Mark Driscoll photo

Mark Driscoll photo Photo courtesy of Mars Hill Church via Wikimedia


This image is available for Web publication. For questions, contact Sally Morrow.

(RNS) It’s not easy being a celebrity pastor these days with that pesky Internet around.

Consider the struggles of Mark Driscoll of Mars Hill Church in Seattle. Faced with mounting accusations circulating online –plagiarism, misusing church funds to prop book sales, silencing anyone in his church with the temerity to question him — Driscoll has urged his followers to stay off the Web. “It’s all shenanigans anyway,” he explains.

Steven Furtick, a megachurch pastor in North Carolina, and Dave Ramsey, an evangelical finance guru, have been taking hits, too, as have the wheeler-dealers on the Preachers of L.A. reality show. This, against a backdrop of culture shifts creating strong headwinds against the leader-and-follower model typified by today’s Christian superstars.

What are a megapastor and his followers to do? Remembering the biblical admonitions against idolatry would be a good start.

Pastor Steven Furtick, lead Pastor of Elevation Church.

Pastor Steven Furtick, lead Pastor of Elevation Church. Photo courtesy of Christy Collins, via Wikimedia Commons


This image is available for Web publication. For questions, contact Sally Morrow.

Some media outlets have dubbed Driscoll a “rock star” among pastors. He is hip, brash, very interested in sex and, for a reverend, unusually irreverent. He doesn’t throw televisions out of hotel windows in the manner of bad-boy rock musicians. But he comes close in the rhetorical sense, tossing out insults about gay people, women and his theological rivals.

Also true to his rock-star status, Driscoll enjoys massive popularity. His Mars Hill Church (including its 15 franchised satellite locations) attracts nearly 15,000 weekly. Driscoll’s podcast has 250,000 regular listeners worldwide, and his 2012 book, Real Marriage, topped a New York Times best-seller list.

Ah, that chart-topping book. Driscoll has admitted to using more than $200,000 in church funds to hire a consultant to game the system, boost sales and add that magical reference — No. 1 best-selling author — to his glittering resume. This questionable allocation of church money is indicative of a wider problem that rankles those in Driscoll’s growing flock of critics: the lack of transparency around Driscoll and church funds.

His salary? Unknown. Who controls church funds? Good luck finding that out. And because of the non-disclosure agreements that Mars Hill pastors and staff members must sign when they depart, little is known about who holds Driscoll accountable on money or any other issue.

One of the problems with celebrity pastors is that it’s very difficult to draw a line between advancing the gospel and advancing the preacher. When a famous pastor grows his audience and fame, doesn’t this mean that more people are hearing his saving message about Christ?

Well, yes.

But as revealed by the long history of church authority and its periodic abuse, the dynamic also gives the preacher on the pedestal a too-easy justification for seemingly everything he wants to do. You don’t want to be against God’s will, do you?

Now, however, there’s a wild card that older-school religious celebrities did not have to contend with. Thanks to the Internet, any disgruntled current or former follower can write a scathing blog post, add nasty comments to reader forums or, as creator of @FakeDriscoll does, voice a spoof Twitter account in the target’s name. This can take a toll — as demonstrated by Driscoll’s church, which has had to lay off staff due to declining attendance and giving.

Because of the Internet, “the audience is now at least as much of a celebrity as the pastor, if not more,” says Jim Henderson, a Christian author and producer in the Seattle area who is convinced that the era of the celebrity pastor as spiritual paragon is waning. Henderson produces a live show called Where’s God When … featuring a very different kind of “celebrity” Christian — William Paul Young, author of the megaselling faith-themed novel The Shack.

Young is, seemingly, everything the megapastors are not: small of stature and ego, quietly reflective, and open about his painful journey and struggles (including his being a sex-abuse victim).

Henderson might be right about this being the beginning of the end for celebrity megapastors. Until that process runs its course, however, fans of the Driscolls, Furticks and the rest have a big question to ask themselves. Who, ultimately, are they following? Jesus? Or their pastor?

(Tom Krattenmaker is a Portland-based writer specializing in religion in public life. His latest book is “The Evangelicals You Don’t Know.” This column first appeared in USA Today.)

56 Comments

  1. “One of the problems with celebrity pastors is that it’s very difficult to draw a line between advancing the gospel and advancing the preacher.”

    Yes. And the first Mega-Pastor was Jesus himself.

    And look how that worked out.
    Some people even started calling him ‘god’.

    Yet all he did was riff on the ‘Golden Rule’ and develop an apocalyptic cult: “Hurry up and love each other because it is all coming to an end any minute!”

    Jesus preached about the immediate collapse of civilization
    and since that is always popular with disillusioned people
    it will always appeal to the panicky, fearful, nihilistic side of us.
    So it feels ‘true-ish’.

    Mega pastors are dangerous, not because they are false prophets.
    But because Prophets are FALSE.
    They claim to know what God wants
    by some personal insight they have mistaken for ‘authority’.

    They tell us what God wants and how he wants it.

    “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)

    Its all ‘me, mine, me, me, me’.
    And it always was.

    • jazziscoolithink

      Luke 19:27 is in the context of a parable–a story Jesus was telling. I realize this information doesn’t serve your purpose, but you’d do well to be intellectually honest enough to stop spreading misinformation about Jesus. It makes you no better than the Christians you so vehemently criticize; actually, you’re two sides of the same B.S. coin.

      • Max is proof-texter. Whatever doesn’t serve his purpose gets distorted or discarded. He’d find a lot of company in extreme fundamentalist religious circles, although he’d never admit it.

        • @Junia,

          Fundamentalist Christians want the enemies of Jesus to be killed:
          “Execute them.” (Luke 19:27)

          I am the one calling for rejection of this garbage.

          I fail to see how a fireman dousing a flame is somehow equal to an arsonist!

          Shame on you.

          • Max, I’m talking about your mindset. You’re pretty much a one-trick pony with anger issues, just like a lot of fundamentalists.

          • Hard to avoid anger when Rock Star pastors
            Are promoting disgusting philosophies to children.

            I guess you aren’t ‘that angry’ against children being abused.
            But preaching Hell to children should be a criminal offense.

            There is no evidence for Hell
            and no evidence these casual claims of forgiveness and faith are good for people.

          • @Junia,

            What is wrong with my mindset?

            Why not take a look at YOUR Yahweh and HIS mindset
            before you talk about my mindset?

            GOD SAYS GENOCIDE IS A GOOD SOLUTION TO MANY PROBLEMS:
            “My angel will go before you and bring you to the Amorites, Hittites, Perizzites, Canaanites, Hivites, and Jebusites; and I will wipe them out.” (Exodus 23:23)

            JESUS AGREES! (JOHN 1:17)

          • Jesus and HIs followers want no such thing and you know it. Stop the lies and distortions. You are turning the truth of God into a lie. Unable to discredit Christian on the merits, you torture and twist Scripture to make it say what you want.

      • @jazziscool,

        Wrong.

        45 million people were slaughtered
        in the Taiping Rebellion because Jesus compelled that they murder the enemies of Jesus.

        Don’t tell me about your analysis of the parable:

        1. All Christian scholars agree the nobleman in the story is Jesus.

        2. Jesus’ misunderstanding about how ‘execute them’ would be used to slaughter people shows that Jesus could not have been a God – just a man and a foolish one at that.

        3. 800,000 were killed in Rwanda, the most catholic country in Africa by Christians whipped up by Preachers to kill the enemies of Jesus.

        Don’t tell me these things are metaphors. Dead people are not metaphors.

        If anyone is being intellectually dishonest, it is you.

        • jazziscoolithink

          “All Christian scholars agree the nobleman in the story is Jesus.”

          Wrong. Again, I realize misinformation serves your purpose, but it certainly doesn’t make you intellectually honest.

          “If anyone is being intellectually dishonest, it is you.”

          Based on what? Your unfounded assumptions about what I believe?

          There are plenty of fair and honest ways to poke holes in Christianity without having to resort to pure idiocy. I understand, though, the appeal of the ease of puerility. My only suggestion is that you stop trying to pass it off as enlightenment.

          • @Jazziscool,

            Wrong again!

            EVERY INTERPRETATION OF LUKE 19
            SAYS THE NOBLEMAN IS JESUS!

            Catholic Christ Notes – THE NOBLEMAN IS JESUS:
            http://www.christnotes.org/commentary.php?com=mhc&b=42&c=19

            BIBLE GATEWAY – THE NOBLEMAN IS JESUS:
            http://www.biblegateway.com/resources/commentaries/IVP-NT/Luke/Controversy-Jerusalem

            BIBLE STUDY TOOLS – THE NOBLEMAN IS JESUS
            http://www.biblestudytools.com/commentaries/jamieson-fausset-brown/luke/luke-19.html

            MATTHEW HENRY’S COMPLETE COMMENTARY ON THE BIBLE – THE NOBLEMAN IS JESUS
            http://www.studylight.org/commentaries/mhm/view.cgi?book=lu&chapter=019

            CHRISTIAN APOLOGETICS – THE NOBLEMAN IS JESUS
            http://www.toughquestionsanswered.org/2009/06/09/what-does-the-parable-of-the-minas-mean/

            CATHOLIC BIBLE HUB – THE NOBLEMAN IS JESUS
            http://biblehub.com/commentaries/luke/19-27.htm

            THE MOST IMPORTANT INTERPRETATION IS THE ONE PROMINENT CHRISTIANS GAVE IT!!!

            Hitler:
            OUR Lord Jesus is A Soldier for God

            “My feelings as a Christian points me to my Lord and Savior as a fighter. It points me to the man who once in loneliness, surrounded by a few followers, recognized these Jews for what they were and summoned men to fight against them and who, God’s truth! In boundless love as a Christian and as a man I read through the passage which tells us how the Lord at last rose in His might and seized the scourge to drive out of the Temple the brood of vipers and adders. How terrific was His fight for the world against the Jewish poison. To-day, after two thousand years, with deepest emotion I recognize more profoundly than ever before the fact that it was for this that He had to shed His blood upon the Cross. As a Christian I have no duty to allow my self to be cheated, but I have the duty to be a fighter for truth and justice… And if there is anything which could demonstrate that we are acting rightly it is the distress that daily grows . For as a Christian I have also a duty to my own people.”
            -Adolf Hitler, in a speech on 12 April 1922

            ANY defense of this disgraceful, immoral
            and pathetic JESUS is 2000 years too late!

          • @jazziscool,

            How dare you question me when you defend THIS?

            GOD COMMANDS RAPING IN DAYLIGHT

            “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)

            Rape neighbors wives in broad daylight!
            What morality is being preached here?
            SHAME ON YOU, JAZZISCOOL!

        • jazziscoolithink

          @Atheist Max

          To be a little more clear: we don’t disagree as much as you think we do. I just think you give atheists a bad name when you spread false information and make simplistic, childish criticisms of religion.

          • @Jazziscool,

            “I just think you give atheists a bad name when you spread false information”

            Well is that so? It appears you are empty handed again!

            1. I have spread NO ‘false information’.

            2. Where is the ‘true’ information coming from Christians???
            Where is the evidence of a single claim the Christians are making?

            I am apparently held to a much higher standard
            than these preposterous Christians
            who are free to MAKE UP ANYTHING AS THEY CHOOSE!
            And further, that somehow I am out of line for pointing out that
            I reject their dictatorial nonsense.

            God of LOVE?
            Show me!

            THE LORD SAYS, MAKE SLAVES OF THOSE AROUND YOU. CLAIM THEM AS YOUR OWN PROPERTY.

            “You shall purchase male or female slaves from among the foreigners who live among you…also the children..You may treat them as your property, passing them on to your children as a permanent inheritance. You may treat your slaves like this…” (Leviticus 25:44-46)
            Jesus strongly emphasizes that Leviticus should be followed as part of the Commandments (Mark 10:19)

            THE LORD COMMANDS, MAKE YOUR SLAVES INTO PERMANENT PROPERTY BY BRANDING
            The Lord said, “if the servant declares, ‘I love my master and my wife and children and do not want to go free,’ then his master must take him…to the door or the doorpost and pierce his ear with an awl. Then he will be his servant for life.” (EXODUS 21:5)

            JESUS TELLS THE DISCIPLES TO BUY SWORDS TO PREPARE FOR BATTLE WITH THE ROMANS

            “Then said Jesus unto them, ‘But now, he that hath a purse, let him take it, and likewise his scrip: and he that hath no sword, let him sell his garment, and buy one.” – (Luke 22:36-37)

            GOD SAYS – WOMEN MUST BLAME THEMSELVES IF THEY ARE RAPED

            “the Babylonians came to her, to the bed of love, and in their lust they defiled her. After she had been defiled by them, she turned away from them in disgust.” (Ezekiel 23:17)

            JESUS COMMANDS YOU TO OBEY ALL STONING LAWS:

            “Did not Moses give you the law [of stoning], and yet none of you keepeth the law” (John 7:19)

            GOD SAYS GO AND KILL MORE – EVEN IF THEY SAY THEY ARE SORRY! :
            “Then the LORD said to me, ‘Even if Moses and Samuel stood before me pleading for these people, I wouldn’t help them. Away with them! Get them out of my sight!” (JEREMIAH 15:1-7)
            JESUS AGREES! (JOHN 1:17)

            You defend murder, torture, killing of all kinds, rape, slavery of innocents.

            And you expect me to care
            about how you feel as I ‘PRESENT MYSELF AS AN ATHEIST’?

            And you think you are somehow ‘intellectually honest’ but I am not?
            You have got to be kidding.

          • Jazziscoolithink

            @atheist max

            When the hell did I say I defended any of those things? Do you have any reading comprehension whatsoever? You are a fool and a disgrace to atheism.

            By the way, a handful of commentaries is a far from EVERY COMMENTARY. But I’m starting to think you have a debilitating mental handicap and this will fall on deaf ears (to put it kindly).

          • @Jazziscool,

            People are dying, dude!

            You have taken the position that Atheists need to sit on their bums
            and wait for Christians to burn them at the stake. That is the kind of Atheist you are.

            Fine. Sit on your bum.

            But don’t go telling other Atheists like me how we need to shut up because you care more about how you look than whether women and children die.

            The Hobby Lobby decision will kill women.
            Genital mutilation is killing innocent children.
            Trans Vaginal probes are a danger to women
            Creationism is a lie and it is overtaking Science in American schools.

            I get it. YOU DON’T CARE!

            But don’t tell Atheists like me that it is okay for Christians to have NO standards but somehow I need to check 50 boxes before I speak up!

            Go back to your corner.
            Let us big boys take the reigns.

          • Jazziscoolithink

            @atheist max

            You’re baseless assumptions and tortured logic do more harm to your cause than anything else. You’d help yourself and others if you stopped pedaling propaganda. I’m sure your slacktivism acts as a soporific against inevitable oblivion, but don’t fool yourself into thinking that fighting fundamentalism with fundamentalism actually saves the lives of those you sanctimoniously claim you care about, big boy. By the way, your overcompensation is showing…

          • @Jazz,

            So I have “baseless assumptions and tortured logic”
            and I “sanctimoniously claim” to care?

            1. I care enough to learn something and to argue with clarity. I know what religion is – I already told you. Go back in your little corner.
            Let those of us who know something, those of us who have read about the crimes of religion – let us do the heavy lifting.
            Because YOU DON’T care. You offer nothing to this cause.

            2. Tortured logic is exactly what you defend – not me. Your Yahweh, who you defend even though you claim to not believe in it – turned himself into his own son, arranged for him to be tortured and shot up for your own benefit – and if you don’t believe in it he will do worse things to you. That is disgusting and inhumane. But you defend this garbage.

            You apparently think THIS is not tortured logic:

            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 – KILL YOUR UNRULY CHILDREN

            “And why do you break the command of God
 for the sake of your tradition? …. ‘Anyone who curses their father or mother is to be put to death.’ ” (Matthew 15:3)

            JESUS – YOU MUST JUDGE HARSHLY

            “…if it is not worthy, take back your blessing of peace.” (Matt 10:13)

            JESUS – I SHALL BURN THE WORLD

            “I have come to bring FIRE…What constraints! I am impatient to bring..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. DO IT OR ELSE.

            “Eat of my body” and “Be baptized and believe” or “Be condemned to Hell” (John 6:53-54) (Mark 16:16).

            You don’t care. So leave me out
            of your little plan to cower
            in the corner and wait
            for the Christians to
            take away our laws.

            Is it sinking in yet?

            You are defender of Yahweh Jesus
            And you are defender of quiet atheism. Fine keep to yourself.
            Your fear and lack of argument is not impressive.

  2. jazziscoolithink

    @atheist max

    Baseless assumption: “I get it. YOU DON’T CARE!”

    You know nothing about me or what I do for a living or how I feel about those who have been harmed by people with and without religion. Does it really make you feel like you’re doing something to put words in people’s mouths and spout rehashed, formulaic criticisms of your utterly simplistic idea of Christianity on A BLOG COMMENT SECTION. Wow, Max, you’re really doing some heavy lifting! I can’t imagine what the world would be without such a BIG HEAVY LIFTER!

    “who you defend even though you claim to not believe in it”

    Some more baseless assumptions. And a false dichotomy. Do you really think that no one who has believed in a god has ever done the world any good ever? I wouldn’t be surprised. It sounds exactly like the kind of gross over-generalizations you make. And do you think that because I criticize you that I’m automatically defending everything done in the name of religion? Yours are child’s arguments, Max. But go ahead–keep telling yourself you’re a heavy lifter! Such a big boy! People who start referring to themselves in such a way are typically doing so with the knowledge that they are losing the argument.

    Quit thinking that you have “learned something” by google searching criticisms of Christianity. Stop saying that ALL INTERPRETATIONS on a first century rabbinic parable say basically the same thing when that is far from the truth–and you know it. Or maybe you actually think that a cursory google search on that verse can reveal to you EVERY INTERPRETATION. That, my friend, is tortured logic.

    The insane killing and treatment of women throughout the world in the name of religion are truly atrocities. It sickens me that these things happen. But these won’t be solved by talking past, twisting the words of, and misinterpreting the scriptures of peaceful people on a blog who you disagree with on certain points.

    Peace won’t come in these situations by simply removing the idea of god. And it certainly won’t come by diminishing any common ground atheists and theists can have by childishly talking past each other. Max, I agree with you on a lot of things, and (to your surprise, I’d guess) so do a lot of the Christians you argue with. Atrocities have been committed by people. Period. With and without religion. We can move into peace when we stop blindly slashing away at each other’s dignity and start finding our common ground and working against injustice together as humans.

    (Obviously, I’m not talking about finding common ground with those caught in the prison of fundamentalism. I’m not convinced peace is a concept these people believe in.)

    • @Jazz,

      You said, “There are plenty of fair and honest ways to poke holes in Christianity without having to resort to pure idiocy. I understand, though, the appeal of the ease of puerility. My only suggestion is that you stop trying to pass it off as enlightenment.”

      Missing the horror of Luke 19 was your first ignorant mistake.

      I was a Catholic for 44 years and a Sunday School teacher for 4 years. I have raised all my kids in the church and taught them every Catholic prayer there was. I changed my mind about religion because I began to actually CARE more about people instead of churches and doctrines.

      The Parable of the Minas is a spectacularly despicable piece of garbage.
      Jesus warns his followers of the likely punishment (execution) for those servants who do not follow the nobleman’s rules and it is designed to instill fear and obedience toward the nobleman – that is the moral of this disgraceful parable.

      “execute them” has been used for 2000 years as an argument for killing every sinner from adulterers to witches. Luke 19 was invoked in the Crusades, The Inquisition and more recently in Rwanda in the 1990s and was used by Father Anatole Serromba to kill 1900 of his own parishioners!

      If you think providing links IS THE SAME AS GOOGLING
      you must be new to the internet!

      • @Jazz,

        “I turned myself into my own son and tortured him mercilessly, making sure he would bleed to death in unspeakable pain and raw agony all for your personal benefit.
        And if you don’t believe me, I’ll do much worse things to you
        for eternity” – Yahweh

        You defend this garbage.
        You don’t care if children are destroyed by people who preach it.

        Go back into your quiet little corner.
        Those of us who were duped by these lies and in our small way added to this garbage owe it to the rest of society to destroy religion’s ‘hallowed’ reputation.

        Religion is garbage. It is trash.

        • Max,

          God (Yaweh, Jehovah ) never turned himself into his son, Yeshua, Jesus. Jesus was the image of and first-born creation of God (Colossians 1:15,16); Jesus had a start; Jehovah is Almighty God from eternity to eternity (Psalm 90:2), and was not put to death as his son, Jesus, was. Jesus also acknowledged that his Father was greater than he was (John 14:28).

          The only persons who will face destruction by him are the wicked ones, as took place in Noah’s day and the days of Lot, with Sodom and Gomorah (Matthew 24:36-44). Those wicked ones face eternal death, not eternal torment in a fiery place (Ecclesiastes 9:5-10).

          And yes, false religion, called a harlot and named Babylon the Great, will meet a swift demise by God through the political systems that she is a prostitute of (Revelation 18 and 19). Aren’t you happy about that??

      • Your problem is that you knew religion. You did not know Jesus. You know how to cut-and-paste. And distort. If you really taught Sunday School, you should know better than these accusations, even though you did not know the Lord. I feel very sorry for you. And worse for your children. I don’t believe you truly care about anyone but yourself.

        • @prodigal,

          You said, “I feel sorry for you…I don’t believe you truly care about anyone but yourself.”

          Pull yourself together. You are showing that you haven’t given much thought to these god claims.

          1. You have self-subjected yourself to be the slave of a woman-hating, slave-loving, totalitarian dictator named God who tells you that you “know nothing” and that “you are unworthy.”

          2. This God of yours claims to have turned himself into his own son and mercilessly tortured and shot up that son even to the point of ripping into his flesh. This God panders to your profound vanity and selfishness by telling you he conducted this horror against his son JUST FOR YOUR PERSONAL BENEFIT so that you can be saved from the Hell he built for you provided that you agree to believe in this extraordinary accomplishment. IF you do not believe in God’s amazing gift of ripping up his son for your benefit HE will do much worse things to you.

          3. Your Dictator threatens you with eternal damnation for the slightest screw-up (the way is narrow) and denies you all lines of inquiry, he denies you use of the brain he gave you to think, and he forbids countless wonders on earth in return for a promise of spending eternity with him – and you have ABSOLUTELY NO EVIDENCE that he exists and a profound tonnage of evidence that he does not exist.

          And you feel sad for…ME?

          Prodigal, please talk like a grown up, good grief.

    • 500 MILLION PEOPLE HAVE DIED
      at the hands of Christians.


      300 MILLION DIED DIRECTLY
      FROM ALL OTHER RELIGION:

      War on Aids – 20 Million Dead – Catholics obstructed condoms over a 20 year period through their clinics as women begged to be saved from their husbands (“Aids is bad but condoms are worse” – the Pope)


      Spanish Inquisitions – 200,000 dead (Catholic Fascists)

      The Crusades (1095 c.e. -1291 c.e.) 2 Million dead – Catholics
      Anti-Semitism – 5 millions dead over 2000 years excluding the Holocaust

      Witch Hunts – 500,000 dead

      Ireland – 600,000 dead (Catholic vs. Protestant)

      Rwanda 1994 (Catholic Facists killed 1,000,000 with machetes)

      Taipeng Rebellion in China (1850 – 1864) 45 million dead (Christian Fascists)
      Boznia-Herzegovina (Catholic Facists)

      The Ivory Coast civil wars (Catholic Facists)

      Franco, the Spanish Civil War (Catholic Facists)

      Cypriat War (Catholics)

      East Timor civil war

      Sri Lankan civil war

      Syria vs. Israel

      Kashmir civil war

      Chechnya civil war

      Sudan

      Thirty Years War (Protestants VS. Catholics)

      WW1 – War of Christendom (37 Million dead)

      WW2 Nazi Anti-Semitism, “Gott Mit Uns” Axis powers – 50 Million dead

      Albigensian Crusade, 1208-49
      Algeria, 1992-
      Baha’is, 1848-54
      Bosnia, 1992-95
      Boxer Rebellion, 1899-1901

      Constantinian Empire & Christian Romans, 30-313 CE
      Croatia, 1991-92
      English Civil War, 1642-46
      Huguenot Wars, 1562-1598
      India, 1992-2002
      India: Suttee & Thugs
      Indo-Pakistani Partition, 1947

      Iran, Islamic Republic, 1979-

      Iraq, Shiites, 1991-92

      Jews, 1348

      Jonestown, 1978

      Lebanon 1860 / 1975-92
      Molucca Is., 1999-
      Mongolia, 1937-39

      Northern Ireland, 1974-98

      Russian pogroms 1905-06 / 1917-22

      St. Bartholemew Massacre, 1572

      Shang China, ca. 1300-1050 BCE

      Shimabara Revolt, Japan 1637-38

      Sikh uprising, India, 1984-91

      Spanish Inquisition, 1478-1834
      Tudor England

      Vietnam, 1800s

      OTHER Witch Hunts, 1400-1800
      Xhosa, 1857

      Arab Outbreak, 7th Century CE

      Arab-Israeli Wars, 1948-

      Al Qaeda, 1993-

      Dutch Revolt, 1566-1609

      Nigeria, 1990s, 2000s

      Very close to One Billion
      800,000,000 people dead

      JUST BECAUSE OF RELIGION.


      500,000,000 attributable to Christianity alone.

      Yet God doesn’t appear to exist,
      nor does he seem to take a side in these battles.

      For shame.
      And you think a few soup kitchens and charities make up for these losses?
      Congratulation, Hamas, Hezbollah and The Parties of God have soup kitchens too!

      Your argument is disgusting.
      Religion must be abandoned.

      • jazziscoolithink

        @atheist max

        Thanks for giving me some background on your life. I understand where you’re coming from. I apologize for the strong language (“idiocy…peurility,” etc.) I didn’t think you’d agree with me, but I figured it was worth a shot.

        My perspective is, obviously, a bit different than yours. My family, for the past few years, has been going through some heavy crap. Divorces, abuse (sexual and emotional), lies, sweeping things under the rug, pain, division, division, division. None of it has anything to do with religion unfortunately. I wish I had such an easy scapegoat (not saying that’s what you’re doing with religion necessarily).

        In my mind, it’s easy to see how the discord in one, small extended family can be exacerbated to the point of a national crisis (a la Israel/Gaza) especially when people groups bolster their ideas of violent-victory-as-means-to-peace mentality. Yes, there is a plethora of God-awful (sorry ;) ) things found in the Christian/Hebrew/Muslim scriptures, but I wonder if there is a way for theism and atheism to have a mutual appreciation (e.g. http://www.onbeing.org/program/alain-de-botton-on-a-school-of-life-for-atheists/transcript/6020).

        I just think that maybe a better tactic for you, if you really want things to change, would be to go about presenting better interpretations rather than only the giving the very worst and most despicable ways scriptures have been used. Maybe read some Bible scholars who are still identified with (if only loosely) Christianity: like John Dominic Crossan, Marcus Borg, the Jesus Seminar people, etc. Scholars, such as these, make the argument that Christ’s teachings were hijacked and diluted and twisted by those in power post-Constantine.

        Maybe if the people you are trying to change felt like they could still hold on to Christ and give up their militarism, they would be more likely to work with you instead of against your cause. See, I think some people don’t see the good you are working for because of the way you present it.

        Anyway, that’s my two cents. *Retreats back to his corner*

        • @Jazz,

          I have had similar problems in my family – very dysfunctional. I attribute most of these problems to a dominant, obstinate, commanding Catholic father and an exhausted mother.

          Male DOMINATION as pre-ordained in Paul’s letters, encouraged throughout the churches and my mother’s reluctant surrender to it – had a lot to do with the wreckage of my family life. Religion absolutely infected our lives with ‘reasons for this’ and ‘guilt for that’ etc, etc.

          The belief at the center of Jesus is a profoundly inhuman idea – the notion that one will be forgiven later for a terrible crime done today (vicarious redemption) through the torture, blood loss and death of a certain primitive human who died only once but allowed countless millions of crimes.

          I rail against religion not because I want to be mean.
          But because we are losing the fight.

          The tragedy is that Christians are working hard to destroy the wall that separates church and state. A Hard Right Wing Christian Oligarchy is coming to power in America and it is funded by people like the Koch Brothers and fueled by Rupert Murdoch’s Fox News empire. It is subverting our democracy.

          I am not panicked yet – but if Atheists don’t speak up and get counted in large numbers, we could lose our civil rights.
          Sorry if I was harsh. It isn’t about you personally. It is the legal battle confronting us.

          • Alex,

            You talk about Christians are trying to destroy the wall that exists between church and state. I don’t see that happening at all. I see my sister’s church advising all members to vote for a particular person (republican), and she has voted for the democrat twice in a row. I myself have never voted in my life (almost 60) because I am a theocrat or support God’s kingdom or heavenly government as the only one deserving of my rule. Yet, many people of “religious groups” still vote? Why is that? If they get involved in politics, there is not a wall of separation among them. I am not sure of what “wall” you are speaking about..??

          • @Fran,

            Problem #1 – “I see my sister’s church advising all members to vote for a particular person (republican)”

            Fran, this is against the law. Churches are allowed tax-free status because they are not used for campaign purposes.

            Problem #2 – “I am not sure of what ‘wall’ you are speaking about..?”

            Fran, The Establishment Clause of the U.S. Constitution exclaims this; The Government shall make no law establishing a religion…”

            This is why you are free to be Christian and I am free to be Atheist.
            If we did not have that law one of us would be able to command the OTHER ONE to follow a particular religion – or non-religion.

            YOUR religious freedom depends on keeping the Establishment Clause in our Constitution. IF we lose it, we will all be suffering the slings and arrows of someone else’s religious sect commanding over us.

      • Max, they were not true Christians. Jesus said that by their fruitage, or what kind of people they would produce, you would know. They are bad trees producing rotten fruit, no doubt about that (Matthew 7:15-20). He also said that the bad trees are cut down and thrown to the fire. They will meet God’s judgment whom they have so egregiously misrepresented and do not follow!! That will be a wonderful day! :-D

        • @Fran,

          “You will know them by their fruit”

          Fran, Do you like Paul Newman?
          Sure, he was a beautiful man. And he was a wonderful actor.
          But he also produced and directed community theatre and was an all around great person to his community where he lived in Connecticut.
          Did you know that about Paul Newman?

          Newman started a special camp just for children with terminal cancer – it was called “The Hole in the Wall Gang” named after his role in “Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid”
          And hundreds of thousands of children have spent happy summers there. Most never lived long enough to reflect on the generosity of Mr. Paul Newman or the joys they had at the camp.
          But some did live, thanks to Paul.

          Newman also started a charity called “Newman’s Own”
          which is still in operation today. It has raised $370 MILLION DOLLARS for poor children and for children with cancer and the search for cures.

          He was married to only one woman – Joanne Woodward – his whole adult life.

          Do you think Paul Newman was a great guy?
          Do you like what you are hearing about his morality?
          Would you like your children to grow up to be like Paul Newman?

          Well, I would. I’d be blown away!

          Yet, Paul Newman was an ATHEIST.

          Think of PAUL NEWMAN when someone says the word, ‘ATHEIST’.
          Think of Paul Newman when your Pastor damns him to Hell for simply not believing in Jesus.

          Ask yourself whether Paul Newman deserves Hell.

    • Jazz,

      I appreciated what you expressed here as an atheist… It truly gave me a different and kinder perspective than what I have been used to!!

      I agree with you, however, that religion has done some terrible and infamous things which do not promote peace, such as putting nationality before Christian faith. As a result, “Christian” soldiers of all denominations have been exhorted by their clergy to kill each other in the name of their Savior! So many wars have been fought in the name of religion, which is evidently “false religion or false Christianity.” Jesus always promoted peace and love, even loving our enemies!

      We also have sexual abuse by priests for a long duration which is not a sign of true Christianity and yet it continues.

      At least the Bible predicts that the world empire of false religion, pictured as a harlot and named Babylon the Great, will soon meet her swift demise by God who will exact deserving judgment upon her.

      Ironically, she will be destroyed by the political systems she has been committing “fornication” with (Revelation 17 and 18). Religions get involved with politics and wars as well. As Revelation 18:24 says: “Yes, in her was found the blood of prophets and of holy ones of prophets and of holy ones and of all those who have been slaughtered on the earth.”

      All false religion will be done away with by God and all people will finally learn the truth about God, who really loves and cares about us humans! :-D

      • I agree with some of what you said, but I’d like to see some instances where Christian soldiers have been told to go kill each other. Please don’t make things up just to pacify atheists.

        • @Prodigal 48,

          You said, “I’d like to see some instances where Christian soldiers have been told to go kill each other.”

          HOW MANY DO YOU WANT TO SEE?
          CHRISTIAN SOLDIERS SENT TO KILL CHRISTIAN SOLDIERS:

          Christian Vs. Christian:

          1776 – English Vs Independence
          Serbia VS. Croatian 1991-93
          The 30 Years War (ongoing)
          Northern Ireland (ongoing)
          WW1 1915-18
          WW2 – 1938-45
          Russia vs. Georgia
          RWANDA GENOCIDE – Christian Hutus killed Christian Tutsis

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

  3. Fran-Jesus was not created! He was there from the start! When you deny
    the Trinity and the existence of hell you are denying the Truth! The Bible
    says not to subtract from it or you go to hell so people who teach there
    is no hell go to hell because of that teaching! Ironic. Hell was never a
    place for man. It was made/prepared for the devil and his angels but man
    sinned and that’s why we need Jesus to save us! If there is no hell why
    would Jesus warn us about hell and die on the Cross? By denying that
    Jesus is part of the Trinity/not a created being and saying there is no
    hell you are calling God a liar and not teaching/preaching the Truth!
    Read the whole/all of the Bible not just part of it/don’t twist the Bible
    and theTruth of Holy Scripture to fit into your flawed/false theology.

    • Carla, read Colossians 1:13-20, which should clarify the position of Jesus. 1 Corinthians 11:3 also brings out that the head of the Christ is God; therefore, Jesus is in subjection to his Father and not equal to him. Jesus also said that his Father was greater than he was (John 14:28).

      As to the condition of the dead, please read Ecclesiastes 9:5,10. The dead are not conscious of anything at all, whether they were good or bad persons. Even Jesus was in hell/Sheol/Hades, the common grave, unconscious, and not in a place of torment (Acts 2:31).

      The ransom sacrifice of God’s son, Jesus, allows us to receive forgiveness of sins now, but the benefits of that sacrifice will be applied to mankind during Jesus’ upcoming 1,000-year rule from God’s kingdom or heavenly government. That will put an end to the sin and perfection we inherited from Adam and Eve, as well as old age and death. That is how we shall be saved, earning everlasting life on a paradise earth (Revelation 21:1-4).

      • Hell is real and Jesus warned us about hell. Jesus said it would have
        been better that Judas had never been born and the Bible also says
        that it will be more tolerable on the day of judgment for some people
        so that means there is punishment in the afterlife! Jesus is part of
        the Trinity. Read all of the Bible not just part! Read the rich man and
        Lazuras. The rich man died and was in torment so he wanted to go
        warn his brothers about hell but wasn’t allowed so then he asked if
        someone else could warn his brothers and was told that if they won’t
        listen to someone who is alive they surely wouldn’t listen to someone
        from the afterlife. You can’t just read part of the Bible you have to read
        the whole thing. Jesus said that not everyone who says to Me Lord,Lord
        will enter heaven! The antichrist and the false prophet are going to set
        up an earthly goverment before the real Jesus to try to fool people and if
        you don’t know the real Jesus you will be deceived! You can’t make your
        own personal Jesus! We need to have a personal relationship with Him!
        We are created as eternal beings. The body goes into the ground but
        the soul goes to heaven or hell. Don’t you think that if God could’ve
        destroyed the devil He would have but the soul is eternal/hell is real!
        Hell is a Bible teaching and Jesus warned us about hell so you are not
        reading the whole Bible. Your faith has changed/distorted the Truth and
        the Bible warns that anyone who does that will not escape the fire of hell.

        • @Karla,

          Do you understand that Jesus was born of a human mother?
          That means he inherited the same DNA with original sin as the rest of us.

          In ancient times it was not known that ANY OF THE MOTHER’S QUALITIES could be given to her children – women were thought of as incubators for MEN’S SEED!

          In this way, it was thought God could have a baby and His son would sinless – not connected to humanity except as an incubator.

          But PLEASE!
          You are a modern person! You know DNA comes from both the father and the mother – ignorant, primitive people did not know this.

          If Jesus had a human mother, he inherited the same Human Sin as the rest of us! Original sin was IN JESUS.

          You can believe in original sin, and hell if you want to.
          But GOOD GRIEF! IT IS RIDICULOUS.

          • Max,

            I am answering in the place and stead of Carla here, although she will probably express a different belief !!

            Jesus was with his Heavenly Father in the heavens before the earth and everything on it was created (Colossians 1:13-20).

            God, through his active force or holy spirit, transferred the life of his son into an egg cell to become fertile in the womb of Mary (Matthew 1:8; Luke 1:30,31; 34,35) so that he could be born as a perfect human (Joseph was not the earthly father in that sense) but God is definitely the Father of Jesus. Of course, this was a miracle which cannot be duplicated by man; but it was necessary for the salvation of mankind, and with God all things are possible.

            Jesus was born as a perfect baby and died as a perfect man. Otherwise, we would continue to grow old and die for eternity. But the ransom sacrifice of Jesus provides everlasting life on earth which we can obtain if we take in knowledge of the only true God, Yahweh/Jehovah, and his son, Yeshua/Christ Jesus (John 17:3).

        • Carla,

          Jesus was relating the PARABLE of the rich man and Lazarus. A parable is defined as “a story from which a moral or lesson can be learned.” You have made it literal, which it is not. The “rich man” represented the prestigious religious leaders of his day who considered themselves in very high position. The “Lazarus” class represented the common people in Jesus’ day who were hungering for spiritual food but were not receiving it from the “rich man” class, who provided them with burdensome traditions. This parable describes the change that would take place between the two groups: the “rich man” class would lose it’s favored position with God, and the “Lazarus” group would be favored with God through the teachings of God’s son, Jesus. The “rich man” class would be in torment about this taking place, but the common people would be very happy with this outcome! :-D

          So you believe that Jesus, the perfect son of God, was in a place of fiery torment for 3 days after his terrible treatment before he died (Acts 2:31)?

          Gehenna and the lake of fire mentioned in Revelation is not literal, but is a symbol of eternal destruction, not eternal torment. Revelation 20:14 brings out that death, a human “condition” is thrown into the lake of fire. How can a human condition go into a literal lake of fire? As Revelation 21:4 brings out, death will be no more, so death will be put to death itself as Revelation 20:13 brings out.

          You say we were created as eternal beings. Romans 5:12 shows that we all inherited sin and death from our first parents because of their disobedience to God. Genesis 2:7 says that man came to be a living soul. Ezekiel 18:4 says that the soul that is sinning will die. So the soul is mortal, not immortal.

          But because of the ransom sacrifice of God’s son because of his great love for imperfect mankind (John 3:16) and the establishment of God’s kingdom in the heavens, which will soon put an end to all human governments, (Daniel 2:44), sin and imperfection will become a thing of the past for mankind at the end of Jesus’ 1,000-year rule. Mankind will have perfection on a paradise earth forever (Revelation 21:3,4; Isaiah 11:1-9).

          • Fran-Hell is real and the Bible says that it is real. It is described
            as a place of weeping and gnashing of teeth! If people are still
            conscious and weeping/gnashing their teeth that must mean
            hell is real! Do some more research/Bible studying. The part
            where it says the soul dies is the second death and it means
            that they are cut off from the Lord. Absent from the body and
            present with the Lord for those in heaven and those who go to
            hell are cut off from God which is the second death. Read all
            of the Bible not just part of it. Hell is real and the Bible says it is!
            We are mortal here on Earth cause of sin. Bible says after we die
            we can have eternal life or eternal death in hell is the second death
            and damnation. Bible is clear in hell there is weeping and gnashing
            of teeth. Many people have died and gone to hell and came back
            to warn people that it is real and God doesn’t want anyone to go
            to hell but many people reject the Truth and end up in hell.

          • Fran-That verse means He wasn’t left in Hell. Hell is real! It’s talked
            about all in the Bible and described as a place of torment and a
            place of weeping and gnashing of teeth so if the people are still
            conscious they are weeping in pain/gnashing their teeth. If the
            people are in pain/conscious/weeping and gnashing their teeth
            that means Hell is a real place!

  4. Max,

    I remember Paul Newman and always considered him to be a good man, husband, father and actor.

    When he died, he went to the common grave (Sheol in the Old Testament and Hades in the New Testament, referred to as Hell in some translations). He is still asleep in death at this time (Ecclesiastes 9:5,10).

    No one goes to a place of fiery torment forever; they are just dead or conscious of nothing at all. The doctrine of hellfire is not a Bible teaching. No one in my faith believes in that.

    I think Paul Newman was a meek man; however, my judgment of his does not count; that of God and his son, Jesus (there is no trinity either) would count.

    I believe he still has the hope of resurrection back to life on earth, to be reunited with family and friends (John 5:28,29; Acts. 21:15), but it’s up to God’s kingdom to make the ultimate decision, not me, since I cannot read hearts.

    • @Max,

      “The doctrine of hellfire is not a Bible teaching. No one in my faith believes in that.”

      You must be a non-believer in Jesus, then?
      Jesus says “eat of my body” and “Be baptized and believe” or “Be condemned to Hell” (John 6:53-54)(Mark 16:16).

      But if instead, as you say, everybody can be saved – even without Jesus – then the claims of Christianity are nonsense.

      If you reject the existence of eternal Hell you must reject the Savior who spares it.
      There is no need for a “Savior” if there is no Eternal Hell.

      Love, kindness, curiosity, compassion – no god is needed for any of this.
      Yet the claims of Christianity say non-believers are condemned to Hell.

      It cannot be true.

      If Paul Newman (Atheist) is in Hell, God is unjust and unfair.
      Such a God would deserve no worship.
      Such a philosophy would deserve no respect.

      • Max,

        I observe the memorial of Jesus’ death (Lord’s evening meal) every year on Nisan 14 of the Jewish calendar as it was observed by Jesus and his disciples. The unleavened bread represents his perfect body that would be sacrificed and the wine represents his blood of the covenant for a heavenly kingdom, to be poured out for forgiveness of sins Matthew 26:20-29.

        I have been baptized and dedicated my life to serve God the rest of my life.

        I did not say that everyone can be saved. The wicked ones will be no more as Psalm 37:10,11 brings out, but the meek ones will inherit the earth.

        Jesus said at Matthew 7:13,14: “Go in through the narrow gate; because broad and spacious is the road leading off into destruction, and many are the ones going in through it; whereas narrow is the gate and cramped the road leading off into life and few are the ones finding it.”

        I reject the existence of a place of fiery torment because we all go to the common grave of mankind when we die. Even Job was praying for relief from his distress, or for the common grave, where there is no consciousness (Job 14:13; Ecclesiastes 9:5,10).

        Job said: “Oh that in Sheol you would conceal me, that you would keep me secret until your anger comes back, that you would set a time limit and remember me!”

        There is a need for Jesus as savior because we keep sinning and die, not because our destiny is a place of fiery torment!! That is what the sacrifice of a perfect body accomplishes for all mankind, to get rid of sin and imperfection we inherited!! Perfect mankind will live forever on a paradise earth, since Adam and Eve lost perfection for us.

        Paul Newman is asleep in death in the common grave, not being tormented forever.

        Jesus was sleeping in death in the grave for 3 days, not tormented at all for the duration. (Acts 2:27)

        God is loving and just, so he will not always the wicked ones (which this earth is so full of !) to make the lives of meek ones miserable. So God will destroy them as he did in the days of Lot and Noah, but they will face endless death, not endless torture.

        • Fran-Bible says Jesus went to the heart of the Earth/hell when He
          died. Hell is described as a place of weeping/gnashing of teeth so
          if people are weeping/gnashing their teeth they are still conscious!
          Hell is eternal damnation and people don’t have to go there. The
          body goes to the ground/we are no longer awake to the things here
          on Earth but the soul goes to eternal heaven or eternal hell. You can
          reject the idea of hell all you want but that doesn’t mean it’s not real!
          Jesus is part of the Trinity not an angel/created being. Bible says the
          Trinity is God the Father/Jesus/the Holy Spirit. Jesus was not created
          and Hell is very real whether you want to believe it or not. God is a
          loving God and He is also just and a God of justice! All people who
          reject His forgiveness/refuse to Repent go to hell. Read the whole
          Bible. 1 Corinthians 5 and 6 the whole chapters are a great start.
          Ephesians 5:18 says don’t get drunk and 1 Corinthians 6:10 says
          all drunkards go to hell as well as fornicaters,coveters/the greedy
          and so on! The wine that Jesus made was from the fruit of the vine
          and was new wine/diluted and the Bible says don’t get drunk on
          strong wine so people who get drunk with wine are also wrong!
          All sin is bad and all sinners/people who practice sin/don’t Repent
          will not inherit the kingdom of heaven and go to a place called Hell.

  5. Actually, I wanted to put a sensible and relevant comment on here, but I doubt that it will be seen now, because a few disgruntled people have hi-jacked this comments section to have a huge long verbal battle about completely irrelevant things! (Irrelevant to the article, I mean). What I wanted to say is that the article was just great until the last two paragraphs! Why on earth contrast Mark Driscoll with William Paul Young, who wrote that completely useless and stupid book, The Shack! What? Just because he is purportedly shy and self-effacing, and prepared to bare his soul to the world? Actually, these two guys are in the same bracket – charlatans all!

  6. So you obviously believe Jesus, the perfect son of God, was tormented with the wicked ones who are there, for 3 days.

    I disagree. Jesus was asleep in death as the literal Lazarus (not the parable of Lazarus) was. Read the entire account at John 11:1-44. Jesus said in verse 11 that he was going to Lazarus to awaken him from sleep. Verse 13 indicates he was talking about Lazarus’ death. He had been dead for 4 days (verse 17). Jesus resurrected him back to life after Jesus cried out, “Lazarus, come on out” and he did!! (Verses 43,44).

    Jesus therefore confirmed the condition of the dead at Ecclesiastes 9:5,10; that we all go to the common grave and sleep in death, not conscious of anything at all, which has been taking place since the day that Adam and Eve died. Also, God told Adam and Eve that from dust they were and to dust or the ground they would return, not a place of torment.
    (Genesis 3:19)

    God is loving and just and would not torture the wicked ones forever, but he ends their lives, and they have no hope of resurrection. That is why they are referred to as ‘not existing’ at Psalm 37:10.

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