I know more than a few good, intelligent people who are Christians. Some of them have let their own emotions get the better of them. I have friends who cannot bring themselves to talk to me because I write about losing faith. I read posts by Christian bloggers who seem to have lost focus on worshiping god, and who have instead become completely distracted by tearing down their enemies.

And somehow, their enemy is me. I didn’t do anything to them. I am not even asking them to question their faith. But my inability to believe what they believe makes them angry with me by default.

There are some who claim that faith transforms us into something new; something better than what humanity is capable of. But no matter how hard they wish for it, Christians prove again and again that they are as human as the rest of us. There is just as much evil among them. I guess if the only difference between us comes down to what we are able to believe about god, it makes sense to demonize each other over why we believe what we do.

But it is only theology which makes me the enemy. Christians may go beyond the Bible and say I am crazy to not realize we were created by something bigger; but I have no problem with deists. And they have no problem with me. Let’s not pretend as if I am the enemy because I don’t believe in god. I am the enemy because of what the Bible says about those who do not believe.

One of the things that really shook my faith as a believer was discovering how often Christians lie to promote spiritual warfare. It’s a common practice in politics, but it seemed to me that god should not require the help of misinformation to preserve his message of truth. At the time I blamed misguided people for hurting the body of Christ in this way, but it soon became impossible to ignore why they do it.

This week I have felt overwhelmed by the Christian response to the movie God’s Not Dead 2. If you read my blog you are aware of my thoughts about separation of church and state. The misinformation that is spread about god in the classroom, specifically, is something of great interest to me. And this movie is not telling the truth.

There are better posts commenting on the details of the movie itself, but I am more concerned with how dishonest Christians are willing to be in defense of it as reality. Read any article from a Christian point of view and it will quickly become clear that this movie is not a work of fiction to them. While reading reviews of the movie, I lost count of the declarations of war being made against the secular agenda.

Jim Daly, President of Focus on the Family recently posted his support for God’s Not Dead 2, explaining how the movie is not far-fetched at all. He says it is inspired by true events:

 

As just one example, a few years ago Colorado Springs high school student Chase Windebank was singled out because he led a student Bible study during free time. A vice principal talked to Chase, telling him he couldn’t pray during that time  “because of separation of Church and State.”

That vice principal may not have been aware that the First Amendment recognizes a student’s right to pray during the school day’s free times, so the Christian legal group Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF) sent the school a letter detailing the rights Chase and his friends had.

The result?

Chase’s group was allowed to meet during the school day at lunchtime – and his story is only one of about a dozen that are mentioned in the “God’s Not Dead 2” closing credits. As an aside, Chase’s father, Ken, is a colleague of mine here at Focus, so I’m very familiar with this case.

 

If I had only read Jim Daly’s version of events, I would still be wondering how this is anything like the story in God’s Not Dead 2. But let’s talk about Chase Windebank.

Students are allowed to form Christian groups and pray at school. Teachers and other adults with authority, however, are not allowed to have that kind of influence on students. So why would a student not be allowed to form a prayer group during free time? Surely the vice principal just misunderstood the law. Or maybe there is more to the story.

This article sheds a little more light on what happened to Chase Windebank. I needed some clarification because Mr. Daly refers to Chase’s group being able to meet at lunchtime as a successful result—when we all know perfectly well that students have always been allowed to pray together at lunch. And school districts, especially ones located in Colorado Springs, are not ignorant of this. Robert J. Zavaglia Jr., an attorney representing the school district had this to say:

 

“Pine Creek High School has never had, and does not have, a policy in place which restricts students’ rights to associate at lunch, and by extension to meet with others and discuss faith, pray, or talk about the news of the day from a Christian perspective,” he wrote. “As such, no nonexistent policy was revised to achieve the suit’s abandonment.”

He added: “The real dispute of this case was an ill-advised argument to lump a credited, student/teacher contact hour into ‘open time’ like lunch as the basis for seeking special treatment of an informal student group.”

 

Did you catch the bias in Mr. Daly’s post? Notice how he emphasized that students were not allowed to pray during free time, while completely omitting the fact that whether or not the activities were happening during “free time” was the whole dispute. He made it seem as though Christian underdogs had overthrown a secular school district. The truth is that nothing interesting happened at all. The suit was abandoned. The students were told they could pray during lunch, as they always could.

And again, something tells me that the school district in Colorado Springs probably isn’t overrun with atheists driven by a need to expel god from the classroom. The fact that Jim Daly knows the family involved personally is evidence that this misrepresentation of events was intentional. But why?

In a post from the FFRF camp, Chris Line writes this in response to those who believe God’s Not Dead 2 is anything but a fantasy:

 

FFRF frequently deals with teachers who are proselytizing in schools. A group like FFRF or the ACLU likely wouldn’t even lodge a complaint with a school over this sort of trivial mention of Jesus, let alone file a lawsuit. There are plenty of cases of actual school proselytization to keep them busy. Also, school boards and superintendents are more likely to side with proselytizing teachers than against them. This isn’t that surprising given that many superintendents and school board members are themselves Christian and if a teacher were to be sued for violating the Establishment Clause, the school district would be sued right along with her. FFRF or the ACLU would not even be able to make a deal with the school board to sue only the teacher since the teacher has violated the Establishment Clause on behalf of the school district. What often happens in real life, (when the superintendent realizes that the Constitution has actually been violated) is the teacher is told to stop proselytizing, and if she refuses to do so the school is well within its rights to terminate her employment.

 

What happened in the movie God’s Not Dead 2 has never happened and will never happen. It is incredibly far-fetched. People believe it could happen because they want to believe it. That doesn’t mean people aren’t being wronged over religion. But in a country made up of so many Christians, isn’t it hard to imagine that Christians are being persecuted more in the classroom than atheists?

If you live in the Bible Belt and attend one of the sold out viewings of this movie, you might hear the crowd yelling their “amens” and singing along with the soundtrack. Some people reported standing ovations every time an “evil atheist” was “outsmarted” by a Christian. These people have never known what it feels like to be persecuted for their faith. Why are they so excited?

I’d love to see a movie based on Neil Carter’s experience of being a history teacher in Mississippi. His story about students discovering his atheism is a little more in line with reality.

 

See, just like with almost any other public school in the Bible Belt, at this school Christian teachers are free to be quite open about their religious beliefs. In fact, when my eldest was taking the same history class just the year before, her teacher livened up the story of Israel by marching around the room, blowing an imaginary trumpet to make the walls of Jericho come a-tumblin’ down. In case you wondered, no, that isn’t in the curriculum. But this is the Bible Belt. You can get away with stuff like that here and most people just eat it up. The parents in my county love that their children’s teachers are so demonstrative about their faith.

 

Why Do You Insist on Denying God’s Existence?

 

When Christians take time to make me their enemy, and to call me out for nothing more than my lack of belief– I seldom agree with their evaluation of how I came to my conclusion about god. But I have found that any attempt to correct them on that evaluation is seen as an attack on their faith. If my personal experience conflicts with what the Bible says about me, that must mean I am a liar who wants to take away their religious liberties.

I am left with no choice but to assume that painting me as an enemy must feel good to them. All sides may be found guilty of this at times, but Christians have it built into their faith. While getting along with others may be a priority for humanist groups, it is not part of the Christian agenda.

Christians are at war. And unity with a secular world is considered defeat; a surrender to the enemies of god. That is one of the dangers of religious dogma. Christians are always fighting the enemy, and someone has to represent that enemy. The Bible tells them all they need to know about nonbelievers: we are angry heathens who know the truth, but who do not want to be held accountable to god.

Christians have a book which they believe is inspired by god, and that book offers multiple reasons why others choose to not believe the book is true. But do Christians really need the book to tell them why someone might not think it’s true? People believe in the Quran and the Book of Mormon, don’t they? Connect the dots, you guys.

The idea that someone doesn’t believe a book is the inspired word of god isn’t hard to imagine. It can’t possibly make someone a bad person, or even a stupid person. And yet, every “inspired” book seems to say: “Nope. You are both bad and stupid if you question this book.”

Perhaps the fool says in his heart: “Everything in this book must be true because the book says I would be a fool to doubt it.”

When Christians place more importance on discrediting their enemies than building their faith, they risk becoming distracted by anger. They might find themselves filled with more hate than love. And whether god is dead, alive, or never was– eventually these Christians will be responsible for creating more enemies than allies.

 

9 thoughts on “A Fool At Heart: Believing God’s Not Dead

  1. “Perhaps the fool says in his heart: ‘Everything in this book must be true because the book says I would be a fool to doubt it.'”

    I love this. Great comeback to one of the most irritating verses that Christians try to throw at me. It’s so annoying–a direct insult that lets them pretend “oh I’m just quoting the Bible “.

  2. Do you know why only a fool can say in his heart that there is no God?
    Because such a person would have to know EVERYTHING in order to make such a claim. Plain & simple.

    Show of hands those of us who are foolish enough to think we know EVERYTHING! — that’s a fool.
    As the saying goes: He who knows not, and knows not that he knows not, he’s a fool, shun him.

    The biggest enemy of a Christian & every person is their own minds. That’s where most of our battles are fought. So to say a mere human being who does not believe the way a believer does is seen or regarded as the enemy is absolutely false.
    Perhaps where you’re from, where it seems most are just religious, I can see how those who hold differing views regard each other as the enemy. All who do this are very wrong.

    The Prophet Daniel served under and ran 2 secular monarchs. He was able to do so by resolving within his own heart (mind) that he would not defile himself with the things of Babylon (the world/the world’s way of doing things). What’s just as amazing is that both Daniel and the king stood together running a successful empire.
    One of the lessons from Daniel – one can live in an idolatrous, secular world, while still maintaining a public witness to God (this is not speaking of praying and going to church). Daniel did so by ‘maintaining total credibility as a believer at the very top level’ of government (demonstrating it should be possible at our level)

    Christianity is definitely at war with secularism; but you’re highly mistaken if you substitute people for a belief system.
    I’ll stop here for brevity.

    1. Not plain and simple.

      For two reasons. One, because it is only the theology I am rejecting; I have no reason to assume there is a god, but I am hardly claiming to know everything. This is why I said I have no problem with deists. It’s Christian theology, specifically, which makes me an enemy. Because the Bible is bigger than god for many Christians.

      Which leads to my second reason. Your conclusion about what makes someone a fool is great. But it isn’t what the Bible says. The Bible says things like this:

      “The fool has said in his heart, ‘There is no God.’ They are corrupt, they have committed abominable deeds; There is no one who does good.”

      “And just as they did not see fit to acknowledge God any longer, God gave them over to a depraved mind, to do those things which are not proper, being filled with all unrighteousness, wickedness, greed, evil; full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, malice; they are gossips, slanderers, haters of God, insolent, arrogant, boastful, inventors of evil, disobedient to parents, without understanding, untrustworthy, unloving, unmerciful; and although they know the ordinance of God, that those who practice such things are worthy of death, they not only do the same, but also give hearty approval to those who practice them.”

      And those verses are thrown at us often. The fact that you do not agree with those Christians does not change my reality. And it’s all in the book.

      1. I’m not sure (doubtful) of your appeal to ‘reason’ in support of your conclusion that there is no God, because:

        1. You claim atheism – the belief there is no God. i.e. the claimant is declaring that they know all there is to know and can reasonably make their negative conclusion as you have done.

        2. Your reasoning needs clarification. These points are conflicting. Agnosticism would have been a more logical or reasonable conclusion.
        LAD:”it is only the theology I am rejecting; I have no reason to assume there is a god, but I am hardly claiming to know everything.”

        I appreciate you commending my conclusion on what scripture says, I assure you, I used the very same scripture you’re referencing and pondered why it would say it that way and in two different places for emphasis…and that’s the only logical conclusion I can come to.

        “Paul’s purpose in writing Romans 1:18-20 [what you’ve quoted from] was to explain why the Gospel is the power of God unto salvation. The problem was that then, just as now, most people felt the way to get others to come to God was to condemn them and scare them out of hell. People doubted that Paul’s good news of the love of God would be enough to cause repentance.

        Therefore, Paul began to prove that every person already has an instinctive knowledge of God’s wrath against their sin. We don’t need to prove God’s wrath; God has already done that. What people need to know is the good news that God placed His wrath for our sins upon His own Son so that we could be completely forgiven. This good news will draw people to God more than the bad news will ever drive people to God.”

        I agree with your last paragraph. It’s indisputable – words are weapons.
        Ex: I made a very brief comment on a Christian blogger’s post yesterday. I agreed with the post and liked it. My comment: ‘not sure you’ve read this article, it’s interesting & intellectual’ and I included the link. [True, I could have been more engaging & clear]
        The aggressive response and insults that ensued were startling. I expressed this and wished them well. I could have been asked to explain my comment; not be subjected to an outright attack, accompanied by 3 more of the same caliber -as I’ve refused to respond.

        The point of all this: sometimes our words are offensive to the hearer for various reasons: hypocrisy, lack of respect; projecting our own misunderstandings/fears/self-condemnations etc., lack of compassion/empathy/etc.
        I believe this was also Paul’s point – one may speak with much eloquence and wisdom, and knowledge; however if it’s done without love (i.e. without: patience, kindness,…) it achieves nothing. It’s all for nothing.

        1. Atheist/agnostic….I think we overthink all that. Many Christians are not only sure of God, but sure of the details of God. That seems arrogant. But we all believe what we believe, and if I reject all theology and find no other compelling reason to believe in a god, I am going to identify as atheist; I feel strongly enough about it to not call myself agnostic, but that doesn’t mean I am taking a hard stand that I can never be proven wrong. I just really think I won’t be. Anyway, I personally don’t think picking apart which is which matters so much.

          This post I wrote is a reaction to many Christians, but surely not all. I was never a Christian who thought this way. I would have hated movies like God’s Not Dead more then than I do now– for the same reason. It’s divisive, and it uses misinformation to spread the message of God. And it leads to division among Christians, too.

          Thanks for your thoughts 🙂

Leave a Reply