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Austin Cline

Jessica Alba Left Born-Again Christian Church

By October 26, 2006

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Currently a very popular actress, there was a time in her teenage years when Jessica Alba was active in a born-again evangelical Christian church. Why did she eventually stop? The answer is a simple as it is disturbing: they started to treat her badly because of her developing physical beauty and accused her of tempting the men. How shortsighted and narrow minded can people be?
On why she backed away from religion: “When older men would hit on me and my youth pastor said it was because I was wearing provocative clothing, and it wasn’t. It just made me feel like if I was in any way desirable to the opposite sex, that it was my fault, and it made me ashamed of my body and of being a woman.”

Source: US Magazine

So when men hit on her, it's her fault rather than theirs. This is precisely the same attitude adopted by conservative and fundamentalist Muslims who insist that women must be completely covered lest they tempt the men around them. A man's experience of temptation isn't his responsibility, but the responsibility of slutty, immoral women who fail to uphold proper standards of modesty.

This is just another sign of how similar conservative Islam and conservative Christianity really are.

The DARK ANGEL star, who has become a Hollywood hot property in recent years, became a devout Christian in her teens, but started shunning her friends when they poked fun at her natural beauty.

Alba says, "One of the reasons why I chose not to be (a devout Christian) is because a lot of people gave me a lot of grief for just being a woman and made me feel ashamed for having a body because it tempted men.

"I didn't understand what that meant because I was like, 'God created this...' That was a hard time in my life."

Source: Contact Music

God created her as she was, but she had to be ashamed of what she was because she was too much of a temptress. Her body, created by God and in the image of God, was something shameful. How's that for logical consistency.

Alba has been intimate with the workings of sin since early childhood. “My parents weren’t religious,” she says. “But at 12, I started asking, ‘Why am I here? What’s the point of living?’ ” Alba was a military brat who clocked time in Mississippi and Texas before moving with her family to Pomona, California, which is famous for its low-rider cruising scene, the Hughes brothers, the annual strawberry crop, and not much else. Things were pretty much quiet until she ran into a few local born-again Christians.

It was all over after that. “I started going to church three days a week,” says Alba. “Stopped watching secular television—I couldn’t even watch Davey and Goliath.” Every day at 5 a.m., Alba woke up to pray; every time she stubbed her toe, she made sure she exclaimed, “Oh, darn!” While her parents dismissed her conversion as typical teen rebellion, she was memorizing the taxonomies of wickedness, the rankings of transgression, the phyla of the profane.

And then one day her body rebelled against God. Her teenage breasts bloomed; her buttocks began straining against her dungarees. “I would go to the beach,” says Alba, “and my born-again friends would be like, ‘Your jeans are too tight! You’re tempting me!’ ”

In church, her youth pastor forced Alba to wrap a sweater around her swelling posterior to hide her sin as he read from the Bible; soon the only stories she could relate to were those of Bathsheba and Jezebel.

Source: GQ

How many other girls in America are having their sense of self warped by churches in this way? How many other girls are being taught to be ashamed of who they are and what they look like simply because male authority figures in their Christian churches blame those girls for their own experience sexual temptation? How much damage are these Christian churches doing to women in America?

 

Women & Religion:

Comments
January 10, 2007 at 5:41 pm
(1) Sean D. says:

People make mistakes, and one group of people isn’t representative of an entire religion. Coral Watts, a serial killer who murdered 13 women is an atheist. We Christians don’t blame his murders on the fact that he was an atheist. He is simply a serial killer who happened to be an atheist.

The people that Alba hung around weren’t *all* treating her that way, but the leader certainly wasn’t helping matters. Also, we don’t know *how* Jessica was dressing. What she thinks was perfectly ok might (in fact) be very provocative to someone else. It is sad though that those people made her feel ashamed of her body, and made her feel as if it were *her* fault that they were “tempted”.

Any well-rounded Christian embraces the beauty of the female (or male) body and also rejoices in the gift of sex. This is a case of misguided people warping the message of the Bible and intimidating a young woman in her formative years.

I’m sure we can find plenty of non-Christian (and non-religious) examples of intimidating young women in their sexually formative years. Hollywood (the city itself) does plenty of non-religious sexual intimidation of young women every day.

Yes, it is unfortunate that Alba met up with this type of sexually uptight Christians who dumped *their* sexual problems on her, making her feel as if she where the problem. However, the culprit *isn’t* God, just as the culprit for those murders Coral Watts committed wasn’t Atheism. The reason for the stupid actions of those “Christians” was their own sexual hang-ups, and their wrongheaded interpretation of the Bible.

Lets call a spade a spade, and not try to indict an entire religion for the stupid acts of one tiny group. Instead, look to the source instead. The Bible celebrates sex, used in the right way. The Bible celebrates the beauty of a lover’s body (Song of Songs). The Bible places the onus for one’s where it belongs, on the person being tempted *not* on an innocent third party. However, it is possible for a person to deliberately tempt, or harass, or injure someone, and the Bible addresses that as well. Pretty much the only place where how a woman dresses is spoken of (in detail) is where it pertains to going to fellowship.

I’m sure we all can agree that many young women today are occasionally guilty of dressing a bit too provocative, and sometimes of going *way* overboard. Beaches all over the country, in fact all over the world are forced to hand out tickets when the attire (or lack of it) becomes too outrageous. I’m sure I sound like an old fart now, but I think we all can agree at least in principle that beach attire is for the beach, and not for church or a funeral. However, some girls just don’t get that and this is where the responsibility for temptation starts to shift. Going bra and panty-less in a sheer dress is probably not a wise move during church services, or a funeral, or a wedding, or her son’s high school graduation. Point being? The pendulum swings both ways, but the responsibility for one’s actions are always *their* responsibility. Even if someone does dress in a very tempting manner, that guy is still responsible for his own temptation. Plenty of atheists out there get offended by the various outfits that some young women wear (or don’t wear). I have a friend who is an atheist and the photos of a panti-less Britney Spears disgusted her much more than I. So… modesty isn’t a strictly religious undertaking, and all of Christian-dom is not responsible for the unkind actions of a few idiots who mistreated Jessica Alba, just as all Atheism isn’t responsible for the actions of serial killer Coral Watts.

January 10, 2007 at 6:10 pm
(2) Austin Cline says:

People make mistakes, and one group of people isn’t representative of an entire religion.

In fact, it is fairly representative of how Christianity has traditionally treated women and sexuality.

Coral Watts, a serial killer who murdered 13 women is an atheist. We Christians don’t blame his murders on the fact that he was an atheist.

That’s because atheism isn’t an ideology or philosophy which can motivate anyone in any direction, thus it can’t be held indirectly responsible for anything any more than Watts’ height or weight. Christianity, on the other hand, is a motivating ideology which has a long history of very negative attitudes towards sexuality and women.

Also, we don’t know *how* Jessica was dressing.

Sounds suspiciously like an attempt to blame the victim unless there is some mode of dress which would justify how she was treated.

all of Christian-dom is not responsible for the unkind actions of a few idiots who mistreated Jessica Alba

Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel: “Some are guilty. All are responsible. And nowadays, most are guilty of refusing responsibility.”

So long as Christians keep refusing to take any responsibility for what their fellow Christians do in the name of Christianity, Jesus, and God, it’s guaranteed that nothing will change and nothing will improve.

You’re right that all of Christendom is not responsible, but that’s the problem. Guilt is something that one acquires automatically by what one does, but guilt is not the same as responsibility. Only a few Christians are guilty of these problems, but the failure of the rest of Christendom to assume responsibility for what’s going on is what ensure that it continues to go on. If other Christians did take responsibility, maybe things would get better.

March 2, 2007 at 6:31 am
(3) judowalker says:

You are looking at the humanity of people instead of what Christianity is about. Jesus Christ died on the cross to save sinners. The whole point of being a Christian is realizing you are a sinner and believing that Jesus is the Son of God and was the perfect sacrifice for our sins. We receive eternal salvation when we accept Jesus as our Lord and Savior. We are then to preach the Gospel to all nations so that others can get saved. That’s the whole point behind Christianity. Just because of what happened to Jessica Alba doesn’t change absolute truths. Jesus still died for our sins and is still the ONLY way to heaven.

p.s. The Bible says for women to dress modestly; it doesn’t say for women to be ashamed of their bodies. Women should try to look as beautiful as they can, but with decency. Someone walking down the street in a bikini is not modest and will definitely cause people to lust.

July 16, 2011 at 12:25 am
(4) Mark P. says:

Jesus is the Son of God and was the perfect sacrifice for our sins.

If he sacrificed himself for sins, why would anyone need to ask for forgiveness?

Even Jesus didn’t do this then you would STILL have to ask for forgiveness.

March 2, 2007 at 6:45 am
(5) judowalker says:

In addition, that shouldn’t be a reason for you to turn away from Christianity. You could always change churches but throwing away your whole faith because men hit on her and the youth pastor said she was wearing provocative clothing is absurd. There is more to it which, after doing some research, I listed below:

“Alba also vehemently disagreed with the church’s condemnation of premarital sex and homosexuality and was bothered by the lack of strong female role models in the Bible. She tells US Elle magazine, ‘I thought it was a nice guide, but it certainly wasn’t how I was going to live my life.’”

This seems more like the real reason she left. She didn’t agree with what the Bible says, which is not to have sex before marriage and that homosexuality is sinful.

March 2, 2007 at 6:51 am
(6) Austin Cline says:

You are looking at the humanity of people instead of what Christianity is about.

How Christians behave is precisely what Christianity ultimately is.

Just because of what happened to Jessica Alba doesn’t change absolute truths. Jesus still died for our sins and is still the ONLY way to heaven.

Those are completely unsupported claims, none of which have any empirical or logical backing.

Someone walking down the street in a bikini is not modest and will definitely cause people to lust.

No one can or should be held responsible for thoughts of others.

You could always change churches but throwing away your whole faith because men hit on her and the youth pastor said she was wearing provocative clothing is absurd.

Unless, of course, this sort of misogyny, hypocrisy, and double-standard is built into the entire system.

March 13, 2007 at 10:59 am
(7) Dan says:

How can a sane person believe that
someone else can be crucified for
somebody else’s sins and that would
be a rational basis for a whole belief system? What year is it — 400 B.C.?

March 14, 2007 at 3:08 pm
(8) JayFTL says:

Maybe judowalker would like to explain why an all-powerful all-knowing all-loving God would require the bloody human sacrifice of “His Son” in order to forgive me of the sin of being born?

March 15, 2007 at 10:31 am
(9) Steve says:

Without the shedding of blood there is no remission of sins. God Himself came in the form of a man and became the final sacrifce for sins. On the cross the Lord Jesus Christ became sin for us that we would be the righteousness of God in Christ Jesus. The mystery of Godliness is great indeed!

March 27, 2007 at 8:45 am
(10) JayFTL says:

Why does the “remission of sin” require the shedding of blood? Why did God have to sacrifice himself in order to save us from himself?

There is no mystery here, just silly nonesense.

March 27, 2007 at 1:12 pm
(11) Mike says:

Jessica Alba, like everyone else, is free to pursue whatever religious inclination she has for whatever reason she has. With the development of pharmaceuticals like Viagra, Cialis, Levitra, etc. it is clear that a major concern of our society is male arousal. If a man cannot be aroused at will then he has a serious problem these days. In such an environment women are ascribed blame for things that men do to themselves. Arousal is a mental activity and is subject to control by the rational mind. A man chooses to be aroused regardless of a woman’s attire. If that were not the case the Islamic population would have dropped off considerably centuries ago. Didn’t Jesus say something to the effect that if a man lusted after a woman in his mind it was the same as the physical act? Anyone subjected to sexual harassment in a church environment would certainly begin to find other flaws. Many devout Christians engage in premarital sex; many devout CHirstians are homosexual. But not as many, I’m sure, are sexually harassed.

October 4, 2007 at 11:14 am
(12) Carlos Hernandez says:

I would not doubt that Jessica Alba would wear provocative clothing to church, just look at her photos, she says she also disagreed about premarital sex and homosexuality and how church condemns it, it is not the church Jessica it is the word of God and it says it very clear in the book of Romans 1-26, so Jessica needs to go back and read the bible, That was just a poor excuse for her to leave the christian way of life and go to worldly life.

December 26, 2007 at 1:52 pm
(13) Kyle S says:

Carlos it is the Bible itself with which I have a problem (think of Mark Twain’s quote).

Jessica Alba’s situation reminds me of a moment in my life in the early 1990s.

Back then I was as hard-core fundy as anything, so I attended a Southern Baptist church while in college.

I remember a young woman in my college Baptist group who also attended the local church I did. One Sunday morning I arrived pretty late – missing Sunday school but made it on time for the service. Anyways, this woman that day wore a tight pair of western jeans with a white blouse. The weirdest part of this is that a lot of people advise you to dress neat, not sloppy, so an untucked shirt was usually seen as sloppy. Except this time her blouse was tucked in on one side but hanging out on the other (want to guess which one?).

Even weirder is that I remember a couple of other times she wore skin-tight jeans with a fully tucked in blouse at gatherings of my Baptist group.

I don’t know what was said to her that day but I think I can reasonably suspect that one or more of the people in that church pulled her aside and ‘suggested’ that she cover her backside up and not ‘tempt’ the men.

I myself continued my fundyism for several more years but for some reason the memory of that day stuck with me – maybe for the ‘tempting’ but also the seed had been planted that fundamentalist evangelical Christianity is messed up to the core.

February 24, 2008 at 3:44 am
(14) kirby harris says:

Austin said, “How Christians behave is precisely what Christianity ultimately is.”

This is rediculous as saying what any athiest, rather a regular guy, a serial killer like Coral Watts or what mass-murders Stalin and Lenin of the Soviet union are what all athiests are about.

Christianity is about what Jesus said God was about, how his follwers were supossed to live and how they were to act towards God and other humans. Jesus said, “The whole law of God is written in these two laws: Love God with all your heart mind and strength, and love your neighbors as you would yourself (most humans love themselves unless they develop self hatred – hopefully most people will quit loving themselves as much as they do, and will start putting others first.)

Austin seems to be angry and have much hatred for Christianity and religion, as well as those who believe in any supreme being.

He seems to think very highly of himself, and thinks he is better and smarter then people who believe in God. He comes accross as very self-important and arrogant. Stuck up towards stupid people of faith.

If i am wrong about you then I am sorry, but its how you come across in your bloggings.

February 24, 2008 at 4:00 am
(15) kirby harris says:

Also, as to why Christians don’t blame athiesm for what an athiest serial killer does.

Austin says, “That’s because atheism isn’t an ideology or philosophy which can motivate anyone in any direction, thus it can’t be held indirectly responsible for anything any more than Watts’ height or weight.”

Athiesm is a believe system ( a belief system that denies the existience of God). None the less, it is a world view.
Athiesm is an ideology. Here is the definition of ideology:

The body of ideas reflecting the social needs and aspirations of an individual, group, class, or culture.

or

A set of doctrines or beliefs that form the basis of a political, economic, or other system.

Ideology is a belief system or doctrines. A doctrine is a body or system of teachings relating to a particular subject.

Philosophy is a way of thinking about life. Here are the definitions:

1. the rational investigation of the truths and principles of being, knowledge, or conduct.

2. any of the three branches, namely natural philosophy, moral philosophy, and metaphysical philosophy, that are accepted as composing this study.

3. a system of philosophical doctrine: the philosophy of Spinoza.

4. the critical study of the basic principles and concepts of a particular branch of knowledge, esp. with a view to improving or reconstituting them: the philosophy of science.

5. a system of principles for guidance in practical affairs.

All of these definitions apply to atheism.

Nice try Austin

Finally, you can’t blame all Christians for the actions of a few, just as you can’t blame athiest for the actions of a few. If all Christians are responsible for the actions of a few, then all atheists are responsible for the mass murders in the SOviet Union, Cambodia, China, Noth Kores, est.

February 24, 2008 at 7:31 am
(16) Austin Cline says:

Athiesm is a believe system ( a belief system that denies the existience of God). None the less, it is a world view. Athiesm is an ideology.

No, atheism is not a belief system or an ideology. Atheism is simply the absence of belief in gods. You should take the time to learn about atheism before presuming to instruct others about it.

Finally, you can’t blame all Christians for the actions of a few

Of course you can’t blame all Chrisistians for the actions of a few. No one has tried to do that. Christians are, however, complicit in all aspects of their religion — including the bad parts they’d prefer to ignore.

Christianity is about what Jesus said God was about, how his follwers were supossed to live and how they were to act towards God and other humans.

Christians’ beliefs about this is part of what Christianity is about. Christianity is also about the writings of the Church Fathers, the theology of Augustine, the line of popes, Catholic institutions. mega-churches in America, underground churches in China, the Inquisition, religious icons in Russia, the KKK, etc.

What you write is as ridiculous as saying that Marxism and Communism are only about what Karl Marx and Friedrich Engles wrote, while the actions of Stalin, Lenin, Mao, and all the other communists since then don’t represent “real” communism.

Austin seems to be angry and have much hatred for Christianity and religion, as well as those who believe in any supreme being.

Feel free to support that accusation with some evidence, if you can.

If i am wrong about you then I am sorry, but its how you come across in your bloggings.

Maybe I come across that way because I am not deferential to your beliefs and have the temerity to say what I think about them. If you aren’t accustomed to people not being deferential to your religion, then anyone who speaks their mind will appear in a very negative light. Instead of lashing out with unfounded accusations, though, perhaps you should to consider the value of reflecting on what they say. Maybe they are just telling you how you come across in your self-righteous preaching.

March 23, 2008 at 5:34 pm
(17) Celia says:

It seems that Miss Alba was never really born again at all. One does not reject the blood of Jesus and his dying so that we can have eternal life and go to Heaven, simply because they find themselves around a bunch of sinful Christians. You simply pray about it and go to another church. You don’t reject the blood of Jesus because another person did you wrong in the church. On another note, men go into the sanctuary of God to worship God. It is idolatrous for a woman to go there dressed in such a way that the attention is taken off of God and put onto her body. We women know that if we go out in public with our breasts exposed that is where the attention of the men will be. It also appears that Miss Abla was being a bit carnal and selfish, but she was young and really needs to pray and get into the Bible before making a permanent decision about her worship.
It is debasing to women for them to go out in public with their breasts, clitoris and buttocks exposed in the name of expressing their sexuality. Who are they expressing their sexuality to? Other women’s husbands? Why do they need to express their sexuality to another woman’s husband and to men in general? What exactly does this mean, ‘expressing their sexuality’? That as a woman, I go out in public with Daisy Dukes on and a low cut top to express my sexuality to men, so that they will all be turned on sexually to me? If one is honest one will admit that this does sound more like the chimps in the jungle than beings who are created in God’s image. One can reject any form of worshipping God that comes with rules all they want to, but what solution do THEY have to the murders, divorces, suicides, wars, etc. This idea of women parading around in public naked to entice men sexually is just an attack on the human family by the devil. Reject this all you want to, but it’s true. God created sex and it is to be enjoyed by the married couple. If sex didn’t feel good, women would be walking around with veils over their faces and long, baggy dresses. It’s more about the carnal, selfish person who puts themself before God. THE CHURCHES YOU MENTION THAT ARE HARMING THE GIRLS ARE NOT TRUE CHRISTIAN CHURCHES. THEY ARE LEGALISTIC PSUEDO CHRISTIAN CHURCHES SET UP BY THE DEVIL TO DIVERT PEOPLE’S ATTENTION FROM GOD’S LOVE AND FROM WORSHIPPING GOD.

March 28, 2008 at 4:34 pm
(18) George says:

Celia, a few years back there was a study* undertaken in which birth records, circa 1820′s America, and marriage records were compared with other times in American history. The early 1800′s were considered a time of instability and tumult as the nation was expanding, filling out, and accepting new peoples and traditions and so on. What the records showed was that the ratio of the pregnant unwed before marriage was higher than during more “settled” times. In other words people were engaging in sex more frequently out of marriage in large part because of looser social structure and not because of the devil. The offspring of these unions are our ancestors and certainly not “spawn” of the devil. Sex is not a “gift of God” but a necessary act between animals in order to produce more animals.

Male and female of many if not most species will try to look as attractive as possible to the opposite sex in order to attract a healthy mate (in fact the larger breasts on the human female can be considered as much a sexual attractant as a functional asset). That some individuals go overboard in this quest is just a part of the game and if the acts end up proving to produce ill health or poor offspring the trait, physical or social, will be weeded out in the long run.

*(I apologize that I can’t refer to the actual study but it has been a few years)

March 28, 2008 at 8:21 pm
(19) Paul Buchman says:

It is idolatrous for a woman to go there dressed in such a way that the attention is taken off of God and put onto her body. We women know that if we go out in public with our breasts exposed that is where the attention of the men will be. . . . It is debasing to women for them to go out in public with their breasts, clitoris and buttocks exposed . . . This idea of women parading around in public naked to entice men sexually is just an attack on the human family by the devil.

Damn right! Rather than sexually arousing the men, they should stay away and let the men fondle their guns the way God intended.

March 29, 2008 at 12:41 pm
(20) GeckoRoamin says:

If there can be humanism and Humanism, why *not* atheism and Atheism? One is simply the absence of belief in gods, the other an ideology / worldview / “lifestance” that builds on the absence of belief in gods to include embracing the seperation of church and state, science, evolution, social liberalism, a world free of religious strife and superstitious nonesense, etc. You know, basically the ideas that most atheists already support. Atheism (with a ‘big A’) would be the merging of atheism with humanism. Since not all humanists are atheists, and vice versa, I think a word that combines the two a good idea.

April 3, 2008 at 1:58 pm
(21) FordManiac76 says:

I find it funny when Christians talk about the blood of Christ and how he died on the cross for their sins. Like he had a choice, like he chose to do this. He was arrested by the Roman Government for sedition and sentenced to death by crucifixion. Crucifixion was a very common way to execute “criminals” in that period, similar to the French guillotine or the electric chair. Thousands of people were executed this way on a day by day basis along with many other cult leaders claiming the same divinity as Christ. What made him any different?
I have confronted many Christians on this topic and haven’t met one yet that actually knew the true history and details of his crucifixion and why it happened. Some thought it was some sort of special sacrifice carried out just for Jesus, not knowing the history of the death sentence of crucifixion. I find it quiet common that a lot of practicing Christians know very little about most bible doctrine and history. They live their lives in the shroud of the propaganda that their preacher has chosen to teach them.

June 6, 2008 at 5:50 am
(22) Dj Plasmic Nebula says:

so is she an athiest, abnostic, or just going to another christian church where they treat her with respect and treat her right?

Like i read before.. what was her opinion on modest? that is the question we should think. what was going through her mind when she thought of the words “Dress Modest”.

so maybe she did or didn’t dress wrong…

but if she didn’t.. the her old pastor was wrong do that, including her born again friends..

aslo as i read in here was that she didn’t agree with the bible.. so if read their comment correctly. if that was the case then it may or may not have been her fault.. i can’t say it was or wasn’t.. i wasn’t there to witness it, and i wasn’t in her mind at the time.. but if she says it wasn’t her fault, then i have no choice. i should believe her, since i can’t assume something i don’t know.

so i’m still debating with myself. but eeehh… God still died for our sins. and Nothing will ever change that. Jesus is the same as yesterday, today and tomorrow…

I know Mrs. Alba knows the word of God. and I know she knows how to run back into His Arms. Again. :)

Just continue to Pray for her and Her husband.

July 3, 2008 at 10:02 am
(23) _amaterasu_ says:

I think that it is unfair to say that Christians should act as a whole. We are all individuals and each individual has their own thinking. Though they follow the same Scripture, peoples mind are different and each has the capacity to interpret differently. Not all can think and act the same, because of the experience and values thought to them. And, have you ever heard a famous, i mean a really famous story about an atheist that changed the world for good? I guess none,because they think so selfishly and they always think higher of themselves. I met alot of atheist and most of them think the same. Their lack of belief or faith on something makes them so prideful. I know i sound so judging right know, but that’s just what i have observed.

God bless you all(“,)

July 3, 2008 at 10:44 am
(24) Austin Cline says:

I think that it is unfair to say that Christians should act as a whole.

Who said they should? What does that even mean?

And, have you ever heard a famous, i mean a really famous story about an atheist that changed the world for good?

Albert Einstein.

I guess none,because they think so selfishly and they always think higher of themselves. I met alot of atheist and most of them think the same. Their lack of belief or faith on something makes them so prideful. I know i sound so judging right know, but that’s just what i have observed.

So when it comes to Christians, they are all individuals with their own thinking and can’t all think the same, but it’s OK to treat atheists as if they were all selfish and prideful.

That’s no better than insisting that whites are all different, but blacks are generally shiftless and lazy because “that’s just what I have observed.”

July 8, 2008 at 1:53 pm
(25) John Hanks says:

The cheapest and easiest way to find pleasure is to imagine moral superiority.

July 8, 2008 at 2:52 pm
(26) Pearl Ostroff says:

“And, have you ever heard a famous, i mean a really famous story about an atheist that changed the world for good?”

The Buddha

July 8, 2008 at 7:32 pm
(27) TomEdgar says:

All the credit and none of the blame
Seems to be all the “God’s own Game.
So wonder not why the followers of Gods
Want to strengthen their beliefs, by
Claiming all the benefits and fame
Whilst ignoring wrongs and acts of shame.

tomedgar@halenet.com.au

July 9, 2008 at 12:31 am
(28) Zack says:

And, have you ever heard a famous, i mean a really famous story about an atheist that changed the world for good? Comment by _amaterasu_ — July 3, 2008 @ 10:02 am

The two largest philanthropic gifts in the history of the world are by Bill Gates, an agnostic who has dimissed Christianity in interviews, and Warren Buffett, an atheist.

Next question?

July 9, 2008 at 5:30 pm
(29) Paul says:

“I met alot of atheist and most of them think the same. Their lack of belief or faith on something makes them so prideful. I know i sound so judging right know, but that’s just what i have observed.”

All prejudice begins with observation, but the observation is distorted by a previous bias. The bias – in this case – begins with the general sense in American culture that intelligence = arrogance. Clearly this is sometimes true, but when the observer expects to see arrogance, arrogance will be found, whether it is there or not. Being an unbiased observer takes some serious introspection, not simple reliance on stock categories.

July 9, 2008 at 5:33 pm
(30) Paul says:

Ah, forgot to mention – I have seen deep, repugnant arrogance from those who claim to be God’s Chosen People – a special status that encourages unrealistic self-appraisals. But I know well enough that not all such people are as stuck up as their proclamation (the height of arrogance) suggests.

July 10, 2008 at 1:59 am
(31) Tom Edgar says:

Paul.

For just a moment. I thought you were conversing with your mirror.
tomdgar@halenet.com.au

July 10, 2008 at 3:36 am
(32) K. Anonymous says:

Austin said,

‘Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel: “Some are guilty. All are responsible. And nowadays, most are guilty of refusing responsibility.”

So long as Christians keep refusing to take any responsibility for what their fellow Christians do in the name of Christianity, Jesus, and God, it’s guaranteed that nothing will change and nothing will improve.’

Is it really fair to presume all chrsitians should assume the responsibility for the actions of a few? The various different kinds of christianity vary so much that its pretty much completely untrue to say they’re all the same belief system. Should all protestants be held responsible for the actions of all catholics? And vice versa. For example you said atheists shouldn’t be responsible for the actions of someone like Coral Watts, because atheism is not a belief system and so could not have been his motivation for this, I agree with this, but you can’t then expect recognition of responsibility for the actions of one christian from all christians because even if the negative actions of the one christian were due to the belief system he follows, this is going to be completely different to the belief system of at least some other christians. You might as well say that all muslims are also responsible for the negative actions of chrisitians, or all hindus are also responsible.

Don’t get me wrong, christians should be aware of the bad things done in the name of christians ideologies throughout history, but that doesn’t make them personally responsible, as there is not neccesarily any relevent correlation to what they believe.

July 10, 2008 at 6:16 am
(33) Austin Cline says:

Is it really fair to presume all chrsitians should assume the responsibility for the actions of a few?

1. By saying “the responsibility,” you suggest that I am arguing that any random Christian is fully responsible for everything bad done by any other Christian. Neither I nor Heschel use “the,” which changes the meaning.

2. I think you are missing the basic idea which Heschel is trying to get across: we must all assume some responsibility for what goes on around us, and especially for what goes on in our names or in the name of what we believe in. This is even more important when those who are actually guilty refuse to take responsibility. If the guilty refuse to be responsible, and we say “not our problem,” then no one is responsible and the problems don’t get fixed. Is that what you want?

3. Notice the distinction being drawn between “guilt” and “responsibility.” A person who is responsible is not necessarily guilty. Christians are responsible for what is done in the name of Christianity just as Democrats are responsible for what is done in the name of the Democratic Party and all Americans are responsible for what is done by the government in the name of America. This is because these associations are ultimately voluntary, so when I make the choice to be part of a movement, organization, or system, then I voluntarily assume some measure of responsibility for what happens in it.

4. Yes, there is a lot of variety in Christianity, but I’ve never seen a Christian hesitate to bask in the light of anything *good* done by Christians and/or in the name of Christianity. It is presumed that anything and everything good that is Christian or that can be associated with Christianity reflects well on Christianity as a whole and, by implication, all Christians — even if they follow a radically different form of Christianity. Well, the same goes for anything bad done by Christians and/or in the name of Christianity. Why do you think some work so hard to argue that those aren’t “real” Christians?

July 10, 2008 at 7:52 am
(34) K. Anonymous says:

Austin Cline said,

’2. I think you are missing the basic idea which Heschel is trying to get across: we must all assume some responsibility for what goes on around us, and especially for what goes on in our names or in the name of what we believe in.’

Right, the NAME of what we believe in, not what we believe in. If an atheist who claimed atheism is a believe system (I don’t think it is, just to be clear) started commiting horrible crimes based on this system of ideas, would you accept some portion of responsibility for that? What if a humanist did the same? (I’m not sure you’re a humanist, so this might not be as relevant, but nevertheless humanism unlike atheism is undeniably a believe system, which thus can be twisted into something its not)

‘This is even more important when those who are actually guilty refuse to take responsibility. If the guilty refuse to be responsible, and we say “not our problem,” then no one is responsible and the problems don’t get fixed. Is that what you want?’

Yes but this isn’t a question whether those directly guilty take responsibility. My point is that your average christian is no more responsbile that anyone else, so long as the kind of christianity they follow is completely different, which is quite possible.

’3. Notice the distinction being drawn between “guilt” and “responsibility.” A person who is responsible is not necessarily guilty. Christians are responsible for what is done in the name of Christianity just as Democrats are responsible for what is done in the name of the Democratic Party and all Americans are responsible for what is done by the government in the name of America. This is because these associations are ultimately voluntary, so when I make the choice to be part of a movement, organization, or system, then I voluntarily assume some measure of responsibility for what happens in it.’

Yes but you don’t get to choose who else is in it. Or what people will do claiming that it is in respect of what you believe, even if it is nothing of the sort.

’4. Yes, there is a lot of variety in Christianity, but I’ve never seen a Christian hesitate to bask in the light of anything *good* done by Christians and/or in the name of Christianity. It is presumed that anything and everything good that is Christian or that can be associated with Christianity reflects well on Christianity as a whole and, by implication, all Christians — even if they follow a radically different form of Christianity. Well, the same goes for anything bad done by Christians and/or in the name of Christianity.’

The fact that some christians falsely associate themselves with the good done by christians of completely different beliefs does not mean that all christians need take some responsibility for the bad done by some. Two wrongs don’t make a right.

July 10, 2008 at 8:28 am
(35) Austin Cline says:

If an atheist who claimed atheism is a believe system (I don’t think it is, just to be clear) started commiting horrible crimes based on this system of ideas, would you accept some portion of responsibility for that?

Not if it’s a belief system which I don’t share and simply happens to have “atheist” as a label.

What if a humanist did the same?

If the belief system is identifiably “humanist,” yes.

My point is that your average christian is no more responsbile that anyone else, so long as the kind of christianity they follow is completely different, which is quite possible.

No, I don’t think it’s possible because every form of Christianity shares a great deal in common with every other form. None is completely independent. When you voluntarily choose to be identified as a Christian, you voluntarily associate yourself with a long, complex religious tradition which includes a lot of unpleasant features.

I should perhaps point out that I am not simply speaking as a critical outsider. This is a perspective which is embraced by many Christians as well. In September 11: Religious Perspectives on the Causes and Consequences, edited by Ian Markham and Ibrahim Abu-Rabi’, Kelton Cobb writes:

Every religion has its heresies, and heresies must be marked and remembered as out of bounds. Heresies are always children of the religion from whence they come — rogue children, but genetic heirs nonetheless. Heresies are usually borrowed elements of their parent religions, but elements that are broken off and isolated from counter elements that moderated them.

Better than charging these radical Islamists with not being true Muslims would be to ask questions like: What components of this faith lend themselves to these distortions? What counter elements that might keep them in check are being neglected? What dangerous traps lie hidden in its scriptures? What responsibility do the bearers of a religious tradition have for the distortion in its transmission?

The Islam of these terrorists does not do justice to the magnificent, civilized, and peace-loving past of Islam, but it has to be recognized as a “real strand” of Islam. Every religion is like a rope, woven from many strands. Christianity is a weave of the teachings of Jesus, the theology of Paul, the neoplatonism of Augustine, Constantine’s conversion, the “Little Flowers” of St. Francis, the iconography of the Copts, the Crusades, the Inquisition, the piety of the Puritans, the Ku Klux Klan, the Civil Rights movement, Jerry Falwell, and archbishop Romero.

I don’t like several of these strands, but when I study them I discover that they contain fibers I recognize in my own faith. Inside the racism of the Ku Klux Klan one can find firm beliefs surrounding Elijah’s contest with the prophets of Baal, divine election, God’s sovereignty over all reality, hatred for the devil, absolute faith in the resurrection of Christ, the importance of purity and righteousness, and the lordship of Jesus Christ. The Klan did not come out of thin air; it is a development within Christianity which I abhor, but in calling myself a Christian I am complicit and have to answer for it.

Cobb, by the way, is a Professor of Theology and Ethics at Hartford Seminary.

Yes but you don’t get to choose who else is in it.

Of course not, but I do choose whether I am in and whether I am to be identified with it. So long as I choose to do so, I choose to assume some measure of responsibility for and complicity in what such organizations and systems do.

The fact that some christians falsely associate themselves with the good done by christians of completely different beliefs does not mean that all christians need take some responsibility for the bad done by some. Two wrongs don’t make a right.

This assumes they are both wrong, though, and I think Cobb’s perspective on the matter is superior to yours: when a person becomes a Christian, they cannot deny the strands of Christianity which they happen not to like or approve of. Others who act on those strands on ways they would not are not “false” Christians, just different Christians and calling yourself a Christians necessarily means assuming responsibility for what is done by Christians in the name of Christianity. There is no “Christianity” that is just all good parts which a person likes. There is only the Christianity that is a weave of all the good and bad parts. So being a Christian means accepting both the good and the bad, and this means accepting some measure of responsibility for the bad.

July 10, 2008 at 10:20 am
(36) K. Anonymous says:

Austin Cline said,

‘ What if a humanist did the same?

If the belief system is identifiably “humanist,” yes.’

Who’s to say what is strictly humanist is and what is not? As you say many christians argue that others are not ‘true’ christians, but who are they to say this? For many people christianity is about far less than what is generally expected, I have met christians who do not believe in Satan and accept the Bible as largely a work of fiction. So what do they share with other christians exactly? A belief in god, and that Jesus was his son, and that’s about it. Technically that’s all you have to believe to call yourself a christian. So I really can’t say I see a strong enough link for them to be responsible for the actions of other people who also choose to call themselves christian. Don’t get me wrong I disagree with the stance of many theists to say that extremists aren’t ‘true’ followers of that belief. But that’s exactly the point, its not for them to say. So when someone says they are part of a religion, they can’t be held responsible for the actions of others who claim to be from that denomination, because they just claim, no one can say they are or are not decisively.

‘Every religion has its heresies, and heresies must be marked and remembered as out of bounds. Heresies are always children of the religion from whence they come — rogue children, but genetic heirs nonetheless. Heresies are usually borrowed elements of their parent religions, but elements that are broken off and isolated from counter elements that moderated them.’

I certainly agree with this, but to help elaborate what I’m saying earliar I’m going to give an example of two groups of the same name and completely different beliefs. There’s a good chance however that you won’t be aware of this group, as they’re not exactly well known. So I can understand why if you don’t take this a support for my argument (though of course even if you do know of them you may still not consider it support).

There is a religion (of sorts, its not neccesarily theistic, perhaps belief system would be more appropriate) called Anton Szandor Lavey Satanism. If you know anything of this you’ll know that it in no way promotes violence or any of the negative aspects often associated with satanism (they also don’t believe in a ‘Satan’ in the typical christian sense). However in the early middle ages of western Europe (and at other times) there were groups of people who genuinly believed in an underworld god of sin who they worshipped by the sacrifice of animals, and often, worse. Should Anton Lavey satanists be in some way held responsible for such actions?

‘Of course not, but I do choose whether I am in and whether I am to be identified with it.’

No actually you don’t get to choose what you’re being identified with. People claiming to be part of the same group as you turn up all the time, claiming things that you may disagree with vehemently. Should you then abandon your beliefs such that you aren’t responsible for the actions of these people?

‘This assumes they are both wrong, though, and I think Cobb’s perspective on the matter is superior to yours: when a person becomes a Christian, they cannot deny the strands of Christianity which they happen not to like or approve of. Others who act on those strands on ways they would not are not “false” Christians, just different Christians and calling yourself a Christians necessarily means assuming responsibility for what is done by Christians in the name of Christianity. There is no “Christianity” that is just all good parts which a person likes. There is only the Christianity that is a weave of all the good and bad parts. So being a Christian means accepting both the good and the bad, and this means accepting some measure of responsibility for the bad.’

Yes it is true that these people are still christians, but what beliefs and links to you choose to take as the important ones?

For example, you said that as an american you take some portion of the responsibility for the actions of america. Do you consider yourself responsible for the actions of South American countries as well because you’re all citizens of the new world? Are french people responsible for the actions of China because they’re part of the old world? What allegiances are important? What divisions do you make to say one person is part of such a group and another is not?

If someone believes something which has helped others from their group do terrible things, even indirectly, then they are in some way responsible, whether they approve of it or not. But they are not just because they are part of the same ‘group’ as defined by someone.

July 10, 2008 at 10:27 am
(37) Austin Cline says:

Who’s to say what is strictly humanist is and what is not?

I made no references to anything being “strictly” humanist or not.

There is a religion (of sorts, its not neccesarily theistic, perhaps belief system would be more appropriate) called Anton Szandor Lavey Satanism. If you know anything of this you’ll know that it in no way promotes violence or any of the negative aspects often associated with satanism (they also don’t believe in a ‘Satan’ in the typical christian sense). However in the early middle ages of western Europe (and at other times) there were groups of people who genuinly believed in an underworld god of sin who they worshipped by the sacrifice of animals, and often, worse. Should Anton Lavey satanists be in some way held responsible for such actions?

Do they share anything except the label? If you re-read Cobb, you’ll notice that he’s quite unambiguous about going beyond labels.

No actually you don’t get to choose what you’re being identified with.

Yes, I do. If people who are part of a movement or organization are behaving in ways I don’t want to be associated with, I can drop my own association with it.

People claiming to be part of the same group as you turn up all the time, claiming things that you may disagree with vehemently.

If you re-read Cobb, you’ll notice that he’s quite unambiguous about going beyond mere “claims” to being “part of the same group.”

For example, you said that as an american you take some portion of the responsibility for the actions of america. Do you consider yourself responsible for the actions of South American countries as well because you’re all citizens of the new world?

There are no ideological or organizational connection to them; there are extensive ideological and organizational connections to the government and society of the United States America. Once again, you are focusing on the mere label “America” whereas everything I have said has been unambiguous in going beyond mere labels.

July 10, 2008 at 11:39 am
(38) K. Anonymous says:

‘ Who’s to say what is strictly humanist is and what is not?

I made no references to anything being “strictly” humanist or not.’

Very well, who’s to say what’s humanist? At what point does someone believe just enough humanistic priciples to be called a humanist?

‘ No actually you don’t get to choose what you’re being identified with.

Yes, I do. If people who are part of a movement or organization are behaving in ways I don’t want to be associated with, I can drop my own association with it.’

So then your answer to my question ‘Should you then abandon your beliefs such that you aren’t responsible for the actions of these people?’ Is yes, because others have come and soiled the group of which you are a part, you must leave or you are responsible in some way for their actions. Even if you in no way endorsed or supported their entrance into this group?

‘If you re-read Cobb, you’ll notice that he’s quite unambiguous about going beyond mere “claims” to being “part of the same group.”’

As I said before, what people claim is relevent, because the exact classifications as to what makes one a christian is blurred and open to interpretation.

‘There are no ideological or organizational connection to them; there are extensive ideological and organizational connections to the government and society of the United States America. Once again, you are focusing on the mere label “America” whereas everything I have said has been unambiguous in going beyond mere labels.’

Well actually you’re the one who associated a label with America by giving the example of all american’s having responsibility for america’s actions (or those done in the name of america) in the first place. People don’t get to choose the country they’re born in. And even if they do, it could well be a choice of the lesser of evils.

July 10, 2008 at 1:08 pm
(39) Austin Cline says:

Very well, who’s to say what’s humanist? At what point does someone believe just enough humanistic priciples to be called a humanist?

Why do you assume that there must be someone with the authority to say what’s humanist? There are plenty of documents expressing and explaining humanist principles, so it’s not exactly rocket science to compare someone’s ideology to examples of humanism and see how close they are.

So if it happens that they don’t merely claim to be humanist but also do indeed have a recognizably humanist philosophy, then I would indeed have to assume some measure of responsibility. I wonder what exactly you think that means and if your objections to his is in any way related to a mistaken impression of being responsible means.

So then your answer to my question ‘Should you then abandon your beliefs such that you aren’t responsible for the actions of these people?’ Is yes, because others have come and soiled the group of which you are a part, you must leave or you are responsible in some way for their actions.

I say that I have the option to drop my association with an organization or movement, and you read that as abandoning my beliefs. I’m afraid I don’t quite know where to start with that. Personally, I see the existence of differences between membership and beliefs and have no understanding of how anyone else wouldn’t.

As I said before, what people claim is relevent, because the exact classifications as to what makes one a christian is blurred and open to interpretation.

No one said that what people claim is irrelevant. Moreover, the fact that what qualifies as “Christianity” can be blurry is not simply acknowledged in Cobb’s statement, but is in fact part of the foundation for it.

Well actually you’re the one who associated a label with America by giving the example of all american’s having responsibility for america’s actions (or those done in the name of america) in the first place.

I assumed that you’d understand I was talking about the United States of America. That was clearly my error.

People don’t get to choose the country they’re born in.

True. They do, however, choose to stay. If they choose to stay, they choose to assume some of the responsibility for what America does — especially if they participate at all in the political process. If they actually acknowledge and accept this, then they will choose to act to make changes to improve matters. That’s what being responsible is all about, and why refusing to take responsibility for what happens in organizations and movements you choose to belong to makes you also culpable for continuing problems.

July 10, 2008 at 5:45 pm
(40) K. Anonymous says:

Austin said,

‘I say that I have the option to drop my association with an organization or movement, and you read that as abandoning my beliefs. I’m afraid I don’t quite know where to start with that. Personally, I see the existence of differences between membership and beliefs and have no understanding of how anyone else wouldn’t.’

You don’t see a counter-example in the case of christianity? All one has to be to be a christian is believe there is a god and that Jesus was his son. Neither of these things automatically lead to any negative beliefs or actions. So if you don’t want to be considered a christian and thus not be responsible for the negative actions of some christians, you do have to change your belief that Jesus was the son of god (at the least). So beliefs and memberships are unfortunatly often undisconnectable.

‘ Well actually you’re the one who associated a label with America by giving the example of all american’s having responsibility for america’s actions (or those done in the name of america) in the first place.

I assumed that you’d understand I was talking about the United States of America. That was clearly my error.’

I understood that completely. I was extending your argument to show that if you consider this allegance, responsibility bearing, why aren’t others? I assumed you’d understand this. Clearly that was my error.

‘ People don’t get to choose the country they’re born in.

True. They do, however, choose to stay. If they choose to stay, they choose to assume some of the responsibility for what America does — especially if they participate at all in the political process. If they actually acknowledge and accept this, then they will choose to act to make changes to improve matters. That’s what being responsible is all about, and why refusing to take responsibility for what happens in organizations and movements you choose to belong to makes you also culpable for continuing problems. ‘

It depends what you mean by choice. For a start moving to a different country can often be difficult or impossible for financial reasons. When considering that you might not be able to find a country that displays any better what you believe, should you still be held responsible for its actions even if you completely disagree with them and had no part in them?

July 10, 2008 at 6:06 pm
(41) Austin Cline says:

You don’t see a counter-example in the case of christianity? All one has to be to be a christian is believe there is a god and that Jesus was his son. Neither of these things automatically lead to any negative beliefs or actions.

That’s true, they don’t. They don’t need to.

So if you don’t want to be considered a christian…

There is part of your error. What’s critical is not simply beliefs you hold, but voluntary association and identification with a movement or organization.

A person might, for example, agree with many basic communist principles but be horrified by how communist governments behaved. One option for them could be to try to start something new which adopts some of those principles but which explicitly rejects “communism” as such because of what happened to it.

Christians share many of the same beliefs as Jews. They accept the same scriptures in the Old Testament. Are they Jews? No, they’ve added new beliefs and reject the label. Plenty of people in America continue to believe in a god and that Jesus was special, but they have cut off all association with organized religion like Christianity. Their beliefs aren’t far of from those who self-identify as Christians but don’t regard Jesus as divine.

There is ample precedence for people taking set of beliefs, adding new ones, rejecting the old label, and moving on. It doesn’t happen immediately (it took some time for Christians to be treated as entirely separate from Jews), but it can happen when people work at it.

I understood that completely. I was extending your argument to show that if you consider this allegance, responsibility bearing, why aren’t others? I assumed you’d understand this. Clearly that was my error.

No, your error was in ignoring where that had already been addressed.

It depends what you mean by choice. For a start moving to a different country can often be difficult or impossible for financial reasons.

The difficulty should not be underestimated. However, in the final analysis it’s a choice between facing those difficulties or simply accepting one’s association with one’s nation. You can’t evade responsibility for that association because getting out of it is hard. Working to make changes is also hard, but is that really a reason to say that it’s OK not to?

When considering that you might not be able to find a country that displays any better what you believe, should you still be held responsible for its actions even if you completely disagree with them and had no part in them?

The lack of better alternatives simply isn’t relevant. Whether one agrees or disagrees with the actions of the American government, anyone who chooses to maintain their association with America assumes some responsibility for what happens. If you participate in the political process, you assume culpability for the outcome, even if you wanted a different one.

July 10, 2008 at 6:37 pm
(42) K. Anonymous says:

Austin said,

‘ I understood that completely. I was extending your argument to show that if you consider this allegance, responsibility bearing, why aren’t others? I assumed you’d understand this. Clearly that was my error.

No, your error was in ignoring where that had already been addressed.’

I don’t see how. You said I thought that you meant America the continent, which I didn’t. I thought that was clear, you evidently didn’t.

‘ t depends what you mean by choice. For a start moving to a different country can often be difficult or impossible for financial reasons.

The difficulty should not be underestimated. However, in the final analysis it’s a choice between facing those difficulties or simply accepting one’s association with one’s nation. You can’t evade responsibility for that association because getting out of it is hard. Working to make changes is also hard, but is that really a reason to say that it’s OK not to?’

No, but sometimes no matter how hard you work its impossible. That’s not a very nice fact but its a fact nonetheless.

‘ When considering that you might not be able to find a country that displays any better what you believe, should you still be held responsible for its actions even if you completely disagree with them and had no part in them?

‘The lack of better alternatives simply isn’t relevant. Whether one agrees or disagrees with the actions of the American government, anyone who chooses to maintain their association with America assumes some responsibility for what happens.’

But thats precisely my point. Its not a choice. Or at least not one that should have responsibility attached, as neither outcome is one you desire. If someone were to imprison you and tell who you had the choice between cutting off your feet or your hands (lets say if you don’t choose they shall cut off both, so that clearly making the choice is preferable) and lets say you choose
your feet, are you then in some way responsible for your feet being cut off? No, because the two ‘choices’ you had were barely choices at all. Its merely trying to pick the lesser of two evils.

‘If you participate in the political process, you assume culpability for the outcome, even if you wanted a different one. ‘

How is living in a country by itself participitation in its political process?

July 10, 2008 at 7:13 pm
(43) Austin Cline says:

No, but sometimes no matter how hard you work its impossible.

Won’t know unless you try.

But thats precisely my point. Its not a choice.

It’s not a choice to be born here, but it’s a choice to remain.

Or at least not one that should have responsibility attached, as neither outcome is one you desire.

This statement is an unambiguous assertion that if one does not desire a particular outcome, then one should not be treated as having any responsibility for the outcome/consequences/situation. Is that how you really feel? I find such a position absurd. You aren’t only responsible for the things you want to happen, just as you aren’t solely responsible for the things you choose or do.

If someone were to imprison you and tell who you had the choice between cutting off your feet or your hands (lets say if you don’t choose they shall cut off both, so that clearly making the choice is preferable) and lets say you choose your feet, are you then in some way responsible for your feet being cut off? No, because the two ‘choices’ you had were barely choices at all. Its merely trying to pick the lesser of two evils.

Your analogy is incomplete because you fail to explain what happens if a person chooses to do neither, and it’s clear that non-action is logically possible. Once that problem is raised, we see that it’s a false analogy because it has three options (feet, hands, no action) whereas the situation at hand has two (try to leave, accept your situation and stay).

Moreover, you seem to be acting as though being forcibly placed in a bad situation means that you shouldn’t be treated as bearing any responsibility for the choices which that situation might force you to make. Do you really believe that? I don’t accept it for a second.

Let’s change the analogy slightly: I’m imprisoned and while there contract a disease which forces me to choose between cutting off my feet or losing my life. Am I in any way responsible for the choice I make? Of course I am, despite the fact that the situation wasn’t of my choosing. Ending up in a bad situation does not absolve you of any responsibility for your choices.

Once again, I have to wonder what you imagine being “responsible” means and whether the problem here is some misunderstanding on your part about what it entails.

‘If you participate in the political process, you assume culpability for the outcome, even if you wanted a different one. ‘

How is living in a country by itself participitation in its political process?

I never said it was. I wrote two separate and distinct sentences: one about responsibility and one about culpability. I can no more understand why you would conflate them than I can understand why you would conflate organizational membership with beliefs.

July 10, 2008 at 11:26 pm
(44) Tom Edgar says:

I am afraid Austin has been inveigled into a discussion purely on ideological semantics.
Sure doesn’t look like it is enlightening nor going anywhere.

It really gets down to “Am I my brother’s keeper.?” I guess so.

tomedgar@halenet.com.au

July 11, 2008 at 4:21 am
(45) The Sojourner says:

Celia:

I assume you’re a female. If so do you actually know where or what the clitoris is? It’s not visible in even the briefest of bikinis. You talk about female sexuality, without even knowing the basics of your own body.

Outside of your religious fanaticism, your ignorance about your own genitalia, speaks volumes about how warped your religion really must be.

July 11, 2008 at 9:35 am
(46) K. Anonymous says:

Austin Cline said,

If someone were to imprison you and tell who you had the choice between cutting off your feet or your hands (lets say if you don’t choose they shall cut off both, so that clearly making the choice is preferable) and lets say you choose your feet, are you then in some way responsible for your feet being cut off? No, because the two ‘choices’ you had were barely choices at all. Its merely trying to pick the lesser of two evils.

Your analogy is incomplete because you fail to explain what happens if a person chooses to do neither,’

Actually I do. Its pretty clear but I’ll quote it again.

‘(lets say if you don’t choose they shall cut off both, so that clearly making the choice is preferable)’

‘ Or at least not one that should have responsibility attached, as neither outcome is one you desire.

This statement is an unambiguous assertion that if one does not desire a particular outcome, then one should not be treated as having any responsibility for the outcome/consequences/situation. Is that how you really feel? I find such a position absurd.’

Yes, that is really how I feel. To be honest I find your position absurd. If someone is forced into doing something by being given the choice of doing that or something far worse then they aren’t responsible.

I’ll try and express this with another captive example,

This time, you’re told to kill a stranger. If you don’t, your captor will kill you, a bus full of children and the stranger. So you kill the stranger. Are you responsible for his/her death? Technically you had a choice.

‘Moreover, you seem to be acting as though being forcibly placed in a bad situation means that you shouldn’t be treated as bearing any responsibility for the choices which that situation might force you to make. Do you really believe that? I don’t accept it for a second.’

Yes, if the two choices are between some terrible and something undeniably even worse. Because then its barely a choice at all. The fact that one action is far worse forces you to do the other. So its not really a choice.

‘Ending up in a bad situation does not absolve you of any responsibility for your choices.’

I’m not saying it does. What I’m saying is far more specific. If the only two ‘choices’ you have are between one terrible thing and one even worse thing, its not really a choice. Circumstance has forced your hand.

‘I can no more understand why you would conflate them than I can understand why you would conflate organizational membership with beliefs.’

Well I gave an argument as to why in post 39. You responded but I cannot find anything which disproves (or implies the ivalidity of) this example.

If you believe in a god and that Jesus was his son. You’re a christian. There’s nothing you can do about that. If you believe those things, you’re a christian. So by your standards if you don’t want to be held responsible for the negative actions of some christians, you have to change your beliefs. Not simply ‘voluntary association and identification with a movement or organization’ with that group. You often say yourself that beliefs aren’t a choice. (Such as you don’t choose to be an atheist, whether you want to or not, you don’t believe in a god). Well maybe people can’t choose whether they believe god was Jesus’s son, and by your standards, that’s all you have to do to be in some way responsible for the actions of all christians. So its not a choice. You’re telling people they must accept responsibility because they believe something they cannot help but believe, is that honestly what you think?

‘ How is living in a country by itself participitation in its political process?

I never said it was. I wrote two separate and distinct sentences: one about responsibility and one about culpability.’

Then why even mention it?

July 11, 2008 at 11:49 am
(47) Austin Cline says:

Actually I do. Its pretty clear but I’ll quote it again.

You’re right, I’m sorry I missed that. However, the fact remains that the analogy has more options than the situation you’re trying to analogize to.

If someone is forced into doing something by being given the choice of doing that or something far worse then they aren’t responsible.

Well, why not?

Are you responsible for his/her death? Technically you had a choice.

Based on how I and everyone I have quoted have been using the term “responsible” here, absolutely.

Circumstance has forced your hand.

Circumstances usually force our hands in one way or another, to one degree or another. Once again, though, that does not mean that we bear no responsibility for our choices.

If you believe in a god and that Jesus was his son. You’re a christian. There’s nothing you can do about that.

Some would disagree and I’ve given an explanation for why your assertion is not necessarily valid. You haven’t even acknowledge that I’ve said anything, never mind attempted to argue against it.

Then why even mention it?

Because I suspect that you are using “responsibility” incorrectly. You seem to be using “responsibility” as something a bit closer to culpability or guilt, even though the two were separated at the beginning. I, however, am using it in the same way Cobb was clear about using it: to have to answer for. In other words, being “responsible” for something means having some obligation to explain, justify; to be accountable for; possibly to be obligated to make amends for.

So, taking all that into account, let’s revisit the above:

Are you responsible for his/her death? Technically you had a choice.

Am I in a position where I have some obligation to explain why I killed the stranger? Am I obligated to justify why I thought one choice was better than the other, however bad it might ultimately have been? Absolutely, no question about it. Should I be held accountable for my decision? Of course — if the decision was right, nothing will happen to me; if it turns out I was negligent in some way, something should happen to me. Would it be reasonable for me to want to make amends for killing the stranger? Absolutely — the lesser of two evils is still evil and I wouldn’t be a very moral person if I didn’t lose any sleep over what I did.

If someone is forced into doing something by being given the choice of doing that or something far worse then they aren’t responsible.

So what you’re saying is that if my choice is between bad and worse, then choosing to commit bad necessarily absolves me of having to explain what I did, to justify my decision, to be held accountable for that decision, from feeling like I should have to make any amends for any of the harm caused by that decision, or from others feeling like I should do something to make up for the harm I precipitated. I’m sorry, but I just don’t get that. I can discern no logical, philosophical, or moral connection between the premise and your conclusion.

The situation is even worse when we move from your extreme analogies to the real world, where we aren’t looking at choices between bad and worse. In the real world situations being debated, people didn’t face a choice between bad or worse and are being asked to justify choosing bad; instead, they choose what they consider to be good — and perhaps think is an unqualified good — and are being expected to be accountable for harm caused by this alleged “good.” A person who says “I chose the lesser of two evils” is already giving some explanation and justification; a person who says “I made a choice for the perfect and best possible path” hasn’t even started.

So the question is whether people who have voluntarily associated themselves with some movement or organization are obligated to explain why that organization has done wrong, justify the harm caused by other members in the name of that movement, stand accountable for wrongs done by a group they support, and feel like they should at least apologize for, and perhaps at times make amends for, the harm which the group they are committed to has caused. I think so. Feel free to explain why you don’t.

July 11, 2008 at 3:14 pm
(48) K. Anonymous says:

Austin Cline said,

‘ If you believe in a god and that Jesus was his son. You’re a christian. There’s nothing you can do about that.

Some would disagree and I’ve given an explanation for why your assertion is not necessarily valid. You haven’t even acknowledge that I’ve said anything, never mind attempted to argue against it.’

Can you re-direct me to this explanation? I assumed it was in your quoting of Cobb but if there is an explanation there I am unable to discern it.

July 11, 2008 at 4:39 pm
(49) Austin Cline says:

Can you re-direct me to this explanation? I assumed it was in your quoting of Cobb but if there is an explanation there I am unable to discern it.

From comment #40:

What’s critical is not simply beliefs you hold, but voluntary association and identification with a movement or organization.

A person might, for example, agree with many basic communist principles but be horrified by how communist governments behaved. One option for them could be to try to start something new which adopts some of those principles but which explicitly rejects “communism” as such because of what happened to it.

Christians share many of the same beliefs as Jews. They accept the same scriptures in the Old Testament. Are they Jews? No, they’ve added new beliefs and reject the label. Plenty of people in America continue to believe in a god and that Jesus was special, but they have cut off all association with organized religion like Christianity. Their beliefs aren’t far of from those who self-identify as Christians but don’t regard Jesus as divine.

There is ample precedence for people taking set of beliefs, adding new ones, rejecting the old label, and moving on. It doesn’t happen immediately (it took some time for Christians to be treated as entirely separate from Jews), but it can happen when people work at it.

Just to be clear, I’m not personally objecting to “believe in God and Jesus is his son” as a basic minimum for “being a Christian.” That’s the rule of thumb I typically use. However, that doesn’t work well for this context because: there are people who self-identify as Christians who don’t hold those beliefs, there are Christians who insist on much more, and it’s possible to add to that and insist that you’re starting something new which isn’t Christian.

It’s that latter which is most critical here because you are arguing that anyone who has those beliefs has to be classified as “Christian” whether they like it or not. I say: not necessarily. If a person really wants to profess those beliefs but also objects to the label “Christian” (because they agree with what I’ve been saying, perhaps), then they can do exactly what I described the communist above doing.

July 11, 2008 at 8:50 pm
(50) Tom Edgar says:

Referring to Austin’s #48.

My wife was a dedicated Quaker. Now they allow their members to interpret their beliefs in any way they choose. The only
non debatable requirement being eschewing violence in all its forms.

Quakers, generally, are identified as being “Christian.” My wife did not accept Christ as a son of God, nor for that matter the the miracle stories of the Bible, including the immaculate conception. Maybe I influenced her thinking. Whilst rejecting much of the traditional Christian doctrine she would still identify as being “Christian” As would her “Meeting House” Friends.
So in this instance the identity of a Christian as being one with the basic belief in God the Father, and God the Son doesn’t hold. Adhering, in the broadest sense, to Christian Philosophy,
in this instance, is sufficient to qualify. There are of course in the Society of Friends some at the other end of the spectrum. Seems they are able to accommodate without acrimony each others widely ranging beliefs. Well Quakers were always quaint. The one group who do not try to convert. I love their motto.
“BY YOUR ACTIONS BE JUDGED.”

tomedgar@halenet.com.au

July 13, 2008 at 12:55 am
(51) Carolina woods says:

In answer to the question in comment #22.
“…have you ever heard a famous, i mean a really famous story about an atheist that changed the world for good? I guess none,because they think so selfishly and they always think higher of themselves” —

Others have already pointed out a few examples (Einstein, Bill Gates, Warren Buffet).

To those I add:
Thomas Edison, Luther Burbank, Oliver Wendall Holmes, Linus Pauling, Gandhi, Freud, Marie Curie, Frank Llyod Wright, Carl Sagan.

And although they may not have “changed the world” there are hundreds (can’t name them all) of musicians (Mozart, Beethoven, Brahams, James Taylor, Irving Berlin, Scott Joplin), artists (Delacroix, Pisarro, Margaret Bourke-White) writers (Dickens, Dickenson, Twain, Michener, Pearl Buck, Fitzgerald, Robert Heinlein) and entertainers (Henry Fonda, Katharine Hepburn, Julianne Moore, Paul Newman, George Clooney, Harrison Ford) who certainly have made the world more enjoyable.

I served 2 years in the Peace Corps—not exactly a selfish act on my part was it? Every atheist I know donates both time and money to worthy causes. Many are teachers, health care workers, scientists, business people, members of the military, parents —all of whom contribute in positive ways to our society. They may not have done anything earth-shattering, but most religious people don’t do amazing world-changing acts either.

Now, if you want to start naming selfish religious people, we could start with Jim Bakker. Or how about Reverend Douglas Porter of Hickman Community Church (CA) who was recently arrested for murder, attempted murder, and theft in a scheme to inherit and elderly man’s millions? I worked for a small business owned by a born-again couple who cheated on their taxes, lied on their resumes, and gouged their customers —-it was ME, the atheist, who quit my job because of their unethical behaviors.

“No man that ever lived has ever done a thing to please God —primarily. It was done to please himself, then God next.” (Mark Twain’s Notebook)

As Steve Allen (atheist, musician, entertainer) once wrote: “It is frequently argued that a return to formal religion is the solution to the problem [of morality.] But the prescription leaves something to be desired, for one finds practically no formal humanists, agnostics, or atheists in the ranks of the corrupt. Most of the embezzlers, swindlers, con-men and thieves… are card carrying members of one religion’s denomination or another that formally pays respect to the Old and/or New Testament.” (Rip Off)

I would bet selfish people (if we had a way of measuring degrees of selfishness) would come in about the same percentages among religious and non-religious people. We really aren’t that much different in our everyday lives. You probably don’t believe in Zeus, Isis or Thor. Our basic difference is that I believe in one less god than you do.

July 14, 2008 at 5:01 pm
(52) Paul says:

Tom,
I avoid mirrors, but I do sometimes sound like I’m talking to myself. As far as I can see, most of the problem here is simply that people can’t or won’t get past labels and take the time to look at the people behind them. If they did, they would find that we are all much more complicated than our stereotypes (even of ourselves). The kind of simplistic thinking promoted by most of the world’s religions is that all members of a group are essentially the same, and that your value as a human being is determined by the group you belong to. Thus you get people who claim that all Christians are good people, or if they are not, they aren’t really Christian, and don’t seem to see the dishonesty of this logic.

July 15, 2008 at 12:01 am
(53) Tom Edgar says:

Paul.

Gee I had to a long way back to see what I (and You) had said. Geriatric memory.

For all that so many of us posting here, pro and con, are really only reinforcing our own beliefs and values.

Today I received from my WW11 service association a blurb which, in short, told Atheists we should SHUT UP. I would add the writer, a good friend, is a lay preacher in the Presbyterian Church.
Needles to say that whilst I have never pushed my position previously , on this occasion I certainly did not SHUT UP.

As my Quaker wife once observed on an example of arrogance. “I wouldn’t mind him being arrogant if he only had the qualifications to justify his opinionated arrogance.” (She wasn’t speaking of me.)

tomedgar@halenet.com.au

July 15, 2008 at 12:30 pm
(54) born-again atheist says:

A message to all the fundamentalist Christians abusing this comment board as a front for preaching and evangelisation efforts: quit your preaching and your efforts to shove your bigoted, narrow-minded, dogmatic views down everyone else’s throats and either offer something substantive or stay the f**k off this post! If you can’t do the former, then, to use one of the Mugabe regime’s favourite phrases, GO HANG!
You have no business whatsoever to dictate to others what context to put mutually consensual sexual activity in or with whom to engage in such activity! Similarly, neither do you have any business at all dictating to women what to do with their own bodies just because you think it is debasing and objectifying to them! As this story exemplifies, it is the efforts of the likes of you to restrict women’s choice of dress for fear of ‘tempting’ men into ‘sinful’ sexual activity and unnecessarily curtail their sexual autonomy that is truly degrading.

Another thing, I salute Jessica Alba for her staunch opposition to church-mandated homophobia. Well done!

August 3, 2008 at 12:40 pm
(55) Jason Martin says:

Wow, these things do rabbit trail. Getting back to the main story…

I wasn’t there and neither were any of you, but let’s look at the testimony of Ms. Alba. She chose (at a fairly young age) to start attending (probably) a fundamentalist Christian church, which by definition holds the Bible as it’s sole source of Truth (Not the Pope, not Augustine, or any other church leader).

If you read the Bible, it does place a certain amount of responsibility on women to dress modestly so as not to “make provision for the flesh.” I agree that the ultimate responsibility of lust is on the man (Matthew 5), but why do we assume that Ms. Alba is giving an unbiased, objective report of the event in question. (Her recent career would suggest that she wouldn’t know modesty if it stormed her wardrobe.)

If her youth pastor was lovingly sharing a genuine concern about modesty (based on the Bible), and she got all defensive, it is evidence to me that she was not interested in what God’s Word had to say (further evidenced by her statements about premarital sex and homosexuality). If her Youth Pastor was cruel and degrading, then shame on him! He was not following the example of Christ, the Master Shepherd. Either way, this does not change the truth of God’s Word.

At this point, I’m sure many atheists reading this are saying “That’s my point!” That their problem is not with individual people, but with the system itself. My argument is that true Christianity is not a system. Nor is it a stereotype based on other “Christians.” True Christianity is the Bible in it’s entirety. Your problem is with The Bible. You say that Christianity dictates morality and oppresses women’s sexual expression. I say that if you choose to call yourself Christian, then you should have no problem abiding by the teachings of Scripture. (“But if ye be led by the Spirit, ye are not under the law” – Galatians 5:18) If it seems oppressive to you, then do as Ms. Alba did and get out. Let there be no confusion, Jessica Alba is not a Christian. If you choose not to be then you can live your life (within legal ramifications) however you like. But don’t fault a church leader in Pomona California for trying to uphold a biblical principle.

If you want to take on the Bible, then do it. Let’s not cloud the issue with an anecdote that has nothing to do with your real complaint.

August 12, 2008 at 10:49 pm
(56) Zack says:

True Christianity is the Bible in it’s entirety. — Comment by Jason Martin — August 3, 2008 @ 12:40 pm

Says who?

(P.S. — You meant to say “its entirety,” not “it’s entirety.”)

September 24, 2008 at 7:23 am
(57) Haelix says:

Austin,
This is where you are mistaking:

{
Someone walking down the street in a bikini is
not modest and will definitely cause people to
lust.

No one can or should be held responsible for thoughts of others.
}

September 24, 2008 at 7:27 am
(58) Haelix says:

Quote from Zack
{True Christianity is the Bible in it’s entirety.
Says who?}

Says a christian BY the Bible. +1.
Says the Bible itself! (we know from Christ only from the Bible, right?) Then the Bible is fully entitled to specify what the CHRISTian truth is.

September 28, 2008 at 1:35 pm
(59) Zack says:

Says the Bible itself! (we know from Christ only from the Bible, right?) –Comment by Haelix on September 24, 2008 @ 7:27 am

You are assuming that this is so, but you haven’t given any reason to think it is. Not even the majority of Christians in the world agree with your claim.

Then the Bible is fully entitled to specify what the CHRISTian truth is. –Comment by Haelix on September 24, 2008 @ 7:27 am

This is circular, and there are other problems with it as well. If you show up again, I will explain some of them.

October 3, 2008 at 11:54 am
(60) Haelix says:

Quote:
[
True Christianity is the Bible in it’s entirety.
]

Zack, please allow me to reformulate this.
Belief in Christ (=christianity) and belief in the Scriptures are not only inseparable, they are the same thing.

You can’t believe one witout the other.

I must emphasize on the fact that “the Bible is fully entitled to specify what the CHRISTian truth is”. Christianity has the Bible, the written word of God, as source.

This should make sense, even for an atheist.

October 4, 2008 at 6:58 pm
(61) Zack says:

Belief in Christ (=christianity) and belief in the Scriptures are not only inseparable, they are the same thing.

You can’t believe one witout the other. –Comment by Haelix — October 3, 2008 @ 11:54 am

The only change I see in your “reformulated” statement is that you appear to have backed away from your original assertion that Christians must necessarily accept the Bible “in its entirety.” Do I understand you correctly on this?

This should make sense, even for an atheist. — Comment by Haelix — October 3, 2008 @ 11:54 am

Even a theist may realize that he cannot presume to speak for hundreds of millions of Christians, many of whom hold beliefs that contradict his claims in this forum.

October 6, 2008 at 5:21 am
(62) Haelix says:

I didn’t back away from what I said earlier.
I maintain that, a Christ-ian by the Bible (there are no other types, in fact), should believe the whole Bible.

Since, Christ is at the core of the Bible and Christ endorsed – so to speak – the Old Testament over and over while He preached.

Unfortunately you’re right in this respect. There are millions of believers who sadly place the Scriptures on 2nd place, after what they call “tradition”. My belief is that in the end, it will be the Scripture that will judge tradition, and not vice-versa.

If you are interested, the Bible pronounces on this issue; literally, at one point it is said that “the Scripture cannot be broken”, together with multiple instances of the formulation “truth of the gospel”. This said, it’s only reasonable to conclude, one who calls himself Christian is not allowed to pick & leave out portions from the Scripture.

October 15, 2008 at 11:34 pm
(63) Zack says:

I maintain that, a Christ-ian by the Bible (there are no other types, in fact), should believe the whole Bible. — Comment by Haelix — October 6, 2008 @ 5:21 am

Some Christians agree with you, but millions do not. You don’t say what makes you right and them wrong — you only restate your original circular claim.

This said, it’s only reasonable to conclude, one who calls himself Christian is not allowed to pick & leave out portions from the Scripture. — Comment by Haelix — October 6, 2008 @ 5:21 am

Are you saying that you accept as unequivocally true, and that you personally abide by, everything found in the Christian Bible?

November 19, 2008 at 12:14 pm
(64) Haelix says:

[
You don’t say what makes you right and them wrong — you only restate your original circular claim.
]
Please, highlight the circularity in my claims.

[
Are you saying that you accept as unequivocally true, and that you personally abide by, everything found in the Christian Bible?
]
Under the limitations that have yet to be broken by the power of my faith. God bless.

November 19, 2008 at 12:23 pm
(65) Haelix says:


If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us.

November 14, 2009 at 9:59 am
(66) MommyOh says:

Give me a break! Seriously, she thinks she is the only girl in all of Christianity to go through puberty and come out the other side with boobs and hips? Whatever! I get so sick and tired of people blaming their beliefs or lack thereof on other people. So she was a teenager experimenting with rebellion. Only she had non-Christian parents, so going to church seemed like the best revenge. But, she grew tired when she found out that, gasp! Dad and Mom aren’t the only ones with rules! So, she left church too. Now that she’s ashamed of that, she blames it on her peers. Yawn. Next. Jessica Alba is just more of the same.

February 17, 2010 at 4:10 pm
(67) College Grad says:

The uptight “Born Again Knuckleheads” that bagged on her because of her emerging beauty,have NO right to judge her. It is their problems and lack of self esteem on their part,is the reason they blamed her,for their own lustful feelings!!A lot of members of the “Christian Right”,get very “Catty”,when they see an attractive woman,especially if she’s wearing a nice outfit!! This is especially the case nowadays,as Americans become more obese,and have self esteem issues!!They need a “Scapegoat”,for their own shortcomings.TV Evangelists prey upon people’s fears,prejudices,and frustrations in their lives.In other words,they prey upon the weak and the guilt ridden!!Take a look a the “Mean Girls”and other members of the “Popular Cliques” on campus,who snubbed her growing up. There are a good majority of those “Mean Girls” who spit out kids and “Balloon” as they get older.A true chistian does not judge or get “Catty”,when they see an attractive woman.Maybe some of “Caloricly Challenged”christians need to do is control their own “Gluttony”,and to look at themselves before they pass judgement on her,or any attractive woman. They need to improve their own lives by getting an education,and laying of the junk food and the twinkies!!

July 24, 2010 at 1:04 pm
(68) Eimi Middlekauff says:

I’ve been a Christian for 26 yrs and I’m a 33 old beautiful and talented lady. It really depends on the location I think. In Oregon where I grew up, there is no skin shown at church.. basically because it is depressing cloudy outside and no real need for it. And of course the NW isn’t known for its fashion. Its more known for its pasty white tree hugging people. So obviously the social standard was to cover up. In 1998 when I moved to the Bible Belt in TX to attend a Bible School, it was no spaghetti straps and no short skirts. It was only for 2 yrs, but that really wasn’t a long time for me to be obedient to the school rules. When I finished school I went back to wearing spaghetti straps. In those two years I had to understand that there were really young guys there who were hormonal and just trying to focus on learning Scripture. If a girl couldn’t cover up for two years to help a brother out, that’s kinda selfish. I really do believe I should be modest… as in, G string bikini is probably not going to happen on me even though I have a great body. But I do wear a normal bikini. I just moved to CA and its definitely more my style. What church was Jessica going to!???? My church had a BBQ last month on the beach and all us girls wore bikinis. We were modest about it and no boys were falling into sin. Of COURSE.. this IS Calif. Bikini’s are a part of everyday life with surfers and sun bathers. Its a normal thing here and its a part of the social structure. This article was ridiculous to me and I found myself laughing. From one famous person’s story a whole mission statement was made against all Christians and how we think modest girls should dress. Jessica Alba dresses just fine in every instance that I’ve seen her! Oh well…. her story was probably take out of content and this article is a little narrow and not based on us all. I guess you think I never braid my hair or wear make up or jewelry. As we speak, I’m wearing a strapless top and a cute jean skirt with flip flops and I’ll be wearing this to church and it will be just fine. I’m sure the Pastor and his wife will stop and chat with me too and not think a thing of it! Pastors are wearing skinny jeans and high heals these days people…. church isn’t stuck in the 80′s my friend. Come to my church!! Its full of cool and trendy normal everyday people. which is the kind of person I am. People like me are my church and I think I’m a pretty cool and trendy person. And I’m making new friends who are just as cool. And Jessica Alba can come too :-) http://www.newportchurch.com

September 7, 2010 at 1:18 am
(69) runty_cactus says:

You’re seriously a “33 old beautiful and talented lady”? Who describes themselves this way?

August 20, 2010 at 8:38 am
(70) Bear Cody says:

Austin, you are far too obviously bias against Christianity to write an article concerning the faith. I can’t take your writing seriously. Even I, as a native American who practices the religion and traditions of my forefathers (faith and traditions some Christians tried to stamp out) don’t hold a grudge or blame the entire Christian community for the faults of individual churches or even of the role of the church in the past. How would you like it if all Natives, African-Americans, and everyone else done wrong by whites suddenly decided to hold your ancestors past against you? It would be very easy to do so, using your own arguments and blanket statements. You need to grow up a little.

August 20, 2010 at 9:09 am
(71) Austin Cline says:

Austin, you are far too obviously bias against Christianity to write an article concerning the faith.

Feel free to show how.

I can’t take your writing seriously.

Feel free to show that you can do better.

Even I, as a native American who practices the religion and traditions of my forefathers (faith and traditions some Christians tried to stamp out) don’t hold a grudge or blame the entire Christian community for the faults of individual churches or even of the role of the church in the past.

Neither do I.

You need to grow up a little.

Maybe you need to work on reading a bit more carefully.

August 31, 2010 at 8:52 pm
(72) Ray says:

I’m glad for Ms Alba that she was able to outgrow the ignorance of religion.

You can’t sin, because there is no such thing.

There isn’t any God or was there any Jesus.

But for those who believe such trivial nonsense, explain why this invisible sky God needed to create a human form of itself. Why didn’t it snap its god fingers and forgive everyone it didn’t like.

Since this sky god has been stated to have sex outside of marriage with a human woman to create this Jesus, why does it matter, in that fable, that Jesus died. Everyone dies. In fact, why didn’t this sky god impregnate millions of women, then we could all be gods.

March 27, 2011 at 11:51 am
(73) Sarah says:

I think it’s disgusting that this reporter has deciding to stereotype two massive faiths because of what one actress have chosen to do. Yes, Jessica Alba left her church, but has since stated that she believes in God and still considers herself a Christian. And yes, Islam does preach that women should cover themselves. Because, in Islam, women are described as being as precious and diamonds, and you do not just put a diamond on display. I am a Muslim girl, and I don’t wear a bikini, or hotpants or belly tops. But, if I was any other religion that permitted me to, I don’t think I would either. I think it’s disgusting when women display every part of their body possible just to attract the opposite sex. And, get your facts right. Islam and Christianity do not state that it is the woman’s fault if the man is hitting on her. I have been hit on many times, yet you’ll never find me exposing more than my knee down. It was just this particular pastor who happened to blame her. And no religion says you should be ashamed of who you are, least of all Islam. It simply states that women should dress modestly. If a women dresses in a slutty manner however, and a man hits on her, I’m not going to pretend that it isn’t her fault too.

March 27, 2011 at 12:56 pm
(74) Austin Cline says:

I think it’s disgusting that this reporter has deciding to stereotype two massive faiths because of what one actress have chosen to do.

Feel free to point out any stereotypes I’ve created.

Islam does preach that women should cover themselves. Because, in Islam, women are described as being as precious and diamonds, and you do not just put a diamond on display.

No, women are human beings and every human being deserved to be treated like an equal, autonomous, free adult. Women are not inanimate objects that need special protection.

I am a Muslim girl, and I don’t wear a bikini, or hotpants or belly tops.

That’s your choice. It would also be your choice to wear them. You are an autonomous person who should be free to choose their own clothing without legal repercussions and without being harassed or bullied because others disagree with your choices.

I think it’s disgusting when women display every part of their body possible just to attract the opposite sex.

That’s your right; just so long as you don’t try to translate your personal disapproval into legal or social requirements.

And, get your facts right. Islam and Christianity do not state that it is the woman’s fault if the man is hitting on her.

No, that’s correct. It’s part of the theology and dogmas that render women responsible for whether men can control their urges and reactions. That’s why women are punished for being too revealing.

If a women dresses in a slutty manner however, and a man hits on her, I’m not going to pretend that it isn’t her fault too.

So first you insist that it’s not the woman’s fault if a man is hitting on her, then you admit that you’d hold her responsible if a man hit on her. Your own words betray the truth of what I wrote.

Even worse, you even admitting that men do it to you when you aren’t dressed in a “slutty manner,” which means you know it for a fact that how a woman dresses isn’t relevant. You know for a fact that it will happen no matter how a woman dresses. Ergo, you know for a fact that how a woman dresses isn’t responsible — it’s entirely with the man (and a culture which teaches men that women are inferior objects for their sexual desires, pleasures, etc.)

So you know that your religion teaches that women are responsible for men hitting on them even though you try to deny it and find excuses; you know that women aren’t really responsible and that your religion is lying about that even though you go ahead and blame women anyway.

So in your attempt to defend your religion, all you end up doing is demonstrating the degree to which your religion has twisted things around so badly that it’s preventing you from admitting to what you know is true. That’s a shame.

June 18, 2012 at 6:22 am
(75) Kelly says:

@ Austin Cline

I’ve read many of your comments and though I don’t agree with a great majority of them (if not all), I completely respect your opinion. I understand that you believe in what you believe and I believe in what I believe so I won’t spend any time trying to defend my beliefs nor criticize others for theirs.

It would be great if you would respect the opinions of everyone else who has read your article and left comments, even if they were incorrect in interpreting what you’ve written. We all have our own ideas and interpretations on religion so arguing is almost pointless. We are allowed to have our own beliefs are we not? Please, in the future, respect those whom you disagree with, especially in such controversial topics like religion.

August 27, 2012 at 9:19 pm
(76) Cindy says:

I have also felt the same way in my church. Telling me not to wear this but wear that when infact I was just wore jeans and a t-shirt.

I can’t blame Jessica for leaving the church. People are just too worldly in this stuff when what they need to take care off are the spiritual relationship of each people in that church.

God does not look on what you are wearing. He looks at your heart.

He is also a God of simplicity.

It is just too bad that some people at church tends to look at you in a wordly standards than in God’s standards.

it could be that there are many people in that church but how many are genuine christians? Knowing is different from believing.

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