(RNS) What does it take to produce the first-ever papal high-five? A meeting with American televangelists, apparently.

The gesture came during a three-hour meeting of Pope Francis and Texas televangelists Kenneth Copeland and James Robison, just weeks after the pontiff met with televangelist Joel Osteen and other religious leaders. At the June 24 meeting, Robison said he was so moved by Pope Francis’ message of the gospel that he asked the translator to ask Francis for a high-five. The pope obliged, raised his arm and the two men smacked hands.

James Robison explains a "high five" to Pope Francis at the Vatican on June 24, 2014. During their meeting, they agreed all Catholics and Protestants need to come to know Jesus personally.

James Robison asked if he could “high-five” Pope Francis after his message at the Vatican on June 24, 2014. RNS photo courtesy LIFE Outreach International

The televangelists are among some wealthier U.S. evangelicals who have recently met with Francis, who has called for a focus on the poor and a simple lifestyle for clergy. In March, the pope met with members of the Green family, the Oklahoma billionaires whose company, Hobby Lobby, won their challenge to President Obama’s contraception coverage mandate at the Supreme Court last week.

Copeland and Osteen have been criticized by some as teaching “health and wealth” prosperity theology, the belief that faith can increase one’s wealth. But from his humble shoes to his simple Fiat, Francis has set a decidedly un-extravagant example.

“The prosperity gospel seems to be fundamentally opposed to the message that Francis has been spreading. But he has shown that he’s willing to meet with just about anyone,” said Michael Peppard, a professor of theology at Fordham University.

“Joel Osteen seems to have a charismatic authority among a large amount of people. Maybe Francis is channeling Jesus: If you disagree with someone, meet with them.”

Last year, Francis fired the German “Bishop of Bling,” Franz-Peter Tebartz-van Elst, for spending $43 million on a fancy residential complex. Copeland, meanwhile, was one of several televangelists targeted by Sen. Charles Grassley, R-Iowa, in 2007 for their lavish lifestyles.

Copeland declined to provide full information about his finances, and the investigation wrapped up in 2011 with no penalties for the pastors who did not cooperate and no definitive instances of wrongdoing found.

Copeland was unavailable for comment about his meeting with the pope, but in an address to his congregation, he played a recording from earlier this year where Francis spoke on a smartphone camera and called on Christians to set aside their differences. Copeland led his congregation in prayer where many spoke in tongues, a common Pentecostal practice.

Robison, a Texas televangelist with Baptist roots who is not an advocate of prosperity theology, defended his friend Copeland.

Kenneth Copeland prays with Pope Francis at the Vatican on June 24, 2014.

Texas televangelist Kenneth Copeland prays with Pope Francis at the Vatican on June 24, 2014. RNS photo courtesy Kenneth Copeland Ministries

“All the things I’ve seen him criticized for, I have not seen validity,” Robison said. “I don’t appreciate Christians standing back and criticizing each other.”

Robison said he was born into the Episcopal Church but didn’t have a “born-again” conversion until later in life, the kind of story he sees among many Protestants and Catholics. “There are a lot of evangelicals and Catholics who don’t know Christ,” he said.

In fact, Francis’ meeting may reflect a shift in emphasis within the papacy. His predecessor, Benedict XVI, regularly bemoaned the decline of Christianity in his native Germany and across Europe. In contrast, the Argentine Francis comes from a region where competition from Pentecostalism is one of the biggest challenges facing the Catholic Church, Peppard said.

As unusual as it might seem for a pope meet with celebrity Protestant preachers, the potential awkwardness goes both ways. While some praised Robison for going to Rome, others said Protestants and Catholics have too many differences, on issues that include the role of the Bible, saints, the status of the Virgin Mary and the nature of salvation. “Very disappointed in you James and Betty. Never forget the Inquisition — Never forget!” one commenter wrote on Robison’s website.

But Robison said he and Francis found common ground in caring for the poor.

“I don’t see him as presenting himself as infallible,” Robison said of Pope Francis. “He’s been to confession. He asks for prayer. He’s anxious to apologize on (behalf) of Catholic leadership.”

Osteen’s meeting with Francis on June 4 was part of a larger gathering coordinated by the International Foundation, also known as “the Fellowship.” Osteen was joined by Utah Sen. Mike Lee, a Mormon; California pastor Tim Timmons; and Gayle D. Beebe, president of evangelical Westmont College.

The June 24 meeting leaned particularly toward charismatic Christianity. Other guests were Anthony Palmer, a bishop and international ecumenical officer with the independent Communion of Evangelical Episcopal Churches; Geoff Tunnicliffe, the outgoing head of the Worldwide Evangelical Alliance; and John and Carol Arnott of Catch the Fire Toronto, which grew out of a Pentecostal revival 20 years ago.

Pope Francis met with a group of American televangelists and their spouses at the Vatican on June 24, 2014.

Pope Francis met with a group of American televangelists and their spouses at the Vatican on June 24, 2014. RNS photo courtesy Kenneth Copeland Ministries

The pope met with more than 50,000 Catholic charismatics in Rome last month, admitting he was not always comfortable with the way they prayed. Still, he knelt on stage as they prayed for him and spoke in tongues. “Where does division come from? The devil!” Francis told them. “Division comes from the devil. Flee from internal struggles, please!”

Pentecostal and charismatic Christians  – charismatics are often Pentecostals in other churches, including the Catholic Church — share much in common, such as speaking in tongues and healing. Together, they make up at least 584 million people in the world, about 9 percent of the global population and one in four Christians worldwide, according to the Pew Research Center.

And that’s probably partly why Francis extended the invitation to the U.S. pastors. The Rev. Wesley Granberg-Michaelson, a veteran of Catholic-Protestant ecumenical groups and the author of “From Times Square to Timbuktu: The Post-Christian West Meets the Non-Western Church,” said Pentecostalism is growing in the Global South at three times the rate of Catholic growth, especially among the poor.

“My guess is that Francis knows this community can’t be ignored,” Granberg-Michaelson said. “Certainly, Francis would want to encourage Catholic charismatics to feel at home, as well as build ecumenical relationships with the Pentecostal community — and those reinforce one another. That’s also why what he is doing is both ecumenically creative, and makes sense.”

KRE/MG END BAILEY

89 Comments

  1. What a disgusting mess!

    A ROOMFUL OF RELIGIOUS FUMES
    ADDS UP TO POWER AND FASCISM
    “In March, the pope met with members of the Green family…billionaires whose company, Hobby Lobby, won their challenge to President Obama’s contraception coverage mandate…”

    …AND HYPOCRISY
    “Francis fired the German “Bishop of Bling,” Franz-Peter Tebartz-van Elst, for spending $43 million on a fancy residential complex. Copeland, meanwhile, was one of several televangelists targeted by Sen. Charles Grassley, R-Iowa, in 2007 for their lavish lifestyles.”

    …AND INCOHERENCE
    “Where does DIVISION come from? The DEVIL!” Francis told them. “Division comes from the devil…!”

    …WITH THE SINISTER COMPLICITY OF JESUS!
    “I have come to bring FIRE…What constraints! I am impatient…I have come not to bring peace BUT DIVISION.” (Luke 12:49-51)

    A brew of claims, assertions and outright lies.
    What crew!

      • @Lles Nats,

        My parents didn’t ‘let me’ grow up to be an atheist.
        They told me – and taught me – what to think: Love Jesus or else.

        But they did not teach me how to think for myself.
        That only happened after 44 years as a Catholic.

        Witness the brain washing.
        Witness the death worship and the fascist nonsense of ‘Jesus’.

        ‘Kill them all’, says Jesus.
        “Execute them in front of me” – Jesus (luke 19:27)

        • What do you say about someone who distorts the truth in order to make his claims? When you quote Jesus as saying kill them all, you know you are doing something wrong. But you do it, apparently because, as a atheist, you have no attachment to the truth. You seem to be very comfortable lying. Oh well.

          • samuel Johnston

            Hi Vernon,
            What do you say about someone who distorts the truth in order to make his claims?
            Generally I call them Christians.
            “as a atheist, you have no attachment to the truth.”
            There are facts and their are opinions. Truth is above my pay grade-
            and also yours- assuming you are human.

          • @Vernon,

            “Bring to me those enemies of mine…Execute them in front of me” – Jesus

            Tell me how this is different from “kill them all.”

            I would enjoy the laugh.

          • Luke 19:27 – “and to the disciple, ‘Here is your mother.’ From that time on, this disciple took her into his home.”

          • @Chris,

            Wrong.
            “Bring to me those enemies of mine who would not have me as their King and EXECUTE THEM IN FRONT OF ME.” – JESUS (Luke 19:27)

            “EXECUTE THEM IN FRONT OF ME.” – JESUS (LUKE 19:27)

            “EXECUTE THEM…” – JESUS

            “EXECUTE THEM….” – JESUS
            “EXECUTE THEM IN FRONT OF ME.” – JESUS (LUKE 19:27)

          • @Nella,

            “I would not worship a god like that either”

            But that is the problem. This is the god of the Old and New Testaments. That is Yahweh/Jesus.

            Yahweh said “kill” and Jesus said, “Love God by following his commands.” He also said “I and my father are one.”

            You are free to make up a different god if you like.
            But you cant argue to atheists that the same god of the Bible who we reject is not the same one you believe in. Then, at the same time tell us it isn’t the same god at all.

            If you are going to permit your churches to lobby for laws to stop homosexuals from getting married you are going to need a much more convincing argument. Because there is no reason for anyone else to believe this nonsense.

        • Clearly Max what ever you were taught you unfortunately you were not taught well. ‘Witness the death worship ‘ where does that come from? It’s all about eternal life. Death is a small part of it. Go back and do some research instead of stupid post…..

          • @White Sox,

            “‘Witness the death worship ‘ where does that come from?”

            Oh. You have got to be kidding.

        • Blaseboniface

          This is a parable in which “a certain nobleman” in the multi-layered meaning of this parable says the words, ” ‘But as for those my enemies, who would not have me reign over them, bring them hither, and kill them before me.’” When you are reading the scriptures, you must read with an open heart as well as your mind, so that you can understand what is being said, otherwise you are condemning yourself to spiritual blindness, and deafness. Let those with ears to hear, hear.

          Look at the context of the story. If they all say no to the reign of God who is Love, and even kill the incarnation of that love, then they have cut themselves off from love, and they all will die not only physically but spiritually as well, because the soul requires love to live. All that is left is some kind of strange existence devoid of love, “hell”.

        • Hey there Max you seen objective in criticism- would appreciate if you could critique this former religious series from a “former atheist” look forward to your honest criticism – feel free to be very honest – say it as it is. Here is link https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rlJH7A5NHT8; you can then check out his series if you wish..at http://amazingdiscoveries.tv/c/2/Total_Onslaught_-_English/

        • Blaseboniface

          “I have come to bring a sword of division,” that will separate those who serve God from those who do not. Those who serve the will of God the Father are members of the same family. And those who do not are separated by the sword of division from that family, because if you do not serve Love you are serving something else, and there is no longer an organizing principle to create wholeness.

          The organizing principle of life is Divine Love – when all of the parts of a person come together to serve love there is interior wholeness. Place any other principle as the organizing principle, then there is necessarily fragmentation. Therefore it is also true that the Devil scatters, and Jesus gathers.

          • @Blaseboniface,

            Wrong it is not a ‘sword’ of division. Jesus wants division for its own sake. He is not interested in this unity everyone is speaking of!

            At least read your Bible. Jesus is not interested in peace.

            Jesus said he wanted to burn the whole world:
            “I have come to bring FIRE…What constraints I am under! I am impatient to bring..not peace but DIVISION.” (Luke 12:49-51)

            Later when he says: “blessed are the peacemakers” he is obviously not including himself. Jesus was not a peacemaker and he did not want peace.

          • @Blasonboniface,

            “Divine Love”?

            What are you talking about?

            GOD SAYS – CUT OFF YOUR WIFE’S HAND IF SHE TOUCHES ANOTHER MAN’S PENIS.

            “If men get into a fight with one another, and the wife of one intervenes to rescue her husband from the grip of his opponent by reaching out and SEIZING HIS GENITALS, you shall cut off her hand; show no pity.” – DEUT. 25:11

            Divine love?
            Cut off your wife’s hand? Show no pity?

            Jesus agrees. (JOHN 1:17), (Mark 10:19)

      • @Lles Nats,

        God doesn’t mind abortion. If a wife feels lust she has already gone astray.

        “If a man’s wife goes astray….The Lord shall abort your baby” (Numbers 5:1-27)

        So why do Christians go nuts about abortion? If life is so sacred why does god have no problem destroying it all the time?

        • Oh my God! Atheist Max found that scripture! Everyone now has to support abortion! Surely we must follow what Atheist max says about the bible, which he apparently has not read.

          • @Vernon,

            My point is to show you (who have not read the bible)
            what is really in it.

            When some Christian makes a claim that “X” is true because God says it – you can be sure they are wrong.

        • Read ‘Faith of Our Fathers’ –food for the soul. Once you are educated in the understandings, you can have better discourse. You bring up valid points which can be answered— questions after reading?– then call Tim Staples , Patrick Madrid or Collin Donovan on Catholic radio in late afternoons. They help to clear up many of your points.

          • @Bridget,

            Interesting how you defer to authority figures
            Instead of answering these questions with your own arguments.

            Religion is about obedience and fear.
            You reveal so much with so little.

          • “Interesting how you defer to authority figures. Instead of answering these questions with your own arguments.”

            Says Captain Cut-and Paste. LOL!

          • Shawnie,

            Whaaaattt???

            So, Bible ‘Scholar’ I actually do the thinking for myself. Unlike you.

            At least I do not cut and paste ancient scribblings and tattoo them to my brain!

        • @ Atheist Max July 9, 2014 at 6:33 pm

          ” So why do Christians go nuts about abortion? If life is so sacred why does god have no problem destroying it all the time? ”

          An interesting comment by you Max….I would ask the same question until I realized it involved the OT.

          The NT is sooooooo much better and sooooooo much more mature in inspirational quality. It’s new and better……it has better ideas and attitudes….for goodness sake……let’s be thankful for something.

          • @Billysees,

            The New Testament is just as bad as the Old.
            And why wouldn’t it be?
            It is the same God. Or are you going to deny it?

            JESUS – I WILL DISMEMBER PEOPLE WITH A SWORD
            “The master shall cut him to pieces” – Jesus (Luke 12) JESUS describes what he intends to do to his own enemies, whoever they may be.

            JESUS – EXECUTE MY ENEMIES FOR ME
            “..bring to me those enemies of mine who would not have me as their King, and execute them in front of me.” (Luke 19:27)

            JESUS – YOU SHOULD DROWN THEM
            “Drown him with a millstone” (Matt 18:6),

            JESUS – YOU MUST JUDGE HARSHLY
            “Judge [them] unworthy…remove your blessings of PEACE” (Matt 10:13)

            JESUS – I SHALL BURN THE WORLD
            “I have come to bring FIRE…What constraints! I am impatient to bring not peace but DIVISION.” (Luke 12:49-51)

            JESUS – HATE THOSE WHO LOVE YOU
            “Hate your parents…hate your life”(Luke 14:26)

            JESUS – I’M A MAFIA GODFATHER.
            I’m making you an offer you can’t refuse:
            “Eat of my body” and “Be baptized and believe” or
            “Be condemned to Hell” (John 6:53-54) (Mark 16:16).

            There is nothing to be ‘thankful’ for in Jesus
            or his awful messages.
            The death of this Jesus cult is long overdue.

          • @Billysees,

            You know the 10 commandments are from the Old Testament right?
            And you know there are 3 sets of them, right?
            And you know you are supposed to follow them all, right?

            You are not free of the Old Testament if you claim Christianity.

            “Not one iota of the law shall be abandoned” Jesus (Matthew)

        • A pity your parents didn’t practice what you preach on abortion and spared us from this drivel. It might have almost made your point. Almost. But even you’re verbal effluent can’t cut it. Ta ta troll-boy.

          • @Knight 1,

            “verbal effluent”?
            Moi?

            GOD SAYS – CUT OFF YOUR WIFE’S HAND IF SHE TOUCHES ANOTHER MAN’S PENIS.
            “If men get into a fight with one another, and the wife of one intervenes to rescue her husband from the grip of his opponent by reaching out and SEIZING HIS GENITALS, you shall cut off her hand; show no pity.” – DEUT. 25:11
            Cut off your wife’s hand? Show no pity?
            Jesus agrees: (JOHN 1:17), (Mark 10:19)

            GOD’S RULES FOR SEX SLAVES
            “When a man sells his daughter as a slave, she will not be freed at the end of six years as the men are. If she does not please the man who bought her, he may allow her to be bought back again.” (Exodus 21:7)
            Selling your daughter for sex is okay by God!
            Jesus agrees: (JOHN 1:17), (Mark 10:19)

            GOD SAYS: GO AND KILL EVERY LIVING THING
            “Now go and utterly destroy all that they have, and spare them not, but slay both man and woman, infant and suckling.” (1 Samuel 15:3)
            Jesus agrees: (JOHN 1:17), (Mark 10:19)

            GOD SAYS: KILL THE WOMEN, SAVE THE LITTLE GIRLS FOR RAPE
            “Moses was furious with all the military commanders who had returned from the battle. ‘Why have you let all the women live?’ he demanded. …They are the ones who caused the plague to strike the LORD’s people. Now kill all the boys and all the women who have slept with a man. Only the young girls who are virgins may live; you may keep them for yourselves.” (Num:31:18)
            Jesus agrees: (JOHN 1:17), (Mark 10:19)

            GOD COMMANDS: YOUR WOMEN WILL BE RAPED IN BROAD DAYLIGHT. THAT IS HOW I WILL PUNISH..THE HUSBANDS.
            “Thus says the Lord: ‘I will bring evil upon you out of your own house. I will take your wives [plural] while you live to see it, and will give them to your neighbor. He shall LIE WITH YOUR WIVES in broad daylight. You have done this deed in secret, but I will bring it about in the presence of all Israel, and with the sun looking down.’ ” (2 Samuel 12:11)
            Jesus agrees: (JOHN 1:17), (Mark 10:19)

            That is verbal effluent!

        • As the ultimate authoritarian, God doesn’t feel compelled to explain himself to his creation, namely you. God owns everything and everyone, and he makes the rules. Why? Well surly an intelligent man like yourself understands that because he made everything and everyone, that means he calls the shots – it’s only fair. If you don’t like it, then you make something from nothing and maybe God will listen to you, but I won’t hold my breath mortal. God kills and makes alive. He makes the blind and the deaf. No one can save from his hand, and escapes from death belong to him. For every act of vengeance he takes against unrepentant sinners, he is more gracious, kind,and loving to those who fearfully and reverently obey him. Since you refuse to accept this simple fact, you scoff, mock, and rage against it. Tough cookies. God laughs at you, mocker, and he spurns your prideful judgement of him. Who are you to make him answer to you anyway? Are you scared? No way. Why? Because you are a fool, who says there is no God.

          Yes, as you correctly have ascertained from Jesus’ parable to the hypocritical Pharisees, all rebels like them and you will be brought before the Lord and put to the sword, this is ultimate justice against rebellion. I think even you would rejoice when an evil doer is brought to justice. Amazingly, you are more righteous in your assessment that these fools are not real Christians, but then again, Jesus said there would be impostors. No big surprise! Basically, Christianity isn’t for you, we get it. God and real Christians are be saddened by this, but it’s your choice.

    • Even the devil can quote Scripture, but this dude says something important:
      “I have come to bring FIRE…What constraints! I am impatient…I have come not to bring peace BUT DIVISION.” (Luke 12:49-51)

      So since Maxie sows division here (to get his jollies), he’s saying he thinks he’s Jesus! Have more faith in yourself dude!

      • @Knight 1,

        The truth is, your God of Abraham is the destabilizer of humanity.
        An immoral man made monster who has wrecked countless generations with credulity and lies.

        Muslims say “Slay the infidels wherever you find them” (surah)
        Jews say, “Kill the unbelievers who follow other gods” (Leviticus)
        Christians say, “Execute those enemies of mine” (Luke)

        What an indefensible, horrible cult you follow.
        All of it is a cancer to humanity.

  2. Pentecostalism may be growing but it is too superficial to last very long. As soon as those who embrace it become more educated, later in life they or their children will either become generally spiritual or Catholic. Catholicism is already doing very well in former Protestant strongholds in the US. Protestantism, especially of the Pentecostal kind, is just too narrow to retain people in the long run.

    • Amazing. I have similar beliefs about the relative strength if judiasm, as a system, but avoid posting them for fear if legal ramifications.

      America’s freedom if speech is not a two way street…and as such, general freedom is an illusion. What you can say depends on which species or class of american society you lay claim to.

      • And atheism is the belief that nothing is ultimately worth believing in. The light of faith is certainly dimming. It is not because of the weakness of religious arguments, though. As much as we like to think so, most people do not consider the merits and demerits of points for and against belief in God. Rather, the sense of faith is being smothered by the seemingly infinite choices at our disposal. Even our sense of reality seems a trick of the light. Reality is not what it used to be. Given the psychedelic predicament we all seem to be in, it is hard to believe that Hell could be much worse. That is probably one reason why even the idea of eternal punishment appears sort of purposeless to a growing number of Christians. Now, if you will excuse me, I must eat my bowl of cornflakes.

        • @David,

          You reveal the nihilism and emptiness of religion in your comments. The darkness of your philosophy is frightening.

          “Atheism is the belief that nothing is worth believing in.”
          Nonsense! I reject FAITH not belief! Good grief.
          You don’t believe in Zeus or Thor so you are already an atheist
          with respect to those gods. I just go one god more.

          I believe in many things – because there is evidence.
          I have confidence in many things – because there is evidence.
          I have TRUST in many things – because of reliable, reviewable evidence!

          If evidence exists there is reason to believe.
          If there is no evidence – there is NO REASON.

          Do you just go around following Elvis sightings?
          Or follow every UFO claim?
          Or every claim about the Abominable Snowman??

          Ridiculous. Life is too wonderful and special to waste it on hogwash.

          • I put forth the reality of faith in today’s world. It is not merry at present regardless of the many who subscribe to a faith tradition.

            One of the meanings of the Latin word “Fide” (Faith) is to give credence to, that is, to believe. To believe is to have faith. You trust that your intuitions about reality are true and you are on here evangelising, spreading the good news of Atheism. What you trust, you believe; therefore, you have faith in the reality you perceive. It is not faith in the Divine, yet it is still faith. We all have faith; it is the object of that faith that we disagree about.

            I do not believe in Superman, either. The early Christians were actually accused of being atheists because the God they believed in was not just one among many other gods, was not one that could be displayed and negotiated with as the Romans would very much have liked.

            Do you believe in love and goodness because you have evidence? How do you know anyone truly loves you? Love is not something you can put under a microscope and examine. We believe in many things regardless of the evidence. Most of the great scientific discoveries came initially not from evidence, but from intuition. Einstein intuited the grand scheme of general relativity and then set out to test his theory.

            What you term “evidence” has to be sifted and interpreted by the human mind. It is certainly there, but it signifies nothing absent interpretation. Where do you get the objective evidence that your mind is perfectly sound and rational and fit to interpret the evidence of all you see accurately? From other human beings? Where do they get it from? From other human beings? What if we are all nuts, lunatics speed boating on the chance adventures and entrepreneurial spirit of trillions of atoms and molecules? How do you know you are not on a reality TV show called “The Max Show” ala “The Truman Show” and I am the guy running the whole project? How do you know this is not all a dream? Evidence??? No, no, no, Max, all you have is your intuition, your belief that the real world is just what it appears to be. You have to take a leap of faith, whether you acknowledge it to be one or not, to accept the world as it is.

          • @David,

            “To believe is to have faith…we all have faith..”

            This is Nonsense typical of the closed religious mind.

            You won’t jump out a 10th floor window on FAITH!
            Why not?
            Because you BELIEVE in gravity!

            Belief is based on experience and evidence. You don’t choose your beliefs.

            Faith, however, is nonsense.
            It is a word for ‘pretending’ when all the evidence runs completely against your beliefs. You can have ‘faith’ in anti-gravity but that will not make your belief in gravity go away.

            “Do you believe in love and goodness because you have evidence?”

            Of course they require evidence.
            Love and Goodness are not ‘things’!
            They are LABELS we put on THINGS which manifest themselves and FIT that description! Good grief.
            Love only exists as a label for a certain scenario which is manifestly in FRONT OF US! Do you think love exists on an asteroid without any people nearby? This is the sort of nonsense the world can do without.

            “Most of the great scientific discoveries came initially not from evidence, but from intuition.”

            Completely wrong. You are confusing intuition with curiosity.
            Science and discovery are completely counter-intuitive, which is why intuition is always a spectacular blunder.
            Intuition is what we expect to be true, and it was expected that the big bang would one day collapse on itself of its own gravity. But that intuition was proven wrong when Dark Matter was discovered forcing the stars to fly apart even faster – in fact the speed is accelerating.

            Science and discovery are counter-intuitive. And intuition is not belief.

            “How do you know this is not all a dream?”

            I don’t know whether it is a dream or not. But what is the difference? The logic of this system is not enhanced by pretending you will go to Hell if you have sex in a certain position or if you claim the bad leprechauns will get you if you wear the wrong color green!!
            There appears to be a functioning set of reliable, evidence-based laws and logic.
            Only a fool would make life more complicated than it is just for the purpose of pretending that a cracker would turn into Jesus if a certain person says a few magic words.

            Your argument takes you away from the Enlightenment and Science and into the dark ages. Have fun!
            Good grief!

          • No, it is not nonsense. To believe is to have faith.

            Why would I want to jump out a 10th floor window? Yes, of course I believe in gravity, and that is precisely why I would not jump out the window. It is perfectly sensible not to suddenly jump out a 10th floor window. And anyway, gravity exists whether I believe in it or not. It is not a subject of metaphysical investigation. There is a vast difference between “goodness” and “gravity”. I cannot prove the existence of “goodness”, but I can prove the existence of “gravity”. One is self-evident, the other is not.

            The Christian teaching that what God created is good and that the creation is not itself divine, but a good entrusted to mankind and separate from God, which was responsible for the development of science as we know it in the high middle ages in Europe, was not based on experience and evidence. It was based on a doctrine, and that required faith. For sure, it was an implicit faith, yet the development of science as we know it presupposes a Christian teaching.

            I believe human life is sacred and that we are all equal before God, but evidence and experience might lead me to the opposite conclusion. On the face of it, we do not all seem equal and life is pretty ruthless, yet I believe contrary to what appears to be the reality.

            Love is a reality beyond our labels. You describe it as if it is a mere sensory experience. Husband says to wife: “I love you”. The meaning for you is that of the husband patting his wife gently on the shoulder as if to say that he just happened to choose her as his wife to sufficiently satisfy his sexual needs during his short pathetic life and then die a few decades down the line and cease to exist. That is all love is to an atheist. It is a mere patting on the shoulder, a display of quasi-affection.

            I am not confusing intuition with curiosity. Intuition is belief. It is to trust something is the case without recourse to the usual evidence.

            What use is your “evidence” if you cannot be certain it is not a dream? You see, you cannot know. You have to trust, to believe, to have faith that is not a dream.

            There is nothing enlightening about falling down the rabbit hole with Alice.

            Good Grief! ;)

          • @David,

            “as if it is a mere sensory experience.”

            Why ‘mere’?
            Why is this a minor accomplishment?
            Why does it mean something more to you just by saying it was put there by magic? The fact that an experience actually happens should be enough for people!

            You add nothing by saying a giant fairy did it or helped it along! Except that you are immediately burdened by having to explain a truck load of unsubstantiated claims:

            “God is love”
            “God created Hell”
            “A cracker turns into Jesus but only if a certain person makes it happen”
            “Vengeance is for the Lord”
            “Love they neighbor”
            “Kill my enemies”
            “Kill unbelievers”
            “They are swine”

            It is a hodgepodge of nonsense.

            ATHEIST = “I don’t believe in a god”
            AGNOSTIC = “I don’t know if a god exists”

            I am Atheist and Agnostic.
            If a god exists He cannot be this ridiculous concoction of Yahweh Jesus Holy Ghost incoherence.
            You’ll have to invent a different God for me to comprehend because this one makes no sense at all.

    • samuel Johnston

      Hi David,
      “Pentecostalism may be growing but it is too superficial to last very long.”
      Yes I agree. Some years back I was on a flight to Peru and it was mostly full of Pentecostals. They were scrubbed country folks who were coming to help the poor indians. I admired their good will and skills, but not their insight.
      “As soon as those who embrace it become more educated, later in life they or their children will either become generally spiritual or Catholic.” I disagree. Protestantism is most likely a necessary step from colonial Catholicism to modernism for the descendants of the Incas, and the other indian tribes. Also, I have reason to suspect that they will embrace updated versions of their native religions as soon as they realize that again have that option. Not saying I favor such a course, just that the evidence (much too long to cite here) convinces me that the days of the European conquest of the Americas (natives) are over.

      • Yes, and I also view what you take to be a “necessary step” as a rebellious step for most, somewhat like going from an uncritical nationalism to modern cynicism. I am not sure about them embracing updated versions of their native religions. Is that not effectively like becoming generally spiritual as I put it? Perhaps some will. Anyway, I have no doubt that Pentecostalism as a force in world religion is set to have a short shelf life. It is sad to say that it will be rampant secularism, not Catholicism, that will break it down. The good that is left will be absorbed, as is already happening, by the Catholic Church and other Protestant traditions. I think of the wave of positivity emanating from the Pentecostal movement as quite like the wave of self-help Christianity post WW2 in the US. It flourished for a few decades among that generation and some of their children but has since petered out. If you want to see the future of Pentecostalism, look at the trajectory of the life of someone like the Rev. Robert H. Schuller. If one is living in South America, one is where that kind of “faith” was in about the ’80s in the US, still riding high but beginning to show signs of decay.

        • @David,

          Oh, my. You are truly delusional.

          “sad to say that it will be rampant secularism, not Catholicism, that will break it down. The good that is left will be absorbed, as is already happening…”

          The cancer of religion has done more damage to the world
          than any other manmade idea in history.

          1 BILLION PEOPLE have been killed in the name of Jesus and Mohammed since the dawn of Christianity 2000 years ago.

          And the damage to America has been mind-blowing.
          The collusion of religion and politics has destroyed American life.

          This single example of religion’s nonsense:
          The George W Bush should scare everyone.
          His wars cost $4 Trillion and the American people can thank the religion of George Bush for his obstinacy, his short-sightedness, his rejection of rational approaches, his rejection of analysis and his ultimate TRUST IN GOD to resolve the wars!

          George W Bush put his trust in an invisible atmospheric air pocket to resolve the problems in Afghanistan and Iraq and we are still paying for his ‘trust in god’.

          Religion breeds irresponsibility and the passing of the buck to an invisible air pocket. How embarrassing!

          The despicable, horrible BS of religion
          must be dumped into the trash bin of history. The sooner it is abandoned the safer we will all be.

      • Deacon John M. Bresnahan

        Sam–Not to be sarcastic, but did you miss the religious news of the past year??? The Vatican has already been “conquered” by the Americas. The pope is now an Argentinian. But like so many in the Americas he has European roots while having grown up in a South American culture.
        Which reminds me of a comment made by a famous writer (Chesterton or Joyce) about the Catholic Church: “Here comes everybody.”

  3. Sister Geraldine Marie

    Infallibility does NOT refer to the Pope being right about everything! It has a very (very!) narrow meaning. It refers to the doctrine that when the Pope speaks on matters of faith and morals, he cannot lead the Church astray because he is guided by the Holy Spirit. For instance, it is a matter of faith that the Messiah rose from the dead. The Pope cannot teach otherwise. It is wrong to murder (morals or morality). The Pope cannot teach otherwise. These are only two examples, but there are more.
    If the Pope said you can’t eat eggs (for example), he is not speaking infallibly! That is just his opinion.
    Please study the concept in a good encyclopedia, before you speak or write.

    Blessings!

    • @Sister Geraldine Marie,

      THE PAPACY = SEX, MURDER, CORRUPTION AND MISERY

      Why should this Pope be any different from previous popes?

      Pope Paul III of 1500 C.E.
      for one example wasn’t just a bad pope.
      He murdered relatives, including poisoning his mother
      and niece, to inherit a fortune!

      Paul III’s had one religious dispute between two cardinals and a Polish bishop. As the argument continued, Paul III decided he would have all three men hacked to death with swords.

      Paul III was completely corrupt.
      Yet he was famous for having a total anti-corruption policy which he refused to follow himself.

      Any position in the church was for sale
      and he took control of 50,000 Roman prostitutes and a cut of their earnings. Paul III was a PIMP!

      Paul III’s most well-known lover was an
      gorgeous young woman whose name was Costanza Farnese…..
      THE POPE’S OWN DAUGHTER!

      Popes are just dumb humans with sick, foolish powers granted
      by a sick stupid industry; RELIGION.

      • Deacon John M. Bresnahan

        Maybe Max should take some time to read the lives of a few saints like St. Francis of Assisi or the priest who founded the first Red Cross, or the priest who gave his life to save a family man in a Nazi camp.
        It is the great saints who have lifted up the Church–and even they were not perfect people, just the best of a sinful lot always in need of forgiveness.

        • @Deacon John,

          I’m extremely unimpressed with almost every story
          of every saint I ever read about.

          “Saint” is a title to live down rather than up.

          The saints are mostly a clutch of hysterical,
          superstitious virgins venerated for their cowardly
          and slavish obedience to dogma of Catholicism and its offensive, repressive psychological tactics; in many cases for the vicious battles against non-believers of various other religions they happened to conquer(St. George, of course.)

          No human should worship another human. Sainthood is a pantheon of such indignities.

          The best that we should do with wonderful people is to tell their story and hold high the example of their moral courage.

          Why besmirch greatness by lumping a good person in with the inhumanity of this despicable pantheon? :

          St. Louis IX (marauding crusader, Inquisition terrorist)

          St. Aquinas (Kill “non-believers”)

          Saint Junipero Serra (a member of the Spanish Inquisition)

          St Maria Maddalena De’ Pazzi (self-abuse to the point of death)

          Saints Robert Bellarmine (“burn the heretics alive”)

          Saint Thomas More (“burn heretics alive”)

          Saint Ambrose of Milan (Jews are the worst creatures on earth)
          
Saint John Chrysostom (Jews are demons, synagogues are caverns of devils)

          Enough with religion and its ridiculous claims.


          Obedience and Fear are not a methods for moral behavior!
          Obedience to dogma is especially foolish.

          What good is it to be called a ‘saint’ if you must join such foul company?

      • Typical bully. Getting your rocks off by putting others down. The ultimate perversion.
        Fine, don’t get religion, but get a life and stop being a ‘shower sac’ as the French say.

        • @Knight 1,

          You religionists are the bullies. I’m defending my right to be heard against the endless ‘holy this’ and ‘holy that’ gibberish of your fascistic worldview.

          Religion is an ongoing onslaught of criminal behavior attacking every truly wonderful quality of life. Nothing is out of reach of this despicable philosophy of yours.

          A tiny sampling of the
          TERRORIST CRIMES AGAINST HUMANITY
          OF THE CHRISTIAN RELIGION:

          1. JOHN WYCLIFF – first to translate the Bible into English. Pope Martin V in 1428 c.e. had his dead body exhumed and burned at the stake.

          2. INDULGENCES – the blatant con game of extracting money from wealthy people to buy forgiveness for sins against God. Strongly recommended as recently as 2007 by Pope Benedict. Mother Theresa played the Indulgences game to con millions of dollars out of poor countries coffers, too.

          3. JAN HUS – 1411 c.e. – burned alive at the stake for realizing his Catholic priesthood was built on lies. His attempts at reform led to his horrific execution.

          4. INQUISITION – 1100 c.e. to present.
          Catholic Priests arrested people of various faiths, tortured them, forced confession of sins, forced conversions and executed untold thousands to death by various means of torture and burnings. The INQUISITION is still practiced in parts of the world where Catholics can have people arrested and harassed for heresy but without the torture and executions which were only outlawed only in the last century.

          5. WITCH HUNTS – 1480 -2014 c.e.
          100,000 PEOPLE burned at the stake so their souls would ‘be purified by the fire’ as Catholic Doctrine still teaches. (ei: Mother Teresa’s love of pain, African Missionaries). Witch burnings continue in Africa today.

          6. CRUSADES – 1195 c.e. – 1275.
          Killed 2,000,000 innocents. Soldiers were bribed by the Catholic Church with notes of indulgences meaning their souls would go to heaven for killing people as soldiers for Christ with ‘god on our side’.
          Dictators have used this argument ever since – The Nazis wore ‘Got mitt Uns’ on their belt buckles for the same reason: “God on our Side.”
          The biblical argument of Jesus was clear: “bring to me those enemies of mine who would not have me as their King and execute them in front of me.” – Jesus (Luke 19:27)

          7. POGROMS AGAINST JEWS – 75 C.E – 2014. This hasn’t stopped. The Holocaust was the biggest pogrom of all killing 6 million Jews. The first Peace Treaty the Nazis signed with any government was with the VATICAN in 1933. And the Pope, as a result, did nothing to stop Hitler.

          8. SUPPORT FOR THE USTASE – 600,000 killed in Croatia – many by Catholic Priests and Bishops directly. The Vatican ‘Ratline’ saved the perpetrators by sending them to Argentina to escape justice.

          9. SEXUAL ABUSE BY THE CLERGY – Untold thousands of children raped, sexually molested and otherwise abused by predatory priests. 30,000 cases in the United States alone.

          10. RWANDAN GENOCIDE – Perpetrated by Catholic Priests, and church leaders killed 800,000 fellow Rwandans in an explosion of fear against ‘the devil’ – which they decided had to be all of the Tutsis.
          Killer priest, Father Serromba was not only murdered 2000 himself, he was protected by the Vatican for years before he was sentenced by an international tribunal.

          ——-

          “Love *YOUR* enemies” – Jesus
          “But EXECUTE *MY ENEMIES* IN FRONT OF ME.” – Jesus (LUKE 19:27)

          Your religion is a cancer to the world.

  4. Dear Mr. Atheist Max: Popes, as human beings, are flawed and thus capable of some pretty bad behavior at times. Yet the issue of faith is more than about the flawed leaders and practitioners of Catholicism. It is about the love and mercy of our Lord, and our need as his disciplines to display these qualities to our neighbors.

    By the way, I read a really interesting article on the internet the other day. Its title was “Has Science Discovered God?” You should check it out. Looks like it is getting harder and harder to deny the existence of God.

    • @Chris,

      1. Popes are certainly human. Why do they claim they are ‘infallible’ sometimes?
      Isn’t that foolish? Isn’t it childish? Of course it is.

      2. Faith is just gullibility. Are you gullible? Would you believe in leprechauns just because someone said they are real? Why can’t you just admit you are pretending?

      3. Science might discover God. I don’t rule it out. But if it were to happen don’t you think it would be better to say so AFTER it happened instead of pretending that it already happened? There is no sign of Zeus or Allah. Why would there be a sign of Aphrodite? Or Agamemnon? Or Ganesha? Or Vishnu? Or the Hummingbird wizard? – No. Sorry Yahweh is just as imaginary (so far) you will have to do better than silly assertions to convince modern people of gods.

      • Ahhh…ahhh.. ahhh…douche!!!
        Pardon my sneeze, and I guess you won’t say ‘God bless”, but I must be allergic to losers who get off on trying to fight with others.

        • @Knight 1,

          “Losers who get off on trying to fight with others.”?

          Religionists push the rest of us around with countless indignities and you think I’m the one looking for arguments?
          Do you read the news?

          THE PRICE OF RELIGION TO SOCIETY

          Harm to the entire community:

          1. The discouragement of rational, critical thought.
          2. Vilification of homosexuality, resulting in discrimination, parents disowning their children, murder, and suicide.
          3. Women made to be second-class citizens based on religious teachings. Hobby Lobby decision, etc.
          4. Children growing up to hate and fear science and scientists, because science disproves their parents’ religion – leading to appalling scientific illiteracy and encroachment of superstition and creationism.
          5. Tens of thousands tortured and killed as witches (a practice which still continues today).
          6. People aren’t making the most of this life because of belief in an afterlife.
          7. People dying because they believe their faith makes them immune to snake venom, or other lethal aspects of reality.
          8. People dying – and letting their children die – because their religion forbids accepting medical help.
          9. People choked, starved, poisoned, or beaten to death during exorcisms.
          10. Genital mutilation of babies demanded by religious texts.
          11. Psychological and physiological conditions blamed on demons, preventing believers from seeking medical care for themselves and their children.
          12. Shunning. People disowning family members for leaving their religion.
          13. Friendships and romances severed or never started over religious differences.
          14. “Abstinence-only” sex education, resulting in five times the amount sexually transmitted diseases and teenage pregnancies – often leading to ill-fated “emergency” marriages.
          15. Women having septic abortions—or being forced to have unwanted children they resent—because religious organizations have gotten laws passed making abortion illegal or inaccessible.
          16. Censorship (often destructive) of speech, art, books, music, films, poetry, songs, ideas.
          17. The demonization of out-group religions, e.g. Christianity demonizing Pagans, muslims demonizing infidels (“They’re devil-worshipers!”)
          18. Children using up the period of their lives when the brain is most receptive to learning new information reading, rereading, and even memorizing religious texts.
          19. People who believe the world is about to end neglect their education, are not financially responsible, and in extreme cases take part in mass suicides.
          20. Long-term environmental issues ignored because of beliefs that the rapture/apocalypse or something will happen soon, so they don’t matter.
          21. Wives told they will be tortured forever if they leave their abusive husbands (and vice versa).
          22. Holy wars – followers of different faiths (or even the same faith) killing each other in the name of their (benevolent, loving and merciful) gods.
          23. The destruction of great works of art considered to be pornographic/blasphemous, and the persecution of the artists.
          24. Slavery condoned by religious texts.
          25. Children traumatized by vivid stories of eternal burning and torture to ensure that they’ll be too frightened to even question religion.
          26. Terminal patients in constant agony who would end their lives if they didn’t believe it would result in eternal torture.
          27. School boards having to spend time and money and resources on the fight to have evolution taught in the schools.
          28. Persecution of “heretics”/scientists, like Giordano Bruno (burned at the stake) and Galileo Galilei.
          29. Blue laws forcing other businesses to stay closed or limit sales, while churches can generate more revenue.
          30. Mayors, senators, and presidents voted into office not because they’re right for the job, but because of their religious beliefs.
          31. Abuse of power, authority and trust by religious leaders (for financial gain or sexual abuse of followers and even children).
          32. People accepting visual and auditory hallucinations unquestioningly as divine, sometimes with fatal results.
          33. Discrimination against atheists, such as laws stating they may not hold public office or testify in court, or in half a dozen countries around the world, laws requiring their execution
          34. Missionaries destroying/converting smaller, “heathen” religions and cultures.
          35. Hardship compounded by the guilt required to reconcile the idea of a fair god with reality (“why is God punishing me? What have I done wrong? Don’t I have enough faith?”).
          36. Human achievements—from skillful surgery to to emergency landings—attributed to gods instead of to the people actually responsible.
          37. Mother Teresa, prolonging the agony of terminal patients and denying them pain relief, so she can offer their suffering as a gift to her god.
          38. Tens of billions annually in the US alone spent to build, maintain, and staff houses of worship.
          39. Grief and horror caused by the belief that dead friends and family members are tortured as punishment for disbelief.
          40. Natural disasters and other tragedies used to claim God is displeased and present demands to avoid similar events (it’s like terrorism, but without having to plan or do anything).

          41. The preaching of Hell to children which has been shown to cause permanent traumatic injury and a permanent fear of intellectual exploration.

          • Only a loser would have spent so much time on so much drivel that no one but him cared to read.
            Game, set and match, bully-boy.

          • @Knight 1,

            42. Vicarious Redemption: the idea that all evil is okay if it can be pinned onto a man who died 2000 years ago. A despicable theory in countless ways.

          • @Knight 1,

            43. Thought crime: the horrible, foolish belief that there is someone overlooking and listening to your thoughts. Thou shalt not ‘covet’ is a crime against thinking.

            Shame on you for defending all of this!

  5. @ Atheist Max

    You make frequent reference to leprechauns and fairies though I think it’s fair to say there’s no evidence to support their existence. The presence of the universe, however, seems compelling enough evidence to consider the possibility of a creator.

    • @Catherine S,

      When you have no understanding of science everything looks like magic.

      Unfortunately the cosmos is not evidence of a ‘creator’ – it is evidence of reality. And many, many interesting questions.

      But there is absolutely no reason to believe in one god, or 2 gods, or 800 gods.
      And there is absolutely no reason that belief in any god changes anything for anybody.

      It adds nothing to a beautiful garden to say “fairies did it.”
      Such things can only be asserted and conjectured and claimed.

      I am all of these things:

      Atheist – “I do not believe in a god”
      Agnostic – “I do not know if there is a god”
      Apatheist – “I do not care if there is a god because there are so many claims about so many gods they bore me”
      Anti-theist – “I am against religions because they all make wild claims which harm humanity more than they help. Until a god is clearly discovered religion should be abandoned.”

    • @Catherine S,

      If you had evidence for a god I would be interested enough to see it.
      Otherwise, you are just repeating the claims made to you by parents and grandparents based on where they grew up.

      Had you been Pakistani – you would be just as convinced of Allah.
      Had you been from Kansas – you would be just as convinced of Jesus
      Had you been from Haifa – you would be just as convinced of Yahweh
      Had you been Aztec – you would be just as convinced in the Hummingbird wizard.
      Had you been from India – you would be just as convince in Ganesha and Vishnu.

      It does not take much intelligence or insight to realize how silly this is.

      Either one of these Gods is true
      and created all of mankind and the cosmos

      Or Man created all of these gods.

      You know where I stand. Religion is foolish.

      • @Atheist Max

        The point I make is not to debate the question of this god or that.

        The universe is evidence of reality, yes! Those raised in a particular faith will tend to believe in its dogma, yes!

        But my question addresses more the issue of how vs. why. Science seeks to explain our physical universe by answering the “how” questions, i.e. How is it that our known universe came to be and evolved… But, what tools do we have beyond philosophy/theology to ATTEMPT to answer the question of “why?”

        Do you assert that it is wrong to ask this question or to consider that there could be a “why.” Or perhaps it is just wrong to take a position on the answer (which is where I think we all run into trouble)? I fail to see how one, if pondering these issues enough, could not ask this question at some point. And, being human, it is hard to be satisfied with the answer of “I don’t know.” Don’t get me wrong; I think those who vehemently adopt any answer as undeniable, irrefutable, complete truth probably have some hard truth coming. But how as human beings with analytical minds can we not seek an answer to this question? Curious on your thoughts…

  6. I’m very disappointed in these men. They have been in “Christian” ministry for decades. How is it they don’t know that the Roman Catholic church preaches a different gospel than the one Paul the Apostle preached? And that following a different gospel leads a person to destruction?
    http://downtownministries.blogspot.com/

  1. […] The June 24 meeting leaned particularly toward charismatic Christianity. Other guests were Anthony Palmer, a bishop and international ecumenical officer with the independent Communion of Evangelical Episcopal Churches; Geoff Tunnicliffe, the outgoing head of the Worldwide Evangelical Alliance; and John and Carol Arnott of Catch the Fire Toronto, which grew out of a Pentecostal revival 20 years ago.” Excerpt from RNS click for full article […]

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