Why Do the Faithful Avoid Church?

How many Christians do you know? Me, I know several. My mom, one of my friends, pretty much all of my extended family. They all consider themselves to be Christians. Yet here’s the interesting part: very few of them actually attend church on a regular basis. Oh, they might pop in for Christmas Eve services or Easter, but otherwise? They don’t go every Sunday. They don’t even appear to go on other days of the week.

Turns out they aren’t atypical. According to an article on Slate, a large number of Christians don’t actually attend church and the fun part is they say they do. Yes, they lie (bear false witness?), and say they attend church regularly, but don’t.

What’s up with this? Why do people lie about going to church? I think, and others seem to agree, that what’s happening is that people are constantly told that to be a good person, you must attend church. The people who lie about going know they are good people and want to appear as good people, so they figure a little white lie to firm up the image of them as a good person isn’t a big deal.

I think there are also a lot of people out there who really don’t believe in God anymore, but can’t quite take the step of viewing themselves as atheists. They certainly don’t want anyone else to know they don’t believe anymore, so they lie and exaggerate and claim to be religious and claim to go to church when they aren’t and don’t.

It’s an interesting disconnect, but one that I expect won’t last much longer. America is becoming more and more secular and in time we won’t have so many people feeling the need to pretend. They’ll discover the real freedom that comes with being true to themselves.



There’s few things I find more fundamentally tacky than people who do something very impressive and then feel the need to thank God for their success. It’s really, really weird. I keep thinking, “If God is responsible for this success you’re enjoying, why aren’t you giving all your money to the church?” I also keep thinking, “Why don’t any of them blame God when something goes wrong?”

Then this week a very kind football player did just that. His name is Steve Johnson and after dropping a pass he Tweeted this little gem:


I actually think this is completely logical. If God earns credit when you succeed, he should get blamed when you fail. I’m just surprised most believers don’t do this more often. It’s exactly what they should do. Blame God when you fuck up if you’re going to credit him when you do well.

What Hope Does Atheism Give?

In today’s edition of Unsurprising News we have comments from Stephen Hawking who, in a new book, says God wasn’t needed to create the universe and that due to gravity the Big Bang was inevitable.

To me this is absolutely no surprise and fairly obvious. Naturally it’s caused a great hue and cry from religious leaders who love to say that science doesn’t matter; that faith is what’s most important. But then get all antsy when science seems to continue to prove that there’s no god.

Oh, Tony. Tsk, tsk...

I’d be interested to hear the reaction of Tony Blair, the increasingly annoying former UK PM. Why? Because the other day he compared atheists with violent religious extremists.

“We face an aggressive secular attack from without. We face the threat of extremism from within.”

Arguing that there was “no hope” from atheists who scorn God, he said the best way to confront the secularist agenda was for all faiths to unite against it.

He said: “Those who scorn God and those who do violence in God’s name, both represent views of religion. But both offer no hope for faith in the twenty first century.”

*sigh* This is one of those old saws that I really hate; the concept that there’s no hope with atheism. That it offers a bleak and meaningless worldview where nothing we do matters. I can’t say that I’ve seen atheists compared with terrorists before, but I’m sure that’s only because I haven’t looked hard enough. You want some hope with atheism? I’ll deliver. Consider the following.

If there’s no God…

… then you have free-will and aren’t just a puppet controlled by some omnipotent, omniscient deity.

… then you won’t be punished for eternity for being gay.

… then there’s no such thing as the eternal prison of Hell or the eternal prison of Heaven.

… then you can eat bacon or shellfish and not have to worry about angering the Man in the Sky.

… then everything science points to as being true is true and not just some weird test by some god with nothing better to do than to fuck with his creations.

… then you aren’t answerable to some capricious, unethical monster, but are instead answerable to yourself, your family and your society.

… then admitting you don’t believe won’t result in your experiencing endless pain and suffering when you die.

These are just a few of the fine ways in which atheism offers hope. I’m sure I can come up with more if needed. Tony Blair and his kind are insulting and inaccurate when they claim there’s no hope through atheism. There’s plenty. There’s certainly more than there is with religion, especially if you’re gay, a woman or anyone with any real understanding of morals and decency.

Just Call Me Sicky McSick!

I am at work today, and yet I am sick. I have about 128+ hours of sick time saved up, but we’re short-staffed this week, so I can’t just call in without good reason. I’m at that stage where I’m healthy enough to work, technically, but I’m really, really miserable. I’d rather be at home, watching TV and eating chicken soup. Stupid swine flu. *cough, cough, oink*

But me being me, I have to find a way to turn this illness into a slight against God and religion. So here we go.

Apologists like to answer questions such as, “Why is there so much pain/misery/evil/sickness/etc in the world when God is good and could just make it all go away?” What they do when they answer is say, “It’s part of God’s divine plan that you aren’t privy to, and it’s a way to give you challenges to overcome in life.”

Well, lovely. And these are usually the same people who believes God views us as a parent views their child; someone to nurture and take care of and punish when needed.

So! By this logic if I were a parent, it would be perfectly acceptable for me to break my child’s arm. After all, I’m not inflicting pain without reason, right? No, I’m giving them a challenge to overcome in their life, and clearly that’s a noble thing. In fact, I should be allowed to beat, rape and torture my child whenever I want to, cause, like God, I’m giving them something to struggle against and learn from, right?

Of course the difference is that I’m real (as it my hypothetical child. Well, for a given value of “real”), and God is not. If God were real, he’d be the most evil mass-murderer in history, having killed every single person who has ever lived, except those who are living right now.

Man, it’s things like this that make me glad I’m an atheist.

Just Let it Die

Years ago one of my friends told me a joke.

There was this missionary visiting a distant, isolated tribe. He was the first Christian they’d ever encountered. He told them all about the love of Christ and God and the importance of the Bible and being saved, and how if they weren’t saved, they’d be damned.

Naturally this caused some consternation among the tribesmen, many of whom were worried their ancestors might be in Hell, since they hadn’t heard of Jesus, God or the rest.

The missionary reassured them, saying that those who hadn’t had the chance to be saved would just be judged on their own merits, and if they’d lived good and decent lives would go to Heaven even though they hadn’t heard of God. But once people had the chance to be saved, and they refused to be, they’d be damned no matter how good and decent they were.

At which point one of the tribesmen, now quite furious, said to the missionary, “So why did you tell us?”

I think most Christians, even the fairly conservative, would say that it’s only fair to grant someone a pass to heaven if they don’t have a chance to learn about God. Surely, they’d say, it wouldn’t be right to send someone to Hell for not believing in Jesus if they never had the chance to believe in Jesus.

So if you believe that, and as I said, most Christians probably do, then let me ask you this: why not just let your religion die? Why tell anyone, anywhere, at all, about your faith?

Wouldn’t the moral thing to do be keeping it to yourself? Not telling anyone about your religion? Surely if you kept quiet about God and Jesus and the like, then within a couple generations, the religion would be dead and humanity would be saved. True, the Bible tells you to go out and preach, but you can probably ask forgiveness for that. Even if you can’t isn’t it worth damning your own soul to save billions?

So let your religion die. If you believe your God is kind and just, you’ll save all of humanity.

Room for Doubt

Last night I finally saw the superb film Doubt. For those who don’t know, it tells the story of a charismatic, Vatican 2-style priest (Phillip Seymour Hoffman), who runs up against the conservative nun (Meryl Streep), who is against things like Vatican 2, sugar in ones tea and ballpoint pens.

The two clash, gently at first, but then with more and more force. When the “good” sister hears that the priest has spent time alone with one of the boys at the school, she immediately jumps to the worst possible conclusion and believes it with all her heart, despite all the evidence and testimony pointing to something contrary. She basically states that she doesn’t need proof, for she has her conviction.

Really, doesn’t that just sum up religion in general? What do you need with proof? You have your faith, which is more important than proof, which is why any proof that disagrees with your faith can be discarded. We have verifiable proof that human evolution has taken place and that the universe is older than 6,000 years, but there are those who ignore this proof because they have certainty, they have faith.

All witch hunts begin on a basis of faith. We had faith in McCarthy to root out the Communists. We had faith in the Spanish Inquisition to root out the secret Jews. We had faith in the government in Salem to root out the witches. In all those cases, faith, not proof, was what mattered.

And doesn’t that sum up religion quite nicely?

I Find God

My lord and master!

My lord and master!

I can hold back no more. I’ve lied to you all over the last year plus. Yes, I must now announce, officially, that I am, in fact, a theist. I do believe in a god, and no, it’s not the Flying Spaghetti Monster (though I still praise his noodly goodness). The god I now believe in? Ganymede.

And why not worship him? True, many versions of the myth say he’s not a god, just some Trojan prince, but you gotta believe that Zeus promoted him and made him at least a demi-god, so therefore we can worship him.

Evidence for his existence is quite broad. Plato wrote about him in his Laws and no less an authority than Homer wrote about him in The Iliad, a book which predates the Bible by a fair amount. We know from other Greek writers and teachers that the other gods of Olympus existed, so there’s no reason to presume Ganymede does not.

Further, what greater story do you need than that of Ganymede, a young boy so beloved by Zeus that he was taken up to Olympus to be Zeus’ lover, thus sacrificing his innocence for the good of all mankind (cause a horny Zeus is a naughty Zeus)?

Sure there are those who will say that Ganymede is not real, never was real and was just a metaphor or, even worse, a fictional character some people just made up to help explain natural events. Come to think of it, there are those who would say that about all the Greek gods, but clearly this can’t be the case. If it were, why would the Greeks have spent so much time building monuments, temples and carvings all in praise of the gods?

Plus, hey, one could do a lot worse than to worship a teenage boy whose entire religious identity is wrapped up in his sexuality. I mean, you could follow a multi-armed goddess of destruction, a one-eyed deity with a spear fetish, some vengeful bronze-age god who destroys everyone who gets in his way, a god who asks for human sacrifice (oops, wrong link! Should’ve been this one, though come to think of it…), or any number of other, highly suspicious deities that have come along over the years.

So why not worship Ganymede? I’m sure a number of Catholic priests would be down with it, since part of the worship involves kneeling before a teenage boy, and the actual worship ceremonies are quite entertaining. Plus if the teenage boy in question is a god, it’s not statutory, and even if it were, who cares? It’s religion, and you can get away with a great deal based on religion.

So join me, won’t you? Kneel before this teenage boy and worship him mightily! Won’t end up with a mouthful of communion wafer at the end of the service, but that’s ok. What you’ll have instead is a mouthful of love, and that’s what gods are all about right? Right?