Halloween fun for Baptists

This is unbelievable.  A group of atheists visited what’s called a “Judgment House”, run by the Wilmont Place Baptist Church in Oklahoma City.  Apparently those fun-loving Southern Baptists (remember Al Mohler?) put on a morality play each year designed to torture little kids into accepting Jebus instead of candy. The theme: a bullied teenaged girl who commits suicide, only to find herself standing judgment for unbelief.  Background: a month ago a gay teenager killed himself in Norman, Oklahoma after attending a city council meeting rife with homophobic comments.

The strident Abbeh Smith, aka ERV, reports (eschewing apostrophes):

I want nothing to do with the ‘morals’ and ‘ethics’ of people… ‘humans’… who think this kind of behavior– mocking bullying, mocking the suicide of young people– is appropriate. If this is what Christians like those found in Wilmont Place Baptist Church have to offer society, society is better off without them.
Buuuuuut Im sure that ‘Judgment House’ was just a mass hallucination by the militant, angry, Gnu Atheists of OKC. Disgusting ‘Christians’ like these dont exist. Theyre straw-man caricatures of thoughtful, clever, deep theism. How dare I write this post, castigating the heart-felt beliefs of caring, loving, Christians? They will NEVER accept evilution now. I ruined everything.

*shrug*

I wont sacrifice the corpses of children, ‘playing nice’, for sake of theistic evolution.

Im such an extremist.

Without religion we wouldn’t have Judgment Houses, and the only torture kids would undergo on Halloween would be to get Mary Janes instead of Milky Ways.

78 Comments

  1. Sili
    Posted November 1, 2010 at 2:27 pm | Permalink

    I think I’m not quite caught up on my slang …

    “Mary Janes”? Really?

    • whyevolutionistrue
      Posted November 1, 2010 at 2:30 pm | Permalink

      I added a link. But really, you should know. This is the one candy that is always left uneaten at the bottom of the Halloween bag.

      • Kevin
        Posted November 1, 2010 at 2:31 pm | Permalink

        Au contraire, mon frer.

        Send them to me.

    • Kevin
      Posted November 1, 2010 at 2:31 pm | Permalink

      Molasses and peanut butter taffy.

      Quite delicious. Filling pullers.

      I don’t mind getting Mary Janes at all.

      • Posted November 1, 2010 at 3:57 pm | Permalink

        But they don’t have any Mary Jane in them?

        • What a maroon
          Posted November 2, 2010 at 8:50 am | Permalink

          I grew up outside of Boston, so I have fond memories of NECCO wafers (and the smell from the factory on Mass Ave outside of Central Square), but I don’t remember Mary Janes at all. My peanut allergy may have something to do with that.

          I do think though that there’s a high positive correlation between the consumption of Mary Jane and Milky Ways.

  2. Kevin
    Posted November 1, 2010 at 2:29 pm | Permalink

    I just don’t get people like this.

    Seriously, I don’t. I know they exist, interact with their kind all the time.

    But I just can’t fathom them.

    I think it has something to do with asceticism. Deep in their heart of hearts, they’re afraid that someone is actually having “fun”. And they’re afraid that anything that smacks of “fun” is somehow looked down upon by “god”.

    Someone needs to tell them to lighten up. A piece of Halloween candy (or several, or even a gluttonous orgy) is not going to send anyone to the pit. Even if you think ‘the pit’ exists (which it doesn’t).

    • truthspeaker
      Posted November 1, 2010 at 2:55 pm | Permalink

      It’s not the candy they think is evil. They believe Halloween is a satanic holiday, rooted in the pagan feast of Samhain (all paganism is satanic in their view), and that allowing children to dress as monsters and witches is opening the door to satanism.

      It’s important to remember that these people think witchcraft, demons, and the like actually exist.

      • Kevin
        Posted November 1, 2010 at 3:06 pm | Permalink

        Heh. What do they think of the Mexican/South American “Day of the Dead” (Día de los Muertos)?

        Since they’re all Catholics down there, probably the same thing, I’d reckon.

        Catholicism – Satanism. It’s all the same.

        • truthspeaker
          Posted November 1, 2010 at 3:18 pm | Permalink

          That’s what they would think if they are aware of it at all. I’ve discovered that the kind of basic knowledge about other countries and cultures that I take for granted is not all that basic among much of the population.

          I still run into people who don’t know that observant Muslims don’t drink alcohol.

      • PaulM
        Posted November 1, 2010 at 8:16 pm | Permalink

        Goodness, Halloween has roots in paganism. Thank GOD Christmas and Easter aren’t like that.

        • Posted November 2, 2010 at 3:11 am | Permalink

          I just love asking Christians “why does Easter move around all the time then? Don’t you guys know when the resurrection and all that sh*t happened then?”

          Cue their goldfish impressions as the mouth moves, but no words emerge!

          How cruel am I? ;-)

          Cheers,
          Norm.

          • Posted November 2, 2010 at 6:27 am | Permalink

            Easter moves around because it’s defined relative to Passover, which moves around because the Hebrew calendar is lunisolar. I don’t think Christians generally think of Jewish holidays as pagan.

            • stvs
              Posted November 2, 2010 at 9:57 am | Permalink

              Easter moves around because it’s defined relative to Passover

              No. Specifically to avoid associating Christianity’s major feast with the hated Christ-killing Jews, Easter was defined in natural, pagan terms already accepted by much of Constantine’s subjects by the First Council of Nicaea in 325:

              For it is unbecoming beyond measure that on this holiest of festivals we should follow the customs of the Jews. Henceforth let us have nothing in common with this odious people … We ought not, therefore, to have anything in common with the Jews … our worship follows a … more convenient course … we desire dearest brethren, to separate ourselves from the detestable company of the Jews … How, then, could we follow these Jews, who are almost certainly blinded.

              Nicaea, whose purpose was to unify the quarrelsome Christian community about serious, unresolved disputes about the nature of Christ (Arian, Homoousian, Homoian, Heteroousian), defined Easter to be the first Sunday after the full moon following the vernal equinox. This has nothing to do with the ides of Nisan, on which Passover is celebrated.

              Read your Norwich and Gibbon, people.

            • gillt
              Posted November 2, 2010 at 1:29 pm | Permalink

              History aside, there are many Christians, even Catholics, that believe Passover and Easter are positively connected. I was certainly taught it.

              For a belief system not based on evidence, and often allergic to it, it makes it difficult to argue who’s “right.”

            • Posted November 2, 2010 at 9:20 pm | Permalink

              (It seems that there’s a limit on thread depth. This is, perhaps despite appearances, a reply to stvs.)

              Nicaea did not specify how the date of Easter should be decided. (A fortiori, it didn’t define it in “natural, pagan terms”, and it didn’t specify that it should be the first Sunday after the first full moon after the vernal equinox.)

              Before Nicaea, it was common (though not universal) to pin the date of Easter directly to that of Passover. Nicaea said: no, everyone should use the same date, and not depend on the Jews to work it out. There ensued a great deal of argument about what date to use, but the system the Christians ended up with uses a lunisolar system very similar to the Hebrew system and usually (not always) maintains the Passover-Easter relationship you’d expect given the story in the New Testament.

              If there’s reason to think that the date of Easter was actually determined by some other, pagan, festival, then let’s have it. Likewise if there’s reason to think that the reason why Easter isn’t on a fixed or almost-fixed date in our solar calendar is something that would upset Christians if they knew it.

            • Posted November 3, 2010 at 5:34 am | Permalink

              Easter is Pagan. It is the time of worshipping (if that’s the correct term) the goddess oestrous – a fertility type goddess. Hence the rabbits, chickens and eggs so prevalent at this time.

              The festival is dated to be on the first Sunday after the first full moon after the Spring thingy – not equinox, the other one! (I’m old, forgive me!)

              It’s simply another pagan shag-fast hijacked by the christians to prevent us having fun!

              Cheers,
              Norm.

            • Posted November 3, 2010 at 10:14 am | Permalink

              Norman: The name “Easter” does indeed seem like it may come from a goddess called something like Eostre. Actual evidence for that is pretty thin on the ground, though; it all comes from Bede, who says the month we now call April was formerly known among the Anglo-Saxons as Eostre-monath, and named for a goddess called Eostre.

              All very well, but (1) there is no evidence outside Bede for Eostre or Eostre-monath, (2) Bede doesn’t say that Easter itself is derived from celebrations of Eostre, only that its name comes from the name formerly attached to the time in which it falls, and (3) the Christian festival commonly called Easter didn’t in fact originate among Anglo-Saxons, and wasn’t called Eostre or anything like it originally.

              So, sure, the name “Easter” probably has pagan origins, but that doesn’t mean that the Christian festival called by that name in English has pagan origins.

              Christmas seems like a much better bet for this kind of argument. Although its usual name is plainly Christian in origin, it seems very likely that the festival itself is derived from pre-Christian pagan festivals such as the Saturnalia, and that Christians wouldn’t be bothering to celebrate the birth of Jesus if there hadn’t been a pagan festival that needed Christianizing.

            • stvs
              Posted November 3, 2010 at 1:51 pm | Permalink

              @ g: Nicaea did not specify how the date of Easter should be decided. … the Christians ended up with uses a lunisolar system very similar to the Hebrew system and usually (not always) maintains the Passover-Easter relationship you’d expect given the story in the New Testament.

              Incorrect. Easter’s anti-Jewish pagan origin is well known. Easter and Passover only coincide near the vernal equinox today because the Hebrew calendar has not yet gone out of synch with the Gregorian calendar. Nicaea defined Easter to be the date already used by the Church of Alexandria, which crucially defined Easter to fall after the vernal equinox. From the Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers:

              To the Church of Alexandria … We further proclaim to you the good news of the agreement concerning the holy Easter, that this particular also has through your prayers been rightly settled; so that all our brethren in the East who formerly followed the custom of the Jews are henceforth to celebrate the said most sacred feast of Easter at the same time with the Romans and yourselves and all those who have observed Easter from the beginning.

              Nicaea condemned “Quartodecimanism”, i.e., the Jewish Passover, on which date Easter should never occur. Once it was agreed upon at Nicaea that Easter should be defined by the equinox—conveniently supplanting existing pagan spring rites—and have nothing to do with the detested Jews, the remaining problems associated with computing the date of Easter were all related to technicalities that arose from deciding which lunar/solar calendar and which equinox to choose.

            • Posted November 3, 2010 at 6:17 pm | Permalink

              stvs, I wonder what you mean by “origin”. Christians were celebrating Easter (of course no one called it *that* until quite a bit later; they typically called it Pascha, a name derived of course from Hebrew “Pesach” = Passover) well before Nicaea, and, as you can tell from the very letter you quote, before Nicaea many Christians based its date on that of Passover.

              Nicaea does not seem to have decreed any particular way of settling the date of Easter, merely that everyone should celebrate it on the same date.

              I’m not sure exactly what your thesis is. That since Nicaea, Christians have not defined the date of Easter explicitly in terms of Passover? Agreed. That that’s the result of, or at least was accompanied by, anti-Jewish sentiment among the 4th-century Christians? Agreed.

              That the date of Easter is based on that of some earlier pagan holiday? Doesn’t seem likely, but let’s see some evidence if you have it. That the whole business of celebrating Easter is just a Christianization of an earlier pagan festival? Seems almost certainly false, but again please feel free to present some evidence. That the reason why Easter doesn’t fall on a fixed date has more to do with some pagan religion than with (1) the movability of Passover and (2) Christians’ preference for having it fall on a Sunday? Also seems very unlikely, but again please feel free to offer evidence.

    • Chris Slaby
      Posted November 1, 2010 at 3:03 pm | Permalink

      Maybe, but then I think of other ascetics, especially some Buddhists and Sufi mystics, and they don’t run around proselytizing or yelling at people. Why are some religious folks content with focusing on their own simple lives while others seem to need to forcibly live theirs in such a vocal manner? I guess the Buddhists and Sufis aren’t devout enough. Or, coming from the American Christian fundamentalist perspective, this is probably just evidence that they’ve obviously got the wrong religion. Either way, it is sad that they seem to have such trouble simply living peaceful, happy, content lives. It speaks to all the anger and emotionalist that’s in vogue now in this country. If only someone would speak up for restoring sanity…

      • Kevin
        Posted November 1, 2010 at 3:09 pm | Permalink

        Yeah, it’s not just asceticism.

        It’s asceticism AND a deep desire to tell other people what to do.

        But in the end, I think it still boils down to fear that someone is having more fun than them. And they don’t like it. Not one bit.

    • Posted November 2, 2010 at 5:04 am | Permalink

      Kevin, I think it’s more that the organisers believe that all those kids are going to eventually roast in hell forever unless they “accept Jesus as their personal Savior” before they die.

      Anything to get these kids to accept Jesus is fair game to them. Even if it seems wrong to outsiders (aka the “unsaved”), from their perspective it’s justified.

      That’s we have to criticise this stuff, and loud, to keep kids away from it. We can’t expect the Hell House people to moderate themselves, because they think it’s all for the good.

  3. truthspeaker
    Posted November 1, 2010 at 2:58 pm | Permalink

    By the way, these aren’t new. They’re usually called “Hell Houses” and they’ve been around for a while. I haven’t heard of them tackling suicide before. They used to have actresses portraying girls who had abortions who ended up in hell.

    And to ERV, the code phrase is “sincerely held belief”.

  4. Nick (Matzke)
    Posted November 1, 2010 at 3:05 pm | Permalink

    Abby is a great person, but: WTF does any of this have to do with theistic evolution? This kind of carpet-bombing, where you fire at one target for a very good reason, but for some reason decide to blast everything else even vaguely connected to it, is exactly what bugs me about much gnu atheist dialog.

    • Kevin
      Posted November 1, 2010 at 3:16 pm | Permalink

      You are invited to leave, then. Start your own blog. Invite your friends.

      Seriously, it’s not your blog. You don’t get to choose the topics.

      In case you haven’t noticed, in the past few days, Dr. Coyne has had posts about evolution (the decidedly non-theistic kind), poetry, books, psychic powers, rock-and-roll, theology, and cats, among other things.

      Seriously; don’t let the screen door hit you on the way out.

      • Kevin
        Posted November 1, 2010 at 3:20 pm | Permalink

        BTW: Please don’t take my reply to you as an invitation to debate.

        It was an invitation for you to fuck off.

      • ennui
        Posted November 1, 2010 at 3:34 pm | Permalink

        WTF?

    • truthspeaker
      Posted November 1, 2010 at 3:20 pm | Permalink

      It’s a lot more than a “vague connection”, it’s the same religion.

    • Torbjörn Larsson, OM
      Posted November 1, 2010 at 3:37 pm | Permalink

      There are some basic advice offered to first time commenters on blogs:

      – Read before commenting. Get to know what a blog is, what is going on socially, what the lay of the land is. Every blog is unique, Don’t go mouthing off on topics you don’t know.

      – When you start commenting, be nice. Don’t tell people what they should say or not say.

      – It isn’t *your* blog. The owner sets the subjects, the attending people set the atmosphere.

      … and probably some I forgot or should know but never did.

      In any case, it seems to me when comparing to these basic rules of nice web behavior that Matzke don’t know the first things about blogs.

      Which is funny, since I believe he has posted and commented on Panda’s Thumb a long time.

      The other explanation could of course be that Matzke when he becomes frustrated mouths off the accommodationist religious mantra of “STFU because you hurt [insert irrelevant topic not discussed here]“, civility and blog manners be damned. I believe I have seen this cycle several times before.

      • whyevolutionistrue
        Posted November 1, 2010 at 3:45 pm | Permalink

        I have to say that I can tolerate a lot of backchat on this website, but (cue Andy Rooney) one thing that really bothers me is people telling me that I post too much about topic X and too little about topic Y. Srsly. It’s like going into someone’s house and telling them that they need different furniture.

        Websites can evolve since they are public extensions of an owner’s persona. By all means criticize the ideas, but if you don’t like the topics you really should go somewhere else.

        • Utakata
          Posted November 1, 2010 at 4:37 pm | Permalink

          I personally liked your pieces on cat fur genetics and culinary delights of the Lower East Side, so I’ll be staying. <3

    • ennui
      Posted November 1, 2010 at 3:38 pm | Permalink

      Nick, I was a little confused by the TE reference also. I’ve been to a few of these Hell House abominations as a teenager, and they were put on by hard-core YEC’s.

      (BTW, I read and enjoy your posts on PT.)

      • Posted November 2, 2010 at 4:59 am | Permalink

        Yeah, I don’t get the “theistic evolution” reference, either. ERV’s objection is against emotionally abusing kids with this “hell house” nonsense.

        The hell-house guys are indeed usually fundies who reject evolution outright.

        • truthspeaker
          Posted November 2, 2010 at 5:33 am | Permalink

          But according to Mooney et al, we’re not supposed to criticize the fundies’ beliefs because it will push Christians away from science education.

          • Nick (Matzke)
            Posted November 2, 2010 at 3:28 pm | Permalink

            Well, that’s a preposterous strawman representation of Mooney et al. Cripes, Mooney himself has written whole books criticizing right-wing beliefs.

            He’s just saying you shouldn’t attack the wrong people (e.g. moderates) for the sins of someone else (e.g. fundamentalists). Which is an extremely reasonable position.

            • whyevolutionistrue
              Posted November 2, 2010 at 3:49 pm | Permalink

              Are Catholics moderates? They accept evolution, but Church policy is often dreadful: opposition to abortion, condom distribution, protection of pedophilic priests? Can we come down on those people, or are we supposed to STFU. After all, they’re the “wrong” people according to you because official Church policy accepts (theistic) evolution.

              In other words, we are supposed to attack only those religions that don’t accept evolution, even if they sanction what we consider maladaptive behavior?

              You don’t seem to see that a lot of faiths that are “moderate” (which I guess in your view means “accept evolution”) still do things that Gnus think are inimical to society.

              You don’t seem to realize that our goals differ from yours, which seem to be to never attack faiths that accept religion (even if it’s a bogus, God-driven religion). I, on the other hand, will go after any religion that I consider harmful to society, which is most of them. And too damn bad if it turns people off to evolution–an assertion for which there’s nothing but “I’m-sure-it-has-to-be-true” “evidence anyway.

            • Nick (Matzke)
              Posted November 2, 2010 at 4:39 pm | Permalink

              “Are Catholics moderates? They accept evolution, but Church policy is often dreadful: opposition to abortion, condom distribution, protection of pedophilic priests? Can we come down on those people, or are we supposed to STFU. After all, they’re the “wrong” people according to you because official Church policy accepts (theistic) evolution.

              In other words, we are supposed to attack only those religions that don’t accept evolution, even if they sanction what we consider maladaptive behavior?”

              What the heck? No one has *ever* said e.g. the protection of pedophilic priests should not be criticized, in order to protect theistic evolution.

              I’m just saying: criticize those who deserve it, and don’t scapegoat one group’s sins onto someone else who is innocent of those particular sins.

              “You don’t seem to see that a lot of faiths that are “moderate” (which I guess in your view means “accept evolution”) still do things that Gnus think are inimical to society.”

              That’s fine, criticize whatever parts of religion you like — but there is no justification there for linking hell houses to theistic evolution.

              “You don’t seem to realize that our goals differ from yours, which seem to be to never attack faiths that accept religion (even if it’s a bogus, God-driven religion). I, on the other hand, will go after any religion that I consider harmful to society, which is most of them. And too damn bad if it turns people off to evolution-an assertion for which there’s nothing but “I’m-sure-it-has-to-be-true” “evidence anyway.””

              Believe it or not, I have more goals than just defending evolution. One is that I know a fair number of moderate religious people, and I know for a fact that they are basically reasonable, good people. They don’t support hell houses, pedophila, burning witches at the stake, creationism, etc. They are political liberals. You’ve got every right to criticize whatever you in any aspect in religion, but when someone goes after a religious group for the sins of some other religious group, my sense of fairness kicks in and, given time constraints, I’ll be a small tiny voice that tries to express dissent to the scapegoating.

              Another analogy: how did you feel when people in other countries bash America and Americans, because of e.g. the policies of George W. Bush? A lot of us would say (a) not all Americans are the same, (b) a lot of us voted against the guy, and (c) a lot of your criticisms of Bush are legitimate, that doesn’t mean the U.S. is a completely hope hive of scum and villainy, and (d) please don’t lump us with them.

    • whyevolutionistrue
      Posted November 1, 2010 at 3:42 pm | Permalink

      I can’t speak for Abbeh, but I interpret her post as saying that she’s damn well going to criticize religion for its stupidity, regardless of the supposed dire consequences for acceptance of evolution. I’m with her 100% on this. And gee, Nick, for someone who kvetches about the contents of this website, you sure seem to spend a lot of time here. Maybe you should start your own blog. After all, we need something to replace You’re Not Helping.

      • Nick (Matzke)
        Posted November 2, 2010 at 3:40 pm | Permalink

        Thanks for the comment Jerry…

        My reply: No one has *ever* said people shouldn’t criticize horrible behavior from religious people, like this hell house Abby is talking about, in order to “protect theistic evolution” or something like that. At most, people like me have said only that such criticisms should be proportionate, reasonable, and not engage in scapegoating. Moderates should be distinguished from fundamentalists, etc.

        Re: topics of WEIT — I don’t really care what you do with your blog, obviously that’s totally up to you. I only raised the topic recently when someone challenged me — they thought it was absurd that anyone might think that some popularizers were mixing science education and evolution education with atheist evangelism. I pointed out that WEIT was an example that, at the very least, could lead to confusion on this point.

    • Curt Cameron
      Posted November 1, 2010 at 3:44 pm | Permalink

      Nick, why would you assume that this *should* relate to theistic evolution? The subject of accommodationism/non-accommodationism is a recurring one here, and this relates to that. Jerry has a decidedly non-accommodationist stance, as does Abbie (and as do I).

      • Sven DiMilo
        Posted November 1, 2010 at 8:01 pm | Permalink

        Nick didn’t bring it up; the quote from ERV mentions it:

        I won’t sacrifice the corpses of children, ‘playing nice’, for sake of theistic evolution.
        I’m such an extremist.

        (I took the liberty of inserting the apostrophes, as ‘wont’ is a different word entirely and I’m pretty sure that ‘Im’ doesn’t mean anything in English.)

        • Sven DiMilo
          Posted November 1, 2010 at 8:05 pm | Permalink

          somebody please take the liberty of correcting my own typos…(at least in my case they’re inadvertant)

        • Posted November 2, 2010 at 1:40 am | Permalink

          Q. Oo did it?
          A. Im!

          • Torbjörn Larsson, OM
            Posted November 2, 2010 at 6:05 am | Permalink

            And I wont spell wont wont, as spelling wont wont is my wont!

        • Torbjörn Larsson, OM
          Posted November 2, 2010 at 6:09 am | Permalink

          FYI, ERV spells after a different magic:

          DEAR ERV
          YOU WRITED GUD BUT YOU HAS NO APOSTRAPHES AND U NEED TEHM. NO APOSTRAPHES IS DISTRACTING. K? THNKXBAI.

        • MartinDH
          Posted November 2, 2010 at 8:07 am | Permalink

          Sven:

          Abbeh has an extreme aversion to the apostrophe and shuns its use completely. That, and her employment of LOLspeak, sometimes makes her posts difficult to read…but it’s usually worth the effort.

    • Posted November 1, 2010 at 4:41 pm | Permalink

      Carpet bombing? Are you serious? This kind of bullying, shameful behaviour has no place in any kind of civilised society. What is your problem with criticising this bullshit?

      • Nick (Matzke)
        Posted November 2, 2010 at 3:50 pm | Permalink

        “Carpet bombing? Are you serious? This kind of bullying, shameful behaviour has no place in any kind of civilised society. What is your problem with criticising this bullshit?”

        I have no problem with criticizing it. But it wasn’t theistic evolutionists who built the hell house, it was YEC fundamentalists. And no one has ever said hell house-like things should not be criticized, in order to protect theistic evolution. Thus, I asked why Abbie mixed theistic evo into her broadside.

        Her comment was similar to something like this: “I won’t refrain from criticizing Fred Phelps in order to protect the Democrats.” It fails to make sense on several levels: no one ever suggested that people should avoid criticizing Phelps in order to help the Dems, the Dems are against Phelps anyway, etc.

        It’s pretty clear that what actually happened was this: Abbie was pissed at the hell-house people, and rightly so, and in her righteous rage threw in a shot at some other views she dislikes and has been arguing about recently. The latter move was a case of mistargeting, thus I pointed it out.

        • Posted November 2, 2010 at 7:55 pm | Permalink

          Oh my fucking god.

          Now you give a real response to Jerry (not me).

          You gave me some bullshit (that includes no recognition that you offended me, whether you are sorry for it or not).

          And now youre talking about me like Im not here and not reading this thread.

          Turning my ‘respect’ knob down a few notches.

    • stvs
      Posted November 1, 2010 at 5:04 pm | Permalink

      Nick is giving us a tell about the weakness of his own hand, and I really wish that he wouldn’t because I’m sympathetic to the necessity of having a robust accommodationist strategy: they’re the ones with the superb court record, and a multi-front attack is warranted in a multi-front battle.

      A mature accommodationist response to the gnu atheist argument that faith and science are incompatible would simply be “We disagree and here’s why.”

      But rather, the accommodationist response is “Be Quiet.”

      This gives up the game because it provides tacit acknowledgment that the gnu atheists are right, but cannot be seen to be so.

      So please don’t give up the game, even if you do believe that faith and science are incompatible—certainly it is useful for us that some believe this, even as we point out the flaws of such belief.

      • Torbjörn Larsson, OM
        Posted November 2, 2010 at 6:16 am | Permalink

        they’re the ones with the superb court record

        Good point, but AFAIK the record derives not from their strategy, but from their activism.

        Now that there are gnu organizations that can act on this, there is no inherent reason why not their court record will match or surpass the accommodationists.

        If so the record is an accident of history, not an inherent characteristic of “STFU”” mannerisms.

        • Torbjörn Larsson, OM
          Posted November 2, 2010 at 6:19 am | Permalink

          D’oh! I can’t even shout as they do: “STFU!”. [Still not used to my new laptop keyboard.]

    • Doc Bill
      Posted November 1, 2010 at 6:02 pm | Permalink

      That’s not Nick! It’s an impostor dressing up as Nick for Halloween. Nick would never say anything that stupid.

      Ha, stupid impostor unmasked!

    • Michael Fugate
      Posted November 1, 2010 at 6:27 pm | Permalink

      What is it about working for the NCSE? When they see someone use the word evolution, they automatically think they have an ally. Doesn’t matter how little they understand about evolution or how whacky their religious belief, if they use evolution in a sentence they must be my friend. Perhaps, it is the old the enemy of my enemy must be my friend canard – we know how well that works in foreign policy.

    • Posted November 1, 2010 at 8:53 pm | Permalink

      …… Why did you leave this comment on Jerrys blog?

      You are not commenting on anything Jerry wrote.

      You are commenting on what I wrote on my blog. About me. Why didnt you leave the comment there?

      I know youre a great guy too, Nick, but this reminds me of the dumb people on the internet who dont like me. See, I cant have any opinions that arent actually ‘PZS OPINIONS’ or ‘DAWKINSS POSITIONS’. Silly Abbie isnt smart enough to have her own ideas, she just copies the Big Boys. ‘PZs pit bull’, ‘PZs epigone’, I get this all the time.

      So you dont leave a comment on ERV to me, about me. You leave a comment on Jerrys blog. Because I couldnt possibly have written that post without him, you go to him for answers instead of me?

      And even if I give you the benefit of the doubt, its still extremely bad blog form for you to do this. I get paid to blog, per page view. And now we are having a discussion, about me and my post… on Jerrys blog. Instead of all these responses to you (and their page views, and all the page views of the people following the responses) being on my blog and earning Arnie some goodies… we are on Jerrys blog.

      I actually genuinely would like you to ‘get’ why this offended and annoyed me and want you to say ‘sorry’.

      On topic (might as well), I dont know what me criticizing a tasteless Hell House has to do with people not accepting evolution. But apparently ‘The God Delusion’ ‘hurts the cause’. And PZ smashing a fracking cracker ‘hurts the cause’. When other people criticize religion and are ‘mean’ to True Believers, its ‘hurting the cause’, so I assumed the same rules applied to me.

      Its not the position I take– Its the position I mock.

      If I *have* to choose between standing up against bullying that is severe enough to cause children/young adults/anyone to commit suicide, and ‘hurting the cause’, Im going to ‘hurt the cause.’ Every time.

      Would you?

      Why is this situation different than any other time I have criticized religion? Why is it different from any other atheist scientist criticizing religion?

      Unless, of course, its not ‘hurting the cause’ when I do it because Im a young female with relatively little influence, but it is ‘hurting the cause’ if Dawkins does it because hes an easy target (white older male scientist atheist) with a larger audience. Thats sexist and ageist and provides me with no lulz.

      • Sigmund
        Posted November 2, 2010 at 3:12 am | Permalink

        Just to add to Abbies comment, most people here probably aren’t aware of an incident involving Abbie and the accomodationists last year that helps put things in perspective. Chris Mooney had been scheduled to appear on the ‘Infidel Guy’ podcast to discuss his ‘Unscientific America’ podcast and take questions about the topic. Abbie publicised the appearance on her ERV blog – resulting in Mooney – the brave sir Robin of accomodationism – immediately pulling out of the show. Reggie, the host then asked Abbie if she would take Mooneys place after he gallantly chickened out and she agreed. Despite the obvious temptation to spend the whole time mocking brave, brave sir Chris, Abbie was excellent on the show, discussing science and freethought and rarely even mentioning the bravest of the brave (I just hate those mockers, don’t you?).
        It’s very poor form of Nick to avoid addressing his point to Abbie herself. As Doc Bill said above, are we sure it really is Nick Matzke and not someone else pretending to be him so that we think the real Nick is sexist?

        • Torbjörn Larsson, OM
          Posted November 2, 2010 at 6:25 am | Permalink

          Yeah… I see a pattern, which description I stand for, but gave no benefit of doubt in a specific case as I should. Sorry about that!

          Will the real Nick Matzke stand up!?

          • Nick (Matzke)
            Posted November 2, 2010 at 4:00 pm | Permalink

            Hi guys,

            Gimme a teeniest break, here. Blog commenting is an off-the-cuff reaction during free moments while the computer is compiling code and such. Jerry quoted the passage mentioning theistic evolution, I’ve been hanging out on WEIT lately, and I’m like 30 posts behind on reading ERV, thus I commented here. It’s not like there is some list of rules about Thou Shalt Comment In a Particular Place, particularly if it’s just a very short post and not some major epic critique.

            Abbie — I think I explained what I was on about in posts higher up in this thread, before I saw your reply. It’s not the hugest deal in the world or anything, I think it’s just a misstep, kind of like if someone said “I won’t refrain from criticizing Fred Phelps in order to protect the Democrats.” It’s like, what?

    • Posted November 2, 2010 at 3:08 pm | Permalink

      Nick, Abbie’s comments are quite clearly in reference to…

      1 – critics of “gnu atheism” such as Eagleton and Armstrong, who hold that the kind of ugly and irrational theism on display in this story is merely a caricature promoted by “gnu atheists”, rather than meanstream religion, and…

      2 – suggestions by some individuals or organisations to the effect that atheists should avoid criticising theism because a few theists accept to varying degrees the theory of evolution and they might be offended by said criticism, no matter how deserved it is.

      • Posted November 2, 2010 at 3:10 pm | Permalink

        Or, at least, that was my reading. I wouldn’t presume to speak for her.

        • Posted November 2, 2010 at 6:25 pm | Permalink

          No, you got it. :)

  5. Stephen Gaffney
    Posted November 1, 2010 at 3:09 pm | Permalink

    There was a This American Life segment (from 2002) on a Texas church’s ‘Hell House’. Definitely worth a listen:

    http://www.thisamericanlife.org/radio-archives/episode/213/devil-on-my-shoulder

    The narrator is George Ratliff who also directed the documentary Hell House.

  6. Posted November 1, 2010 at 3:14 pm | Permalink

    Churches do this all over — at least in the US south. The Baptist church near my sister’s house seems rather proud of their annual Hell House.

  7. stvs
    Posted November 1, 2010 at 3:17 pm | Permalink

    Ira Glass beat you to this:

    Act One. It’s Fun To Make Hell On Earth.
    Trinity Church in Texas puts on something called Hell House every Halloween. It’s like a haunted house, but each scene shows teenage church members acting out scenes of things the church considers sins. There’s a homosexual dying of AIDS; a girl in an abortion clinic (on a doctor’s table with fake blood splashed between her legs); a mom who leaves her family for someone she meets on the Internet. George Ratliff made a documentary about all this called Hell House. He plays some of his footage and talks about how effective it is, and how much of a thrill it is for the pious teenagers to act like sinners. (14 minutes)

    We go to either Beacon Hill or Salem MA every Halloween. Both are great scenes, but Salem actually features lots of evangelical Christians un-ironically confronting costumed party-goers with the eternal dangers of consorting with the Devil. The Christians are more entertaining than a lot of the costumes, and that’s a statement itself for Salem on Halloween Eve.

    • Dominic
      Posted November 1, 2010 at 5:36 pm | Permalink

      The 11th century Syrian poet Al-Ma’arri, a wise man –

      They all err — Moslems, Jews,
      Christians, and Zoroastrians:
      Humanity follows two world-wide sects:
      One, man intelligent without religion,
      The second, religious without intellect.

      • Dominic
        Posted November 1, 2010 at 5:37 pm | Permalink

        But stvs you are into all things Eastern so you must know this one!

  8. Hempenstein
    Posted November 1, 2010 at 7:44 pm | Permalink

    Fully consistent with the bullshit that those at Liberty U must “affirm” annually, the full screen shot of which is here:

    http://www.liberty.edu/index.cfm?PID=6907

    The really stunning part is the last para. With no uncertainty they claim clairvoyance, and then go on without the slightest suggestion of dissonance to state that unbelievers will be judged on how they’ve led their lives and then sent to hell anyway:

    We affirm that the return of Christ for all believers is imminent. It will be followed by seven years of great tribulation, and then the coming of Christ to establish His earthly kingdom for a thousand years. The unsaved will then be raised and judged according to their works and separated forever from God in hell. The saved, having been raised, will live forever in heaven in fellowship with God.

    • Dominic
      Posted November 2, 2010 at 3:44 am | Permalink

      A thousand year reich? How will they know this returning Jesus fellow is not a wolf in a sheep’s clothing? How will they know without testing him?

      How complicated to be a born again christian. How careless of this Jesus person not to have written his own book laying it all out so there would be no disagreement.

  9. Lee
    Posted November 1, 2010 at 10:38 pm | Permalink

    I’m always amazed at the things the Hell-pushers have to forget or ignore of their own sources to get their point across. In the parable of the sheep and goats, the person’s fate is entirely dependent on how well s/he remembered “the least of these”. True followers are known by whether “they love one another”. The woman was forgiven “because she loved much”. The theme of Love is conspicuous in the Hell House dramas mostly by its absence. Or so it seems to me..

    • Posted November 2, 2010 at 4:55 am | Permalink

      Yeah, if one reads the synoptic gospels, one gets the impression (from Jesus himself) that salvation was basically a matter of 1) being generous and 2) following the moral spirit (rather than the letter) of the Torah.

      Of course, we learn elsewhere (gJohn, Paul, Acts, etc.) that synoptic Jesus was all wrong about that. Poor synoptic Jesus didn’t even know how to save anybody.

      • Sigmund
        Posted November 2, 2010 at 6:39 am | Permalink

        The more you understand about the timing of the writing of the gospels the less sense the whole narrative becomes. The earliest writings about Jesus were not the Gospels but the writings of Paul – who was not a witness to Jesus when Jesus was alive. Then there is a break of a few decades where we get Mark which was written in Greece, perhaps 40 or 50 years after the supposed death of Jesus.

  10. 386sx
    Posted November 2, 2010 at 5:03 am | Permalink

    Candy Corn

  11. Vytautas
    Posted November 2, 2010 at 5:52 am | Permalink

    What I want to know is why we don’t hear more about these types of indoctrination practices being challenged, perhaps even in the courts. Is the psychological torture and abuse of children *really* protected by the constitution? Challenging these kinds of heinous practices goes right to the core of dismantling the vehicles upon which absurd superstitions are passed on from one generation to the next. Are there any organizations out there that have attempting to challenge these types of practices?

  12. netroamer
    Posted November 2, 2010 at 7:31 am | Permalink

    Christians have a long history of violence and hate. They tortured heretics, burned “witches”, whipped slaves. I just hope these fundies don’t get control of the country, because if they do, things could get even worse.

  13. Posted November 2, 2010 at 12:54 pm | Permalink

    Our church youth group used to go to Judgement Houses every Halloween. Scary, scary stuff. A lot of blood and gore, e.g. bloody fetuses, lifelike dummy dolls going up in flames and recordings of horrific screaming (representing hell), etc. In the South at least, it isn’t just the Southern Baptists that do this stuff. I went with the Wesleyan church.

    • Posted November 2, 2010 at 12:58 pm | Permalink

      I’m wondering where our Christian defenders are, to tell us that they’ve never seen anything like this in their many years of church activity.


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