Indium Flappers wrote:That's an awesome article! Thanks for posting a link. I'd seen the indiegogo campaign before, but I hadn't heard of all the other endeavors. Always encouraging to hear.
The last bit about the Freedom Assembly of God volunteers leaving a site after discovering they were working with atheists saddens me though. What in the world would lead someone to do that?
I was formerly married into the AG community, so I have a bit of personal insight: they believe strongly in spiritual warfare, so they think they can get religious cooties just from being around people who love Jesus even a bit less than they do. I was raised as a moderate Methodist, left of center politically, and always have been a bit of a skeptic, being scientifically literate and so-forth, which my ex-spouse knew about when we met, but after we married we started going to her local AG church (her one-sided decision), which fortunatly was much more moderate than the country-fried, BYOS (bring your own snake), full gospel AG church that her parents attended. When my ex-wife & I separated, I was forbidden to even set foot in my home in order to get my own personnel belongings and was threatened with physical violence if I did; which isn't legal, of course, but I didn't see the need to make a fuss over it. The unrighteous can taint a righteous home by their mere presence; they think even having objects in one's home that belongs to someone who is in league with demons can cause migraine headaches, illness, bad fortune and the like. As we stood outside, my mother-in-law had a church elder on the phone praying for her the whole time my parents & I were present and they refused to speak to us except for direct orders, refused conversation, praying softly in tongues the whole time. They had previously suspected I wasn't a true believer, you see, because I had some criticisms of their dogma, was politically liberal, I drank the occasional beer and, most critically, I never spoke in tongues myself (even though they had prayed for that to happen). So they wound up shunning me in exactly the same way they had previously said one should treat a person who is possessed by an evil demon (I'm not making that up). Before this, I had my (sometimes strong) criticisms of fundamentalist/evangelical Christianity, but not so much for theism in general; but soon after receiving such a full-on taste of crazy, I deconverted completely - ironically in part due to their fine example of shear religious insanity and bigotry, backed up by their church and my former church (prior to this, I used to lead Wednesday night church history classes at a lite beer version of an AG church).
I think part of what started the process of my in-laws & spouse eventually shunning me is I spoke favorably of same-sex marriage a few times during family conversation; I usually avoided intellectual or political conversation with them out of respect for their beliefs, but I did slip occasionally... At some point, unbeknownst to me, my black magic witchcraft had begun causing my now-ex spouse frequent migraine headaches and anxiety - never mind she had often suffered from both conditions going back to her teenage years; she had had a crippling round of migraines shortly before we had met. My sometimes vocal distain for Sarah Palin, though, apparently made it worse. I also found out after-the-fact that my presence in their home had been blamed as the true cause of a summer wildfire that had nearly burned down the in-laws chicken houses, never mind I had helped fight the fire; it was in the middle of a drought, was extremely hot and dry, and the local FD found plenty of cigarette butts along the road where the point of ignition occurred. But, in their mind, the real cause was spiritual warfare - and the source of that warfare was me.
In any case, that's how they think they should act around unbelievers - never be alone, don't engage in conversation, etc - unbelievers and non-true believers can glamour the righteous just like the vampires on True Blood, apparently. Their worldview cannot handle the thought that atheists (or secularists or more moderate theists, etc) can be very good, ethical, helpful decent, kind people - to them, we are little better than would-be murderers and rapists, and the mere fact that we aren't causes them cognitive dissonance, which is highly uncomfortable for them to be around. For me it all worked out for the best - today I'm very happily married to a highly intelligent, kind and beautiful fellow freethinker. One could even say that I've been blessed, in a totally non-religious, freethinker sort of way.
In any case, I’m not too surprised by their attitude here – fortunately, the AG’s represent an extreme, if outspoken, outlier among American Christian churches. There are plenty of moderate Christian churches out there; for instance, I could never imagine the Methodists at my parent’s congregation doing something like this. But as Shelby Spong says in regards to Christianity, most of the noise comes from the shallow end of the pool.