Pharyngula

Well, I’ve been wrong all this time. It’s always been my opinion that if someone says they’re a Christian, they’re a Christian — I’m not going to nit-pick fine theological distinctions with someone, and if they want to claim the soiled and tattered title of Christianity, they’re welcome to it. An important figure in American religion and politics, James Dobson, has shown me to be wrong. He has his own special definition of “Christian”.

“Everyone knows he’s conservative and has come out strongly for the things that the pro-family movement stands for,” Dobson said of Thompson. “[But] I don’t think he’s a Christian; at least that’s my impression,” Dobson added, saying that such an impression would make it difficult for Thompson to connect with the Republican Party’s conservative Christian base and win the GOP nomination.

Mark Corallo, a spokesman for Thompson, took issue with Dobson’s characterization of the former Tennessee senator. “Thompson is indeed a Christian,” he said. “He was baptized into the Church of Christ.”

In a follow-up phone conversation, Focus on the Family spokesman Gary Schneeberger stood by Dobson’s claim. He said that, while Dobson didn’t believe Thompson to be a member of a non-Christian faith, Dobson nevertheless “has never known Thompson to be a committed Christian—someone who talks openly about his faith.”

“We use that word—Christian—to refer to people who are evangelical Christians,” Schneeberger added. “Dr. Dobson wasn’t expressing a personal opinion about his reaction to a Thompson candidacy; he was trying to ‘read the tea leaves’ about such a possibility.”

Thompson has said he is leaving the door open for a presidential run and has won plaudits from conservatives who are unenthusiastic about the Republican front-runners. A Gallup-USA Today poll, released Tuesday, showed Thompson in third place among Republican and Republican-leaning voters, behind former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani and Arizona Sen. John McCain.

I have to marvel at that. Suddenly, the ranks of the un-Christians have swollen immeasurably; a lot of the people I honestly like who go to church but aren’t jerks about their religion, i.e., they don’t proselytize, have been excommunicated by Pope Dobson, and are on my side in the War Against Religion. I have suddenly learned that none of the members of my family are Christians anymore — they may be a bit shocked to hear that, since they still go to church, but heck, High Authority, the Word of God’s Holiest Representative in North America, is not to be gainsaid.

Any of you readers who are not true Christians in the eyes of Dobson might as well give it up now and join me in total godlessness. When the Republic of Gilead is established and the Dobsonites run the country, you’re going to be up against the wall with the rest of us heretics, anyway.

Comments

  1. #1 NC Paul
    March 29, 2007

    You’re assuming Gilead will be a republic?
    That’s optimistic.
    Republican, perhaps, but not a republic.

  2. #2 Elliott Grasett
    March 29, 2007

    PZ, can you say, “No true Scotsman . . .”?

  3. #3 Ratel
    March 29, 2007

    Of course it will be a republic, just like the Democratic Peoples Republic of Korea, or the People’s Republic of China.

  4. #4 Bruce
    March 29, 2007

    Ya gotta say the magic words to be a real Christian, got to be born again for it to take at all. Catholics? Not really Christian, though they claim to be. Mormons? not even close. Jehovah’s Witnesses? downright evil.
    It’s a small, nasty, close knit club (with the exception of Scott Hatfield and about eleven other people worldwide).

  5. #5 Eamon Knight
    March 29, 2007

    “Born Again” vs. “nominal” Christian, yeah. It’s embarassing to admit I once bought into the distinction, but this is a pretty standard idea in evangelicaldom. The criteria used to judge vary among individuals and groups, but basically it boils down to a tribal marker thing: do you say the right words; act (or refrain from acting) in particular ways? These social cues are reified into a theological claim about what God thinks: are you “really saved”?

    Idiots.

  6. #6 Hugh
    March 29, 2007

    Call it Takfiri Christianity, after those Muslims who take it upon themselves to determine who’s no longer a Muslim. (of course, a true takfiri follows up with a beheading.)

  7. #7 Steve LaBonne
    March 29, 2007

    (of course, a true takfiri follows up with a beheading.)

    The only thing that prevents the Real Christians from emulating them is the fact that they can’t- yet– do so with impunity.

  8. #8 PZ Myers
    March 29, 2007

    Obviously, Hatfield and those other eleven people are not Christians.

    Hey, how about if we simplify further: if you aren’t evil, you aren’t a true Christian. Works for me.

  9. #9 Silmarillion
    March 29, 2007

    I think he should lay off the tea leaves.

  10. #10 moi
    March 29, 2007

    i’m a pagan but in a godless(godessless) way :). i just love nature! i’m totally going to hell.

  11. #11 Kristine
    March 29, 2007

    Well, I just had my mind expanded about the definition of “Christian” at my blog, and you’re not gonna like it, because it includes atheists! (News to me, too.)

    I hate getting into defining “Christian” because of the quibbling. Basically I take people at their word; basically, to me it means that people believe in the resurrection of Jesus Christ. But according to another caged bat, Glenn Beck of CNN, attendance at church is collapsing like civilization itself, and the ranks of the godless are swelling! Swelling! Like the oceans with global warming except that it doesn’t exist.

  12. #12 Clio Bluestocking
    March 29, 2007

    Actually, you guys will be up against the wall in the Republic of Gilead. Us women (at least the “fertile” ones) will be on our backs birthin’ babies for Christ!

  13. #13 Carlie
    March 29, 2007

    Unfortunately, that little quote will just disappear into the void of nobody caring. I’d like for quotes by Dobson and Schneeberger (“We use that word–Christian–to refer to people who are evangelical Christians,”) to be put on a flier and mailed to every church in the country. If the various factions are going to eat each other alive, I’d like to provide the sporks.

  14. #14 Epistaxis
    March 29, 2007

    “Born Again” vs. “nominal” Christian

    Maybe just “Born-Again Christian” vs. “Born Christian.”

  15. #15 minimalist
    March 29, 2007

    Republic of Gilead? Hardly. The fundies are turning on themselves; this can only divide their base and weaken them as they break down into factions squabbling over “who’s Jesus-ier”. If they couldn’t all get behind Thompson, who could they all get behind?

    Unless this is just a prelude to a surprise Dobson run. But I don’t give him a chance in Hell either.

  16. #16 Sonja
    March 29, 2007

    There’s an old saying among political organizers: If you are comfortable with everyone in your coalition, it is too small.

    That was one lesson I thought the left needed to learn from the church-going right.

    I’m glad Dobson has unlearned it.

  17. #17 Robert
    March 29, 2007

    They should change the name of the fallacy from “No true Scotsman” to “No true christian.” Its about the only place I see people use it, and its used ALL the fekking time.

    Do you believe Jesus Christ died for your sins? Congratulations, you are a christian, here’s a heap of guilt and truckload of irrationality, topped off with some moral superiority and a coating of righteous indignation. Have fun!

  18. #18 speedwell
    March 29, 2007

    There are those who’d like to give him a chance in Hell. What he would do when he gets there, is the interesting question.

  19. #19 Scott Hatfield
    March 29, 2007

    (gentle joshing tone) Wow! There are eleven others out there like me? I am, like, totally excited! I thought I was the Last of the Mohicans, or sump’n.

    (more soberly) Actually, there’s a lot of us non-Christian Christians. The problem with these folk, as I see it, is that in the face of guys like Jim Dobson we tend to act as if there were only eleven of us. In other words, we tend to enable the Christian Right when we should be confronting them.

    Anyway, PZ, I’m already as godless as you when it comes to the practice of science—since it’s godless by definition. Should there ever be a ‘Rushdoony Revolution’, I’m afraid both of us would be up against the same wall, facing the same set of rifles. I’m uncertain about some things, but (happily) this is not one of them.

  20. #20 Kseniya
    March 29, 2007

    Here’s a little anecdote for you. Some months ago I was hanging out with a few friends in the caff, chatting about this and that, and I went off on some annoying thing Dobson had said. As I was saying some unflattering thing about him, one of the math professors happened to walk by. She stopped and turned to me and said something like, “You liberals! I like Dobson. You must have misrepresented what he said!”

    Got that? She didn’t know what it was that Dobson had said that I was objecting to, nor even what I had specifically said in objection to it – but if I was criticizing him at all, then I must have misrepresented what he’d said. As if no other conclusion were even possible!

    She didn’t care to know that I was criticizing Dobson for coming out against the use of an HPV vaccine that could help prevent cervical cancer. She knows that I lost my mother to ovarian cancer three years ago, so I have to wonder what she’d have said if she’d had a clue about what we were discussing. But the point is, she didn’t want or need to know. She was utterly certain that her assessment of my failure to be fair-minded was accurate. Incredible.

    It boggles the mind, no?

    Maybe I’m wrong, but I think that says a lot about the mindset of people like Dobson and those who admire him. Minds as open and flexible as a brick wall.

    Dobson. Yeccch. Must his brand of Christianity be borne again and again?

  21. #21 Rey Fox
    March 29, 2007

    Still irritates me that every time these gas bags let loose a cloud of holy flatulence, some major news outlet is there to catch it in a perfume bottle.

  22. #22 Joshua
    March 29, 2007

    Fred Clark — a self-identified evangelical Christian, mind you — has written at length about this phenomenon, mostly in context of the atrocious Left Behind books. This kind of fundamentalist, right-wing Christianity is more about sorting the “Real True Christians” from everybody else than it is about any of the things people like to believe Christianity is about — morality, forgiveness, brotherhood, etc. It’s part and parcel of the whole pre-millenial dispensationalist philosophy.

    Left Behind and the other books in the Rapture genre — really, the whole unbiblical Rapture myth itself — is the ultimate expression of that sorting. God himself literally picks out His Chosen and leaves the rest to rot in Hell on Earth for a few years before then condemning them to the real Hell. The Rapture books always make a point of describing who was “Raptured” and who got “Left Behind” LaHaye & Jenkins’ work is hardly unique, though it does take the genre to the logical extreme of wearing its philosophy in the title. The message is clear. If you do A, B, or C or fail to do X, Y, and Z, you’re left behind when the Rapture comes. Not coincidentally, the folks who get left behind match exactly the kind of people most fundagelicals really love to hate.

    There’s a very clear link here to eliminationism, which Orcinus has a very informative series about. The first step in eliminationism is always defining a “them” to place in opposition to “us”. In this case, it’s REAL Christians versus the FAKE ones. Once the distinction is made, you’re just asking for things to snowball into violence. And the seed that the snowball builds around is always violent rhetoric — exactly the kind produced regularly by Dobson and all his fellow travelers in the PMD fundagelical movement.

  23. #23 mark
    March 29, 2007

    Where are the Gumbies? Dobson is talking.

  24. #24 Pelican's Point
    March 29, 2007

    Such feckless comments on Good Friday. Have you no shame? BTW – why do they call it Good Friday? If this is the day Jesus was crucified shouldn’t it be Bad Friday?

  25. #25 TheBlackCat
    March 29, 2007

    In my opinion there are two types of Christians. There are “practicing Christians”, who believe Jesus is the Son of God (or something along those lines), believe he died for our sins, etc.

    The other is “true Christians”. These are people who actually follow the definition of his believers set forth by Jesus in the New Testament:

    Mark 16:17-18
    And these signs shall follow them that believe; In my name shall they cast out devils; they shall speak with new tongues; They shall take up serpents; and if they drink any deadly thing, it shall not hurt them; they shall lay hands on the sick, and they shall recover.

    I haven’t actually met any “true Christians” yet, nor do I have any reliable accounts of any having ever existed.

  26. #26 rmp
    March 29, 2007

    Scott, thanks again for your comments. Since I’m in a ‘theist’ mode today, I have echo your point about us standing up to the Dobson types. If we did a better job of that, I think we wouldn’t have this rift between the ‘militant atheists’ and those of us who are pro-science but open to the possibility of ….

  27. #27 Hank Fox
    March 29, 2007

    minimalist: The fundies are turning on themselves; this can only divide their base and weaken them as they break down into factions squabbling over “who’s Jesus-ier”.

    Well said!

    Rey Fox: Still irritates me that every time these gas bags let loose a cloud of holy flatulence, some major news outlet is there to catch it in a perfume bottle.

    Rey, I loved this image! And so, so true.

  28. #28 tacitus
    March 29, 2007

    Christian message boards, like the one at Crosswalk.com enforce a strict policy against accusing others of not being a true Christian. Do it more than once and you’re out.

    They have to do this since the board is frequented by a large number of fundamentalists who have the same narrow view as Dobson as to who is a Christian. More specifically, anyone who indulges in, or even merely supports “sinful behavior” (i.e. is pro-choice, gay friendly, is “tolerant” etc.) cannot be a real Christian. Of course, that eliminates just about everyone to the left of the religious right.

    It has been fun watching them squirm when discussing the latest crop of Republican candidates with their bumper crop of ex-wives, sordid personal pasts, and closet liberal views. Their moral absolutism suddenly collapses under the pragmatism required to find a candidate who will defeat the detested liberals.

  29. #29 tacitus
    March 29, 2007

    Of course, those excluded by the religious right are now fighting back with labels of their own. The favorite of the gay conservative blogger and author, Andrew Sullivan, is “Christianist”.

  30. #30 Carlie
    March 29, 2007

    Isn’t next Friday Good Friday, or is this week some other Easter (Orthodox, maybe?) Hey, wait, some so-called ‘Christians’ made a war on Easter by declaring another one! Off with their heads!

  31. #31 Molly, NYC
    March 29, 2007

    It would be nice to hear Thompson tell Dobson to go screw himself (or words to that effect). But McCain and Guiliani didn’t have the spine (or body parts of your choice) to do it either, despite Dobson’s (et al.’s) clear theocratic ambitions.

  32. #32 Uber
    March 29, 2007

    really, the whole unbiblical Rapture myth itself

    This is as bad as Dobson. There is nothing- not a thing – unbiblical about it. It is very possible Dobson and his crowd are good Christians whatever that means. They actually try to adhere to what they read. Unlike so many groups who bend and twist the book they supposedly follow to match modern and more rational thought.

    I think we wouldn’t have this rift between the ‘militant atheists’ and those of us who are pro-science but open to the possibility of

    I’ll never quite understand this sentiment, no one is not open to the possibility just for many there is no evidence to speak of. The truth is science in many areas makes religious ideas superflous.

    Except those held in a fideist manner.

  33. #33 Opisthokont
    March 29, 2007

    I think that what this boils down to is that the religious right has a martyr complex. They act as though they need to feel persecuted. Their leaders must know how hypocritical this might look to the well-informed, but their followers are not well-informed, and easily motivated by the scare tactics. It is, as we all know, a very effective formula.

  34. #34 BlueIndependent
    March 29, 2007

    This is Dobson throwing around his ill-gotten and undeserved weight in public. People have built this fool up to be some sort of co-prophet alongside Falwell and other Religious Right charlatans. Dobson thinks he can control the republican party, so he’s going to do whatever he can to get that to happen. He’s basically a mafioso sort of leader. He doesn’t do any actual work, and simply makes proclamations that the followers are then expected to carry out. A comment he makes does not seem to be a command to those who do not know, but to those who consider themselves on the inside, it’s an order to get to work.

    I predict at some point after the 2008 election the republican party will understand they’ve got a bunch of Napoleans vying for control of the same ship, and the internal struggle will grow, and eventually instill further ineffectiveness among their ranks. One could only hope anyways. Thankfully that party has a trend toward bad decisions, markedly so in the last 50 years.

  35. #35 Heleen
    March 29, 2007

    It is unlikely that this Dobson is a Christian. Righteousness? Justice? Compassion with the poor? Humility? Financial equality?

  36. #36 Thony C.
    March 29, 2007

    My family name is Christie, which is a lowland Scots word for Christian does this mean, because I think that James Dobson is a bigoted windbag, that I will have to change my name?

  37. #37 thwaite
    March 29, 2007

    What I want is to know is where I can order the t-shirt which Dawkins mentioned in yesterday’s NPR interview. It’s emblazoned “Atheists for Jesus” and he has one! (How often he wears it was unstated.)

    I seem to recall Nietzsche once observed that the only true Christian was Jesus, a claim Dawkins seemed sympathetic to.

    Pelican: my calendar shows next Friday to be “Good Friday”. But I’ve always wondered about the adjective also – good question.

  38. #38 David Marjanovi?
    March 29, 2007

    Such feckless comments on Good Friday.

    That’s next week (both Catholic and Orthodox this year).

    Why it’s called “Good” in English I’m not sure (probably because it’s the prerequisite for Easter). In German it does include an otherwise extinct word for “grief”.

    This is as bad as Dobson. There is nothing- not a thing – unbiblical about it. It is very possible Dobson and his crowd are good Christians whatever that means. They actually try to adhere to what they read.

    In which of the American Bible editions?

    Which is to say, I’m not aware of anything that could be interpreted in this way, and the whole idea of “rapture” (including the word) does not exist outside the USA except presumably where recently introduced from there. (OK, the idea came up in England, but I doubt any followers of that are left there.)

  39. #39 David Marjanovi?
    March 29, 2007

    Such feckless comments on Good Friday.

    That’s next week (both Catholic and Orthodox this year).

    Why it’s called “Good” in English I’m not sure (probably because it’s the prerequisite for Easter). In German it does include an otherwise extinct word for “grief”.

    This is as bad as Dobson. There is nothing- not a thing – unbiblical about it. It is very possible Dobson and his crowd are good Christians whatever that means. They actually try to adhere to what they read.

    In which of the American Bible editions?

    Which is to say, I’m not aware of anything that could be interpreted in this way, and the whole idea of “rapture” (including the word) does not exist outside the USA except presumably where recently introduced from there. (OK, the idea came up in England, but I doubt any followers of that are left there.)

  40. #40 OmegaMom
    March 29, 2007

    Hunh. To me (an agnostic), Dobson and his ilk are the “not Christians”. Nothing gentle, kind, compassionate, caring about them. Plenty of churchy folk out there think the same way–Dobson is just a step above Fred Phelps (ewww).

  41. #41 Krystalline Apostate
    March 29, 2007

    I used to be a big fan of the main Law ‘n Order show, but once Thurmond came on (post 9/11), it became a sounding board for republican talking points. He would constantly bash liberals, declared the Iran-Contra accusations a ‘leftist fantasy’, there was show about a Jewish fellow who murdered his partner because he was sending money over to support Israel, gobs of pro-War commentary – you name it, it got worked into an episode.
    I don’t watch it anymore.

  42. #42 tacitus
    March 29, 2007

    James Dobson has no trouble devoting two of his half-hour radio shows to interviewing Ann Coulter before the election last year, since he shares her virulently anti-liberal and anti-Muslim views.

    If he can be fooled into thinking Coulter has the slightest idea of what it means to be a Christian then he has no business judging anyone but himself.

  43. #43 B
    March 29, 2007

    Interesting how they’re not true Christians (TM) until it’s time to tally and tout the hundreds of millions of good, believing adherents in the US and around the world. They’re certainly good enough then!

  44. #44 Joshua
    March 29, 2007

    Uber: I dare you to find where the Bible actually describes the Rapture. You won’t. The PMDs created it like they usually do, by selective quoting and tortured manipulations of language. The Rapture, as they believe it, is not in the Bible, hence unbiblical.

  45. #45 Uber
    March 29, 2007

    Baloney Josh,

    Revelation speaks to Jesus’s return and all that goes with it. Their take is as valid as any other. There are many versions of the rapture as in the order or certain events but they are not torturing anything.

  46. #46 Kristine
    March 29, 2007

    The message is clear. If you do A, B, or C or fail to do X, Y, and Z, you’re left behind when the Rapture comes. Not coincidentally, the folks who get left behind match exactly the kind of people most fundagelicals really love to hate.

    But they don’t hate to write books about them, do they? That’s what gets me! Have any of the Left Behind novels focused on the characters who got Raptured? I ask you. 😉

    Likewise, Dobson is bitching about them. I guess they are more interesting than this group of Real True Christians he ostensibly prefers. This is all just living vicariously through the evil Other. Being “good” is obviously boring, so the “good” gossip about the “bad” while the “bad” live lives worth gossiping about. So I guess you just make a decision about which you want to be.

  47. #47 Peter McGrath
    March 29, 2007

    “Focus on Family Founder Snubs Thompson, Praises Gingrich”
    Would that be the Gingrich who recently admitted bending one into some other than his wife?

  48. #48 Neito
    March 29, 2007

    Peter:
    Prolly. The same one who drew up a divorce agreement with his wife while she was recovering from cancer surgery.

  49. #49 ed
    March 29, 2007

    I clicked on that Dobson link too Peter,didn`t need to read anymore.Tells Thompson how low he must sink before he can garner support from Dobson…..WOW!

  50. #50 BlueIndependent
    March 29, 2007

    B raises the best observation yet in this post. Why does the term matter when it’s not November of an even-numbered year?

  51. #51 Cogito
    March 29, 2007

    Uber,

    I think perhaps you are conflating “Rapture” with “Armageddon” or “Apocalypse.” The Rapture is the miraculous transportation to heaven of certain elect believers, without the messy inconvenience of dying. From Fred Clark’s writings, I gather it has been cobbled together from Old Testament prophecies, Paul’s mention of “meeting in the air,” or some such, and other bits and pieces in addition to the Revelation. He really hates the tortured hermeneutics of it all.

    Really, anyone who enjoys this blog should check out Fred’s Left Behind stuff. He’s smart, inquisitive, funny, and well read, and he happens to follow the more ethical of Jesus’s teachings, unlike Dobson and his ilk.

    To address a completely different point, I’ve always thought that the whole “Judeo-Christian” morality movement was destined to crash and burn. Once they defeat the Muslims, atheists, etc., I figured the -Christian faction would make short work of the Judeo, as history illustrates. Nice to see the implosion is already occurring between the Christian sects themselves.

  52. #52 The Count
    March 29, 2007

    Pretty close to on-topic. Via FARK, a story entitled LDS a cult? 350,000 DVDs try to shake Mormons’ faith”. It’s that ole holier than thou thing.

    BTW, if I were a christician, I’d be quite concerned about Dobson’s vomit, because before we realists get lined up against the wall, there’s going to be a religious civil war as the miscellaneous godsters figure out which sect is going to be making the rules. The beauty is that the losing sects (by definition) would also be classified as unbelievers and subject to the same wall.

    The Countess and I will be expecting to follow CW II news from the comfort of our beachside New Zealand home.

    Before you nervously laugh and say it’s impossible, just ask someone living in Belfast, Beirut, Bhagdad or Kosovo (to name a few places) whether it’s possible for something like this to happen in this day and age.

  53. #53 stogoe
    March 29, 2007

    The same Gingrich who was pounding out some hot extra-marital pleasure AT THE SAME TIME as he was driving the Clenis Witch-Hunt?

  54. #54 Bryson Brown
    March 29, 2007

    I love the dividing line Dobson presents. Loud-mouth Tartuffes are definitely Christian; modest, quiet believers are not.

  55. #55 horrobin
    March 29, 2007

    The same Gingrich who was pounding out some hot extra-marital pleasure AT THE SAME TIME as he was driving the Clenis Witch-Hunt?

    Yeah, but he apologized and repented his sinful ways to Dobson, so it’s okay. Don’t know if he apologized to his wife, though.

  56. #56 Kristine
    March 29, 2007

    Would that be the Gingrich who recently admitted bending one into some other than his wife?

    The one he bent into is his current wife now, so I guess that’s okay. He’s on number three, like Rush. Maybe they traded.

    And quite frankly, that’s okay with me, too. I don’t care what they do. I don’t care that they don’t care what they do, and they obviously don’t. But inexplicably they still care what other people do. Probably because they’re as bored as they are boring.

    If they didn’t make a big to-do about what other people do, we wouldn’t care about the doo-doo on them – so that’s probably why they do that voodoo that they do, whoo-hoo, oh well. 😉

  57. #57 Efogoto
    March 29, 2007

    They crucified Clinton for Monica because they could. Not out of some sense of transgression, but out of glee that they had something to make noise about. There was nothing of morals in it.

  58. #58 BC
    March 29, 2007

    I’m not surprised at all. I’ve seen the UD crowd say that they don’t think Ken Miller is a Christian, too. It’s basically a way to punish people for not following their individual worldview.

  59. #59 Uber
    March 29, 2007

    The Rapture is the miraculous transportation to heaven of certain elect believers, without the messy inconvenience of dying. From Fred Clark’s writings, I gather it has been cobbled together from Old Testament prophecies, Paul’s mention of “meeting in the air,” or some such, and other bits and pieces in addition to the Revelation. He really hates the tortured hermeneutics of it all

    Yes I know. As you say above it doesn’t matter that it’s cobbled together, it’s cobbled from the bible. There hermeneutics are no more tortured than any other religious group.

    Try finding purgatory listed in the bible. ALL religious groups cobble together what amounts to nonsense to fit their dogmas. In all fairness they are no more repugnant than any other group just louder.

  60. #60 Pierce R. Butler
    March 29, 2007

    This is hardly a new phenomenon.

    I’ve been told – but never bothered to re-read the whole “New” (Christian) Testament to confirm it – that there is no book(let) in the christian canon that does not contain a warning against “false teachers” within the community of believers.

    In my experience, saying that “X is not a real christian” is a defining characteristic of that group, from the howling fasco-fundies to the fuzzy feel-gooders: anyone who doesn’t draw that distinction is, therefore, not a real christian.

    Uh-oh – have I just made myself into one?

  61. #61 Tully Bascomb
    March 29, 2007

    James Dobson’s opinions are meant to guide us to one inescapable conclusion — only James Dobson is qualified to be the President Until End Times of the United States.

  62. #62 Kseniya
    March 29, 2007

    They crucified Clinton for Monica because they could.

    I believe that is correct!

    My studies into recent U.S. history lead me to conclude that the goal of the GOP was to bring President George Clinton down by any means necessary or available. A dancer named Blaze Starr spent fruitless millions on the Whitewasher cover-up, but before anybody could shut it down, the Santa Monica Pier dropped in her lap and President Clinton wound up covered in peaches.

    I’ll never recover from Liberal Indoctrination forget these imporant lessons.

  63. #63 Ed Darrell
    March 29, 2007

    Who died and appointed Dobson the Grand Inquisitor of the Diocese of North America?

    A fine man once suggested to me that the test for “who is a Christian” would be something like this: Would you like to have the person over to dinner, have them help out in the kitchen, trust them not to check your medicine cabinet when you weren’t looking, trust them to watch your kid, trust them in the house with your spouse while you are out of town?

    Dobson meets none of those criteria for me (I’ve met him, by the way). Thompson? He’d have lots of great stories to tell.

    The reality is this: Dobson still can’t get over the fact that Thompson played a role in bringing down Nixon. Dobson defends all manner of immorality, so long as it’s immorality he favors.

    Would it be possible for Thompson to do a worse job than the Cheney/Bush tag team? No, and that’s what scares the bejeebers out of Dobson.

    If James Dobson were accused of being Christian, is there an iota of evidence to convict him? Where? His rants against Thompson are just further evidence to the contrary.

  64. #64 PZ Myers
    March 29, 2007

    So, um, this “fine man” wouldn’t invite an atheist over for dinner? And wouldn’t trust him with any of those other things?

  65. #65 arensb
    March 29, 2007

    Since the Christian population of the US just fell precipitously, does that mean that the right-wingers will drop their claim that this is a Christian nation?

  66. #66 su
    March 29, 2007

    the louder one claims to be a christian the faster i hide the silver and virgin children.

  67. #67 Crudely Wrott
    March 29, 2007

    Now that Dobson mentions it I understand a strange phenomenon that I had observed repeatedly but never fully appreciated. That is, I must drive past at least 50 or more churches every day. I have been doing this consistently for some years now. At no time, at no church, have I ever, ever observed Thompson either coming or going. Therefore he doesn’t go there.

  68. #68 Scott Hatfield
    March 30, 2007

    What is a true Christian (TM)? Who knows? As for me, this isn’t a dogmatic declaration, but just a sentiment, courtesy of Leigh Hunt:

    “Abou Ben Adhem”

    Abou Ben Adhem (may his tribe increase!)
    Awoke one night from a deep dream of peace,
    And saw, within the moonlight in his room,
    Making it rich, and like a lily in bloom,
    An Angel writing in a book of gold:

    Exceeding peace had made Ben Adhem bold,
    And to the Presence in the room he said,
    “What writest thou?” The Vision raised its head,
    And with a look made of all sweet accord
    Answered, “The names of those who love the Lord.”

    “And is mine one?” said Abou. “Nay, not so,”
    Replied the Angel. Abou spoke more low,
    But cheerily still; and said, “I pray thee, then,
    Write me as one who loves his fellow men.”

    The Angel wrote, and vanished. The next night
    It came again with a great wakening light,
    And showed the names whom love of God had blessed,
    And, lo! Ben Adhem’s name led all the rest!

  69. #69 JB
    March 30, 2007

    I particularly like this emo philips joke

    I was walking across a bridge one day, and I saw a man standing on the edge, about to jump off.
    So I ran over and said “Stop! don’t do it!” “Why shouldn’t I?” he said. I said, “Well, there’s so much to live for!”
    He said, “Like what?” I said, “Well…are you religious or atheist?”
    He said, “Religious.” I said, “Me too! Are you christian or buddhist?”
    He said, “Christian.” I said, “Me too! Are you catholic or protestant?”
    He said, “Protestant.” I said, “Me too! Are you episcopalian or baptist?”
    He said, “Baptist!” I said,”Wow! Me too! Are you baptist church of god or baptist church of the lord?”
    He said, “Baptist church of god!” I said, “Me too! Are you original baptist church of god, or are you reformed baptist church of god?”
    He said,”Reformed Baptist church of god!” I said, “Me too! Are you reformed baptist church of god, reformation of 1879, or reformed baptist church of god, reformation of 1915?”
    He said, “Reformed baptist church of god, reformation of 1915!”
    I said, “Die, heretic scum”, and pushed him off.

    he-he

  70. #70 Chinchillazilla
    March 30, 2007

    If they don’t proselytize, they aren’t Christians. So, don’t they need us? I mean, when they’ve converted or driven away all the non-Christians, who will they proselytize to? Then NO one will be Christian!

  71. #71 Ed Darrell
    March 30, 2007

    So, um, this “fine man” wouldn’t invite an atheist over for dinner? And wouldn’t trust him with any of those other things?

    Well, we haven’t seen you eat, but you’d be on my dinner invite list, and probably on the other guy’s list as well.

    It’s a bit over-broad in some cases, no doubt, but it’s a better filter than whatever Dobson is using.

    And, of course, there is always this: In your skepticism, P.Z., you come closer to Christian behavior, often, than those who profess openly and loudly to be Christian. It’s a delicious little irony. Jesus preferred to eat with the sinners, too. According to Billy Joel (whose philosophy Jesus probably shares, don’t you thin?), “Sinners are much more fun.”

    I have to reconcile the fact that just being athiest isn’t a sin in order to make that philosophy work, but as a Christian, that’s one of the smaller reconciliations to make.

    The biggest, and most difficult of the reconciliations, is tolerating boors like Dobson, especially when he advocates policies that kill children (HPV vaccine, condoms). I can’t imagine a Jesus stupid enough to endorse such stuff. Maybe Dobson is smoking something he shouldn’t be smoking.

  72. #72 Chayanov
    March 31, 2007

    This seems to be part of a growing trend among the religious, to define narrowly who is and isn’t part of their religion. In the Twin Cities, the neo-pagan community is in the process of deciding who really is a pagan — apparently self-identification is no longer sufficient. Presumably this will allow them to marginalize those who aren’t “true” pagans and block them from their community — just like Dobson is trying to do.

  73. #73 Keith Douglas
    March 31, 2007

    Pelican’s Point: But the death of Jesus (as the story goes) is regarded by Christians as both a horrendous thing and a good thing, all at once, or haven’t you noticed? Mind you, the view that Judas Iscariot was a wonderful guy (a martyr, really) seems to have died out. (About the latter: think about it, if nobody betrayed Jesus, then he wouldn’t have been executed unjustly and thus not paid for our sins and all the usual bit.)

  74. #74 opisthokont
    April 1, 2007

    I have wondered about that Judas thing as well. Perhaps that explains why it is called “Good” Friday?

    In any event, though, that is a different type of martyrdom than the type that the Real True Christians are so enamoured with. The Christ-story martyrdom is about sacrifice and repentance and forgiveness; the Real True Christian sort of martyrdom is about finding something scary to help unite the believers and make them do what the Dobsons of the day want.

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