Tag Archives: American Atheists

40 harmful effects of Christianity – #17

“What do I mean then? That a thing sacrificed to idols is anything, or that an idol is anything? No, but I say that the things which the Gentiles sacrifice, they sacrifice to demons and not to God; and I do not want you to become sharers in demons. You cannot drink the cup of the Lord and the cup of demons; you cannot partake of the table of the Lord and the table of demons. Or do we provoke the Lord to jealousy? We are not stronger than He, are we?” 1 Corinthians 10:19-22

This post is the seventeenth in a series that addresses a list of “40 harmful effects of Christianity” that originated on the American Atheists Facebook page and has since made its way around the internet. In this post, I examine the following “harmful effect” from the list:

Harmful Effect #17: The demonization of other religions, e.g. Christianity demonizing Pagans (“They’re devil-worshipers!”)

This “harmful effect” of Christianity effectively laments demonizing demons.  It is peculiar, bemusing even, that the atheist authors of this list could not find a better term than “demonization” (since they don’t believe in demons) to describe the Christian tendency to condemn pagan religions.  According to Paul’s epistle to the Corinthians, the idolatry of pagan religions either is or is akin to the worship demons.  Since the atheist authors of this list neither believe in God nor the devil, the inclusion of this “harmful effect” on their list is perplexing.  Would the authors of this list consider it harmful if people who believed in Santa Claus demonized people who believed in the Tooth Fairy?  According to the logic set before the reader of this list, they just might.

Furthermore, the authors of this list do not at all address at the harmful effects of pagan worship itself, which include child sacrifice, emperor worship, and temple prostitution.  Even on a secular worldview such actions can be (and often are) condemned as harmful.  Harmful Effect #17 effectively states, “It is harmful for Christians to condemn child sacrifice, worship of the head of state, and religious harlotry.”   What an absurd claim.  This ridiculous claim is demonstrative of the insight provided by Paul in Romans Chapter 1, in which the Apostle asserts that deniers of God are dark-hearted men who speculate in futility.

God alone, and not any created being, is worthy of worship.  Worship of any entity other than God, as revealed in the person of the Lord Jesus Christ and proclaimed by the Holy Spirit, is a sinful affront to the Almighty.  To God alone belongs the glory.  Christians rightly decry the false worship of other religions as demonic.

In my next post in this series, I’ll address the following:

Harmful Effect #18: Children spending the period of their lives when the brain is most receptive to learning new information reading, rereading, and even memorizing religious texts.

*Please note that the preceding is my personal opinion. It is not necessarily the opinion of any entity by which I am employed, any church at which I am a member, any church which I attend, or the educational institution at which I am enrolled. Any copyrighted material displayed or referenced is done under the doctrine of fair use.

40 harmful effects of Christianity – #15

“You shall not murder.” Exodus 20:13

This post is the fifteenth in a series that addresses a list of “40 harmful effects of Christianity” that originated on the American Atheists Facebook page and has since made its way around the internet. In this post, I examine the following “harmful effect” from the list:

Harmful Effect #15: Women having septic abortions—or being forced to have unwanted children they resent—because religious organizations have gotten laws passed making abortion illegal or inaccessible.

I’m certainly not going to argue that this “harmful effect”, like others on this list, is completely inaccurate.  To a degree, it is accurate.  Religious groups do support pro-life laws.  However, such religious groups are not necessarily Christian.  Muslims and Mormons, for example, are anti-abortion religions.  This list purports to be a listing of harmful effects of “Christianity” and yet the very wording of Harmful Effect #15 refers to “religious organizations”.

Not only is Harmful Effect #15 overly broad where Christianity is concerned, it’s implicitly condemnatory of democracy.  Notice Harmful Effect #15 does not state that theocratic governments have created anti-abortion laws but that “religious organizations have gotten laws passed”.  This could be and has been done in the setting of a representative democracy through the exercise of free speech and the democratic process.  One is left to wonder if the American Atheists aren’t, therefore, pointing out what they perceive to be a harmful effect of representative democracy and free speech.  Given the history officially atheistic nations (such as the USSR, Khmer Rouge Cambodia, Communist North Korea, and Communist China), it’s clear that many atheists do not support systems of government where laws of any kind are made democratically and where speech is made freely.

This “harmful effect” seems to be predicated, at least in part, on the insidious argument made famous by Bill Clinton that abortion should be “safe, legal, and rare.”  It surely is that case that, where abortion is legal, women who want to murder their children are less incentivized to purposefully initiate septic abortions.  Such women can murder their babies in ways that preserve their own personal safety, while still completely disregarding the safety of the child they choose to murder.  As for the argument that some women “resent” their unwanted children, it may be true.  However, some women may resent their abortions and regret them for the rest of their lives.  Which type of resentment, on an atheistic worldview, is worse? It’s unknown.  Of course, the feelings of mothers speak nothing to the feelings of unwanted children themselves.  Their own desire to live is evidenced by their continued attempts at living.  There are many such children walking around, living their lives.  The phrase “unwanted children who wish they were aborted” is conspicuously absent from Harmful Effect #15.

If you are a woman reading this who is considering an abortion, please don’t do it.  Your unborn child is a human being made in the image of God.  It is a sin to murder him or her.  If you are a woman reading this who has had an abortion, you have committed the act of murder.  It is very possible that the weight of this sin against God and your own child is bearing down on your conscious.  Consider that if you repent of this sin and place your faith in Jesus Christ, you will be forgiven.   In accepting your abortion as permissible, you will only find wrath and judgment.  If you turn from your sin, you will find the eternal love and forgiveness in the Lord Jesus Christ.  Won’t you consider turning to Him now?

For the Scripture says, ‘Whoever believes in Him will not be disappointed.’ For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek; for the same Lord is Lord of all, abounding in riches for all who call on Him; for ‘Whoever will call on the name of the Lord will be saved.’” Romans 10:11-13

In my next post in this series, I’ll address the following:

Harmful Effect #16: Censorship (often destructive) of speech, art, books, music, films, poetry, songs and, if possible, thought.

*Please note that the preceding is my personal opinion. It is not necessarily the opinion of any entity by which I am employed, any church at which I am a member, any church which I attend, or the educational institution at which I am enrolled. Any copyrighted material displayed or referenced is done under the doctrine of fair use.

40 harmful effects of Christianity – #14

“..do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived; neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor homosexuals, nor thieves, nor the covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers, will inherit the kingdom of God.” 1 Corinthians 6:8-10

This post is theoiourteenth in a series that addresses a list of “40 harmful effects of Christianity” that originated on the American Atheists Facebook page and has since made its way around the internet. In this post, I examine the following “harmful effect” from the list:

Harmful Effect #14: “Abstinence-only” sex education, resulting in five times the amount sexually transmitted diseases and teenage pregnancies – often leading to ill-fated “emergency” marriages.

The author(s) of this list didn’t do its readers the kindness of citing a source for this statistical claim. Thus, I cannot quickly determine whether or not it is veridical.  It’s just as well, since, from a biblical worldview, such statistics just aren’t relevant. What is relevant is what the bible teaches about sexual morality.  Its teaching is clear:

It’s not morally permissible to have sex with someone unless one is married to that person. 

I can remember a particular occasion when I was a teenager upon which an individual came to speak, about sex education, to the youth of the church which my family attended.  During the course of his talk, this individual claimed that condoms were not always effective.  He spoke about the size of sperm in relation to the integrity of the latex membrane of condoms in support of this claim.  I was perplexed and a little outraged.  I can remember thinking, “What does it matter if condoms work well or not?  The Bible says not to have sex outside of marriage.  Why isn’t this man just teaching everyone what the Bible says?”  This speaker was trading on statistics and a utilitarian ethic.  Such an ethic hasn’t much place inside the church of Jesus Christ.  This man was doing the youth of the church and their parents a disservice by putting stock in statistics instead of the sufficiency of God.

“All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness; so that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work.” 2 Timothy 3:16-17

It should be noted that this speaker was teaching the youth about the usage of condoms.  It was clear from his presentation (not that many in his audience didn’t already know) that condoms are useful in preventing sexually transmitted disease and pregnancy.  However, unlike abstinence, condoms are not 100% effective in preventing sexually transmitted disease and pregnancy.  Any responsible non-Christian sex education program teaches this as well.  Considering this, let’s analyze what “harmful effect #14” really says more closely:

“Abstinence-only” sex education programs which teach that condoms prevent sexually transmitted disease and pregnancy but not with 100% effectiveness result in five times the amount sexually transmitted diseases and teenage pregnancies than do non- “Abstinence-only” sex education programs which teach that condoms prevent sexually transmitted disease and pregnancy but not with 100% effectiveness.

What an absurd claim.   Further scrutiny should only make the claim appear more ridiculous.

We’ve not explored the implied assertion that formal “abstinence-only” sex education programs are biblically-prescribed endeavors.  We’ve not explored the assertion any marriages which result from teenage pregnancies are either “ill-fated” or prescribed by the bible.  Having proven the claim absurd, it’s not necessary to chase these rabbits.

In closing, I would like to challenge non-Christians to consider what society would look like if everyone faithfully followed a Christian sexual ethic.  This would be a society without STD epidemics, unwanted pregnancies, or the emotional turmoil caused by adultery and divorce.  Such a society may not be achievable before the return of Christ, but it would nonetheless be prudent to strive for one.  We are not, as Richard Dawkins claims, “machines for propagating DNA” (by the way, if Dr. Dawkins is correct, trying to prevent pregnancy seems counterintuitive and futile) but rather moral beings made in the image of God for the purpose of glorifying Him.

(Jesus) will wipe away every tear from their eyes; and there will no longer be any death; there will no longer be any mourning, or crying, or pain; the first things have passed away.” Revelation 21:4

In my next post in this series, I’ll address the following:

Harmful Effect #15: Women having septic abortions—or being forced to have unwanted children they resent—because religious organizations have gotten laws passed making abortion illegal or inaccessible.

*Please note that the preceding is my personal opinion. It is not necessarily the opinion of any entity by which I am employed, any church at which I am a member, any church which I attend, or the educational institution at which I am enrolled. Any copyrighted material displayed or referenced is done under the doctrine of fair use.

40 harmful effects of Christianity – #13

I wrote you in my letter not to associate with immoral people; I did not at all mean with the immoral people of this world, or with the covetous and swindlers, or with idolaters, for then you would have to go out of the world.” 1 Corinthians 5:9-10

This post is the thirteenth in a series that addresses a list of “40 harmful effects of Christianity” that originated on the American Atheists Facebook page and has since made its way around the internet. In this post, I examine the following “harmful effect” from the list:

Harmful Effect #13: Friendships and romances severed or never started over religious differences.

I have friends who are not Christians. I would never think to exclude someone from my friendships only because he was not a Christian. Nowhere in scripture it such action prescribed. Where platonic friendships are concerned, this “harmful effect” is an objection to a commandment that the Bible doesn’t make.

Where romantic relationships are concerned, the bible very clearly forbids Christian believers to enter into marriages with nonbelievers. However, the authors of this list fail to make the case that this biblical proscription in harmful. They claim there is harm in the non-existence of relationships that never start. What’s the harm of something that never happened? The answer to this question doesn’t seem like anything anyone, except perhaps God, can know. Consider the following counter-factual:

If John had entered into a relationship with Suzy, they both would have had a happier life. However, John did not enter into a relationship with Suzy because he was a Christian and she was not.

It’s one thing to state a counter-factual such as this. It’s another thing to know that it’s true. Such a conclusion simply can’t be made given the limits of human knowledge. Atheists often demand proof of God’s existence. I’d like to see atheists try and prove such a counter-factual. When I analyze it, such a counter-factual seems unreasonable. People who disagree on something as fundamental as religious worldview are bound to clash over other important issues. It doesn’t seem wise that such persons should enter into a romantic entanglement. Romantic relationships that don’t work out often cause harm to the participants. Break-ups can be traumatic and depressing. Perhaps then, Christianity, prevents harmful romantic entanglements.

There is a counter-factual that can be proven true quite easily. Consider the following:

If there were no religions, religion would not be a hindrance to the formation of romantic relationships.

It’s made clear once again, this list item is not a polemic against Christianity, but against religion in general. Like other list items, it fails to demonstrate a harmful effect specific to Christianity. Like other items on this list, it doesn’t stand up to scrutiny. In fact, this item is so nebulous, it is difficult refute.

In my next post in this series, I’ll address the following:

Harmful Effect #14: “Abstinence-only” sex education, resulting in five times the amount sexually transmitted diseases and teenage pregnancies – often leading to ill-fated “emergency” marriages.

*Please note that the preceding is my personal opinion. It is not necessarily the opinion of any entity by which I am employed, any church at which I am a member, any church which I attend, or the educational institution at which I am enrolled. Any copyrighted material displayed or referenced is done under the doctrine of fair use.

40 harmful effects of Christianity – #12

He who loves father or mother more than Me is not worthy of Me; and he who loves son or daughter more than Me is not worthy of Me.” Jesus as recorded Matthew 10:37


This post is the twelfth in a series that addresses a list of “40 harmful effects of Christianity” that originated on the American Atheists Facebook page and has since made its way around the internet. In this post, I examine the following “harmful effect” from the list:

Harmful Effect #12: People disowning family members for leaving their religion

This particular “harmful effect” leaves me quite perplexed. If Christianity is exceedingly harmful, as the author of this list claims, wouldn’t it be to someone’s benefit to be disowned by a Christian family for leaving the (harmful) religion? It would seem that the disowned person would be better off to be out of such a toxic environment. So, even if this “harmful effect” were actually an actual observation of Christianity, it wouldn’t make sense to call it harmful. However, this “harmful” effect is not actually an observation of Christianity.

I was raised in a Christian family and became a Christian myself over a quarter-century ago. In all my life, I have never known anyone who has been disowned by his family from leaving the Christian religion. There is no biblical mandate to disown family members for leaving the Christian religion. Such a mandate doesn’t make sense. How could the person be won to faith if he were disowned?

Perhaps the author if this list is confused about the meaning of 1 Corinthians 5:1-2 in which Paul states:

It is actually reported that there is immorality among you, and immorality of such a kind as does not exist even among the Gentiles, that someone has his father’s wife. You have become arrogant and have not mourned instead, so that the one who had done this deed would be removed from your midst.”

In this particular situation, Paul is ordering what could reasonably be described as a shunning. However, the individual is not being shunned for leaving the faith but rather engaging in unrepentant sin while still claiming to remain in the faith. Christians should not tolerate any fellow Christian who engages in open sin and refuses calls to repentance from the body of Christ. I doubt, given the apparent biblical ignorance of the list’s author, that he even has the level of biblical awareness required to even misapply 1 Corinthians 5:1-2. The author of the list is perhaps lumping Christianity in with those religions (such as Islam) that do call for disowning (or worse) of those who leave the faith. It is not atypical of atheists to lump all religions together for condemnation.

Christians, when considering family rifts caused by religion, should consider the words of Jesus in Matthew 10:37 and Luke 12:53. One’s commitment to Christ can cause disowning, the disowning of a Christian by his family. It happened in New Testament times and it still today happens. Christians are called to value Christ above all else and everyone else; than includes the members of their own families.

Jesus said, ‘Truly I say to you, there is no one who has left house or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or farms, for My sake and for the gospel’s sake, but that he will receive a hundred times as much now in the present age, houses and brothers and sisters and mothers and children and farms, along with persecutions; and in he age to come, eternal life.’” Mark 10:29-30

In my next post in this series, I’ll address the following:

Harmful Effect #13: Friendships and romances severed or never started over religious differences.

*Please note that the preceding is my personal opinion. It is not necessarily the opinion of any entity by which I am employed, any church at which I am a member, any church which I attend, or the educational institution at which I am enrolled. Any copyrighted material displayed or referenced is done under the doctrine of fair use.

40 harmful effects of Christianity – #11

In the synagogue there was a man possessed by the spirit of an unclean demon, and he cried out with a loud voice, Let us alone! What business do we have with each other, Jesus of Nazareth? Have You come to destroy us? I know who You are—the Holy One of God!’ But Jesus rebuked him, saying,’Be quiet and come out of him!” And when the demon had thrown him down in the midst of the people, he came out of him without doing him any harm.” Luke 4:33-35

This post is the eleventh in a series that addresses a list of “40 harmful effects of Christianity” that originated on the American Atheists Facebook page and has since made its way around the internet. In this post, I examine the following “harmful effect” from the list:

Harmful Effect #11: Psychological and physiological conditions blamed on demons, preventing believers from seeking medical care for themselves and their children.

This particular item is really just to a combination of Harmful Effect #8 and and Harmful Effect #9. This tells me that the author of this list had a difficult time contriving 40 harmful effects. Since I’ve already addressed #8 and #9, I will not explore #11 very thoroughly here. I will point out that during biblical times, the modern notion of psychological illness simply did not exist. For the vast majority of church history, there were no psychiatrists to visit for mental health treatment. Such practitioners simply did not exist.

During less advanced times, demons were not the only theorized causes for psychological and physiological illness. In fact, in time past, it was thought that erratic mental behavior was caused by the moon. Hence, until this day, mentally ill people are referred to as “lunatics”. There are any number of superstitions such as this that cause any number of people to make irrational judgments. Christianity is not a religion of superstition but one that is grounded in rational thought. The superstitious belief that mental illness and physiological maladies are caused by demons is not a Christian one. Harmful Effect #11, like #8 and #9, falls short as a critique of the Christian worldview.

One thing that bears mentioning is that the author of this list, being an atheist, presumes that demon possession is not real. It is real and if you ever encounter it, all the medical treatment in the world will not be able to break the spiritual bonds of demon possession.

In my next post in this series, I’ll address the following:

Harmful Effect #12: People disowning family members for leaving their religion.

*Please note that the preceding is my personal opinion. It is not necessarily the opinion of any entity by which I am employed, any church at which I am a member, any church which I attend, or the educational institution at which I am enrolled. Any copyrighted material displayed or referenced is done under the doctrine of fair use.

40 harmful effects of Christianity – #10

For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision means anything, but faith working through love. Galatians 5:6

This post is the tenth in a series that addresses a list of “40 harmful effects of Christianity” that originated on the American Atheists Facebook page and has since made its way around the internet. In this post, I examine the following “harmful effect” from the list:

Harmful Effect #10: Genital mutilation of babies endorsed by religious texts.

At the outset, it is important to distinguish between male circumcision and female genital mutilation.

Male Circumcision was used as a sign of the covenant between God and the Jews in Old Testament times, though the practice is not currently unique to the Jewish culture. Circumcision is addressed in the Bible numerous times, however, where Christianity is concerned, circumcision is not a religious requirement. To the contrary, male circumcision, as an act of religious obligation, is specifically proscribed in the New Testament.

Female genital mutilation, which is also known as “female circumcision” is not addressed in the Bible. The practice is widely considered a barbaric practice and is mostly confined to the African continent. Christians have opposed the practice of female genital mutilation on that continent for almost 100 years.

Given that male circumcision is proscribed as a religious act in the New Testament and female genital mutilation is not addressed in scripture at all, it is a blatant falsehood to assert that “genital mutilation of babies endorsed by religious texts” is a “harmful effect” of Christianity. The author of this list is clearly ignorant of Christianity or, worse, is purposely trying to misrepresent the religion.

In either case, the author is perpetrating an untruth and clearly exposes himself as an unreliable, undiscerning critic.

As a point of doctrine, I am compelled to note the New Testament is clear that no act of man can secure salvation. Salvation is the free gift of God. It is received through faith alone by grace alone in Christ alone. Christianity is not a religion that values outward signs, such as circumcision, but rather an inward change, as it were, a circumcised heart.

Moreover the Lord your God will circumcise your heart and the heart of your descendants, to love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul, so that you may live.” Deuteronomy 30:6

In my next post in this series, I’ll address the following:

Harmful Effect #11. Psychological and physiological conditions blamed on demons, preventing believers from seeking medical care for themselves and their children.

*Please note that the preceding is my personal opinion. It is not necessarily the opinion of any entity by which I am employed, any church at which I am a member, any church which I attend, or the educational institution at which I am enrolled. Any copyrighted material displayed or referenced is done under the doctrine of fair use.

40 harmful effects of Christianity – #9

And the evil spirit answered and said to them, ‘I recognize Jesus, and I know about Paul, but who are you?’” Acts 19:15

This post is the ninth in a series that addresses a list of “40 harmful effects of Christianity” that originated on the American Atheists Facebook page and has since made its way around the internet. In this post, I examine the following “harmful effect” from the list:

Harmful Effect #9: People choked, starved, poisoned, or beaten to death during exorcisms.

There is not one example in the Bible of anyone being choked, starved, poisoned, or beaten to death during an exorcism. (unless are counted the seven sons of Sceva who were beaten by a demon-possessed man during a failed attempt at exorcism) There is no biblical prescription to choke, starve, poison, or beat anyone to death during the course of an exorcism. In fact, there is no prescription for exorcism procedures at all, except perhaps Jesus’ observation that some evil spirits can only be removed through prayer.

I understand that the Roman Catholic Church does have official exorcism procedures. I do not know if they include the practices of choking, starving, poisoning, and beating (I doubt they do). I do know that their procedures are not found in scripture since, as I noted above, no such procedures are prescribed in scripture. In any case, I do not consider the Roman Catholic Church to be an organization that operates within the parameters of biblical doctrines. It’s apostate, pagan in nature, and superstitious.

Lastly, the author of this list of “harmful effects of Christianity” list did not bother to provide actual examples of violent exorcisms that resulted in death. Even if we grant that such exorcisms have occurred, I think it’s fair to note that anyone who is presumed to be demon-possessed is likely either severely mentally ill or actually demon-possessed. It’s hardly unreasonably to suspect that such a person would engage in violence himself or come to a violent end.

Such an end isn’t a “harmful effect of Christianity” but rather an unfortunate reality of life. Christians should keep in mind that Jesus came so that we might have more abundant life. We should also keep in mind that, when demons crossed Jesus’ path in scripture, they always seemed to know exactly who he was. Jesus is the Son of the Most High God and He did leave his church with the power to face the demons influencing this world.

In my next post in this series, I’ll address the following:

Harmful Effect #10. Genital mutilation of babies endorsed by religious texts.

*Please note that the preceding is my personal opinion. It is not necessarily the opinion of any entity by which I am employed, any church at which I am a member, any church which I attend, or the educational institution at which I am enrolled. Any copyrighted material displayed or referenced is done under the doctrine of fair use.

**I do not consider the Roman Catholic Church to be a Christian one. It is an apostate entity with many false doctrines. It is certainly culturally Christian, however, and does affirm primary Christian doctrines.

40 harmful effects of Christianity – #8

“Is anyone among you sick? Then he must call for the elders of the church and they are to pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord; and the prayer offered in faith will restore the one who is sick, and the Lord will raise him up, and if he has committed sins, they will be forgiven him.” James 5:14-15

This post is the eighth in a series that addresses a list of “40 harmful effects of Christianity” that originated on the American Atheists Facebook page and has since made its way around the internet. In this post, I examine the following “harmful effect” from the list:

Harmful Effect #8: People dying – and letting their children die – because their religion forbids accepting medical help.

The Christian theologian and reformer Martin Luther once said, “Take your medicine and put your trust in God.” I see no reason to contradict this advice.  This is because I have a biblical worldview. I agree with contemporary theologian Albert R. Mohler who has stated, “The Bible never commands any refusal of legitimate medical treatment.”

So from where does item #8 on this list come?  It hardly comes from any form of Christianity that could be considered normative and it certainly doesn’t come from the Bible.  In his epistle to the church, the Apostle James advocates anointing the sick with oil.  Taken in a first century context, this scripture is prescribing how to go about medical treatment.  At that time, oils were used for medicinal purposes.  Note that the sick were to be anointed with oil by the elders of the church. Rather than forbidding medical assistance, the Bible teaches that leaders should help administer such assistance in the prayerful hope that God will restore the sick person.

In modern times, hospital visitation is a part and parcel to the life of a church elder (or pastor, to use the more familiar term).  Elders generally no longer anoint the sick with oil for medical purposes because such activity is not common to modern medicine.  Rather, medical care is handled by trained and licensed doctors and nurses, while elders (and oftentimes hospital chaplains) apply spiritual care.

In no way are Christians called to eschew medical help for themselves or their loved ones.  To the contrary, they are compelled to provide it.  Countless hospitals are (at least culturally) Christian causes and have words such as “Baptist”, “Presbyterian” and “Methodist” in their names.  I was born in a Catholic** hospital in Chattanooga and treated for stroke-like systems in another Catholic hospital in Atlanta. Monks and nuns have been providing care for the sick for ages.  To say that “People dying – and letting their children die – because their religion forbids accepting medical help” is a harmful effect of Christianity is patently absurd.

It should be kept in mind that, no matter the medical treatment received or denied, everyone eventually dies.  Jesus promises Christians eternal life.  This is the blessed hope of Christianity and I am thankful for it.

“For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life.” John 3:16

In my next post in this series, I’ll address the following:

Harmful Effect #9: People choked, starved, poisoned, or beaten to death during exorcisms.

*Please note that the preceding is my personal opinion. It is not necessarily the opinion of any entity by which I am employed, any church at which I am a member, any church which I attend, or the educational institution at which I am enrolled. Any copyrighted material displayed or referenced is done under the doctrine of fair use.  

**I do not consider the Roman Catholic Church to be a Christian one.  It is an apostate entity with many false doctrines.  It is certainly culturally Christian and does, however, affirm primary Christian doctrines.

40 harmful effects of Christianity – #7

“But when Paul had gathered a bundle of sticks and laid them on the fire, a viper came out because of the heat and fastened itself on his hand…he shook the creature off into the fire and suffered no harm.” Acts 28:3-5

This post is the seventh in a series that addresses a list of “40 harmful effects of Christianity” that originated on the American Atheists Facebook page and has since made its way around the internet. In this post, I examine the following “harmful effect” from the list:

Harmful Effect #7: People dying because they believe their faith makes them immune to snake venom, or other lethal aspects of reality.

This particular criticism appears to be levied against the very small percentage of churches that practice snake handling as part of their worship services. Snake Handling is barely a footnote in the history of Christianity.  Yet, it made this (contrived) list from the American Atheists. The practice of snake handling did not appear until 1910, approximately 1,877 years after the resurrection of Christ.  For many years, the church operated without any notion of snake handling.  The practice began in the rural town of Birchwood, TN and today is almost entirely limited to the most rural areas of Appalachia.  Snake handlers, attempting to provide biblical justification for their activity, base their practice on the words of Jesus at the end of the gospel of Mark.

In the earliest manuscripts of the book available, the gospel of Mark ends quite abruptly.  After Jesus’ crucifixion, two of His women followers enter His tomb in order to anoint His body with spices in accordance with the burial customs of the day.  However, Jesus’ body is not there.  An angelic figure informs the women that Jesus has risen and instructs them to go and tell his disciples. The women flee the tomb in astonishment and say nothing to anyone out of fear. The story ends thusly, Mark 16:8 being the last verse.

This ending apparently didn’t sit well with somebody in antiquity.  Later manuscripts add (after verse 16:8) post-resurrection appearances of Jesus that seem congruent with such appearances in Matthew, John, Luke and Acts.  The material after 16:8 is known as “The Long Ending of Mark.”  In the long ending, Jesus makes the following remarks:

“These signs will accompany those who have believed: in My name they will cast out demons, they will speak with new tongues; they will pick up serpents, and if they drink any deadly poison, it will not hurt them; they will lay hands on the sick, and they will recover.” (Mark 16:17-18)

Even if one grants that the long ending of Mark is authentic, there is no hermeneutical reason to believe that handling snakes and drinking poison are prescribed church ordinances.  In other words, in Mark’s long ending, Jesus is speaking descriptively, not prescriptively.  Jesus is not ordering practices, such as taking communion and undergoing baptism.  He is merely prophesying acts that His disciples will perform.  A survey of the book of Acts shows that Jesus’ disciples did cast out demons and miraculously heal.  However, these miracles were not performed as an official practice of church order.

Snake Handlers are a tiny group which twists a dubitable text in order to justify its aberrant practices. The American Atheists apparently fail to take notice of this situation and, quite uncharitably (or ignorantly), include the activities of snake handlers are a harmful effect of Christianity.  Snake handing as a part of a worship service is hardly Christian. 

In my next post in this series, I’ll address the following:

Harmful Effect #8: People dying – and letting their children die – because their religion forbids accepting medical help.

*Please note that the preceding is my personal opinion. It is not necessarily the opinion of any entity by which I am employed, any church at which I am a member, any church which I attend, or the educational institution at which I am enrolled. Any copyrighted material displayed or referenced is done under the doctrine of fair use.