Friday, January 26, 2018

The Distorting Lens of Fundamentalism

A Fundamentalist world view is a lens which distorts perception,
not least one's perception of Biblical texts

I sometimes issue the warning that if you are a religiously inclined person practice your belief by all means, but if you lack experience and confidence, beware of fundamentalists of all flavours. I'm not keen on blowing my own trumpet but let me say that I have had personal contact with and moved among Christian evangelicals and fundamentalists for 45 years. I have also had 15 years of observing fundamentalists on the Internet. It would be very wrong of me to suggest that fundamentalism per se is a mental health issue anymore than forthright atheism is a mental health issue, but among fundamentalists I have seen a tendency for some "very strange" characters to bubble to the top and assume a dominating position. For just as cut-throat commercialism can attract borderline sociopaths so fundamentalism attracts characters inclined toward extreme persuasion. Most of these are simply egotists with an overbearing personality of strong self-belief and conviction. Some, however, alongside their bombastic fellow fundamentalists, have personality and/or mental health issues.

Well, I need only mention Jones Town as evidence. In Jones Town we had a leader of huge personal presence, charisma, dominance and self conviction who was able to persuade quite ordinary and otherwise sane folk to commit mass suicide and even to kill their children. Perhaps the reader can think of other super-egotists of strong personality and/or boarder-line lunatics who have secured a religious following. I've seen more than one fundamentalist who, quite frankly, I would classify as dangerous because of their ability to sway impressionable and gullible rank and file believers toward their proprietary convictions. In one case of my acquaintance a one-time sectioned schizophrenic, on being returned to society, had succeeded in securing a small following by convincing this following that the government was using mind control and mind reading machines with the capability of projecting voices into one's head - it seems that his ego would not accept that he was still showing schizophrenic symptoms. In another case a Christian fundamentalist of my acquaintance who promulgated an array of conspiracy theories, including cancer conspiracy theories, believed that the medical establishment were suppressing natural cures for cancer. This person, on being diagnosed with cancer, refused treatment and opted for an apricot pips "remedy" which of course failed and death followed quickly.  In another case a severe paranoia sufferer put out stories that he and his church were in the grip demons. At least one sane person gave some credence to these stories. (after all, as Christians we believe in demons don't we?). This anosognosic paranoiac would never accept that (s)he had a severe psychosis and despised the advice and help of the medical profession.

I can think of others but I certainly don't want to convey the idea that persuasive fundamentalist leaders are all mentally ill. There are, however, common traits which I would like to point out; namely, a strong personality, incorrigible self belief and a planet sized ego. The epistemic conceit of these leaders often hides under the assertion that their world view is not from themselves but has God's authority because they are simply following (as opposed to proactively interpreting) the Bible; that is, their teaching is God's teaching and not man's teaching. Therefore in their eyes their opinions have divine authority, unlike anyone else's opinions! The trouble with fundamentalist culture is that it tends to attract these kinds of personality; their self confidence registers as a form of leadership to those of weaker ego, often (but not always) of weaker intellect and who are looking for direction. Consequently,  these "leaders" can succeed in passing on their distorted view of reality to others.

As an example take Ken Ham and his one time business partner John Mackay. The story of John Mackay can be found here. To be fair Ken Ham, although clearly an egotist of strong personality and conviction, doesn't as far as I know have mental health issues, but he is quite capable of passing on a distorted picture of reality. Clear evidence of this is seen in his blog post dated 16th January and titled Is it good if your child lies to you?  Below I reproduce his post almost in its entirety (My emphases):

Is it good if your child lies to you? 

A recent article in The New York Times argues that if your child is lying to you, that’s a good thing! The article even quotes one psychologist who claims that if you discover your young child lying, you “should celebrate,” and if your child “is lagging behind, don’t worry: You can speed up the process” by using games to turn “truth-tellers into liars within weeks.”

So why would you want your child to lie to you? Well, apparently, it’s a sign of intelligence and of a high verbal IQ. It’s also a sign the child can see the world through other’s eyes. But you know what else lying is? A sin and something Scripture expressly forbids over and over again.
Lying lips are an abomination to the Lord. (Proverbs 12:22)
A false witness will not go unpunished,
and he who breathes out lies will perish. (Proverbs 19:9)
Do not lie to one another. (Colossians 3:9)
During yesterday’s episode of Answers News, our twice-weekly live news program streamed over Facebook Live, Dr. Georgia Purdom, Bodie Hodge, and Avery Foley of AiG discussed this news item, as well as several others. They shared that this is a clear example of what Isaiah describes—calling good evil and evil good (Isaiah 5:20). It’s an attempt to normalize a sinful behavior and to encourage parents to help their children sin.

And remember, once a culture abandons a foundation in an absolute authority, [that is Ken's opinions!] then there’s really no such thing as “truth” or “lying,” because all is relative!

I encourage you to watch the episode to hear them discuss this item, as well as many others.

MY COMMENT. We get the impression from the foregoing that the NYT article "argues that if your child is lying to you, that’s a good thing" and should be encouraged! Ham then goes on to use the Bible, as is his wont, to accuse  the author of the article of heinous sin Viz: "calling good evil and evil good" and  "It’s an attempt to normalize a sinful behavior and to encourage parents to help their children sin.".  He also indulges in his usual practice of threatening spiritual intimidation Viz: "A false witness will not go unpunished, and he who breathes out lies will perish". Yes, I agree lying to one's fellow human without conscience is an abomination, but is Ham really doing the article justice?  Let's compare Ken's view with extracts I have taken from the actual New York Times article (The article can be found here):

Professor Lewis has found that toddlers who lie about peeking at the toy have higher verbal I.Q.s than those who don’t, by as much as 10 points. (Children who don’t peek at the toy in the first place are actually the smartest of all, but they are a rarity.)

Other research has shown that the children who lie have better “executive functioning skills” (an array of faculties that enable us to control our impulses and remain focused on a task) as well as a heightened ability to see the world through other people’s eyes, a crucial indicator of cognitive development known as “theory of mind.” (Tellingly, children with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, which is characterized by weaker executive functioning, and those with spectrum disorders such as autism, which are characterized by deficits in theory of mind, have trouble with lying.) Young liars are even more socially adept and well adjusted, according to recent studies of preschoolers.

Training children in executive functioning and theory of mind using a variety of interactive games and role-playing exercises can turn truth-tellers into liars within weeks, Professor Lee has found.

MY COMMENT: This is the part of NYT article which sends Ken into a spiral of condemnation and righteous anger. But actually it's largely a piece of common sense: It stands to reason that good liars are probably pretty intelligent and socially adept operators and if your child is a good liar you can gain some consolation from the fact that it simply means (s)he is unlikely to have psychological disabilities like autism and ADHD. So there is a silver lining that objectively speaking we can't deny; Viz: We all know that lying is the (undesirable) domain of quite normal mentally healthy human beings and it's something we are all tempted by, therefore good lying is a sign of cognitive normality! As children learn their theory mind they will get better at lying; it's the downside of social acumen. As for the bit about turning truth tellers into liars within weeks, I read that as tongue-in-cheek especially in view of what follows in the rest of the article. For when taken in the context of the whole article it is manifestly clear to any reasonable person that the NYT article is certainly not advocating lying as a good thing to be encouraged, but the article is simply suggesting that it is a predictor of social adeptness (which is difficult to deny).

Let's now look at the following context taken for the NYT article. Ham makes no reference to this context for it appears not to have registered in his fundamentalist psyche (My emphases):

For parents, the findings present something of a paradox. We want our children to be clever enough to lie but morally disinclined to do so. And there are times when a child’s safety depends on getting at the truth, as in criminal cases involving maltreatment or abuse. How can we get our children to be honest?

In general, carrots work better than sticks. Harsh punishments like spanking do little to deter lying, research indicates, and if anything may be counterproductive. In one study, Professor Lee and the developmental psychologist Victoria Talwar compared the truth-telling behaviors of West African preschoolers from two schools, one that employed highly punitive measures such as corporal punishment to discipline students and another that favored more tempered methods like verbal reprimands and trips to the principal’s office. Students at the harsher school were not only more likely to lie but also far better at it.

Witnessing others being praised for honesty, meanwhile, and nonpunitive appeals for the truth — for example, “If you tell the truth, I will be really pleased with you” — promotes honest behavior, Professors Lee and Talwar have found.

So does a simple promise. Multiple studies have shown that children as old as 16 are less likely to lie about their misdeeds, and the misdeeds of others, after pledging to tell the truth, a result that has been replicated widely. The psychologist Angela Evans has also found that children are less likely to peek at the toy while the researcher is out of the room if they promise not to. Curiously, this works even with children who don’t know the meaning of the word “promise.” Merely securing a verbal agreement — “I will tell the truth” — does the trick. By the end of infancy, it would seem, children already grasp the significance of making a verbal commitment to another person.

As for those childhood morality tales, you might want to skip the more ominous ones. Professor Lee and others have found that reading stories to children about the perils of deceit, such as “The Boy Who Cried Wolf” and “Pinocchio,” fails to discourage them from lying. Reading them the story of George Washington and the cherry tree, on the other hand, in which truthfulness is met with approval, does reduce lying, albeit to a modest degree. The key to fostering honest behavior, Professor Lee and his colleagues argue, is positive messaging — emphasizing the benefits of honesty rather than the drawbacks of deception.

You can also simply pay kids to be honest. In research involving 5- and 6-year-olds, Professor Lee and his colleagues attached a financial incentive to telling the truth about a misdeed. Lying earned children $2, while confessing won them anywhere from nothing to $8. The research question was: How much does the truth cost? When honesty paid nothing, four out of five children lied. Curiously, that number barely budged when the payout was raised to $2.

But when honesty was compensated at 1.5 times the value of lying — $3 rather than $2 — the scales tipped in favor of the truth. Honesty can be bought, in other words, but at a premium. The absolute dollar amount is irrelevant, Professor Lee has found. What matters is the relative value — the honesty-to-dishonesty exchange rate, so to speak.

“Their decision to lie is very tactical,” Professor Lee said. “Children are thinking in terms of the ratio.” Smart kids, indeed.

MY COMMENT: So the NYT article makes it clear that although we desire children of sufficient mental acumen to have the potential to lie that's certainly not to say we want them to be habitual liars. How can we get our children to be honest? asks the article and then goes on to consider possible measures that might be taken to prevent lying. The article asks what might promote honest behavior and answers as follows: The key to fostering honest behavior, Professor Lee and his colleagues argue, is positive messaging — emphasizing the benefits of honesty rather than the drawbacks of deception.

This, of course, is not the story Ham is telling: He makes an entirely false accusation; namely, that the author of the NYT article is encouraging lying in children  This is a complete misinterpretation of the article. Now, it would be wrong to equate Ham's misinterpretation as itself a form of lying; no, rather it has more to do with the way he perceives social reality, a reality which, beyond his fundamentalist sect, he believes to be in a state of total depravity; particularly depraved would be Christians like myself who contradict him! This makes him fertile ground for his skewed and paranoid version of reality (This is also the reason why fundamentalists are prey to conspiracy theorism). By rights Ham should offer an apology for slandering the author of this article, but the fundamentalist world view and moral compass is likely to block such a courtesy. For Ham only registers the part of the article which fulfills his fundamentalist expectation that outside his religious sect the world is in a state of total depravity. I have observed the Jehovah's Witness involved in similar acts of character defamation and it stems from a similar paranoid logic; namely, that those beyond the Watchtower sect are persons guilty of malign intent unless and until they submit to every Jot & tittle of Watchtower teaching. Ham's organisation, AiG, also makes exacting demands on believers.


It is difficult to have cordial relationships with the some of the more extreme fundamentalists. Their concept that the world beyond the confines of their sect is one of total depravity means that outsiders, especially "heretic" Christian outsiders like myself, are regarded with the utmost suspicion. See for example Biologos failed attempt at trying to foster friendly relations with Ken Ham. I could have told Biologos that this attempt at forming bridges would fail! In the eyes of extreme fundamentalists an outsider's behavior may be subject to the most bizarre paranoid interpretations. They will also feel justified in doing what they can to apply spiritual duress where possible. See John MacKay (ibid) and Ken Ham's cursory and frivolous treatment of one of my VNP posts and also his treatment of "heretical" Christians. But it gets a lot worse when fundamentalists start attacking one another; it is then that the irresistible force meets the immovable object!.

Westboro Baptist Church shows just how far fundamentalism can go in its distorted  perception of the outside world.

ADDENDUM 18/04/17
I have remarked before how fundamentalists, like good inquisitors, have a natural tendency to put blasphemous words and thinking into the mouths and heads of Christians they disapprove of in order to secure chargers of heresy. I caught Jason Lisle at this trick here. In a Facebook post dated 10/04/18 we find Ken Ham up to the same trick. This is what he says (My emphasis).

Christians who believe the fossil record was laid down millions of years before man are really accusing God of saying cancer and diseases are "very good" (Genesis 1:31), as many diseases have been discovered in fossil bones supposedly millions of years old! No, diseases came after sin.

Compare Christian scientist Denis Alexander's comments here about the word "good" in Genesis 1. Also, notice that Ham has overlooked the role of the Serpent in Genesis which the fundamentalist ministry Christian Ministries International (CMI) does not.  Ken all too readily sees dark motives and bad consciences in the Christians he disapproves of. 

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

People in Glass Houses....

Bitter atheist vs atheist feuds are common. 

In this post evangelical atheist PZ Myers quotes Baptist Christian Miguel De La Torre (an evangelical himself it seems) who denounces the degeneration of Christianity at the hands of US Christians. De La Torre catalogs the sins of American Evangelicalism: Viz: Defending a child molester, prosperity gospel, belief that God unleashes natural disasters against those soft on homosexuality, shielding a sexual predator and racist, supporting the "Charlottesville goose steppers". These are just some of the charges De La Torre levels at American evangelicals. His article opens with this paragraph:

Christianity has died in the hands of Evangelicals. Evangelicalism ceased being a religious faith tradition following Jesus’ teachings concerning justice for the betterment of humanity when it made a Faustian bargain for the sake of political influence. The beauty of the gospel message — of love, of peace and of fraternity — has been murdered by the ambitions of Trumpish flimflammers who have sold their souls for expediency. No greater proof is needed of the death of Christianity than the rush to defend a child molester in order to maintain a majority in the U.S. Senate.**

But Myers responds with this:

I wish Christianity were dying. It’s not. It’s merely reverting to its roots. The Christianity he’s pining for — a beautiful faith of “love, of peace and of fraternity” — only existed briefly in the minds of a tiny fraction of wishful thinkers. It’s as if he thinks that benign Christianity is the eternal truth of the religion, and that this recent controlling, selfish, faith of indignant sanctimony is a recent innovation.

Just go back to the 19th century. Christianity was used to justify colonialism, slavery, the extermination of Indians, manifest destiny (oh, man, Christianity is so tangled up in the very idea of manifest destiny), the whole European expansion. Christianity sailed into China aboard gunboats selling opium. Christian missions were planted in Africa to justify invasion. In North America, Christian schools were tools to destroy Indian culture. Yet now we’re supposed to pretend the bigotry and sleaziness of Roy Moore* are an aberration doing great harm to the reputation of the faith? Only if you’re shortsighted and have no appreciation of history at all.

If you insist on more recent examples, though, remember that it was the good Christians of the South who lynched black men for imagined or trivial slights against the propriety of Christian white women, or that even today the Southern Baptist Convention opposes gay rights. These are not exceptions. It’s built right into the bones of Christianity.

I think it’s wonderful that some Christians have struggled against the grain of Christian history to try to build a better, more egalitarian religion. I would wish that they could succeed. But let’s be honest here: you’re trying to do so on a foundation of patriarchal authoritarianism, with 1700+ years of persecution and corruption as a tradition. If you really want to get rid of the hatred and sectarianism and obsolete sexual mores, the first thing you have to dump is the Bible, and then you’re not Christian anymore.

You also have to admit that Roy Moore isn’t anti-Christian at all — he’s following the Bible with more fidelity than someone who accepts modern ideals of tolerance and pacifism and the acceptance of love in all its forms. You just have to recognize that Moore’s religion is a bad thing.

Other atheists who are not exactly on PZ's list of all time greats are Richard Dawkins and the arguably libertarian and doctrinaire social Darwinists Ayn Rand and Matt Ridley. 

It looks as though one doesn't need to draw from Christian cultural roots in order to get a bad case of oppressive and corrupt authoritarianism: Lenin, Stalin, Hitler, Mao, Pol Pot and Kim Jong Un have presided over some of the worst cases of despotism and massacres of innocents ever***. Marx's atheistic and anti-free market philosophy has something to answer for there. Moreover, Neitzsche may have a bit of explaining to do as well. 

Lets face it PZ, we both of live in glass houses - actually, probably the same glass house and it's called "humanity"; or should that be "inhumanity"? Humanity is always arguing, always disagreeing and always falling out and unfortunately all too frequently resorting to some kind of duress, harassment and/or coercion in order to seal the case in their favour.  So, if we have to chuck stones at one another we had better make sure they are on target. 

We could rewrite PZ's blog post as follows

I wish atheism were dying. It’s not. It’s merely reverting to its roots. The atheism PZ is pining for — a beautiful faith of “love, of peace and of fraternity” — only exists in the minds of a tiny fraction of wishful thinkers. It’s as if he thinks that benign atheism is an eternal truth, and that this recent controlling, selfish, atheism of indignant belligerence is an aberration.

Just go back to the 20th century. Atheism was used to justify colonialism, slavery, the extermination of millions, manifest destiny (oh, man, Marxism is so tangled up in the very idea of manifest destiny), the whole Nazi, Soviet and Maoist expansion. Atheism sailed into China selling the opium of the masses - Marxist-Leninism. Marxist despots were planted in Africa to justify dictatorships. Yet now we’re supposed to pretend the bigotry and sleaziness of atheism is an aberration doing great harm to the reputation of the faith of atheism? Only if you’re shortsighted and have no appreciation of history at all.

If you insist on more recent examples, though, remember that it was the good atheists of the US who lynched feminists for imagined or trivial slights against the sexual rights of white male atheists, or that even today oppose gay rights. These are not exceptions. It’s built right into the bones of atheism.

I think it’s wonderful that some atheists have struggled against the grain of atheist history to try to build a better, more egalitarian world. I would wish that they could succeed. But let’s be honest here: you’re trying to do so on a foundation of patriarchal authoritarianism, with 100 years of persecution and corruption as a tradition, not to mention the spectre of social Darwinism. If you really want to get rid of the hatred and sectarianism and obsolete sexual mores, the first thing you have to dump is a nihilistic interpretation of Darwinism, but then you’re not atheist anymore.

You also have to admit that Hitler wasn't anti-atheist at all — he was following the logic of atheism with more fidelity than someone who accepts modern ideals of tolerance and pacifism and the acceptance of love in all its forms. You just have to recognize that atheism is a bad thing.

Well, to be frank that is not entirely fair. But then neither is it fair in its original form.

* More about Roy Moore can be found here:

** Compare "emerging churchman" Rob Bell's statement that evangelical culture is disgusting

*** And the French revolution was not exactly a bed of roses.

Thursday, November 16, 2017

Confirmation bias and Terry Virgo's bad memory

Terry Virgo: "God's new thing is going to be this big!"

Premier Christianity Magazine is a fairly broad church publication; it's articles, both in authorship and subject matter, span the spectrum from liberals and liberal evangelicals (if that isn't an oxymoron!) such as Robert Beckford, Steve Chalk and Rob Bell through Rick Warren to fundamentalist evangelicals like R T Kendall. I'm in favour of this editorial policy because it acknowledges the realities of Christian culture; to recycle a phrase I actually found in one of Christianity's reviews this month: "This isn't safe Christian publishing because we don't live in a safe Christian world". You can say that again! ...the Christian world certainly isn't safe for one's faith! For if one gets too sectarian, too partisan, too fundamentalist and too choosy with one's Christianity one ends up being obliged to label just about everyone else's version of Christianity (except one's own, of course) as heretical! Since there are any number of fundamentalist puritan sects out there declaring themselves to be the-whole-Truth-and-nothing-but-the-Truth-so-God-help-all-those-others-in-error,  a very natural conclusion in the face of this endless sectarian farce is that Christianity is simply bogus. So, either one rejects Christianity outright as the resort of the spiritually conceited or one goes down Premier Christianity's broad church road.

So, given Premier Christianity's editorial policy I was comfortable with the fact that the November edition carried an article by Charismatic "restorationist" and fundamentalist leaning Terry Virgo. His name has come up on this blog before - see here and here. The article was titled: "Whatever happened to the promised revival" and concerned Virgo's belief that the time is right for revival (or at least another promise of revival!). In my experience pronouncements of coming revival by some Christian pundit or other have been so frequent and to date have proved so false that its very easy to automatically dismiss such claims. In fact to be frank that was exactly my response to Virgo. However, given the culturally run down circumstances in which Western Christianity finds itself I can understand a little wishful thinking on Virgo's part and I wouldn't want to be too hard on him. What I would query, however,  are some of the more specific features of his piece. I itemize these below:

Item 1: Virgo says that true revival starts with repentance in the church and fresh encounters with God. He might be right, but what completely obscures this hypothesized pattern is that in my experience repentant revivalist meetings, some of them involving claimed epiphanies, ecstasies, inner light experiences,  trance-like behaviors and altered states of consciousness (Often labelled nowadays as "encounters"), are so frequent that if revival does break out there will inevitably be some revivalist group or other who are well placed to claim "It happened here first!". For example, Virgo tells us the story of the stern Welsh fundamentalist Martin Lloyd-Jones who interrupted his planned preaching program in 1959 to preach for a whole year on revival hoping that revival would break out soon. (At that time Jones did not indulge in what today we would call "encounter" behaviours). There was no revival, but if there had been it is quite possible that Jones' name would have been easily associated with it. As it happened the 1960s was accompanied by cultural shifts both inside and outside the church. The church of the 60s experienced the "encounter" Christianity of the charismatic movement and a resurgence of fundamentalist Christian literalism manifested in anti-science young earthist trends. But as Virgo rightly points out the charismatic renewal of the 1960s cannot classify as a classic revival. 

Item 2: Regarding the charismatic renewal and fundamentalist shifts  of the 60s Virgo says "For me the word 'revival' was replaced by the word 'restoration'". Of course it's futile contradicting Virgo in his use of labels - he can call it what he wants. I personally would have referred to the 1960s cultural shifts in the church as a "change of garb" or  a "change of style". Yes, often those changes were needed to meet the day but sometimes the new dress was tasteless, garish, affected, and inauthentic. Moreover, the "encounters" (referred too as "Baptisms in the Spirit" in those days, and later "the touch of God"**) often failed to live up to their promise of "Holy Power".

However, I'm intrigued by Virgo's use of the world "restoration" because when I first came across Virgo's name at the beginning of the 1980s he was part of a movement who used the word  "restoration" to describe a "recovery" of the ministries of apostles, prophets and authoritative (sometimes also authoritarian) church leadership. By the end of the 1970s the charismatic movement of the 60s had started to get stale and passe and a "where to next?" feeling set in. The new restorationist leadership was claiming that these rediscovered ministries were evidence of God's next big thing. In fact the slogan that did the rounds was that "God was doing a new thing". By the beginning of the 1980s this "new thing" itself was starting to fade and it wasn't until the mid 1990s that yet another "new thing", in the form of the trance-like "Toronto Blessing", started to emerge.

One of the leaders of the restorationist movement, Arthur Wallace, wrote a short "prophetic" piece to the effect that this new awakening, under the restored patriarchal leaders, would result in a flowing together of the different streams of Protestantism. This kind of unifying restoration, needless to say, never took place; it petered out into yet another splinter of Protestantism as its "big preach" leaders got down to the routine day to day business of running their churches. Some of those leaders were authoritarian in outlook, such as Bryn Jones. As one of the big name leaders Virgo was considered by his flock to be an apostle, but Virgo was a less authoritarian and wiser leader than many; this may be why he has lasted and has gained some respect. But even so he was still too authoritarian in doctrinal paradigm to be of much help in the Mark Driscoll affair.  (See here and here

Item 3: There have been a number of failed prophecies about revival in the UK and Virgo, unwittingly, probably alludes to one such failed prophecy. He talks of a lady friend who had a vision just weeks before Princess Diana's death of the streets of the UK being filled with flowers. I wonder if this is the same "prophecy" that arrived at my church just after Diana had died. We were told that the source of the prophecy came with good backing (Perhaps with Virgo's backing?) and that clearly the prophecy about the streets being filled with flowers had been fulfilled. However, Virgo doesn't tell us that the prophecy did the rounds in two parts and the second part, presumably from the same source, claimed that as quickly as the flowers would be removed from the streets revival would come to the UK. Of course, that second prophecy wasn't fulfilled! If I'm right then it looks as though Virgo has forgotten about this or has suppressed it. My guess is that the lady concerned had what she perceived as precognitive visions and/or dreams - a phenomenon that is not uncommon in the population as a whole. But if an attempt is made to use these precognitive visions predictively let me warn people that they are unreliable and can betray the prognosticator just as they did Virgo's lady friend.


In my experience prophecies of revival are two-a-penny out there. Without digging into the archives I can recall several in my time alone. Like revivalist meetings, prophecies of revival are probably happening all the time and if and when revival breaks out someone somewhere will feel they are able to claim that they correctly prophesied it!

Confirmation bias is rampant in some Christian subcultures and the welter of attempted prognostications makes it very likely that someone somewhere will eventually come up trumps - or at least think they've come up trumps!* In this post I published some false prophecies taken from my own memories. Viz:

1. The Mt Carmel prophecies affirming 1975 as a “significant” year. (From the Christian "Buzz" magazine)
2. That revival would sweep the southern part of England, as did the hurricane of 1987. (Grantly Watkins at a Norwich "May Day" event)
3. That this or that person would be healed from terminal cancer and never did (Too numerous to mention specifically!)
4. That there would be Christian revival shortly after Princess Di’s death. (Terry Virgo's friend)
5. The Spring Harvest prophecy that Westminster Chapel would be the center of a great revival in 1996. (Gerald Coates)
6. That the millennium bug would be the precursor of Global collapse in the year 2000. (Barry Smith)
7. That Southern England would experience a devastating Earthquake. (A Dereham Road Baptist Church member quoting information she received from a "prophetic ministry". She quoted this during a meeting where I was in attendance)
8. That “big things” would be happening in the UK shortly after the July 2005 BennyHinn rally in Norwich.

Since I published the list above there has been a prophecy at the "Bay of Holy Spirit Revival"  which claimed that my home city of Norwich would experience a revival. We've also fairly recently (2014/15) had the "Blood Moon" prophecies which, on the basis of a relatively rare series lunar eclipses, made predictions of eschatological interest. The sell-by-date of these prophecies, however, is rapidly running out. It's also worth comparing all this with the  prognisticating activities of the Jehovah's Witnesses' Watchtower organisation. 

The above are anecdotal in that they just come from my memory. If I did a little digging and research I might be able to unearth some documentation to support these anecdotes. However, I must  say that I've got better things to do with my life than run down cheap plastic Woolsworth's quality prophecies, "prophecies" here today and forgotten tomorrow.

* You can do this experiment safely at home. Take two dice and throw them both one after the other. Use the first die thrown as a "prognosticator" of the second die thrown. If the first die comes up with a "6" then regard this as a prediction that the second die will land a "6". Marvel when the predicting die actually, and eventually, get's it right!

Wow! One of those die has just predicted the other!

**  As the Toronto blessing got underway in the mid 1990s it became apparent that even those who claimed they had been "Baptised in the Spirit" could come back for more and experience a "new touch of God" in the form of the ecstatic mental states of the new blessing. Thus, the emphasis shifted from an elite class of Christians initiated once for all into the things of the Spirit to ongoing "touches of God" and encounters. The promise of these trance-like experiences drew seekers and filled the chairs (and often the carpets!) of those revivalist rallies.

Wednesday, July 05, 2017

Fundamentalist celebrity death match.

Christian conspiracy theorist Brannon Howse
The ex-Pensacola patriarch, Micheal L Brown

I have often remarked on the viciousness of fundamentalist infighting (See here for example). This is really no surprise given that fundamentalists on both sides of a fault line will likely believe that their opinions come with the authority of God behind them. They will see one another as an affront to the Almighty Himself and therefore deserving of the strongest possible censure. I recently came across one of these arguments.which I relate here. 

It's a long story of how it came about, but I receive the newsletter of a certain Dr Michael  L Brown who I have mentioned in a blog post here. Brown is a fundamentalist although not as extreme as some: If, as I usually say, fundamentalism is 1 part doctrine to 2 parts bad attitude then roughly speaking Brown has only got 1 part of that bad attitude. This may have something to do with him being a charismatic fundamentalist who was a leader in the "Pensacola Outpouring". The "Pensacola Outpouring", like the "Toronto Blessing", involved bizarre trance and hypnotic like behaviors manifested during large meetings. These public displays of what may be altered states of consciousness were not unlike the dancing mania outbreaks of the middle ages. According to Wiki the Pensacola revival:

... was precedented [with] a prophecy by Dr. David Yonggi Cho, pastor of Yoido Full Gospel Church. God told Dr. Cho that He was "going to send revival to the seaside city of Pensacola, and it will spread like a fire until all of America has been consumed by it."

Obviously we have here yet another false prophecy! The doubts arising from being associated with such curious behavior and abortive prophecies may have had a humbling effect on people like Brown thus taking the edge of their epistemic arrogance. In passing let me note that the traditional reformation identifying fundamentalists take an uncompromising stand against the likes of David Yonggi Cho. This is clear from the 2013 issue (No 1) of Sword and Trowel, a magazine produced by the "Metropolitan Tabernacle", a highly sectarian fundamentalist church in London who favour "Biblical separation from error" (And we know what that means: "Truth & error" as defined by themselves!) In an article entitled "Abandoning separation from Biblical error" the magazine urged evangelicals to separate themselves from heretics of whom David Yonggi Cho was clearly one! These same reformation identifying Christians also take strong exception to the charismatic antics of R T Kendall who like Brown has also been very much involved with trance-like behaviors among Christians -  see here. However, I'm digressing into other fundamentalist infighting. I really need to get back to the subject in hand: Brannon vs Brown.

Brown's news letter links to an article of his (I have copied and stored this article here) where he complains about the attack on his friend James White who chose to publicly dialogue with the conservative (fundamentalist?) Muslim, Dr. Yasir Qadhi.  I think we can take Brown's word for it that any Christian friend of his is very unlikely to compromise in a dialogue with a Muslim. Moreover,  it seems that James White is an authority on Islam and has no illusions about Islam's history of coercion and violence. The attack on White was carried out by the Christian conspiracy theorist Brannon Howse who condemned the meeting in the strongest possible terms.  Picking up the story as told by Brown:

Ironically, the man who launched the ugliest of these attacks against White, Brannon Howse, is a self-professed non-expert of Islam. Yet he claims that White “has proven he is not only not an expert on Islam but has a very hard time teaching the Bible in context.” He further alleges that the dialogue was a “travesty that was permeated with the spirit of antichrist,” and even writes, “The time has come to identify the men, churches, and organizations who defend James White in what 2 John 7-11 describes as an evil deed manifesting the antichrist spirit.” Indeed, those who stand with White are nothing more than the “Christian mafia.”
Why such hysterical rhetoric? Why such over-the-top attacks on a brother in the Lord? Why the histrionics?
Unfortunately, the “useful idiot” smear is repeated in the title of a far less hysterical article by James Simpson on the American Thinker: “When Evangelicals Become Useful Idiots for Islamism.” And Simpson defends this kind of rhetoric, writing, “Howse believes that White is simply playing into the Islamist's hands, and calls him a ‘dupe’ and ‘useful idiot.’
“These terms may sound harsh, but are very apropos in this circumstance. ‘Useful idiot’ is a term coined by Soviet leaders to describe Western liberals who enthusiastically promoted the communist line without knowing it. Today the ‘Interfaith Dialog’ seeks to do the same for Islam.”
Simpson and Howse could hardly have been more uninformed, thereby misinforming their readers.

Simpson, another fundamentalist, looks as if he has the usual fundamentalist collective paranoia. In fact Brown quotes him as follows:

The Left, in concert with its allies among atheists, Islamists, and the homosexual lobby, is engaged in a multi-front war to destroy what remains of our nation's Christian bedrock

Islam is hardly allied with the homosexual lobby or atheists; they are all players in a multi-cornered row which includes numerous Christian fundamentalist splinter groups each of whom, as is their wont, believe everyone has especially got it in for them and them alone. Brown, however, shows less intense symptoms of paranoia. He says of Yasir Qadhi: 

Is Qadhi involved in a stealth plot to overthrow America? Not to my knowledge. Is he connected to Muslim organizations in America that I do not trust? Absolutely. But do I take him at his word that he now opposes violent jihad, to the point that ISIS, whom he calls “crazy,” is trying to kill him? Yes I do.

But in spite of that we can take it that Brown, as do White, Simpson, Howes and Qadhi, has the fundamentalist mindset which means that all who radically disagree with him have at best an inferior faith and at worst will be thrown into hell. As White is quoted as saying to Qadhi 

White basically said to the imam, “We both believe the other is going to hell. Now what?”

Fundamentalists do not accept that epistemic issues allow interlocutors who disagree with them to do so with a clear conscience and that this disagreement does not warrant them being thrown into an eternal hell. So, why would I want to side even with a more moderate fundamentalist like Brown when it is likely he, along with his fellow fundamentalists, would believe that my expression of faith is at best inferior and at worst deserving of an eternity in hell?

In this context of no-holds barred contention it is no surprise that Howes would not dialogue with the antichrist conniving Brown:

For the record, I invited Brannon Howse to join me on the air opposite Dr. White to share his concerns but he declined. I also offered this article first to American Thinker, giving them the opportunity to present a different perspective, but they declined to post it, saying it was too long  -- although it was shorter than the Simpson article I critiqued here – and that it was too theological. When I offered to shorten it and make it more political and less theological if they were likely to post it, they did not reply

Why such over the top attacks on a brother in the lord? asks Brown. That's because the logic of fundamentalism favours an epistemic arrogance (and conspiracy theorism) which leads them to believe they are the very mouth piece of the Almighty. Fundamentalists are so unself-aware that they fail to see themselves reflected in other (opposing) fundamentalists. We've seen plenty of this kind of behaviour from Ken Ham as he's attacked in quite extreme terms Christians who disagree with him Moreover, he presides over an organisation that even attacks Christians who believe the Earth to be 10,000 years old rather than his shorter 6000 year figure.  Interestingly, like Howes Ham has also snubbed friendly overtures from other Christians. 

 I think Brown is on a hiding to nowhere when he asks:

It’s time, then, for the hysterical rhetoric to stop and for us to work together in sounding the alarm against radical Islam while reaching out with love and truth to the Muslim community. Shall we bury the hatchet here and move forward?

How can they bury the hatchet when they believe without a shadow of doubt that their hatchet is God's very word and will?  Brown himself is certainly not going to bury the hatchet with those Christians he disagrees with over his fundamentalism; in fact he may even be unwilling to concede that they are brothers in Christ.

We see above the usual inchoate squabbling bunch of Christian partisans, all of whom will claim the enlightenment of the Holy Spirit when in fact their discordant racket means they have failed to earn their right to be listened to. When one surveys this sort of wide spread behavior among fundamentalists one can understand any one thinking "Who needs Christianity and the Christian God?"

Thursday, June 22, 2017

The Pot Calls the Kettle Black

Holy-bad-mouther-in-chief, Ken Ham,  betrayed no sense of irony when he wrote the following in a blog post dated 21st June.

This newest issue of Answers Magazine also features an article that comes right from my heart, “Coping with Criticism,” which helps Christians know how to respond to criticism from non-Christians and Christians alike. I think this article is very timely in a day when Christianity is increasingly under attack and when those who uphold the authority of God’s Word are maligned and assailed, even by those within the church.

Wednesday, June 07, 2017

The Raging Christian Right

British Muslims

British Muslims (?)

Islam can be two faced: But then so can Christianity: See below

I'm a Facebook user, but being of a rather reclusive nature I try to keep my friendship links at a minimum. I use Facebook as a window on subjects that interest me: Family, Old Norwich, military matters, science, animals and church etc. What surprises me, however, is that even given my rather limited friendship network, Facebook has proved to be a window on a wide political spectrum: I have friends and friends of friends that politically range from Corbynite left-wingers, through libertarians and new-age flat earthers, to the raging fundamentalist Christian right-wingers. And this, it seems, is largely a result of me being connected to a broad evangelical church with its diversity of opinion and its the tendency to act as a crossroads for the kind of hustle and bustle one finds in a busy street corner pub. I've always been inclined to wait for data to come my way rather than proactively seeking it: So, taken together Facebook and the church present such a wide window on the world that I can do just that: Sit back and watch!

In my science blog I've already showcased some new age conspiracy theorists and flat earthers which connected to my Facebook account, but in this post I want to showcase some Christian right-wingers which have flitted across my line of sight.

It all started with one of my Facebook friends, whom I shall call Tina Breadcrust. She is a right-wing UK Christian, ardent Brexitor, Nigel Farage fan and thinks of the EU as a Babylonish empire. That sounds worse than it actually is: She means well, is very devout and is a nice person. But to my mind she's taken the usual fundamentalist escape route from humanity's natural state of epistemic insecurity and found security in the contrived certainty of self-proclaimed prophets and authoritarian Christian ministries. But the disparate nature of Christian culture has ensured that there is no such thing as the definitive Christian ministry, much to the dismay of the insecure who want certainty on a plate: In actual fact, as I think I've said before, this hankering after certainty means that when we find epistemic arrogance on both sides of an inter-fundamentalist fault-line the consequent arguments are some of the most bitter of contentions as fundamentalists engage in no-holds barred character assassinations and accuse one another of heinous sin  (See also here).

But the good natured Tina Breadcrust is not in it for the fights - she's in it because she thinks she's found definitive truth in the Christian culture she has identified with. But recently someone picked a fight with Tina and there was little I could do to help her; I don't get involved in fundamentalist infighting. As a Nigel Farage supporter and fundamentalist, Tina is probably also a Trump supporter. As a consequence of this, I guess, Tina has gained a network of right-wing US Christian Facebook friends. But recently Tina got more than she bargained for. It all started when naturally enough Tina posted a picture of London's Tower Bridge asking for prayers in the aftermath of the recent terrorist attack on London Bridge. One of her right wing "Friends" whom I shall refer to as "Patsie Slapmangle" responded with this:

Patsie Slapmangle: Nope. Deal with the bad choices you've made and your cowardice and spinelessness. Face the reality of what you have done. Stupid "polite" cowards. 

Tina Breadcrust: Patsie Slapmangle, if you can't respond appropriately then I'd rather you didn't make any comment.

My Comment: How ever did Tina manage to pick up this client I wonder? The irony is that Tina would likely be at one with Slapmangle politically and religiously and moreover may well vote Trump if she were an American. But to Slapmamgle Tina is almost to be thought of as an enemy and to have a part in the collective responsibility for the UK's woes. Tina went on to post a couple of other news reports on the terrible events in London and this is how Slapmangle responded:

Patsie Slapmangle:zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz

Patsie Slapmangle:zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz

My comment: Lovely person! Slapmangle is the sort of person who, if you were seriously injured in a car accident that was your fault, would pass you by shouting "It's your own fault! Serves you right!". And if the accident wasn't your fault she'd do the same thing!

Tina supports a one-state solution for the Israel/Palestinian question and probably thinks anything less than an Israel dominated by one state is anti-God. It is likely that Slapmangle has a similar opinion. But on Tina posting an article in favour of Zionism Slapmangle responded with this:

Patsie Slapmangle: Do you honestly think your liberal government cares about Israel given the fact that they don't even care about the U.K.????? 

My Comment: We've had a right-wing conservative Government in the UK since 2010, but its seems that anything left of Adolf Hitler looks to be "liberal" to Slapmangle! Notice the default in Slapmangle's thinking: Anyone who thinks differently to her must, in her opinion, have major character defects: In this instance she is accusing the British government of not even caring about its own people! This is very reminiscent of fundamentalists like Ken Ham,, Jason Lisle and a conspiracy theorist like Alex Jones whose conspiracy paranoia ensures that he indulges in the most fanciful of accusations. In their drive toward certainty Fundamentalists and conspiracy theorists will not accept that human beings differ in their opinions in part as a result of a flaky epistemology. Therefore they can't agree to differ. Consequently in their books to disagree with them is to be willful and Machiavellian and deserving of the utmost opprobrium and punishment. Recall Ken Ham's flood video!

To a further news report posting by Tina on the London attack Slapmangle continues with her vindictive nastiness:

Patsie Slapmangle: zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz

Tina then posted a request from American Christian right-winger Franklin Graham for prayer for London. The result was this short comment Thread:

Patsie Slapmangle Franklin Graham, save it for those who deserve your prayers and concern.

Tina Breadcrust: This is very unChristian of you Patsie Slapmangle. 

Patsie Slapmangle UnChristian? No. Rational! You of the U.K. have done NOTHING, absolutely NOTHING to demand that your leaders make massive changes there. All you all do is purchase flowers and place them on the sites of the attacks. Wow, that's really helpful!!!! So impressive. You all are hopeless. So polite, so spineless, so lacking in normal outrage at what is facing you all.

Ronetta Olga-Morris: I agree, Tina Breadcrust. A pretty sad attitude to have towards family and friends that have lost loved ones. But as we can tell, some don't care about what pain they cause others, either by deed or WORD!!! Glad she's not on my friends list! I don't need people with that sort of hateful attitude.

Patsie Slapmangle: I could care less what you think about what I've said Ronetta. I am one of the most loving, caring people you could meet. BUT when there is a country which doesn't react with total OUTRAGE and refuse to do things like DEMAND that their leaders either be ousted, or do every single thing possible to safeguard against future terrorist attacks, I simply give up!!!!! Manchester was horrid!!!! HORRID. But even THAT hardly raised the pulse of the people of the U.K. They are simply hopeless.

My Comment. Ronetta is a Ted Cruz supporter. This raises the question of just how representative of the American right Slapmangle is. I guess that the only thing which would satisfy Slapmangle is if the UK voted in a British Trump figure, a figure who has the character profile of a dictator. Slapmangle is showing signs that she doesn't understand democracy. She talks of doing every thing possible against terrorist attacks; I suppose that means somehow screwing down on the Muslim population. I wonder if she has in mind a full scale expulsion of Muslims? England did that to the Jews right back in 1290. 

Tina posted on the police response to the London attack and Slapmangle responded:

Patsie Slapmangle: Gosh, how many armed police do you have there? Three? Four???

My Comment: The police dispatched the terrorists within 8 minutes of the 999 call. I think that speaks for itself (That's not to say further response enhancements can't be made). In the thread of comments following Slapmangle's comment above Tina conferred with another FB friend about blocking Slapmangle who is "a very nasty person and there is no reasoning with her" (On the advice of her FB friend Tina eventually succeeded in blocking Slapmangle). 


Now for the bad news. It is possible that Slapmangle is a rare right-wing extremist, but I am afraid it doesn't look that way. Slapmangle is just voicing, if in a rather nasty abrasive way, a view that is current among the Trump supporting Christian right-wing. In further posts from Tina Breadcrust we find the following comments:

Patsie Slapmangle: What did you all THINK was going to happen when you allowed liberals to rule your country? Did you think that the droves of muslims were coming in to ask you over for picnics????

Suzie Socket Patsie, I think most citizens there were feeling like some of us in America as to what was happening for the past 8 years before Trump became president, so Christians started to pray. PRAYER is the answer. Their leadership allowed such not the citizens.

Tina Breadcrust Thank you Suzie Socket. As you quite rightly say, prayer is key. Not just for the UK but for the global terrorist threat. Have just been listening to the world's leaders standing with us, united in their message that we in the West need to come together to tackle this threat. Prayers are being answered in this regard. Amen!

Carrie Rong UK has elected 7-8 muslim mayors, the police are not armed, why do the good UK ppl let this happen? I pray for all to fight this evil any way possible. We have to do the same here never give muslims a inch.. Never elect them into any position of authority.

Gloria Melbracket It's UK's fault & now they have 23,000 Muslims in their mist & many are members of ISIS...

My comment: Poor old Tina! She might be part of the Christian fundamentalist right-wing, but she is still a target for people like Slapmangle, a person who clearly has the sympathy of other American Christian right-wingers if the above is anything to go by! I have found that with fundamentalists in general they give you only two options: Either you concede in entirety to their views or you're forced to be in a state of war with them. Well, I know what option I'll chose!

So we have above three other American FB friends of Tina who are likely to be undiscriminating in their estimate of Muslims, lumping them altogether as undesirables and therefore target them
 en bloc with discriminating policies against them. This approach, needless to say, will fuel the fires of alienation, passion and polarisation and very probably terrorism as well. Their solution is that Tina should "pray in a president Trump". Trump is a man who looks as though he is unwilling to accept the fact that democracy is a controlled row with a free press, a press that just can't be dismissed as "Fake News" when it doesn't suit him. In any case it is likely that Tina did pray for a Trump figure i.e. Nigel Farage. (But I'll hand it to Farage - he's got a much better political head on him than Trump!) Potential dictators are unwilling to accept the messy logic of democracy and its incessant seething parliament of argument. Oliver Cromwell had the idea of democracy in his head, but his cloud-cuckoo-land religious idealism wouldn't allow him to accept the untidy compromised reality of democracy and so he defaulted to dictatorship and called himself "Lord protector"; that, I submit, is the likely outcome of the political logic of Slapmangle and her friends.  


One of the fundamentalists above completely underestimates the UK Muslim population: See Wiki - it's more like 2.8 million! Secondly, I suspect they have no idea as to the origins of this huge number; that origin is not due to a liberal conspiracy to allow into the UK as many Muslims as possible! British Islam has its origins in the immigration from the British empire, particularly in its latter days in the 1950s and early 1960s. The British government saw the advantages of allowing empire immigrants to fill in the gaps in the employment market, particularly the lower paid jobs. But they also saw a big problem looming:

The justification for the control which is included in this Bill, which I shall describe in more detail in a few moments, is that a sizeable part of the entire population of the earth is at present legally entitled to come and stay in this already densely populated country. It amounts altogether to one-quarter of the population of the globe and at present there are no factors visible which might lead us to expect a reversal or even a modification of the immigration trend.

— Rab Butler MP (Conservative), 16 November 1961

Given that the UK has a very large Muslim population, a legacy of empire, then to declare Muslims en bloc as persona-non-grata as do the Christian right-wingers is exactly the way to encourage alienation and terrorism. Another tendency I've seen from the intolerant Christian right is that they are determined to force Muslims
into a terrorist mold by telling them that's what the Koran expects them to be! Now, it's true there are injunctions in the Koran suggesting that Muslims take up arms against the infidel, but why oh why tell the average peaceable and good natured Muslim that this is how a true Koran obeying Muslim should be behaving? I once caught a UK Christian idiot - and "idiot" is the only name he deserves - making precisely this kind of provocative argument. I referenced this idiocy in this blog here. Let me quote from the linked to post:

Finally Premier Christianity's  news items makes what I consider to be a really serious sociological faux pas.  They give space to Jeremiah J Johnston author of Jesus and the JihadisConfronting the Rage of ISIS:

Speaking on Premier Christian Radio's Unbelievable? programme Mr. Johnson said Westerners don't realise how theologically driven Islamic State is. The Church has been quiet for years, not wanting to offend Muslims in general,

Anyone who has observed Christian fundamentalism ought to be quite capable of spotting the patterns and putting 2 and 2 together and realising just how theologically driven Islamic State is! But the following statement from Johnson which is bound to offend (moderate) Muslims (which it seems he is prepared to do) is as bad as it gets:

If you want to see a case study of exactly how Mohammed desired Islam to be implemented, look at the Islamic state...Mohammed would not only join the Islamic state, he would lead it.

Nice one! What's this guy want us to do? Enrage and alienate otherwise moderate Muslims? We need to bring Muslim moderates on board, not tell them that their exemplar wants them behave like Daesh! In fact According to the Christianity article:

Inayat Bunglawala, founder and chair of Muslims4UK such statements sound 'utterly outrageous' for 'normal sane Muslims'

Too right! Johnson's statement is a bit like someone saying that Jesus would join the Christian Young Earthers, geocentrists, flat earthers or the Westboro baptist church! I suspect that Johnson has at least subliminal fundamentalist tendencies himself and so he just can't abide with the fuzzy world of interpretative ambiguity which provides space for review and reinterpretation - for fundies the latter always smacks of at best relativistic compromise and at worse blaspheming heresy. Johnson, like Daesh, is very comfortable with clear cut fault lines of division and difference, thus helping to reinforce and stoke up tensions between Muslims and Christians. Idiot!


The core Christian message is not about your "ism" - its about YOU and YOUR human nature; it's YOU with all your failings and sins that's under the spot-light and not your "ism", although undoubtedly aspects of your "ism" will be coupled to your failings. There are nice Muslims and nasty Muslims (and all the states in between). There are nice atheists and nasty atheists (and all the states in between). There are nice Jews and nasty Jews (and all the states in between). And as we've seen above there are nice Christians and nasty Christians (and all the states in between). Patsie Slapmangle looks to be one of the latter. Poor old Tina; she's got a real Facebook immigration problem of her own; in her linking to the class of Christian right-wingers and fundies she's let them in and discovered that simply because she shares the same "ism" by no means guarantees that she is linked to a set of nice people! 

Peace isn't going to come by rattling a whole sub-culture with threatening talk of taking draconian measures against them en bloc. Rather we should make cordial and constructive connections with all people of good will, Christian, Jewish, Muslim, Hindu or atheist.

He has shown you, O mortal, what is good
 And what does the Lord require of you?

To act justly and to love mercy
 and to walk humbly with your God. (Micah 6:8)

The good news of reconciliation & salvation via humility, repentance, forgiveness and atonement is available to all. But to fundamentalists a confession of Christian salvation is at best regarded as inferior and at worst worthless unless you strain out the gnats insisted upon by fundamentalist epistemic arrogance. Ken Ham, for example, makes it clear that even the gospel Christian is in a precarious spiritual position unless he acknowledges the divine authority of Ham's opinions.