Christians doing UnChristian Things

What upsets me most is Christians doing the most unChristian things to mostly other Christians. Here is the one I was most applauded with today: A Baptist Minister placed this sign today in his hardware story in Tennessee in response to the SCOTUS decision on the Colorado Bakery.

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Such outrageously offensive people being church leaders seems to be a peculiarly American thing (or perhaps your press has a sensitive nose for publicity-seekers).

Googling the guy shows pages of outraged news items on him - suggesting he’s an anomaly even amongst your 326 million population. It’s as typical of Christianity as the quaint stories we used to get here about vicars shooting moles in their lawn with shotguns or running off with actresses.

An atheist plumber in Slugville Wisconsin drowned his (atheist) cat. Take that, Dawkins!

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And then we picked up a history book…

That boy from Palestine said…

Many will say to Me in that day, ‘Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in Your name?’ And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness!

Nah - that was about people who use God of the Gaps arguments…

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Yes, an atheist may do such heinous act but I doubt it would ever be done in the name of atheism. :grinning:
I could say that he wasn’t “a real atheist” because real atheists don’t do such things.
But since an atheist doesn’t have an absolute moral standard, how would he know that it was a heinous act. Perhaps it was Schrödinger’s cat which is allowed to be killed in quantum mechanical thought experiments. :grinning:


The plumber is a member of the First Church of Schroedinger, Atheist. You know the commandments (which are dependent on which universe you’re in, of course).

I know Scroedinger actually followed Vedantic philosophy (in this universe), but the plumber is ignorant, as his treatment of cats proves.:nerd_face:

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A post was split to a new topic: In the Name of Atheism?

Came across this article,

Like Gandhi millions have been unable to see the Christ obscured by Christianity. Gandhi was shrewd enough to tell missionaries, “I like your Christ; I do not like your Christians. Your Christians are so unlike your Christ.”

I must admit, I often feel this sentiment. That however, is the interesting thing about pursing peace and following Jesus, It calls me to love my enemies, both those inside and outside the label “Christian.”

[apparrently that quote is not attributable to Gandhi. That’s my error.]

In the end, I have a troubled relationship with the terms “Christian” and “evangelical,” even though I end up using them. Perhaps it similar to my troubled relationship with “theistic evolution” and “evolutionary creation.”

I prefer, honestly, to call myself a “confessing scientist,” at to talk about the “Church” meaning the community of all those who follow Jesus, whatever religious label it is that they use.

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This is one of many quotable quotes incorrectly attributed to Gandhi. We love to assign pithy statements to famous people who will lend the ideas additional moral authority.

Many years ago I tried to track down a valid primary source for it. The closest I could come was a not quite as pithy sentiment from a relatively obscure 18th century Hindu philosopher. (That led me to think that Gandhi might have paraphrased that philosopher’s thought but there is simply no documentation for that. Without solid evidence, I can’t attribute the quotation to Gandhi.)

When I asked a friend in the Dept of Religious Studies who specialized in East Asian philosophy and religious traditions, he laughed and said, “As Mahatma Gandhi once observed, ‘Half the memes on Pinterest which are attributed to me are fake news.’” [Indeed, that is actually an old joke that has gone through many versions since Gandhi died. I’ve seen similar trends with mythical quotes assigned to Mother Teresa and Albert Einstein. Billy Graham may be next. Unfortunately, a few satirical quotations have already started getting attributed to Paige Patterson. I’ve had students who thought it bizarre that the ancients would attribute their own tomes to famous sages of the past (see Pseudepigrapha) but our culture is not immune to the same ploys on a smaller scale.]

As to people who claim to follow Christ not being Christ-like, that is, obviously, exactly what Jesus said would happen. The Parable of the Sower as well as the many references to the sheep vs. the goats and the final separation of the wheat and the tares drive the point home quite clearly: Only a small percentage of all who express their interest in Jesus Christ ever follow through in “taking up your cross daily” and “becoming dead to self” and being a bondservant who washing one another’s feet. I remind discouraged pastors of this scriptural truth quite often. The Parable of the Sower reinforces the concept that “strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it.”

Of course, every people group, whether it be a religious tradition, a school of philosophy, a political party, or some other worldview affiliation, falls into hypocrisy. We as human beings are prone to be sinners and hypocrites. And even if Gandhi had made the statement about Christianity which is attributed to him, all he would have had to do is look at any newspaper in order to admit that Hindus often failed and continue to fail to live up to the ideals of Hinduism. (Some of the same HIndus who would never dream of harming a cow or a flea will join a riot to murder a Muslim family on nothing more than a rumor that the family has hamburgers in their freezer.)

Me too.

I usually identify myself as a Christ-follower. (I’ve considered using “bondservant of the Lord Jesus Christ” in conformity to the Pauline scriptures but it feels presumptuous of me until I manage to live up to the description more consistently.) The traditional terms (Christian and evangelical) are so overloaded with negative connotations. Of course, the word Christian itself started as a negative label coined by non-Christians of the first century.

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Thanks for the correction. Error is all mine.

Hi @Patrick,

How would you feel if a store proprietor put up the following signs:

  1. No Republicans allowed.

  2. No homophobes allowed.

Also, would you consider either sign to be un-Christian?

Just curious.

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I am against discrimination in all forms, even the subtle kinds of discrimination like what is called slut shaming of young girls that occurs very subtly. FFRF gets into this every year regarding proms - and what is too revealing in girls dresses.

One public school threatened girls with a school provided “modesty poncho” if their dresses were deemed too revealing. We sued on behalf of “girls with bigger than B-cups” saying that they were being discriminated against as girls that didn’t have much cleavage to show could wear their prom dress without ponchos. We offered to provide blindfolds to all the boys if the school let the girls’ wear their revealing prom dresses.
Well the threat of a lawsuit was enough to stop the school from enforcing modesty dress code at the prom.

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I thought it was a Roman Catholic parochial school?

If it was, I don’t see how a lawsuit what have any legal grounds—in several basic ways: (1) Girls of such descriptions are not a protected class under law. (2) If the school has a private religious purpose, and especially if it has a church affiliation, I don’t see how the lawsuit would avoid church-state constitutional separation issues. (3) If the lawsuit was filed on behalf of a particular girl or group of girls attending the school, it would have an extremely high bar for demonstrating that merely the “threat” of a future action involved significant damage to the individual. It sounds to me like a competent judge who doesn’t want overruled on appeal would probably dismiss such a lawsuit out of hand.

My hunch some administrator(s) decided to use an outrageous tactic (however poorly considered or not) to make a point after there had been complaints from staff and/or parents in the past. The school tried a symbolic tactic and FFRF responded with a symbolic tactic of its own.

I’m not necessarily a huge fan of parochial schools (while recognizing that the pros and cons are strongly stated by both sides, such as the fact that many parochial schools provide many benefits to the urban poor of some communities) but I certainly accept the fact that if a group of people—whether religious or not—decide to create a private educational non-profit, they have considerable Constitutional rights to establish all sorts of rules which may not be favored by people outside of that group. (I’m not a Roman Catholic and I’m certainly not a fan of all of their rules and practices. However, it is not my place to infringe on their rights in establishing rules and practices for the children in their schools.)

Indeed, if such a private school decided that children under 5’7" will wear red shoes at school while the other children wear green shoes, I would be prone to consider the rule a stupid one but I would have no legal grounds to objecting. Concerns for embarrassment or differential treatment don’t matter to our courts unless they target a protected class or violate some jurisdiction’s valid law. Indeed, when constitutional rights like freedom of association, religion, and speech are involved, any effort by legislatures or courts to interfere with those freedoms require a compelling public interest.

Does a private school (and even public schools for that matter) have the right to enforce dress codes at school venues and events? U.S. courts have said yes in countless cases, even when the impact of those dress codes impact students in differential ways. Also, the courts have made clear that minors do not have all of the same freedoms and responsibilities which an adult has, so even constitutional rights of free speech and freedom of the press have been “balanced” with strong caveats. Like it or not, minors are subject to restrictions and even indignities which don’t generally apply to adults. Are the courts really the first place and best place for wiser heads to prevail?

Whatever I may think of “modesty ponchos”, I recognize that nuisance lawsuits are expensive. I’m not surprised at all that a parochial school is not going to want to waste their limited funds on lawyers when their purpose is to educate children. So I must side against the FFRF on this one. Indeed, in this case I see them as a greater threat to our constitutional freedoms than anything which the school had not yet actually done. However, I’ve noticed in the past that the FFRF has a penchant for the inane and the oppressive imposition of their own will upon others—much like some of the groups they criticize and sue. [Yes, I’m having a little bit of fun with @Patrick by responding with some good-natured trolling of my own.]

I also wonder about a related question: Some Islamic schools in America impose very strict rules (far more oppressive than “modesty ponchos”) which most Americans would consider outrageously discriminatory towards young girls. Some would argue that some of those rules at least appear to violate laws concerning protected classes. Does the Freedom From Religion Foundation file lawsuits against such Islamic schools? If not, why not?

You are missing the point @AllenWitmerMiller, it is very destructive to blame male deviancy on female attire, as often happens in religious contexts. This whole “modesty poncho” strategy is a shaming strategy of controlling behavior in a subjective area.

Yes, a parochial school can have a dress code, but there is no way that this a kind or wise way of enforcing it. It is very likely to cause harm, and the administrators that came up with this idea were not thinking on behalf of the students. There are better ways to manage such things, but also at this time is also when rule have less and less ability to enforce good behavior.

I’m not sure if you are following the #MeToo disaster in the Southern Baptist Convention, but these sorts of causal sexisms are not what Scripture teaches. They are much more destructive to women than we know as men.

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Of course it is. I never claimed otherwise.

Of course it is. You are missing my point.

Obviously. That is exactly what I mentioned. Check again.

I have been following and warning of the SBC disaster years before it became major news. (In fact, I can predict that much more bad news about the SBC is likely to become public in the coming months.) I’ve known many of the individuals involved and it was easy to see that the problems were eventually going to blow up.

(And by the way, I already mentioned Paige Patterson in another post earlier today.)

I agree 100% but you are still missing my point. Please re-read my post.

Meanwhile, I have many good friends and even former faculty colleagues within the SBC. There are many outstanding SBC pastors and laypersons of whom I can’t say enough good things about. Nevertheless, the SBC is one of many politically-driven and personality-driven organizational structures I’ve observed which seems almost engineered to propel some of the worst possible leaders and the most unwise ideas into the top of the pyramid structure. (I know nothing about the leadership structure and internal politics and group dynamics of that parochial school in Michigan but I suspect that many of the very same administrative problems were at work there which I saw within the SBC over the years.)

Jesus called upon his followers to lead by being servants. In my experience, many Christian organizations completely ignore that particular teaching (as well as too many others) and it leads to the kinds of crazy nonsense one sees at the Michigan parochial school and within the SBC leadership. Nevertheless, one must be extremely careful about trying to solve every problem that comes along with a lawsuit. I’ve learned the hard way just how expensive and wasteful is the American rush to litigation. Wrongs need righted but there are many other solutions to be applied first when there is no clear violation of law. Those are among the reasons why I oppose a lot of things the FFRF does. Two wrongs don’t make a right, as the saying goes.

As the #MeToo movement and various scandals continue to get coverage in the news media (watch for a shocking SBC-related court case in Houston in a couple of months), the SwBTS campus will soon be removing a number of their “hall of heroes” stain-glassed windows which serve as embarrassing shrines to SBC leaders. No matter how popular is a leader, I think it is bad idea to create expensive and garish shrines to honor them before their life story is entirely played out. Indeed, it takes years before anyone’s life legacy can be fully reviewed and measured. I prefer to honor Jesus Christ and leave to him the task of deciding who else gets honored. (Watch for it in the news in a few months: I think you will be hearing about those stained glass windows getting removed. I predict that there will be a compromise with one of the windows and it will get moved to some church or ministry which continues to support the disgraced leader.)


Fair enough.

Perhaps that’s true. Lawsuits certainly should not be the starting point.

On the other hand, I wonder how willing people in power are to listen to concerned outsiders. A pattern of ignoring others contributes to the litigiousness, and teaches that legal recourse might usually be necessary.

@patrick, does FFRF typically try diplomacy before threats? Or do the just jump to legal recourse?

I have been very curious to know the reactions of parents and the RC community of that parochial school in Michigan. I learned long ago that media depictions of a situation and what is actually reported by those in the relevant local community can be two entirely different things. In the modesty poncho case, some locals have said (I have family in Detroit) that the “modesty poncho” started out as a tongue-in-cheek way of reminding some of the young girls to not repeat some the rule-breaking of the previous year’s event. They say the tactic was meant to be humorous and promote discussion. (Obviously, that wouldn’t necessarily make it a wise idea.) Others say it was deadly serious all along and 100% engineered to shame. Personally, I don’t know who did what first and why. I do know from experience that the media has a tendency to sensationalize and running with the most newsworthy “spin” on events.

I’m also concerned that more and more decisions by administrators in all sorts of organizations (much like politicians have for years) will be made almost entirely on the basis of how the public will react once something gets media coverage----instead of weighing all of the actual merits of a policy. The chances of even the smallest situation going viral in a matter of hours is already starting to paralyze some types of decision-making. Unfortunately, that can actually encourage a passive preservation of the status quo instead of bringing about wise changes.

Beware the Law of Unintended Consequences. Public outrage has many pitfalls.


How are these different things? I’m confused. It seems like it was a tactic that was meant to be humorous and promote discussion by shaming a subset of teenage girls, which is deadly serious, especially in this particularly vulnerable group.

I know you are not defending them, but I’m just not sure the distinction you are drawing.

I’m not drawing distinctions. The locals are. And regardless of whether you or I consider the distinctions substantial, many people do. Meanwhile, I’m not entirely sure what happened—other than it sounds like a disaster in multiple regards.

“The one who states his case first seems right, until the other comes and examines him.” — Proverbs 18:17

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