The Christian, the Stunt, and the Book Deal: A Response to Timothy Kurek

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It must have been quite a shock when Timothy Kurek came out of the closet.

Sorry. It must have been quite a shock when Timothy Kurek came out of the closet AGAIN.

See, Kurek had already come out of the closet once before. A year ago he had announced to his family, community, and congregation that he was gay. Since then he had lived life as an openly gay man, dating, going to gay spaces, experiencing gay nightlife, living openly as a member of one of Christian America’s most reviled minorities.

Until the moment when he came to everyone he knew and loved and came out again.

As straight all along.

Cue phone calls for the book deal.

Timothy Kurek’s book The Cross in the Closet details his year-in-the-life-of-a-fake-gay-man social experiment. Kurek, a virulently and violently anti-gay Evangelical, was so disgusted by his encounters by LGBT people that he desired to, in his own words, ‘fix them, straighten them out.’ Kurek decided to come out as gay for one year as a sort of ‘behind enemy lines’ endeavor in order to better understand the gay mind and lifestyle for himself. In his book, Kurek details the trials he encountered as a fake gay man. Coming out to his mother. Having to resist physically assaulting or vomiting on gay men who approached him in clubs. Feeling personally violated when someone called him and his softball team ‘faggots.’

After the year was up, Kurek shed his identity as a gay man, re-came out as straight, got a sweet book deal and speaking platform out of his experiment, and now goes to TED talks and conferences, describing his incredible epiphany that LGBT people are in fact human beings and some of them are even Christians, and detailing the journey in our footsteps that led him to (presumably) no longer want to physically assault us when we get near him.

There has been some positive feedback from the LGBT community. It’s understandable. The past decades have been wave after wave of nearly unendurable hatred and oppression from the Christian majority. When one of them, a Christian, even slightly indicates that LGBT people may possess the basic humanity that they enjoy without question, it’s natural to flock to that flicker of candlelight, that hope. After all, even a bowl of piss looks inviting when all that has been offered is arsenic.

But I am far from the only person, LGBT and otherwise, who cannot see Kurek’s social experiment as anything other than what it is: A problematic, patronising, predatory PR stunt. The issues in Kurek’s methodology are so numerous it is difficult to know where to start, but for the sake of brevity I’ve boiled it down to the four biggest issues.

  • His reduction of LGBT identity to a costume, a plaything, and a prop for his experiment is insulting and harmful. It reduces a basic part of LGBT humanity to something to be tried on for size. It turns the painful and often traumatic journey of LGBT people to a stunt. A selfish quest for empathy for those Kurek has hated and harmed all of his life. This appropriation of the unique trials of LGBT people does nothing to make us more visible, more human, and everything to turn us into a standing joke in Kurek’s ‘the straight man among the queers’ comedy routine. Kurek claims to have walked a mile in our shoes, never once acknowledging that our shoes belong to us in the first place.
  • Kurek’s putting on and taking off of a gay identity directly feeds into the homophobic and long-standing religious belief that LGBT people ‘choose our own lifestyle.’ Now that Kurek has demonstrated that anyone can ‘choose’ to be gay, can live as gay, can identify as gay, and become straight again in the flip of a switch, actual LGBT people are expected even more to comply with this false narrative. It matters not that Kurek was a fraud all along. He lived our ‘lifestyle,’ he played the part and now he’s straight and in godly standing again. Kurek’s privilege as a straight man allowed him to shed all the grief and pain that comes with a queer identity in a queerphobic society. He, and only he, has that ability.
  • He cashed in. Kurek got a book deal out of his PR stunt, speaking engagements, a platform, money. There was no cost to his allyship, only benefits to be reaped. And now he occupies a space in the LGBT community, bulldozing over the platform that rightfully belongs to LGBT people.
  • Kurek tells our story with the benefit of his straight privilege. Every time he laments how hard it was to live as a gay man (when he wasn’t lamenting how difficult it was to not physically attack us in clubs), he indicates that his words are more believable, more applicable, more empathetic, because he is straight. There are literally millions of stories from actual LGBT people about the coming out process, but Kurek’s stunt is beneficial only to those who would never listen or believe LGBT stories from LGBT people. He’s straight. So it must be true. This is erasure, this is heterosexism, this is dangerous.

Several days ago Kurek gave a TED talk about his year among the gays. I saw it last night, and when it was done I reacted on Twitter, with a lot of anger. It was so painful, so enraging to see yet another Christian preying on the LGBT community, coopting and profiting off us, occupying a place on the stage that so many LGBT people deserve and will never have. I poured out my rage, my anger, my grief.

Kurek’s response was a winky face and a ‘thanks for thinking of me!”

Allies are important. They lift up the oppressed and amplify their voices. They are there when comfort is needed, there to listen. They turn their own privilege into a platform for those without it. They do not benefit or profit from their allyship. They do not expect praise or reward for it. Sometimes they suffer the consequences inflicted by an oppressive world. Sometimes they pay a high price. Sometimes they die.

Allyship is kind, it is patient, it is selfless. It amplifies and defends. It does not boast, it does not profit. It does not sign book deals, it does not coopt platforms.

Kurek’s book is called The Cross in the Closet but he has never been in the closet. The white, straight, Christian man that is Timothy Kurek has never known the closet. He has never touched it. It is not a closet Kurek came out of, but a wardrobe. He walked into a magic wardrobe into a Narnian fantasy where he was crowned a queen and lived amongst the inhabitants. And then when it was enough for him, he walked out back into the mundane, shedding his crown with no ill effects. There is no closet here. Just a cross, just a game, just a fantasy. A fraud as a gay man, as an ally, as a compassionate human being.

Earlier today, Kurek wrote a passive-aggressive response on Facebook addressing myself and others whom he felt had unfairly attacked him. You can read it here, but the TLDR version is “I’m sorry you asshole haters are hating on me, it really hurts my feelings when I’m not praised for my social experiment by people who don’t know me, but I’m the better man because God wants me to love you and I do.”

It’s a concise summary of all the false victimisation that was at the heart of Kurek’s walk in LGBT shoes. In his second paragraph he coopts the language of the oppressed once again when he says:

It doesn’t feel good to be hated. It doesn’t feel good to have your life and your heart trashed by strangers that don’t even know you.

Kurek clearly can’t see the irony in the fact that the people he is complaining about know exactly what having one’s life and heart trashed by strangers is, far more than he ever will. There is no empathy from me. Not from someone who spent his entire childhood terrified of Christians.

The final paragraph is his proclamation of love to the asshole haters:

I know you hate me and I know you hate what I did….I want you to k

now that I love you, truly. Not only that but I believe that God loves you, just as you are…Once again I love you, and no words or beliefs you hold about me will ever change that.

To which purpose, the conclusion of this post is addressed in return directly to Timothy Kurek:

I don’t hate you. You aren’t worth the effort of my hatred. That belongs to many of your brothers and sisters in Christ. It belongs to those who terrorised my home in the midst of the Troubles, who murdered my neighbours and filled the gutters with blood. It belongs to those who harass and persecute my people. It belongs to those who strip my community of dignity and civil rights.

For you I reserve only a low contempt. Contempt for what you did, contempt for the profit and the platform you reaped from it, and contempt for the personal character that permits you to paint yourself as the victim in all of it. I will not hide that from you, nor the plethora of reasons that you have earned it.

But enough of these claims that you love me. You don’t.

You don’t love the Irish boy who screamed on a blasted-out street in Omagh seventeen Augusts ago. You don’t know him.

You don’t love the Romany Gypsy teenager who hide his ethnic identity from the Church and the community for fear of laughs and assault and ostracisation. You don’t know him.

You don’t love the young queer man who desperately, desperately pleaded to be straight, anything but this, anything but gay, because he couldn’t bear one more reason for Christians to hate him and hurt him. You don’t know him.

You don’t love me.

You love the idea of me.

You love the prostitute, the tax collector, the leper that I am in this American society. You love the chance to trumpet your faith at the front of the Temple, to prove that you can act like Jesus and minister to us like he did.

You love that you can love me.

You love me as a prop. You love me as a ministry. You love me as a costume. You love me as a doctrine.

You don’t love anything about me that actually exists.

I have seen so much of Christian love I can identify it in a heartbeat. It is the love that preys, the love that twists, the love that abuses, the love that demands recognition, praise, proper conduct. It’s the love you are demonstrating with every breath you take.

I have also seen real love, true redemptive love, the love that listens and sacrifices and comforts and bleeds, the type of love you show nothing of.

So let us drop these pretenses.

You gave up your fraudulent gay mask after a year. Give up your false façade of love as well.

picture credit: http://7-themes.com/6918217-mask-masquerade-photo.html

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The Spirit of Driscoll Lives On in the Bullying of Others

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The Man has fallen.

If you’re at all active in the religious blogospheres, you know who I’m speaking about. In a move that surprised his church elders and absolutely no one else, Mark Driscoll has stepped down from his position as lead pastor of the Mars Hill Church industry. Haunted by a string of accusations ranging from plagairism to spiritual abuse to misappropriation of church funds, Driscoll stated in his resignation letter that he believed that stepping down was for the good of his family and his ministry. Coincidentally, the board that he personally appointed also found that none of his actions excluded him from ministry in the future, so The Return of the Dudebro Pastor might already be in preproduction.

The reactions to Driscoll’s resignation haven’t been a surprise. There are those who are satisfied and relieved by his fall, and those who argue that people shouldn’t be satisfied and relieved. There are those who finally feel like their years of abuse and hurt are vindicated, and those who insist Driscoll’s victims should be working on forgiving him.

But my purpose here isn’t to gloat about Driscoll’s downfall (I did that privately with a few shots of Jameson), or to again reiterate his long list of offences. It’s to focus on whether Driscoll’s departure from Mars Hill Church matters in the long run. Was it a victory? Was it a step forward? Does it really make a difference?

After deliberation, I’ve come to the conclusion that it does. And it doesn’t.

Which is maddeningly unhelpful, I know.

With a congregation of tens of thousands and a Twitter following of almost half a million, Driscoll was an extremely popular and well-known face of the misogynistic, homophobic, dudebro, Jesus-was-armed-and-dangerous Calvinistic movement. The loss of such a charismatic and dynamic leader (whatever you may think of him, Driscoll was both these things) is a large blow to his brand. But the legacy of Driscoll has hardly disappeared with his face. Driscoll trained pastors. He trained men to be rude like him, crude like him, bully others like him, put people down and shame them like him. This method of ministry has leaked out into the Christian world, and the Spirit of Driscoll is evident every time you watch Christians interact on the internet.

I saw this occur two days ago with a Twitter user who goes by the handle of @kingjimmy1982. He also blogs here. Two days ago, Jimmy was debating the role of patriarchy in Christianity with another individual. Frustrated that his opponent didn’t immediately reverse his position when confronted with the fact that not everyone agreed, Jimmy had this to say.

“it’s gotta stink making a living running your mouth and speaking do ignorantly. Seriously, go get a real job”

Now, of course, it’s not bullying to accuse someone of ignorance, provided that you can back up your claims. It is, however, bullying to put someone down, mock them, or harass them for their chosen occupation. When I pointed out Jimmy’s bullying behaviour and rather sarcastically pointed out that it was completely without the grace and humility that Christians are supposed to act with, Jimmy said – in all seriousness – “I’m proud of my humility. Thanks!”

It was followed by an appeal to the Christian persecution complex when he sarcastically thanked me for not judging him.

It’s a typical Christian attitude. Anything I say is in the Spirit of Christ as long as I personally say it is, in not so many words. And remember, mocking and putting someone down for their career isn’t bullying but calling it out as such is taking the low road and being judgemental

However, the interaction soon leveled up in both aggression and bizarreness when Jimmy proceeded to accuse me of calling him out on bullying solely because the individual he attacked ‘appeared gay.’

This was, of course, very reminiscent of the now infamous Mark Driscoll Facebook post where he called upon his followers to mock effeminate-appearing worship leaders. When I remarked on the homophobic nature of judging people as ‘looking gay,’ Jimmy quickly backpedaled, claiming that it wasn’t that he looked gay, but that he seemed to be gay because he supported LGBT rights. I pointed out that by his logic, 54% of the nation is gay, to which he responded that the individual was more supportive of LGBT rights than most people. So he’s gay.

Or something.

Whether the individual in question was gay, bi, trans, asexual, etc. is entirely beyond the point. The spirit in which Jimmy claimed that my accusations of bullying only reflected the gay way that the individual looked is textbook Christian anti-gay bigotry, and his back-pedalling was just an attempt to put himself in the clear when called out on it. Jimmy went on into a tirade against public speaking as a career, people who stand against bullying LGBT people, how Catholics aren’t ‘real Christians,’ and rounded it off to an appeal of how persecuted Christians feel.

So yes, an interesting and enlightening interaction.

But the sucker-punch has yet to be delivered. As a testament to the power of irony and the sheer audacity of Christian hypocrisy, moments before Jimmy delivered his first insulting and bullying tweet, he was tweeting about Mark Driscoll and how he was no longer above reproach and therefore unfit for ministry.

The disconnect here is just…astonishing. That so many Christians can preach a message of accountability and responsibility and then refuse to live it out themselves. Their judgement, their accusations, their call to accountability is reserved for others, not themselves. The Spirit of Mark Driscoll, the spirit that bullies, mocks, and then attempts to admonish others is alive and well. There’s a common Bible verse about specks and planks that’s almost too cliche to even mention here.

In the end, @KingJimmy1982 is one man on Twitter who has a blog. He has demonstrated himself to be both a bully and anti-gay, but in the end he’s just one man. So again I ask the question: Does it matter?

I say, with complete confidence, that yes it does. It matters because people hear these words. They affect people. They hurt people. They foster a culture of spiritual abuse and no personal accountability. It matters when people call others out on their bullying. It matters when people stand up and say ‘No, I will not let this go unchallenged.’

It matters.

Atheists, it’s important for us to stand up against the abuse and bullying utilised by Christians. But to those Christians who actually care about others and the effect your church has on them, it’s even more important to hear from you. People like Jimmy, like Driscoll, always need to be confronted. They always need to be called out. And Christians have an additional calling to do so because this is your tribe.

It’s time for you to step up and clean house, or you will continue to be understandably perceived as an abusive, uncaring, bullying community.

Why “Left Behind” Didn’t Convert Me

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On a sunny day in late spring, a Bible Studies teacher at an Evangelical high school in the American Midwest ducked out of his classroom to make some copies of the homework. When he returned, his students had vanished. All that remained were piles of clothes scattered around the room. In a blink of an eye, the children had disappeared and their teacher was….Left Behind!

The students spent the rest of the afternoon sans outerwear playing hookey and engaging in general hooliganism around town. They received a week’s worth of detentions and all agreed that it had been absolutely worth it.

Senior pranks aside, I had been familiar with the teachings of premillenialism long before I helped convinced my classmates to take off their clothes and make a run for it. While my Christian conservative high school didn’t espouse premillenialism as absolute truth, it was presented as one of many interpretations of the Book of Revelation common in Christian theology. But even before that, I had gained exposure to the increasingly visible interpretation thanks to the pop culture mammoth known as the Left Behind franchise.

The novels by Tim LaHaye and Jerry Jenkins are a Christian culture phenomenon. People were talking about it even before I came to America. “If you’re not convinced by the Bible already, these books with do it,” I was told. Several of my classmates obsessively read the middle-grade novellas during silent reading. I lost track of the amount of people who told me it strengthened their faith and enthusiastically recommended it. That the series is a phenomenal commercial success cannot be denied. Besides the books, there are three movies starring cardboard cutout Kirk Cameron and one more in the works starring more successful cardboard cutout Nicholas Cage. This is in addition to the graphic novel adaptions, a video game, and the additional series aimed at the kids. Millions of people globally have read the series.

And I’m one of them. Yes, I actually gave in. I read the twelve books. The prequel trilogy. The sequel one-shot. The 40 middle-grade novellas. Even the prequel-prequel trilogy Underground Zealots that Jenkins churned out on his own. My fifteen-year-old self consumed each novel. My parents, always concerned for my spiritual well-being, were relieved to see me finally applying myself to more appropriate reading. And for a fifteen year old, hey, explosions for Jesus are still  explosions.

The premise is fairly straightforward. In an instant, every true Christian (except Catholics) disappear, leaving their clothes and unmanned cars behind. The world as it’s left is swept up into the seven-year Tribulation. Most of the remaining unbelievers fall under the sway of Nicolae Carpathia, the charismatic Anti-Christ who leads the evil United Nations against the forces of Christ. In the meantime, a plucky group of Christian converts attempts to survive the Tribulation and show the power of Christ’s love to the unbelieving masses by preaching to them ministering to them shooting them in the face.

Oh, and Jesus helps out by horrifically torturing everyone who doesn’t convert fast enough.

I finished the last book, made myself a cup of strong tea, went outside and said, very loudly,

WHAT THE FUCKING FUCK WAS THAT?!?!

I felt cheated. Robbed. Instead of the spiritual experience I was promised, I got a badly written, flat, gratuitous snuff-fest of horrific spiritual abuses. This was supposed to strengthen faith? This was supposed to convert me?

When the hell was I supposed to convert?

Let’s take a brief look at all the tortures throughout the series that God inflicts on anyone who’s not a True Christian. I’ve assembled a list. Keep in mind that the Left Behind series depicts these things being inflicted on atheists, agnostics, Muslims, Buddhists, Taoists, Catholics, animists, Jews (sometimes) and anyone who isn’t part of the right flavour of American Evangelical Protestantism.

– Millions of people disappear, killing thousands who are hit by unmanned cars, planes, etc. and throwing the world into chaos.

– Millions die in WW3 and the resulting plague and famine.

– The Wrath of the Lamb earthquake kills more millions.

– Fiery hail falls from heaven, killing more and burning crops.

– A comet falls from heaven, killing millions around the coasts.

– Wormwood falls from heaven, poisoning the water of unbelievers.

– The sun is dimmed, causing a mini Ice-Age that only affects unbelievers.

– Demonic scorpion mites are unleashed. Unbelievers who are stung endure five months of agonising torture. Many try to kill themselves from the pain, but God doesn’t permit them to die so that they must endure the full length of their punishment.

– More demonic horsemen are released, who kill a third of the remaining world population with poison gases and sulfur.

– Boils and sores are inflicted on unbelievers

– The oceans and the rivers are turned to blood. The only people with drinking water are believers. (At this point I don’t know how there’s anyone left alive, but there are because plot device).

– The sun is given the power to burn unbelievers to death through the power of the Holy Spirit and solar flares.

– Darkness drives the most loyal of the Anti-Christ’s people mad.

– Jesus finally returns and kills all the unbelievers who are left with the power of his talking.

There’s probably more but that’s just what I recall without having the entire series colour-coded (red for plagues, green for disasters, blue for random demons, white for Jesus).

So, at which point was I supposed to convert? After the demonic torture scorpions? Or the burning hail, or the ice age? Exactly where was I supposed to give my soul over to the loving Saviour who loved me so much he came to die for my sins?

I don’t know either.

Here’s the thing, Christians. I speak Christianese fairly well, which means that I understand what the means of grace are (or Means of Grace, because it’s not Christian if it’s not Superfluously Capitalised). The means of grace, according to many Christian sects, are the methods through which God administers forgiveness to his people. The first is the Word of God, the second is the Sacraments. These are the two things that are pushed by much of Christian culture as the way to salvation and eternal life. And Left Behind has none of that. None. Sure there are long passages of Scripture arbitrarily pasted with an addendum of how wonderful God is. But there is no discussion. No debate. No apologetics or defense of the text. The unbelievers never raise legitimate concerns about the nature of the god who’s torturing them, and those who vaguely try are just depicted as being stubborn and hard-hearted. And the Sacraments don’t even make an appearance at all. No one is baptised. The Eucharist isn’t even mentioned. Even my fifteen year old self was confused and confounded by the lack of self-awareness in these books.

There’s a new film based on the books starring Nicholas Cage coming out in October and Will Robertson of Duck Dynasty fame is urging Christians to bring their atheist friends in an evangelising effort. But what sort of evangelising ignores the actual means of grace in favour of apocalyptic spectacle?

Fear-based evangelising, that’s what kind. That’s something I’ll have no part of. My ethics won’t permit it any other way. I won’t be terrorised or frightened into accepting an argument under any circumstances, particularly not one starring Nicholas Cage.

This is what I, as an unbeliever, learned from God’s actions in Left Behind: God want’s an abusive relationship with you so that when he tortures you you know that you deserve it, it’s your fault, that he hurts you because he loves you, and that it’s your own stubborness for not seeing it.

Fuck that. There’s no more civil way to put it.

Their questionable evangelising skills aside, the protagonists of the series (imaginatively called the Tribulation Force) is even more bloodthirsty and abusive in many ways. I wish I had time to go into the flat characters, antisemitism, lukewarm homophobia, self-righteous attitudes, and soulless dialogue of the protagonists, but I don’t, and others have done it far better than I could. I will, however, touch on the philosophy behind the Tribulation Force. Where Stephen prayed for forgiveness for his oppressors when he was stoned, where Jesus commanded his people to turn the other cheek, the Tribulation Force gears up, arms up, and goes on super-cool missions to keep believers safe from the United Nations and spread the Gospel while they’re at it. And if any unbelievers get in their way, they splatter their brains across the pavement. In the video games, you can actually do the shooting.

This is what I, an unbeliever, learned from the actions of Christians in Left Behind: Frog-demons coming out of people’s mouths must be taken literally, but that ‘Blessed are the peacemakers’ stuff is optional where book sales are concerned.

Listen, if this is your theology, fine. It’s twisted, perverse, and a completely intellectually dishonest interpretation of Revelation, since it picks and chooses what’s literal and what’s not. If this is what strengthens your faith, fine, although I pity you for being bullied by fear of punishment into giving your soul up to your deity. But, for the love of the gods I don’t believe in, stop pretending this is an evangelising tool. Don’t tell unbelievers that this was crafted to minister to them. Don’t insult our intelligence like that. At least have the integrity to acknowledge Left Behind for what it really is.

It’s torture porn. Snuff porn. It’s Jerry Jenkins and Tim LaHaye getting their jollies off by subjecting their fictional world to the horrific tortures they fantasize on unbelievers. You can practically hear them masturbating as they describe in vivid, loving detail how those who do not accept Christ are choked to death on sulfur, crushed beneath masses of stone, drowned, tortured, driven to the brink of insanity. There is no other excuse for why LaHaye and Jenkins so eagerly describe the mass destruction of another few thousand people every fifty pages. This is what gets them off. This is what they eagerly want and anticipate happening to everyone who doesn’t jump on their Christian bandwagon, out of faith, fear, or abuse grooming. Now, mass destruction is a literary staple in secular literature as well. But while it’s often shown in shades of grey, it’s almost never depicted honestly as righteous punishment inflicted on a people who deserve it. That honour goes to Left Behind and other Evangelical Christian literature.

Sorry, teenage Muslim girl in Afghanistan. Even though you’ve grown up in a fundamentalist Muslim culture and have never received even a decent education, God has lost patience with your unbelief, and that’s why you deserve getting your face melted off. You really should have known better.

This sort of literary wanking is even more apparent in Jerry Jenkins’ solo trilogy The Underground Zealots. It depicts a pre-Rapture world where evil atheists have toppled every government and globally enforces mandatory atheism. Christians are driven underground and imprisoned or killed. And what’s their response? They ask their god to inflict the last plague of Egypt on the atheist world. And God is like, sure okay. Afterwards, the world comes to its senses and realises how badly it treated the underground church that unleashed a metaphysical weapon of mass destruction that murdered over a billion innocent people.

Convinced yet?

I know that I’m not the only person aware of this disconnect. Many Christians are rightly critical of the depictions of their god in the Left Behind franchise. But even so, this creates another problem. The monstrous deity of Left Behind is simply the Old Testament god brought into the modern world. The Bible goes from the Old Testament god of vengeance to the New Testament god of love. The Left Behind franchise goes back to the Old Testament god of vengeance in order to convince you of the New Testament god of love, for fear that you’ll be tortured in this life as well as another dimension when you die.

If someone can explain that to me, they need to do the same to LaHaye and Jenkins because they didn’t manage to in over 3,000 pages of text.

So Christians, don’t try to use Left Behind to convert us. I left this sort of spiritually abusive theology a long time ago, and I’m happier for it. If you’re going to take me to see the new Left Behind flick, at least have the decency to help me smuggle in some beer so we can drunkenly yell at Nicholas Cage before we’re thrown out.

An Atheist’s Parable: The Evangelical and the Gay Man

 

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A rich Evangelical Christian was walking on the street in a large city in the dead of winter.

On the way, he found a young man, alone and homeless and shivering from the cold.

“Come,” said the Evangelical. “Get on your feet and follow me, and you will be warm for all of your days.”

And the young man got on his feet and followed him.

An a little further along, the Evangelical came across an old man, curled up in a doorway and shivering from the cold.

“Come out from that doorway,” said the Evangelical. “Follow me and you will be warm for all of your days.”

And the old man stood up and followed him.

And as they neared the place where the Evangelical lived, they came across a woman with her child, lying on a mat by the river and shivering with the cold.

“Come,” said the Evangelical. “Pick up your mat and follow me, and you and your child will be warm for the rest of your days.”

And the woman picked up her mat and followed him.

So they walked on until they reached the mansion where the Evangelical lived. It was filled with light and warmth and good food to eat.

The Evangelical stopped on the doorway and looked at his followers.

“The Master of this house is a good man, but just,” he said. “All you need to do to enter is confess your sins and he will forgive you.”

The woman and child stepped forward. “My child was not born in wedlock,” said the woman. “My parents threw us out and I have stolen food to feed us.”

“Come,” said the Evangelical. “Your sins are forgiven. Now you shall be warm for all of your days.”
And the young woman entered the house.

The old man stepped forward. “I’m a veteran of many wars,” he said. “I have killed innocent people and stolen land. I have raped and hurt others. I am not worthy to enter the house.”

“Your sins are forgiven,” said the Evangelical. “Now you shall be warm for all of your days.”

And the old man entered the house.

Finally the young man, the first to follow the Evangelical, stepped forward.

“I do not know if this matters to your Master, but I am gay.” he said.

“Your sins are forgiven,” said the Evangelical. “Now you shall be warm for all of your days.”

And he took the young gay man out back to the woodshed, locked him inside, and set it on fire.

 

The End

A Response to Greg Stier’s Article “How to Share the Gospel With an Atheist”

This man is psychic. Believe everything he tells you about what you believe

This man is psychic. Believe everything he tells you about what you believe

So Greg Stier says I’m a liar.

He’s never met me. But according to him I’m a liar. To myself. To him. And most importantly, to God.

Mr. Stier recently wrote an article entitled “How to Share the Gospel with an Atheist,” found here on Pastors.com. Mr. Stier starts out by relating a personal encounter with an atheist named ‘James’ on a recent flight. ‘James’ is such a caricature of how an atheist interacts with other people, especially someone who attempts to proselytise, that there is speculation on whether the encounter actually occurred. Note that in contrast to Mr. Stier, I am not actually accusing him of lying in this particular instance, merely pointing out that there is speculation on the authenticity of his account. ‘James’ is polite, well-mannered, and instantly interested in religious conversation Stier foists upon him. He believes that Jesus is ‘an enlightened soul.’ At the climax, when Stier shares the personal love story of Jesus with ‘James,’ the atheist is blown away by the new perspective on Christianity that the wonderful Mr. Stier has given him.

Angels dance in heaven over the sharing of the Good News as atheists around the world roll their eyes.

I cannot think of one encounter I’ve had with a Christian where I hear about their religion and eagerly inquire to know more. Nor do I conveniently lead up to the perfect moment for them to share the Truth of the Gospel. And neither has any atheist I’ve ever known. We are, for the most part, smarter than that. If we want to engage someone in a religious debate, we’ll defend our own stance just as fiercely. If, as in most cases, we don’t care to be prostelytised to, we simply nod politely and tune it out.

After recounting his dramatic encounter with ‘James,’ Mr. Stier goes on to list five important things to remember when sharing the Gospel with atheists. And it’s these that have so many atheists angered and offended at the blatant way we are diminished and patronised in Mr. Stier’s effort to portray himself as the ‘right type of Christian missionary.’

1. Don’t be shocked and do ask tons of questions.

This is probably the least offensive of Mr. Stier’s points and actually decent advice. It’s good to ask questions of atheists – provided that you are prepared to listen. Which, as we’ll come to see, Mr. Stier is absolutely not prepared to do.

Of course, it also begs the question as to why anyone would be shocked upon meeting an atheist. I wonder if he expects people to be shocked when they find out someone is a Jew, a Hindu, a Wiccan, or a Muslim. This does nothing but reinforce the belief that atheism is somehow worse than any other belief. Because it’s not so much that we don’t believe what Christians do. It’s that they can’t comprehend how we don’t believe in anything supernatural.

Stier also specifies that Christians should find out whether the person is agnostic or atheist, completely oblivious to the fact that one can be both. Like me, for example. I reject every man-made concept of spirituality because it lacks compelling evidence and does great damage to the world. But I do not know what other powers and reality is in existence, and I have no way of knowing. I’m an agnostic atheist. An atheist who does not know. Not an atheist who says ‘There is nothing else out there.’ Hopefully that clears things up for Mr. Stier, if he were to ever stumble across this.

2. Listen deeply for the real “why.”

And this is where the article went downhill. Down into a black abyss of self-righteous smug satisfaction. Because if an atheist tells you that he doesn’t believe in God because he observed the evidence and came to the opposite conclusion, he is clearly not telling the truth. He’s lying to you, and it’s up to YOU to psychoanalyse him to discern the true reason. In Stier’s own words:

“Often atheists have a reason (other than “reason“) for becoming atheists. Listen for it. Sometimes it’s anger over losing a loved one. Other times it’s that they were hurt by the church in some way. But often there’s a “why” behind the lie they are embracing.”

I’m going to gloss over the ridiculous irony of the ‘lie they are embracing’ line because it would definitely sidetrack the article. But listen to Mr. Stier’s words again. Note the intellectual superiority he ascribes to himself. That no matter what an atheist might tell you, he’s hiding something, and it’s up to his Christian guide to figure out the ‘real’ reason behind his personal beliefs and reveal it at the proper time.

Can you imagine if I took the same tactic with Stier? Imagine if I listened to everything Mr. Stier said about how he’s a Christian because he finds the Bible accurate and compelling and Jesus has had a personal effect on his life. And then said, ‘I know what you said, Mr. Stier, but the true reason for your Christianity is that you enjoy talking down to people who think differently than you. Also you want an excuse to keep your wife subordinate to your whims, gay people in the closet, and donations flowing into your church.’ I don’t imagine that Mr. Stier would be any more thrilled with my analysis of himself than I was with his own.

Now I’m very open about my own journey into atheism. Anger had a lot to do with it. So did hurt. But these things were the catalyst that put me on my journey towards godlessness, not the reason for my atheism today. If in the course of educating myself I encountered compelling evidence towards a deity, I would have had to adapt and figure out how my anger and hurt towards one aspect of spirituality would have to be molded to this new evidence.

I did not. Hence the reason I am an atheist. Reason, not catalyst. Learn the difference, Mr. Stier, or don’t bother engaging us in the future.

3. Connect relationally.

“Atheists are real people with real feelings. They laugh, cry, talk and connect like anyone else. I think that too many times Christians treat atheists as objects and not people.”

Yes. Obviously. It is a sad commentary on the state of Christianity that Stier has to issue a reminder to his brothers and sisters in Christ that atheists are real people with genuine emotions. Other than that I have no other objections to this point, other than to feel disgust at the way Mr. Stier disregards it in his very next point.

4. Assume that, down deep inside, they do believe in God.

Wait. What?

I don’t think I’ve ever met anyone who genuinely rejects the existence of God. Sure, I’ve met many who have claimed God’s existence to be a lie but I’m convinced that, down deep inside, they really do believe there’s a God.

Yes, he’s entirely serious. What happened to ‘atheists are real people with real feelings?’ That was over quickly.

“Why do I believe that? Because Scripture makes it clear in Romans 1:18-21 that there are no real atheists.”

Anyone with any amount of human empathy should understand why this is so insulting, so demeaning, and so counter-productive to Stein’s own purpose of dialoguing with atheists. By self-righteously asserting that he knows better what we believe than we do ourselves, he disregards the validity of our opinions and the experiences that formed them. In fact, he reduces us to something less than human by claiming that ‘we do not exist.’

According to Stier, I am not a person with personal convictions or opinions. Instead I am a poor, sad little man who is hiding from Stier’s own personal Truth and his god. And I am a liar. Since I claim to be an atheist, and there is obviously no such thing, I must be either not intelligent enough to realise the truth about my own convictions or outright lying to Stier about my beliefs. Clearly, either of them would make him feel better than acknowledging that some people simply don’t believe in his god. It is the height of intellectual dishonesty.

An atheist hides from Jesus. Probably because he owes the Messiah money.

An atheist hides from Jesus. Probably because he owes the Messiah money.

And from there it goes to intellectual cowardice. Stier claims that if a Christian assumes that an atheist believes in God deep down, he is free to share the good news of Jesus instead of focusing on inconvenient arguments about Yahweh’s very existence. This is a cop-out, a safe-guard, a method for Stier to feel like he has the upper hand in a conversation without addressing points that he is clearly unqualified to even refute.

It’s this point that currently has several dozen atheists on Pastors.com up in arms. As of posting, Stier has responded to exactly none of them, for all his points about dialoguing with atheists.

“When you assume that an atheist does really believe in the existence of God it gives you the freedom not to have to prove God’s existence but to share God’s story. You can be sure that down deep inside, the gospel is churning in the soul of the atheist.”

There’s definitely something churning deep down inside me after reading that, but it certainly isn’t the Gospel.

5. Frame the gospel as a love story (that just happens to be true).

This is the point in which Stier claims the Gospel should be used as a crowbar to pry open closed minds. That’s right. The man who just claimed that millions of atheists are lying to him about his beliefs to avoid addressing their opinions is talking about how we’re closed-minded.

Personally, I would love to hear how Stier frames the Gospel as a love story. Learning about how I need to stop lying and start thinking exactly like Greg Stier in order to avoid roasting over a pit of fire for all eternity is definitely a challenging premise to start from. Learning about how the enslavement of millions, butchery of thousands, and rape of hundreds was a mechanism for fulfilling the Gospel prophecies is also a delight. I bet that if Stier just assumes that I believe it deep down, I’ll realise that my morals of loving other people, caring for them, and fighting for reconciliation without the promise of an eternal reward is entirely misguided. And then I’ll bow to his preferred idol.

Because it’s a love story.

So what’s the point?

It’s hard to remember the last time I read a Christian article so laced in irony. Because I don’t think I could think of someone I would want to converse with about my personal beliefs less than someone who is so arrogant, so condescending, and so self-righteous as to insist from the get go that I am lying about my atheism.

I do not believe in God. The Christian god or any of the other 3,000 currently worshipped in human society. I have my reasons. They stem from a childhood in a country ripped apart by religious wars and Christian terrorists, high school years in a bigoted and backwards Christian high school, and most importantly from my decision to educate myself in both science and theology and come up with my own personal informed opinion.

To say that I am not real, that my beliefs are not real, that I am merely suppressing something you know and embrace and love is not only an insult to my intelligence and worth as a person, but a disregard for every life experience that led me to a life without religion.

You are doing nothing to enhance the cause of Christianity, Mr. Stier. In fact, you are doing the opposite. Your self-indulgent pat on the back is reminding us why we are so glad we don’t have to associate with such incredible arrogance or intellectual cowardice.

Go out and speak to some real atheists other than ‘James.’ And then come back and try again. You’ll improve. You have to, because you certainly couldn’t do any worse.

Why I’m not a Pope Francis Fanboy

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A little over a week ago, the Internet was buzzing with yet another “Pope Francis did something else adorable and kind!” story. In case you missed it, or you are once again too lazy to click on the link, Francis was giving a homily to a large congregation to celebrate the Year of Faith. A small group of children were invited to sit behind the Papal Throne. One of them, a small boy, wandered up to look at the Pope as he was speaking. Even as security attempted to remove him, Francis shooed them away and allowed the boy to stay. Eventually, he set the boy on his throne and continued with the homily. As expected, the world (or at least the large percentage of the world that regularly logs on to Buzzfeed) responded with an outpouring of affection for the newest pontiff.

Of course, this is only the latest in a long succession of anecdotes demonstrating Francis’s new policy of humbleness and service. Whether it’s washing the feet of a troubled Muslim girl or embracing a severely disfigured man, Francis and his publicity team are making all the right moves. And the world is noticing. After Benedict’s years of hard-lined conservatism and antagonism towards those the Church regularly rails against (not to mention his part in the cover-up of the child rape fiasco), Francis feels like a breath of fresh air. He kisses babies! He hangs out with poor people! He carries his own bag and lives in a small flat instead of the Papal apartments! He’s amazing! In a few short months, Francis has soared to become the most beloved religious figure since Mother Theresa.

And I just don’t get it.

I really don’t.

Because no matter what Francis does, how many babies he kisses, how many kind and sweet words he says, it doesn’t change the fact of what he is.

Pope Francis is the head of the largest criminal organisation on earth. And there is simply no getting around that. And that being understood, what praise is he worthy of? Why is it so admirable that Francis has a good PR team? What is so laudable about being able to play the part of a saint on earth? I don’t know, and so that’s why I find the reams of adoration being heaped on Francis so mind-bogglingly unbelievable.

I really don’t want to get back into what the Catholic Church did in Ireland at this time, because I’ve already written a couple posts concerning the Troubles and it’s too soon to hash out what the Catholic terrorist militias did to us again. I will, however, mention the existence of the Magdalene Laundries, where the Church enslaved and abused thousands of young women and girls as young as nine. And I will mention that Ireland one of the hardest countries hit by the child rape cover-up. Catholic priests such as Sean Fortune raped hundreds, perhaps thousands of young boys and the Catholic hierarchy covered it up, exposing more children to monsters. The coppers in the coffers of the cardinals were more important than the lives of hundreds of children.

This was not a ‘sex-abuse scandal.’ A scandal is when a politician is caught with a couple of prostitutes in a dirty water closet. What the Church is guilty of is the systematic, aggressive, and widespread cover up of the rape and molestation of thousands of young children across the world. It is guilty of placing child rapists in contact with children knowing that they were repeat offenders. It is guilty of destroying thousands of lives, indirectly causing hundreds of cases of suicide or deep psychological scaring. The corruption and cover up was traced through the ranks of Catholic authourity, right up to former Pope Benedict.

“But Pope Francis wasn’t tied to any of that!” his defenders will claim. “He’s done nothing but show love to his followers and to his detractors! He’s a good man!”

Well, so what?

Would you celebrate a mob boss who gives generously to a children’s hospital?

What about a preacher who encourages men in the church but beats his wife at home?

Is the man who runs a drug cartel above criticism if he doesn’t do drugs himself and never personally buys and sells them?

If your answer to the above questions is ‘no,’ then you cannot give Francis a free pass. As much as Christians try to watch each others backs (even if they’re only preparing to stab them at a later date) Francis is not above the law. Neither is the organisation he heads. The Catholic Church is not truly a church. It’s a huge criminal syndicate and paedophile protection ring, guilty of systematic murder, rape, child molestation, theft, and slavery around the world.

It’s not altogether surprising that Catholics rush to defend their Pope with such fervor. I have come across many Catholic writers and bloggers who diminish the crimes by labeling those who suffered at their hands – including the victims – as being hateful and anti-Christian. After all, the Catholic hierarchy is the absolute standard of moral truth in Catholicism. Things like child rape are a rather ugly smear on that moral authourity. Those of us who point out the Church’s complicity in protecting the child rapists in their ranks are accused of taking ‘pot shots’ or ‘cheap shots’ at the Church and at Francis. But what astonishes me is how many non-Catholics and even agnostics and atheists are leaping upon the Pope Francis bandwagon. Even the media is celebrating his “cleaning up the Catholic Church” even as another child abuse cover up comes out in the Twin Cities.

I don’t like it. I don’t agree with it. Maybe it’s part of growing up in fear of the Church’s cruelest adherents that makes me so skeptical of its gentlest face. But I have confess, I have nothing but awe at this clear and marvelous example of the power of Panem et Circenses. You probably remember that phrase from university philosophy or history classes. If not, you probably know it from The Hunger Games. The literal translation is “Bread and Circuses.” Food and entertainment, essentially. It refers to the tendency of the mob to adore whomever is giving them what they need and distracting them from their sorrows.

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Here comes Pope Katniss!

And that is exactly what Francis and his PR team is doing. And they are doing it. So. Well. They have gotten the Internet, that seductive yet ravenous harpy, on his side. And that is really saying something. Francis is giving all his adherents and his critics what they needed from the Church. Messages of acceptance, of hope, of new beginnings. And he is giving us what we want to see. Inspirational anecdotes of love and kindness that we can post on Internet message boards and coo over as the Catholic hierarchy grasps at the last straws of its power.

Don’t believe me? Look how quickly discussing the child abuse cover-up when Catholicism comes up has gone from ‘stating facts’ to ‘making cheap shots.’

Which is why I cannot defend Francis, cannot like him, cannot view his playacting as anything more than it is – an attempt to distract and distort the nature of what the Catholic Church is doing around the world. I do not believe that it is a coincidence that as the child rape cover-up continues to mount up, as a widely reviled and mocked Pope mysteriously steps down, a newer, gentler man steps up to salve the wounds. I am again astonished at how effective it has been.

What the Pope is doing is the equivalent of pouring baby oil on a gaping wound and saying ‘There, there.’

It’s abhorrent, and it’s wrong. Because you don’t stick a six-inch knife in someone, withdraw it three inches, and call it progress.

That’s not progress. It’s deception.

Disclaimer:

After my last post concerning Martin Luther, I thought it would be appropriate to balance it out with a post about Francis. The necessity of this post was apparent after I read a post on The American Jesus by Zach Hunt. Several parts of this article were taken from the comments I originally made there.

On the Lutherans And Their Lies: How I was cheated into studying the doctrine of an Anti-Semite

 

ImageIt’s Halloween, and as I sit in Starbucks with my Styrofoam cup of orange and honey tea (because I flatly refuse to capitulate to the American love affair with coffee) it couldn’t be more evident. Orange lights are dangling from the ceiling, the bright leaves are tumbling off the trees like a crimson rainfall, and ghouls and hags and the odd Captain America are walking about outside with carved pumpkins and woolen scarves. I love Halloween. I loved it back in my homeland when we called it Samhain. We’d light bonfires and stay up late into the night telling ghost stories as we ate goat cheese and candied apples. I love that my gay friends in America refer to Halloween as ‘gay Christmas.’ I love the elaborate costumes, the bite in the air before winter arrives, haunted houses around Chicago. Even an atheist can appreciate that some days, there’s just magic in the air.

On my Facebook feed, it’s a different story.

I have a number of Lutheran friends, and even more Lutheran acquaintances. Several are training to be pastors and teachers in the Lutheran tradition, and even those who aren’t are often very vocal about their appreciation for their religious denomination and especially their revered founder, Martin Luther. For those who are unfamiliar with the German monk turned reformer, Luther was a devout Catholic who was never quite satisfied with his faith. His own study of the Christian Bible convinced him that the Catholic Church was filled with corruption and error. The final straw came when a man named John Tetzel came through Wittenberg, where Luther taught at university. Tetzel was selling indulgences – pieces of paper guaranteeing the forgiveness of sins – to the peasants, using their hard-earned pennies to build the ostentatious throne of the papacy that is today called St. Peter’s basilica. In order to counter Tetzel, Luther nailed ninety-five arguments against indulgences and the church on the door of the Wittenberg church. This act launched what became the Reformation and the formation of the Protestant branch of Christianity. The Catholic Church rebuked Luther and later excommunicated him. Luther’s life from that point on mainly consisted of writing works like the Book of Concord and the Large and Small Catechism. He also translated the Bible into German (the first true vernacular translation), taught and preached, and aided the German princes who protected him against the Holy Roman Empire.

The date that Luther nailed the 95 Theses to the church door, 31 October 1517, is hailed by Lutherans and Protestants in general as “Reformation Day.”

Which means that my Facebook wall is overwhelmed with pictures of a 500 year old monk and quotes from the Bible about how we’re saved by Grace, not by works. And more Luther quotes than I care to count.

It is tempting, oh so tempting, to respond with some of Martin Luther’s most anti-Semitic quotes and create a firestorm of Facebook controversy and condemnation.

Oh, by the way, Luther hated Jews.

I mean, oh-my-god-I-don’t-believe-in, did Martin Luther ever hate the Jews.

But in order to explain why I despise Martin Luther so much, I need to back up and relay some personal history.

I had just turned fifteen when I immigrated to America from Ireland. Already, I was an apostate in the Catholic faith, essentially an atheist although I wasn’t really developed mentally enough to understand what that meant fully. I just didn’t care much about God, and after fifteen years in the shadow of the Troubles I loathed organised Christianity of any kind. After leaving a nation where Christianity had managed to permeate nearly every facet of life, I thought coming to the United States would be a much-needed breath of fresh air.

How wrong I was.

My Belfast-born, Protestant mother had been involved in the Lutheran tradition before I was born. She had acquiesced to my grandparents raising me to be loosely Catholic, but she now insisted that I attend a parochial Lutheran high school so I could receive a good, sound Protestant work ethic. And so the indoctrination began again. There are several different branches, or ‘synods’ of Lutheranism, and the one that ran my high school was among the most conservative. Religious classes and instruction were held every day, including chapel services were pastors from around the area would come and guest lecture. I quickly went from being vaguely aware that Lutherans existed to studying the Lutheran doctrines on a regular basis with my classmates, including two of my sisters. And from knowing Luther as a historical figure whose influence I generally understood, I grew to know him as the patron saint of Lutheranism, the true vicar of Christ on earth, who is held in equal – if not greater – status to Christ himself.

Seriously, no matter what a Lutheran may tell you, they venerate Luther as heavily as Catholics do the Holy Virgin. You can find him in their paintings, in church art, on the cover of their books. I took classes on Luther’s life, took tests on his works. I read the Catechisms, the Book of Concord, and several others. Even World History II spent two weeks dedicated to the effect that Martin Luther had on the development of the world after the Renaissance. Even as an apostate Catholic/atheist, I had to think to myself ‘Wow, that man did quite a bit. He changed the world!’ I could recite Luther’s most famous quotes with the best of them, rattle off the major events of his life at speed, sing “A Mighty Fortress is Our God” in a clear tenor with the hundreds of Lutheran warriors around me. Of course, internally I was rolling my eyes. But even though I never took his theological views seriously, Luther was the thorn in the side of the Catholic Church. After seeing a car bomb in the Omagh market set off by Catholic militants, that sounded fine to me.

Again, how wrong I was.

It wasn’t until the second half of my last year that I learned the truth. I was working on a brief history report on the Righteous Gentiles, the men and women who saved so many victims from the Nazi death machine back during the War. One of the books I was using made a passing reference to Martin Luther. My interest piqued, I read the few paragraphs that detailed the effects of an essay by Luther that I had never heard of. It was called On the Jews and Their Lies.

I read the paragraphs. And then I read everything about the essay I could find in other books. And then I searched for it in all the books of Lutheran theology and essays found in the vast library my high school kept. It was nowhere to be found. So in the end I downloaded it off the internet and spent two hours at home perusing Luther’s opinions and admonishments towards the Jewish people.

And it made me sick. Physically ill.

I felt cheated. Filthy. Degraded. And above all, deceived. Deceived by men claiming to be righteous into venerating a man who became the cornerstone of the Holocaust. Studying the works of a man who ended up contributing to the deaths of millions of people. Treating a monster like a god. Speaking good of evil. Luther’s hatred was nothing new. I had seen it before. But this time it had been carefully hidden away from me and the rest of my classmates. How had I been almost four years at a school dedicated to Luther and never heard of this? I realised that it had been covered up and brushed under the rug. Another dirty little Christian secret.

Luther didn’t start out by hating the Jews. Quite the contrary, after he broke away from the Catholic Church Luther was very optimistic about the potential to convert the Jewish people to ‘true’ Christianity. He even told his followers to treat them gently and with kindness, so that the Jews might see the truth of the Lutheran teachings. I’ll bet apples to gold that you can guess what happened. The Jews rebuffed this 467th attempt to convert them to Christianity. And quicker than a Connemara pony, Luther turned on them.

Overnight his treatment of the Jews became more hateful, and increasingly more bizarre. Many of Luther’s colleagues begged him to see sense, to keep his ramblings on the Jews to himself and leave them alone. Luther didn’t listen. “Now just behold these miserable, blind, and senseless people,” he said. “We are at fault for not slaying them.” His anti-Semitic rhetoric reached a peak when he published On the Jews and Their Lies in 1543, and it is now the most well-known example of the long history of Anti-Semitism found in Late-Renaissance Germany and Lutheranism.

One of the most important parts of On the Jews and Their Lies outlined the seven points of ‘sharp mercy’ that Luther called for when dealing with the Jewish people. They included:

-Burning their schools and synagogues

-Transfering Jews to community settlements

-Confiscating all Jewish literature, which was blasphemous

-Prohibiting rabbis to teach, on pain of death

-Denying Jews safe-conduct, so as to prevent the spread of Judaism

-Appropriating their wealth and using it to support converts and to prevent the lewd practice of usury

-Assigning Jews to manual labor as a form of penance.

So let’s summarise. Burn down their synagogues and schools, rob them, kill their leaders, destroy their books, enslave them to forced hard labour, and essentially using any means necessary to destroy their communities. This should sound familiar to anyone remotely familiar with the history of Western Europe in the 1930’s and 40’s.

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Here are some more tasty tidbits from Luther’s work:

If we wish to wash our hands of the Jews’ blasphemy and not share in their guilt, we have to part company with them. They must be driven from our country.

…they remain our daily murderers and bloodthirsty foes in their hearts. Their prayers and curses furnish evidence of that, as do the many stories which relate their torturing of children and all sorts of crimes for which they have often been burned at the stake or banished.

If I had power over the Jews, as our princes and cities have, I would deal severely with their lying mouth.

And it’s not a coincidence that Luther’s advice was fulfilled so dramatically during the Nazi Holocaust. Germans revered Martin Luther for hundreds of years after his death. His anti-Semitic works were kept in print and widely circulated. Several Nazi leaders praised him, as did Lutheran bishops. Hitler himself mentioned his influence in Mine Kampf. And on 10 November 1938, Luther’s prophecy fulfilled itself when the Nazis throughout Germany laid waste to German businesses, burned synagogues, humiliated Jewish men, women and children,  killed hundreds and deported thousands to the slave labour camps. Kristallnacht, the Night of Broken Glass, was held on Luther’s birthday to honour him and the fulfillment of his sharp mercy.

The revered historian William Shirer, who wrote the epic and comprehensive work The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich, directly linked Luther’s anti-Semitism to the ease of which the Nazis were able to get the general population on their side.

“It is difficult to understand the behavior of most German Protestants in the first Nazi years unless one is aware of two things: their history and the influence of Martin Luther. The great founder of Protestantism was both a passionate anti-Semite and a ferocious believer in absolute obedience to political authority. He wanted Germany rid of the Jews. Luther’s advice was literally followed four centuries later by Hitler, Goering and Himmler”

It absolutely cannot be denied that Luther contributed heavily to the Nazi Holocaust four hundred years after his death. Luther had both influence and power and he used them to lay the foundations for what is arguably the greatest evil the world has ever seen.

And the Lutherans still follow him. And even worse, they try to justify him and excuse him.

After learning about Luther’s vile crimes, I marched into the offices of several pastors who taught at my high school and demanded an explanation. The responses I received were…less than satisfactory. Luther was a product of his time, I was told. The Jews said hateful things about Christians too. While he did some regrettable things, Luther did much good and served the Lord well. He was an imperfect being like all of us.

No, I said. I am imperfect, but I am nothing like Martin Luther. And I marched out of those offices, my back turned on Luther and Lutherans and Protestantism forever.

I still feel a great amount of anger for the three and a half years that I was forced to study Luther without knowing who he truly was. Even today I get into passionate debates with Luther-apologists, like this one. The pastor I was debating told me straight out that I was being confrontational (I was), that I was a novice in Luther (I’m not) and that he wouldn’t apologise for Luther being ‘the master of hyperbole.’ In other words, Luther was exaggerating. He denied that Luther really wanted the Jews dead. I told him that he might as well deny that there were gas chambers.

What Luther did was horrific and indefensible, but what is also indefensible is the level that people still venerate him, especially in conservative areas of the United States. And the biggest excuse is that people just don’t know who Martin Luther was. Rachel Held Evans, a prominent Christian writer, wrote a blog post three years ago detailing the shock and horror she felt. And we’re not the only ones. The Lutheran Church has symbolically blown up the crematoriums of their faith in order to hide the skeletons in the closet of their Founder. And as a result, people today are on Facebook not only talking about him and praising him, but celebrating him.

This is what religion does. This is one of its crimes. It encourages you to defend evil. To honour a psychopath. To celebrate the cornerstone of the Holocaust.

The Lutherans and Their Lies. These are things that we cannot tolerate. Things that cannot be defended. It is absolutely essential that we drag these secrets out into the sun so that they’re well-known. Only then will the common view that these evil men were saints wither in the sunlight and die.