Arguing with Zealots 1 postmortem

I'm preserving a debate I had with someone on Facebook. The purpose is not to demean or malign the other party, but to analyze my responses and see where I could have done better. Names changed to blah blah blah.

Started with this link about the Supreme Court's support of Fred Phelps right to make an ass of himself:

True freedom of speech is neither easy nor pleasant. It requires us to tolerate speech that we find abhorrent. It amazes me how few people seem to realize this.

‎@ Grey - Then why is Christian -true Christian, not the Westboro type - speech or conservative speech not tolerated? Why does that seem to be okay? Why is it fine for them to offend me, but I can't offend them with the content of my Is it because real truth is the enemy of those who are behind PC speech? Why is it fair game to mock and deride those whose world view is based on an unchanging, consistent set of ideas? I will not take a back seat to those who would silence me and I'll defend the right of anyone who has a coherent thought process to speak his mind - as long as he is not trying to limit MY speech.

They (Westboro) obviously serve a different 'god' than bible-believing evangelical Christians. My God loves the sinner and rejoices greatly when he turns from his sin and follows God Almighty Who loves His creation. But He will deal ever so severely with those who teach His children to do wrong things and lead them down the wrong path.

First off, "no true Scotsman" fallacy. Secondly, this ruling clearly shows that 'Christian' speech is tolerated. Persecution complexes are unbecoming. We live in a nation where every leader since it's founding has identified as Christian. I'm not exactly sure where your 'Christian...speech or conservative speech not tolerated' is coming from, but in my own experience, there is plenty of it out there.

I don't know where you live, Grey, but if you're in the south, you probably haven't seen the intolerance in your "own experience," but believe me, it's out there. Have you not heard of Columbia University shouting down conservative speakers, or out right canceling them when students protested for even being scheduled? But it's okay for liberals speak because they have 'approved' speech and ideas.

And let's not forget about all the conflicts that arise when someone wants to display a cross in his own property. No persecution complex here.

Sorry Person, but I remain unconvinced. You can repeat the "Christians are percicuted in the USA" canard all you like, but it is simply untrue. How many non-Christian presidents have we had? How many non-Christian congressmen, governors? ... What organizations that receive public funds openly and loudly exclude Christians? The evidence simply doesn't back up your claims. If we were in the middle east, I'd tend to agree with you. But here, in the USA, Christians have it easy, especially when compared to other belief systems. I mean we are arguing in a thread about an extremist Christian cult's spewing of vile hate being judged as protected as free speech by the highest court in the land. That doesn't really support your argument.

NOTE: At this point, our conversation moved to messaging.

I didn't think the public forum on someone else's thread should be the place we have our debate.

Persecution is not a word I used. It's much too strong a term for what I originally talked about. You call this group (Westboro) and "extremist Christian cult". They are the farthest thing from being Christian I can imagine. There is not one Christian principle they espouse. That the Supreme Court upheld their right to free speech, hateful as it is, hardly qualifies as protecting Christian ideals.

Using your logic about having Christian presidents and congressman, governors, etc. as proof that Christians are not mistreated, I suppose that now that we have a black president, there is no more mistreatment of blacks our country.

Public schools, receiving public money, have more and more changed Christmas concerts to "Winter" concerts and have banned even Christmas colors. When students have decided to write Christian oriented papers, they are told to write about something else, even though they were told they could write about anything they wanted. Valedictorians are told they are not to mention God or Jesus in their commencement speeches. Prayers before football games have been curtailed or neutered. City council meetings that open with prayer are being attacked if individuals pray in Jesus' name. These aren't rumors. These things actually happen and have been happening now for some time.

Why is it okay for kids to recite Islamic prayers in school as some sort of cultural education, but they are not allowed to say Christian prayers? If you're going to prevent one religion in the name of "separation of church and state" (a phrase that isn't even in the constitution,) then all should be prevented.

Why are the Ten Commandments deemed offensive and have to be removed from sight, but when Christians say some television programming is offensive, they just say "change the channel if you don't like it."? Why are we not allowed to tell them to look the other way if the Ten Commandments are offensive to you?

There are plenty of things happening you may not be aware of if you get most of your info from the main stream media. They just don't think it's newsworthy. Unless, of course, some pastor is caught doing something wrong with their finances or a woman or another man. Then it's a front-page, top-of-the-lead story.

I agree that if we are to continue our debate, it is better to take it here rather than cluttering up Unrelated Person's Facebook.

The Westboro Church present themselves as Christian and went before the Supreme Court as a Christian Organization defending their right to free speech. You keep saying they aren't Christian, what is your basis for this statement? Do they not believe in God, do they deny that Jesus was his son and sent to die on the Cross? They are espousing that homosexuality is wrong and unrepentant homosexuals will go to hell. That seems pretty conservative Christian to me. I think it is the 'godless liberal' churches that are accepting of homosexuals.

So again I say, the rights of Christians (and, by the way, everyone else as well) to speak their mind was upheld and I'm at a loss as to how you thing this ruling somehow indicative of intolerance to Christian speech.

As to the whole 10 Commandments and Prayer in school thing, if you can't see the difference between private individuals sharing their beliefs in a public place and government indoctrination in a particular belief system, I can't help you. And if it offends me that the 10 commandments are on your front porch, or the back of your car, or even tattooed on your forehead, then you can tell me to just look away. But the last thing I want is our government in the religious business. Sure it sounds great, but what if the government's religion isn't yours. What if Phelps and company got into power? Or a Muslim? All of us are better off with a government that remains strictly secular. You believe what you wish, I'll believe what I wish, and Uncle Sam can stay right out of it.

I would suggest you take a look at rabbi Arnold Resnicoff's Prayers That Hurt: Public Prayer in Interfaith Settings ( ) (the link is to a pdf). I think that much of his thoughts apply not just to prayer in an interfaith setting, but to religion in the public square.

How is a student writing a Christian oriented paper for a class assignment even remotely considered government indoctrination? How is a student speech honoring the abilities God has given, a government endorsement of religion? The school system has gotten so hypersensitive to even the concept of God, they try to keep even mention His name out of their buildings. And I suppose you haven't heard about pastors who have been arrested on public property

As far as Phelps and company - you can't see they aren't Christian? They may be Old Testament zealots wanting a very strict interpretation and application of the "Law", but nothing they do exhibits the love and grace offered by Jesus. They never say anything about repentance and being saved from the fires of hell, they only condemn people, which is not their job. Their job as Christians, real Christians, is to reach out to people telling them the truth in love, not this vile garbage they spit out. God hates the sin, but loves the sinner.

They believe in a god that hates people that don't acknowledge him. How far from the truth! Romans 5:8 says "But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us." Matthew 7:15-17 says "“Watch out for false prophets. They come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ferocious wolves. By their fruit you will recognize them. Do people pick grapes from thorn bushes, or figs from thistles? Likewise every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit." I don't think they exactly dress up in sheep's clothing, but they sure act like ferocious wolves. And think about these qualities of a Christian described in Galatians 5:22-23 "But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law." I don't see any of these attributes on display with this group. No, sir, they are not Christian.

Yes, I agree they have a right to free speech, and in my initial comment on Unrelated Person's page,

NOTE: Looks like his comment got cut off by Facebook, no idea what else he was trying to say.

What students? What pastors? Where is your proof. You keep making wild paranoid claims without backing them up.

How, exactly, is "Christian...speech or conservative speech not tolerated"? Who is keeping you from "offend(ing) them with the content of my ideas"? What "conflicts that arise when someone wants to display a cross in his own property"? Which school "banned even Christmas colors"?

Book stores have whole sections of Bibles and religious books. There are even bookstores dedicated to purely Christian literature. Talk radio is dominated by Conservatives. Turn the television to a local channel on a Sunday morning, most likely you'll see a Church service. There are numerous conservative pundits with widely syndicated columns. Fox News is conservative 24-7, 365. There is no lack of Christian/Conservative speech.

Phelps' protests have been met by counter protests in many environments. You are free to grab some poster board and make your own sign in protest. Join the Freedom Riders, no one is stopping you.

A man in Pennsylvania man was ordered to take down the cross on his private property. It was 24 feet high and lit up until after midnight. Can't violate zoning laws for Jesus. Admittedly I'm guessing here, but I suspect a 24 foot star and crescent wouldn't have gone over too well either.

The Florida school banning Christmas colors, simply not true. Lying for Jesus is still lying.

You have equated posting the Ten Commandments on government buildings (a tacit endorsement of a particular religious view by the government) with television, which is private industry. This is disingenuous at best and outright deceptive at worst.

Calling me paranoid doesn't help keep the discussion on an intellectual basis, now does it. However, you're right in calling on me to cite evidence.

I'm much better at producing scriptural evidence for my views on Phelps & co. with which I see you didn't have a problem. Maybe I should clarify something: I said they weren't Christian. I should have said more correctly - If they are Christian, they sure don't act like it and I can't find any evidence to convince me they are. I can't know for sure. Only God knows that.

By your statements, you think I'm saying that the Christian faith is being prevented from operating in this country. Not so. I am only stating that there are several incidents of restrictions of Christian expression in the country. I understand we can have Bible book stores and libraries and secular book stores have sections on religion that include Christian books and authors. What I am saying is that there is a segment of society that is bent on quashing any expression of Christianity including the public display of Christian symbols.

Here is a short list being handled by one law firm representing Christians all across the nation:

As far as the colors being banned in Florida - my bad. I had not heard the follow-up. My apologies. I sincerely hope you were not calling me a liar with your closing statement after the Fox News link. If one operates on the assumption the information they have is correct and repeats that information, does that make them a liar? I think not. Lying is the willful and purposeful dissemination of known falsehoods which I did not do.

Here is another link with more information on the valedictorian in NV.


Her speech was edited by the school and she agreed to abide by their changes and then when she broke her word, the school pulled the plug.

Once again, lying for Jesus is still lying.

The point is her ability to speak her mind about her faith was curtailed. Sounds like censorship to me. Even if she agreed to it ahead of time, the school was telling her what she could or could not say. The whole point of our discussion was my assertion that there some who are trying to suppress the expression of Christian concepts and/or Christian language. I think I've proved my point, whether you want to believe it or not.

Lying is not a good thing to do. Neither is refusing to acknowledge the truth.

Yep, the school was giving her a platform from which to speak, as such they have a right to dictate the terms. As long as the terms are the same for any speaker, the school is within their rights. "'We review the speeches and tell them they may not proselytize,' Hoffman said. 'We encourage people to talk about religion and the impact on their lives. But when that discussion crosses over to become proselytizing, then we to tell students they can't do that.'" Doesn't sound like they are singling out Christians. Seems like a pretty blanket statement on how religion is to be handled at school functions. Not intolerance of Christians.

Public schools are extensions of the government and as such should not be espousing a specific religious viewpoint.

You seem to be backing away from your initial assertion, which was much broader than "some are trying to suppress the expression of Christian concepts and/or Christian language".

"Then why is Christian -true Christian, not the Westboro type - speech or conservative speech not tolerated? Why does that seem to be okay? Why is it fine for them to offend me, but I can't offend them with the content of my ideas?"

Have I misunderstood the change in your stance?

I think no answer will satisfy you. There are plenty of people, not the majority of course, but plenty none the less, who would just as soon have the Christians shut up and shut down. You seize on one example to try and thwart my position, all the while ignoring the listing of nearly two pages of lawsuits being brought for religious discrimination from just one law firm. That debunks your assertion that I am making "wild paranoid claims" regard regarding Christian bashing. Most of them will probably win in court - a few may not - but that is because constitutional law will back them, which is a good thing. I never asserted the law was against Christians.

However, are you aware of the Hate Speech law in Canada that prevents pastors from speaking out against homosexuality, even though it is directly addressed in the Bible? I'm sure if you do a search, you'll be able to find out about it. There are those in this country who would like to see a similar law passed.

"There are plenty of people, not the majority of course, but plenty none the less, who would just as soon have the Christians shut up and shut down."

And Christians are unique in this? I think the atheists, Jews and Muslims might want to have a word with you about that.

You have not come anywhere close to demonstrating that "true Christian...speech or conservative speech is not tolerated". I don't see a "not tolerated by some" in there, just a broad blanket statement that you have failed to back up. I've provided plenty of examples of how conservative/Christian speech is not only tolerated, but thrives.

Any socially active group can find plenty of people who want them to sit down and shut up.

"However, are you aware of the Hate Speech law in Canada that prevents pastors from speaking out against homosexuality, even though it is directly addressed in the Bible? I'm sure if you do a search, you'll be able to find out about it. There are those in this country who would like to see a similar law passed. "

What does this even mean and how is it relevant to the conversation. "There are those" is pretty vague. I can play the non sequitur game too. There are those who think the moon landing was faked. There are those who think the earth is only 6000 years old and a geocentric universe.

Your argument is either so vague as to be meaningless - "Some people don't like Christians" or so broad as to be unsupportable - "Christian speech isn't tolerated." Pick one, because I can't tell what you are trying to argue anymore.

And please, before you hit reply, put some thought into your argument. You seem to be anti Fred Phelps ( a pastor speaking out against homosexuality) and anti Canada's hate speech law, which is exactly what we'd have to have in America to shut Phelps down.

see ya. It ain't worth the trouble.

And that, as of now, is the end of the exchange. I won't be responding. At some point, I plan on doing a post mortem. I'm getting less patient with the reams of BS I see and need the practice if I'm going to try and stem the tide.

The experiment has ended.

I gave my two weeks notice today. I'll be returning to my old job for hopefully a short stint (6 months to a year). There was too much stress at the new job and I spent most of my time trying to cover my weaknesses rather than working my strengths.

I've got a plan. This is a "pull back and regroup" rather than a "rout".

(no subject)

Spent yesterday wanting to punch people in the face. Especially the parents who let their four year old daughter wander out of a sports complex unattended and into the street in front of an oncoming car. Thankfully the driver was paying attention.

Today I want to curl up into a ball and die.

Yeah this new job is working out great.

Getting the word out.

From WebMD, which has a pretty substantial section on depression:
"Major depressive disorder (depression) is not just a temporary mood, and it's not a sign of personal weakness. Depression is a serious medical condition with a variety of symptoms. Emotional symptoms can include sadness, loss of interest in things you once enjoyed, feelings of guilt or worthlessness, restlessness, and trouble concentrating or making decisions. Physical symptoms can include fatigue, lack of energy, and changes in weight or sleep patterns. Additional symptoms of depression may include vague aches and pains, irritability, anxiety, and thoughts of death or suicide."

Happy New Year!

Happy new year everyone. This marks four years I have been in this house.

And now a news burst.

First, why do stray animals follow me home. This time instead of a cat it was a Cocker puppy. Cute and well socialized. He had a collar but no tags. He tried to follow me inside, and like the Halloween cat, hung around my door looking pitiful. Being that this is not a night for a dog to be wandering the streets what with the drunk drivers and loud noises from fireworks, I led the dog around the neighborhood hoping he'd recognize his home and go to it. He didn't. He's obviously well trained as he either followed right beside me or wandered within 10 feet or so and always came right back. I left him at my door when he followed me home. I can't take a stray in. I really hope he finds his way safely home.

Second, work is stressful.

Third, last night I dreamed that I was visiting my grandmother and all my relatives were there. My cousin Mark was sitting in the carport and I was really happy to see him and we were talking excitedly when it dawned on me that he was dead. Mark died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound to the head several years ago. I don't remember what he said to me, but it ended up being a painful dream.

Fourth, Gigs is sick. Pancreatitis. Hopefully she'll be better this weekend.

Fifth, my biological parents got me The God Delusion for Christmas (it was on my list and the #1 no-one-will-ever-get-me-this choice). I'm enjoying it greatly.