Purpose Driven Atheist’s Issue with Obama

resident Elect Obama & Rick Warren

resident Elect Obama & Rick Warren


Obama’s ‘Purpose Driven’ Pastor Draws Heat

A little tweet by a friend @Wonderfalls, sent me to ABC News’s Blog – The Note to read an article on Obama’s choice of pastor for his inauguration. He choose Rick Warren, the pastor of Saddleback Church in The OC (that’s Orange County, California, for those of you not hip to the lingo). It was an expected hissy fit by some liberal group. I don’t remember who, nor do I care. What drew me to post on this was the slew of comments from what appeared to be liberals and conservatives alike. Many said, Yeah! Many said, Neigh! And there was a mix in the middle of who cares, who’s going to pray, it’s not like he’s setting policy for the next 4 years.

But here is the most disturbing comment left by a Mr. Vincent. 

Rick Warren represents the forces of ignorance and superstition. I find it appalling that people still need to invoke the “blessing” of the invisible man in the sky. Religion is nothing more than a collection of fairy tales designed to control people’s thinking. Why do you think they came up with the idea of “sin”? It was nothing more than thought control. The main religions denigrate people by denying our humanity. They try to make people feel guilty about not meeting an impossible standard of behavior or thought. Religion belongs in the 1st century, not the 21st. There was a poll in the UK recently and the majority felt that religion was the main cause of conflict in the world today. Gee, you think? The whole “my god is better than your god” crapola has got to stop. – R.J. Vincent 12/17/08

Wow! Ya know a few months ago, I would have had a different reaction to this kind of comment.  I would have been mad and disgusted and even felt the need to post something back to prove a point or make a statement.

But that wasn’t what hit me. It was not my gut reaction this time. Now. Post Spiritual Pilgrimage. What struck me the most was sadness. Not the feeling of lashing out in Christianity’s defense, but simply sadness.  

I’m sad that all he believes is that religion denies our humanity or that it is there to impose impossible standards. Because the God I know is the ONLY one who graciously accepts our humanity and loves us completely in spite of it. Humans certainly don’t. Thank goodness God actually does. And yes, the standards are high, but we are not expected to meet them all without flaw or failure. If that was the case, we would not need Christ. It is understood that we will fall short, but it does not mean God’s intention is for us to live in guilt and shame for failure to achieve perfection. 

Then I started wondering about him (could be a her, but we’re going to simplify with 1 pronoun). 

What do you think RJ’s life is like?

Do you think he is happy and full filled in the world view sense of things? Do you think he’s successful in his work and/or family life. Do you think he has healthy relationships? Do you think he is living a moral (in a Christian sense) life? Because not all atheist are unruly, murdering, thieving sex addicts. 

I wonder if he was raised with religion of any sort. I wonder if his parents support his view. I wonder if he had a bad experience with religion.  I wonder  who he thinks “they” are? (As in the ones who made up ‘sin’)

Do you think he had a bad childhood or was he spoiled and pampered? Do you think he has suffered a lot in this life or had it easy?  Do you think he’s a type A over-achiever or a type B laize-fare kind. 

I have to assume he’s somewhat educated because of the tone & structure of the comment. I also believe that he has some experience with religion or there wouldn’t be so much energy about it. Most people don’t fire of comments full of negative energy on things they care nothing about. I think there’s a real possibility that he was subjected to such a legalistic form of religion that failure is the only option, thus rejecting religion because he was rejected. Isn’t that sad?


5 thoughts on “Purpose Driven Atheist’s Issue with Obama

  1. Hi Amy,

    Your post makes *me* sad. Sad that you apparently don’t know any atheists. I assume this because because your stereotyping of them is appalling.

    Let me tell you a thing or two about atheists. About 1 or 2 out of every ten people in America is a non-believer. That is a greater number than Jews, or Mormons. We are not aliens from outer space – we are your friends, your family, your neighbors, and your fellow citizens.

    We are mostly quiet – because of the hurtful, sometimes bigoted stereotypes of us that people continue to perpetuate. Just like with gay people, we call this “being in the closet”. Most atheists are in the closet. This is because coming out can destroy their family life, marriage, career, etc., *because* of this anti-atheist bigotry that exists in America.

    Just like Christians or other religious folks, atheists can be good or bad, apathetic or fired-up, rich or poor, smart or slow. And again, just like religious folks, the vast middle are good, upstanding, moral, proud Americans.

    There are, of course, extremes. There are far-right wing Christians and atheists, and far left-wing Christians and atheists. And both of those flavors sometimes do weird, off-the-wall things like protest at funerals, put up plaques that insult religion, or go around insisting that there is some sort of secret, clandestine, “War on Christmas” by the evil atheists – or some other silly thing.

    My point? Stop stereotyping us. Most of us are as normal as apple pie and baseball. We have good jobs, love our families, laugh, cry, love, learn, vote, give to charity, and volunteer. You know, just like “normal folks”. 🙂

    We *are* normal folks. Just like you. The only thing that is different is that we lack belief in a god, or gods.

    That lack of belief does not mean that we all have the same political party, or that we all were “subjected to a legalistic form of religion where failure was the only option”, or that we were all “rejected” by our birth religions. It is not that simple. Most of us come to our lack of belief through study and introspection. Most of us really, really wish that we could believe – but we can’t *manufacture* a belief in a magical, invisible being that – frankly – we find a bit silly, and childish. Literally “unbelievable” is a word that applies really well to this situation, for me at least.

    In any case, I encourage you to try to get to know your non-believing friends and family members (I can almost * guarantee* that at least one person in your immediate family is an atheist, or a non-believer.)

    There is nothing “sad” about us. That is, unless you are feigning your “sadness” about the poor little atheists, and using it as a tool to make yourself look more compassionate in front of your Christian friends – and I just don’t get that vibe from you.

    Get happy, Amy! Us atheists don’t need your pity, or your sadness. This should be a happy time of year, for everyone!

    Merry Christmas, and a very Happy New Year to you and yours (yes, even the atheist ones!) 🙂

  2. “The main religions denigrate people by denying our humanity. They try to make people feel guilty about not meeting an impossible standard of behavior or thought. ”

    Really? I don’t leave church feeling guilty, I leave church feeling good, great even. I leave church feeling like no matter what I do, God will love me- always.

    What is the impossible standard? My church teaches me that we all sin and God is there to forgive.

    I could go on and one about that person’s comment, but I won’t.

    As far as Brent, I did not get the same feeling from your post as he did.

  3. Brent,

    Thank you for stopping by and providing such a detailed comment. I appreciate your honesty and candor. I think perhaps I didn’t explain myself or where I was coming from in enough detail to make my point clear. I wrote this post to make people think, because it made me think. That was it.

    First, I was to say that I agree with most of what you said. I really do. We have to put down the stereotypes and recognize the people who are non-believers as the men and women they are, not evil pagans or devil-worshipers.

    Christians, myself included, have to recognize that if a self-righteous superior attitude is used to deliver our ideology it can contribute to people choosing not to believe.

    I tried to make it clear that this was just my interpretation of HIS comment. I was very careful not to generically lump everyone in to one melting pot. I distinctly referred to him only. Because he was the only one writing. I can’t comment on any other atheists or agnostics. Yes, I do know a few 😉

    So it was his comments that made me sad. Please don’t mistake sadness for pity as they are not the same. My sadness is due to his obvious misunderstanding of what Christianity is really about. I’m sad because a Christian probably contributed to this misunderstanding. I’m sad because I used to be one of those Christians. I’m sad because I was too busy defending Christianity to even recognize the person I was telling off. I’m sad because of our innate ability to alienate people. I’m sad because even when we try our best not to, there are those that feel we are being judgmental (cough-cough).

    I am sure that many atheists come to their beliefs as you stated through study and introspective. But not all do. Many of the ones that I know, find it simply to be an inconvenience to their life. Or as Mr. Vincent pointed out it’s a system with impossible standards setting folks up for failure. But I find more often than not this argument of doomed failure due to impossible standards as well as talk of guilt-inducing judgement and misery. Thus, logically, why would one buy into a system where you are doomed to fail. Remember, these are his words, not mine. Nor do I take them as a blanket opinion of all atheists.

    My intent was not to stereotype. That is why I asked all the questions at the end. Who is this person? What is his life like? We need to challenge ourselves as Christians to know who people are, not just judge them based on what they say off the cuff. Lord knows we’d all be in bigger trouble if people treated us that way.

    I hope this helps explain where I was coming from. And in a way I’m glad for the misunderstanding because it helped create this dialogue.

    One final question, why do you say “most of you really, really wish you could believe”?

    Thanks, Amy

  4. I see now, with your explanation, that your intent was not to stereotype. I appreciate that. I apologize for jumping all over you. Sometimes I can be a “Ready, Fire, Aim” guy. Heh.

    > One final question, why do you say “most of you
    > really, really wish you could believe”?

    Well, because it is a comforting state to be in. Believing that you are watched, and nurtured, and cared for as a special snowflake by the supreme master of the universe is pretty heady stuff! Who doesn’t want to feel as if they are special? I *liked* believing. It made me feel good. Safe. Warm. Loved.

    Unfortunately, reality isn’t always what we wish for it to be. I was forced to admit to myself that it was all just a comforting fantasy (after the aforementioned study and introspection on my part.) I didn’t want to stop believing – I *had to* stop believing in order to be honest with myself.

    Lie to your enemies, lie to strangers, lie to your friends and family if you must, but never, ever lie to yourself. Self-deception is the root of all evil, in my opinion.

    I just couldn’t keep lying to myself, so I stopped. On that day I became an atheist.

    In any case, I’d like to thank you for an enjoyable conversation. I don’t comment on other people’s blogs very often, but your post really caught my eye.

    Again, have a very Happy Holidays, and a wonderful New Year.

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