A young atheist looks for input on a proselytizing teacher.

ifyouarentevangelizingyouarentsuccessful1I received this email the other day and thought I’d share it with you. I’ve already sent off my reply, but I offered to post an anonymized version of it if he wanted to hear what others might have to say. He agreed so here it is:

 Hi Les, if you’re reading this, I’d like to say thank you for taking the time to do so. I’m sure you get hundreds of emails every day from fans and freaks alike, so I wouldn’t blame you if you happened to not read some of them.

Anyway, my purpose in writing to you is to share with you a ridiculous religious speech that I was forced to endure in my high school history class. The way my teacher runs the class, there isn’t much actual teaching done on her part (she doesn’t even know most of the material herself) but last week she decided to share some of her “knowledge” with us.

I’m not sure how it actually started, but she got my immediate attention when she said that “Numerous people throughout history have tried to prove the contents of the bible wrong, but always ended up failing or proving it correct and then becoming Christians”. She then continued to say that the bible was a largely important and accurate historical reference and that basically it’s infallible. She said that the reason that the bible has been censored and edited by rulers throughout history was because they were making it closer to the “original” which according to her, was written by the apostles not long after the death of Jesus. Which is obviously completely false. She also stated that there are many examples of contemporary people writing about Jesus when he was alive and that it was “clearly” documented by Pontius Pilate himself. Another false statement.

This entire thing just really got on my nerves, not only because she is supposed to be a teacher (and therefore separating church from state) but because the bullshit that she was telling us was actually believed by my ignorant classmates. I was just wondering what your take on this was.

I don’t know many atheists at my school, I live in the bible belt – so I decided to come talk to you about it because after reading your blog, I’ve realized that our views on most subjects are basically identical and I think you’re a cool guy.

So, what’s your guy’s take on this? What, if anything, do you think our young friend should do about the situation?

This is a question I’ve pondered more than once…

Maybe one of the Christians who drops by and throws out quotes before fading back into the night will be kind enough to explain their thinking on this.

Borrowed from God and Son.

Pope claims an “inalienable right” for Catholics to act like Fundamentalists.

Apparently the Pope is tired of Fundamentalist Evangelists hogging the asshole spotlight for so long and wants Catholics to get in on the action:

The Roman Catholic Church has the inalienable right and duty to convert any person to Christianity, Pope Benedict XVI said Saturday.

Evangelism is a central mission of the Church, the pope told a Vatican body that encourages Catholic missionary activity.

The appeal for the conversion of “all nations,” attributed to Jesus Christ in the Gospels, remains “an obligatory mandate for the entire Church and for every believer in Christ,” the pontiff said.

“This apostolic commitment is both a duty and an inalienable right, the very expression of religious freedom with its moral, social and political dimensions,” he said.

[…] In December, the Vatican published a doctrinal note reaffirming the mission of all the faithful to seek to convert non-Catholics including members of other Christian denominations, while avoiding placing undue pressure on them.

I love the usage of undue pressure in that last bit. I suppose it means we shouldn’t expect any new Inquisitions anytime soon and for that I am truly grateful. Still, if any significant amount of Catholics actually tries to put this into practice then things are sure to get more annoying as a Missionary Arms Race breaks out between the Fundamentalists and Catholics. On the plus side at least they’ll be aggravating the hell out of the Protestants too which should be fun to watch.