If you haven’t read the whole back-story, stop right here. Go read it at least.  Listening is better.

The summary is this:  Dan Johnson was a goof-ball preacher who conned everyone with wild self-aggrandizing stories, all demonstrably false, who managed to get himself elected to the state legislature from Bullitt County, Kentucky.  When investigative journalists did what investigative journalists are supposed to do, and checked up on his ridiculous stories and uncovered the proof that he was a crock of shit, and when it came out that a sexual-assault victim had gone to the police with a complaint, he committed suicide on Wednesday afternoon.

But don’t rely on that summary, I’m telling you.  Go to the link and read/listen.

Notice the date on the website.  December 11. That is the day when the piece first went live.  December 11.  Two days later, on December 13, Dan Johnson killed himself.  You don’t get “worn down” in two days.

This is vintage, typical Nicole. She doesn’t read anything. She just sees the headlines, and then she makes it all about her.

She’s not “fighting false claims.”  Dan Johnson wasn’t “fighting false claims.”

He was a lying sack shit, and spent his whole adult life conning everyone in sight.  I think there is a parallel there, but that’s not my subject today.

Last night, one of my husband’s relatives-by-marriage made a comment on a crappy Facebook page, one I would never follow in a million years, but you know how Facebook tells you that your friend “Edward” commented on some page.  The comment was “We love you, Mr. President.”

Here’s what she was commenting on.

I couldn’t help myself. I commented too. You know, something about how I hoped he choked on his next Big Mac.

But what do these two things have to do with each other?  Dan Johnson and his lying sack of shit widow, and Donald Trump and my distant relation, what do they have in common?

My question, the one I’ve been chewing over for the last twenty-four hours, is this:  How do these lying sacks of shit get elected, and why do their supporters go right on supporting them no matter what they do?  What is wrong with people in Bullitt County?  What is wrong with Republicans across America? What is wrong with my husband’s relative that she cannot see Trump for what he is?

What is it with the religious right and why do they overlook the lying sacks of shit and their lying lies?

There are certainly degrees of outrage when it comes to bad behavior.  We understand, at least most of us do, that if somebody filches $5 from the till because their children are hungry and they can’t pay their bills or buy groceries, that is stealing.  We also know that armed robbery is stealing also, and requires a much larger penalty than the filching thing.

Sexual assault/rape comes in degrees.

On one side, we have Al Franken. What he did (and it appears that he actually did some stuff that none of us would call appropriate) isn’t the same as rape. He never committed arson.  He never lied repeatedly about his background.  He is leaving the Senate because people on the left said no.  It doesn’t matter that he didn’t commit a crime.

On the other side, we have Dan Johnson and Donald Trump.  I don’t think I need to list their crimes (and they are, in fact, crimes).

Yet, the religious right, including my husband’s relative, think it’s all fine. They never mention Franken, of course.


When I meet somebody who has engaged in questionable behavior for decades, for all their adult life, I usually don’t expect better behavior from them.  I know that their past actions are predictive of what they are likely to do in the future.

People change, of course, but I am not stupid, and I’m not going to trust somebody like that until/unless I see evidence of that change.

This is the reason why employers look at police records, and evictions, and past employment records.  They assume there will be more of the same.

But not these evangelical Christians.

And this is why.

The Bible?

Yeah, the Bible.

Sometimes (a very few times) the Bible gets it right.  This is not one of those times.

Has anyone ever been to see Mike Warnke?  Does anyone but me know who he is?

Mike Warnke, for the unintiated, is still alive, but thoroughly discredited. He still has a website, begging for money.

During the Satanic Panic years (the eighties) Mike Warnke, who is a comedian, styled himself as a former “Great High Priest of Satan” and an expert on all things Satanic who had been “gloriously saved” and was now a preacher.

Coming from my very strict fundamentalist background, I was briefly enamored of the guy simply because he wore jeans and had long hair.  We went to see him speak.  I left the auditorium that day convinced he was a fake, and was not surprised when he was shown to be exactly that several years later.  He was, in fact, funny as hell, but fake.

It wasn’t like the Tammy/Jim Bakker thing. He wasn’t just a flamboyant performer.  He was a fraud. The stories he told were not true. His personal history was a pack of lies.

Mike Warnke was taking advantage of a phenomenon that seems to exist solely in the fundagelical, “Bible-believing” world.

. . . to whom little is forgiven, the same loveth little.

Remember the story of the Prodigal Son (Luke 15:11-32)?

Here’s the summary.  Two sons, each due to inherit from Daddy.  Younger son demands his inheritance early, goes and wastes it all.  Loses the whole damn thing.  Older son is dutiful, does a good job.  Younger son comes whining back to Daddy and begs forgiveness for being a jerk.  Daddy meets him and has a big feast.  Older dutiful son bitches.  It’s, of course, more Biblical horseshit.

In this story, the prodigal son becomes the hero. The dutiful good son is the bad guy, and Daddy is a sucker.

Christians love this shit.

They believe this actually happened, and that it’s indicative of more than just a real life story. They believe that “Daddy” is God, that they are the prodigals and that the good sons are all those goody-two-shoes folks who do everything right.

They absolutely love a redemption story. Their whole religion centers around it.

The result of all this worship of redemption is that the worse your pre-conversion story is, the better.  If you grew up in a religious home and went to a Christian school and then married another believer, hand-picked for you by Mommy and Daddy, and never missed a day of Sunday School or a Wednesday night prayer meeting, well, meh.  If you were the child of a prostitute who became a drug addict and then a member of the Church of Satan, and finally a hit man for the Mafia, and then you found Jesus, well, hell, you’re golden.

Christians believe in a sort of presto-chango instant-morphing thing they call “salvation.”  They don’t evolve. They are “changed.”  It’s a miracle and it supposedly happens instantly, at a specific time and date.  Many of them can tell you when.  There’s Before and then there’s After.

Before no longer counts, except that the worse Before was, the better After will be.  The more stark the contrast, the better it all is.  The more entertaining and salacious the story (they call this a “testimony”) is, the more accolades they get.  There is a reason that Christians absolutely love to hear a “testimony” from one of these people.  It’s godly x-rated movie time.

This is why Linda Fossen could marry a guy who murdered his entire family (parents and sister) on a Sunday afternoon and think that everything is wonderful because he found Jesus. This is why Mike Warnke’s life story grew and grew and grew until it simply was obvious it was all false.

This is why Dan Johnson could lie and lie and lie and sexually assault women, and commit arson, and everything was okay until those evil journalists pointed out that it was all lies.  This is why in the wake of his suicide, his supporters still insist that nobody should judge him and that it was all the evil media.

This is why Donald Trump made the statement that he could kill somebody on the street in NYC and his supporters would still be with him.

I find it sort of interesting that Nicole finds it necessary to say that Joe is just totally innocent over and over and over again.  She says this like anyone should believe her. Why on earth would I believe a thing she says?

Joe Naugler has a history of bad behavior of one sort or another over a lot of years. He’s been convicted of that bad behavior.  He threatens people repeatedly. He refuses to take any responsibility for his children, his property, his animals, nothing.  He lies about me often and egregiously.

I see no reason to expect anything better of him in the future. Unlike the Christians, I don’t believe that redemption is an instant thing.  He’ll have to show evidence and I’m not seeing it.

Why wouldn’t I believe what Nicole calls “rumors” and what was actually courtroom testimony?  There are plenty of other stories to give credence to that one.  I know for certain that Donald Trump and Dan Johnson were/are lying sacks of shit.  I believe Al Franken did pretty much what he was accused of doing, enough that it was out of bounds. I believe Joe Naugler has as well.  And I strongly doubt he is “disgusted and appalled” by much of anything except police officers and me.

Nicole would have more credibility if she would just read shit before commenting.

And I will be simply amazed if Dan Johnson’s widow fails to get elected to his seat in the legislature. Christians are so gullible.





21 thoughts on “Prodigals”

  1. For all things church related,
    why would you allow a person to advertise a beer brand behind you in the pulpit? Why would you post that video of yourself? When you call out fake preachers I laugh.


  2. In addition to the religious aspect I think there is some communication theory at work here. People have varying levels of dogmatism/authoritarianism. Simply put this is the degree to which one sees things as black/white true/false etc. There is a religious connection because not surprisingly fundies are highly dogmatic people. Its a chicken/egg argument whether or not the religion creates that or that type are attracted to religion… probably both are the case.

    Unfortunately life isn’t black and white and not all the information we get is factually correct. I think the way today’s media works we are all inundated with information, most of it bad. Dogmatics don’t have the flexibility to deal with this well. They also are very rigid in their thinking, its super super hard for them to change their opinion. So what do you do if you are a bigdog person being exposed to lots of bad information on topics that probably aren’t cut and dried anyway…. Well one strategy is just to ignore and deny. So Sally’s family member made a decision about Trump and will now just not see any information to the contrary, regardless of how accurate and rational it might be. They will just dismiss it. Trump and his ilk have figured out how to use this to their advantage.

    I’m a Christian but I don’t think grace is quite this cheap. Forgiveness is obtainable but I believe that requires repentence (you actually have to acknowledge you’ve done wrong and attempt to make amends, not repeat the error, etc. ) and I don’t see how being forgiven for something means that one is somehow absolved of the consequences for one’s actions. Al Franken did the right thing. A consequence of his misbehavior is that he lost his job and that’s his responsibility. I’m sorry for him and I actually respect him more because he accepted that consequence. I also believe that it might be possible for a murderer to be absolved of his crime…. but that absolution could very reasonably include being locked up for the rest of his life to reflect on his error. Unfortunately while being super judgmental about other people’s behavior, the far right political types seem pretty quick to forgive themselves, but I wonder if it would go down the same way if Johnson had had a consensual relationship with an adult male…. doubtful.

    And as far as the lying. For Dogmatics, if the story fits their already formed opinions.. that must be the truth because its what they want to hear. That’s intellectually lazy but a hell of alot easier to do than actually examining one’s beliefs

    All this to say that I guess the Christian agrees with the Athiest on this one.


  3. Forgiveness is obtainable but I believe that requires repentence (you actually have to acknowledge you’ve done wrong and attempt to make amends, not repeat the error, etc. ) and I don’t see how being forgiven for something means that one is somehow absolved of the consequences for one’s actions.

    And in the fundigelical world I came from, you would be pronounced “unsaved” because of this sentence, specifically the stuff about acknowledging wrongdoing and especially the “attempt to make amends.” That is known as “works salvation” and is a big, big no-no. According to fundigelicalism, salvation is a free gift and not only are works not required, they are not desirable at all. They get really, really hung up on this issue. It sounds small, but it’s not to them. It’s a big deal. Anything, however small, that is a prerequisite for salvation is a deal-breaker.

    I’ve heard people argue seriously over whether simply repeating the so-called “sinner’s prayer” doesn’t constitute “works.” Many evangelicals never say that particular prayer, but insist they just had a heart attitude that created the supposed transformation.

    This stuff is all bullshit, of course. None of them are “saved” because there is no such thing as “lost.”

    As to the question whether fundamentalism creates dogmatic thinking or simply attracts people who already think that way, I have no idea. I do know that I didn’t have a choice about being one. I was born into it. Getting out was tough and my sympathy is with anyone who is faced with similar circumstances.


  4. Naturally Nicole Naugler felt an affinity with Dan Johnson. “Birds of a feather flock together as do pigs and swine.”

    People who spend a lifetime lying, cheating, swindling, grifting, conning and generally manipulating other people to believe what they want them to believe get super upset when someone comes along and shines the light of truth into the dark corners where their real selves are hiding.

    They react very hostilely and aggressively to anyone questioning their carefully crafted and very false narrative. This works quite successfully on a small scale within the community surrounding the charlatan as people fear their attack or ostracization. Taken outside that community it normally doesn’t work well at all.

    Additionally charlatans have a tendency when they have managed to pull it off for a time to get lazy and arrogant. They become used to the small, sometimes large, crowd of “believers” who take their every word for gospel truth no matter how transparent the lie. They have forgotten how to deal with “unbelievers” and skeptics and the tactics that they have used successfully within their closed community now backfire on them. They will stand there and tell a lie, be caught out on that lie, deny they said the lie, be shown video of them saying that lie and still deny what is clearly in everyone’s faces while claiming that they are being gaslighted. (Boy, do they have that one backward).

    It is at that point that they inevitably pull the victim card. They will cry their crocodile tears (often real tears just of anger not sadness). They will shout out that their critics and detractors are trolls. That everyone else is the liar. That most people believe them. That they have their communities support. Everyone loves them. Look at all the good things they’ve done (get a magnifying glass to try to find any). The news is fake. It’s a smear campaign. They are suing for defamation, libel, slander, you name it. If you’re Joseph Naugler you’ll even throw in a little Stockholm syndrome (wtf?) and government paid collusion.

    They all use the same playbook. It’s all so obvious and predictable to anyone who hasn’t fallen under their “spell.” It’s as old as time and just as worn. There have been highly intelligent. charismatic people who have carried it off on a large scale. Not Trump he’s somewhere in the lower middle. Then there are bottom of the barrel wannabes like Joseph Naugler and Nicole Naugler who do it on a mini scale, but for that one shining moment (do you know who I am,I am Joseph Naugler the state took my children away) when they managed to carve themselves off a small slice of the viral web for their 15 minutes of fame.

    What I have observed is big or small they get addicted to it and once they lose it they can only see two choices. Keep trying to ring that bell again or check out of it all, because they can’t live without it anymore.


  5. This is probably one of my top five favorite things you’ve written. The way you break this stuff down really confirms a lot of things I’ve observed as well.

    I’ve noticed the obsession that Christians have with redemption stories- I think Ben Carson’s lies about his history are another good example of them in action. One of the dichotomies that I don’t get; it seems that their redemption fetish would give them more compassion for those in the midst of struggling with personal demons, but I see very little evidence of that. I have wondered why that is, especially given the stories of Jesus hanging out with the dregs of society and his alleged compassion toward them.

    I also wonder if another aspect of their fanatical devotion to these conmen (whether we are talking about 45, various churches or other cons) is related to cognitive dissonance due to the amount of energy that they have devoted to and the resulting need to make that devotion a part of their identity. I apologize for the wall of text that is to follow, this is a topic I think a lot about.

    When my husband and I embarked on our surrogacy, one of the things that we talked a lot about was our “exit strategy”. During the beginning phase where we were dealing with my infertility and researching surrogacy, I noticed that there were a lot of couples who had literally bankrupted themselves financially and emotionally- to the point of divorce. While the emotional issues around infertility are numerous and complex, I believe that one factor is that the pursuit of a family that includes children can become so all encompassing that some couples lose themselves in it completely. My husband and I weren’t arrogant enough to believe that we were somehow immune from these factors. So before we started, we formulated a strategy to a: check in with one another on a regular basis, b: make sure we preserved our sense of ourselves and the marriage separate from our infertility and desire for another child, and c: we came up with an exit strategy- basically a set of circumstances where we would call a halt no matter how we felt emotionally. Even with this in place, disentangling ourselves from a conman was extremely difficult.

    It blows me away how our experience on the micro personal level shares parallels with what our country is going through on the macro. What both have in common obviously is the sociopathic conmen.

    The first similarity that scared the shit out of me during PeePeePotus’s campaign was how quickly and completely his supporters enmeshed their fundamental indentities with him. I think those are the people who make up his 31% base. These are the people that cannot separate an attack on one of his policies from a personal attack on themselves. They are impervious to facts, reason or even self interest. I wish that they were an aberration, but actually I see this type of behavior in lots of communities.

    Within the infertility community, there is a subset of people who cannot envision their lives without achieving a family that conforms to their expectations. They are so tightly bound to this need, that they will bankrupt themselves and their extended families, destroy their marriages, and alienate their entire social support structure in order to pursue it, because (in my opinion) letting go of that expectation means a loss of their core as a person. That loss is one that is so huge, many people simply can’t face it.

    Churches (again bear with me I think this does tie together) require their members spend vast amounts of time on them, this time requirement functions in a lot of ways, but the one I think is pertinent here is that the more energy someone invests in something, the more tied to it they are. No one likes to lose an investment, whether it’s time, energy or money. That tendency sets up a dynamic that I have seen over and over- from religion to politics to infertility…

    One of the best examples I’ve seen of this is one from my experience with a surrogacy scammer. There was another couple that I “met” (online) who was using the same shit show we had been using. By the time I met them, we were at the stage where we had realized that our money was gone and we were gathering information on the scam. They were at the point where they had been “researching” for several months but had not actually sent him money. When they got in contact with me, they told me that RR had told them that all the “issues” with prior unhappy people were related to a particular clinic. I showed them information showing “issues” with over twenty clinics on three continents. Despite that, they decided to go forward anyway and sent him 30k, telling me that they were “different” than my husband and I and that they had figured out a way to protect themselves via contract. Three months later, I checked in with them and found out that like us, they had been subjected to a litany of excuses (some reasonable and some complete and utter fantasy) as to why nothing had happened. I shared that I was worried at the similarities between what they had experienced and what we had. They decided that they would give him another few months. They contacted me a few weeks after that to share that RR had given them another line about why things weren’t progressing, but that he had come up with a solution. The two of them would fly to the new clinic and then they could go forward at that point. This new plan of RR’s was going to cost them flights, hotels, etc…. I pointed out that a person who runs a medical tourism company should have afrequent flyer miles to the moon and given the issues that they had had, they should talk to him about paying for the flights, etc…. They asked him about that and then emailed me to share that he told them that he couldn’t pay for their flights, etc… but he would totally reimburse them. I pointed out the similarities between their experiences and a Popeye cartoon…… (wimpy “I’ll gladly pay you Tuesday for a hamburger today”) and asked them how they thought a company that didn’t have the money for a couple of airline tickets would be solvent enough to carry through the entire surrogacy, I also found myself pointing out that their 30k was supposed to have been out into an escrow account, so worst case scenario the funds should have been able to be withdrawn from there. My sense was that their money was completely gone and I didn’t want them to lose more. Despite them agreeing that I “kind of had a point”, they ended up deciding that they would go ahead and pay more money to go to this clinic, paid even more when they got there only to find that once again, nothing could happen because RR was in default to the clinic for thousands and the egg donor he had found for them could not be used.

    It literally took them sitting in a clinic thousands of miles from home before they would allow themselves to acknowledge the truth. That their investment of time and money were gone. Period. This couple were both educated and objectively “smart”. What tripped them up wasn’t a lack of ability to think rationally, it was a variety of factors, but chief among them was the emotional investment and how they had tied their identity to the idea that they were “right” about this course of action. Their view of themselves as educated and intelligent allowed them to pretend that they were somehow inoculated them against “stupid” mistakes, their vision of themselves as having really strong and accurate intuitive perceptions actually made it easier for them to ignore both warning signs and concrete evidence. I believe that my trying to convince them of the truth may have actually solidified their attachment to their belief that they were somehow “different” and would therefore have a different outcome.

    This dynamic of time, energy and identifying the self to a cause, religion, etc… I think plays a huge part in people staying engaged with a particular viewpoint, even when those things are demonstrably false and are causing tangible damage to them.

    Again, I apologize for this wall of text- I read the article about the Kentucky freak show the day it was published. I texted my husband and said, “fifty bucks this guy either kills himself or checks himself into some sort of rehab claiming that he himself is a victim of serious abuse.” Boom.

    Sociopaths have a consistent pattern when they are caught. First they, counterpunch. This makes a considerable number of their victims back off. If that doesn’t work they invariably play the self victimization game. Suicide is one of the mor extreme expression of this, it allows them to inflict more pain on their victims (because they know that normal people feel guilt even when something isn’t their fault), they get to dodge any consequences for their behavior. In no fucking way was this guy “worn down”. He recognized that the scam was up, didn’t see a clear path to changing the narrative and so decided to play the victim for a final time.

    If N truly felt “worn down” and truly felt that her children’s safety was endangered she has a very simple way of fixing this problem. She could make her blog private, trim her FB list to twenty people she knew well. This would reduce the “danger” substantially. Follow that up with adhering to the most minimal of behavior standards as far as being a neighbor goes – don’t shit in the water supply, don’t point weapons at people and keep your kids, livestock and used toilet paper on your own property. … the conflict level would likely drop to near zero- especially given that if she did this stuff she wouldn’t have time to call people’s employers, etc….

    NN won’t do any of that, ever because painting herself as the victim is not only the best strategy she can use to avoid accountability, I believe that there is something about it that sociopaths find almost as satisfying as conning people.


  6. Rhy, this is just a wonderful account (apart from the horrible experience you had) of how this sort of thing works. I have family members who have invested so much of their money and lives into religion that they simply cannot look reality in the face, ever. They never will. I don’t even attempt to enlighten them.

    You and I both know that feeling that comes when it dawns on you that you’ve been scammed. It’s not pleasant. In my case, it had me curled up in fetal position on the floor sobbing. But reality is way better, no matter how brutal it might be, than the fantasy world. I’m so sorry that those folks wouldn’t hear what you were trying to say to them.


  7. I have strict standards for those I vote for, or those I spend money to see a movie. I voted for Clinton the first time around. I didn’t vote for him the 2nd time around as I didn’t feel he used good judgement by cheating on his wife, with a young woman, young enough to be his daughter. I was deeply affected by his actions. It caused me to loose all trust in him.

    I haven’t seen a movie by Roman Polanski and never will no matter how great others say it is. Added to that list are many others, Woody Allen, Mel Gibson, Bill Crosby, and a whole bunch of other actors, actresses, politicians, teachers, church people, etc.. My money will not support vile people no matter what their religion, politics, gender, race, ethnicity or any other label people call themselves.

    This guy who killed himself said he loved his family. BS. What person supplies drinks to under age people in his home? Especially a church person!!!

    I hold those with power to a much higher standard than I do anyone else. That includes entertainers and sport hero’s as well. When a teen idol acts foolishly and exhibits vile behavior such as a very talented young lady did a few years ago it angers me. Why? Because so many young people look up to her and want to be like her. I can’t remember her name or the guy who was old enough to be her father acted like fools on stage on tv on some award show. Why use your talent and gifts like that??

    Nope, this guy didn’t love anyone other than his own pleasure. It is so sad that there are so many people like this. What’s strange is all the female teachers that are having sex with their students. WTF??

    I’m disgusted by bad behavior even in so called locker room talk like our current “leader” did. He is suppose to be our example! All presidents and their wives and families are suppose to be examples.

    I am very happy that all the rats in politics, show biz and big business are being chased out into the daylights to show the world their true selves. I’m glad that the guy didn’t win the senate the other day and glad that other comdian politiatian stepped down. No more!

    Sorry for the rant.

    Nicole, what Joe has done isn’t rumors. He did it. He should own up to it. He should own up to drinking a can of beer too.
    Nicole, what you have done is not rumors either. Own up!


  8. Rhy

    That was a brilliant and very insightful comment. I worked with a lot of doctors during my days of practicing law. They are very often the targets of conmen. This explained quite well why they often fall for some of the most transparent of financial cons.

    Thank you. I learned something new.


  9. Rhy, Thank you.
    That was the best explanation I’ve ever read on why people remain invested in bad situations or decisions, and how accountability is skirted. This makes a lot of sense.


  10. When I was (saved) and tell others I am now a atheist I have been told it (in fundy speak) was a false conversion, What ever the fuck that is.


  11. false conversion,

    I wish I had a nickel. . .

    Of course it was. I’ve been told that I didn’t “get saved right,” that I went to the wrong church (the speaker’s church is always better, and it doesn’t matter that I went to several different ones), that I’m really still “saved” but just confused. It goes on and on. People (and not just Nicole) have also opined that I am mentally ill. The ones who opt for mental illness as an explanation are typically those who believe strongly in what they call “eternal security” (once saved, always saved). They knew me when, and can’t bring themselves to do the “your conversion wasn’t real” thing because if my religion wasn’t real, then theirs isn’t and they know it. So the only alternative they have for an explanation is mental illness.

    It’s an interesting phenomenon because it only occurs in people who knew me when I was Christian. I have religious friends now and they don’t do this. They’ve known anyone except Sally the Atheist, so there’s nothing for them to compare. But the Christians who knew me before are simply baffled.

    Dan Barker (Freedom From Religion Foundation) ran into the same situation, so I’m in great company.


  12. Women hold a lot of power that we don’t use. Think of all the entertainers & those in public office that have treated women (or others) badly. Most women still go see their movies, buy their books or even vote for them. What if all women said no to any movie, music, sports, books, products, and not vote for bad people? I will tell you we would live in a different world. I think Woody Allen, Milely Cyrus & Mel Gibson are talented people, but I will never spend a dime on any of their products. I will not support bad behavior.
    I can’t figure out how any woman could watch a movie by Roman Polinski knowing what he did to a 14 year old girl. Or Woody Allen marrying a girl who grew up with him being her father. Or Mel Gibson who gets drunk and spouts off his real feelings about certain people. Nope. I don’t support bad behavior from anyone. Especially where it comes to spending money.


  13. I was lucky. I was raised without religion. I was raised without believing in gods. Fifth generation atheist that I know of and it could go even further back. Dawkins talks about the god gene. Certain people are genetically predisposed to believing in gods. If that’s the case then my family has been breeding around or outside of the god gene for generations.

    I was raised knowing the difference between right and wrong. I don’t need some threat of eternal damnation to be a good person. I have to live with myself. I have to live within my community. It’s easy to tell the difference between wrong and right and to make it a life long practice to be a good person. I notice a lot of religious people have no compunctions with being “sinners.” They’ve created entire religions and procedures to basically allow them to sin and still end up in the imaginary good place. From sin eaters to paying indulgences to being born again it seems to me that they spend an awful lot of time finding the loopholes in their religious beliefs.

    I have studied religions and I find none of them are believable. Not a one. The religious texts are full of contradictory, simplistic and impossible stories and vary from religion to religion or sect. Whose religion wins? It seems to me that most believers believe what they do simply because they were born in a specific place and time to a specific family. They might switch out on churches or different sects of basically the same religion but they remain basic Christians or Jews or Muslims or whatever the main religion of birth. Not exactly a ringing endorsement on why that particular religions believers have found THE proper god to worship.

    This entire concept of blind faith is ridiculous to me. Yeah I can’t see an atom or a far away solar system with my bare eye, but give me the right equipment and I can. The same does not apply to gods. You’re told that everyone is created in that particular gods image, yet some child was born with leukemia and won’t live until adulthood, another is born with no limbs, etc… and then the excuses start. “It’s god’s will. God has a good reason for this it’s not yours to know. God moves in mysterious ways.” Yeah, no thanks. I remember in kindergarten going to Sunday school with a friend and the teacher was explaining to me that my mere existence proved there was a god, or intelligent designer or whatever. That everything must be created and nothing could exist without a creator. So I asked the obvious. If everything must be created who created god? It was my one and only experience of having my knuckles hit with a ruler.

    I don’t care if people believe in gods or follow religions as long as they keep it to themselves and don’t try to foist it on me or make me follow by their religious rules. If people are incapable of making their own decisions, differentiating between wrong or right or just like the community aspect of it all, good for them. Whatever. What I find to be a shake my head moment is when they tell me that I should believe because it’s an insurance policy of sorts. If there is a heaven or hell afterlife then isn’t it best to hedge your bets? Their gods can’t be very impressive if they’re that easy to fool and lie to is my usual response.

    One last thing. When the Bible tells of Adam and Eve I have several questions. One: why did god not want them to eat of the tree of knowledge and punish them for doing so. He wanted sheeple? Two: if Adam and Eve had only sons where exactly did they find women to marry and procreate with. I know I’ve read the Bible and the surviving sons married some babes from the caravan. What caravan would that be? Three: what did they do with Adams first wife? Was she the mother of the babes in the caravan?


  14. The term I hate most with Christians is “Born Again”. IMHO the term Born Again implies that being born by a woman is not worthy or good enough. Birth is a pretty powerful thing to do. Something that men can’t do. So what do they do to take that most powerful force away from women? They say that you need to be born again. I call that a crock and guess what? I’m religious. Funny. I won’t let anyone say that term around me without my stating my view of it. I know it’s a little out there, but it is how I feel. Luckily I don’t here that term in my church very often if at all.


  15. I am really enjoying reading the comments tonight. Coming from a catholic back ground I have to kinda pretend for my folks. No point in hurting them, it is a small way of me telling them I love them. They know I don’t believe ( dad still tries to bring me back into the fold ) oh well somethings never change. But to read the stories here, wow just wow, very thought provoking, thank you ladies.


  16. There is also the psychological pull of someone who has believed a lie refusing to believe they’ve been lied (to). It’s a hit on our egos. It is hard to recognize that you’ve been had and someone has stolen something from you (trust, money, etc.).

    In addition, when people are afraid, or fearful by nature, they really like black and white problems and solutions.

    Plus, most people are wired to give others the benefit of the doubt, or to believe them when they say things that matter to them. That is why people who do bad things and bad people are drawn to religion. The marks are predisposed to being fleeced.

    Put them together and you can see how so many of them have gotten away with it for so long. In the case of that asshole in the White House, take a look at where he lost – bigly. New York and New Jersey. The two states that know him best. No one can state that they never elect Republicans either. But he lost both of those states. Too bad for the rest of us who didn’t elect him. Enjoy the small tax refund you might get in 2018 because Social Security, Medicare and everyone who isn’t filthy fucking rich or a corporation is going to be soaked in 2025 onward.

    No thanks to you who bought his lies for electing a man who made a career of destroying small businesses and ripping people off. Here’s someone who fought the asshole, and won. I really wish more people had been paying attention. Particularly those in West Virginia, western Pennsylvania and swathes of Kentucky – you are well and truly screwed and thanks to you, the vast majority of us are too.

    You bought it, suckers. Just wait until you see what they’re cooking up for the 2019 budget! You know what block grants do? They give the states money, they get to spend it any way they like (and they always say there are protections for the most vulnerable), then the money is spent on other matters and those who need it the most are done for. Have a medically fragile infant? Wait until you find out how quickly a lifetime cap of $1 million dollars can be hit – then what happens?

    “Donald Trump has run ads, in states including Pennsylvania, claiming he will “save Social Security and Medicare without cuts.”


  17. Wow. I don’t think I’ve ever read a better explanation of the idea that salvation just magically changes you. As a recovering Evangelical I truly appreciate posts like this Sally. It’s taken me my entire adult life to repair the damage the church did to me. I’ve essentially went from being convinced that having even the slightest doubt would send me straight to hell to finally realizing how unbelievable and contradictory the church truly is. I could go on and on but all I really need to say is: Thank you.


  18. Thanks guys. The only consolation I feel I gained from being conned is that it made me spend a lot of time thinking not only about why conmen do it, but what it is about normalcy that made me vulnerable to it. I think the ego aspects of it are the ones that were hardest for me to confront and judging by what I saw in many of the other families I knew personally , they are the toughest for others as well.

    I really believe that the vitriol that comes from enthralled supporters- whether we are talking about the couple I dealt with, Nozzler humpers Trumpsters or fundiful freaks is a result of the same ego defense strategy. The mere existence of someone who says, “that doesn’t pass the smell test,” is supremely threatening.

    I’ll be honest, there are lots of days when I miss my faith. I wish I could believe that there would be a time when I would be able to hold the spirit of my youngest son close to my heart and tell him just how much he is loved. However, nice that fantasy is, the value that I place on authenticity and integrity doesn’t allow me to play that game. My son is dead. Maybe physics and facts don’t bring me the snuggly comfort of faith, but I’ll take those facts any day of the week because they give me the comfort of knowing that facts can withstand examination, and they allow me the ability to change and adapt to new information in a way that faith does not.


  19. Theskyisfalling… I love that you brought up how the term “born again” disempowers women. I think that is exactly why it’s part of the religion and why it is emphasized so strongly in the more patriarchal and fundamentalist denominations.

    The other issue I have with that term is how it results in a total lack of accountability. Whatever horrible things a person did – they are born again and “pouf” no need for accountability. While I have a pretty big problem with the whole concept of sin, I find it laughable that many fundies seem to view their savior as a vending machine for goodies and get out of jail free cards.


  20. I was raised in the Protestant church, started having doubts in my 20’s. By the time I was 30 I was a nonbeliever. Through the years of raising a disabled child, foster kids, and knowing good people who died of horrible illnesses, I was done with god’s will. Things happen because that’s life. My belief is now in empathy, and that’s a faith that gets tested daily.


  21. Those preachers do like a good prodigal son/daughter story and they like a good healing/dying story. I remember when I was very young, after polio and after I came home from my grandmother’s, my mother had been diagnosed with end stage cervical cancer that had metastasized to her colon, liver, and brain. We didn’t know the brain was involved until after she died and one of the nurses told my older sisters. But, in the first few months, she went to the medical center in LR for her treatment and along with cobalt treatment, they wanted to do surgery and remove her colon. She opted out of living six more months that the surgery would have given her. Once she came home and was trying to learn how to die, I watched her moods go from I’m going to fight and win, to I need a miracle, to let me add this quack doctor’s herbal shit, to I fucking give up. She wrote to Oral Roberts; in fact, she sent money to him so he would pray for her and she got these form letters back and that was enough for her to believe she was going to get those prayers. One night, she drug my little sister and me to one of those tent revival things, and there was a man who was doing the healing by putting his hands on the sick and crippled and pushing them back and sending them away with hope they were healed. When my mom went up to the alter, she took my little sister and me, and of course we made a sad looking family. I still wore the braces and still used the crutches that quickly identified me as a polio survivor, and my little sister was small for age and very timid. The tent con man took advantage of my mother and began telling the congregation that here was a mother whose daughter had survived, by the grace of god, polio and look at her…her crippled legs still affected by the disease but with a testimony that will reveal, in time, her reason for being healed. I stood there and tried not to look into the faces of the people in the crowd because I knew some of the kids and I know my mom, a proud woman, knew everyone there. Then he said and this woman the doctor has given only a few months to live (that was news to me and my sister so we began crying which they loved…they ate that shit up) and let’s all band together and pray the devil right out of her and a group of the men put their hands on my mother and they all began talking in tongues. When it was over, a woman stood up and gave some words that she said god said to her like she isn’t sure but there will be a great healing here tonight…blah blah blah. The preacher said he felt the cancer leave my mother’s body and on our way home that night, we stopped for ice cream and mama ate some, something she wouldn’t have done with the cancer still there because it made her belly hurt. I was so happy that they had healed my mother and so was she. By the time we got home, I was helping her turn the steering wheel and had to help her walk into the house. She left a trail of blood and it began the first of many times that I had to clean the car seat, floor, and her. She lasted two more months. In that two more months, she quit the faith healers and headed for a quack in the mountain who sold this gross liquid medicine that my mom paid 20 bucks for and the first time she went there, she couldn’t even wait until we got out of his driveway before she poured some in her hand and drank it. In the end, nothing saved her and she finally accepted her prognosis with grace and dignity that included telling the preachers to get the fuck out of her room. Before she died, I was worried that she would go to hell because she was being so mean to the preachers and she said preachers are just like everyone else, trying to make a buck but they don’t have more standing with god than the town drunk. That was the first stage of me becoming atheists.


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