Trying to do Good, based on Beautiful Lies

My Facebook feed yesterday included a truly saddening story about a principled woman who took a courageous stand for her faith.

The commissioners were ordered to cease opening meetings with prayers that specifically reference Jesus Christ…

But Carroll County Commissioner Robin Bartlett Frazier not only disagreed with this order, she chose to defy it…

Frazier introduced the prayer as having been authored by George Washington, saying, “This might be a good opportunity to demonstrate how our founding fathers, and leaders all throughout our history, have upheld the idea that we are a nation based on biblical principles…

Apparently aware that she could be charged with contempt of court, Frazier tearfully proclaimed her willingness to go to jail over the issue.

Fred Edwords, The Humanist

Then, the tragic irony of this would-be act of career martyrdom…

…what she seemed unaware of was that George Washington never wrote that prayer

The article goes on to describe how the prayer book of origin was not authentic and had been demonstrated as such throughout multiple expert reviews. Despite the unanimity of the assessments, Christian historical apologists have continued their own sell.

Tens of thousands of genuine Washington manuscripts have survived to the present, including many from the youthful Washington, and even a cursory comparison of the prayer book with a genuine Washington manuscript reveals that they are not the same handwriting. Nevertheless, the prayers continue to be disseminated under Washington’s name . . .

The Washington prayer was a known fallacy. A documented fallacy. A fallacy consciously being perpetuated to support an agenda. In the end of my journey out of the faith, I had to conclude that “apologist” = “salesman”. Apologetic texts on biblical archaeology/evidence are rife with misrepresentations and deliberate omissions. The re-casting of US history proves no different. Falsehoods abound in creationism literature, expressing nearly unbounded disregard for fact or truth. They tell us what we want to hear, saving us the trouble of actually learning, and knowing that we won’t fact check them.

The irony that this involves Washington is palpable: lies about the man who supposedly could not tell one. It is worth noting that the same possibility exists with the Bible. It tells us stories about Jesus, who supposedly also could not tell a lie. But Jesus did not write those stories, and those are not Jesus’ words. As inconvenient as it may be, there really are storytellers between us and Jesus, both ancient and modern. It is the apologists who assure us that the right texts were selected for the Bible. But they are a group of people prone to certain persistent forms of denial…

Facts are indeed out there, and they can be found. But it requires diligent seeking, and not wishful thinking.

Realize that Josh MacDowell is a salesman with an agenda. So is Ken Ham. So is William Lane Craig. Recognize what you’re buying when you buy books from these people. Apologists sell assurance, validation, and ‘facts’ according to the Christian viewpoint. Their business is to give you a certain subset of known information, as seen through a very particular lens. They are in the business of bolstering your biases. It feels good, being reassured. Yet our comforting lies can cost us.

I feel very badly for Ms. Frazier. I want to do good, and so do my friends. I have always respected the willingness in others to take difficult stands. Yet believing whatever we like has consequences. Fact is not an issue of personal opinion, nor religious opinion. No doubt she trusted her sources. Yet as I have learned the hard way, and as Ms. Frazier will hopefully come to learn too, apologists require thorough fact checking.

In the end, whatever pains she goes through, her actions amount to a classic case of trying to do good, based on beautiful lies.

Comments

  1. Sad for her.
    I have always said i will fight for a cause i believe in avoiding the jail and death if I can simply because I could be wrong. Maybe she should learn this important principle

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  2. An absolute stunner of a post, Matt.
    This is at the heart of what apologetics is/does and if the adults succumb so easily is it any wonder such peddlers want unlimited access to children and this is why I continually call them out in it.

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  3. Great post , Matt ! I conclude with Arch & Ark it is sad for her but hopefully this will gain much publicity to cause other indoctrinated people to see the “errors of their ways” ….. but probably not.

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  4. They tell us what we want to hear, saving us the trouble of actually learning, and knowing that we won’t fact check them.

    That’s good and true.

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  5. Matt, this was an excellent read — full of brilliant gems.

    “It feels good, being reassured. Yet our comforting lies can cost us.”

    Indeed they can.

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  6. Now there’s another lesson in there… don’t believe what you hear in church. If it’s on the internet, fact check it before you use it. Yeah, I know that won’t happen. Niether one of them.

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  7. Why don’t you fact check the information? It’s not because you’re lazy (ok, most of the time) it’s because if you fact check it, you are demonstrating to yourself if not to others as well that your faith is not firm, you have doubts. The way Christianity has developed in the last 500 years or so is to put faith ahead of everything else. Salvation is no longer dependent on your actions and interactions during your life, your following rules set down to please the god, all that has been replaced by simply telling the god(s) that you believe in them and think they are great. You have “accepted Jesus into your heart as your Lord and Savior”. Strangely enough, even Jesus is quoted in the gospels as saying that this wasn’t enough, it was seed that falls upon rocky soil, it may sprout but it doesn’t take root and grow. Now days, our religious opinions/group memberships are referred to as our faith. Things are “faith based”. Well, folks, if it’s all a matter of faith, can I opt out? I guess this old lady likes her facts and reproducible results. When I run into gods that just want adulation and don’t care much about anything else, well, there’s lots of gods out there, you can always go get another one, or none at all. Now you can take that on faith!

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    • Mariah, wow, a lot from you all at once, in multiple places! The faith thing is so key… because they aren’t placing their faith in god, but in the intermediaries. Faith in the apologists. Faith in the biblical storytellers. All that comes before faith in Jesus. Its an onion of apathy.

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  8. Christians revising early American history. I particularly like the part where Admiral Washington parted the Mississippi and led the slaves out of Nevada.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. ” As ignorance was its Mother and the source-spring of its world power, it is bound to cherish ignorance as its patron saint and monitor forever, for the breath of knowledge would wither it away. “

    Alvin Boyd Kuhn on the Christian Religion

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  10. Matt, you are very welcome. Have you read any of Kuhn’s books ? Quite an interesting fellow. Though he died in 1963 , he was cutting edge on a lot of his writings. My first and favorite book of his where I got this quote is, “Shadow of the Third Century: A Revaluation of Christianity “

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