Category Archives: Theist/Atheist Cooperation

Church vandalized with FSM graffiti… help them out or not? [Update: probably not.]

**Please read the updates at the end before considering donating.**

Last night, some vandals took it upon themselves to spray paint symbols and slogans related to the Flying Spaghetti Monster all over two Christian churches in Bend, Oregon. It’s a dick move; there’s no justification for this sort of stupid behavior. I don’t care if it’s a church; I don’t care how offensive I find their message; you don’t attack someone’s property.

Bobby Henderson, the “prophet” of the Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster, released a statement about the vandalism:

This is not ok.  This is counter to everything we stand for and acts like these only set back our cause.  I don’t know who did this, but I will try to find out.

Over at Friendly Atheist, Hemant Mehta started a cleanup fund for the church, calling for atheists to find it in our hearts to chip in. (If you want, you can do so below.)

[donation widget removed. see the update.]

There’s a lot of disagreement in the atheist blogs(among commenters, at least) about whether or not atheists should be donating to a church at all, even for something like this. After all, say the opponents, this’ll just free up their money to spread their message, and judging from what church officials have said about the perpetrators, their message is none too friendly:

“Yeah, it’s a bummer what we have to go through and redo all this for a brand new facility,” said Rod Kirk, the director of facilities for Westside Church. “But the bottom line is that God is the one that’s going to get revenge — we aren’t.”

God’s going to get revenge? Really? Yeah, that’s totally not creepy at all.

Hemant and others suggest that this would be a good opportunity to “be the change we want to see in the world,” as the saying goes. After all, we might not expect a church to pony up some cash to help out if an atheist billboard or bus ad gets vandalized; we should aim to be the bigger person.

So… what would you do? Chip in to help out a crime victim (and give atheists some good PR), or refuse on principle to donate to a religious organization?

* UPDATE *

It turns out that this church is much less than friendly. This comes straight from their website:

“Are you struggling with unwanted same-sex attractions? Have you lived as a homosexual but now are looking for a way out. [sic] You have come to the right place. New Dawn offers hope and help to people seeking freedom from homosexuality.

This is a group that gets tax-free donations to support the unscientific, hateful idea that homosexuality is a disorder that needs to be cured. So… they can kindly get fucked, as far as I’m concerned.

* UPDATE 2 *

Hemant has posted some followup to the story, including a video from the local news covering the fundraising effort.

We’re Not Alone

One thing I hear a lot from my fellow nonbelievers is that it seems like Christian extremists are constantly pushing for an American theocracy. While I’m convinced that this is true – that is, that fundamentalists would love to take over the country and turn us “back to the Bible” (whatever that means to them) – I’m not sure just how successful they would be. After all, they would have to deal with all the non-Christians, not to mention the other Christians who disagree with them. That’s no small number of people, either; regardless of how noisy and obnoxious the extremists are, they’re still technically a fringe. And they’re not without their detractors inside the faith community, either. Anomaly100, one of the few Christians I follow on Twitter, wrote (among a lot of other stuff that makes good sense):

The Family at 133 C Street, infamous for their stifling and oppression, behind closed doors, [and for] deeming who is and who isn’t moral, are the very ones showing support to Uganda for giving homosexuals the death sentence.

The protesters in Iran are determined to topple their government due to the oppressive dictatorship they’ve had to endure from a forced theocracy.

Are we becoming them? So much is done in the name of God but do you think God needs their help?

This is something I’ve wondered about quite often. Why do religious extremists feel that they need to enforce their God’s rules? Do they honestly think that an omnipotent, omniscient being wouldn’t be able to handle things on its own? That they’re so ready to take action in defense of their deity seems to directly counter the idea that they are devout in their faith. After all, were they truly of the opinion that their God’s will would always be done, they would see no reason to act on his behalf. And if their God were omnipotent, how could anything possibly go any way but his? The idea of something going against the will of God would be a logical impossibility.

Anomaly100 and I definitely don’t agree on the basic theological argument – that is, she argues against religious extremists on the basis that they distort Christianity, while I argue against them on the basis that their actions belie doubts that their words deny (and think that their stance is more in keeping with a fundamentalist tradition). But her viewpoint is a good reminder that nonbelievers aren’t the only ones who are loath to allow dangerous religious ideas to take a solid root.