ExChristian.Net -- encouraging ex-Christians

encouraging de-converting and former Christians
The ExChristian.Net blog exists for the express purpose of encouraging those who have decided to leave religion behind. It is not an open challenge for Christians to avenge what they perceive as an offense against their religious beliefs.
By Valerie Tarico

Mars Hill ChurchImage by speakingoffaith via Flickr

Last week I wrote an article about solar powered Bibles that are being sent to Haiti as aid. As a former Evangelical, I was trying to explain the psychology that turns a tragedy into a marketing opportunity for religions that need recruits. On a whim, I pulled up the website for Mars Hill Church in Seattle. Ok, it wasn’t a whim, it was a hunch based on past experience. At the time of the 2004 Asian Tsunami, I was researching local mega churches and ran across Mars Hill for the first time. I was appalled to see their home page recommendations for members: pray for the people in the disaster zone, give to Mars Hill church, give to our church building efforts in India. (Why wasn’t it “Pray for Mars Hill Church, give to the people in the disaster zone . . . ?)

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By Valerie Tarico

Response to HaitiImage by Toni_Chacheres via Flickr

While Doctors without Borders was struggling to get anesthetics for amputations into Haiti, an Albuquerque group queued up aid of their own sort: 600 solar powered talking Bibles. Eve now, food, water, and medicine are having trouble reaching Haitians because of damaged transportation facilities and supply lines, but the missionary group says some of their Bibles are on the way.

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by Valerie Tarico

It appears that televangelist Pat Robertson is in the thrall of Satan, according to spiritual warriors, Drs. Valerie Tarico and Marlene Winell. "It's the only possible explanation," said Tarico. "How else can we make sense of his repeated attempts to humiliate both God and Christianity in the wake of recent natural disasters."

Tarico spotted what she saw as a suspicious pattern after Robertson's recent remarks about Haiti. As people lay dying in the rubble of Tuesday's tragic earthquake and nations around the world scrambled disaster experts, Robertson spoke to the Christian Broadcasting Network's "The 700 Club:" "Something happened a long time ago in Haiti, and people might not want to talk about it," "They were under the heel of the French. You know, Napoleon III, or whatever. And they got together and swore a pact to the Devil. They said, we will serve you if you'll get us free from the French. True story. And so, the Devil said, okay it's a deal." Robertson summed it up: "Ever since, they have been cursed by one thing after the other."

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by Valerie Tarico

Gulu, UgandaImage by thetravellinged via Flickr

Today’s Seattle Times had an editorial finally about the horrendous anti-gay movement that has been spawned in Uganda by American Evangelicals. Unable to make sufficient homophobic headway at home, evangelists have been heading to Africa, with their literally perfect Bibles as proof that God hates gays. Ugandan leaders found God – the god of the evangelists—and passed a law condemning gays to death. Those who refuse to out them to the authorities get prison time. (In the face of international outrage, the law now only mandates life in prison rather than hanging.)

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by Valerie Tarico

Are you an atheist, agnostic, humanist, freethinker or some such who cringes at the thought of people being given the Four Spiritual Laws along with disaster relief? Do you think that promoting “eternal salvation” to five year olds is exploitative? Do you hate it that poor parents send their kids to Muslim or Christian madrassas because that’s the only way they can get them pencils and paper? Does it irritate you when fancy creationist museums are better funded than real natural history museums?

A new website with a January 1 launch date, may be just your thing.

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by Valerie Tarico

December twenty-first is winter solstice, the shortest day of the year, which makes the twenty-second the first day of more sun! Let me spell that out. Beginning this week we’re on a path toward “sun breaks” and dry sidewalks, a time when people will take their fleeces off for long enough to wash them, a time that pet poop will dry out enough that your kids can scoop it off the lawn. Anyone who thinks that winter solstice couldn’t possibly have spawned the rich array of celebrations that we now call Yule and Christmas and Divali and Hannukkah and Kwanzaa never lived in Seattle.

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by Valerie Tarico

Seattle was still reeling from the cold blooded execution of a police officer on Halloween, when the news hit on Sunday that four more officers were dead. Monday, as I was trying to weave my way through a city swarming with blue cars and uniforms, and drenched with anxiety and grief, I couldn’t help wondering about how an erratic serial criminal like Maurice Clemmons ends up on the streets. And since Clemmons was released by Mike Huckabee, the Arkansas governor and presidential hopeful who has made fundamentalist religion the center of his politics, I couldn’t help wondering if religion played a part.

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By Valerie Tarico

AbortionBas relief of a massage abortion from about A.D. 1150. Image via Wikipedia

Dear Bishops

In our struggle to get health care for all, you saw an opportunity to make sure that American women can’t afford abortions, a way to be the deciders for all of us.  You look at someone like me who has had an abortion, and you see a sin.  Perhaps you think that those of us who terminate pregnancies haven’t thought these things through from a moral standpoint.  Or maybe we are simply less moral than you are:  thoughtless, selfish, or promiscuous. 

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by Valerie Tarico

Last week a Muslim US army psychiatrist, Nidal Malik Hasan, shot and killed 13 of his fellow soldiers on the Fort Hood military base, injuring another 29. In response to the Fort Hood shootings, some people are blaming Islam. Others are saying Islam had nothing to do with it, that the problem is our war of aggression or failure to care for psychologically wounded soldiers. I believe both are wrong.

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by Valerie Tarico

Neurons in the brain"Neurons in the brain" by Hljod.Huskona via Flickr

"I had no need of that hypothesis."

Over the course of the summer I wrote a series of articles about brain science and Christianity, and I promised a final installment that never came. This is it. The series asked and--within the limits of present knowledge--answered a set of questions that fascinate students at the intersection of religion and psychology.

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by Valerie Tarico

ValerieTaricoCroppedValerie Tarico via Wikipedia

Please help obstruct the religious right by forwarding this article to anyone you know in Western Washington.

Next week in King County, Washington, "nonpartisan" Susan Hutchison will be vying with Democrat Dow Constantine for the role of County Executive. The seat controls significant resources in a region that often plays a leadership role in future oriented public policy. If King County were a state, its budget size would be 13th in the country. Economically, the county lives on cutting edge science, engineering and technology: Microsoft, Boeing, Amgen, Nintendo and a host of tech/biotech start ups.

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by Valerie Tarico

The Seattle Times today included an AP article about the recent quake in Sumatra, along with a “how to help” list. Top of that list was World Vision International.

What the article failed to mention and many donors fail to realize, is that World Vision is an Evangelical Christian organization with a mission that includes “serving as a witness to the gospel of Jesus Christ.” Perhaps the best known program of World Vision is their child sponsorships. As an Evangelical college student, I sponsored a child in India. I even got and sent a few letters, and it felt great knowing that thanks to me he could afford to attend a Christian school in his area.

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by Valerie Tarico

In case you missed the announcement, ShipofFools.com has published an “authoritative” list of the ten worst verses in the Bible. At a time when atheists are posting ads on billboards and busses around the world, you might assume that the Ship is an anti-religious site. But no. Ship of Fools is a Christian website with an impeccable British sense of the absurd. True to its name, the editors go where angels (and other Christians) dare not tread. "We're here for people who prefer their religion disorganized," says Simon Jenkins. "Our aim is to help Christians be self-critical and honest about the failings of Christianity, as we believe honesty can only strengthen faith."

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By Valerie Tarico

Change, we fear it....Image by apesara via Flickr. "Change... We don't like it, we fear it, but we can't stop it from coming. We either adapt to change or we get left behind. And it hurts to grow, anybody who tells you it doesn't is lying."

Change Happens

The most useful piece of learning for the uses of life is to unlearn what is untrue. –Antisthenes

My parents, as I’ve said before, were three for six in terms of producing believing children. All of us accepted Jesus as our personal savior. We all entered the “age of accountability” as born-again Evangelicals. But that’s not where we ended up. For each of the three who lost faith, the path was different: One came to see the shame of his homosexuality, not as a personal failing but as a failing of our moral ancestors – which then exposed the host of other moral failings in the Bible. Another was confronted by a small child’s cancer which unearthed a mother lode of buried questions about God’s beneficence and then existence. The third was simply born able to think his way out of most boxes, and he used this ability to the detriment of his salvation.

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By Valerie Tarico

How Viral Ideas Hook Us

Did you know that Temple Baptist Church was built on land that sold for 57 cents, the amount saved by a little girl that had been turned away from their Sunday school? Did you hear about the guy who died in his sleep, killed by his own farts? Can you believe it?! Elvis Presley said, "The only thing a nigger can do for me is buy my records and shine my shoes." And,guess what--scholars at the Smithsonian Institution have uncovered new interpretations of Nostradamus that relate to Barack Obama.

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By Valerie Tarico

The Born-Again Experience

Split Personality Setup IImage by nickwheeleroz via Flickr

I prayed harder and just then I felt like everything I was saying was being sucked into a vacuum. When I stood up, I felt like thin air; I had to brace myself. I felt this energy, it was a kind of an ecstasy.” Cathy “Something began to flow in me—a kind of energy . . . Then came the strange sensation that water was not only running down my cheeks, but surging through my body as well, cleansing and cooling as it went.” Colson “It was a beautiful feeling of well-being, warmth and loving . . . I went home and all night long these warm feelings kept coming up in my body.” Jean “I felt something real warm overwhelming me. It was in just a moment, yet it was like an eternity. . . . a joy, such a joy hit me with such a tremendous force that I jumped . . . and ran.” Helen. – from Conway & Siegelman, Snapping, pp 24, 32, 12, 31

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By Valerie Tarico

Ladder of KnowledgeImage by degreezero2000 via Flickr

I Know Because I Know

On a warm afternoon in June, two men have appointments with a psychiatrist. The first has been dragged to the office by his wife, much to his irritation. He is a biologist who suffers from schizophrenia, and the wife insists that his meds are not working. “No,” says the biologist, “I’m actually fine. It’s just that because of what I’m working on right now the CIA has been bugging my calls and reading my email.” Despite his wife’s skepticism and his understanding of his own illness, he insists calmly that he is sure, and he lines up evidence to support his claim. The other man has come on his own because he is feeling exhausted and desperate. He shows the psychiatrist his hands, which are raw to the point of bleeding. No matter how many times he washes them (up to a hundred in a day) or what he uses (soap, alcohol, bleach or scouring pads) he never feels confident that they are clean.

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By Valerie Tarico

I wasn't going to post this to ExChristian since it's a bit off topic, but because so many of us have been shamed by our religion for our abortions, I thought that some of you might find that it speaks to your experience.

George Tiller--physician, abortion provider, Lutheran, husband, father, grandfather--was shot and killed yesterday in the lobby of his church. He was killed after years of harassment and threats, bombing of his clinic, even being shot in both arms. And yet he continued doing what he did because he believed it was right.

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By Valerie Tarico

Why God has a human mind.

Jesus was a human, fathered by a god and born to a virgin. He died for three days and was resurrected. His death was a sacrifice, an offering or propitiation. It brings favor for humans. He lives now in a realm where other supernatural beings interact with each other and sometimes intervene in human affairs.

Gradually the mainstream of the American public is becoming aware that none of these elements is unique to Christianity. Symbologists or scholars who specialize in understanding ancient symbols, tell us that the orthodox Jesus story, as it appears in our gospels, follows a specific sacred or mythic template that existed in the Ancient Near East long before Christianity or even Judaism.

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By Valerie Tarico

Belief.Image by Gio JL via Flickr

My father died in a climbing accident when he was 59 and I was in my mid twenties. In one of our last deep conversations before his 300 meter misstep, he expressed his abiding hope that I would “get right with God.” Dad was the son of Italian immigrants, all Catholics, who got converted by door-to-door Pentecostals some years after their arrival in Chicago. His mother lived out her life in the Assemblies of God denomination that had recruited them all, while Dad settled into a closely allied form of Evangelical fundamentalism without the speaking-in-tongues bit. As far as I know, he never questioned his belief that the Bible was the literally perfect word of God and that Jesus died for his sins. And yet of his six children three of us, by Evangelical standards, are now slated for eternal torture. We are on the wrong side of a battle being waged on a spiritual plane, a battle in which those who are not on the side of God are agents of evil. If Dad were alive, our lack of belief would grieve him.

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By Valerie Tarico

La O de la discordiaImage by soyignatius via Flickr

For years atheists, agnostics, and other freethinkers have been saying that you don’t need a god to be good. Recently, they even tried to say it on the side of an Indiana bus. More and more, they are finding ways to show it.

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By Valerie Tarico

Interior of Chapel, United States Air Force Ac...Image via Wikipedia

Evangelism in the halls of the Pentagon. Personalized Bible studies for foreign diplomats. Passion of the Christ advertisers next to plates in the Air Force Academy mess hall. Officers Christian Fellowship buses from military bases to revival meetings. A Southern Baptist fundamentalist at the head of the Chaplain Corps.

Through Christian Embassy and similar organizations, millions of dollars annually are dedicated to insuring that our military leadership is steeped in born-again Christianity. The investment has paid off. Mikey Weinstein at the Military Religious Freedom Foundation receives letters daily from service men and women who have been coerced or intimidated because they aren’t born again. Ironically, most of those who complain are Christians – just not the right kind.

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By Valerie Tarico

Instruments of Torture album coverImage via Wikipedia

The circles I run in include a fair number of recovering fundies—people who were raised on the notion that morality comes from Jesus. In fact, the former Calvinists among us were taught that anyone who is not "washed in the blood" is utterly depraved. For real. A Seattle Calvinist mega-minister, Mark Driscoll, had this to say to his flock: "If the resurrection didn’t literally happen, there’s no reason for us to be here. If the resurrection didn’t literally happen, there are parties to be had, there are women to be had, there are guns to shoot, there are people to shoot." (Have you heard that Calvinism is all the rage?)

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By Valerie Tarico

Casting an axe in the bronze ageBronze Age casting of a bronze axe. smiling_da_vinci via Flickr

This week the Supreme Court declined to review a Texas murder case in which a juror brought a Bible into the sentencing process – showing that the Bible recommends death for anyone who kills another person with an iron rod (Numbers 35:16).

Let me say for the record that I’m not against the death penalty, and in this case it sounds like the defendant fit my criteria, too. I know I'm ruining my liberal credentials here, but I frankly don’t have any moral problem with the jury condemning him to death. However, to do so based on the sanctification of a Bronze Age legal code is somewhat horrifying—especially given the list of other "crimes" that are recommended for capital punishment in the Bible.

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By Valerie Tarico

Who do we trust...?Image by carf via Flickr

This week, Barack Obama is expected to sign into law the GIVE Act, which aims to increase volunteering. It gives young people a way to pay for education with public service. Some right wingers have been squawking because the plan excludes religious activities like church attendance and outreach from the social service hours that can be applied for credit. Personally I’m relieved. I want my taxes to pay for programs with clear benefits, and I want the wall separating church and state repaired. But before we secular types get all high and mighty we should take a look at why some people think that faith based programs are necessary for the good of society.

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The Resurrection—Tischbein, 1778.Image via Wikipedia

The Christian Bible culminates in a death and resurrection story. What is this story, and where did it come from? In this post, Valerie Tarico, author of The Dark Side, interviews Dr. Tony Nugent, scholar of world religions and mythology. Dr. Nugent is a symbologist, an expert in ancient symbols. He taught at Seattle University for fifteen years in the Department of Theology and Religious Studies and is a Presbyterian minister. This interview was first published in 2008.

Easter is coming. Some people are saying that the crucifixion and resurrection narratives simply retell the cycle of seasons, the death and return of the Sun. Others say that these stories are literal histories. But you say the reality is more complicated than either of these. You argue that the Easter stories - the death and resurrection of Jesus have very specific mythic origins.

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By Valerie Tarico

Wabbit SeasonImage by nasunto via Flickr


When Cory Doctorow at Boingboing recently posted a video of deadpanned quotes from fundamentalists, one moderate person of faith lamented that it seemed like open season on Christians. Is it?

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By Valerie Tarico

ValerieTaricoCroppedValerie Tarico -- Image via Wikipedia

Are more social ills associated with religion or a lack thereof?

If you’re honest, your answer to this question probably maps to your belief status. After all, most of us like to think we’re on the side of the elves, not the orcs-- that we and our kind are making the world better. In the absence of clear evidence, the religious and the nonreligious both believe this. Every once in a while, though, we actually get a bit of data that lands on one side of the question or the other, and last week some interesting research hit the press.

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By Valerie Tarico

Some time to think things over...Image by carf via Flickr


Sometimes I get letters from former Christians—the evangelical/fundamentalist type—who are also parents. “What do I say to my kids?” they ask. “I raised them to believe that without the blood of Jesus they are evil sinners. What a horrible thing for them to think! I feel guilty.” “All of their friends are members of our old church, so we keep going. I don’t want to tear them apart, but it’s getting harder and harder for me to pretend.” “When I try to talk to them they just cry. They think I’m going to hell.” No matter what age the kids are or what the situation, telling them you no longer believe can be tricky. Here are three things to remember.

  1. Help them to understand your changes as a matter of spiritual growth rather than spiritual abandonment....


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By Valerie Tarico

My brother, David, is gay. You can't tell by how he walks or talks or dresses. You wouldn't know who he loves and why unless you know him. The only clue, maybe, is that he happens to be nicer than the rest of my mother's offspring, including me. Several years ago, I said to David: All you have to do to mess with people's stereotypes is be out and be yourself. Whatever the ugly expectation might be: self absorbed, hedonistic, promiscuous, debauched, unable to relate to kids, whatever. . . . David isn't it.

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A photograph of the March 4, 1861 inauguration...Image via Wikipedia

By Valerie Tarico

What did Abraham Lincoln and Charles Darwin have in common besides their February 12, 1809 birthday? Both men transcended the self-centered thinking so characteristic of our kind, allowing them to see the unity of life in a new way. By self-centered, I don't mean selfish. I mean our incredible tendency to perceive ourselves as the measure of all that is: My tribe, my religion, my nation-state, my gender, my "race", my species--all else is here to serve us.

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LOS ANGELES, CA - JANUARY 22:  Mary Beth O'Don...Image by Getty Images via Daylife

By Valerie Tarico

Reprinted from the Daily Kos.

Most Americans who have any media access whatsoever know that last week a California woman with six prior children gave birth to octuplets. The details surrounding the birth (six prior kids, solo unemployed parent, in vitro implantation of eight or more embryos, probable millions in taxpayer expenses) are so extraordinary that they have provoked a normally taboo public conversation about whether childbearing can be immoral.

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A bottle of Arrogant Bastard Ale.Image via WikipediaBy Valerie Tarico

Atheists are arrogant. Who hasn’t heard it?

Arrogance is just one of their repellent qualities, of course. They are also ungenerous, cold, lonely, untrustworthy, amoral, and aggressive. You shouldn’t leave them around children. When I spoke last week to a group called Seattle Atheists, the organizer positioned me far from the door, and I speculated aloud about whether I should be worried for my safety, given what we know about atheist ethics.

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Outside Saddleback Church, Aug 16Image by DClemm via FlickrBy Valerie Tarico

Rick Warren, author of The Purpose Driven Life and founder of one of the country's most successful mega-churches was chosen to give the invocation at the Obama inauguration for the same reason Sarah Palen was chosen as McCain's running mate: as a valentine to Evangelicals.

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Madison Avenue, looking north from 40th StreetImage via Wikipedia
As Madison Avenue has shown us, sex, with the right mix of pop culture and edge can sell almost anything –Coca Cola, the Joker—or, as it turns out, the theological equivalent of either.

By Valerie Tarico

This weekend's NYT Magazine featured a piece by Molly Worthen about Seattle megachurch Mars Hill: "Who Would Jesus Smack Down?". The article, like the church itself, leads with titillation. And as in the church itself, the titillation is an opener for Calvinism – the kind of fundamentalism that says we are all utterly depraved, doomed to eternal torture – except that the God of Calvin has chosen a lucky inside group for salvation.

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Happy ChildrenImage by chrissuderman via FlickrBy Valerie Tarico

As parents, we want our children to be happy. We want them to achieve great things. But we also want them to be good people. We want to be as proud of their kindness, generosity and integrity as we are of their achievements. How do we help them get there?

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Moses and the Burning Bush by Nicolas Froment ...Image via WikipediaValerie Tarico interviews Dr. Tony Nugent, scholar of world religions. Dr. Nugent is a symbologist, an expert in ancient symbols. He taught at Seattle University for fifteen years in the Department of Theology and Religious Studies and is an ordained Presbyterian minister.

Most Americans know how Christmas came to be celebrated on December 25: The Emperor Constantine chose the date because it was winter solstice in the Julian Calendar, the birthday of dying and rising gods like Mithra and Sol. Some people also know that our delightful melange of Christmas festivities originated in ancient Norse, Sumerian, Roman and Druid traditions - or, in the case of Rudolph, on Madison Avenue.

But where does the Christmas story itself come from: Jesus in the manger, the angels and wise men?


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Merry CHRISTmas -  4 Reasons for ChristmasImage by Daniel Y. Go via FlickrBy Valerie Tarico

I just love Christmas!” my friend Hannah confessed recently, “even though I’m appalled by Christianity.” She sounded sheepish, as if loving Christmas somehow made her bad.

Poor Hannah. I understand her tone of apology. What Hannah is appalled by isn’t the broad range of kind, thoughtful Christians in her community, but rather the thin cruel theologies that drive the Evangelical Right. People like Bill O’Reilly have claimed Christmas for their own--deriding broader holiday traditions. “It’s about Jesus!” They cry loudly. “Jesus is the reason for the season!” “It’s a Christian holiday (and this is a Christian country)!” Who wants to be associated with O’Reilly and his minions?!

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Cover of Cover via AmazonBy Valerie Tarico

Bill O’Reilly is in heaven, because the Freedom From Religion Foundation (FFRF) has given him a platform from which to launch his latest series of tirades about “The War on ChristmasTM.” Alongside a manger scene and a holiday tree, the executive office building in Washington State now has a plaque that says, “At this season of the Winter Solstice, may reason prevail.” It goes on to add: “There are no gods, no devils or angels, no heaven or hell. There is only our natural world. Religion is but myth and superstition that hardens hearts and enslaves minds.” The sign was placed by ex-evangelist Dan Barker (author of Godless) on behalf of Washington members of the FFRF, an organization that works largely on separation of church and state.



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by Valerie Tarico

Within a few days of each other, on opposite sides of the world, on opposite ends of the wealth and privilege spectrums, the faithful filled two stadiums. In one, in Kismayo, Somalia, 1000 Muslim believers watched the stoning of a 13 year old girl—Aisha was her name--condemned for adultery because she dared to complain about being gang raped. In the other, in San Diego, California, thousands of Evangelicals sang and swayed and pledged their bodies and souls to the purpose of stripping gay men and women of equality under the law and specifically the right to marry. Like Aisha, those men and women have names. One of them is named Kent. Another David. Another Will. I know because I love them , as Aisha’s broken parents loved their daughter.

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By Valerie Tarico, Ph.D.

When moral and spiritual ideas were handed down via oral tradition, they could evolve with the cultural and technological context in which they existed. Some stories were repeated often around the fire while others, less favored, eventually faded into the hazy past. Uninteresting details might be omitted by a storyteller, others elaborated. New implications might be extracted—rules, roles, and ideas about the natural world--depending on the needs of the era. The gods themselves matured.

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Suggested by Valerie Tarico

A clip from "Now on PBS". A right wing religiholic woman and her reasons for disliking Barack Obama.

The kind of smug, self-righteous ignorance and bigotry this woman displays is frighteningly common.

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Posted by Valerie Tarico

Reprinted from the Daily Kos. If you are a member there, please recommend this article so that it will get more discussion time!

Dear Sarah,

As a former fundamentalist, I'd like to call you on what you are doing.

The media has found you "opaque" about your religion. Why? You have not been honest about the most important thing about you: the fact that you are a born-again charismatic on a mission from God. Most people who have never been entrenched in the subculture of fundamentalist Christianity may not understand what this really means, but I do. Like you, I was raised in the Assemblies of God and I was a zealous part of the Jesus Movement. Like you, my life was consumed with seeking God's will for my life and awaiting the imminent return of Jesus.

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By Valerie Tarico

At a news conference in Florida this week, John McCain couldn't resist the opportunity to bring up remarks by Jeremiah Wright, calling them "beyond belief." This, despite the fact that Bill Moyers, in an hour long interview last Friday showed the world the broader context in which the remarks were made. McCain, who seeks to position himself above dirty politics, has instead positioned himself as a hypocrite.

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By Valerie Tarico

Biblical creationism, repositioned as creation science and most recently intelligent design has lost the contest of ideas on all counts: the rules, the criteria and the judging. It doesn't follow the scientific method; it doesn't allow us to explain, predict, and control better; and the jury of relevant experts (aka biologists) keeps returning the same verdict.

Now the creationists have taken a new approach that they hope will help them achieve their goal of teaching religious beliefs in our schools as science. That approach can be summed up in one simple word: whining.

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By Valerie Tarico

As I speak publically about fundamentalism, one theme I encounter is the pain of parents who have lost children to religious recruiters. My friends, Elise and Thomas, have a wonderful smart daughter who was recruited into Jehovah’s Witnesses by a college boyfriend and now spends much of her time doorbelling. A colleague has little contact with his grown son, who isolates himself in a fundamentalist Evangelical community. Yet another woman, a professor, is cut off from her grandchildren because her scientific world view is perceived as a threat. One couple stood by helpless as their daughter struggled with her marriage to an abusive Muslim who demanded absolute obedience to himself and his religion. All of these parents feel helpless and often heartbroken.

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By Valerie Tarico

In this post about the mythic origins of Easter, Valerie Tarico , author of The Dark Side, interviews Dr. Tony Nugent, scholar of world religions and mythology. Dr. Nugent is a symbologist, an expert in ancient symbols. He has taught at Seattle University for the past fifteen years in the Department of Theology and Religious Studies and is a Presbyterian minister.

Tarico: Easter is coming. Some people are saying that the crucifixion and resurrection narratives simply retell the cycle of seasons, the death and return of the Sun. Others say that these stories are literal histories. But you say the reality is more complicated than either of these. You argue that the Easter stories – the death and resurrection of Jesus have very specific mythic origins.

Nugent: I view the story of Christ in the Gospels of the New Testament as a powerful and spiritually wise sacred story. While the story is told as if it happened, it is a theologically and mythically constructed history...

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By Valerie Tarico

Recently a fellow traveler asked me how he could explain to his children the changes that he is going through. I realized, as I wrote out some thoughts for him, that I had never shared these same thoughts with my own family members who have grieved and feared for my soul. If they could understand the following, perhaps they might worry less:

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By Valerie Tarico

In the name of God all manner of moral boundary crossings become conceivable. In the service of a biblical god or the Bible-as-God, they all too often become real.

For Evangelical Christians, the greatest good in the world is winning converts. A Christian who wins a convert saves a soul that would otherwise be condemned to eternal torture. According to traditional Roman Catholic theologies in which modern Evangelicalism has its roots, only true believers are exempt from this fate.

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By Valerie Tarico

My book, The Dark Side, has an in-your-face subtitle: “How Evangelical Teachings Corrupt Love and Truth.” It’s in your face and so, not surprisingly it triggers push-back. One of the questions I get is a wearisome post-modern “What is truth, anyways? What is all this whining about Christian dogmas violating truth like you have some higher standard? (Implied: As if any perspective could lay any more valid claim to truth than any other.)”

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Posted by Valerie Tarico

Can we find a way to move beyond tribalism and superstition in our quest for meaning? Can we build spiritual communities that are morally and intellectually accountable, rooted in what we know about ourselves and the world around us? Even moderate people of faith seem to defend their religious texts and traditions as packages. And interfaith work that seeks to transcend tribal boundaries says blythely that "it's all good." Nick, a commenter at Radio Open Source suggests a first step toward something truly different. It's definitely what I want!

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By Valerie Tarico

"Condoms don't belong in school, and neither does Al Gore." So said Frosty Hardison, a parent of seven children, one of whom recently was threatened with exposure to An Inconvenient Truth, in her suburban Seattle science class. Frosty also stated, for the record, ""The information that's being presented [in the movie] is a very cockeyed view of what the truth is. ... The Bible says that in the end times everything will burn up, but that perspective isn't in the DVD." The world, according to Frosty, is about 14,000 years old. Maybe it's been around long enough?

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By Valerie Tarico

This post is excerpted from The Dark Side: How Evangelical Teachings Corrupt Love and Truth.

Thou to Whom the sick and dying Ever came, nor came in vain, Still with healing word replying, To the wearied cry of pain —Godfrey Thring1

ONE OF THE MOST POTENT CHALLENGES THAT NATURE RAISES AGAINST THOSE who want to believe in a just, loving, and omnipotent God is human suffering. We may diminish or even dismiss the suffering of “dumb beasts,” but we know that our own pain hurts. Worse, empathy makes it difficult to ignore the many forms of trauma suffered by our fellow humans.

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This post is excerpted from The Dark Side: How Evangelical Teachings Corrupt Love and Truth. (www.lulu.com/content/220355.)

There is nothing respecting which a man may be so long unconscious of as
the extent and strength of his prejudices.
—Francis Jeffrey1


Several of the writers of the Bible didn't care much for females. More than one thought homosexuals were vile. Some considered foreigners to be slightly less human than God’s Chosen People.

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