Jeffrey Tayler does not like religion in general or Christianity in particular. He makes his stance quite clear. Writing
2016 US presidential candidates. From left to right: Ted Cruz, Rand Paul, Hillary Clinton, Marco Rubio, and Jeb Bush.
in an article in Salon.com, the contributing editor at The Atlantic made manifest his intense dislike for Christianity and its adherents when he wrote,
Aspirants to the White House, both Democratic and Republican, have, as we all know, begun “announcing,” thus initiating from a rationalists point of view, a media carnival featuring on both sides, an array of supposedly God-fearing clowns and faith-mongering nitwits groveling before Evangelicals and nattering on about their belief in the Almighty and their certainty that if we just looked, we could find answers to many of our ills in the Good Book (Marco Rubio’s deranged religion, Ted Cruz’s bizarre faith: Our would-be presidents are God-fearing clowns).
Tayler, who we learn from the article is both a rationalist and, apparently, an atheist, is all kinds of upset at even the slightest suggestion that God may have something to do with politics. Tayler’s fulmination continues,
The candidates will cloak their true agenda – serving the Lords of Wall Street far more zealously than Our Father who art (or really, art not) in heaven – in pious patter about “values,” about the need to “restore America” and return us to the state of divinely granted exceptionalism President Obama has so gravely squandered. This Season of Unreason will end with the elections of November 2016, but its consequences – validation of the idea taht belief without evidence is a virtue, that religion, and especially Christianity, deserves a place in our politics, our Constitutionally enshrined secularism notwithstanding – will live on an damage the progressive cause…
Professing belief in a fictitious celestial deity says a lot about the content of a person’s character…
With the dapper Florida Sen. Marco Rubio we move into the more disturbing category of Republicans we might charitably diagnose as “faith-deranged” – in other words, as likely to do fine among the unwashed “crazies” in the red-state primaries, but whose religious beliefs would (or should) render them unfit for civilized company anywhere else…
Among the faith-deranged, Rubio stands out. He briefly dumped on magic book [apparently the Bible] for another, converting from Roman Catholicism to Mormonism and then back again…
Yet even as a re-minted Catholic, Rubio cheats on the Pope with a megachurch in Miami called Christ Fellowship. As religion and politics blogger Bruce Wilson points out, Christ Fellowship is a hotbed of “demonology and exorcism, Young Earth creationism and denial of evolution,” as is so intolerant it demands its prospective employees certify they are not “practicing homosexuals” and don’t cheat on their spouses…
It’s a safe bet, in fact, that most scientists have a better grasp on the vital verities than anyone rummaging around in Rubio’s beloved “sacred” tome [again, apparently a reference to the Bible] of far-fetched fiction and foolish figments. Yet of the Republicans, the most flagrant irrationalist is clearly Texas junior Sen. Ted Cruz. For starters, Cruz pandered fulsomely to the faith-deranged by choosing to announce at Liberty University, that bastion of darkness located in Lynchburg, Virginia. Once administered by the late Jerry Falwell, Liberty promises a “World Class Christian education: and boasts that it has been “training champions for Christ since 1971” – grounds enough, in my view, to revoke the institution’s charter and subject it to immediate quarantine until sanity breaks out.
Tayler goes on to suggest that reporters should challenge the religious beliefs of the candidates, rightly asserting that, “After all, they [religious convictions] are essentially wide-ranging assertion about the nature of reality and supernatural phenomena.” He then proceeds to propose a line of questioning that, at least in his mind, will catch Christian candidates on the horns of an unanswerable dilemma.
We will examine Tayler’s questions in a moment. But before doing so, a couple of clarifications are in order. First, many of those attacked by Tayler for their Christianity are themselves likely not Christian, and it is not my intention to defend them as though they were. Marco Rubio, for example, is a practicing Roman Catholic, and thus part of an organization that, not only expressly denies the essential Biblical doctrines of sola scriptura and justification by belief alone, but whose head is the great papal Antichrist of Revelation. Of course, one cannot be too hard on the atheist Tayler for confusing Roman Catholicism with Biblical Christianity. Most professing Evangelicals in the US, and this goes double prominent Evangelical leaders, don’t know the difference either. If Evangelicals can’t get their own story straight, it’s unreasonable to expect an atheist outsider to know perceive there’s a difference. That Rubio suffers no intellectual qualms about combining his Catholicism with attendance at an Evangelical megachurch simply underscores this point.
Second, because Tayler uses the term “Christian” in his article to refer generally to anyone who names the name of Christ, I shall follow him in this. To distinguish Bible believing Christians from those who name the name of Christ, I shall use the terms Evangelical, Bible believers, and Protestants. In like fashion, I shall distinguish Christianity generally from the religion as taught in the Word of God by referring to the latter as Biblical Christianity.
Third, many of the proposals put forth by presidential candidates under the aegis of Christianity in fact have nothing to do with it. Rather, by their very nature they are actually anti-Christian. The “compassionate conservatism” and “faith-based initiatives” advanced by George W. Bush during the 2000 presidential election cycle are good cases in point. Evangelicals and atheists – some atheists inconsistently hold to the Evangelical principle of limited government – can both denounce such ideas for the fascist claptrap that they are.
That said, let’s look at Tayler’s supposedly unanswerable line of questioning.
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