Dear Catholic League

JT Eberhard recently posted a story about an “Adopt-an-Atheist” program proposed by Bill Donohue of the Catholic League. I, like many others, think this is a great idea! I’d love to have the Catholic Church send a few unsuspecting saps my way to try to justify the behavior and beliefs of the Catholic Church, its clergy, and the whole of Christianity. If you’re an atheist and you want to be adopted by the Catholic Church, you can fill out this contact form and let them know.

Come at me, bro
Seriously, Bring It!

Here’s my invitation:

Dear sirs,

I recently got wind of the “Adopt-an-Atheist” program proposed by Bill Donohue and want to congratulate you on such a wonderful idea! As an atheist activist myself, I’d like to let you know that I’m effectively orphaned from gods and as such up for adoption. Since no gods have contacted me as yet, I avail myself to humans to rescue me from my spiritual broken home and make me feel wanted again.

You see, I’ve personally been guilty of anti-Catholic bias. More accurately, I’m biased against all untestable, unfalsifiable claims to the supernatural and the people in leadership positions who exploit the gullibility of other human beings. It’s not just Catholicism, if you want to know the truth. It’s all forms of manipulation, greed, abuse, oppression, ignorance, violence, intolerance, and bigotry. It’s a bias against people who enable others to harm children by looking the other way. It’s a bias against those who avoid responsibility for their actions by claiming that a cosmic “good guy” forgives them unconditionally so long as they apologize telepathically. I’m most certainly biased and I think the only way for you to show me the light is to adopt me and put some real time and effort into helping me see exactly why all of this is OK. You certainly have your work cut out for you.

I suppose the worst that could happen is that I talk some sense into whomever you send my way and you lose a tither. In that case, you shouldn’t look at it so much as the Church losing money but as the world gaining one more rational, responsible, compassionate human being. I said before that your idea is wonderful and I mean it. Send us some Catholics! We love the challenge.

You can reach me any time at jon(at)willisweb(dot)com or via my contact form on The Wayward Willis, http://willisweb.com.

Yours truly,
Jon

If they get back to me (their contact form says they have a high volume of requests so they may not answer all e-mails), I’ll most certainly be posting up the results here. I doubt anything will come of this because the religious community seems to be all talk and no action but you’ll hear it here first. Stay tuned!

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The Tithe That Binds

There’s a very strange movement in some Christian circles called “The Prosperity Gospel” that posits some kind of supernatural investment scheme where the more money you give to god (read: churches and/or pastors) the more material wealth god will give to you.  While most Christian denominations denounce this theology as false or even blasphemous most of them also have their own, more subtle versions of the prosperity gospel whether they know it or not.

 

Becoming a Millionaire God's Way
God wants you to be rich!

The churches in which I grew up always passed the offering plate/basket around during services expecting members to give at least 10% of whatever they had.  This is standard practice for Protestant churches under a doctrine of tithing.  Some churches go as far as asking (“asking” is a funny word since the whole thing is done with an air of, “if you don’t, god will know”) the congregation to make pledges as to how much they’ll give for the year.  This helps the church make a budget but it also very clearly shows the churches are just businesses.

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Who Do You Believe?

Sitting in Sunday School and church, you’re constantly confronted with the idea that man’s knowledge is not only flawed (a point with which I wouldn’t necessarily argue) but foolish.  For example, 1 Corinthians 3:19 states:

For the wisdom of this world is foolishness in God’s sight. As it is written: “He catches the wise in their craftiness”

Whenever this comes up in a lesson or a sermon you always hear a resounding, “AMEN!” from the congregation.  While I was a believer I never really thought about the implications and I doubt that many believers really do.  In the light of debates over evolution, the Big Bang, and the ever-narrowing god-shaped gap in our knowledge it’s nice to be able to point to a verse and say, “See?  The things you think you know are utter nonsense in the face of god’s wisdom!”  The Bible is a never-ending source of derisive rebuttal to anything even remotely logical.  That’s why I loved it so much as a kid.  No matter with whom I was talking, I could always feel confident that my god considered them fools and I was right.

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You Don’t “Have” to Go to Church

As soon as I was old enough to figure out how much fun weekends were and how much shorter they seemed when you have to spend more than half of Sunday sitting in church I began to ask my parents if we really had to go to church. The conversations usually went something like this:

Jon: Do we have to go to church today?
Parent: No, you don’t have to go to church today. You get to go to church today.
Jon: But I don’t want to go to church.
Parent: You ought to be happy we have such a nice church to go to. Besides, you’re not staying home alone. Now get a move on!

This was exasperating every single time. I’m sure it was frustrating for my parents as well. They wanted to raise their children in the church with good, Christian values and their children seemed to want to be little unwashed heathens. What irritated me the most about this exchange was the unreasonable nature of the argument. I, as an autonomous human being, didn’t have the desire to spend most of my day cooped up in a building listening to people talk when I could be running around the woods with a toy gun, saving the world. My parents, as dictatorial heads of the family, didn’t acknowledge my autonomy. How unfair.

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Small Soldiers

Now that I was saved (theological debate surrounding the sincerity of the act notwithstanding) from Hell, it was important to those charged with my education to ensure that I became the best possible Christian.  In order for this to happen, I had to become familiar with the doctrine of Christianity — namely, that god created me and loves me and that Satan is trying with all of his might to destroy god’s creation and claim the souls of believers for himself.  This means war!

 

Sparta
War? This is Sparta!
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Telepathy’s Not Good Enough

Speaking of prayers, there was one thing about Christianity that always either embarrassed, frustrated, or confused me: public/group prayer.  It always seemed that a spectacle was made of talking to god whether in a church service, at home, or at an event.  Nobody appeared to be capable of just communicating with god in a personal way — quietly, in their heads — and instead we were always being led in group prayers.

When I was a little kid the prayers were like advertising jingles.  I memorized a phrase one to four sentences long with catchy rhymes so I could remember what to say.  For instance:

Now I lay me down to sleep.
I pray the Lord my soul to keep.
If I should die before I wake,
I pray the Lord my soul to take.

Bedtime Prayer

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Oh, You Silly Catholics!

So I just saw a TIME article on a priest in Geneva involved in two things:

  1. Making rules for how the Catholic Church will handle sexual abuse cases, and
  2. Sexually abusing young boys.


“Ooh yeah, just like that baby!”

What…the…fuck?! Who knows if it’s true but if it is it has to be the most horrifying and disgusting case of abuse by the Catholic Church ever. I mean, it’s horrible and disgusting when someone in a position of power abuses that power and preys on children anyway, but isn’t there some kind of amplification of horribleness when the abuser is one of the people on the committee for deciding how to stop sexual abuse and punish offenders? Come on!

I guess I shouldn’t be surprised. This type of thing is common fodder. I just can’t help but think that if this is true then there’s absolutely no hope for the Catholic Church at all and the people sucked into its moral black hole are all doomed. Why are people still Catholic??


Why Catholic? I don’t know!!

Oh, and I have a headache. Have a nice day!

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Repeat After Me

Getting saved through Jesus Christ and receiving the Holy Spirit sounds like it would be a really big deal.  I mean, the sheer mechanics of opening up one’s heart and having the Holy Spirit move in like a college kid moving into the dorms is difficult to wrap your head around.  Oddly enough, Christians seem to think it requires nothing more than the ability to repeat phrases told to you by another person.  This applies mainly to children who are too young to formulate a sentence based on the premise that a person died for you thousands of years ago so you won’t go to Hell when you die.  It goes something like this:

Heavenly Father, I know that I have sinned against you.  I want to be a better person.  I believe you sent Jesus to die on the cross for my sins, that you raised him from the dead, and that he hears my prayers.  Please forgive me and let Jesus come into my heart and life.  I give my life to you, Lord. In Jesus’ name I pray, amen.

 

Organ Donor
Give your heart to Jesus!
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Inferiority Complex

When you grow up in Christianity, one thing is made very clear to you over and over: you are a horrible sinner and deserve to burn in Hell forever.  This sentiment rears its head pretty early on, as soon as you’re able to understand and repeat the name “Jesus.”  The adults begin to prime you for the doctrine of salvation through grace.  In order to do this, you must first accept that you are undeserving of anything but the worst punishment imaginable.  Just to clarify, this punishment can be presented in a number of ways.  My family subscribed to the “lake of unquenchable fire, eternal torment and darkness with weeping and gnashing of teeth” doctrine.  Other sects of Christianity view Hell as simply the complete lack of the presence of god.  Still others view Hell as obliteration (which, Heaven aside, aligns quite nicely with the atheistic view that once you die you simply cease to exist).

Hell
"Please, just a single drop of water!"
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Explicit Lyrics

Soo there I was: a kid spending every Sunday morning and evening, Wednesday night and every major (and some minor) holiday in church.  At this point church was still fun because I was doing arts and crafts, seeing flannelgraph stories and singing those great children’s songs that virtually everybody knows.  Oh, the songs!  They’re catchy, they’re cute, and they’re memorable.  Regardless of how I may feel now about religion I can still sing all of those songs on demand.

Song is arguably one of the most effective ways to drill ideas into a kid’s head.  There’s a reason you teach a kid the alphabet in song before they can read.  When you want to remember something it helps to put it to music.  For instance (and I can still sing this one too), children are taught to memorize the books of the Bible with this little number:

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