Without God There Is No Joy?
September 13, 2011
As many of you are aware, CFI is currently running an ad campaign in several cities (Grand Rapids, Niagara Falls, Durham, and Washington, D.C.). This is the second phase of the “Living without Religion” campaign we launched earlier this year. The reaction to this campaign, both pro and con, demonstrates why this campaign is needed.
Our ads, which display the message “You don’t need God — to hope, to care, to love, to live,” have received a good deal of attention, and the reaction is varied, as you might expect. Many skeptics have expressed their gratitude for the campaign, with a typical comment being along the lines of “This campaign reminds me that I am not alone.” For more than a few, seeing our billboards was the first time they became aware there was an organization dedicated to the critical examination of religion and advocacy for nonbelievers.
There have also been some believers who claim to have been offended by the ad or otherwise object to it. (Of course, for some believers, the slightest whisper of a doubt about their dogma is offensive.) Some even expressly disagree that nonbelievers can lead meaningful, fulfilling lives.
Two billboards recently went up in the Niagara Falls area, near our headquarters. Yesterday evening, the local news channels aired stories about the billboards. One channel tendentiously described our message as being “anti-God.” But the most interesting and revealing comments came from a person interviewed for the report that aired on YNN, a local cable news channel. This person objected strongly to the billboard, stating, “I’ve never met a joy-filled person who says that ‘I don’t need God.’”
Wow. We have already received ample confirmation that our campaign has been a good investment. But this person’s statement brings home the necessity of the campaign. The statement is a stark reminder that atheists continue to be associated with negative stereotypes. If we’re not immoral and uncaring, we’re despairing and joyless.
The irony is that this person—unless she’s had a cloistered existence—has met nonbelievers, some of whom undoubtedly had joy in their lives. But she didn’t know it because they didn’t tell her, and one reason they may not have told her is because of the negative stereotypes associated with atheists.
We have to show people how absurd these stereotypes are, but, of course, we can’t do that unless and until we let people know we’re here. We need to make some noise.
Let me mention one way we can do this (segue alert). I assume you’ve heard of the Reason Rally, but, if not check out the website, and then join us in Washington, D.C. on March 24. It promises to be the largest gathering of secular Americans ever. We’ll make some noise; we’ll have some fun. It will be a joy-filled celebration.
#1 Julie Hurley (Guest) on Tuesday September 13, 2011 at 7:10pm
Thank you for this post. As I posted on my Facebook page, “Strangely (or not?? sounds like this message has made the rounds in many, many churches) I’ve been told that I have not experienced “true joy” as I am a non-believer.” I’m currently agnostic, and am not sure where my life will take me from there. But I certainly do know that I will never subscribe to the (church-driven) thought that godless = joyless. I have given birth to two children and have a wonderful marriage and life. Ironic that Christians are “judging” non-believers that way.
#2 nique on Tuesday September 13, 2011 at 7:15pm
The billboard is a great way to promote reason and logic in an society full of mysticism and fairy tales of virgin births, talking snakes, and non-existent “supreme beings” some call god.
How can one need something that does not exist?
I’m proud to be an atheist, and I find the message to be a celebration of the truth; and of course, there is much joy to be had in this celebration!
#3 Sam Salerno (Guest) on Tuesday September 13, 2011 at 11:13pm
Love the Reason Rally plug. Anyone reading this, this plug part 2. Please join us at the Reason Rally.
#4 Michael Scott (Guest) on Wednesday September 14, 2011 at 10:42am
If there’s no god, then what are all those Churches for?
#5 nique on Wednesday September 14, 2011 at 10:55am
To brainwash people and get money, power, and tax exempt status—just like the “church” of scientology.
#6 Kallero (Guest) on Wednesday September 14, 2011 at 11:58pm
If there’s no Jesus, then who wasn’t in Jesus’ tomb?
#7 Bill McKendry (Guest) on Thursday September 15, 2011 at 2:59pm
Personally, I don’t agree with your stance but I am so glad that this billboard (and your campaign) is/are so poorly executed. It will have no impact besides stirring the pot of the extremists on both sides.
No doubt, I disagree with your message and, yet, I believe your free speech needs to be protected. But, inside, I’m simply laughing at how poorly done this billboard is. It’s so bad that it’s funny!!
Admittedly, I am embarrassed many times by how poorly Christians communicate ... but the nonreligious people who created this stuff and place it for public consumption don’t know what they’re doing! Too funny!!!
#8 nique on Thursday September 15, 2011 at 3:08pm
The only thing I don’t like about the billboard (now that I think about it) is that the g in god is capitalized—there is no need \ reason for that. It’s granting importance to something that does not exist.
#9 Julie Hurley (Guest) on Thursday September 15, 2011 at 5:39pm
It’s to interesting to me to see the range of reaction from people who disagree with this simple message. From the forced aloof amusement from the poster above to the outraged and heartbroken Christian who claims that I’m leading a joyless existence ... and all responses in between. Trying to see the humor in it from the previous poster’s perspective, but I’m just not getting it. Oh well. To each their own. Now I’m off to read “god is not Great - How Religion Poisons Everything” to learn more about my newly-discovered agnosticism.
#10 nique on Thursday September 15, 2011 at 5:40pm
Check out Penn Jillette’s new book “God, No” (Penn from Penn and Teller)—it’s really awesome.
#11 Julie Hurley (Guest) on Thursday September 15, 2011 at 5:45pm
Thanks nique ... I’ll look that one up.
#12 Bill McKendry (Guest) on Thursday September 15, 2011 at 5:55pm
Just for the record, there’s nothing forced about my amusement. I’m a nationally-recognized, award-winning creative director (among ny numerous national and international awards are awards for doing the best billboard ads in the industry) and I’m just calling this as I see it ... bad, bad, bad work. This kind of work would never make it out of any agency who works on national brands. So, go ahead, read any book you want and rest comfortably knowing that however superior you may perceive yourself and your point of view, you are being represented by (laughably) inferior communications.
#13 nique on Thursday September 15, 2011 at 6:00pm
No one person should ever be classified as superior or inferior based on the kind of belief system they hold. It’s the system itself that is superior or inferior One has talking snakes, virgin births, slavery, bigotry, child molesters and war criminals, the other has a foundation in reality.
#14 Bill McKendry (Guest) on Thursday September 15, 2011 at 6:22pm
Okay, nique, time to put the atheist argument 101 handbook down and respond to my point ... I’m simply focusing on the effort put out into the marketplace. Based on secular standards, this effort is crap. The logo is huge and horribly bad. The photo used looks like it was plucked out of a photoshoot for Focus on the Family from the 1960’s. The headline is way, way to long for a billboard ad. The layout is a mess. Obviously, this group is either so under-funded that they can’t afford to pay a professional create something decent (and impactful) or they’re so arrogant that they see this garbage as good and effective communications. All belief systems aside, any objective person could not possibly believe this is a good work product.
#15 nique on Thursday September 15, 2011 at 6:29pm
Well honestly I’d rather the billboard be a big middle finger and show priests raping kids on the back of the hand with a talking snake and one of those little cartoon talk balloons with the text “god forgives you”—all jokes aside, I think the current version looks pretty good and professional (besides the capital g on god). It honestly looks like a pamphlet you would get from a jehova’s witness or something except with a different message…I think that was the idea (to show that there’s similar elements to both ways of thinking, and you really don’t need god to live a happy life).
What would you rather have it look like and say?
#16 Bill McKendry (Guest) on Thursday September 15, 2011 at 7:02pm
For the record, I consider JW’s to be a cult and not Christian. I’d also consider molesters and anyone doing horrible things not to be Christian ... regardless of what they self-proclaim. Matter of fact, I would not believe that an atheist who raped someone to have done it because of their belief system—I’d simply say that person was sick and morally bankrupt.
As far as what I would prefer this would say, I like it just the way it is ... an ineffective mess (sorry, I’m just don’t share tour perspective and worldview).
At the same time, I wish sometimes your worldview could make discourse through advertising more challenging. Seriously, I know Christians create a lot of crappy messages, too ... but we’ve got numbers ... and frequency wins in the world of advertising. But atheist numbers are small ... even by your own admission 1 in 6 are “nonreligious” (and a small fraction of those people are truly atheist).
To that end, you can’t afford to be this ineffective and unprofessional.
So, what do I really wish? I wish I could stop the many, many so-called Christians from bastardizing the true message of Jesus. And I wish atheists to stay exactly as they are ... out of touch with what is relevant and effective communications in today’s culture.
#17 Bill McKendry (Guest) on Thursday September 15, 2011 at 7:12pm
BTW, my apologies for the typos and incorrect word that randomly appear ... I’m responding via iPhone tonight and this site doesn’t allow me to see/edit my entire response before I hot send.
#18 Ape (Guest) on Thursday September 15, 2011 at 7:16pm
Bill, what exactly do you hope to accomplish by picking apart the physical layout and form of the campaign poster here? I think most people are going to want to use this comment area to have discourse about the campaign itself, not how big or small the logo is on the posters. And in point of fact, I disagree with all of your points about the appearance of the material. I may not be a nationally-acclaimed whatever. But you know what I am? A consumer. The audience.
But back to the point. I think you should take this discussion elsewhere—to the right channels, like the people running the campaign, not the general populace trying to have discussion about the campaign itself. What you’re doing is like publishing a movie review that’s just ten paragraphs about the chair you sat in at the theater.
#19 Bill McKendry (Guest) on Thursday September 15, 2011 at 7:16pm
Geez, see what I mean? Typos above include “word” instead of “words” and “hot” instead of “hit.” I’ll stop now, sorry.
#20 Tradition Of Progress on Thursday September 15, 2011 at 7:34pm
I’m not going argue with Mr. McKendry, because he has a point. Now the Roman Catholics have had some interesting billboards. Did you ever see the one showing a crucifix with the caption: “We have been into body piercing for 2000 years”? I only saw it once, and it was in Cicero Illinois, and I don’t see it when I Google search. There was another one about joining the priesthood that was graphically slick, with a black cartooned body with a clerical collar. A few weeks later a spoof on it started showing up with the color changed from black to pink, with the caption: “If you need more priests, then ordain women.” Anyway, the Roman Catholic Church is much better funded than the Center for Free Inquiry, so I guess the first few attempts and billboards might not be so slick.
Anyway, I really wanted to comment on a differnet response.
#21 Bill McKendry (Guest) on Thursday September 15, 2011 at 7:38pm
Advertising, by its very nature is a vehicle to persuade. That’s why groups and companies do it. And, this campaign’s target is to convince people like me, that it is possible to have hope, love and care without religion.
I’m sure the money spent wasn’t meant to “preach to the choir” (maybe not a good pun)—that is, to just talk to the nonreligious. After all, that would be a total waste of money and effort.
All that said, how a message is constructed impacts greatly it’s effectiveness and persuasiveness. And this message is constructed very, very poorly.
That’s my point—if you had any business or marketing training (let alone instincts), you would get that I wasn’t being critical of the “entertainment” value of this campaign. I am simply critical of its ability to make an impact on the intended audience.
I’m also challenging the wisdom and skill of the braintrust that would put such terribly executed messaging into the marketplace and try to defend it as “smart.”
Honestly, occasionally, I help out at a local high school and the kids there have better discernment as to what is good and effective communications than the people behind this campaign.
#22 Tradition Of Progress on Thursday September 15, 2011 at 7:39pm
Michael Scott (Guest) on Wednesday September 14, 2011 at 10:42am > “If there’s no god, then what are all those Churches for? “
Okay, I hope that question was a joke. If it was not, does creating places to worship something automatically mean that the object of worshop actually exists?
If there is no Shiva, or Zeus, etc then what are all those temples for? If there is no Xango, then what are all those Candomblé places for?
If there is no Flying Spaghetti Monster then . . .
#23 nique on Thursday September 15, 2011 at 7:41pm
I think the best spoof billboard I’ve ever seen about religion was this one: http://www.wtfeck.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/07/god-listens-to-slayer.jpg
This one is pretty funny too but it’s more of a defacement than an advertisement: http://www.eatliver.com/img/2008/2996.jpg
#24 Bill McKendry (Guest) on Thursday September 15, 2011 at 7:57pm
I agree, those defacements are far smarter and better than this effort that was constructed and paid for by “professionals.”
But I’d like proof that the people who dd these were actually aethisists and have remained so.
After all, it looks to me like the work if a few teens having a little fun and yanking a few chains.
Do you have proof of their intent and belief system?
And if they are atheists, I’d highly recommend that you hire them for your next campaign. They actually know what they’re doing!
#25 Bill McKendry (Guest) on Thursday September 15, 2011 at 8:21pm
One more point (and, believe it or not, it’s not about the campaign).
I’ve had many discussions with atheists and what eventually comes out of that dialog are the same terms ... “snakes, virgin births, molesters, flying spaghetti monsters, etc.” ... basically, all the same verbiage spewed out here in several responses.
The keeper of this blog has a book out about overcoming, among other things, dogmas ... I’d highly recommend that for the many respondents thus far today ... you’re starting to resemble a “religion.”
I really have to stop giving you such good advice ... next thing you know, you’ll actually have a decent ad campaign ... but I’m not holding my breath.
#26 Ape (Guest) on Friday September 16, 2011 at 3:52am
“if you had any business or marketing training (let alone instincts)”
Nice argument ad hominem there, buddy. I’m done with your trolling.
#27 Bill McKendry (Guest) on Friday September 16, 2011 at 5:32am
Ummm ... “Nice argument ad hominem there” ... I’ll ignore the redundancy ... but you call yourself “the consumer” ... “the audience” ... not to mention, “ape.”
On the “consumer/audience” front, I was simply questioning your bias. Point being, no “consumer/audience” nor “professional” would say these executions are good ... unless they were biased. In short, saying this is effective work is a “dogmatic” response by someone who wants to believe something which is obviously not true. Interesting twist, wouldn’t you say?
Add to that, your “fellow apes” seem to like to use ad hominem argumentums by labeling Christians as child molesters, war criminals and bigots (see nique’s troll responses) ... in comparison, my questioning your “business sense” is ad hominem “light.”
Keep on trolling ... Ape.
#28 Julie Hurley (Guest) on Friday September 16, 2011 at 5:59am
Funny, I did not notice the layout/design of the billboard much at all, but the message jumped out at me right away; it’s the solely the message that has gotten people talking around here. A lot. I would call that effective and successful.
#29 Bill McKendry (Guest) on Friday September 16, 2011 at 6:52am
If you call getting the attention of the most obvious audiences (the extremes on both sides who will never change their position) a “success” and an “effective” effort ... I’d love to have you as a client. By those standards, I’d never have to convince anybody of anything.
Beyond that, your “I didn’t notice the layouts” perspective just doesn’t cut it in the media saturated world in which we live ... visuals are arguably 9/10ths of the equation for a successful campaign today.
Basically what I’m saying is ... in the competitive, “survival of the fittest” world of marketing and advertising today, this campaign will get eaten alive by more appealing messages.
Believe what you want, but your belief system bias is blinding you to these behavioral science facts.
#30 Julie Hurley (Guest) on Friday September 16, 2011 at 7:01am
Whatever statistics or analysis you throw at the design of this board, I honestly don’t care. I found the message compelling. That’s it. When I first saw this sign, I was in the process of evaluating my belief system. This message reinforced it for me. I wouldn’t consider myself an extremist at all. Regardless, the debate over the design of this billboard dosen’t interest me anymore. Have a great day!
#31 Bill McKendry (Guest) on Friday September 16, 2011 at 9:26am
Okay ... ignore the stats and the expert analysis ... throw out the studies and research and the behavioral science ... and let’s just go with “but, this message feels right to me?”
Quite frankly, that sounds like a big “leap of faith.”
And these “signs” actually made a difference in your evaluation of your belief system ... these ads? Now, that’s a great example of “blind faith.”
Sorry, the facts just don’t add up?
#32 Melody (Guest) on Monday September 19, 2011 at 6:04am
Bill, you are not interested in honest discourse, you are just a big bully.
#33 Bill McKendry (Guest) on Monday September 19, 2011 at 7:03am
On the contrary, I’m being VERY honest. Trust me, if a Christian organization did communications work this bad and someone called them on it, I’d simply agree. I would not try to defend it.
That’s my point, this effort represents inferior work and everyone who has tried to defend it thus far as good work is only fooling themselves.
And to pretend that the effectiveness of this work doesn’t matter is a very strange way to approach the discourse. After all, why do any advertising if you don’t want it to work?
Ultimately, because this work is such a bad reflection on the “nonreligious” brand ... it should be people like you who should be speaking out.
In short, it is people like you ... who refuse to acknowledge the facts ... who are the bullies. You want me to believe something that is, beyond any reasonable doubt, not true.
Believe what you want, I’m simply pointing out the facts.
#34 Larry Clapp (Guest) on Monday September 19, 2011 at 8:58am
@Bill McKendry: I’ll bite: Why are you here?
And speaking of communicating effectively: is that what you claim to be doing here?
#35 Bill McKendry (Guest) on Monday September 19, 2011 at 9:33am
This organization is running an ad campaign that is targeting the community I live in (Grand Rapids, MI).
I’m an award-winning, nationally recognized creative director in the advertising business.
The ad campaign is awful (professionally speaking) and I’ve repeatedly made my viewpoint known on that front.
People reading this blog happen to disagree with my view point.
They are not industry professionals, so I can understand why they might be blind to this campaign’s weaknesses.
However, their irrational defense of this work seems to be bringing to light an unexpected behavior for “nonreligious” people—that is, faith in something that is not true (that this is good, effective work) and dogmatic responses (see above, particularly my response in post #25).
If you don’t believe I’m communicating my point effectively, I’m not sure how I could be more clear? My point is simple, this work is bad by any professional measure. To say otherwise, would be denying the facts. And this is coming from people who desire to believe only what can be proven as factual?
Larry, don’t you agree that this is more than a little ironic?
#36 Larry Clapp on Monday September 19, 2011 at 10:16am
Hi, Bill, thanks for responding.
That you live in the area and it makes your eyeballs bleed (professionally (and metaphorically speaking) is enough of a reason for me. Without that context it really seemed like unhelpful trolling. I apologize for being snarky at you.
I think you are communicating your professional opinion of the work clearly. I do not think you are doing so in a manner calculated to achieve any actual change. To me, your tone in many of your messages really comes across as laden with schadenfreude and ridicule. Oddly enough, atheists don’t respond to that any better than anyone else.
I agree that the denial of the facts, as you see them, is ironic. That said, I think it’s possible that you and we are talking past each other: you decry the effectiveness of the campaign (given your understanding of its target market); many of us are happy the campaign exists at all. Advertising is like sex: bad advertising is better than no advertising (well, in this context, anyway).
Speaking of target market, I disagree with your assertion (#21) that the campaign is not “preaching to the choir”. There are many closet atheists that feel extreme guilt about not believing in a god, and fear hell, while admitting explicitly that this fear is irrational. As you well know, people can exhibit irrational behavior, atheist or no. So this campaign may well speak to such individuals: “You are not alone. You need not feel guilt about your unbelief. Here’s a place where you can find like minded people.” And if the ad itself makes their eyes bleed, well, hopefully they’ll forgive “us” for that.
#37 Larry Clapp on Monday September 19, 2011 at 10:29am
As a programmer and amateur nit-picker, I can’t abide unclosed parentheses. One of the lines in my previous comment was meant to read “(professionally (and metaphorically <smiley>) speaking)”, but the html-ification of the smiley ruined it, and doesn’t show up anyway.
Hopefully this clarification comes through the way I want it. If not, sorry; I give up.
#38 Bill McKendry (Guest) on Monday September 19, 2011 at 11:30am
Thanks for the rational response!
And thank you for acknowledging that this work may make some eyes bleed – though I’m not totally sure what that means, but it doesn’t sound good.
I’ve commented on this work on two different blogs and you are the first to speak the truth and with reason.
Just goes to show you, though, people can believe whatever they want to believe ... even if they claim to be “nonbelievers.” And that’s my other point ... people who critical of believers for being dogmatic and demeaning often need to examine their own speech and thought patterns as they may practicing what they preach against.
As you can read in the above entries, that’s certainly been my experience thus far in being critical of the professionalism and effectiveness of this ad campaign (i.e., dogmatic responses which have been extremely demeaning to my belief system).
So, again, thanks for your rational civility.
#39 nique on Thursday September 22, 2011 at 7:41pm
I just came up with another idea for a billboard:
“putting god before country and family is the credo of suicide bombers”
#40 Bill McKendry (Guest) on Friday September 23, 2011 at 9:53am
I just came up with a billboard idea, too ...
“Atheists like to repeat dogma as much as religious people do.”
C’mon? You’re not being a very good example that you don’t need God to care and love.
We could battle back and forth about religious people did this and atheist people did that ... if they did bad stuff, they were simply bad, misguided people and probably acting on very selfish motives.
So, please stop embarrassing your peers.
#41 nique on Friday September 23, 2011 at 9:58am
Sorry for embarrassing you, peers.
AFK talking to my imaginary friend in the sky about 72 virgins after I kill myself and other people in my imaginary friends name.
#42 Bill McKendry (Guest) on Friday September 23, 2011 at 10:05am
Anyone who sympathizes with this cause (No God needed or wanted) and is certain that there is no God, please enlighten me with your thoughts on today’s NY Times quote of the day:
NEW YORK TIMES QUOTATION OF THE DAY
“If it is true, then we truly haven’t understood anything about anything.” ALVARO DE RUJULA, a theorist at CERN, the European Center for Nuclear Research, on a report that physicists plan to report that they have detected subatomic particles moving faster than the speed of light.
Just for the record, as a Christian, I thank God all the time for science and scientists. But also, as a Christian, I have learned the God of the Bible says his creation defies all our capacity as humans to fully understand it.
As such, I am never surprised when a scientist says something as extreme as this ... essentially, our newest discovery discounts everything we hypothesized or thought we proved before.
In all seriousness, how does someone who believes in the certainty of current science and is equally certain that there is no supreme being/creator deal with the limitations of human knowledge as so honestly expressed by this scientist?
Promise, I’m not trying to be cocky here, I’m sincerely curious.
#43 Bill McKendry (Guest) on Friday September 23, 2011 at 10:11am
Seriously, are you over 18?
If so, get-off-your high horse for a moment and read my question in entry #42.
I’m looking for insights.
#44 nique on Friday September 23, 2011 at 10:37am
The faster than light particle is pretty cool news, but it hasn’t been verified yet. A better quote from a related AP article would be this one:
“I don’t think you’re going to ever kill Einstein’s theory. You can’t. It works,” Kostelecky said. There are just times when an additional explanation is needed, he said.
And there is NO certainty and \ or absolutisms—me personally, I see no evidence that a god exists. Could there actually be one? Of course! It’s just not very likely considering the evidence. Any athiest will tell you this.
If anyone proclaims to know beyond a shadow of doubt that either (1) god exists or (2) god doesn’t exist—they are both full of you know what.
But here’s the important part—even if there is a god, I wouldn’t want one, nor do I need one in my life for any reason whatsoever.
And how exactly do you give thanks to something or someone that from your own words you don’t currently and never will understand? That’s like just saying “thanks” for no logical reason. Giving thanks requires at least some sort of understanding—it’s my birthday so my girlfriend goes out and buys me a new guitar. I tell her thanks because I understand how she spent her own money that she worked for and took time out of her life to do something kind for me.
But if a stranger on the street handed me a rock for no reason (let’s say the person has some sort of mental disorder), I would not give any thanks because I wouldn’t know that they had a mental disorder and I would not understand the meaning behind the gesture.
#45 Bill McKendry (Guest) on Friday September 23, 2011 at 1:22pm
Not totally tracking with you, but it’s interesting nonetheless.
Just for the record, I didn’t say that I had no understanding of God ... I said that ... “his creation defies all our capacity as humans to fully understand it.”
And just like a scientist can understand more and more with additional explanation and/or discovery ... that’s my journey in faith.
As far as evidence of God, I see it from sun up to sundown ... I’ve seen it in the birth of my children ... I see it when people actually do follow His teachings and I see their lives change, their relationships get better.
Science does a great job working with what it has been given—creating from materials that exist and observing what has already been made ... but what I see daily defies any human intelligence and ingenuity. A world order, an ecosystem, an atmosphere, a universe, a food chain, a moral character, a gestation period ... none of it created by earthly human hands or minds.
While I can’t prove God’s existence, the evidence tips further in His favor for me than it does for you. That’s your decision and I can respect that ... you were born with free will in a free country.
But if I imagine if today’s scientific news will be proven out ... I don’t lose faith in scientists ... I know they, like me, are on a quest to learn and discover more about the world we live in.
One thing that seems to be certain to everyone, Einstein didn’t create the atom.
So, call or label it want you want, but we both have faith in the unproven.
#46 Ronaldo (Guest) on Tuesday October 11, 2011 at 4:04am
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#47 twinbeech on Thursday October 13, 2011 at 5:07am
Bill McKindry said, “So, what do I really wish? I wish I could stop the many, many so-called Christians from bastardizing the true message of Jesus.”
The “true message” of Jesus is this.
There are 7 billion people alive on the planet today, of which 67% totally reject the idea that Jesus is their personal savior. This means some 4.7 billion of us are destined for eternal agony. How do I know? Jesus tells me so. John 14:6
Oh, and by the way, I’m being generous with the numbers here because the lucky 33% that claim to be Christian includes all those Baptists caught dancing or hanging out in Hooters, all the Jimmy (I have sinned!!) Swaggerts, all the pedophile priests and preachers; well, you get the idea.