Tag Archives: atheism

David G. McAfee Interviews A Member of Westboro Baptist Church

David G. McAfee Interviews A Member of Westboro Baptist Church

Religious people claim that it’s just the fundamentalists of each religion that cause problems. But there’s got to be something wrong with the religion itself if those who strictly adhere to its most fundamental principles are violent bigots and sexists.

Westboro Baptist Church, a Kansas-based fringe religious group headed by Pastor Fred Waldron Phelps Sr., has become synonymous with extreme Christian fundamentalism especially as it relates to the group’s attitude toward homosexuals. WBC purports to represent primitive Baptist and Calvinist principles, and its members travel the United States picketing funerals of soldiers, well-known members of the LGBTQ community, and anything else likely to gain media attention. They have held more than 50,000 pickets in more than 915 cities, according to their website.[1]

WBC often preaches against the “God loves us all!” mentality that some cultural or liberal Christians have adopted, instead choosing to highlight the many times in the Bible in which God expressed his “divine hate.” Here are just a few of the church’s frequently cited biblical passages[2] about the hatred of God:

*Leviticus 20:23 – “And ye shall not walk in the manners of the nation, which I cast out before you: for they committed all these things, and therefore I abhorred them.”

*Deuteronomy 32:19 – “And when the LORD saw it, he abhorred them, because of the provoking of his sons, and of his daughters.”

*Psalm 5:5 – “The foolish shall not stand in thy sight: thou hatest all workers of iniquity.”

*Romans 9:13 – “As it is written, Jacob have I loved, but Esau have I hated.”

On Jan. 12, 2014, members of WBC made stops throughout Los Angeles picketing various “Whorehouses,” “Dog Kennels,” and “Child Rapists” also known as liberal protestant and Catholic churches before making it to the Golden Globe Awards in Beverly Hills, where they protested those who will “try and preach Paul Walker into heaven.” During the WBC’s exhibition, I met up with lifetime member Isaac Hockenbarger to ask a few questions about cults, faith, and science.

David G. McAfee: Would you consider the Westboro Baptist Church a cult in any way?

Isaac Hockenbarger: I don’t care what you want to call us. If we’re a cult, well then our charismatic empathic leader is Christ.

McAfee: So, you don’t have a problem with the technical term “cult”?

Hockenbarger: I don’t care what you call us because, quite frankly, what Christ said was “If you love me, the world is going to hate you.” How awful a thing is it to call someone a cult? It’s pretty bad. The world hates us.

McAfee: I for one don’t hate Westboro Baptist or any other church. And there’s a factual definition that determines whether or not it’s a cult, but I argue that any major religion is just a larger version of that.

Hockenbarger: The brainwash of God loves everyone is sad. It’s spelled out so many times in so many different ways across the Bible.

McAfee: Do you think that your sect of Christianity is more biblically literate than the majority of other denominations?

Hockenbarger: I don’t think you can call yourself a Christian without being biblically literate, and it’s an everyday thing. It’s constant learning. The most fundamental law of logic is that if there is but a single counter-example to your theory, you are wrong. As it is written, “Jacob have I loved, but Esau have I hated.” We can’t just change definitions of words because we don’t like them. Hated means hated, but we aren’t talking about human hate. We are talking about a fixed determination to punish those who don’t follow his commandments.

McAfee: I agree that the Judeo-Christian god is portrayed in most of the Bible as hating homosexuals, or whatever your version of hating is, but you’re working under the presupposition that Christianity is true and that all that exists. You’re really just working with ancient texts like everybody else.

Hockenbarger: We could work under the presupposition of atheism being true, and what then?

McAfee: Since there’s no evidence to support the existence of any deities or supernatural entities of any kind, not believing should be the default position.

Hockenbarger: We can all think that we’re the smartest people in the world and ‘Stephen Hawking it up’ and what would it gain us?

McAfee: Intelligence, intellect, and education. By pursuing scientific advancement we can understand how the world how it actually it is.

Hockenbarger: If you’re right, so what. If I’m right, you’re screwed. That’s the simplistic version.

McAfee: That’s called Pascal’s Wager, and it’s long been debunked. But the typical wager there would be that you lost nothing. You guys have kind of lost your whole lives, following this really extreme sect.

Hockenbarger: What would you have gained?

McAfee: Living an evidence-based life is great. You don’t just listen to whatever your family tells you, or your culture or anything. You just look at facts.

Hockenbarger: You keep acting like you don’t want to offend me by saying cult, but you tell me I listen to my family. No, I don’t.

McAfee: Just like any Christian, you were born into a family and you listen to them. It’s still indoctrination if it’s a small cult or a big religion. You teach your children something and you don’t allow anything else other than that.

Hockenbarger: That’s a lie. We live absolutely normal lives.

McAfee: Are you encouraged to question your actual faith and interact with people who have left the church?

Hockenbarger: Absolutely, people leave all the time. Most of my family doesn’t belong to the church anymore.

McAfee: And you have nothing against them for that?

Hockenbarger: No, absolutely not. But I’m not buddy-buddy with them.

McAfee: Why not? They’re still your family. Have you been taught not to be “buddy-buddy” with them?

Hockenbarger: Because it’s simple. They went their way, I’m going my way. It’s in the Scriptures.

McAfee: But what if you look at the Scripture from another religion? Why is your religion’s Scripture the “right” one?

Hockenbarger: It’s what you choose to believe, just like you can choose to believe in the Big Bang, or whatever.

Click for video.

Click for video.

Buddhists Impose 2-Child Limit On Muslims In Burma

Buddhists Impose 2-Child Limit On Muslims In Burma
By David G. McAfee

Burma’s Buddhist-controlled Rakhine state became one of the first governments to impose a two-child limit for a religious group on Saturday when local authorities announced the rule, which applies to Muslim Rohingya families, but not to Buddhists living in the area.

The announcement comes less than a month after the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom released a report that found that the Burmese government had killed more than 1,000 Rohingya Muslims in 2012 and had continued to forcibly promote Buddhism and discriminate against other minority religious groups.  Media reports say the unusual order makes Myanmar perhaps the only country in the world to impose such a restriction on a religious group, and is likely to fuel further criticism that Muslims are being discriminated against in the Buddhist-majority country.

The Burmese officials said Saturday that the new policy would be applied to two Rakhine townships, Buthidaung and Maundaw, which border Bangladesh and have the highest Muslim population – about 95 percent.

Unlike China’s one-child policy, this new initiative is based exclusively on religion and exceptions apply to minority ethnic groups.

Rakhine state spokesman Win Myaing said the new program was meant to stem rapid population growth in the Muslim community, which a government-appointed commission identified as one of the causes of the sectarian violence, according to the Huffington Post.

“The population growth of Rohingya Muslims is 10 times higher than that of the Rakhine (Buddhists),” Win Myaing said. “Overpopulation is one of the causes of tension.”

The predominantly Buddhist Burma does not include the Rohingya as one of its 135 recognized ethnicities. Instead it considers them to be illegal immigrants from Bangladesh and denies them citizenship.

In Burma, Theraveda Buddhism is the dominant religious tradition and Muslims and Christians reportedly make up 8%-10% of the population. In contrast to common representations of Buddhists as inherently peaceful, minority religious groups are subject to pervasive surveillance, imprisonment, discrimination, societal violence, destruction or desecration of property and censorship of religious materials by Buddhists, according to the USCIRF report.

“The military reportedly continues to limit religious worship and forcibly promote Buddhism as a means of pacification in these areas and targets Christians for forced labor, rape, intimidation, and destruction of religious sites,” the April 30 report says. “The government also continues to censor religious publications and prohibits the import of Bibles and Qu’rans in indigenous languages.”

The report found that the Burmese government shows preference for Buddhism through financial support and donations to monasteries, pagodas, monastic schools and missionary activities. Promotions to senior levels of the military and civil service are also reserved for Buddhists.

According to the report, Rohingya Muslims generally experience the worst treatment in Burma.

“Rohingya Muslims, who are denied Burmese citizenship, experience widespread discrimination, strict controls over their religious activities and ceremonies and societal violence that is often incited by Buddhist monks and carried out with impunity by mobs and local militias, including police in Rakhine (Arakhan) State,” the report says. “In the past year, over 1,000 Rohingya have been killed, their villages and religious structures destroyed, and women raped during attacks.”

The USCIRF, an independent federal advisory body created by the International Religious Freedom Act of 1998 to monitor religious freedom abuses abroad, outlined the state of religious freedom in 29 countries in its 2013 report.

At a camp for displaced Rohingya people in Sittwe, northwestern Rakhine State

At a camp for displaced Rohingya people in Sittwe, northwestern Rakhine State

Dozens ‘Turn To Christ’ In Public School Prayer Rally

Dozens ‘Turn To Christ’ In Public School Prayer Rally
By David G. McAfee


The Freedom From Religion Foundation on Thursday said it wants four Georgia public school teachers involved in an impromptu “prayer rally” to be permanently removed from duty, and approximately 50 student participants disciplined.

The prayer rally began in a coach’s office at Lumpkin County High School at about 7:30 AM on May 1, according to media reports. One student claimed that “between 12 and 15 fellow students turned their lives over to Christ during the prayer.” Continue reading

Science Makes Good On Religion’s Lofty Promises

Science Makes Good On Religion’s Lofty Promises

By David G. McAfee

For thousands of years, religions have been making promises they can’t fulfill. From the claim that prayer can heal the sick to the promise we can live forever after death, religions offer the world to those filled with wishful thoughts, but provide little more than the occasional inspirational word. Scientific discoveries, however, have begun to fill that void and make good on many of religion’s seemingly impossible offers.

An afterlife is something that most religions advertise, in one way or another. Because we have knowledge of our own impending death, humans are susceptible to this type of belief.  But believing doesn’t make it so… and to date there’s not a shred of evidence to support any idea of life after death. But, industrial designer Gerard Moline has come up with a way to combine that romantic notion with reality. Continue reading

Report: Atheist Discrimination Continues Worldwide

Report: Atheist Discrimination Continues Worldwide

By David G. McAfee

The U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom on Tuesday released its 2013 Annual Report, which highlights the status of religious freedom globally and identifies those governments that are the most egregious violators and includes recognition of severe atheist discrimination in a number of countries.

The USCIRF, an independent federal advisory body created by the International Religious Freedom Act of 1998 to monitor religious freedom abuses abroad, recommended that the U.S. government re-designate Burma, China, Eritrea, Iran, North Korea, Saudi Arabia, Sudan and Uzbekistan as “countries of particular concern.” USCIRF also said Egypt, Iraq, Nigeria, Pakistan Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Vietnam also meet the CPC threshold and should be so designated. Continue reading

Press Release: Secular Author Offers Free Book to Interested Parties

For Immediate Release:

Secular Author Offers Free Book to Interested Parties

LOS ANGELES— David G. McAfee, author of Disproving Christianity and other Secular Writings (http://www.amazon.com/Disproving-Christianity-Secular-Writings-revised/dp/0956427685/ref=sr_1_3?ie=UTF8&qid=1338253896&sr=8-3), will be giving free PDFs of his book to interested parties who e-mail him requesting it, McAfee announced on his website (www.DavidGMcAfee.com) and Facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/DavidMcAfee7) on Friday. Disproving Christianity was published by Dangerous Little Books (www.dangerouslittlebooks.com) in January 2011, and is a critique of biblical literalism.

“If someone is interested in my work – and they can’t afford the book or they’d like to ‘try before they buy,’ I’d be happy to send a PDF,” McAfee said. “I just ask that – if they enjoy the read – they leave an Amazon review.”

McAfee said he will continue to send out the free PDFs to anyone with genuine interest until the launch of his next book, which is set for mid-August. The new book will be titled “Mom, Dad, I’m an Atheist: The Guide to Coming out as a Non-Believer.”

“I know that people will buy the book if they can,” McAfee explained. “But, for those who can’t, or those who have a vague interest in secularism or religious studies, this is perfect. They can check out the whole book and then decide if they want to support my work by purchasing a copy.”

Requests for a free PDF can be sent to David@DavidGMcAfee.com.

About the author: David G. McAfee is a journalist, a religious studies graduate, and author of Disproving Christianity and other Secular Writings, a critique of biblical literalism and a refutation of Christianity’s key principles. He is a columnist for Canadian Freethinker Magazine and a contributor to A merican Atheist Magazine. McAfee attended University of California, Santa Barbara, and graduated with dual degrees in English and Religious Studies.

Facebook Fan Page: https://www.facebook.com/DavidMcAfee7
Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/davidgmcafee
Website: http://www.davidgmcafee.com/

Image created by Gordon T. Crowley

Image created by Gordon T. Crowley

I Interview Influential Author of ‘The God Virus’

Dr. Darrel Ray Interview- Author of The God Virus

Author Discusses Newest Book and Upcoming Lecture in Santa Barbara 

By David G. McAfee

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                There is a new, controversial, and awe-inspiring book that is taking the country by storm- The God Virus outlines the consequences of certain religious beliefs from the point of view of psychologist, prominent author, and student of religious studies, Dr. Darrel Ray. Ray examines the ‘virus’ of theism and how religions often breed prejudice and harmful superstitions. As a student of Religious Studies myself, I wanted to find out more about this topic; and Dr. Ray agreed to discuss with me his new book, and lecture taking place on March 20, 2010 in the Patio Room of Vista del Monte located at 3775 Modoc Road in beautiful Santa Barbara, California at the request of the Humanist Society of Santa Barbara.  Continue reading