they automatically assume because I am brown skinned that I am not Christian which speaks a lot for the demographics of their faith and second: that a card is somehow going to make me see the light or find Jesus in some way.
posted by Fizz at 10:41 AM on April 8, 2011 [3 favorites]


Why would I want anything to do with such an insane belief system?

You get a free cracker and a little bit of wine on Sunday mornings


Go to shul on Saturday mornings and you might get a whole entire bagel to go with your bit of wine. Play your cards right and you might get some Oneg Shabbat Cookies (just thumbprint cookes, but they tend to show up after Shabbat services at synagogues across the nation for no particular reason I am aware of)
posted by zachlipton at 10:43 AM on April 8, 2011


I was surprised there was no page for Catholics.

They call him "Ryan the Religious". You can tell he's either Catholic, Anglican, or Episcopalian by this part:
Ryan believes that by believing in certain creeds or statements of beliefs, and by strictly engaging in certain religious behaviors, he will be on God's 'nice' list, while those who aren't religious are on God's 'naughty' list. He has been raised with this since day one, which is why religion and good works are such a key part of his life. Ryan also believes that religion is a combination of faith and good works that will one day get him into heaven.
posted by muddgirl at 10:44 AM on April 8, 2011 [5 favorites]


Burhanistan: Yeah, I'm also pretty convinced these pages are all about converting... It's stated implicitly as the goal. They want to help teens "relationally and relentlessly reach their generation for Christ" and create a "a peer-to-peer strategy for evangelism." I'd suggest that relentless reaching for Christ is hard to read as anything other than evangelical conversion.

Scoo: Well, it's easy for anyone with a different belief system to say the same about your belief system... I mean, all over ancient central and south america and the ancient near east and africa and europe people had belief systems for thousands of years, and still do - that you might consider "insane." It's easy to say that speaking from a position where you may have adopted Descartes' belief system or Hegel's belief system or whatever. But there are other ways to view the world. Clearly, I'm Tara the Typical.

Fizz: Education in anything could be seen as an atempt to convert to a belief system. Children aren't born believing in the scientific method any more than they're born believing in the creator Ahura Mazda or The Force.
posted by jardinier at 10:44 AM on April 8, 2011


The Buhddist page is misleading at best and does not at all reveal the real heart and core beliefs of Buddhism.

The original version had a long, drawn-out reasonable discussion of Buddhist thought and practice.

So reasonable, in fact, it converted anyone who read it. The website was quickly scrubbed of all infectious material, while the original writer and buddha-meme carriers were quarantined to halt the spread. They are currently responding well to re-education efforts.

Thus the admonition for the unwary: "don't get too sidetracked with confusing Buddhist beliefs".

This is really a shame, becau
### mefisoft ideobot log:
### Fri Apr 8 13:35:46 EDT 2011
### Memetic agent: "Dare 2 Share Sutra v 0.8" detected.
### Action: Redacted, account flagged.
### Warning: SANDBOX FAIL....CSI 2 J
### Stop 0x000000AB SESSION_HAS_VALID_POOL_ON_EXIT
### query: Does the software agent, mefisoft ideobot, have budda-nature?
posted by sebastienbailard at 10:45 AM on April 8, 2011 [19 favorites]


I've never understood the need for someone to convert another person.

If you convert enough souls, you earn points redeemable for X-Ray specs or plans to build your very own hovercraft! (Little known fact: Jesus didn't just walk on the water - he motored over that shit!)
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 10:47 AM on April 8, 2011 [5 favorites]


Neil the Nihilist

Oh! That must be exhausting!
posted by Astro Zombie at 10:49 AM on April 8, 2011


Neil the Nihilist

Oh! That must be exhausting!


Not as exhausting as Nick the Nietzschean.
posted by Fizz at 10:51 AM on April 8, 2011 [2 favorites]


I've never understood the need for someone to convert another person. The idea of selling a religion seems insulting to me.

It's all how you look at it. Have you ever discovered a product or a service or a method of doing things that was such an improvement that you want to spread the word about it? Not even to the extent of religious devotion, but think of people promoting Apple products or Linux or Firefox or advocating GTD or telling all their friends to read a book or watch an amazing movie. That feeling comes from the general sense that your life is much improved because you've discovered something awesome (and I use the term in both its religious and secular contexts) and a desire to see that people around you improve their lives as well. Now imagine that instead of trying to get your friends to buy a MacBook or read The Fountainhead or what have you, you sincerely believe that your friends will burn in hell for all eternity unless they adopt your faith. Not to mention that your faith makes you so happy that you can't imagine how anyone with different beliefs wouldn't be miserable all the time. Add to that belief that you should help "save the world" by helping all these miserable people and trying to keep them out of hell, and doing all you can to convert them seems pretty rational within that worldview.

There are a lot of problems with trying converting people and I'm sure not a fan in the slightest, but I can very much understand the desire to do it.
posted by zachlipton at 10:59 AM on April 8, 2011 [3 favorites]


Oh, sure, we can laugh at Christians all we want, laugh until the cows come home. But...

(I will continue this comment after the cows have come home)
posted by dances_with_sneetches at 11:01 AM on April 8, 2011 [1 favorite]


Not as exhausting as Nick the Nietzschean.

I've met him... he's a super man.
posted by Jahaza at 11:02 AM on April 8, 2011 [3 favorites]


Now imagine that instead of trying to get your friends to buy a MacBook or read The Fountainhead or what have you, you sincerely believe that your friends will burn in hell for all eternity unless they adopt your faith.

I've always found it simpler not to have friends.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 11:02 AM on April 8, 2011


If there's one things Jews love, it's having to wear a piece of clothing identifying themselves as Jewish. Seriously, why not just have her wear a gold star?
posted by PostIronyIsNotaMyth at 11:02 AM on April 8, 2011 [1 favorite]


Andy the Atheist, Willow the Wiccan, easy-peasy.

What about Alexander the Great? I would like to see them convert Alexander the Great. He conquered the world using his bare hands. Where's your Moses now? Where's your Jesus now?
posted by storybored at 11:05 AM on April 8, 2011


PostIronyIsNotaMyth: I was totally thinking the same thing, that these images are a bit too reminiscent of this idea, clearly completely different, but the classification system and categorization schema indicating how to deal with them is structurally related.

On t-shirts, what about these Jews?
posted by jardinier at 11:05 AM on April 8, 2011


valkyryn: the presuppositionalists I've come across online are pretty batshit. They've tended to advance the view that everyone knows there's a God but suppresses that knowledge (based on their reading of Romans 1); that only Christianity can "account" for various things like logic, the reliability of the senses, the usefulness of induction; and that non-presuppositional apologetics is actually wrong and sinful in allowing for the possibility of "autonomous reason" on the part of non-Christians, rather than just coming up with undercutting defeaters like "how do you know anything at all?" (which is what Jesus would do, obviously).

This makes conversations with presuppositionalists pretty dull: they're not actually interested in debate at all, they've got a manual which tells them that their job is not to persuade but to reduce their opponent to existential despair so that God can step in and convert them, or something.

Of course, I may be biased by having mostly engaged with one particular presuppositionalist, but there seem to be plenty like him.

This Dare 2 Share crowd don't seem to be presuppers, and are much the better for it.
posted by pw201 at 11:06 AM on April 8, 2011


@jardiner: They're not actually Jews, despite their protestations to the contrary. Not that there's anything wrong with that. (Although there is something wrong with the pushy evangelism...)
posted by Citrus at 11:08 AM on April 8, 2011


On t-shirts, what about these Jews?

Jews For Jesus are Jews in the way that the Clean Skies Act was about protecting the environment.
posted by PostIronyIsNotaMyth at 11:09 AM on April 8, 2011 [4 favorites]


Although there is something wrong with the pushy evangelism

Is there any other kind?
posted by Fizz at 11:10 AM on April 8, 2011


Ninja evangelism.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 11:12 AM on April 8, 2011


Ninja evangelism.

I've never seen or heard of this.
posted by Fizz at 11:14 AM on April 8, 2011 [9 favorites]


Ninja evangelism is less pushy, and more kicky and stabby.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 11:14 AM on April 8, 2011 [8 favorites]


And it really, really doesn't like Pirate Catholicism.
posted by bonehead at 11:15 AM on April 8, 2011 [2 favorites]


Have I mentioned I absolutely hate proselytization?

I always wish these kind of things are some kind of sick joke rather than the delusions they tend to be. Its one thing to care about friends and hope that they are leading a good life. Its completely another to rely on stereotypical viewpoints that define a person by one aspect of themselves.

Lets face it, these aren't for converting friends, these are for preaching to the heathens.
posted by graxe at 11:16 AM on April 8, 2011


I just can't even. Touting Brokeback Mountain as a parable of the dangers of homosexuality without even acknowledging the role Christianity plays in making it dangerous to be gay... Where do these people think violent bigots are getting their ideas? RuPaul's Drag Race?
posted by zylocomotion at 11:16 AM on April 8, 2011 [4 favorites]


Ninja evangelism.

It takes twelve years of training to master the shuriken stigmata technique.
posted by furiousthought at 11:17 AM on April 8, 2011 [3 favorites]


I guess you could argue that to these people, the bigots are the heroes... if not just a bit misguided. They should have used verbal threats and external pressures rather than violence.
posted by PostIronyIsNotaMyth at 11:17 AM on April 8, 2011


As a Buddhist, I didn't think the Buddhist page was all that bad for a very brief explanation with no context. Except...

This means what Bailey does in this lifetime, either good or bad, determines what will happen to her in another lifetime, on and on through time, until she has gone through enough suffering and purification to reach Nirvana. [emphasis mine]

... the bolded part is complete bullshit, and the rest of that passage isn't that accurate either.

Meh, at least they clarified that Buddha isn't a God or "divine being of any type." We should get points for not worshipping false gods, right?
posted by desjardins at 11:19 AM on April 8, 2011 [3 favorites]


DU - well, [satanists] do [exist]. There are scholars in the New Religious Movement field who do work on contemporary religious Satanism.

Those are not the satanists that these Christians imagine exist.

These Christians think there are "satanists" believe that Satan exists, exactly the same way that these Christians think Satan exists, but that the satanists worship him.

I've never seen any evidence that there are groups of people who literally worship the Satan that fundamentalist Christians believe exists.

That's the whole **POINT** of the doctrine of hell, it's a great way to extort people into joining your religion.

It's hardly the only point. Even for atheists, do you deny there could be something appealing about the idea that people who will never be held accountable for their crimes in this life (Robert Mugabe? Dick Cheney? the CEO of Goldman Sachs? name your least-favorite villain) might be held accountable somehow after they die?

I think that desire for justice is closer to the root of the doctrine of hell than proselytizing. After all, the most vivid descriptions of hell in the New Testament are the ones in the book of Revelation written to comfort Christians being persecuted. Paul, the first great evangelist to the gentiles, hardly mentions hell at all. Jesus mostly talks about hell as a way of threatening religious people who neglect the needs of the poor, not to scare irreligious people into becoming converts.
posted by straight at 11:19 AM on April 8, 2011 [2 favorites]


I'm sorry, but I am never going to take a Satanist seriously who is named Sid. That's like naming him Melvin.

Sid Vicious excluded, of course, because his last name made up for his first.
posted by Astro Zombie at 11:22 AM on April 8, 2011 [1 favorite]


muddgirl, by Jove, I think you're right. I was obviously confused by the omission of forgiveness. Silly me.
posted by tommasz at 11:26 AM on April 8, 2011


This Dare 2 Share crowd don't seem to be presuppers, and are much the better for it.

Oh, don't get me wrong: those guys definitely exist. But they're pretty manifestly Doing It Wrong, by the theory's own standards. They're basically taking presuppositional concepts and doing Classical apologetics with it, i.e. trying to argue people to their position. Which is a manifestly self-defeating proposition, and deliciously ironic, considering it runs contrary to the very spirit of the concept.

It really looks to me like the Dare2Share folks have stumbled upon some of the basic concepts involved in presuppositional apologetics without really knowing it. Which is good in some ways, i.e. they avoid some of the excesses of intellectualizing things too much, but bad in others, i.e. they fail to comprehend the implications of what they're doing.

I've never heard of that Stephen Law guy, by the way.
posted by valkyryn at 11:26 AM on April 8, 2011


It should have been Stan the Satanist. They should argue that Stan looks ridiculous in that cape. Goat meat is delicious, though. So to speak. So he has that going for him. Which is nice.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 11:30 AM on April 8, 2011


jahaza: greatgefilte, we've had other folks post on Metafilter saying that in their Orthodox Jewish education they were taught that there was no Hell.

Well, I guess they're going to be in for a big surprise!

Seriously, there is a very definite tradition of a hot, fiery place where no-goodniks go: gehennom.
posted by greatgefilte at 11:35 AM on April 8, 2011


Though I should add that in some accounts, it seems to be more of a purgatory for the not-100%-righteous than an eternal punishment, though the latter was definitely mentioned as a possibility.
posted by greatgefilte at 11:36 AM on April 8, 2011


> I guess they've just given up on the Bahais and the Zoroastrians. Shame; they'd have been great for the softball team.

Dwight the Bahá'í?
posted by christopherious at 11:37 AM on April 8, 2011


Law's not the presupper, he's the atheist who was arguing with Sye Tenbruggencate, who came up with the proof that God exists.

[Law's a philosopher. I know him best for the Evil God Challenge, which is an argument that most theodicies could be turned on their head into explanations of why there is so much good in the world given that God is evil (those defences would come from hypothetical evil-God believers, in Law's though experiment), so that good-God believers are not justified in so believing.]
posted by pw201 at 11:37 AM on April 8, 2011 [4 favorites]


jardinier: I don't consider it insane simply because it's "different". I find it crazy that anyone would buy into a system that uses the language of a protection racket.
posted by Scoo at 11:38 AM on April 8, 2011 [1 favorite]


Anyone else notice that everyone looks fairly white except for Eren and possibly Mo and Hari (it's hard to tell)? Is Andy supposed to be drunk or snide? And is there a bit of gender stereotyping going on with the selection?
posted by KirkJobSluder at 11:43 AM on April 8, 2011


People, the most important lesson to take away here, clearly, is to make sure your belief system forms an alliterative phrase with your first name. Is that really so hard?

Let me see. That would make me Chris the --

Dang it!
posted by no relation at 11:50 AM on April 8, 2011 [1 favorite]


The page for Donnie the Discordian looks like a scanned book of carpet samples covered in Korean cuss words. I clicked on it and my computer ejected a waffle from the DVD slot. Posting this from my phone.
posted by jtron at 11:59 AM on April 8, 2011 [20 favorites]


"For example, the earth is the perfect distance from the sun. If it were just a few miles closer, we'd all burn up. A few miles further out, and we'd all freeze to death!"

Sorry guys, does anyone have a crowbar? My palm seems to have adhered itself firmly to my face.
posted by edd at 11:59 AM on April 8, 2011 [1 favorite]


Man, Papa Nurgle never gets any love from these people.

No respect, I say, no respect.
posted by Slackermagee at 12:00 PM on April 8, 2011 [3 favorites]


Why would I want anything to do with such an insane belief system?

You get a free cracker and a little bit of wine on Sunday mornings

Go to shul on Saturday mornings and you might get a whole entire bagel to go with your bit of wine. Play your cards right and you might get some Oneg Shabbat Cookies (just thumbprint cookes, but they tend to show up after Shabbat services at synagogues across the nation for no particular reason I am aware of)


Yes, but you have to admit that the Christians totally clean up on the holidays. Jewish? You get dreidels and chocolates and such. Christians get chocolate on Easter, and come Christmas we are talking serious swag. And they are 'forgiven' all year long, every day, whereas if you are Jewish you just have to wait around until Yom Kippur comes.
posted by misha at 12:05 PM on April 8, 2011


Well, we do have chocolate matzah, but it's pretty ick.
posted by Mchelly at 12:08 PM on April 8, 2011


Hey, let's not forget chocolate gelt!
posted by vorfeed at 12:12 PM on April 8, 2011


You get a free cracker and a little bit of wine on Sunday mornings


Go to shul on Saturday mornings and you might get a whole entire bagel to go with your bit of wine. Play your cards right and you might get some Oneg Shabbat Cookies (just thumbprint cookes, but they tend to show up after Shabbat services at synagogues across the nation for no particular reason I am aware of)


The page for Donnie the Discordian looks like a scanned book of carpet samples covered in Korean cuss words. I clicked on it and my computer ejected a waffle from the DVD slot.


And this is why I'm Discordian.
posted by LSK at 12:12 PM on April 8, 2011 [3 favorites]


Yes, but you have to admit that the Christians totally clean up on the holidays. Jewish? You get dreidels and chocolates and such. Christians get chocolate on Easter, and come Christmas we are talking serious swag.

Christians: Chocolate on Easter
Jews: Hamentaschen on Purim, latkes on Chanukah, matzoh (and charoset - best food ever) on Passover, and bagels and lox year-round.
winner: Jews

Christians: Costumes on Halloween
Jews: Costumes on Purim
winner: tie

Christians: One (real) day of Christmas.
Jews: Eight days of Chanukah
winner: Jews
posted by LSK at 12:15 PM on April 8, 2011


While not Jewish, I have an affinity for bagels so, hands down on Jews winning
posted by handbanana at 12:17 PM on April 8, 2011


God identified Himself as "I Am" (Exodus 20:2) - meaning He is the self-existent (never had a beginning or end) eternal Creator of the universe. He is not the same as Allah, because Allah doesn't exist.

Oh shit, I'm doing it wrong.
posted by hal_c_on at 12:22 PM on April 8, 2011 [2 favorites]


No way! Hindus win on the holidays. I mean, Holi alone takes the really, really sweet cake.
posted by jardinier at 12:24 PM on April 8, 2011


Shakers win on furniture, though. No contest, really.
posted by Mchelly at 12:26 PM on April 8, 2011 [7 favorites]


You know, I really hate this evangelical emphasis on being "saved" and discounting of the importance of good works. The Catholicism I grew up with (and the Protestant denominations my friends grew up with) emphasized being a good person, and as far as I'm concerned, that's pretty much all it had going for it. Isn't that one of the reasons that Christians give for becoming a Christian, that without it we would all run around murdering people? That's the reason they always give me, anyway.
posted by WorkingMyWayHome at 12:26 PM on April 8, 2011


Yeah, Shaker furniture is definitely a win.

No nookie is a big ol' fail, though.
posted by WorkingMyWayHome at 12:28 PM on April 8, 2011 [2 favorites]


Derail, but this is probably my favorite Purim costume ever (I'm guessing they were on sale)
posted by Mchelly at 12:29 PM on April 8, 2011 [4 favorites]



Christians: One (real) day of Christmas.
Jews: Eight days of Chanukah
winner: Jews
I'm guessing the Raelians have the best parties though.
posted by delmoi at 12:29 PM on April 8, 2011 [1 favorite]


From Andy the Atheist's page: "Don't talk about sin with an atheist. In their worldview, morality is generally dependent on the situation and neutral, so there is no reference point in their minds for a concept of breaking God's universal laws."

Here's that ugly old canard, that atheists must also be amoral because they deny God who is the source of morality. It takes a certain lack of imagination to believe that any strong moral framework is inherently dependent on an argument-by-authority from an old book.

...but you can (and should) live such a Christlike life that those around you sense something different, which opens the door for you to explain the 'evidence'.

If you have to put evidence in quotes, you've already lost against an atheist.
posted by qxntpqbbbqxl at 12:34 PM on April 8, 2011 [4 favorites]


Here's that ugly old canard, that atheists must also be amoral because they deny God who is the source of morality.

Yeah, everyone knows that atheists get their morality from the Atheist Pope: Kurt Vonnegut.
posted by muddgirl at 12:38 PM on April 8, 2011 [1 favorite]


I don't think that's a fair description of what it says about atheists, qxntpqbbafhhas. At least the first bit you quoted. I think a lot of atheists would agree with the statement that morality is generally dependent on the situation and there is no universal moral code handed down by god. That's not the same as being amoral and, I think, the bit you quoted doesn't say that it is.
posted by Justinian at 12:38 PM on April 8, 2011


Discordians: a hot dog bun every Friday
Discordians: no hot dog buns, ever.
Winner: The Fans
posted by jtron at 12:40 PM on April 8, 2011


I sense something different about you. Is that a new cologne? Why, yes - it is! I switched to Christlike cologne. Christlike cologne: Take. Smell. This is my body odor, that you may share the faith! Do not drink the body odor of Christ. Do you not spray in the eyes. May cause burning sensation for much of eternity if sprayed directly in the eyes. Really - you may think it will give you super vision, but it will just hurt like atch-ee double hockey sticks! Don't do it!
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 12:43 PM on April 8, 2011 [2 favorites]


Hari's worldview called Hinduism is a religion that actually originated in Europe over 3000 years ago with a group of people called Aryans who migrated to India and spread their religion there.

Oh, this will go well.
posted by goethean at 12:46 PM on April 8, 2011 [3 favorites]


From Any Atheist page:
Every person born on this planet is born into sin, is destined for hell and needs a Savior. Salvation is by faith in Christ on the basis of His death on the cross. Good works or self-denial have nothing to do with being saved.

Why would I want anything to do with such an insane belief system?


Can I take a stab at this?

From what I read myself in the Bible, God set it up so that "all were bound in disobedience" so that when Jesus died his death and resurrection would be efficatious (sp?) for all who would believe. In other words, God wanted to give everyone the widest possible chance to get rescued.

Now where good works come in is that they are an evidence that a person has been born again. The works themselves don't save anyone. An atheist or a Scientologist can do good works. That is not the point. The point is a restored relationship with God. However, the Bible says you can know a person by his fruits-so if good works are not forthcoming there is a pretty good chance that the person is not actually born again.

I've actually had a few discussions re this with my son who is in the process of conversion to the Eastern Orthodox faith, which does put more emphasis on the sanctification process. I agree it is a bit more complicated than "saying a magic prayer" which more and more I am seeing as maybe doing more harm than good to the cause.
posted by St. Alia of the Bunnies at 12:47 PM on April 8, 2011 [2 favorites]


Ninja evangelism is less pushy, and more kicky and stabby.

Can I take a stab at this?

OMG NINJA!!!
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 12:52 PM on April 8, 2011 [1 favorite]


morality is generally dependent on the situation and neutral

Does anyone have an explanation for what "neutral" means in that context? I can't figure it out.
posted by muddgirl at 12:54 PM on April 8, 2011


With the bit earlier about Moses being a cut-up, and his 300 style massacre of 3,000, I gotta point out that Alia Atreides, aka St. Alia of the KNIFE was totally a fremen ninja. It all comes together...
posted by jardinier at 12:56 PM on April 8, 2011 [1 favorite]


Atheist morality is like ground. If a Christian and a Satanist hold hands, you need an Atheist to keep the universe from exploding. Duh! it's just basic science.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 12:58 PM on April 8, 2011 [2 favorites]


So we're the particles that add mass but no charge?
posted by muddgirl at 1:01 PM on April 8, 2011


muddgirl: I would bet that the intention is to refer to cultural relativism, the idea that all cultures are equal and can only be judged against their own internal logic - which can be traced from the enlightenment thinker Johann Gottfried von Herder up through a re-emergence of the notion in the American academic anthropology of Franz Boas and his students, it continues to be an influential view in the social sciences. Some would claim it's a universally accepted principle in anthropology, sociology, etc.
posted by jardinier at 1:02 PM on April 8, 2011 [2 favorites]


(this relates to morality because it suggests that you can never say something is "wrong" or "right" only that it's wrong or right in relation to the particular culture/society/belief system you're looking at)
posted by jardinier at 1:04 PM on April 8, 2011


This site is so amazingly ignorant, it is an offense to the young people it is supposed to be guiding. Are young people stupid because they are young? Can they not read? Are they incapable of understanding complex ideas?
I don't see this in the young people I know. I meet a lot of teens who are curious and who particularly like questions with no real answers. They like investigating problems of the mind, and they like open-minded adults.

Where I live "christianity" was a part of the public school curriculum till recently, though private schools could choose a broader perspective on religion, or exchange another religion for christianity. For this reason, I went to private school. Now the mandated subject is "religion". Just to say, it's not like other parts of the world are not as crazy as the US. At my school, the "religion"-teacher was a devout proselyting Lutheran, and she was also the math-teacher, so if anyone was extempted from religion by their parents, they'd get the dose during the math lessons. BUT - she took pride in presenting all the other religions and the whole scale of nihilism - agnosticism fairly and as fully as possible within the time-limit of two lessons a week (the time she took from math was dutifully replaced by not teaching religion at all up to math exams, even in the religion lessons). This was because she was so devout, she trusted we would chose God when presented with the proper material. This had the added advantage of most of our parents trusting her teaching and not seeking extemptions. Also, she had respect for our individual intelligences and our families. For me, she is a role model.
She did install in me a life-long interest in religion, though I returned to my atheist roots after some years of soul searching. And no, I can't recognize myself in the description of the atheist. I know and like the bible better than most Christians I've met, and I don't think it's full of lies. I don't ever argue with religious people, because I respect their choices. I don't "believe" in evolution, I know it is a fact of existence on earth, like gravity.
posted by mumimor at 1:25 PM on April 8, 2011


As far as hell goes, the only time Christian Evangelists have ever brought it up in discussions with me, and it always comes up in their conversion attempts, has been in the context of the need to do what they tell me to do or face eternal torture.

So, yeah, in the context of conversion that is the entire point of hell: the threat necessary for the spiritual protection racket they're running.

As for justice, I don't see justice involved in torturing anyone. Much less torturing them for all eternity. Certainly not for the "crime" of praying to the wrong deity, or not praying at all. I don't think Hitler or Stalin deserve even a few minutes of torture, much less an eternity of it.
posted by sotonohito at 1:51 PM on April 8, 2011 [1 favorite]


As far as hell goes, the only time Christian Evangelists have ever brought it up in discussions with me, and it always comes up in their conversion attempts, has been in the context of the need to do what they tell me to do or face eternal torture.

Yeah, it's the second step on the Roman Road, which is the one tool we used to be given as young Christians - we were told that "studies show that it takes 7 encounters with a fact to change our mind, so don't give up if it doesn't work the first time."

That's some pretty magical thinking, and might I say even works-based salvation?
This is an action, and actions will not save you. However, it is an act of obedience and a symbol of commitment.
Hahaha oh man. Perfect example of the sort of knots we had to tie ourselves into to explain that we are saved by faith alone (but that we'd want to do good things if we were actually saved). Oh Calvinism...
posted by muddgirl at 1:59 PM on April 8, 2011


Oh Calvinism...

*wishes he had the photoshop skills to depict a (John) Calvin-peeing-on-Rome car decal*
posted by joe lisboa at 2:09 PM on April 8, 2011 [1 favorite]


I have a serious problem with their approach. For one thing, they refer to the people they are preaching to as "friends" but they do not treat them the way you would a friend. Trying to make your friends feel bad about themselves or their religion, including having a long term plan for undermining the faith of your "friend", strikes me as wrong and not the approach of Jesus and his disciples.

For example, from Jordan the Jehovah's Witness:

Jordan may be deeply entrenched in her false beliefs, so be open to developing a long term relationship if you want to be effective.

This sounds like they are encouraging a youth to start a friendship with the intention of rescuing someone from their "false beliefs". This strikes me as insidious. I can't even imagine this really.

Another problem with their entire approach is they just offer up scriptures as a response to other's "false beliefs", which does not work with non-Christian religions. Reading the page on Hari the Hindu, there is a section on Hindu beliefs (which I assume is as inaccurate as all of the others), and then it goes into offering up scriptural answers to these beliefs. But why would this hold any sway with Hari? It almost feels like the site is trying to remind Evangelical youths of their own beliefs so they aren't swayed by others when they're out proselytizing.

Think about it. They spend a ton of time telling kids how to "share their faith," and their materials on that subject are better than most. But they don't seem to spend a lot of time making sure that kids actually know what they believe. Or why.


This may be why it seems half of every page is dedicated to listing their doctrinal responses to the false beliefs of others. I wondered who that could be for since simply mentioning a scripture would persuade no one. You're right; they've missed a step. I guess they think understanding your own beliefs and living them is "works".
posted by Danila at 2:18 PM on April 8, 2011 [1 favorite]


Another problem with their entire approach is they just offer up scriptures as a response to other's "false beliefs", which does not work with non-Christian religions.

That's why I think that whole section is really meant to be a pre-step on the path to conversion - it's meant to "Gird the Loins with Truth" (which is like an actual thing we discussed in youth group - I think it's in one of Paul's letters). That way if a Hindu comes at them with some jab like "You don't believe in any of my Gods, why should I believe in yours?" the christian's tender bits will be protected.
posted by muddgirl at 2:22 PM on April 8, 2011


...the christian's tender bits will be protected... and they won't suddenly end up as a Hindu.
posted by muddgirl at 2:23 PM on April 8, 2011


Sadly/amusingly/whatnot, the same can be said of many "serious" LOLXian comments online.

As an atheist, I find the "sky daddy" type comments absolutely equivalent to this kind of proselytization manual. The only difference is that this actually seems to be outward-directed (i.e., toward the people you're supposed to be converting, not just to other evangelicals) and I think a lot of the sky-daddy behavior is public preening for other atheists.
posted by immlass at 2:32 PM on April 8, 2011 [2 favorites]


Gilles the Gnostic?
posted by mrgrimm at 2:44 PM on April 8, 2011


Andy the Atheist is Sean Astin!
posted by chinston at 2:44 PM on April 8, 2011 [1 favorite]


Also, Is It Hot in Here or Is It Just You?

"I must admit, I think our whole 'guy must ask girl out and not the other way around' thing is messed up. Guys have the freedom every day to make a dating attempt, whereas girls generally have to wait for the once a year opportunity known as Sadie Hawkins..."

When was this stuff written? 1960?
posted by mrgrimm at 2:47 PM on April 8, 2011


1960 BC
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 2:56 PM on April 8, 2011


As for justice, I don't see justice involved in torturing anyone. Much less torturing them for all eternity...I don't think Hitler or Stalin deserve even a few minutes of torture, much less an eternity of it.

I agree. I don't see any justice in torture. But lots of people do. Lots of people think that Hitler or Stalin would deserve an eternity of torment for what they did. So I think it's fair to say that the doctrine of hell might be a product of people's desire for justice (even if we see that desire as having been warped into a desire for something more like revenge) rather than a merely cynical threat to create converts.
posted by straight at 3:03 PM on April 8, 2011


I was in college with The Matrix first came out, and I saw it with some friends and friends-of-friends. One of the people I didn't know was a cute girl who started chatting to me after the movie. She asked me what I thought of the movie, and tied it into the world of Jesus.

I'm an atheist and I also tied the movie about Savior of Humanity who hung out with a woman named Trinity on a ship called the Nebuchadnezzar into 'the world of Jesus'. (And the world of Gibson, and the world of Superman....).
posted by Lovecraft In Brooklyn at 3:10 PM on April 8, 2011


This whole thread makes me want to watch Saved! again. I probably will this weekend.
posted by Mister Fabulous at 3:14 PM on April 8, 2011 [1 favorite]


Law's a philosopher. I know him best for the Evil God Challenge

Wow, pw201, thanks for that link.

Unfortunately for Law his argument had the opposite effect on me of what he intended.

His case for why an Evil God might create a world with good in it seems very convincing. In fact, just on the face of things, it seems obvious that an Evil God could enjoy the evil in a world that also contained some good in it. If Law's argument for symmetry is correct then this makes me think that maybe the problem of evil is a less significant objection to Christian conceptions of God than I thought.
posted by straight at 3:14 PM on April 8, 2011


This whole thread makes me want to watch Saved! again.

That movie is the perfect example of what I call "fair, but not balanced."

It is fair in the sense that pretty much every silly and nasty thing in the movie can be found in real-world Christian sub-cultures.

But not balanced in that it omits almost all the good things that can be found in those subcultures.
posted by straight at 3:22 PM on April 8, 2011


Don't confuse Wiccans with witches, because anyone can practice witchcraft, but Wiccans follow a strict code. Also, don't confuse Wiccans with Satanists, because most Wiccans don't believe in Satan or the devil.
This paragraph alone puts this site about 10 places above anything similar I've ever read that speaks from a Christian perspective.
posted by andreaazure at 3:28 PM on April 8, 2011 [2 favorites]


But not balanced in that it omits almost all the good things that can be found in those subcultures.

Like what? I thought there were lots of "good things" on display. It's just that "good things" in the Christian subculture aren't really any different than the good things in any other culture, even though they may feel they have a special claim to goodness.

That seemed like the point of the movie.
posted by muddgirl at 3:30 PM on April 8, 2011 [1 favorite]


"good things" in the Christian subculture aren't really any different than the good things in any other culture, even though they may feel they have a special claim to goodness

The nugat is Christier.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 3:43 PM on April 8, 2011


but similarly, non-religious could give up trying to reason with the religious.

"If you could reason with religious people, there wouldn't be any religious people."
posted by Aquaman at 3:54 PM on April 8, 2011 [2 favorites]


They found me, I don't know how, but they found me.

Might've been by your t-shirt.
posted by cmgonzalez at 4:09 PM on April 8, 2011 [2 favorites]


Randy Alcorn posted this link to his chapter on Hell from the book If God is Good. For any of you interested in an "apologetic" on the Christian doctrine of Hell I would consider this worth your while.
posted by St. Alia of the Bunnies at 4:18 PM on April 8, 2011


Might've been by your t-shirt.

*looks down*

Sonofa...!
posted by kittens for breakfast at 4:19 PM on April 8, 2011



Haven't indulged in a serious discussion with a religionist for almost 50 years. I still troll them. But nothing serious after hearing for the umteenth time, "you have to have faith"
posted by notreally at 4:21 PM on April 8, 2011


I have Faith. It's better than 17 Seconds but not quite as good as Pornography.
posted by everichon at 4:31 PM on April 8, 2011 [1 favorite]


Their reading of brokeback at least acknowledged the complicated sexualities of the movie, but it seemed to think that sex instead of homophobia was the reason for the problem. The LDS link is fairly close to the Godmakers DVD, which is an evagenlical attempt to discredit the incredibly complex and often inconsistent cosomology of the church. im glad evangelicals have stopped trying to convert me and rest on my general confusion.
posted by PinkMoose at 4:45 PM on April 8, 2011


This whole thread makes me want to reread Caesar's Messiah, Joseph Atwill's argument that the New Testament was written by members of the caesar's court as a means of getting the Jews to submit to the Romans, and that the Jesus of the story is based alternately on Titus and various Jewish rabblerousers.
posted by notashroom at 5:00 PM on April 8, 2011


Most surveys show that around 15% of Americans call themselves atheist.

GET THE FUCK OUTTA HERE! I WISH!
posted by jason's_planet at 5:02 PM on April 8, 2011


Danila: Another problem with their entire approach is they just offer up scriptures as a response to other's "false beliefs", which does not work with non-Christian religions.

muddgirl: That's why I think that whole section is really meant to be a pre-step on the path to conversion

I'm non-religious, but I sing in a Presbyterian choir for complicated familial reasons. The pastor recently did a sermon on "7 top responses to some reasons your unchurched/unbeliever family and friends might have for not becoming Christian." Response #7, presented as the most powerful, was "Jesus died for our sins. Think about that." I was sitting there, thinking, "And?...Why does he think that's going to persuade somebody of different, well-considered beliefs, to drop their beliefs and adopt his?" Eventually I concluded that he himself finds it so moving and transformative that he can't conceive of having a lukewarm or skeptical reaction. I plan to ask him directly at some point.

That pre-step interpretation never occurred to me. It sheds a different light on things.
posted by cybercoitus interruptus at 5:07 PM on April 8, 2011 [2 favorites]


Like Alisha the Agnostic, talk to Erin about the observable evidence of God that is built in to creation like how 'fine tuned' the universe is to support life, otherwise we wouldn't even exist. This fine tuning simply could not have happened by accident. For example, the earth is the perfect distance from the sun. If it were just a few miles closer, we'd all burn up. A few miles further out, and we'd all freeze to death!
The earth's distance from the sun varies by around 3 million miles between perihelion and aphelion. Of course these folks might need convincing that the earth rotates around the sun, and not vice versa.
posted by jenkinsEar at 6:01 PM on April 8, 2011 [3 favorites]


this thread has led me to the most horrific realization: as a devout Pastafarian I have been in a state of MORTAL SIN these past weeks by practicing fairly strict Aktins diet!!!! will the FSM understand in his infinite saucy wisdom?

also, I want the thing that spits out waffles please!
posted by supermedusa at 6:08 PM on April 8, 2011 [1 favorite]


straight: I think if you accept both sets of arguments because you think they're symmetrical, you have no particular reason to think that God is either good or bad. I still think that means Christianity has a problem, because it claims that God is good (indeed, the very ground for morality, on some Christian views, see Bill Craig vs Sam Harris, last night) but there doesn't seem to be evidence for this claim. As Hume puts it:
Let us allow, that, if the goodness of the Deity (I mean a goodness like the human) could be established on any tolerable reasons a priori, these phenomena, however untoward, would not be sufficient to subvert that principle; but might easily, in some unknown manner, be reconcilable to it. But let us still assert, as this goodness is not antecedently established, but must be inferred from the phenomena, there can be no grounds for such an inference, while there are so many ills in the universe, and while these ills might so easily have been remedied, as far as human understanding can be allowed to judge on such a subject. I am Sceptic enough to allow, that the bad appearances, notwithstanding all my reasonings, may be compatible with such attributes as you suppose; but surely they can never prove these attributes.
But you're probably not Laws' target: he's aiming at theists who accept the good-God theodicies but not their evil-God counterparts and effectively accusing them of having a double standard.
posted by pw201 at 6:14 PM on April 8, 2011


The views expressed about atheists, etc. might be surprisingly tolerant, but poor Mo the Muslim was a horrific stereotype. "Radically committed"? Seriously? Yet another example of the entire Muslim faith being judged by the worst of its zealots. Their portrayal of Islam is akin to classifying all Christians as if they belonged to the Quiverful movement or some such. Any person belonging to any religion can be a zealot. There is nothing in Islam that says that all Muslims must be wild-eyed jihadists, contrary to popular Western belief.

The whole concept behind the website is seriously disturbing as well. How insecure in your own faith do you have to be to focus so much on converting everyone around you?
posted by Go Banana at 6:15 PM on April 8, 2011


How insecure in your own faith do you have to be to focus so much on converting everyone around you?

They worship a God who will forgive everything except lack of fealty. Talk about insecure.

I think, perhaps, you get the God that you deserve. Which in my case probably means a Schrödinger's God who exists only when I think He doesn't, and then only to be a smart-ass.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 6:39 PM on April 8, 2011 [6 favorites]


Jason The Jedi Knight
posted by jason's_planet at 6:41 PM on April 8, 2011


I too only read the Andy the Atheist page and found it quite reasonable, but missing important stats such as hit points, number of attacks, and experience gained for a successful conversion.
posted by tumid dahlia at 6:52 PM on April 8, 2011 [4 favorites]


If you convert the Devil, do you win the game? Or do you lose, 'cause then everybody could just walk out of Hell? Hmm... It's a puzzler.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 6:55 PM on April 8, 2011


How insecure in your own faith do you have to be to focus so much on converting everyone around you?

From an Evangelical Christian point of view, that's like asking "How insecure in your own wealth do you have to be to spend all your time giving money away to people who need it?"
posted by straight at 7:04 PM on April 8, 2011 [7 favorites]


pw201, that assumes that you have no extra-philosophical reasons for believing God is good. If, for instance, you believe God is good because you believe what the New Testament writers had to say about Jesus, and yet you are still unsettled by the problem of evil, Law's argument seems like it might weaken that objection to your beliefs.
posted by straight at 7:09 PM on April 8, 2011


From an Evangelical Christian point of view, that's like asking "How insecure in your own wealth do you have to be to spend all your time giving money away to people who need it?"

I understand what you're saying, but I find this particular comparison to be interesting.
posted by muddgirl at 7:14 PM on April 8, 2011


mudgirl, it's been a while since I saw Saved, but my recollection is that no character in the movie does something good motivated by and as an expression of their Christian faith. Nor is there anything about the piety of the Christians that isn't portrayed as at least ridiculous if not downright insincere.

As someone who has spent time in those kinds of subcultures, I recognized and laughed at the faults they were mocking and critiquing, but there were types of people, attitudes, activities, ways of talking and praying, etc. that seemed conspicuously absent.

But then every group feels unfairly stereotyped by Hollywood.
posted by straight at 7:25 PM on April 8, 2011 [1 favorite]


Or, muddgirl, you could compare it to some more mainstream Christian leaders.

“When I have money, I get rid of it quickly, lest it find a way into my heart.” -- John Wesley

”I am afraid the only safe rule is to give more than we can spare…If our charities do not at all pinch or hamper us,… they are too small. There ought to be things we should like to do and cannot do because our charitable expenditures excludes them.” -- C.S. Lewis

(Lewis, when a friend told him the beggar he'd given money to would just use it to get drunk, said, "Well, that's what I was going to use it for.")
posted by straight at 7:52 PM on April 8, 2011 [5 favorites]


I gave my faith to a beggar, lest it find a way into my heart. He got drunk on it.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 7:55 PM on April 8, 2011 [2 favorites]


Well, we were discussing evangelicals, a subset of Christians, and the evangelicals can claim their decentralized church structure as both a strength and a weakness - if they want to claim Lewis, they gotta take Benny Hinn. It's a big-tent church.
posted by muddgirl at 8:42 PM on April 8, 2011


From the Christians are to the world as Dwight is to The Office page linked earlier:

"You may not be the bomb diggity with all the folks around you, but you can be sure that one day Jesus will look you right in the eye with a proud look on His face and say: ''Well done, my good and faithful servant" (Matthew 25:21). To me, that is worth being a Dwight for the rest of my life!"

Champagne comedy!
posted by harriet vane at 8:48 PM on April 8, 2011


Dare2Share: What happens at Passover?
Jenna: The whole family gets together and we eat unleavened bread made out of the blood of Christian babies.
Dare2Share: Why doesn't she offer sacrifices today?
Jenna: Are you even listening to my answers?
posted by escabeche at 8:50 PM on April 8, 2011 [3 favorites]


If you can be reasoned out of your faith, it wasn't really faith in the first place.

Then, if you have faith, you are an android.

It is the moral responsibility of all human beings to form the best picture of the world they can and react accordingly. Our only tool with which to do this is our reason. You must be absolutely sure of your axioms, and the only way you can do that is to take only the most obvious ones, the ones that you couldn't even operate without.

What I hate about this page is that it encourages people to "share" their religion. But based on the five or so times people "witnessed" to me back in school, this sharing is always one-way. They aren't interested in your point of view. If you manage to get a word in edgeways they will always find a way to turn the conversation around to what they want to talk about -- and because they are working from memorized scripts, they will usually be a lot better at finding arguments than you could be anyway.

They don't treat you as a human being; you are a target. They are testing you for humanity. The Gospel, to them, is the gom jabbar. Why yes I've been reading Dune lately, why do you ask?
posted by JHarris at 9:29 PM on April 8, 2011 [4 favorites]


That's been my experience as well, JHarris, and you see it in the website--all you have to do is quote Bible verses at people to get them to convert! The purpose of the conversation leading up to that is to help you choose exactly the right verses to use.

Those "conversations" are never productive. I finally got my Office Manager at work to quit trying to convert me by telling her that if her god exists, he must have my e-mail address and he can drop me a line whenever he wants to.
posted by WorkingMyWayHome at 9:49 PM on April 8, 2011


zachlipton: "If you aren't reading Christians are to the world as Dwight is to The Office, you're missing out on some amazing commentary. "

"Question: What kind of religion is best?"

"That's debatable. There are basically dozens of schools of thought--"

"False. My religion."
posted by Rhaomi at 9:52 PM on April 8, 2011 [8 favorites]


If you can be reasoned out of your faith,

Then your faith wasn't reasonable.
posted by doctor_negative at 12:07 AM on April 9, 2011


Advice for sharing your faith with Decani the deicidal:

Wear an abdominal protector or be a very fast runner.
posted by Decani at 1:00 AM on April 9, 2011


The first thing you need to ask an atheist is "do you really seek to discover the truth - even if it costs you your reputation, and even your friends?" If the answer is no, then realize that he/she is not willing to go where the evidence leads; you won't be having an honest intellectual dialogue, but your conversation may still have a spiritual impact.

Pot. Kettle. Black.
posted by three blind mice at 5:04 PM on April 8


Indeed. Here's the atheist version, which I find to be delightfully condescending (and knowingly futile, I suspect).

The reason I rarely bother to "debate" with religious people any more is that I rarely find any who are prepared to entertain the possibility of rejecting or significantly changing a belief set which is based on a fairly high degree of personal need. I have found such people but like I say: rarely. This site is trying to be "reasonable" but the constant falling back on the Bible as something that is just the truth, because it is, so its true, it is, it IS... shows that they, too, are "not willing to go where the evidence leads".

I used to be a Christian. I let the evidence take me where it led, and I was still young when it became unavoidably clear that it led far away from Christianity. These people are never going to be able to make an impression on people like me unless they can show that their claims to knowledge of truth are both reasonable and supported by good, solid evidence.

Good luck with that, folks.
posted by Decani at 1:29 AM on April 9, 2011 [1 favorite]


Has anyone in this discussion considered that evangelists of any creed may have some semblance of alturism in their motivations, that they're not preaching for the sake of brownie points or tithes?
posted by Apocryphon at 1:59 AM on April 9, 2011


It's strange - I'm not religious, but I feel like I have a religious mindset. I just transfer it to things that aren't religions or gods. Getting someone into something you like - something that's helped give your life meaning - just feels GOOD. You can get someone else to understand a part of the world in a way that you understand it and share in an experiance that you share in. One more person who is a bit more like you! One more person who can sit down and discuss The Wire or Minecraft or whatever with you! One more person who GETS IT!

This is more defensible with bands and games and books then with major faiths that everyone always knows about. Then again, Stephen King is one of the most popular writers in the world and I still push some of his books on everyone...
posted by Lovecraft In Brooklyn at 7:08 AM on April 9, 2011


Of course, Apocryphon, which is why I try to be as patient as I can be with these people. But please re-read Decani's comment. In practice their attempts to convert me are cloaked in an incredible amount of condescension and arrogance. They insist that the only reason I'm an atheist is because I won't open my mind to it, so I reply, okay, if you have an argument to make, make it. And their argument is basically "just believe it, it's true." They demand that I "open my mind" when they're the ones who've never considered an alternative to their beliefs.
posted by WorkingMyWayHome at 8:14 AM on April 9, 2011 [2 favorites]


Has anyone in this discussion considered that evangelists of any creed may have some semblance of alturism in their motivations, that they're not preaching for the sake of brownie points or tithes?

Yes. But that makes it no less obnoxious to be on the receiving end of it. Having been proselytized at by both evangelicals and atheists in my day, it leaves you feeling like the other party has no respect for you or your fundamental beliefs.

This is more defensible with bands and games and books then with major faiths that everyone always knows about.

No, having also been on the business end of that, it's a pretty asshole move too, particularly when repeated at uninterested parties for weeks/months/years on end. One bite at the apple is one thing, but I don't believe in God, I don't like Rush, Heinlein annoys me, and I don't give a shit about any of the Whedon properties, so just fucking leave it already, thanks.
posted by immlass at 8:29 AM on April 9, 2011 [1 favorite]


Has anyone in this discussion considered that evangelists of any creed may have some semblance of alturism in their motivations, that they're not preaching for the sake of brownie points or tithes?

Yes, and that is admirable, I'd say, to a point. I'd love to hear from a thoughtful Christian who is willing to honestly talk about his beliefs, acknowledge the points he's not sure about or has trouble with, and genuinely exchange ideas. "Witnesses," however, almost never do this in my experience. Instead they hand out smug little fliers and booklets, and when they do talk to you tend to work from scripts (either explicit or by way of rote formulas, such as quoting Bible verses or strange little bits of code like "do you accept Jesus Christ as your persona savior," which is bizarrely like the "magic" they claim exists and is the tool of "the devil"). It is the McDonalds approach to argument. They aren't trying to engage with you; I honestly doubt they ever engage with anything. They are presenting you with a Happy Meal of theology. You can eat it or discard it, but it comes as it comes, a thing without variation.

No, having also been on the business end of that, it's a pretty asshole move too,

I understand the impulse behind what you say, but... dear whoever, then why are you even here on Metafilter, the entire point of which is to find new things, post about them, and read about them?
posted by JHarris at 8:41 AM on April 9, 2011 [1 favorite]


why are you even here on Metafilter, the entire point of which is to find new things, post about them, and read about them?

Because I like finding new things, just not being harassed about them. Also, Metafilter has this shiny button with an x in one corner that allows me to close the window that is missing with real life interactions with rabid fanatics of particular media properties.
posted by immlass at 8:50 AM on April 9, 2011 [1 favorite]


this thread has led me to the most horrific realization: as a devout Pastafarian I have been in a state of MORTAL SIN these past weeks by practicing fairly strict Aktins diet!!!! will the FSM understand in his infinite saucy wisdom?
Wait, so pastafarians are supposed to eat the embodiment of their god? GROSS.
Then, if you have faith, you are an android.

It is the moral responsibility of all human beings to form the best picture of the world they can and react accordingly. Our only tool with which to do this is our reason. You must be absolutely sure of your axioms, and the only way you can do that is to take only the most obvious ones, the ones that you couldn't even operate without.
Yes, because the defining characteristic of androids is that they do not operate based on logic. Whereas clearly humans are always rational and logical in their decisions...
posted by delmoi at 8:56 AM on April 9, 2011


Well, we were discussing evangelicals, a subset of Christians, and the evangelicals can claim their decentralized church structure as both a strength and a weakness - if they want to claim Lewis, they gotta take Benny Hinn. It's a big-tent church.

Sure, but you asked what Saved left out, and I was saying that it (metaphorically) portrays the evangelical tent as nothing but Benny Hinn when in fact the likes of Wesley and Lewis can be found in there as well.
posted by straight at 9:01 AM on April 9, 2011


I'm confused - I thought my reference to Benny Hinn had nothing to do with Saved! and everything to do with this exchange:
Someone: How insecure in your own faith do you have to be to focus so much on converting everyone around you?

Straight: From an Evangelical Christian point of view, that's like asking "How insecure in your own wealth do you have to be to spend all your time giving money away to people who need it?"
I think there definitely are positive portrayals of Christians in that movie - the pastor's son, the main character's gay boyfriend, the mom at the end of the film. The important question is, "Can we separate a desire to be A Good Christian from our own ego?" Christian thinkers have been asking this question since, well, Jesus.
posted by muddgirl at 9:28 AM on April 9, 2011


Because I like finding new things, just not being harassed about them.

If someone just happens to like a new band and tells you about it, I don't think it's the same as being harassed. Similarly, people might not have the shiny 'x' button, but sympathetic friends will at least stop bothering you about a thing, I'd hope, if you told them you weren't interested. Maybe I was reading too much in into your comment?
posted by JHarris at 9:45 AM on April 9, 2011


Sorry, muddgirl, in my mind I was cleverly tying both threads together with a single comment. In reality, I guess not.

I concede that there are plenty of evangelicals who are both obnoxious about proselytizing and ingenious in their sophistry that allows them to amass wealth and ignore the needs of the poor and the pervasive Christian tradition of warnings to the contrary.
posted by straight at 9:49 AM on April 9, 2011


Has anyone in this discussion considered that evangelists of any creed may have some semblance of alturism in their motivations, that they're not preaching for the sake of brownie points or tithes?
posted by Apocryphon at 9:59 AM on April 9


Oh, I'm sure many of them do. That doesn't make them any less annoyingly importunate and self-centred, and it doesn't make them any less worthy of being treated appropriately for those failings.
posted by Decani at 11:31 AM on April 9, 2011 [1 favorite]


But not all religious people who evangelize or proselytize act like or have the same tone as the American evangelicals/Protestant non-denoms like those in Saved or in the link of the OP.
posted by Apocryphon at 1:56 PM on April 9, 2011


Oh, I'm sure many of them do. That doesn't make them any less annoyingly importunate and self-centered, and it doesn't make them any less worthy of being treated appropriately for those failings.

I guess it becomes a bit question of how you treat people that have those failings then.
posted by Lord Chancellor at 2:05 PM on April 9, 2011


I too only read the Andy the Atheist page and found it quite reasonable, but missing important stats such as hit points, number of attacks, and experience gained for a successful conversion. -tumid dahlia

Wow, if the Xtian Conversion RPG doesn't already exist, you just invented it - this could be the next Left Behind. I remember in the 80s in elementary school when they banned D&D from our public school after pressure from local Christian groups because they believed it was related to "Satan worship." Despite the lack of evidence of anything more dangerous than us nerds rolling dice and drawing things on graph paper.
posted by jardinier at 2:29 PM on April 9, 2011


Similarly, people might not have the shiny 'x' button, but sympathetic friends will at least stop bothering you about a thing, I'd hope, if you told them you weren't interested.

You would think so, alas, but you wouldn't always be right. Each of the examples I originally cited were things I've been told, repeatedly, I should give more chances to, try again, etc. despite my polite (but apparently not insistent enough) demurral. Unsurprisingly, I'm not close to the folks who evangelized them to me any more. The act of unwanted evangelism is the common thread; it can turn otherwise nice people into boors.
posted by immlass at 3:34 PM on April 9, 2011


The problem, Apocryphon, is that the altruistic impulse you're referring to typically pushes them to keep hassling you about it. The Office Manager where I work tried several times with me and even called me at home to invite me to her church. This is a person who is one of my superiors at work--and the other two superiors are her parents. It could have gotten very sticky if I hadn't been able to joke her out of it.

That said, though, I've never had a problem dealing with LDS and Seventh-Day Adventists who come to the door--I just tell them "we're all atheists here," and they immediately high-tail it out of there as if it's catching. One of the last times I was at a family gathering at my parents' house, my mother sent me to deal with the LDS missionaries who knocked at the door because she knew I'd get rid of them quickly and easily (she's too nice to them and winds up listening to the whole spiel).
posted by WorkingMyWayHome at 8:52 PM on April 9, 2011


Sid... and... Marty?

WTF do they have against H.R. Pufnstuf... or maybe it's Sigmund and the Sea Monsters, or Land of the Lost?

Not sure... just thoroughly confused at this point...
posted by hambone at 10:54 PM on April 9, 2011


Of course that should have been:

Sid... and... Marty?
posted by hambone at 10:56 PM on April 9, 2011


This paragraph alone puts this site about 10 places above anything similar I've ever read that speaks from a Christian perspective.

Yeah, I was surprised that Willow the Wiccan was actually not utterly wrong. Surprisingly well done, in fact. Go figure.
posted by jenfullmoon at 8:35 AM on April 10, 2011


Apocryphon: "Has anyone in this discussion considered that evangelists of any creed may have some semblance of alturism in their motivations, that they're not preaching for the sake of brownie points or tithes"

"I just really, really believe and trust in the quality of CutCo knives! Honest!"
posted by DoctorFedora at 9:05 PM on April 10, 2011


straight: Suppose that, in Evil God world, the Evil God believers also have a holy book which claims that God is evil, just like you have a holy book which claims that God is good (neither book in fact bears the Five Marks of a Holy Book, but that's neither here nor there). They claim that this book justifies the belief that God is evil even given the instances of good in the world. Does that seem a reasonable way for them to proceed?

If not, I think you're using a double standard. If so, I think that, in agreeing that they are reasonable, you're admitting that books which claim God is evil or good have little evidential value, since it's equally reasonable to accept either book.
posted by pw201 at 1:32 AM on April 11, 2011


pw201, that assumes both books are equally convincing, which seems unlikely.
posted by straight at 7:50 AM on April 11, 2011


DoctorFedora, that's a pretty cynical perspective for someone who reads MetaFilter. By that logic, not a single person posts anything to MetaFilter because they genuinely think it's the Best of the Web. It's all just Pepsi Blue.
posted by straight at 7:57 AM on April 11, 2011


...I actually just got too hung up on the X-Files essay to read the rest of it. Talk about missing the boat.

Seriously, how can you claim that you're effectively using that as an evangelical tool without even ONCE saying "I want to believe"?
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 8:02 AM on April 11, 2011 [1 favorite]


In X-Files, Reason/Rationality is also a Catholic. (or Scully's religion keeps her from turning into the Spock to Mulder's Bones. either way)
posted by Lovecraft In Brooklyn at 5:16 PM on April 11, 2011


yeah, that actually was one of the reasons I liked the character so much -- human beings are often contradictory, so yeah, you had a rationalist who was also religious. And it made for a contrast to the character who was down with little green men and black helicopters and Bigfoot, but when it came to religion, he wasn't buying it...

The show itself had some interesting things to say about that, in fact. But this actually doesn't quite seem to touch on them at all. The "Using The X-Files Movie" essay was the only one I read, and that felt almost tacked-on - it gave a thumbnail of the plot, and then launched into evangi-speak without really tying the two together.

Seriously, if you're gonna use the X-files, USE the X-files. (The show had episodes that were inspired by The Grand Inquisitor and Last Temptation of Christ, for God's Sake!)
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 9:05 AM on April 12, 2011 [1 favorite]


It's also pretty realistic characterization. You don't often find someone who is traditionally and devoutly religious who is also a believer in UFOs and Bigfoot. And conversely, people into weird, fringe Art Bell stuff are usually into fringe religious beliefs as well, if they have any interest in traditional religion at all.
posted by straight at 11:44 AM on April 12, 2011


And Scully wasn't even uber-devout anyway.

She got a little more religious when she had cancer, and went to confession a couple times, and there was that episode when she was the one who came up with the wild theory instead of Mulder doing so, because of stories she'd heard about saint's bodies being "incorruptible"; but she wasn't a mass-every-week, fish-during-lent, hugely-devout observer. They made a big deal of her cross necklace, but that was more about being Totemically Scully rather than religious (it was Scully's own answer to Mulder's "I Want To Believe" poster). And I KNOW homegirl got some action in a couple episodes (Chris Carter denies it, but you CAN'T tell me she didn't have a one-night stand with the guy with the talking tattoo).

And yes, I'll stop now. (slinks off)
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 8:16 AM on April 13, 2011


straight: After considering it again, I think a valid objection to my previous argument (suppose that the evil God believers had their own holy book) would be that there is no such holy book in our world, and we're considering the evidence available to us. (Though I think there could still be an argument about a double standard if a good-God believer wouldn't accept the evidence of a hypothetically very convincing evil-God book, this doesn't provide an argument against good-God belief in our world).

Law does address the historical evidence in his paper, though:
Incidentally, the above response can be extended to deal with arguments for a good god based on historical evidence, such as the evidence provided by scripture (not all of which is rooted in religious experiences and miracles). Some will suggest there is much textual and other historical evidence that might be marshalled to support belief in a good deity, but no corresponding evidence to support belief in an evil deity – and this constitutes a significant asymmetry between our two god hypotheses.

In response, we may again ask – does this historical evidence really fit the good-god hypothesis better than the evil? Not if our evil god wishes to create the illusion that he is good, in order to foster the deception outlined above. It may well be in his interest to fabricate misleading evidence about his own character.

When we consider the spread of evidence supplied by the miracles, religious experiences, and also the historical evidence associated with the various different faiths, it is at least arguable that the pattern we find fits the evil-god hypothesis better than the good. For, to repeat, why on earth would a good god produce these phenomena in such a way as to guarantee endless religious strife? Surely their actual, disastrous arrangement is rather more likely to be the handiwork of a malignant being?
posted by pw201 at 2:34 AM on April 14, 2011


pla that doesn't really address my point.

Imagine the two holy books are two people. One says, "I've met god, he's evil, let me tell you about him." The other says, "I've met god, he's good, let me tell you about him." You have no conclusive way to independently verify either person's story.

I can imagine finding neither story at all compelling: "I don't believe a word either of these guys are saying." What I can't imagine is finding them equally compelling. I'm almost certain I would have an opinion that one of them was more believable than the other. That kind of opinion isn't proof, but it isn't worthless. A lot of what we believe about the world is based on those kinds of opinions.
posted by straight at 8:50 AM on April 14, 2011


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