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SHOW NOTES: Episode 1: PILOT – “A Dumb Religion Problem”

January 11, 2020

Sometimes it takes one final push – one story too many of how evangelical religion has ruined someone's life, for example – to spur action. A few weeks back, I got that push. I pushed my way to buying several domains, getting my audio production skills polished up, getting my web site and blog up and running, and more.

 It was a matter of simply making the decision to do something about this thing called evangelical religion while I was still relatively young and able to follow through on whatever I managed to do to get my voice heard. If the message reaches the people I'm hoping it eventually will, I'm going to have my work cut out for me... and so will Shelle.

 

Why Are We Doing This?

Evangelical thinking erodes the mind and it does it over generations. This is why I am so adamant about not judging individuals, but rather the generations of mind poisoning that led to the problems we're seeing today. My wife and I both got burned. Bad. Repeatedly. Over decades.  

The couple stories I'd heard recently – both involving the same basic scenario – were just the latest and most personally heartbreaking for me. It was Shelle that reminded me that I had wanted to do this and had talked about it in the past. It just feels like we ought to be doing something to help people retrain their brains to see other points of view.

We don't get there by fighting, getting angry, or name-calling. We get there by keeping information – sound, truthful information – in front of people in a way they can't ignore and can process on their own terms. People are way more honest with themselves when they can digest information at their own pace and aren't about the business of defending themselves.

 

Denial of Self

What would possess someone to stay in a religion like this for more than two decades, especially if that person saw all kinds of warning signs very early on? There is no simple answer. There is a sinister psychology at play here. It's a system of assimilation that basically defines the death of the Self Life taught in many evangelical churches.

This concept really is dastardly. It involves a process of self-denial that trains your brain to believe that the person you were before you got “saved” is gone, leaving only an ecclesiastical meat puppet in its wake. Hey, I didn't say it first...

 

Then said Jesus unto his disciples, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me. 

For whosoever will save his life shall lose it: and whosoever will lose his life for my sake shall find it.

For what is a man profited, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul? or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul?” - Mt. 16:24-26, KJV

 

Then there's this gem:

I am crucified with Christ, nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me. And the life which I now live in the flesh, I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me. -Gal. 2:20, KJV

 

When a person's mind is contorted over time to only be able to think that way, they lose the ability to reason. Self-advocacy becomes a moot point even in the wake of being told to be prepared to defend:

 

But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts: and be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you with meekness and fear:” - 1 Pt. 3:15

 

This is why, when you challenge an evangelical's faith in any way, his or her most common initial reaction is to go immediately on the defensive and hide behind the “authority and in-errancy of scripture.”

To put it simply, many evangelicals simply become afraid of concepts outside their pentecostal bubble over time. Because of this, they have a tendency to act out in ways that very easily reveal their frustrations and double-mindedness when it comes to their faith. Reason itself doesn't die, so it constantly fights for position in the murk of all that evangelical nonsense.

 

It's An Uphill Battle

Even in 2019, with fast access to all the data and evidence needed to prove them wrong, the average evangelical dismisses any position that runs counter to the way they've been taught to think. Anything outside that bubble is heretical and even sinful. In that dismissal, evangelicals champion ignorance as enlightenment. Who needs proof when you have the Word of God as your guide.

 

For the preaching of the cross is to them that perish foolishness; but unto us which are saved it is the power of God.” - 1 Cor. 1:18, KJV).

 

That concept permeates the message of the New Testament and ensures that people remain closed to any secular concept, including science – particularly science.

 

Still... There Have Always Been Smart People 

It is interesting to note that even other Bronze Age humans were able to see through these facades, otherwise why would Jesus ever have had to warn his disciples to expect opposition?

 

If the world hate you, ye know that it hated me before it hated you.” - Jn 15:18, KJV

 

The reason this warning is in there is simple: religion in general has always had the strongest influence on the easily-influenced.

The problem is that it also preys on the lonely, the introvert, and the mentally ill. For some, the allure of acceptance is enough to simply reciprocate and accept the gospel, even knowing that you might face scrutiny, or worse, at the hands of others.

It wasn't Christianity that impressed me. It was the level of acceptance I experienced during those pivotal first few days after being exposed to the concept of “personal salvation.” Simply put, people were nice to me and I used that as evidence that there was something to this thing they called being “born again.”

The thing is, though... our brains know that religion is bunk.

At the end of the day, what rational, thinking person could picture their dead spouse... or child in Hell and not go instantly insane with torment? They don't really believe it. That's why they do what they want in private and wave their arms in public. They don't really believe any of it, it's just all they have.

 

...and ya know, the people are friendly...”

“…and the music is wonderful...”

...and I have lots of friends...”

...and our pastor has such a magnetism. It's easy to trust him...”

 

I made a series of decisions over the next two years following my conversion experience that amounted to nearly three decades of wandering in an emotional wilderness. It was, and is, too high a price and there are millions of people out there paying it even as we speak. It began with a “personal decision” (that was shamelessly coerced) to accept Christ and escalated to ditching any thought of going to a real college and actually using my intellect, and, instead, squandering it in Bible college.

I'm a smart person. What the fuck happened?

The bottom line is that what happened to me happened years – generations – before I ever got “saved” at Bible camp. The machine had already been set in motion and I lived in a society and a culture that encouraged theism and made every possible flavor of evangelical faith instantly visible and available.

If you're an evangelical right now, you're reading a blog that you know – you know – has potential to seriously challenge your faith. Your pastor likes telling you that “you're in church this week for a reason.” Pffft... yeah, He needs your tithe.

You are, however, reading this for a reason – one that has nothing to do with anything mystical or magical. Either you're looking for a way out of the hell your religion is making for you every day, you're trying to stay out now you've gotten out, or you want to help other people get out.

Regardless of which category best describes your reason for being here, one thing remains constant: we are going to help you.

 

So... Actual Show Notes, Then...

 

(the rest of the blogs won't be this long, I swear...)

 

The premise for the pilot looks like this:

Evangelical ideology is founded on a number of toxic concepts that stem from moral absolutism, a horribly skewed understanding of concepts like truth, fact, and love, and a rejection of any point of view that isn't backed up by the so-called “Word of God”, regardless of the tantamount evidence that refutes basically every errant evangelical position

It also sets up a social structure that provides seemingly limitless liberties to the male of the species while holding women to much more strict and scrutinous standards. The problems that these sorts of attitudes create affect everything from adding “under god” to the Pledge of Allegiance” to creating an America where a man could lose both his wife and his unborn child to the will of a state that disallowed the termination of a dangerous pregnancy on religious grounds.

 

Looking Ahead

Over the course of the show, we intend to examine numerous examples of how all of the above claims play out in various settings. We'll be starting out by examining one of the more popular and most imitated doctrinal statements in the world of evangelical religion point by point – all sixteen of them (give or take). And we'll spend as many episodes on them as we need to get through them all.

Why start out this way? Simple: everyone needs to know and understand what an overwhelming majority of evangelicals and evangelical religions hold as true if there is any hope of reaching them with a message of reason. We need to set aside anger, maintain the cool-headed and mature position and simply present evidence that can't be ignored.  

Not that they won't try, of course...

But do you know what else they'll do? They'll keep listening. Because it will kill them not knowing what we're going to say next.

Their soul-choking faith is all they have? Here's an idea: present them with something else. Help them get unbound. - Spider 

 

Episode Sources and Citation Links:

 

Show theme

"Meeting of the Minds" by Tom Deis - hear more at https://www.premiumbeat.com/artist/tom-deis

 

Statements of Faith

http://www.umc.org/what-we-believe/confession-of-faith

 

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