Today I would like you to see some of the reactions to our recent postings, in particular, your responses to my article about comedian Bill Maher’s plan to produce a documentary about the absurdity of religion. If you have not had a chance to read it yet, you can find it here.
In addition, you can also click here to see a segment I did on illegal immigration this week and here for a debate with a Muslim Imam about whether Christians should begin to refer to God as “Allah,” as he and others have suggested.
While I was ready to write an op-ed piece today, I didn’t want to let too many days go by without getting you all involved in the discussion, so here we go. Until Friday …
God bless, Father Jonathan
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I read your article in regards to Bill Maher today after my pastor sent it to me. He did not know at the time that in the past couple of months, I have been feeling pretty distant from God and doubts creeping in and out.
As I read your article, I wept. I wept and was encouraged in my spirit. What you wrote is a masterpiece because it was like someone handing me my spiritual armor and saying, "Come on, get a grip, you are so not done yet!”
I read it to my teenage son, I have it on a list of things my husband needs to read and I posted it on my blog so others can read it. It's answers, Father Jonathan, to the questions Christians get hammered with everyday. — God Bless, Sherry (La Vergne, TN)
RESPONSE: Thanks so much, Sherry, for writing and telling me this. I believe in Providence, and it looks like you received the article at just the right time. As you will see below, what is a masterpiece to you is silliness and blabber to others. In this world we certainly can’t please everyone!
If you can tell me with a straight face that popes have never lied and that every word in the divinely inspired (what a crock!) Bible is true, I will believe the stuff you come up with. Until such time, I will read your disingenuous silliness for the occasional chuckle. — Lucita, (Ranchos de Taos, NM)
RESPONSE: Lucita, I’m glad you will keep reading, even if only for a chuckle.
I am a non-believer and am pleased to hear your "voice of reason." I agree with what you say, but it is my fervant belief that you and others like you should "speak up." How can you sit quietly and watch the abuses in the name of "Christianity" and remain silent. Give us your thoughts on blood transfusions, faith healing, greed in the name of your Lord and so on. So many topics and so few intelligent answers. Stand up and bring respect back to Christianity. In my opinion, that is the clergy's job. — Nancy B.
RESPONSE: No doubt, Nancy, there are a lot of things done in the name of God and religion which are far from good or godly. The challenge for all of us, as I see it, is to always view fallen humanity from the truly sacred, without throwing out the latter. Wherever there are people, there will be imperfection. That’s why I’m not scandalized when I see so many problems.
I just want you to know what an impact you have made on my grandfather. I could tell you the history but I know you might not have a lot of time for that; However, we just lost my grandmother and my grandfather has never been a fan of church on Sundays. Since her death, he has been trying, but still hasn't found what he is looking for until he heard you speak on FOX News. He just thinks the world of you and your opinions. I want to thank you for that, from the bottom of my heart, to give him his faith and soul back. I am curious, do you have any books or do you have any plans for books in the future? It would be hard for me to get him to any of the places you currently speak. — Missy M. (Byram, MS)
RESPONSE: Missy, how nice to hear about your grandfather. Please tell him I say hello and I certainly hope to meet him some day. I recently have finished writing a book that will come out in the first months of next year. Perhaps I will make it to Mississippi on the book tour!
I just read your article and felt compelled to write (not in the Biblical sense!). I'll be upfront and state for the record that I am an atheist; I'm a bit more aggressive than a typical atheist, too. I don't confuse my non-belief with agnosticism, and I sit firmly in the camp that disapproves not only of religious extremism/fundamentalism, but also of mainstream religion in general as it paves the way for the aforementioned wackos and nut jobs that cause so much trouble in the world today.
RESPONSE: I’m sorry I couldn’t include your whole e-mail, which, despite our difference of opinion, was presented in a reasonable way. Thank you! I would, however, invite you to be cautious. Your stated desire to whitewash the public square of all religion is at least as radical and intolerant as the religious zealots you criticize. In the last century, we have witnessed the horrors of such attempts to wipe religion from the face of the earth ( i.e. Hitler, Stalin). Do we really want to revisit this?
Your response to Bill Maher’s absurd statements was brilliant. Thank you for defending Christianity against such laziness and meanness. I say laziness because I know Bill Maher is not stupid — so he must be lazy or too bothered to undertake the hard work it takes to reveal the truth. I say meanness because I believe Bill Maher’s real agenda is to demean cultural institutions like Christianity and patriotism and use them as fodder for his edgy humor. It’s mean and it’s ugly.
The scary thing is how popular he his. Entertainment, especially humor, seems to be able to reach people, regardless of the quality or truthfulness of its message. — Karen (Seattle, WA)
RESPONSE: Karen, I particularly like your point about intellectual laziness. Sometimes we are unwilling to seek the truth because we know finding it may require us to change our way of life. But while truth may be uncomfortable at first, it leads us to true fulfillment, something which can never be had while living a lie.
You may be able to speak for some part of Christianity, but I assure you, there are many Christians who are exactly as Bill Maher says they are … that’s why I’m not a Christian. Get a grip … you don’t speak for anyone. Christians are as divided as any other group you can imagine. — Disrespectfully, Bill
RESPONSE: I know what you mean, Bill, when you say I don’t speak for all Christians. You may be surprised, however, by how much most people who call themselves Christian really have in common. At least nine out of 10 of the hundreds of e-mails I received in response to this article were supportive of the views I presented. Look at the variety of the responses that follow.
Every once in a while I see an article that I cannot resist replying to. I rarely do this, but your reply to Bill Maher was so compelling I could not resist. I am a Protestant, but your comments and replies to Mr. Maher are just as applicable to my faith, as to any.
Frankly, it has always puzzled me that people who have not experienced a relationship with God and who have made no faith assumptions, will hold themselves out to be critics and commentators on the subject. That is truly amazing.
Maher pulls the cloaks of skepticism around himself with such smugness and self-promotion, that I can only hope that when Mr. Maher takes his show and his investigation on the road that he will somehow be touched by the same God who loves him as much as He loves any human being. I hope Maher feels that love and can grasp the fact that God may be winking at his feeble attempts to run from the truth.
Wouldn’t that be a wonderful thing?
I applaud your efforts to clarify Christian beliefs to those who may be confused. It is a shame that we must constantly do this. As a member of the Orthodox Christian community, I would like to thank you for your work. — Irene
As a person who has very little belief in religion (raised and educated by House of Hope Presbyterian Church in St. Paul, Minn., a wonderful church), I just want to say that you are a joy and I love reading your articles. I do believe in something higher, and I can just say "I hope there is a God." I spent 27 years in the U.S. Air Force and I must say I always enjoyed when I was in the field for war games on Sundays (which was much of my career as a nuclear, biological and chemical response instructor), the services held by chaplains of all faiths were exceptional and I felt closer in belief than ever.
Anyway, I just wanted to say that I love your articles and the times I have seen you on FOX News. I also watch and enjoy Bill Maher. You would make a GREAT team! — Denise (Marietta, MN)
Today’s Selection of Interesting Articles
Values and Politics
• ACLU Sues to Stop Church Donations in Louisiana
• When ‘Christmas Concert’ Are Fighting Words
• Security Could Override Social Issues as Religious Right Considers Giuliani
• Can U.S. Diplomacy Get Religion?
• EU Urges Texas to Halt Executions before the 400 Mark
• N.Y. Storage Company’s Pro-Abortion Billboard Causes Uproar
• When an On-line Stranger Becomes a Life-Saver
• Walking the Line: On a Scale of Right to Wrong, Most Live Somewhere In Between
• Episcopal Church Rift on Homosexuality Cuts Deeper for Two Brother-Priests
• New Field of Neurotheology Opens Door for Scientific Study of Belief
• The Yezidi: The ‘Devil Worshippers of Iraq’
• Pastor Serves Disparate Flocks in Church and on Internet, as a Voice of the Religious Left
• Starbucks Provides a Lesson for Churches
Not All News is Bad News
• Clergy Offer Tips for College-Bound Students
• Phone Line of Hope Links Palestinians and Israelis
• Shock-Rocker Turned Born-Again-Christian Sets up Christian Center for At-Risk Youth
• Growing Number of Parish Nurses Acting as Links between Spiritual, Medical Communities
News Which Never Made the News
• Miami-Dade Jury Rejects Demon-Made-Me-Do-It Defense
• Female Korean Hostage Forfeited Freedom for Ailing Colleague
• Alcoholic Energy Drinks May Target Teens
• Descendants of New Guinea Cannibals Apologize for the Eating of 19th Century Missionaries
• Click over to visit Father Jonathan's Column Archive