Article

The Sadomasochism of “Hard As Nails”

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There’s only one word for what unordained Catholic minister Justin Fatica does, and that’s sadomasochism. Not in a sexual sense, of course, but in the sense of causing acute humiliation, physical sensation, or hypnotic focus to affect a quick conversion. Generally, this follows along the well-worn path of religion as based on submission to a dominant and all-pervasive God. The fundamental psychological precursor to this religious S&M is the role-playing of D/s (dominance and submission). While not in a sexual context, the psychodrama of self-flagellation and mutual prostration before God is the stock-in-trade of religious observance–often peddled to guilty supplicants at frenzied festivals the world over. Not all religious traditions are as overt about this ritual subservience, but even if never expressed physically, it inescapably underlies the psychology of every believer.

In his Hard as Nails ministry, which was the subject of a revealing HBO documentary of the same title, (HBO on demand through 1.20.08), Fatica has introduced a new generation of vulnerable American youth to his extreme form of fundamentalist Catholic S&M at its emotionally manipulative worst–the rabid inculcation of personal guilt and sin, and the glorification of the literal blood sacrifice of Jesus Christ.

The conceit of Fatica and other religious hucksters like him is that life is often brutal and hurtful, so he can rationalize being just as brutal in his so-called defense of the vulnerable and downtrodden. He’ll ‘preach’ to any group, but make no mistake, he deliberately targets the suicidal, the lovelorn, the obese–friendless angst-ridden teens. In his pursuit of the greater guilt, he dramatizes and plays up the suffering of Jesus, often screaming 2 inches from peoples faces about the pain and suffering their ’sin’ causes. As recounted in Newsweek:

“If you sin, you better have the courage to bash Jesus’ face in!” Fatica screams at one cherubic girl, pushing her to the verge of tears. “Have you sinned in the last 24 hours? Have ya?! HAVE YA?!”

Later in an interview, Fatica expressed some remorse for that incident, and said it happened rarely. Maybe so, but it’s just one of a thousand abusive crowd-control tricks he uses. A repetitive part of his shtick is to single out a vulnerable member of the audience and humiliate them further by concentrating on their deficiency (such as repeatedly calling an obese person “fat”). Then he turns on the audience and asks why they haven’t supported that person in everyday life? By the end, of course, everyone in the audience is hugging the fat girl, who is then “healed” through Jesus’ love. Never mind that it was actually human physical touch and affection that did the trick, possibly more than the person had in a long time. And never mind that it was achieved through his push-pull whipsaw control of the kids’ peer-conscience and sympathy. This kind of manipulation was enough to get him banned in some schools and from all Catholic churches in Vermont.

Other reviewers have singled out a scene which I also found downright disgusting. The muscled Fatica stood in front of a group holding a boy’s hands while an assistant repeatedly and forcefully pounded his back with a folding chair, as he flinched and shouted between strokes “He Loves You.” If that isn’t a form of public sadomasochism, (with hypnotic shock induction) I don’t know what would be. In an interview with ABC, Fatica justified this by saying “if you’re going to get on my case, talk to the WWE.” And then he claimed to be following in the footsteps of St. Francis jumping into thorn bushes. All well and good, except the WWE doesn’t operate on false pretenses: You’re going there to see people beat each other up, and they’re not trying to induce a conversion.

Fatica has no theological education nor any background or training for his ‘ministry.’ He is not ordained and his only credentials are his belief and his chutzpah. As you would expect of someone with no limits, self-imposed or otherwise, he engages in extreme theatrics. He puts kids on life-sized crosses and stages mock crucifixions complete with hammers and nails, which are pounded with more noise than violence–but all the while he or one of his ‘ministers’ is shouting at the poor victim/convert about sin and redemption and giving their life to Jesus. There are mock floggings with vicious insults and taunts, and very real knock-down sessions where people are thrown to the ground. One young man broke his shoulder in the process. It’s all sort of a grown-up version of the wailing histrionics of Jesus Camp.

As appalling as are his methods, Fatica’s cult is growing. He seemed to have no shortage of willing audiences not only throughout the American northeast, but in Barbados, of all places. Though it seemed some of the elders in the church didn’t quite know what to make of him, at 27, Fatica is an injection of hot young blood into the old whited sepulcher that is the Catholic Church. So though some appeared bemused, they appeared to welcome his sound and fury. And Fatica demonstrated strong organizational skills as well: At one fund raising dinner, wealthy benefactors ponied up $30,000 to keep his road-show going.

I have no doubt that Fatica believes in what he’s doing. I have no doubt he honestly thinks he’s helping people. In order to delude and manipulate others, it’s first of course necessary to delude oneself. And that appears to be exactly what Fatica has done. This is why I oppose all forms of the “tyranny of belief” (previous article), because it allows people to live in unchecked self-delusion. While some people keep their delusions private and do no harm, firebrands like Fatica are only content when spreading their trumped up zeal to thousands–in his case over 60,000 in the past year.

What’s so bad about helping vulnerable teens? That’s the unanswered question that has become the truck-sized loophole Fatica drives his van and trailer through as he plumbs America’s highways and byways for new recruits. And it’s what gets him a pass from the mainstream media, which rolled over like Fatica’s personal lap dog (Newsweek) and shrugged, “Justin Fatica yells, threatens and humiliates teens into finding Jesus. You got a problem with that?”

For starters, Fatica’s “help” is based on a lie–and not just any lie–the biggest of them all. The doctrine of sin, salvation, and redemption only works by making a person feel incomplete, by reinforcing the deep self-loathing a vulnerable and confused teen already feels. The more a teen has suffered, the more they have been misunderstood or repressed by parents, rejected by social cliques, suffered sexual abuse, been unsuccessful or felt damaged in love, or in the clutches of addiction, the riper they are for the picking by religions’ false promises of unconditional solace and acceptance. Far from unconditional, this wretched bargain requires the kids to engage in the greatest self-effacement of all: confessing to being sinners in need of external redemption.

Like a kid trying to ride the bicycle of life for the first time, they have felt the hell of skinned knees and bruised egos of their early failings and are being instead offered heaven–a complete panacea. To those who are suffering or have given up on their young lives, it’s an almost irresistable siren-song. It offers a retreat into early childhood simplicity, the comfort of loving parents, clear and simple rules, and a sense of belonging. Their self-respect is in the gutter, and though that lens, Fatica’s browbeating must seem deserved–like the abuse they’ve already suffered, like bottoming out–the prelude to a better life.

That the supposed “better life” comes with a price of lifelong guilt, repression, shame and delusion is the farthest from their suffering minds. And once they’ve been inducted into the hypnotic cadences of mental self-flagellation and the projection of any growing self-reliance they might feel onto an external “savior,” building their own self-esteem becomes ever more out of reach.

Fatica helps these kids bolt on permanent training wheels instead of just encouraging them to pick themselves up when they fall, get back on the bicycle, and learn to ride. This is why I refer to it as sadomasochism and mind-rape. Because once a young person has accepted the lie of their own insufficiency and incapacity, they are permanently mentally scarred–ruined for ever taking full responsibility for their lives. They have now projected all of their successes and failures outside themselves. And they have pathologized their normal human impulses (especially the sexual ones) so they can never feel whole. The younger they are when it happens, the worse it is for them if they ever want to undo it later. They will have to “turn around and walk the razor’s edge” of taking full responsibility and accepting their humanness and a life of risks and rewards. If they want to grow up, they will have to lose their imaginary friend. Many will never have the courage to undo that trauma and will instead spend their lives with terminally low self-esteem–addicted to following other delusional people like Fatica.

What Fatica fails to understand is that to become adults, we must accept that there are no such quick-fix solutions. Some problems are intractable. Some pain is unavoidable. Sometimes we lose in love and it hurts. Sometimes we are rejected. We may become addicted, and not just to drugs. Eventually we will have to die. Life is dangerous and short and there are no guarantees. In failing to acknowledge these universal truths, Fatica is simply living on other people’s misery.

In Barbados, while holding his baby son Joseph, Fatica asked one young man if he would kill his son. The man gingerly answered “no,” to which Fatica replied “that’s how much god loved you, he killed his only son for you, just like the baby I’m holding here.” This is typical Christian doctrine, and seeing it delivered this way underscored for me not just the fact that Fatica is an extremist, but also how much he is really “on message” for all of Christianity. True or not, this is what they believe. Fatica just rubs kids’ faces in it a little more forcefully.

The film was skimpy on Fatica’s background other than his admission that his own conversion came because he got poor grades and didn’t fit in as a teenager. Spending hours praying in church alone also led him to the only doubts he admitted during the 78-minute film. His relationship to his fabulously wealthy parents had obviously suffered, and they had little respect for his extremism. When pressed, they said they were glad he had found a way to make a living.

Filmmaker David Holbrooke is to be commended for gaining the trust to get such up-close access to Fatica and his family. But what happened to journalistic balance?? There was not one skeptical interview in the whole piece. There was not one evaluation of Fatica’s methods by a psychologist or sociologist. There was not one interview with an ex-member, nor any discussion of the group’s finances or how much Fatica himself profits from the ‘ministry.’

Even at that, Fatica apparently became incensed at some aspects of the film, and felt betrayed by the promotional copy:

Phrases like “a gauntlet of abuse,” “messianic tendencies,” and “a latter-day Elmer Gantry” were daggers for Justin and Mary. They felt betrayed by the people who had sat at their kitchen table and held their infant son, Joseph. Mary told me she had thought of me as a man of integrity, but no longer.

Promotional copy aside, Holbrooke’s film was a love-letter to Fatica. He may think he was unbiased and made an effort at balance. But if that was his intent, it did not succeed. Holbrooke presented an unvarnished picture of Fatica, to be sure. But by omitting any analysis, he appeared to endorse Fatica’s methods.

As a humanist and atheist, I take the emergence of Fatica’s Hard as Nails ministry as yet another wake-up call. It makes me want to start speaking publicly to parents about the importance of their kids’ psychological wholeness and the dangers of repression and quick-fixes. It makes me want to redouble my efforts to promote the study of psychology, critical thinking, self-esteem, self-acceptance and self-reliance for teens. Someday I hope to be able to work personally with teens in some form. It’s a heavy burden on my heart.

The truth is, there is a lot of suffering and abuse out there. There are a lot of parents who are derelict in their duties. Who fail to listen and hear the cries of their offspring. Who dismiss them, ignore them, condescend to them, act hypocritically toward them, and in general fail to lead them and teach them about life. As long as that is going on and young people do not feel there is a place for them in society, they are vulnerable. They need a listening ear. Some just need to feel there are adults they can trust–just to talk to. Some have tried befriending adults and been betrayed, molested, or worse. There is a horrible vacuum–a giant sucking sound of adult self-absorption, of indifference to kids’ problems. They feel it and often turn to drugs, to self-injury, or contemplating or committing suicide.

This is no surprise. Fatica is the shadow of society’s indifference. We have failed to do enough to care for our kids, so this cartoon fraud is jumping in front of us–in our stead–claiming to provide the love we’ve failed to offer. If their parents and teachers ignore them, the government ignores them, and even we atheists ignore them, who can blame kids if they run into the arms of self-deluded and self-aggrandizing predators?

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Comments (26 comments)

Dante Ontario / December 29th, 2007, 2:25 am / #1

This is the first freethinker review I’ve seen of “Hard As Nails,” and I’d say we’re off to a great start.

While I agree with your call for journalistic balance, I don’t necessarily fault the director for not including it. We’ve come to expect unscripted film to behave in the same way as a 20/20, 60 minutes, or Dateline report, but the truth is that documentary can effectively serve as the editorial section to TV news’ front page stories. Basically, I think the question of journalistic balance in this particular film is one of artistic choice and not necessarily inherent responsibility - but you are absolutely correct in stating that the film suffers for it.

All of that said, how about the angry, blur-faced, tie-wearing, thinly-disguised “representative atheist” in the scene where Justin is “witnessing” to bar-goers on the street? It appears that this guy completely loses his mind for a 2-minute tirade, yet I lost track of the number of cuts in that particular scene…have to wonder what became of Justin’s (and his buddies’) interjections…some very creative editing, to say the least.

Thanks for a great review.

d

BlackSun / December 29th, 2007, 3:00 am / #2

Dante,

Thanks for reading. You’re right Holbrooke had no obligation to do a balanced story, but it would have made the film much more interesting. As a filmmaker myself, I had hoped to learn something from Holbrooke’s technique, but other than getting close access and powerful subject matter, it was a very average documentary.

how about the angry, blur-faced, tie-wearing, thinly-disguised “representative atheist” in the scene where Justin is “witnessing” to bar-goers on the street? It appears that this guy completely loses his mind for a 2-minute tirade,

I know! :-) The guy was spot on, though. Even though it was thrown in the film as an obvious slam on atheism, I’m glad somebody had the balls to say it. They did cut it up pretty bad, I have to agree.

Jeff / December 29th, 2007, 12:25 pm / #3

Great analysis…while I didn’t see the documentary, this review screams out “get opinion from highly respected psychologist specializing in adolescents.”

By neglecting to provide such an “expert” and secular opinion, this documentary seems downright dangerous.

However, in a certain way I admire Justin Fatica. He’s truly made something out of nothing. I’ve dreamed of doing the same…by becoming an atheist televangelist.

“Give me lots of money, nothing will change and one day you’ll die and go nowhere.”

Tommy / December 29th, 2007, 5:02 pm / #4

From reading this post, Fatica seems so overboard that perhaps putting dissenting voices in the documentary was not needed for balance. The subject’s extremism ends up damning him in the eyes of the viewer.

BlackSun / December 29th, 2007, 5:22 pm / #5

Tommy, I see your point, but what seems obvious to you or me might not be so obvious to believers. Fatica is getting a lot of support, and not just from Catholics. The mainstream media seem to be giving him a pass, refusing to call him on his use of what are almost certainly self-taught hypnosis techniques–in addition to blatant manipulations and psychological abuse.

Without grounding in a more objective social scientific context provided by experts, or some reflection on longer-term psychological effects on participants, Holbrooke leaves us with only the fevered enthusiasm of Fatica and his converts. I think it’s an irresponsible way to make a film.

To provide an analogy, when we see someone like Bush or Huckabee denying evolution or global warming, it’s easy for us to see that they are delusional. But somewhere around 50% of the U.S. population agrees with them.

Likewise, more people than you think would be perfectly fine with Fatica’s extremism. (Or the evangelical counterpart, Ron Luce’s Battlecry). To many people, where religion is concerned, the ends justify the means. As long as the kids converted and gave their lives to Jesus, they’d probably be fine even if Fatica was waterboarding them.

Tommy / December 29th, 2007, 7:23 pm / #6

Since I didn’t see the documentary, I will take your word for it.

Peter / December 29th, 2007, 8:30 pm / #7

The end justifies the mean - the Nazis and their counterpart on the bolshevik side were also extremely great at that, and the methods are the same.
Break the individual and make him fit to work on command and in a tight group.
Just watch: Full metal jacket.
He knows, and all who support him: get the kids ready for an america that operates along fascist lines. Build a VOLK, and all will be saved. Another brick in the wall to eliminate individualism and free thinking. Congrats.

Joe White / January 15th, 2008, 11:33 pm / #8

Your absolutely right about the rapid abuse and the lack of life leadership in our society, however I believe that Justin is teaching valuable lessons. While watching ‘Hard as Nails’ I noticed that these teens were emotionally involved. I admit that some of Fatica’s methods are extreme, but he made it a point to tell kids that it’s alright to share their feelings; its important to bring up your issues. He seemed to teach these kids that its OK to have problems. But he sheds a solution to this obvious distress with a motivational aspect; he told these kids not to be ‘good’ people because “God doesn’t have time for good people”, he told this group to be ‘Great People’. I think there is something profound in that statement. Yes there certainly is an aspect of dependence on a ‘higher power’, but he seems to tell these kids that its their responsibility to live a life without ’sin’; to become a well balanced person.

BlackSun / January 19th, 2008, 1:01 pm / #9

Joe White,

The very concept of “sin” is corrupting. It is traumatizing and despicable to tell children that there a man in the sky watching everything they do. It is traumatizing to tell them some non-existent character died on the cross “just for them” 2000 years ago.

I don’t care what the claimed benefit is, The whole sin-penance-redemption complex is a sickness which prevents psychological wholeness.

Fatica is therefore committing a form of child-abuse, as is anyone who drills young people into the idea that they need to be ashamed of their own wants, needs, and impulses.

How about teaching them to embrace their human desires and channel them properly for their own maximum success and happiness?

Tyler / February 14th, 2008, 8:58 pm / #10

I see Fatica, Battlecry, and even Kirk Cameron/Ray Comfort’s ministry as part of a trend fueled not by confidence in their beliefs, but by pure, undisguised desperation. Straw men, rage disguised as piety, veiled insults, etc. A cry for help from an overwhelmed group of people trying to use their arcane ideas to tame a world they see as too complex. So they retreat to an uncompromising position that borders on mental illness- it couldn’t possibly be their ideas that need attending to, but the rest of the universe that needs fixing. Christianity as far as I can see has been simplified to flashy lights, stage explosions, and testosterone-fueled displays in the service of Belief in Belief.

It’s no wonder they pick desperate people to preach to.

Mark Sandeno / December 4th, 2008, 4:58 am / #11

Wow ,I woke up at 4 am to watch the last part of the HBO documentery. I found it interesting and encouraging to find someone helping kids find Christ. I probably don’t agree with everything but I see some kids that I believe will be better off. Probably a fair follow up of these kids lives in a year or 2 would be interesting,by the same person David Holbrooke. Remember what Justin said ,”if you don’t agree with me than you do something your way to help these kids” . To Sean Prophet I would have to say this, the opposite of love is not hate it is selfishness. Just because you were around people that got caught up with a money making ministry , that does not change the message of Jesus Christ. Before he assended to heaven he said this,”love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul and all your strength,and love your neighbor as yourself. As far as believing in God or not, if living a born again christian is wrong ,Iwill stand to loose nothing . If your present belief is wrong,tthen you will be wrong for an eternity in hell. I will pray for the eyesof your heart to be open. By the way I am a farmer ,union truck driver, married w/3 kids and a happy born again christian since 1973 and i am 54 years old . Thanks

BlackSun / December 4th, 2008, 11:51 am / #12

Mark Sandeno,

I see some kids that I believe will be better off….Remember what Justin said ,”if you don’t agree with me than you do something your way to help these kids”….the opposite of love is not hate it is selfishness. Just because you were around people that got caught up with a money making ministry….

You have to define “better off.” I don’t think that guilt, fear and shock are healthy reasons to believe or motivations for action. Take away the guilt Fatica is preaching about Jesus’ suffering and what’s left? I do good not because I fear an eternal hell but because I think it’s a better strategy for living.

The rule of helping others is “first, do no harm.” You can’t claim Fatica is doing no harm. By indoctrinating kids with false fears he is creating lifelong anxiety. What’s stronger, a person who behaves out of self-interest or because he genuinely thinks s/he will burn forever? Love/hate/selfishness is a false dilemma. We all have elements of all three coexisting simultaneously. People who think they are “saved” often ignore their own selfishness and pathologies.

I’m glad you found something that works for you. I’m not so glad that you are no doubt raising your children to continue a false and guilt-inducing belief system.

Mark Sandeno / December 7th, 2008, 4:08 pm / #13

We as one (my wife and I) did not raise our children with guilt. I just asked my 19 year old kids and their older brother. There were boundaries set but from day one ,they were disciplined with love and never beaten. If you email me privately I will give you my cell and you can talk to them personally . YOU never answered your dilema! If I am wrong about God ,then we are all in the same basket. If you are wrong, then eternity will be in hell for unbelievers who rejected the love of God thru Jesus Christ. True Christianity gives and gives. and for my wife,Ephesians chapter 5 says to love your wife as Christ loved the church and gave his life for her. 26 years and counting. Joint decisions but I am the fall guy to deal with problems and the mistakes we have made. I would give my life for my family! Wishing you the best in this Christmas season, that the eyes of your heart may be opened!

BlackSun / December 7th, 2008, 4:56 pm / #14

YOU never answered your dilema! If I am wrong about God ,then we are all in the same basket. If you are wrong, then eternity will be in hell for unbelievers who rejected the love of God thru Jesus Christ.

Pascal’s wager is not really worth a response. There is not a 50/50 chance one of us is “right.”

It ignores that there are millions of possible “truths” that tens of thousands of different sects have believed throughout history. The idea of someone going to “hell” because they don’t believe in your particular version of truth is beyond preposterous. It’s one of the weakest possible arguments. It also relies on the concept of a punitive God, rather than a loving one.

I don’t know if you realize how condescending it sounds when you wish for “the eyes of my heart to be opened.” I was a minister for 7 years, and I consciously and deliberately abandoned that fairy tale.

As for your kids, religious upbringing has long-term effects which I would not expect them to be aware of at this stage. Only if and when they decide to delve into existential issues and coming to terms with the darkness present within themselves and all humanity will they understand the bill of goods they’ve been sold.

Religious thought represents one kind of semi-stable equilibrium, which exists based on the suppression of doubts. Moving away from it toward a belief system that can tolerate critical thought requires strength and fortitude to accept the responsibility of making one’s own choices about meaning, purpose, ethics and most importantly coming to mature terms with mortality.

I’m sure you mean well Mark, but you have been to a certain extent brainwashed by the idea of an external salvation through Jesus Christ. That’s a myth, like the myth of Santa Claus, which usurps the process of adult personality development. The sooner you realize this, the better off you and your family will be.

Check out Ex-Christian.net.

Louis / December 7th, 2008, 5:12 pm / #15

then eternity will be in hell for unbelievers who rejected the love of God thru Jesus Christ.

You call that a dilemma? I call it coercion. Sorry, but if the best your God has got is a threat, there is no dilemma.

One mans trash, is another mans treasure.

Hell sounds like paradise compared to kissing the ass… I mean praising and giving glory to a bully for eternity.

I most disrespectfully give your Sky Daddy the middle finger. Fuck you, in the face, with daggers!

If hell is the furthest place I can get from this tyrant, then i don’t see it as a dilemma at all… that is one release form I am signing on the dotted line.

If I am wrong about God ,then we are all in the same basket.

Considering your flavor of kool-aid is drunk by about 30 - 35% of the worlds kool-aid drinkers, and when I say kool-aid, I mean belief in a Sky Daddy. The other 65% plus believers of different religions… what if one of them got it right?

Lets not even get into the disparity of doctrine among that 30-ish % who claim Christianity.

Clearly, the message you speak is anything but clear…

Any heavenly father, whose message is soo unclear as to cause that much disparity of belief in the earth… that impotent slacker needs his ass kicked squarely for about a dozen millennia.

Allegedly Omnipotent, Omniscient and Omnipresent… and this is the fail he delivers?

Please.

If he truly is Omniscient, then he already saw this coming, and if he is Omnipotent, then he can change things. And if I have free will, whose fucking fault is that?

Stop using me as a motherfucking scapegoat and blame your own damn self, braintrust…

The God-sell you are pitching… for everyones sake, it would be best if you were wrong!

Louis / December 10th, 2008, 5:08 pm / #16

Since our friend Mark Sandeno hasn't returned, I'd like to point out his interpretation doesn't even fit with Biblical scriptures.

then you will be wrong for an eternity in hell.

False. Every mention of this lake of sacred fire in scripture indicates that this is the second death, and final destruction of the wicked.

For an eternity in hell to be true, that would mean Lucifer, Satan and all the demons would continue on for eternity. Who would torment all the wicked souls for eternity? This claim of eternal torment doesn't even stand up in biblical scripture.

The second death of the soul and the final judgment of the wicked, where they are all cast into the lake of sacred fire, is clearly an end. There isn't any biblical scripture that supports Mark Sandeno's claim that this is something that will last forever.

He has taken the Catholic (non biblical) concepts of purgatory and limbo, and applied them to the final judgment and second death. It is amazing how convoluted the doctrines are; it is no wonder the X-stains can't get there ducks in a row.

The scientific principle that energy can neither be created or destroyed, but only converted from one form to another, might have factored into the change in view…

Regardless, the bible doesn't support the concept of eternal torment.

Personally, I think it is all rediculous nonsense.

God gives you free will, but wants you to turn around and hand it right back and do only his will… talk about your original Indian giver! How exactly is this a gift? I'll give you something, but don't use it. That bright idea, is right up there with putting the tempter serpent at the center of paradise, (not even on the outer borders.)

Adam and Eve didn't have knowledge of good and evil, they were innocent (naked.) They only covered themselves 'after' gaining that knowledge of good and evil, (life & death, right & wrong.) To know it was wrong, they'd have to have previous knowledge of it, and clearly, there original nakedness, (symbolic or literal) shows they did not.

They disobeyed, but with no knowledge of good & evil, life & death, right & wrong, how exactly is this disobedience? Only once they had the knowledge, did they cover themselves.

The argument I am making is to disobey, you have to understand what it is to disobey. This tree containing this very knowledge, was at the very epicenter of their world and came fully equipped with a tempter in the form of a talking snake, who walked on legs.

So from this original act, we all inherited sin.

It gets even MOAR retarded.

To forgive this sin, God needed to sacrifice his son (some say himself) and by this gesture, God opened a way, to forgive this original sin. So much for all powerful…

Lets put aside all the Sumarian creation myths, Greek, Egyptian and even Pagan stories, the bible parallels and pretend this is just a Christian story (with a hint of Jew…)

Or the very real possibility that Jesus, isn't just a rip off of Mythra & Horus, and that fabrication that started with Paul's writings and continued with the fathers in the early Roman Church (possibly weaving in a little Apollonius of Tyana) doesn't actually fit with a single historical person…

The whole thing is preposterous, and there really isn't any good reason to accept this message.

Sorry, threatening damnation is a bad strategy. If you are so certain of this lake of sacred fire, perhaps you are just as certain of this alleged heaven?

What will that be like, living for eternity? In the event I do pass through the second death, (I am not saying that will actually happen) will you still have awareness of me, or will God make you forget?

Remember, this sinful nature, God can only forgive me of it if I accept Jesus Christ, failing that I am wicked for that one act of not accepting him. I do not have the blood of murder on my hands, nor do I go around day and night seeking to devour and destroy people, or their soul, if such a thing exists.

I just don't accept the validity of the message and reconciliation of Jesus.

These are bronze age, (or much older) concepts and they are entirely foreign to todays understanding of the origins of life on this earth, etc.

And if someone does accept this figure, even the blood of mass murder… that is forgiven. Hitler, for the record, was a Christian. Mein Kampf very much testifies that he felt he was doing Gods will:

"Hence today I believe that I am acting in accordance with the will of the Almighty Creator: by defending myself against the Jew, I am fighting for the work of the Lord."

So does Hitler accept Christ?

"My feelings as a Christian points me to my Lord and Savior"

I think the record of history shows that he does.

Forgive me for rejecting your biblical certainties, but it in no way demonstrates an Omniscient (all knowing), Omnipotent (all powerful) God. It most certainly doesn't demonstrate an All Loving God.

It is a bronze age account, with bronze age notions, from bronze age men.

I give it the reverence and respect it deserves.

In case it isn't clear, that would be none. Hence my tone in my previous post.

Cheers! :D

Nate / May 31st, 2010, 3:31 pm / #17

The problem with all the atheists arguments is that they ignore the vast numbers of teens who are truly suffering. Maybe they don’t have insurance for a psychologist, maybe psychologists are unable to fufill what these kids need.

There are far worse things to be worried about than this preachers work. Did you seriously think the blind folds, crosses and yelling were that bad? They do far worse at military schools, these exercises are simply to get people doing group activities based around the religious theme, none looked abusive. Bball coaches do far worse…

I think that atheists like yourselves have either had a bad past experiences or just don’t have any idea what some of these kids go through. As long as these kind of efforts stay out of the political realm and don’t preach absence, and aren’t run by Catholic priests, I think whatever works should be tried.

The bashing of those you look to religions losers makes me distance myself further from my fellow atheists. I am an atheist who lived in LDS country- all the moromn bashing is bigoted- only a minority of LDS followers come close to their stereotypes. In fact they are some of the most kind people yo will ever meet.

The same crits are thrown at them year after year and they never bear a grudge!

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