Friday, October 19, 2007

Simple Counter-evangelism 101: Open-source methods

Ok I had a few requests on youtube to post a link to the text form of the "Simple Counter-evangelism 101" series of videos that I have made.

You see, it's a a document that contains all the tips and tricks that I have made concerning WOTM's tactics and against evangelism in general.

So I have compiled it as a PDF. Now there is a fun thing that occurs with this document. Here is where you can download it.

It's Creative Commons. Meaning? You can feel free to redistribute it and moreover ADD TO IT.

You see, as time goes by, evangelists change their tactics, or some other atheists have their own methods that are efficient as well. Those should be added to the document. I can't think of everything and while I do have plenty of experience in dealing with fundementalists, I am not alone out there.

So why not add to their experience and methods to the mix, and therefore STRENGHTEN the counter-evangelism effort? So, I have layed out a basic framework in the document, and you can all build on it.

In other words, I removed the "blank page problem". You don't have to fear the blank page, there is no blank page. So bring in your tips and tricks, bring in your ideas on how to make it better and redistribute it.

Soon enough, this simple pdf can grow into a book that brings in all the tools, tactics, and information to activists on what to expect, and what to do about it.

The truth isn't pretty, now add to the ugly!!

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Playing the martyr...

As an atheist, I can pretty much expect to be on the receiving end of abuse when listening to Way of the Master Radio every afternoon. Not direct abuse, of course. Todd and Ray always seem to be a bit reticent to actually come out and bad mouth their ideological enemies. They will, of course, glibly tell you that the bible says atheists are fools and that you're going to hell.

But that's not what I want to talk about. Instead, I want to hit on an interesting trend that has been occuring on the show. As much as Todd likes to go after the atheists, it's surprising how much time he spends going after other Christians.

Just the other day Ray witnessed to a Catholic at Seton Hall, but insisted on referring to it as Satan Hall.

Todd insists that former minister and current atheist Dan Barker was a false convert. Because, of course, had he actually believed he never would have changed his mind.

Anyone who comes to the show and speaks about Jesus' teachings on love and kindness is immediately labeled a liberal with no knowledge of the real Christ.

Of course, the Way of the Master would never refer to these people as Christians. At least not REAL CHRISTIANS (TM), which are the only kind that count. And the only way to become a REAL CHRISTIAN (TM), or so they would lead you to believe, is not by accepting Jesus. It's by accepting Jesus using the Way of the Master technique.

I can't really blame them for that. They're out there trying to sell a mean, they're saving souls! So of course they can't overlook their lost Christian brothers and sister.

Perhaps I'm a bit cynical, at least when it comes to the motives of Ray Comfort and Todd Friel, but I think they have a different reason for thinning their herd.

They want to be victims.

You hear it nearly every show. Either in one of their commercials (as if the show wasn't a two hour long infomercial for their products anyway) or in person Ray will give one of his stories about being verbally attacked or threatened while open-air preaching. He'll heap praise on the past Christian martyrs.

The problem, however, is that Christians are the majority in America.

How do you make yourself a victim when your people have bigger numbers than their competition?

They devise a test that no one can pass unless you already subscribe to the test-maker's brand of Christianity.

They visit Europe, where most people aren't religious and they really are the minority.

And then they return home and make their first targets are Christian self-help writers and a cartoon about the Ten Commandments.

It’s not about being Christian. And it’s not about Jesus. It’s about following the teachings of an overzealous New Zealander, a washed up comedian and a former child star.

If that can’t get you saved, what will?

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Proselytes or Pitchmen?

I want to take a few brief moments of your time to point out something that most freethinkers are attuned to when it comes to evangelical Christians: they are buying and selling... souls. The WOTM crew does it in a very clever manner and disguises it with a false sense of concern for the eternal destination of your immortal soul but, come on, can they even demonstrate that such a "thing" or "place" exists? Of course they can't; that's where their carefully crafted, finely honed sales pitch comes into play.

A quick internet search will reveal a great deal of interesting information on the perfect sales pitch. Here is the tried and true harangue:

* Start with conviction
* Winning against negative sentiments
* Preparations are the Key to Success
* Use emotions in the sales process
* Complete focus on the customer
* Objections are buying statements
* Closing thoughts

The way in which these points translates to the cookie-cutter WOTM speech is blatantly obvious. Knowing that Todd, Ray and Kirk are not only attuned to these sales methods but employ them, we can further understand why Living Waters and Way of the Master marketable goods are in such high demand. They've cornered a very large evangelical Christian market; they sell their products to both evangelists and the newly-converted alike.

We have to ask ourselves if they are really concerned for our souls or if they are simply looking for the next great sales gimmick. In all actuality, Todd would make quite an effective and prosperous replacement for Kevin Trudeau.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

News Mash : News illiteracy on the rise!

I've personally been off WotM for some time now, and actually find myself smiling at my podcasts directory, as I have a dozen hours of material to go through. Why I smile, I don't know. I'm weird that way.

A reader of ours sent the Watchdog crew a message concerning a recent gem in WotM news coverage. Yes, they do news. Science news when they disagree with the results, religion news, funny news, religious news, politics when they pertain to religion, etc. Inspired by this message, I decided to check the show out with my own ears. It's amazing! So let's examine the hour 2 news bit on WotM Radio on October 15th!

I can reed news reel gud

It's that time of the year again when the Nobel prizes start rolling out. Let's see how WotM's unbiased news hawks cover some items of this most exciting of ceremonies!

Tony Verkinnes, WotM news anchor and stoic counterweight to Todd's exuberance, sits in his chair, prays to God that his mic won't fail and starts his reporting. The news item that's at hand here concerns the fact that Al Gore won the Nobel peace prize, which is odd to Tony, because global warming is a fairytale. Of course, it couldn't have anything to do with someone working to encourage people to work together in harmony towards a good cause, being rewarded for propagating such selfish ideas is outright silly! Tony also passingly mentions that Al Gore kills babies, so he surely cannot be a man of peace. How relevant to the story, I'm glad you managed to sneak that in, Tony.

Tony finds relief in the fact that other Nobels go out for silly things too. Actually, he goes on to build a case that the whole Nobel ceremony has withered into a shebang of silly, and this to him perfectly discredits Al Gore's ideas in the process. For example, the Nobel of medicine, was awarded to a pair of researchers investigating the side effects of sword-swallowing and the literature prize was awarded to a linguist on her research on the word “the”. Now if anyone at WotM had paid more attention, they would have noticed, that among these prizes, we find that the peace prize actually went to the Air Force Wright Laboratory in Dayton, Ohio, for suggesting the research and development of a “gay bomb”. What? No Gore?

Of course no Gore, because I'm going through a list of the Ig Nobels. Tony just somehow “forgot” to mention this? This strikes us as an attempt to poke at the scientific community, trying to somehow signal to the listeners that “Gosh, those scientists are a kooky bunch”.

The Ig Nobel prizes, if you do not know (shame on you), are a spin-off and parody of the “real” Nobel prizes. It's a play on words, as you can read it as “ignoble”. The Ig Nobels are handed out by actual Nobel prize winners, to scientists and researchers for research that “first makes people laugh, and then make them think”. Did you know, that a hamster gets over a bout of jet lag faster when he ingests male potency medication?

Now let's not be hasty and throw blame around before we've considered the possibilities. I see a couple of possible scenarios here:

A) Maybe WotM studios received this list of prizes from someone that intentionally left out the crucial two letters “Ig”. Maybe it's not all their fault? Still, it's the Nobel prizes. Once. A. Year. Pretty much everyone runs into them in some form or another, digital or cellulose, it's not too hard to do a little background checking on something like this. If this is the case, it's a prime example of what I consider to be one of the most damaging effects of fervent fundamentalism: you lose your critical faculties. Hear/read something, eat it up, just as long as it sounds good to you. An example of information illiteracy and reader bias.

B) They read a story on the Ig Nobels and just ignored the letters"Ig", because of course that's the Nobels the story is written about, since they have never heard of the Ig Nobels. Ig is just something that they don't have to worry about. Mash the two stories together in your mind and you're good to go! A failure in fundamental literacy, the words are there but they are not heeded.

C) They intentionally didn't discern between the events because they are pushing an agenda and needed something to stick it to some liberal wackjob whose pitch-black soul is fueled by satanic ectoplasm that he extracts from the succulent eyeballs of cute little babies.

D) We listeners were undergoing a mass hallucination when in reality Tony was actually making perfect sense, covering the Ig Nobels in a sound and lightly humorous fashion as they should be.

None of these sound too good. I'm especially worried about the fourth one. Can you come up with more?

We've sent WotM Radio requests to address this issue on the show, as what they are doing is, intentionally or unintentionally, deceiving their listeners, peddling a distorted view of science by offering a misrepresentation of the facts. Nothing new there. Except that we now know that with the Fundie(™) method, you can get up to 78,5% more logical fallacies into two minutes of speech!

Nobel Prizes, official site
Ig Nobels at Wikipedia
The news bit in WotM, at beginning of the show