“I identify as…”

It’s the beginning of every conservative’s favorite joke. And only joke. “I identify as an Apache helicopter.” “I identify as a disabled Black woman.” “I identify as a a hawk.”

You see, the joke is on those wacky transgender people, based on the supposed immutability of the genders. You can’t just identify as whatever you want. You are what you are, no matter what you feel you are. “Facts don’t care about your feelings,” as a famous Christian Fascist likes to put it.

Which is genuinely funny (as opposed to conservative joke funny), because anyone can identify as a Christian and it means literally nothing.

What do I mean by that?

There are currently 2.2 billion Christians on the planet, of which almost all fall within the three main branches: Catholic, Protestant, and Orthodox. They all identify as Christian, and yet, strictly speaking, each branch believes it represents the only true version of the faith. And then, of course, those branches break down into hundreds of denominations, many of them claiming they have the one and only truth.

I could go on about this for pages, but this classic Emo Philips joke sums it up better than a hundred theologians ever could:


Beyond the three branches, Mormons and Jehovah’s Witnesses also identify as Christians, even though Protestants, Catholics, and Orthodox Christians all reject that claim and dismiss them as cults. But for demographic purposes, Mormons and JWs are counted as part of the 2.2 billion Chrizzos.

Alright, so a bunch of people have differing theological ideas about their religion. Who cares, right? That’s not any great gotcha. It doesn’t undermine the faith. I agree, it doesn’t. I don’t care what a self-proclaimed Christian believes. But shouldn’t Christians?

The Christian Nation

Let’s narrow our focus to America. The United States, as conservative politicians and religious leaders claim again and again, is a “Christian nation.” Founded on Christian values with a predominantly Christian citizenship, it’s totally reasonable for the Ten Commandments to be etched into US government buildings and “In God We Trust” splashed across the currency. So we’re told.

Never mind that the number of Christians in America dropped to an all-time low of 64% in 2020 and is, according to the Pew Research Center, on track to drop below 50% within roughly two decades. America is still a Christian nation. So says a majority of Republicans. So, beat it, Jews and Muslims.

But, here’s the real catch: Among those conservative Christian Nationalists who believe Christianity is the foundational truth of America, there is a growing contingent who don’t believe Jesus was God, which is literally the foundational truth of Christianity.

Don’t just take my word for it. That’s the finding of the most recent biannual State of Theology survey, which is overseen by two Christian organizations, Ligonier Ministries and LifeWay Research. This isn’t a survey of “gotcha” questions from Marxist college eggheads. These are Christian groups looking to understand the American Christian™.

A whopping 38% of self-identified Evangelicals said they “strongly agree” with the statement, “Jesus was a great teacher, but he was not God.” Another 5% somewhat agreed, meaning a full 41% of Evangelical Christians question whether Jesus was God. For those who haven’t been to Bible study in a while, if Jesus isn’t God, there is no Christianity.

If you don’t trust an atheist’s definition of Christianity, how about the National Association of Evangelicals:

Evangelicals take the Bible seriously and believe in Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord. The term “evangelical” comes from the Greek word euangelion, meaning “the good news” or the “gospel.” Thus, the evangelical faith focuses on the “good news” of salvation brought to sinners by Jesus Christ.

So, 41% of Evangelical Christians identify as Evangelical Christians while denying the foundational belief of Evangelical Christianity, namely that Jesus is the Lord.

That should probably raise some holy eyebrows. Evangelicals Protestants, which, for the record, are not a denomination but a subset (there can be Evangelical Baptists and Lutherans; there are even Evangelical Catholics), make up at least 25% of all Christians in America, and growing. 

Let’s do some quick math: There are 330 million people in the US. Since 64% are Christian, that is 212 million (rounding up), which makes 53 million Evangelicals (more than the population of Spain, by the way). And if 41% of those 53 million don’t believe Jesus is God, there are at least 22 million people in the United States who identify as Christian but don’t actually meet the technical definition of Christian.

(For the record Wheaton College estimates 30-35% of the US is Evangelical, which would mean 90-100 million people, with between 37 and 41 million doubting Jesus’ divinity.)

What should we call these millions of people who identify as Christian while denying the central, essential tenet of Christianity? TransChristians? Christian-adjacent? Apache Hell-icopters? (Get it? Because according to their own religion they’re going to Hell.)

I don’t suppose it matters. They identify as Christians, and therefore they are Christians. I have no right to question it, and neither do you. Funny how that works.

Christianity and Gun Ownership

The picture below popped up in my Facebook newsfeed, which bothered me for multiple reasons, and, as I showered in the morning, I couldn’t help but stew over everything that was wrong and ignorant about it.

Guns and God

Let me start with this picture’s basic assertion. It is, essentially, just a more topical version of the old, patently false axiom, “There are no atheists in foxholes.” This isn’t just a condescending dismissal of atheism, but also of the pantywaist belief that maybe guns aren’t the solution to every problem. You can claim not to believe in the value of guns or God, it says, but in moments of trouble you’ll turn to both. Because godless liberals are all just raging, gutless hypocrites, doncha know?

Well, speaking from personal experience as a cowardly heathen, I can say this is false. My apartment was robbed on New Years Eve. It sucked, and while the robber(s) didn’t take as much as they could have (thankfully they got scared off in the middle of unplugging my computer), it was still an infuriating and disheartening invasion of my and my roommate’s private space. Not so private, it seems. Yes, my roommate called the police, not to protect us but so we could file an official report with the infinitesimal hope of maybe recovering some of the lost items. (We never did.)

I don’t claim to speak for my roommates. Maybe they’d like to have a gun in the house. It’s an option. I understand the desire for increased security, and I certainly don’t want us getting robbed a second time. Personally, though, I’d rather invest in better bars on the windows and a security system that can protect our place when we’re not here rather than a gun that a) would have been useless in this particular scenario (no one was home) and b) would pose a statistically greater risk to us than to any potential, future robbers.

I’ve never taken any training in shooting a gun (though I have gone shooting) and if I go my whole life without that particular skill, that strikes me as a win. While I’m sure that makes me less of a man in the eyes of many people, I have a hard time understanding why living my life free of fear represents a shortcoming. We live in the least violent period in all of human history, I don’t have any delusions of being a vigilante. It’s possible that a crazed gunman could kill me at some point (and if so, shucks), but living my life with a fear of it is beyond pointless.

So, I don’t believe in gods or guns. Why this offends the sensibilities of a large portion of America I’ll never understand. But, rest assured, in times of trouble, I don’t suddenly start praying for a .45.

Christianity and Guns

Now, let’s reverse the equation. To me, the most revealing aspect of that picture above is not what it says about atheists (nothing) or people who don’t like guns (again, nothing) or even what it says about what Christians/gun owners think about atheists/gun non-owners (nothing new). No, what it really reveals is the bizarre mindset of Christians who, despite professing belief in a loving, all-powerful, prayer-answering, omniscient God, still put their faith in a gun.

A gun, which is a weapon for the purpose of killing (Exodus 20:13); a gun, which is used to protect your material possessions (Matthew 6:19-21); a gun, which is meant to keep someone else from taking from you and punish them if they do (Matthew 5:39-41); a gun, which is your protection against enemies (Psalm 20:6-8).

A gun, which is about as appropriate in the hands of a Christian as a meat tenderizer is in the hands of a vegan.

(I want to be clear that I’m not saying American citizens shouldn’t have the right to own guns. While I am in support of intelligent gun control, I have never advocated for stripping Americans of their guns. Unfortunately, as soon as your lips start to form the words “gun control” you immediately get shouted down for trying to “trample on the 2nd Amendment” and no conversation can even be had. So fine, I don’t care. Keep killing yourselves, America.)

I believe this: A Christian who needs a gun is no Christian at all (I’m not referring to guns for the purpose of hunting, because, whatever). I’ve said it before, and I’ll repeat it: There’s no such thing as an American Christian. It’s an oxymoron. The gun ownership debate makes it pretty plain why: Whereas Jesus preached a message of peace, forgiveness, rejection of material possessions and a dedication to God that would require a person to abandon one’s family, the American life (the American Dream, in fact) is all about building up treasure on earth and guarding it like a rabid dog with special affection for vengeance and retribution.

I see nothing inherently wrong with the American life, other than that it flies in the face of basically every single one of Jesus’ teachings. Reconciling the two diametrically opposed worldviews of American Capitalism and Biblical Christianity is a feat of such gymnastic contortion, even a yoga master would pull a muscle.

If you want to own a gun, go for it. It actually is the rational choice for someone who has no belief in a higher power, and if I lived in a constant state of fear I might just be so inclined.

However, a Christian who condescendingly suggests everybody needs a gun is admitting one of two things: Either their faith isn’t very strong, or their god isn’t.

Jesus and Guns

“i need a good argument on being against gay marriage”

“i need a good argument on being against gay marriage” was a search term that led someone to my blog.  It must have led him (her?) to one of two of my blog posts in which I present those arguments they’re searching for and then refute them, exposing them for the thinly-veiled bigotry that they are.

When someone types in the phrase “arguments against gay marriage,” I imagine that searcher must be too dumb to think of a logical reason for their prejudice and they’re hoping someone else has come up with a nice sounding rationalization so they can pretend to base their arguments on intelligence.

Still, it’s a rare gem when I see a search term so blatantly admitting that the searcher doesn’t actually have a good argument for their view, they’re just holding to it.

And this is what bothers me so much about the apparently thousands of people lining up for tasteless chicken sandwiches at Chick-Fil-A in order to show support for “Traditional Marriage.”  Most of these people believe they are nobly standing up for their faith, but really they’re just blindly condoning prejudice.  And no, I don’t mean Chick-Fil-A’s prejudice, I mean their own.

In my original post on the topic, I concluded that there was no good logical argument against legalizing Same Sex Marriage, and thus one could only claim faith-based reasoning (an oxymoron if there ever was one) or just admit that they didn’t like homosexuals.  Pure and simple prejudice.  I ended up writing an Addendum piece because I had been confronted with an interesting counterargument that claimed to be based on facts, not faith.  I’m not going to accurately convey the argument here, nor will I  be able to sufficiently sum up my rebuttal (read the original post), but needless to say I was not convinced.  There is no evidence that Same Sex Marriage in any way hurts society, despite the dire warnings of the prejudiced.

I know plenty of decent, Christian people who oppose Same Sex Marriage as a matter of faith, and I’ve always tried to remain open-minded and believe that, yes, you can oppose this form of equality and not be homophobic or prejudiced.  It’s the whole, “Love the Sinner, not the sin,” thing.  And while I’ve never really found that aphorism very compelling, I’ve tried to give the benefit of the doubt (because, when I was a Christian, I surely threw that phrase around some).

But I’ve been having this niggling doubt in the back of my head, a kind of cognitive dissonance that always makes me instinctively twitch when people make claims reconciling the obstruction of rights with ‘Christian love.’

Let’s put aside the question of whether America, a secular nation, should base laws on faith.  Whether we should or not (not), as long as we have this many Christians in the country, it’s going to happen, at least in part.

I only want to focus on the justifications that each individual Christian must go through to stand against Same Sex Marriage.  I’m ignoring the obvious, hate-filled pussbags like Fred Phelps; this is for the Christians who I believe are generally good, loving people.  Help me understand my confusion.

The Bible on Homosexuality

Let’s say you’re an intelligent, educated Christian.  Most of my friends would fall into this category to some degree or another.  As such, you’ve read the Bible (hopefully) and you’ve found that homosexual acts are condemned in various Bible verses in the New Testament, so despite Christ bringing the “New Covenant,” the Old Testament prohibition against it still stands (even though most of the other Old Testament prohibitions don’t). 

The reason an intelligent Christian doesn’t pay much heed to Old Testament prohibitions on homosexuality is because if they do they have to explain why they don’t follow the other rules in there, and many of those rules are bizarre if not flat out impossible to maintain in this modern society (there are a lot of acts punishable by death).

The New Testament verses that explicitly mention homosexuality (homosexual acts) are few:

Romans 1:27 – In the same way the men also abandoned natural relations with women and were inflamed with lust for one another. Men committed shameful acts with other men, and received in themselves the due penalty for their error.

1 Timothy 1:9-11 – We also know that the law is made not for the righteous but for lawbreakers and rebels, the ungodly and sinful, the unholy and irreligious, for those who kill their fathers or mothers, for murderers, 10 for the sexually immoral, for those practicing homosexuality, for slave traders and liars and perjurers—and for whatever else is contrary to the sound doctrine 11 that conforms to the gospel concerning the glory of the blessed God, which he entrusted to me.

1 Corinthians 6:9-10 – Or do you not know that wrongdoers will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: Neither the sexually immoral nor idolaters nor adulterers nor men who have sex with men 10 nor thieves nor the greedy nor drunkards nor slanderers nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God.

I’m open to correction, but I do believe those are the only New Testament verses that use the term homosexual or explicitly describe a same-sex act.  Other verses that are sometimes lumped into this discussion talk about sexual immorality or depravity, which can be any number of sexual acts (especially considering the Old Testament’s obsession with the subject).

In these passages that mention homosexuality, the author always discusses other sins, too.  Liars and perjurers, drunks and slanderers, the greedy and swindlers (there goes Wall Street), and in the fuller passage of the Romans verse above (1 Romans:22-31), gossips, those disobedient of their parents, arrogant people and slanderers (again; must be especially hated by God) are all mentioned in the same breath as homosexuals.

Where are the chicken chains coming out against gossips?  I’ve never met a Christian who didn’t enjoy a juicy piece of gossip (because I’ve never met any person who didn’t).  And slanderers?  In two separate passages, it is placed on par with homosexuality.  In fact, bearing false witness against your neighbor (slander) is prohibited in the Ten Commandments.  Homosexuality doesn’t justify a mention there.

On a base, human level, I’m bothered by any Christian who spends time pointing out the splinter in the eyes of homosexuals while ignoring the logs of gossip, slander, greed, thievery and other repugnant acts in their own.  Take care of your own house, Church, before you come into someone else’s and start rearranging the furniture.  I spent years in the church and I can assure you, every single one of those prohibited acts occurs among God’s People (even murder; what is a child’s suicide because of intolerance and mockery if not murder?).

If you went to Chick-Fil-A to show support for ‘Traditional Marriage,’ shame on you.  I don’t care if someone eats there.  I don’t care if you’re indifferent to the whole subject and you just want your bland fried fa(s)t food to stuff into your lard-excreting gut.  But if you went on Wednesday to show appreciation for a chain because of their stance on one (and only one) type of sin, you are deplorable.

Now, most of my Christian friends probably didn’t go (though I know at least a couple did, or tried).  Most of my Christian friends who believe homosexuality is a sin and homosexuals should not get married aren’t interested in the petty social battle.  They will not vote to allow Same Sex Marriage and they will stand up for their beliefs, but they don’t feel the need to join a herd of sheep for crap food.

Good for you, if you’re one of those.  But here is where the conversation turns on you.


As a God-fearing, engaged Christian, you obviously care about studying your Bible.  Not just the words in your modern translation, but the words that were actually written.  After all, you know that Paul and the others weren’t writing in English. 

It would be naive for you to believe that any language can be translated word for word into another.  Language translation is never a ‘1 for 1’ proposition.  Interpreters take context and concepts and craft a translation that as faithfully as possible represents the meaning the original author intended.

Any person who tries to take a theological stand based on the English translation of the Bible is standing on sand instead of the firm rock.

So, you, the smart, intelligent, well-read and pure of heart Christian know that to understand, Biblically, a contentious issue such as homosexuality, one cannot settle for the shallow English reading of the Bible but must delve into the deep, original texts.  Now, I’m not saying one must be able to read Greek and Hebrew to be a true Christian.  There are scholars in those languages that can offer you their insights.

So, on the issue of homosexuality, what do those scholars say?

Well, for one, it’s well-established that the term ‘homosexual’ has no exact corollary in Greek or Hebrew.  The term ‘Homosexual’ is a compound word taken from Greek and Latin roots, firmly English while being neither Greek nor Latin.

So, any English version of the Bible that uses the term is already committing the sin of shoveling modern bias on ancient texts.  Why use the term when it couldn’t possibly have been the author’s exact intent?  If you faithfully want to represent the Word of God (and not just your own personal prejudice), shouldn’t you seek the most accurate translation, not the For Dummies version?

The Original Greek: Malokai and Arsenokaites

So, what is the word used in Paul’s original text?  Well, there are two, the first being ‘Malokai’ which means ‘soft’ or, essentially, effeminate.  The other, more pertinent word is ‘Arsenokoitēs’ (literally male-bedder or male-situater).  It’s a word Paul apparently made up, so it doesn’t have an accurate translation.  This makes it difficult to know what Paul’s meaning was, precisely. 

More importantly, it’s worth noting that the Greeks did have a word for a man who sleeps with another male, it was ‘Paiderasste’.  Let’s be clear, this word means sex between a man and a boy.  It is not meant to indicate homosexual in the broad way we mean the term.  So, does that mean arsenokoitēs was Paul’s attempt to coin a broader term such as homosexual?

I wouldn’t deny that it’s a possibility, but we also have to consider the cultural context.  Our idea of a homosexual, a man or woman who exclusively has sex with someone of their own sex, is new.  Bisexuality was not uncommon among the Romans and the dichotomy of lesbians and gay males did not exist.  Considering that we can’t possibly know Paul’s exact meaning (not helped by him being the Stephen Colbert of his time and coining phrases left and right), this whole issue tends to just go in circles.

In fact, the whole conversation is an unending, raging debate, something that tends to happen when arguing the meaning of 2,000-year-old texts in which we don’t even have third or fourth generation copies, let alone originals.  Depending on your personal persuasion (you might even say, orientation) you are going to take one side (Paul meant ‘homosexual’ as we know it) or the other (Paul’s meaning is unclear but it seems unlikely he meant ‘homosexual’ in the English sense).


So, here is where I come at you, my intelligent Christian friend.  Why have you chosen your side?  Why are you siding with those who argue that homosexuality is a sin, thus requiring you to take a stand against Same Sex Marriage and the happiness of millions of people?

There are intelligent, educated people on both sides of the debate.  Maybe you don’t find the argument of the ‘Paul didn’t mean homosexual’ camp particularly compelling.  Ask yourself, why?  Are you actually taking a stand in this matter because of reasoned, learned interpretations of the Bible, or are you taking the stance that feels most comfortable, perhaps because you were already biased to find homosexuality abhorrent? 

How do you know that your principled stance in the face of social pressure is really all that principled?  Principles have to be based on something, or they aren’t really principles at all.  You are standing up for a Biblical principle, but whose translation of the Bible?  Why have you sided with the people who hate homosexuals if you, as you claim, don’t hate homosexuals?  Look into yourself and ask why you would want to take any stand at all on something that doesn’t affect you and doesn’t cause any proven economic, social or political detriment.

If you’re a Christian, and you believe God wants you to vote against Same Sex Marriage, explain why.  Not to me, to yourself.

Are you really so sure you aren’t the same as the guy who typed in “i need a good argument on being against gay marriage?”  Are you biased because of your justifications, or are you justifying your biases?

Don’t stand for hate.  Don’t stand for Bible verses that can’t be interpreted with any certainty.  Stand for love.  Stand for unified families.  Stand for the Bible verses that offer no confusion: Love they neighbor.

And if you’re standing up for Chick-Fil-A, maybe take a few laps around the track while you’re at it.

I’m not pulling my information out of thin air.  Some of my references:

Meanings of the Greek word “arsenokoitai”

“Malakoi and Arsenokaitai” from Dirt, Greed, & Sex: Sexual Ethics in the New Testament and Their Implications for Today by L. William Countryman

Boswell & Lexicons: Email exchange

Interpretation by Religious Liberals

The Bible, Christianity and Homosexuality

Original Greek translation of 1 Timothy

Selfish Children

Matthew 20:1-16

“1For the kingdom of heaven is like a landowner who went out early in the morning to hire workers for his vineyard. He agreed to pay them a denarius for the day and sent them into his vineyard.

“About nine in the morning he went out and saw others standing in the marketplace doing nothing. He told them, ‘You also go and work in my vineyard, and I will pay you whatever is right.’ So they went.

“He went out again about noon and about three in the afternoon and did the same thing. About five in the afternoon he went out and found still others standing around…

…9 “The workers who were hired about five in the afternoon came and each received a denarius. 10 So when those came who were hired first, they expected to receive more. But each one of them also received a denarius. 11 When they received it, they began to grumble against the landowner. 12 ‘These who were hired last worked only one hour,’ they said, ‘and you have made them equal to us who have borne the burden of the work and the heat of the day.’

13 “But he answered one of them, ‘I am not being unfair to you, friend. Didn’t you agree to work for a denarius? 14 Take your pay and go. I want to give the one who was hired last the same as I gave you. 15 Don’t I have the right to do what I want with my own money? Or are you envious because I am generous?’

16 “So the last will be first, and the first will be last.”

You might be curious why an avowed atheist is opening a blog post with a passage from the Bible.  Well, first off, I figure if there are any Christians in the audience, they probably haven’t read it.  But the main reason is because I find a lot of good, wise teaching on equitable and charitable living in Jesus’ words, and I’m dismayed that so few people (especially those who claim to follow him) live by any of it.

The Protestant Work Ethic used to mean you did your work without complaint and you felt guilty if you didn’t put in your fair share.  Now it seems to mean you’ll only work as long as no one taxes you higher than you want and you’ll throw a fit if somebody else doesn’t put in their fair share (based on an economic calculation of your own creation).

When the economy is struggling, it’s understandable that people become concerned about how much of the money they’ve earned is being taken in taxes and where that money is getting spent.  Every penny counts, after all.  But as a society have we really become so selfish that we have to pinch pennies from the poor, all the while ignoring the billions squandered by bankers and “job creators” (because taxes and rules and regulations stifle growth)?

This seems to be the heart of fiscal conservatism this day: Helping the poor will only lead to them abusing the welfare, but the rich never, ever take unfair advantages from tax breaks and abuse the system.  Because the rich are good and the poor are bad.  That’s why the rich are rich and the poor are poor, duh.

And here’s the gauntlet being thrown down: A Fiscal Conservative is not a Christian.  Now, I define Christian by that archaic definition, being Christ-like.  I realize that’s not the modern definition of Christian, which is “I’m an Ahmurican, aren’t I?”

I’ve always said I understand Fiscal Conservatives, I just don’t agree with them.  Because a fiscal conservative is pretty much a selfish child who sees someone else playing with their ball, gets mad, yanks it away and runs off to hide in the corner of the playground.

Obviously I’m going to ruffle some feathers with my explosive rhetoric, and for a reason.  There was a time as an atheist when I thought the best thing we could do in this world was get rid of religion.  Imagine it.  It’s easy if you try.

But now I’m thinking I’d rather just focus on forcing Christians to consolidate their faith with their actual beliefs.  Because one is a button they wear on their lapel and one actually guides their actions, and the two are rarely compatible. 

If you take the above parable on its own, you could twist it around to argue that your fiscal conservatism is just you demanding what is fairly yours (ironically missing the whole point), but when you combine that story with Jesus’ other teachings on taking care of those in need, the rich and even taxes, it becomes pretty clear that the God you believe in cares very little whether or not you keep “your” money.

If you’re not a Christian, then all I can say to you is stop being a selfish asshole.  Pennies of your tax dollar goes to welfare while hundreds of billions are spent on the military every year.  If you think cutting the safety net for those in need is going to save you thousands of dollars each year, remember that Air Drones cost a lot of money to develop.

But if you are a Christian, well… Consider the lilies.

I Want An Atheist President


It’s May, now, which means only 4 years and 7 months until the 2016 presidential election.

Of course, before that, we have to survive this one.

Since Mitt Romney is the Republican Nominee (yes, I know, not technically, but…) and we have a 2-party system in which a 3rd party can never hope to be anything but a minor nuisance to one or both candidates, I will be voting for Barack Obama.

I don’t want that to sound like I’m ‘choosing the lesser of two evils’ or something of that nature.  I like Obama.  He’s my president.  I am by no means enthralled with everything that has happened under his presidency and he has definitely punted on some issues when he should have probably fought harder.  But, I’m a pragmatist and a realist and I know how politics works.  Which is to say, it doesn’t.  You get your guy (or gal) in office and you should be ecstatic if even a tenth of the campaign promises get fulfilled.  Part of that is because politicians lie, and part of that is because our government is an intricate (one might even say, convoluted) system that favors the status quo over change (sometimes too our national detriment).

Some of us who voted for Obama in 2008 were probably a little too naively optimistic for the changes his presidency would bring, but better foolishly hopefully than filled with the paranoia and hatred that marks his most vehement opponents.

One of the most exciting moments of Obama’s presidency, for me, came very early on.  As in, the day of his Inauguration early.  For the first time ever, ‘non-believers’ were expressly mentioned in an inaugural speech.  The pertinent excerpt:

For we know that our patchwork heritage is a strength, not a weakness. We are a nation of Christians and Muslims, Jews and Hindus and non-believers.”

I remember hearing that and feeling an even greater sense of pride in my president, which was already pretty high.  The President of the United States acknowledged that, indeed, there are people in this country that don’t believe in any god, any faith, and they should be included in the conversation and recognized as part of our nation’s heritage.

A Christian has no idea what that moment feels like.  Despite talk of ‘attacks on religious freedom’ and ‘the War on Christmas,’ there has never been a question that Christians are always part of the equation.  Though the U.S. is secular (no matter what David Barton falsely claims), the truth is that this nation is still predominantly Christian in its make-up and politics.

When you’re a person who doesn’t belong to any particular faith and refuses to pretend to believe in a god, you tend to get left out of the conversation, intentionally or not.

Almost every single man who has been President of the United States has been nominally Christian.  We have to go back to William Howard Taft for a President who may have been an atheist, though he denied it (Wikipedia lists him as Unitarian).  The further back we go in history, the more we find that the Presidents were willing to eschew official religious affiliation, though most were still some denomination of Christian.

There are still some who claim that Obama is a secret Muslim, which is ridiculous.  But, I’m interested to see if those people will vote for a Mormon, since most likely in their view Mormonism is not Christianity, and thus a false religion (I was raised believing Mormonism was a cult; from a theological point of view, I do think Mormonism constitutes a different religion from Christianity, but since I’m not a Christian, I feel the point is moot).

For some people this will be an election between a Mormon and a Christian (who’s really a Muslim).  The Evangelical right will likely choose the lesser of two evils as they see it.  Or as pastor David Jeffries said recently:

…Given the choice between a Christian like Barack Obama who embraces non-biblical principles like abortion and a Mormon like Mitt Romney who embraces Bible principles, there’s every reason to support Mitt Romney in this election.

It’s all about principles, after all.  Like, the principle of standing for what you believe.

While Christians may have to wrestle with their faith this year, we atheists will vote on the issues we care about and the policies we think better lead our country forward.  Many of us will vote for Obama.  I’m sure a healthy contingent will vote for Romney, and there will even be a good number who throw their vote away on Ron Paul (aren’t I a stinker). 

Atheists aren’t a singular voting block.  We don’t have a Pope or an Evangelical Conference to tell us which way to throw our vote.  Sure, many of us revere the same men (Dawkins, Sagan), but those people don’t tell us who to vote for, and we wouldn’t listen if they did.

We call ourselves Freethinkers.  Yeah, it’s a self-aggrandizing title, so sue us.

While you will find online groups for atheists and a growing number of organizations attempting to bring some cohesion to a historically disparate group (it’s like herding cats), our very nature tends to make us resistant to unification.  After all, we are the kind of people who critically question everything and many of us at some point intentionally left behind a community of faith.  Of course, even as I write that, I have to admit that many atheists probably don’t fit that description.

And that’s the point.  Atheists only share one thing in common:  We have no belief in a god.  We don’t “have faith that there isn’t a god.”  We simply don’t accept that there is evidence for a god and thus remain at our default position: No faith.

There isn’t an American atheist alive today who has ever seen their lack of faith reflected in their president.  Granted, Muslims and Jews are in their same spot, but as this well-trod survey shows, atheists have a greater hill to climb to the White House.*

I want an Atheist President.  I want an Atheist President exactly because his or her views will be that of a freethinker, and thus not inherently locked into one stance.  S/He could be a Republican or a Democrat.  S/He could be a wartime president or a lockstep pacifist.  S/He could hold any stance on any number of issues without beholding to faith.  That doesn’t mean s/he would oppose faith or religion, only that their stance towards it would be a dispassionate acceptance of it based on the principles of the Constitution (Establishment Clause/Free-Exercise Clause) and reason.

There will always be a portion of Americans who believe that atheists are evil, the scum of the earth, as useful as a third tit.  Atheist President isn’t going to get their vote.

But there is no reason intelligent, moderate Christians should oppose an atheist.  I have Christian friends who support gay marriage, oppose the death penalty, believe in a strong safety net for the poor and are supportive of equal rights across the board.  In other words, if I was running for president (if I could find time in my busy schedule of child sacrifices and depraved sex), a substantial percentage of the non-Evangelical Christians, the same ones who voted for Obama, could vote for me, an atheist.

Now, I have no personal political ambitions (blech!), but there are plenty of atheists out there who do.  As an atheist, I hope that in my lifetime I see an atheist in the White House.  Let’s be clear: I don’t want to see it because I think it’ll mean all of my interests will be represented. 

I want an Atheist President because it will mean that the unofficial religious test for Presidency which has been in effect for at least 100 years will finally be abolished. 

I want an Atheist President because it will mean that a majority of Americans accept that a lack of faith does not equal a lack of character.

I want an Atheist President because it will mean that intelligence, experience and ideas matter more than church affiliation.

I want an Atheist President because it will mean the president will take responsibility for his or her decisions.

I want an Atheist President because it will mean that the promise of Religious Freedom will finally be fulfilled.

You don’t have to be an atheist to want an Atheist President.  You can be a believer and accept us non-believers.  You can understand that what makes me an atheist doesn’t undermine my integrity.  In fact, it strengthens it.

In 2012, the presidential candidates each profess faith in a higher being.  I have no problem with that, I only care about their policies.  Their faith, in my mind, is no more pertinent to their qualifications for president as whether they are left or right-handed.  As long as faith is not a motivation for political policy, you can believe anything at all and be president.  Or believe nothing at all.

It’s okay to vote for an atheist.  We come in peace.

If you want an Atheist President because you know that one faith doesn’t have a monopoly on morality, ethics and compassion, say it with me: I Want An Atheist President.  Tweet it with me: #Iwantanatheistpresident.

You don’t have to be an atheist to be a freethinker.

*The question specific to the presidency was asked in 1999, prior to the 9/11 attacks, so undoubtedly Muslims have taken a hit since then.  But as the other surveys reveal, even after the attacks atheists remain the least trusted group across the board.

EDIT: My suspicions were correct, Muslims did take a considerable Public Relations hit after 9/11, but atheists still remain the least trusted group.

Bullying by an Anti-Bully Bully? Bully for you!

A couple days ago, my Facebook feed (ugh, I feel like I’m doing product placement every time I type that) included the following story, thanks to a Christian friend in my list:

Anti-Bullying Speaker Curses Christian Teens

Of course I clicked. 

Unsurprisingly, the ‘Anti-Bullying Speaker’ referred to in the article is sex columnist, prominent GLBT spokesperson and, yes, Anti-Bullying Advocate, Dan Savage.  He writes right here in Seattle, doncha know.  Savage is no stranger to controversy, and his often explicit rhetoric has made him a particular thorn in social conservatives’ sides.  He is famously responsible for giving a name to a certain byproduct of butt sex, which just happens to be the name of a former Republican Presidential Candidate.  What a coinkydink.

If you read that headline, what are you going to assume?  The speaker, Dan Savage, attacked the Christian students, right?  If you ‘curse’ someone, you are aiming your curses at that particular person.  The article says that the attacks became so harsh that students up and walked out.  And, indeed, the article has an interview with the Journalism Advisor of some of the students, Rick Tuttle:

“It became hostile,” he said. “It felt hostile as we were sitting in the audience – especially towards Christians who espouse beliefs that he was literally taking on.”

As the teenagers were walking out, Tuttle said that Savage heckled them and called them pansy-assed.

When I read this article a couple days ago, I was disappointed to see Savage’s positive message undermined by this sort of controversy, and knowing Savage’s penchant for heated rhetoric I was willing to believe that this event had happened as reported (the video at the end of the article wasn’t on there when I originally read it).

Of course, my disappointment with Savage was mitigated by the commentators on the article itself:

Americans have to realize who we’re dealing with in (f)maggots like this and all the other cockroaches, Commies, and America haters that helped put an illegal Kenyan Muslim Marxist racist Chicago street monkey in OUR White House.

Communists HATE Christianity because it represents everything that is a threat to them and their decadent beliefs and lifestyle. It’s absolutely UN believable that Americans could be so stupid to actually believe that someone with a name like BARACK HUSSEIN OBAMA could be a CHRISTIAN.

HELLO, AMERICANS!!!??? Do you know ANYONE on the face of the earth who is a CHRISTIAN with a completely M U S L I M name??? THINK ABOUT IT!!!

That particular comment continues on with an anti-Obama Birther rant that’s not relevant to this topic or anyone with a working brain.  That is an extreme example of the kinds of people who frequent Fox News and comment on these sorts of articles (whenever a Gay person does something in public, the troglodytes come out in force), but make no mistake, even the more rationed and balanced statements are fairly hate-filled:

…the belief that “everyone deserves to be respected for who they are” may be what decent, God faring people live by but it is naive and even dangerous to believe that Communists, radical liberals, radical gays, radical athiests, etc. believe the same.

They don’t just (and are NOT) “speak up” against those THEY hate and disagree with, they seek to SILENCE them and FORCE them to accept their distorted, twisted, and hate filled beliefs


Dan Savage is a depraved individual who has insisted on making war with God. Insisting on that actually leads a person to depravity. Depravity is a scary state of mind and soul. Depravity has made him into the very thing that he hates….a bully.


…its because homo’s have issue’s in there heads. I still think gay dating should be out of the question. in the 40’s, 50’s an 60’s everyone was close to the bible and believed that being gay was a sin (it still is). What changed all that? That would be drugs an crack from the late 60’s.

So, not the most balanced commentators in the world.

But, okay, idiots make comments, it’s the internet.  That still doesn’t excuse Dan Savage attacking Christian teenagers.  Bullying in the name of anti-bullying is absolute hypocrisy.

Well, I wake up this morning, and what do you know, the video of the ‘attacks’ is online.  So, let’s all get some popcorn and watch it together:


Note that the first girl leaves the audience before Dan Savage makes a single criticism of the Bible.  He brings it up and he’s obviously going to make an argument, and the girl just leaves.  That’s pretty sad considering she’s there as a journalism student and she can’t bear to hear anyone even remark critically on her beliefs.  She’s in for a tough road as a journalist (that is assuming she is leaving for that reason; considering that a stampede of students start following her seconds later, it’s a pretty safe assumption).

By the time Savage has uttered the phrase “bullshit in the Bible” three times, it seems like most of the Christian teens in the room have vanished (it’s like the reverse ‘Beetlejuice’).  Those are the only instances of curses that Savage speaks.  I don’t think ‘pansy-ass’ constitutes a curse, but even if you do, he didn’t call the “Bible people” pansy-asses, he said leaving was pansy-ass.  I know, semantics, but there is a difference.  Also, keep in mind that he said that of the Christians who were no longer in the room.  He never once cursed the Christians, forcing them to leave.

Should Savage have used the word ‘bullshit’?  Maybe not.  If he had used the word ‘bunk’, no one would have had a ‘curse’ to hang their hats on, and the points he made would have still been just as sound.  What he says is utterly true and it would have been great for the Christian teenagers to hear it instead of walking out because they were offended.  I think Dan Savage needs to fashion his message a little better for the audience, but I also think the audience needs to get over their knee-jerk reactionism, especially as they are there as ‘journalists.’

(As an aside:  I think it’s not only okay to speak candidly about sexual matters with teenagers, it’s necessary.  Teenagers are exposed to sex in everything, so if you’re going to reach them and teach them about safe sex, be honest and be blunt.)

But here’s the real question: Did anything Savage say constitute bullying?

If bullying is critiquing another person’s beliefs, then we’re in for a pretty silent lunchroom.  And Savage didn’t attack Christianity, or Christians.  You could say he ‘attacked’ the Bible, but if you get past the word ‘bullshit’, you’ll find that the things he attacks (prohibitions against shellfish, acceptance of slavery, stoning of non-virgins) are things that Christians readily attack everyday, because they do not follow them.

There is a culture of victimization in American Christians that is frankly getting tiresome (and probably offensive to Christians in other parts of the world who actually are victims of oppression).  If the worst thing that happens to you is someone calls your holy scriptures ‘bullshit’, you’re living a pretty sweet life.  As an atheist, I’ve been told I was going to hell (or worse) by loved ones and strangers.  I don’t feel like a victim, I don’t feel like I’m being bullied.  I feel like I’m on one side of a cultural-divide.

That’s what Christians need to understand:  People are going to disagree with them, and because their beliefs have an effect on the public (at least, they hope so), sometimes that disagreement is going to be forceful and vehement.  They may be cussed at.

That is not bullying.

Bullying is when an individual or group oppresses another person with threats and public humiliation.  And this may be a controversial statement, but I’m going to stand by it:  A majority can’t be bullied by a minority.  They can be attacked, they can be insulted, but bullying requires power (either real or perceived), and as the old saying goes, There’s safety in numbers.  There is power in numbers.

A group of gay teenagers could theoretically bully a straight teen.  A flock of atheists (that’s the technical term) could bully a Christian.  I’m sure it happens somewhere.  But the gay community isn’t bullying the straight community.  Atheists aren’t bullying Christians.  Did David ‘bully’ Goliath?

So, did Dan Savage do anything wrong?  Ethically, morally, I’d say no.  He wasn’t being a hypocritical Anti-Bullying Bully.  Could he have tempered his speech and avoided this whole non-starter of a controversy?  Probably (though, who knows).

What should the Christian teenagers take away from this?  They should remember how they felt when they were being ‘bullied’ by Dan Savage and remember that the next time they tell a gay teen he is depraved or going to hell.  They should fight even harder to stop bullying and use their interest in journalism to stand up for the oppressed.

Or they can work for Fox News.