When the Locker Room is in the West Wing

“And we should get on to much more important things and much bigger things.” –Donald Trump, then GOP Nominee for President during the second Presidential Debate via New York Times transcript.

The 2016 election has long passed, and we are now almost a year into Donald Trumps Presidency that has been constantly marred by President Trumps tweets, outlandish statements and actions. No different were his days as a Presidential candidate though. The most bombshell statement came from President Trump during a 2005 Access Hollywood tape that everyone and their sister has heard by now, where Donald Trump is overheard making a comment about grabbing women by the “p****”. When this tape surfaced, Donald Trump, and unfortunately many other “men” defended these comments as “Locker room talk”.

When Donald Trump was asked about these comments during a Presidential Debate with CNN he claimed that he did not do these things (I hope not!), and then continually pivoted to other topics, ultimately making the claim, “And we should get on to much more important things and much bigger things.”, and in that moment many felt as though “locker room talk” and “more important things” apparently needed to be discussed. Until the #metoo movement of 2017, this has largely been how this country and the world really has responded to the sex problem of us men in society. There are currently 130 million girls not being educated, according to several sources, across the globe. This is, in large part, due to the view of women as second class citizens in almost every corner of our world. Whenever the man that admitted to making those claims is elected to be the President of the United States it sends an alarming message that we have more important things to talk about then the oppression, and objectification of women. Maybe to make this easier for some people I should say, the oppression and objectification of another human being is being dismissed as less important then other issues. Presently, leaders from across the world have made a commitment to have girls educated for a full 12 years by the year 2030. I personally find that to be a ridiculous timeline, this needs to happen much sooner. I recently read a story in TIME magazine by Malala Yousafzai, titled Who Runs the World? Girls!. This was a wonderful story about several young girls reality where they are practically traded through marriages, and removed or even never allowed to be formally educated. In America there is a long-held, deep understanding as women being “barefoot and pregnant”. There are still cultures here in America, particularly in the south, where women are encouraged to get married, have children, and be a homemaker. While, in some circumstances, this is genuinely what a woman wants, I would attribute this to manipulation then a woman’s actual choice. I personally do not think that a marriage certificate should be issued for anyone under the age of 21 at least (yes both individuals must be 21). I have no understanding why a woman, or man should be allowed to enter into a contractual obligation with another individual before they can have a drink of alcohol. Many in our country look at marriage as a binding institution that, outside of adultery (and some even question that), should never be dissolved. A woman’s role, in many societies, is to follow the leadership of her husband. This archaic teaching, combined with the access to marriages at a young age, leave women in this “first-world” country to be oppressed without even knowing it. I realize that many couples have a story of meeting at 18, or even in grade school, then marry at a young age, and die married. I do not doubt these stories one bit, however I feel like if they would have been required to wait until 21 to be married it would have made that outcome indifferent. Basically, if it was truly “meant to be” (another blog for another day), then waiting until 21 would have changed nothing. With most insurance companies for parents being willing to carry their children well into their 20’s, and to file on taxes, why does someone need to get married before they are 21? I believe, that removing that opportunity for a man to tie down a woman contractually (whether that is his mindset or not), would encourage women to pursue a career and/or education first. I truly believe that “knowledge is power”, and women are already remarkable without the access to education.

When it comes to the oppression and objectification of women, the easiest route to destroying this disease of men is access to upward mobility in careers, equal pay, and access to education. A woman needs to know that her body is not what is required to succeed, but her abilities, in the same way as a man. However, unfortunately right now in our society the way a woman is discussed, and treated shows that a woman’s body is all she has. While upward mobility, equal pay and education are pivotal in this culture changing; I know that without the “Billy Bush’s” (the Access Hollywood reporter that was heard laughing at Donald Trumps remarks) growing a spine, there will be slow progress. I have this crazy idea that there are more “Billy Bush’s” then there are “Donald Trumps”. I do not think that Donald Trumps comments are normal “locker room talk”. However, it is those of us who laugh at these comments, and dismiss them that are harming this progress. We have never said the things that Donald Trump stated, but we laughed at the statement from our “cooler” buddy, we kept quiet when the WORK e-mail (even the “af.mil” e-mail) that had pictures of barely clothed women came across our inbox, we shared in the stories of the women we had crazy sex with (even if they were most likely made up stories) to “fit-in”. No, we are not sexual predators, we are not rapist, we are not even disgusting men (as our talk makes us seem), we are worse then that, we are spineless men. We have to be willing to step up and speak out when women are treated this way, often without any women present when it is spoken (go figure). Are you willing to stunt your growth in a company by calling out your supervisor for making a sexist comment? Are you willing to risk being black-listed, demoted, given a low EPR (Enlisted Performance Report) when that Chief Master Sergeant makes that degrading comment about a woman Airman who just walked out of the room? Are you willing to allow your manhood to be questioned when you show disgust towards another man when he makes a comment such as “yea, I’d hit that”? Please explain to me how self-restraint is not a mature character? These “men” need to be called out. Women need to be given opportunities outside the strip clubs, the porn sites, and the kitchen! Donald Trump “men” need to be put in their place. Locker room talk needs to be removed from our culture. Unfortunately, the locker room has moved into the west wing of the White House. In 2020 we need to make a stand. I do not mean the women either, they can make their stand, and I know that they will. I am talking about all real men. We need to boot this disgusting animal from the oval office. He needs to move his locker room back to Trump Tower.

The godless Pastor,

Billy J. Crocker

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My hope for you for 2018

The year in review: The good

2017 has been an amazing, joyful, liberating, hurtful, divisive, difficult year. I started this year with an amazing gift from K9s for Warriors, receiving my service dog, Dozer. I was on a waiting list for her for almost two years, and you can read more about what she has meant to me in my blog post, My pill bottle wears a vest. I was thrilled to see the progress she helped me make with so many symptoms of PTSD, anxiety, OCD, and depression. I ended 2016 not sure how much longer I would be able to hang on, and now I feel like I cannot see far enough into the future. I became a lot more active on my blog writing, which is something I have wanted to do for a very long time. We hit over 1,000 visitors (THANK YOU ALL!), increased our views to over 3,000, and over 29 countries viewed this website, including very freethinking oppressed countries. Our top 5 countries were USA, Australia, Canada, United Kingdom, and Malaysia (in ranking order). We have over 300 followers between subscriptions to the blog, follows on Twitter, and likes on Facebook. It has been a great year for this blog. We moved to North Carolina during this time, which provides a lot of inspiration for writing, it is a beautiful state.

Over 29 countries viewed this website, including very freethinking oppressed countries.

What I learned

In looking back, we should only seek to learn lessons, not dwell or wallow in self-pity. On that note, in 2017 I learned what I believe for me. That has been a tremendously good thing. I introduced myself to people like Julia Sweeney, by watching her monologue; Letting go of God.  I watched a documentary on “The Amazing Randi”, about a magician James Randi, who staked his reputation on debunking magic tricks, psychics, and even an evangelical “Preacher”. I learned who George Carlin is, and found out subsequently that he unfortunately passed away. I have now watched the majority of his stand-up work, and it brings me joy to watch the way in which he articulated what so many of my thoughts were about religion. I have reconnected with my brother who has been out of my life for over 20 years, which has been phenomenal, and I am looking forward to that relationship continuing to grow. I read, and I read some more. I have always loved to read, but I would filter my reading based on my preconceived notions of what was “worth” reading, and what was not. You want to know what was not worth reading? Anything that questioned the idea of god. In case you didn’t know, that is a lot of f****** (for my PG readers) material. Let me give you an example; at the beginning of the year I started to read The God delusion from Richard Dawkins, and only about two chapters in I put it down, and immediately sought out Christian approved responses to this book. Only wanting to hear what was wrong with the book, and why I could safely dismiss it as garbage did little to satisfy my longing for the truth. The way in which I worked my way back in was actually through somewhat middle-ground material. I guess what I mean by that is moderate believers. A good example would be Rob Bell. I admire Rob Bell for being willing to step out of the box, and consider an alternative way to believing in god. I read his book What is the Bible?, which created a lot of controversy and judgment from the mainstream Christian crowd. I read Karen Armstrong’s A History of God: The 4,000 year old quest of Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. The most convincing book that caused me to walk away from my beliefs, which I held for 21 years of my life, was the actual Bible (The Holy Bible in ESV, CSB, HCSB, NIV, NASB, and yes even KJV). It was once I started to consider the inconsistencies in scripture, and the major implication differences between denominations that my beliefs really began to unravel. That was the moment I became The godless Pastor. I was at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary when the light went on for me. That was scary. Trying to hold back from coming out completely, I just started asking questions, and pressing myself to look beyond my labels which I had, and society had placed on myself. Once it became clear that simply moving outside of my initial comfort zone, and clearly the comfort zone of my circle of influence, it seemed inconsequential to go ahead and declare my atheism, which I did in the blog Dear Friends and Family,. During this time I also stumbled upon one of, if not the game-changer book, godless by Dan Barker. Reading his story, and his background, I immediately connected with his history. I then re-read the entire book The God delusion by Richard Dawkins, and my mind was blown. From there, I continued to read, and I was, and am continuing to read everything. Like a bird that has been in a cage its entire life being released into the air, I am spreading my wings into territories which I never even considered. Unfortunately, this decision to be open about my beliefs has not been as inconsequential as I have hoped. I have lost a lot of people in this process, and had very hurtful things said directly towards me. I hate that this decision to be open about my beliefs, and to call into question others beliefs has caused so much divide. However, mixed in with that I have had so many people reach out to me personally and thank me for doing this. I have had many people, even current Christians, confide in me their appreciation for my blogs, and my boldness about what I am learning. While I have lost some people, I have gained so many others that I would have never met if it hadn’t been for my blog. All in all it has been a wonderful, amazing year.

2018 reading list

I honestly do not know how you could enjoy writing, and not enjoy reading, but for me it is my escape. I love to read. I want to share with you what my reading goals are for this new year, and encourage some of these books to you.

1) The Seven Decisions, by Andy Andrews

2) The Mind of God, by Dr. Jay Lombard

3) The New Jim Crow, by Michelle Alexander

4) Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind, by Yuval Noah Harari

5) The Lynching, by Laurence Leamer

6) Cosmos, by Carl Sagan

7) Parenting beyond Belief, by Doug McGowan

8) The Selfish Gene, by Richard Dawkins

  9) The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck, by Mark Manson

  10) Science in the Soul, by Richard Dawkins

11) Homo Deus: A Brief History of Tomorrow, by Yuval Noah Harari

12) The Holy Bible, by multiple human authors

Check these books out, and let me know in the comments if you plan on reading any of these with me during this new year.

2018, a hope

My hope for all of you in this new year is that you are able to think critically, and without walls. May you always be willing to look outside of the black and white box the world tries to put us in, and look in the gray area. That is where the best of everything is. READ, I cannot overstate this enough, read, and read some more. This includes religious material. Read magazines, books, newspapers, etc. I have found I need the tactile feeling of actual pages to turn, and so e-books are not my friends. However, whatever floats your boat, have at it. I just want you to think. If this means you become stronger in your religious convictions, great! If this means you walk away from all of your religious convictions, great! As long as you do it for YOU! My last hope for all of us, including me, would be that we would figure out a way to realize that we are one of 7.6 billion people (even more co-species), and empathy needs to happen. We need to start caring, and caring more about the other living, human beings, and other species then we do our religious convictions. It is in your hands, my hands. We are individually responsible for how this next year will pan out. So, let us get a spark in our ass, and start doing. Let’s do this!

The godless Pastor,

Billy J. Crocker

BREAKING NEWS: FCA Goldsboro, NC; Pastor says parents of children born out of wedlock are illegitimate

A local private Christian school, Faith Christian Academy, regularly host visiting preachers to come to their chapel, according to their website. The school utilized their Facebook page to post a recording of both their elementary and middle/high school chapel services towards the beginning of this 2017-2018 school year. During the middle/high school chapel service, a visiting pastor from Houston, Texas stated to these middle/high school children, “…even the world calls offspring from a union that was not from a legal binding marriage, they call the children illegitimate children…let me say parenthetically that I would never refer to a child born out of wedlock as illegit, I do refer to the parenting as illegitimate, the parents are illegitimate.”. You can listen to this in the video below at around the 16:00 mark, not to mention this preacher goes on for nearly 50 minutes to a group of middle/high school kids.

This is just more fundamentalism that needs to be spoken out against, and should be considered mentally, and emotionally abusive to children. Conservatives are always complaining about how children are not given a choice in reference to abortion, but then they do not give their children a choice in what they believe, who they love or marry, and on and on and on. I often hear fundamental Christians describe abortion as disgusting (even when not understanding or listening to the story behind it), or a LGBTQ couple as disgusting. Folks, this “preacher” is disgusting.

**I have reached out to the school administrator for comment, and have not received a reply as of the time for the posting of this blog post.**

Parenting: Can an Atheist be thankful?

“The most terrible moment for an atheist is when he feels grateful and has no one to thank.” -Anonymous

A statement that used to cause me to be puzzled is the one above. Yet, I heard that statement many times over the 21 years I spent as a Christian. I grew up in a home where we rarely “gave thanks”, in the traditional sense. My upbringing, until my teenage years, was an environment where god was assumed to be real, but rarely was he discussed. Yet, I often found things, and people to be thankful for. Their truly is not any reason why an atheist could not be thankful. The silly assumption in the quote above is that an apparent large percentage of the things we have to be grateful for, have to be divine in origin, and divine only.

“Give thanks to the LORD, for He is good. His love is eternal.” –Psalm 136:1, CSB

In the Christian faith you are supposed to give god thanks for everything that happens in your life. Your spouse gives birth to a healthy child, give thanks to god. You’re able to put food on the table, give thanks to god. You get a great job, thank god. The more twisted versions of this thankfulness would be when you are ill. However, most mainstream Christians teach that even in your pain you are supposed to give thanks to god. After all, Romans 8:28 says, “And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.” (KJV). In the Christian faith, no matter what happens to you, whether extraordinarily amazing, or horribly bad, praise god.

So, how do I teach my children?

Bertrand Russell has said, “Good parenting is inspired by love and guided by knowledge.”, and this is where I believe every kid thrives. A Christian would have to avoid reality to suggest that a belief in god is the “thing” prevalent in every healthy home. Just like Christians do not own the corner on “good people”, they do not own the corner on good children, a healthy home, or gratitude. I know the necessary message of the Christian is that you don’t have it all, and that answer is Christ, but this is simply missing a larger point. I know that the “hole in your life” analogy has been preached in front of me many times over the course of my life. The basic concept of this analogy is that you feel an emptiness inside of you, the speaker knows this, and his answer for that emptiness is god. Where in reality that hole is love, and knowledge. The “thing” in our parenting does not have to be god, but it better be love, and knowledge. This is no different in aspects of being grateful. I absolutely will teach my children gratitude. Yet, unlike the Christian, I do not have to explain gratitude as belonging to god, but instead to actual things. You see, I can explain to my children that they can be thankful to the doctors, and modern science when we bring home a little sibling for them to love. I can explain to my children that when we put food around the table this thanksgiving, and everyday, that we can be thankful to so many actual, living people. We can be thankful to the farmers, we can be thankful to the grocery store workers, we can be thankful to whoever made the meal (Mommy or Daddy, or if someone brings food, thankful to them). I can show my kids that when good things happen to us, that there are real people that we can be thankful towards, and that this big 7.6 billion person world we live in gives a lot to be thankful for, and that it is all of us that makes the world go round. Additionally, when we experience heartache, or pain, or suffering we can be thankful that we are still breathing. We can be thankful to the doctors for easing our pain, or the pharmaceutical companies for their hard work at making medicine to help us through ailments. There is a lot to be thankful for, and I would suggest that the list is even larger for an atheist.

The godless Pastor,

Billy Crocker

 

Marriage as a Secular/Religious Couple

The bibles confusing message

It is not easy to read your scripture and figure out what the bible thinks of marriage. Whether or not you should even get married as a believer is brought into question in 1 Corinthians 7:32-40. That section of scripture is full of confusion. Paul goes back and forth on the benefits of staying unmarried, and going ahead and getting married. Paul even goes as far to say that you are not sinning if you go ahead and get married (v. 36), but that he would recommend you not get married (v. 38). Paul does leave us with a little levity in this thought that he says “I think that I also have the Spirit of God” (v. 40). Well, at least he only “thinks” he has the spirit of god. Maybe, he is talking out of his ass. Maybe, he is speaking with the full inspiration of god.

Then there is the issue of what to do if you are a believer, and your spouse is an unbeliever. My wife, who is a believer, has been told from “Pastors” that she has the right to leave because I am unfit to lead my family spiritually. Here is the thing, when you look at scripture it is easy to see both sides. 2 Corinthians 6:14-18 makes it clear that a believer must be separate from unbelievers. However, Paul, in 1 Corinthians 7:10-16 makes it clear that unless the unbelieving spouse wants to leave, then the believing spouse “must not divorce” (v. 12 &13) that spouse. To be clear, I think a divorce should be the freedom of an individual, not a fairy god in the skies opinion. However, for my wife she values what is morally right within the context of the Christian bible, and this is no doubt a difficult place to find the answer. For her, she has simply had to decide personally what she feels is right, and why our marriage matters.

Why it still matters

Marriage has to matter to you personally. One of the most offensive things I hear as an atheist is that I must not care about life anymore. I have also heard the question of why my marriage should matter as well. Personally, all I can think when people suggest such outlandish things is that their indoctrination must run really deep. The strange thing to me is that Christians are always talking about how much they long for Jesus’ return and to be with Jesus in heaven. It seems to me that the Christian has more to answer for why this life matters, and why their marriage matters, if all they long for has to do with this apparent next life. Nevertheless, marriage matters because relationship matters. Even other species are social creatures. I have an amazing dog who will not even let me go to the bathroom by myself, and loves to be with me and our family as much as possible. Community simply makes things better, and this is true no matter what species you belong to. It seems to be only humans really that can manage to be alone entirely, but even humans do not seem to do it very well. Relationships are challenging, and rewarding. You can certainly end up in some very bad ones (I have had my fair share of bad ones, even being divorced), but you can also end up in some amazing relationships. I am not even necessarily talking about specifically marriages on that point. People can be amazing, and yes they can even be horrible. You cannot really know until you get out there and try to meet others. You will meet the most amazing people ever, and then you will meet the most horrible people ever. Marriage is worth it because of the connection that you can have with another individual. The level that you can get into through that commitment of marriage is something that is simply not possible with a one night stand.

Finding common ground

Creeds are an important part of most cultures. Throughout history, creeds are something that people of all walks of life and religions have used to hold their society together under a shared set of values and beliefs. Often times we consider these creeds to be parts of our core character, and whether or not we hold to them dearly, we would rather risk dying then to let go of them. When I think of creeds, and the importance that we allow them to play in our lives I cannot help but think of when I was a teenager out on my grandparents farm. I always found it interesting that with several hundred acres for cows to roam, in general, they would always take the same paths when moving around to graze. They actually would take the same path so often that the grass would no longer be able to survive and ultimately with thriving grass around this path, where they walked most often, a trail with only dirt would form. We all seem to be creatures of habit. I believe that when it comes to our creeds this is the dirt path we have formed in our minds. It is the most comfortable, and the most familiar. I have spent the majority of my life walking a path of the Christian creed. The majority of the rest of my family is still on this path of the Christian creed. It seems as though, more often than not, many choose to stay on a path for social reasons more then actual committed beliefs in those creeds.

In marriage, what is important is that we find areas where our foot trodden paths cross. Hopefully, and most likely, our paths cross more then what society, and the bible would like us to think. When we hold different creeds this can seem to be an impossible task, but if both are willing to put in the work to make the marriage a priority then this is possible. For my experience, my wife and I came from two completely different backgrounds. The ironic thing is that I was the one that came from the fundamental ultra-conservative background, while she came from a more liberal view of Christianity. This has made the process a lot easier to navigate. I want to glean two things from our experience to share with you for hope. First, I was the fundamental ultra-conservative baptist spouse. I was not just believing in these things, but even preaching the fundamental message across the world. I point this out to give you hope, whether you are the same as me, and have become an atheist that you are not alone. I also point this out if you happen to be the liberal Christian who became an atheist and are concerned that your fundamental spouse will never change, it is possible for them to change their views. The second thing I want us to take away from my own experience is that having different beliefs in the big questions of life is not a nail in the coffin in your marriage. At first, it may seem that way, but if you can find common ground you can move forward with this different set of beliefs. This has not been an easy transition, but it is possible to come out the other end still together. Now, this is still very new in our marriage, so I do not speak from guaranteed knowledge that it will 100% work out despite our differences in beliefs. However, what my wife and I know is that differences in beliefs is a silly reason to end a marriage that is based on love and friendship. Because here is the reality, with or without the same beliefs, it is the same kind of hard.

After all, it is the same kind of hard

Let’s be honest, marriage is not built on religious beliefs, but rather the morals and values that we hold dear. More often then not, someones religious beliefs likely lines up with what their morals and values are, but this does not mean that this is why they necessarily have those morals and beliefs. There are definitely big issues that people allow their religious beliefs to cloud like homosexual marriage, abortion, interracial marriages, etc. However, surprisingly the statistics do NOT support that these are mainstream beliefs of most Christians. So, chances are, when you break it down to what your spouse believes instead of what their particular religion holds in their doctrinal statement of beliefs, it is likely going to be drastically different. Marriage is hard, no matter what you believe, no matter what age you get married, no matter what your finances are. The problems of relationship conflict likely have very little to do with what you believe about god, and more to do with what you believe about your spouse. Couples counseling, individual therapy, and even medication are all things that could help a couple work through their issues. I want to recommend a book to you by Dale McGowan called In Faith and in Doubt. This book is wonderful for helping you navigate the waters of a secular/religious marriage. Keep on keeping on, and keep working at your marriage. After all, it is so totally worth it.

The godless Pastor,

Billy J. Crocker

 

Hello, There!

Hello Fellow Blog Readers!

My name is Mollie and I am Billy’s wife. He has invited me to write on his blog occasionally and I just wanted to take a minute to introduce myself. I am 27 years old, a wife, momma of three rambunctious little ones, daughter, sister, friend, wine connoisseur, coffee lover, YLEO (Young Living Essential Oil) enthusiast, healthy living advocate, proud military and veteran supporter and lover of all things FALL!

In the coming weeks I will be writing on various topics that apply to Billy’s blog that I am super passionate about and sharing more of our personal stories and experiences with you. I hope you will enjoy reading my upcoming posts. Stay tuned!

-Mollie

Help my unbelief!

Immediately the father of the boy cried out, “I do believe! Help my unbelief.” (Mar 9:24 CSB)

I am going to take some time away from blogging, and all social media for a little while to focus on my marriage and kids. Before I do though I want to share a few things to set the record straight. These are actual questions that have been posed to me.

Am I mad at God? No, because for one, I do not know whether or not he exist, or at least not in the form of any man made religion (Christianity included).

So, who are you mad at? I am mad at people, who isn’t, right? I am mad at the “idea” of religion. I have subscribed myself to a set of beliefs that I have completely focused my life around, and based on everything I can find, it is not true. I have left the military because I was worried that I was not following “God’s call”, and I pursued it, only to be told I needed to go do something else with my life because I am divorced. Honestly, I am glad that those churches said no, but I will leave that for another blog. I left police work because I was concerned that it was not what I needed to be doing for God. You may think that those were just excuses, but I know that I genuinely believed I was following God’s call for my life. Now, at 30 I am having to accept that I do need to focus on other things besides ministry, just so I can take care of my family. So, I am mad at the idea, the hypocrisy, the manipulative nature of religion that holds so many people captive.

When did this happen? Honestly, it was years ago (about 5 or 6 years ago) that I started to question my faith more deeply. However, most of my questions started when I first joined the military, as this opened my eyes to an entirely different world then I had ever known. Despite this fact, I mostly held these feelings within because I was terrified what my wife would think, what my parents would think, what my entire circle of people would think.

Isn’t this just happening because someone or something hurt you? Probably one of the most common reasons given for someone not believing (I used to even give this as a reason myself when someone would say they don’t believe) is that somebody must have hurt you. I would say the easiest answer to this is no. People have hurt me, but as I stated earlier, my questions started long before I ever started feeling “hurt” by anyone. So, as far as my doubts, they were not because something or someone hurt me.

So, why do you have doubts? I would be willing to believe that most people have had doubts. Moses doubted, Gideon doubted, David doubted, Abraham doubted, the followers of Jesus doubted, Thomas doubted, the disciples doubted, etc. A lot of people have doubted. The only difference between our doubts and the people of the Bible, is that the people in the Bible had their doubts answered by God in miraculous ways (parting of the red sea, staff being turned into a snake, burning, talking bush, healing the lame, raising people from the dead, making blind men see, putting dew on the fleece, and not the grass, and then changing it around the other way.) I have doubts, because in no convincing way have my doubts been answered. I know some respond that even people in the Bible who saw these miraculous gifts did not believe, and so maybe I just will never believe. My answer to that is simply, try me. I would love to see one of these miracles from the Bible performed today. Maybe a man living three days in the belly of a large fish. Or, potentially when I am out fishing the next time and I let down my net, surely Jesus could just fill that net up so much my boat tips over. However, apparently what I am supposed to believe now that we are post-bible days, is that for my unbelief, my life is at risk here on this earth, and God may take me out at anytime. Even if he does not take me out, at a minimum, because I just wont believe on word of mouth, I am destined for hell (unless you believe once saved, always saved. Because, I did genuinely accept Jesus at 9, and genuinely submitted to full immersion baptism at 13). I find too many contradictions of scripture. Now, sure, each belief explains the contradictions away by subscribing to a particular set of beliefs that line up, and then they have neat explanations for how the contradictions are taken out of context, or that they were written during a time that it meant something different. However, if you think about it for more then a minute you realize that each of these denominations do the exact same thing. Now, how can they all be using the same “we’re reading the Bible right, they just don’t understand” message, but be preaching completely different messages. It may all focus on Jesus loves you, unless you’re a super fundamental church, then it’s hell, fire and brimstone for everyone, but there are very distinct differences between all of these denominations.

This is where I leave you, I appreciate everyone’s concern for me, but honestly I am the happiest I have ever been, and at peace more then I have ever been (only stating because it has been assumed I must be hurting inside) about my beliefs. However, I am truly hurt by the responses from people about me questioning my beliefs. I feel completely isolated from everyone that I have ever known. The only people of my former life that are reaching out to me, seem to be doing this with mainly an intention to “save” me, not just chat and hang out. Obviously, I get that in the evangelistic culture this may be what makes sense, but unfortunately it leaves me feeling like I need a group of new friends. Those that are reaching out to my wife only, and I mostly know who you all are because my wife has shared with me what you all have said, have been questioning the safety of her and my children, and trying to tear our family apart by making sure she stays indoctrinated in the faith. There have been “preachers” to tell her that she should, and has the right to leave me because I cannot lead our family spiritually anymore. There have been people who have “cautioned” her against listening to my communication because I might “change” her. I am hurt, but it’s not with God, and it’s not with my beliefs, I am hurt by people. When the Bible says, “you will know them by their fruit” most of y’all suck, and I do to. I think we’re all human, and do have a “fallen” human nature. However, I think that is impulse, and because our species has evolved over time, we also have rational thought. Even Neanderthals, which Christians want to force you not to believe in, dug graves, and buried the dead with flowers. Click here for info on Neanderthals. I did not make this choice lightly, and I am not “trying” to upset anyone with my decision. However, I realize that a lot of people who are in my life today were at one time influenced by my belief, and for changing that on you I am sorry. However, I am only sorry that I did not research these things sooner, so that I would not have led you astray with religion. I am open to conversation, to debate, to dialogue this topic at any time. However, for now I would like to focus on my family, and try to keep religion from tearing it apart.