Is Christian Evangelism Really As Selfless As Evangelists Would Have Us Believe?

Preacher preachingWhy do I dislike evangelism so much? Regular visitors to Atheist Geek News have surely figured out by now that I don’t suffer evangelists well. Especially aggressive evangelists. I have written about some of the mistakes that evangelists (especially Jehovah’s Witnesses) have made when trying to convert me in the past. But it isn’t just the behavior of evangelists that I take issue with. It’s also about the motives that Christian evangelism promotes in those who preach it to others.

Motives are an area that I usually avoid, especially since it’s all too easy to impose negative motives to a group you don’t like or whose actions you don’t like. So before someone says it, I’m not claiming that I can read minds. I admit that I could be 100% wrong. I acknowledge that people are complex individuals who don’t always fully understand their own motives, let alone those of others. So it isn’t fair to simply assert that I know – beyond all doubt – what’s going in the minds of another individual. I’ve had far too many religious people pretend that they know my motives for becoming an atheist, or an ex-Witness, to throw that one at you.

Fishers of men

There’s a reason why none of the fish are biting.

But, as a former Jehovah’s Witness turned atheist, I’ve been on the inside and the outside of Christian evangelism. My world view has been challenged over the years by Jehovah’s Witnesses, Pentecostals, Baptists, Mormons, and Gideons. Not to mention others on the internet. So while I don’t claim to have magical powers, I do think that I’m well informed on the topic and that my conclusions are reasonable. As we shall see, I also think that the bad behavior so often exhibited by evangelists is very telling.

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News and Links: Christopher Hitchens Has Died

Christopher HitchensI knew that Christopher Hitchens had been ill for some time, but was surprised when I learned of his death on the morning news just a few days ago. Without realizing it, I somehow thought he could beat anything, including the Terminator, Godzilla, and cancer. If only it were so. Christopher Hitchens will be missed by many, especially those atheists who saw him in action during debates, interviews, or read his book “God is Not Great.”

If only everyone felt that way.

The very fact that his death has caused a stir among believers as well as nonbelievers says something about the Hitch. Maybe he’s just a love him or hate him kinda guy? Many fundamentalist believers have shared their reactions online, including this brilliant thread at JWD entitled “Notorious Asshole Christopher Hitchens Thrown Into Eternal Flame of Gehenna.”

The first time I heard of Christopher Hitchens was today when his named was mentioned multiple times in the comment section of a YouTube video. After reading a brief summary of his life, it became clear that this guy was a complete douche-bag. A very arrogant sarcastic bigoted f**k who looked down on everyone who didn’t share his beliefs. It’s always nice to see someone who deserves to die actually die, rather than the usual innocent victim. Hopefully the grim reaper can rid us of two more a**holes by coming for Bill Maher and Richard Dawkins next.

Hitch with cancerYes, very witty. I knew nothing of the poster before that day, but trust me, Philadelphia Ponos made an impression. In fact, he (?) originally created two threads with the same name as the one above because one thread just wasn’t enough to express the joy P.P. felt about the death of a man he claims not to have even heard of a day before. I remember a similarly brilliant comment that was posted here when I announced the death of Raymond Franz by someone calling them self Opheliagrneyes.

So he died, huh? Well…..

….he ain’t coming back :)

See what I mean? I can practically hear Opheliagrneyes chuckling to himself at the death of a man who stood up for his principles and suffered for them. Good times, eh? I can see that the New System of Things will be filled with good people if they’re anything like Opheliagrneyes. Glad I won’t be there to see it.

HitchensI think both comments are amazing tributes to the kinds of people and ideas both men sought to oppose. Not only because they reveal the true character of the people who hated them, but because they give the rest of us the chance to show our mettle.1 There are at least 4 pages of reactions to P.P’s. comment about Hitchens on JWD as you read this. Some of them would have made the Hitch proud.

So, in honor of the Hitch’s memory, here are some links of interest. Some will make you laugh. Some will piss you off. What could be a more appropriate tribute to a man like Christopher Hitchens than that?

VIDEO: UK Channel 4 Tribute | Daily Hitchens

Hitchens fought dogma’s delusion

Is Christopher Hitchens about to convert? « » Print The Daily Caller

Note the date on this last one. It came out shortly before he died.

New Statesman – Preview: Richard Dawkins interviews Christopher Hitchens

25 Ridiculous Reactions To #GodIsNotGreat

The 20 Best Christopher Hitchens Quotes | Unreasonable Faith

Christopher Hitchens quotes: the writer’s most memorable bons mots | Books | guardian.co.uk

Christopher Hitchens – Godless Quotes

Christopher Hitchens’ Greatest Hits

VIDEO: Christopher Hitchens – The Best of the Hitchslap – YouTube

  1. My original response to Opheliagrneyes ended with: “…neither are you.”

Witnesses for Atheism: Cool Podcasts for Ex-Witnesses Turned Atheists

Normally, I’d include this with my news and links updates, but I’m lazy and didn’t want to wait. Witnesses for Atheism is a pretty sweet podcast for those hungry masses of ex-Witnesses that want to hear more podcasts from…well, ex-Witnesses! I discovered it through Twitter, which I finally joined about a week or two ago.

The podcasters grew up as Jehovah’s Witnesses and start out by telling us how they went from believers to atheists. Please encourage them to do more and let them know we’re listening.

Screw The Podcast: Here’s A PDF Of My Essay Instead

podcastAfter plugging away on my little essay for some time now, I had hoped to turn it into a podcast that readers could download and listen to. I had even hoped to enlist one or two other ex-Witnesses to help read a few of the parts. (I asked Moxie about that a while ago via email, though I never heard back from her.) But even with a USB connector, it seems I can’t get decent sound with my cardiod microphones anymore. There’s too much hiss, and using hiss reduction creates too many audible artifacts. So…

Waaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaah!

Crap. And I was hoping to do a few of these in a series. I’m feeling cheap these days, too, so I don’t know that I’d care to get another microphone just yet.

For now, it seems you must settle for a PDF of my essay, which can be found here. Spread it far and wide, my friends. Complain about it. Etc. It comes complete with illustrations and links, plus a few comments from Austin Cline’s atheism web site.

Some day, I’d actually like to create a book with contributions from others. I’d probably end up giving it away as a PDF. But still, I was hoping to turn it into something like books written by the Daily Show’s staff, only for ex-Witnesses. (I’m talking about those books with Jon Stewart from Comedy Central’s Daily Show.) Maybe it’ll still happen. Ya never know.