Friday, September 7, 2007

Passion Of The Friel

Todd Friel loves The Passion of The Christ. He does. In going through the WOTM radio show archives, I have come across many airings where he exalts the movie and Mel Gibson for making it. To Todd it is an accurate and sobering account of the sacrifice that his Lord and Savior made in becoming the atonement for his sins. Believe it or not, I have no problem at all with his admiration for the movie; it was a well-produced bit of drama (though a bit gory for my taste).

My only request is that Todd be honest with us, his listeners, as many look up to him as a shining example or Christian morality. How then does it reflect on him and his God to be blatantly hypocritical? Why do I say this? Because Mr. Friel does not endorse and even decries the viewership of R-Rated films. As a matter of fact, Todd owns a bit of hardware (the name escapes me) for his home entertainment system that removes all foul language from whatever programming he may currently be viewing. Does this same device censor or distort visual representations of violence? If it did, Todd and his family would be left with a ten or fifteen minute snippet that would contain the opening credits, Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane (until the guard's ear is sliced off, at least) and some of the more mundane bits of dialogue between Jesus and his disciples, among others. The majority of the movie is spent graphically portraying the scourging, beating and crucifixion of Jesus as is described just as vividly in the (contradictory) Gospel accounts in the bible. So much so, in fact, that it is enough to engender a feeling of nausea in the most jaded of moviegoers.

How then can Mr. Friel blame the state of our nation's moral decline on violent media when he openly endorses perhaps one of the most gruesome feature films of all time? If left in the wrong hands, this gore fest could further pervert a mind already demented by grotesque fantasy and could be the breaking point that might affect another school shooting or federal building bombing.

I find it troubling that Mr. Friel dissuades the viewership of secular media for mature audiences but freely advocates The Passion as wholesome family fare. The story depicted in the movie comes from an equally horrifying book which, if rated,might find itself on the top rack in most retail outlets. Doesn't this attest to the fact that theists really do employ situational ethics? "Don't watch Apocalypse Now because it's R-Rated; instead, bless your soul and glorify God as you watch His Son's blood being wrung out like a sopping wet dishtowel." Just another testament to my reasoning for not following a god that lusts for his own son's sacrificial blood and for not joining the ranks of a congregation that joyously worships such a monster.

Why link the show?

Many of you may be curious (some have even asked) why I have a feed link to the WOTM radio show archives in the left margin of this site. The answer is simple: I don't fear their content. As a matter of fact, I encourage everyone to tune into their broadcasts at least once; if nothing else, it's good for a laugh. By supplying my readers (both theists and freethinkers alike) with all of the resources I have at my disposal, I feel like you will be better equipped to make a wise and informed decision.

Thursday, September 6, 2007

Liars shall have their part in the lake of fire...

If the theology that Todd, Ray and Kirk follow is literally true, then they have willfully lied to all of the atheistic listeners to their show. Does that put them in danger of burning forever in hell? Of course, they will all claim that all of their sins, past, present and future, are covered in the blood of Jesus who is the propitiation for the iniquities of all True Believers™. Regardless of their claims, it seems counterproductive to lie to the very people they are trying to save from condemnation.

On the June 14th airing of WOTM Radio, Ray and Todd promised a copy of The Evidence Bible and/or God Doesn't Believe In Atheists to an etheist they had been speaking to named Jack (Chicago, IL) at the 37 min. 45 sec. mark. They went further by making an open-ended promise to supply any atheist that called into the show with a complimentary copy of The Evidence Bible. I have since called the show but have yet to receive my Bible. As a matter of fact, I have sent emails to both Todd and Ray separately inquiring as to the status of my shipment but stranegly enough haven't received a reply. Todd used to respond to my messages but it seems he's lost interest in me in recent months. The same cannot be said for me; I continue to find him interesting, untrustworthy and dangerous.

Wednesday, September 5, 2007

A corrupt tree bringeth forth evil fruit...

What kind of message do the Way of the Master and Living Waters ministries send when they support and endorse the viewership of a truly "corrupt" network, Trinity Broadcasting Network (TBN)? Are you at all familiar with any of the scandal that has surrounded and continues to surround network co-founders Paul and Jan Crouch? No? Well, let me fill you in...

  • TBN (a non-profit organization) generates almost $200 million annually, nearly two-thirds of which comes from viewer contributions. The rest is a kickback from the televangelists and prosperity preachers that air their programs.
  • During fundraising drives, the hosts will often make emotional appeals to the viewing audience to pledge their financial support to "the ministry" although recent budget information shows a surplus of almost $600 million in the "ministry" fund.
  • Many preachers and televangelists who have been under suspicion, charged and even indicted for money laundering, cooking the books and pandering have been featured in the past on the network; some have not been allowed to return and have sought out other venues such as BET to hook the late-night, minority audience and cash-in on their fear of mortality.
  • In late 2004, Paul Crouch paid nearly $500,000 in an out of court settlement to a former employee who made allegations that Crouch made indecent sexual advances. The former employee was named Enoch "Lonnie" Ford. Crouch denied having a homosexual relationship but admitted to the pay-off. In my opinion, actions speak louder than words.

This is but a small list of the many criticisms that constantly swirl around the network and network heads (of the lineage of Paul). Knowing that TBN has such a shady and disreputable past, why would Kirk, Ray and mouthpiece Todd feel at all confident about buying airtime on the network for specials and weekly productions of the evangelical Way of the Master television show?

Do WOTM execs feel that it is more important to reach the masses at the expense of the conscience they speak so much of? Does Todd honestly feel comfortable sitting on-stage with a man who paid half a million dollars in hush money to the old office janitor? I wonder how Todd can so viciously attack false preachers and teachers when he relies on the viewership of these men (Benny Hinn, Kenneth Copeland, Jack and Rexella Van Impe, etc.) to pay his undoubtedly exorbitant paycheck.

Todd is right when he quotes the scriptures in saying "by your fruits ye shall know them"; Todd bears fraudulent, wicked fruit.

Monday, September 3, 2007

Anti-Testimony: A Brief Deconversion Story

I was raised in a very strict fundamental Baptist home and was "saved" at five years of age while eating my breakfast cereal before kindergarten one morning. From that point on, I was "in rebellion to God," as my parents liked to put it. Nothing I did seemed to be good enough: I was an honor roll student, bilingual at a young age, a prodigious illustrator , a budding actor and, above all, was involved in all the affairs of the church and the associated school (which I attended from the age of four until my high school graduation at seventeen) such as puppet ministry, nursing home ministry, church and school choir and band, bus ministry, youth group and all associated activities and even door-to-door witnessing on Saturdays.

It was on a Saturday morning when I was "calling" on the lost that I had my first run-in with an atheist (cue scary music). He lived in a ramshackle old house in a wooded cul-de-sac in a neighborhood not too far from my own. He was gruff, unpleasant and impolite; not necessarily the way I'd like to be perceived as an atheist. From that point on, he was the embodiment of the evil atheist in my then-Christian mind.

As the years passed, what I was being taught of the Bible became absolutely unfulfilling and I had no desire to study it further for my own understanding because, well, what would be the point? I was still a piece of shit to my parents, regardless of what I did or did not do. This is when I began to "backslide." I turned to secular friends, secular music and everything else that was abhorred by my parents and their church. I would still attend with them and was still involved in all of the extra activities but only nominally.

By the time I was fifteen I was smoking, fooling around with girls, using "filthy" language... all the things that good Christian boys and girls ought not to do. And I loved it all. A couple years later when I graduated high school I decided to remove myself from my parents' oppressive rule and place myself in another equally oppressive environment but one that would later prove to be more rewarding and personally beneficial. I enlisted in the Army at seventeen years of age (with parental consent).

I served six years and climbed the ranks, declining several promotions allow the way for fear of leadership. While I was in the military, I was first confronted with secular individuals that I didn't know personally (ie. neighborhood friends, cousins) and was impressed by their ability to reason. Growing up, I was rarely given choices yet in these people I saw that they made dozens of choices daily and revelled in it; they were leading their lives, not merely living them.

Due to my upbringing, these events brought me back to the Bible to search for hidden meaning and truths. Perhaps my pastor had been skipping over nuggets of knowledge all those years. It was my duty to find those bits of wisdom and apply them.

Well, I don't need to tell any of you that I didn't find them. I studied and prayed but to no avail. I was forced to a conclusion much to the detriment of my faith: God was not in the Bible. In fact, God wasn't around at all. Further, He never had been around.

The open and honest reading of "God's Word" had crushed my faith, destroyed my world-view and, as a result, given me the best gift imaginable: The ability to think. And live.

Judge not lest ye be judged...

Theists have pioneered and championed the use of the bad analogy. I've sat through my fair share of sermons in my lifetime and can still vividly recall some incredibly poor object lessons and analogies that were tossed out from the pulpit. I think I've finally found one that tops the list in none other than our very own Mr. Friel. It isn't so much a "bad" analogy as it is dangerous.

Todd prides himself in his ability to field "uncomfortable" biblical questions but he shouldn't sing his own praises too loudly because he only entertains such questions for a short time before shifting gears and imposing the Ten Commandments. He uses this tried and true method of "speaking to the conscience" in order to show his audience that they have sinned before an almighty god and are worthy of spiritual death followed by eternal damnation in a lake of fire. But Todd holds the keys of your heart (as god's servant) and can show you how your soul can be cleansed and Christ can do a transforming work inside of you, securing a place for you in heaven. The best part of the deal is that you don't have to do a thing in exchange for all of this goodness... except die to yourself... and repent of your sins and turn from them... oh, and to plead God's mercy through the death, burial and resurrection of his son, Jesus Christ. Other than that, salvation is completely free!

It sounds more like spiritual quid pro quo than a free gift, if you ask me.

What really gets me is the way Todd will solemnly and soberly appeal to the fear of his listeners and callers by equating sins against god with wrongs against man that are punishable in a court of law. Let me draw a basic mental image for you, one that is based on Todd's very own examples in his soul-winning efforts:

If a criminal guilty of a violent crime appears before a judge in a court of law, the judge will be forced to punish him in order to maintain justice. The judge will not accept pleas for a lessened sentence but will weigh the heftiest fine against him. Unless someone steps in and mercifully pays the fine, justice cannot be met.

If the false dichotomy cannot easily be seen, let me shed some light on it for you.

To begin with, a sin is supposedly the ultimate affront against a holy and righteous god and is punishable with eternal torment in a place that god created and set aside for those who trespass against his laws. There is no social equivalent to this concept especially not a mere monetary fine! The most imposing punishment one man can levy against another is capital punishment which is a finite punishment. How does infinite suffering at the hands of a wrathful god correlate with momentary physical pain?

Knowing that a fine is not a viable penalty to be imposed on a criminal guilty of committing the most heinous acts imaginable (under the assumption that god finds all sins equally and eternally offensive) but capital or, at the very least, corporal punishment, we can see that no court in this country would accept a substitute. Once tried and convicted, a criminal must suffer his own fate; his best-friend can't offer himself up to the courts as a sacrifice. That's (ancient) tribal mentality and doesn't appease the modern judicial system.

We can then go on to understand that, in a court of law, mercy and justice are not mutually compatible. If a stay of execution is ordered not because of the suspects innocence but on a whim, the Governor has exhibited (unwarranted) mercy. However, if the sodium pentathol is injected into his veins, true justice has been achieved (if one can call it that).

After exposing this fraudulent analogy, how then can Todd continue to use it to instill fear in the hearts of his throngs? It isn't difficult to see the psychological (cruel) game he's playing by beating people into emotional submission. Fundamentalist theology can be likened unto spiritual battered spouse syndrome! Once you have a captive, submissive audience, well...

So, can God be eternally merciful and just? It's exactly what the WOTM crew would have you to believe. Let's see what the dictionary has to say about the denotation of these two words (no need to apply hermeneutical principles here):

Merriam-Webster Dictionary:

Just -- Being what is merited or deserved: (a just punishment)

Mercy -- Lenient or compassionate treatment: (begged for mercy)

If these two terms are mutually compatible, I'd like to know how. Besides, before we go condemning others for their actions in the sight of god, shouldn't we prove his existence first?