Here’s an optimistic idea:

Personally, I have a great deal of hope that this is going to start to change in the near future. Indeed, this is one area where the blogosphere could actually prove quite powerful. Ten years ago, I’m not sure there was anywhere that your average Christian American was exposed to openly atheistic viewpoints. These days, I’m constantly amazed how many prominent bloggers profess their atheism on a daily basis. On the list, with the help of The Raving Atheist: Daily Kos, Washington Monthly, The Volokh Conspiracy (Jim Lindgren), Pharyngula, Daily Pundit, onegoodmove, Matthew Yglesias, Vodkapundit, and of course many others, including me. Notably, many of these have substantial conservative readership.

Of course, the average American still may not tune in to these atheist blogs, but a lot of people do. A lot more than used to face proud, open, secularism a few years ago. And since most of the hostility toward atheists, in my view, is based in the fact that so few people feel they know any, this could well start to have a dramatic effect. The informal nature of blogs, revealing much of a blogger’s character and personality, has the potential to be quite powerful in this regard.

Unfortunately, I read that just after reading about the absurd War on Christians, and just before Nic mentioned an article on Pensacola Christian College (that’s the Chronicle of Higher Ed…I’m not sure if the link will work for machines without an institutional subscription) to me. We godless have a long way to go when we live in a culture in which many people can accept these absurdities:

Lisa Morris was walking to class with her boyfriend last October when something happened. At first Ms. Morris, a sophomore music major, is reluctant to divulge the details. Eventually, however, the truth comes out: He patted her behind.

Someone who witnessed the incident reported Ms. Morris and her boyfriend. At Pensacola any physical contact between members of the opposite sex is forbidden. (Members of the same sex may touch, although the college condemns homosexuality.) The forbidden contact includes shaking hands and definitely includes patting behinds. Both students were expelled.

Of Pensacola’s many rules, those dealing with male-female relationships are the most talked about. There are restrictions on when and where men and women may speak to each other. Some elevators and stairwells may be used only by women; others may be used only by men. Socializing on particular benches is forbidden. If a man and a woman are walking to class, they may chat; if they stop en route, though, they may be in trouble. Generally men and women caught interacting in any “unchaperoned area” ? which is most of the campus ? could be subject to severe penalties.

Those rules extend beyond the campus. A man and a woman cannot go to an off-campus restaurant together without a chaperon (usually a faculty member). Even running into members of the opposite sex off campus can lead to punishment. One student told of how a group of men and a group of women from the college happened to meet at a McDonald’s last spring. Both groups were returning from the beach (they had gone to separate beaches; men and women are not allowed to be at the beach together). The administration found out, and all 15 students were expelled.

Even couples who are not talking or touching can be reprimanded. Sabrina Poirier, a student at Pensacola who withdrew in 1997, was disciplined for what is known on the campus as “optical intercourse” ? staring too intently into the eyes of a member of the opposite sex. This is also referred to as “making eye babies.” While the rule does not appear in written form, most students interviewed for this article were familiar with the concept.

Everything is that tight-laced.

There are plenty of other ways to run afoul of the rules. Last spring Timothy Dow was caught playing the video game Halo 2. Such games are banned by the college. Movies are also forbidden, including those rated G. Music is restricted to classical or approved Christian (“contemporary Christian” artists are deemed too worldly). Students are allowed to watch television news at 6 o’clock, but that’s it. The TVs are controlled by college employees, who flip a switch to black out the commercials, lest students see anything inappropriate.

In the library, books and magazines are censored. One student says she saw a pair of black-marker boxer shorts on a photograph of Michelangelo’s David. Any books that students wish to read that are not in the library must first be approved by administrators. Those containing references to “magic,” for instance, are normally rejected. The rule book specifically prohibits “fleshly magazines and books.”

In addition, access to the net is tightly restricted to only a few sites. Somehow, I don’t think us atheist bloggers are on their list.

Worse still, the college is not accredited. Think about that: these kids are going off to this school that is run like a concentration camp, suffering for four years, and then ‘graduating’ with a degree that is almost completely worthless, and with credits that won’t transfer to any other university. It’s hard to blame the kids—few 18 year olds are aware of the concept of accrediting bodies—but that fact makes the administrators simply evil. Here’s this sad sack kid who thought the restrictive rules were good for him, but also believes he’s going to go to dental school:

Mr. Ghobrial, the student from Egypt who doesn’t mind the rules, wants to attend dental school. His first choice, West Virginia University, has already said it would not consider his application, because Pensacola is not accredited. “I’m hoping they change their minds,” he says.

“I’m hoping they change their minds.” Jebus. The poor guy has had four years of expert training in delusional thinking. What kind of job is that going to get him? About all he is qualified for is President of the US.

It’s nice to know that a lot of prominent bloggers are god-free and proud of it, but I doubt that the people who need the information most are never going to see it. There are 5000 students at PCC. Every one has been sold a bill of goods…and it was easy. Their parents, their communities, their whole culture tells them that these con-artists are good, as long as they’re preaching about Jesus. How are we going to fight that?


  1. #1 MJ Memphis
    March 29, 2006

    “My point is, why should Atheists be copying such a heirarchy? “Converting” a born-again YEC True-Believer to Atheism (bad choice of vocab, sorry) shouldn’t be worth any more to you or to me than convincing a person who says grace over dinner twice a year that they’re wasting their time.”

    Not really a disagreement here, just an observation… for most other atheists that I have met, their pre-atheist beliefs largely mirror the sort of atheist they become. The lifelong, second (or more) generation atheists I’ve met generally are the less vocal, more easygoing ones, along with the ones who were, at best, only semi-religious before. The ones who were rather religious (such as myself) tend to be a bit harder-edged, and if you want to see a real fire-breathing atheist, look for the former fundie atheists.

    Naturally there are exceptions (I’ve never heard that Dawkins was religious in his youth), but that does seem to be the rule from what I’ve observed.

  2. #2 Ichthyic
    September 28, 2006

    the previous pope had relations with Hitler

    the Pope had relations with Hitler?

    I do declare I’m gettin’ the vapors!

    It would explain a lot, though.

    I wonder if they made illegitimate eye babies together?

    *evil grin*

  3. #3 Ichthyic
    September 28, 2006

    shouldn’t the thread be godwined at this point?

  4. #4 Ichthyic
    September 28, 2006

    Look at the size of that troll!

    yeah, but fortunately, they are easily avoided, being so slow and stupid, after all.

    beware of trolls with rocks, though.

  5. #5 Ichthyic
    September 28, 2006

    have you ever heard the term “god-bothering tub-thumper” before, Yamil?

    You’re in a vegetarian restaurant trying to sell a side of beef, boy!

  6. #6 Ichthyic
    September 28, 2006

    So the conclusion of the whole matter is that everyone knows that Christian education is far superior than secular education. You do not have to be a rocket scientist to figure that out.

    depends on the rocket scientist.

    are you a rocket scientist, there, yamil?

    ever take a gander at the statistics that don’t actually support your erroneous claim?

    or are statistics also the realm of rocket scientists, pray tell?

    whee! let’s play whack a mole.

    are you offering yourself as the example of superior xian education?


  7. #7 Ichthyic
    September 28, 2006

    Would you allow your daughter to go to a SID infested whorehouse of a college?

    which college is that? I must have gone to the wrong ones!

  8. #8 Ichthyic
    September 29, 2006

    No one can be this stupid can they?

    are you sure you’ve spent time on this blog?

    Yamil isn’t even the worst I’ve seen, here or on PT.

    go check out the AFDave threads in the ATBC area on PT.

    that guy will make you say:

    “Argh! The Stupid! It burns!”

  9. #9 Ichthyic
    September 29, 2006

    not science that’s evil. It’s evolution that’s evil.

    Yamil is evil.

    prove it’s not so.

  10. #10 Ichthyic
    September 29, 2006

    And where are you now. Certainly not in church.

    are you in church right now, evil Yamil?

    you must have abandoned your god to spend time writing your evil, insane missives at the keyboard of your computer.

    I think you should go perform some corporal mortification, right now!

  11. #11 Ichthyic
    September 29, 2006

    you’re insane.

    you do know that, right?

    just wanted to make sure.

  12. #12 Ichthyic
    September 29, 2006

    getting back to GH’s disbelief in the personage of the evil Yamil…

    GH, if folks like Yamil didn’t exist, this thread would never have seen the light of your monitor.

    Pensacola Christian never would have been founded.

    so not only is Yamil unlikely to be unique, he must be actually commonplace in Pensacola.

    btw, isn’t that where Katherine Harris hangs?

  13. #13 Ichthyic
    September 29, 2006

    I think you are an evil man.

    see, Yamil?

    my theory that you are in reality, evil, is gaining ground.

    the evidence is just pouring in.

  14. #14 Ichthyic
    September 29, 2006

    And if you are trully a Christian, I find it quite disturbing that you should side with infidels rather than reproving their error.


    that’s it, I’m calling homeland security on that Yamil terrorist!

  15. #15 Ichthyic
    September 29, 2006


    why yes, I am now that you mention it.

    do your frequent misspellings represent the triumph of your xian education, evil terrorist Yamil?

  16. #16 Ichthyic
    September 29, 2006

    Therefore, by Yamil’s standards….

    Yamil has standards?

    I coulda swore he was just winging random insanities.

    Of course, I guess even evil terrorists like Yamir can adopt some sort of standards.

  17. #17 Ichthyic
    September 29, 2006

    Yes, the truth is terrifying is’nt it. But you can choose not to believe that you came from a monkey. That’s the easisest solution.

    you do realize you’re completely insane, yes?

    You understand that we aren’t discussing anything with you, just making fun of you flinging your poo about your cage?

    just checking.

  18. #18 Ichthyic
    September 29, 2006

    I vote for disemvoweling.

    yeah, he’s starting to repeat himself verbatim.

  19. #19 Ichthyic
    September 29, 2006

    You do not believe in in Allah because you DO NOT want anything to do with him.

    You will be punished.


    no virgins for you, terrorist!

  20. #20 Ichthyic
    September 29, 2006

    Hmmm. I rather be in my group.

    see, Steve?

    He prefers to be evil.

    told ya.

  21. #21 Ichthyic
    September 29, 2006

    But, to make you feel better inspite of your incoherent thoughts,

    as John Stewart would say…


  22. #22 Ichthyic
    September 29, 2006

    So you are the godless infidel that is teaching its students that their granddad is a monkey.

    godless infidels are what muslim terrorists call westerners.

    I still claim Yamil’s an evil terrorist, trying to disguise himself as an evangelical xian.

    he’s cruisin’ for a bruisin PZ.

    I seriously doubt anyone would miss the misguided monkey.

    toss ‘im.

New comments have been temporarily disabled. Please check back soon.