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Web Letter

Wow, what a searing indictment of Christianity. It sounds as if all Christians are bloodthirsty, hating mongers. It's unfortunate that you choose to exemplify the religion of Love with people who claim the religion but do not live it. Jesus said many people would call to him and he would not recognize them. People who commit actions in the name of Christ do not necessarily represent Christ's teachings.

If a person claiming to be a Christian doesn't understand Christianity and behaves in a non-Christian manner, you can blame the person, not the religion that teaches us to love our brothers. That, at least, is what you tell us is true of Islam. We are supposed to blame the fanatical individuals, not the religion for their actions of hate.

There are many different interpretations of Christianity and many people who knowingly misrepresent Christianity in order to further their own selfish ends. That doesn't make them Christians. Why don't you cite those people who sacrifice for the good of others and work to help people because they are filled with the Love of Christ? Because you choose to misrepresent Christianity.

Tory Spurgin

New Plymouth, ID

Oct 7 2009 - 6:14am

Web Letter

Yup, as a 72-year-old Catholic, I agree. Christianity lost its "raison d'être the moment it was taken over by the state, the Roman empire. The false Polaroid images of the blond blue eyed Jesus of Nazareth hanging on the cross and the false piety of the cute little altarboy serving at the Latin mass still haunt my nightmares. Christianity stopped being the valid spokesman for the common man and the downtrodden the moment it crawled out of the catacombs and became the tool used by the state to recruit legions for its wars. In spite of the few feeble attempts by people like Luther, most other splinter groups simply tried to outdo the previous one they were part of. I have read the Bible twice cover to cover and the God of the old and the Jesus of the new testaments look nothing like what modern-day religion claims.

It is truly strange that the religions who are so fond of quoting the Good Samaritan story are those that would leave the wounded and robbed man by the wayside to die--as a matter of fact they are the robbers, note the debate on healthcare. They would have a women carry a dead fetus to term and require that she go back to covering her head at church. These are the same neanderthals who would have stoned Mary. What was it that President Obama said during the campaign, "In hard times they cling to their guns and their religion." Well, what do ya know? And as one who belongs to the Wal-Mart economy, my little brain-dead group is trying to destroy the one man who is trying to help. Sad frigging lot of ungrateful bigots aren't we, sir?

James L. Pinette

Caribou, ME

Sep 27 2009 - 3:49pm

Web Letter

Do you remember The Joker in The Dark Knight? He always had a new story to explain his behavior. There was the drunkard dad story, then the horrible girlfriend. It probably struck more than one of us that the cause may have been way simpler: some people just want to burn the world.

I'm not trying to minimize the impact of one's upbringing, yet, to attribute everything to that is also a little bit crazy-making, and unfortunately is the hidden fear for a lot of fundie Christians--somehow if I don't do this absolutely perfectly, my child will be ruined.

I know that this is not a popular idea, but some people are just going to struggle. Call it an unfortunate coincidence of genetics and environment or brain chemistry, I don't know. But, schizophrenia starts in adolescence, which seemed to be about the time that this young man began to have more serious difficulties and impairments in his thinking. Did his home life make it worse? There's no way of knowing. The article does mention that his parents had him taking some sort of drugs, so it seems that they were perhaps far more open than some fundies that I have known where that would be completely unacceptable. What I'm also guessing is that somewhere, somehow he had been diagnosed with something. And like many people with mental disorders, he couldn't see it.

I think what is the most sad thing about this article is that a very troubled young man is being used to make a political point, rather than as a point of understanding. Perhaps overly religious parents would be best helped in their desire to do the best for their children by understanding that for some, those very efforts may only exacerbate an underlying condition, rather than obliterating it.

Janet Gilroy

Fairfax, VA

Sep 26 2009 - 6:52pm

Web Letter

Please have the editor who wrote or approved the title, "The Nightmare of Christianity," explain himself. It is so patently offensive, I can't imagine what he was thinking.

(Sorry for the non-inclusive language. I know it might cause readers of The Nation to have a fit of apoplexy).

Mark Trimble

Atlanta, GA

Sep 25 2009 - 6:33pm

Web Letter

All of you are missing the point. The point is that innocent people were murdered. Whether Murray was psychotic, satanic, rebellious or anything else is irrevelant--especially to the victims' loved ones.

You are all so focused on your respective agendas that you fail to see one vital point: Blumenthal is effectively excusing murder because of Murray's backround. How many people have grown up in conservative Christian homes, rejected their faith and not murdered anybody?

If Murray's family and church did not instill the idea that murder is against the Ten Commandments, and that God hates the shedding of innocent blood, then they have failed miserably. Anything else is irrelevant. The Christians here should realize that.

The secularists and atheists also should realize that if you are so willing to ignore murder just to take swipes at a religion that you don't like, then you are as morally twisted as Murray was.

Joseph D'Hippolito

Fullerton, CA

Sep 25 2009 - 1:10am

Web Letter

Max Blumenthal is right on the money. After reading through some of these letters I can't believe just how in denial some of these people are.

Here is another tortured soul, product of this Christianity, which truly is a nightmare. I carry deep resentment toward my mother, because a parental unit that fed and clothed me up until I left for college was all she ever was to me. My mother is a cold, unfeeling robot, and all her life, it seems her whole mission for me and my sisters was to "make sure we were saved."

I have never had any kind of meaningful conversation with my mother. Whenever I call her, she doesn't care how I'm doing, whether I've been sick, what new developments have happened at my job; all she cares is whether I still "believe in Jesus" or not. Beyond that, she couldn't give a damn. I have a living, breathing person who gave me birth to call me mother. But really, did I ever have one?

Up until the sixth grade I had been going to public schools, but I had always gone to church, and I too was indoctrinated with the idea that everything in the world is evil. I couldn't listen to secular music, and what I watched on TV was extremely monitored. The church I went to was that kind of church that always had to have everyone mind-controlled; those who disagreed in any way with the "elders" were dismissed as "demon-possessed." How convenient!

So my mother's church decided to start up a Christian school. One of those ACE, School of Tomorrow "schools," which basically consist of reading books where you fill in the blanks, peppered with having to learn religious scripture. It was good for the first couple of years, but then, little by little the school took a turn for the worst.

There was less and less recreation, and more and more prayer sessions. The pastor, who also doubled as the principal, began to impose all kinds of crazy rules and regulations. Parents were to makes sure children weren't listening to secular music or listening to the radio without parents there. At one point they were requiring to have TVs thrown out, and elders would come to your house to makes sure this happened. If a kid was found out to have possesed a secular CD, he would be ridiculed in front of the entire school.

One time, a boy and a girl were discovered somewhere holding hands. The entire school was called to the spot like an assembly, and the boy and girl were chastised and ridiculed for allowing "carnal thoughts" to move in. So during our breaks, we'd be heavily supervised.

But all that strictness was just a farce! For the school was corrupt as ever. I wondered why some kids got further a long all of a sudden; turns out the children's parents were in cahoots with the pastor. I had grown up in the church, so I knew what families rubbed elbows with the pastor, and I thought it was a bit of a coincidence that these kids had such an easy time in school. Others who weren't so lucky were always being given "demerits" for any infraction. Anyone who complained or had something to say that was against whatever was being imposed was said to be "possessed" and in need of prayer.

But really, what was happening in my school was happening on a grander scale in the church; the church was made such that anyone who had something opposing to say was "possessed" and would be ridiculed and pointed out in the middle of service. Sometimes, the pastor would immediately call for the entire congregation to surround someone to "pray the demon out."

It never happened to me, but I was always afraid of being accused of something. I wouldn't want to be caught as one who was "possessed," but it always irritated me that the pastors and supervisors always had something to say to me, and not others who were actually doing nasty things like cheating in their score sheets. (In the ACE system, children do their work and "score" it--correct it--with answer books that were available to anyone.) I was told "you worry about yourself." But if any of the favorite select kids pointed a finger, that was grounds for immediate scrutiny.

By my fourth year, I had had enough. It was a complete mindf___ to be in such an environment. I watched as some kids got kicked out of school (it turns out their parents weren't walking right with the Lord...), others got spanked for quite trivial things and others were humiliated being "prayed for" because they had an evil demon inside.

One day, I wasn't going to take it. Before the end of class every day, we have to stand up and bow our heads in prayer before being dismissed. Apparently, I didn't look "solemn" enough, and my supervisor (the pastor's son, who could basically get away with everything) insisted I stay behind and pray with "real penitence." I blew up at him. I don't remember what array of attrocities I yelled, but I told him I was never going to do what he told me ever again. I stormed out of there and ran as fast as I could and I took a public bus home. I told my parents that I don't know what they had to do, but I was never going to go back to that school again.

My mother told me I had to go back, but, for once, my father put his foot down, and we immediately started looking at "what public schools weren't so bad," much to my mother's dismay.

What kind of person would I have grown up to be if I stayed behind? I'm not sure I would have ever gone off to college; at that church, they teach you that the best education you should search out was the local junior college. Lucky for people at that church, a California State University had been newly instituted nearby; otherwise, they wouldn't have a chance. It was at the public school that I went to that they started gearing me towards broadening my horizons. My mother would not believe I was leaving home for college up to the very day I left.

On that day, a teacher and mentor of mine had personally agreed to pick me up in the morning and take me to my new educational institution three hours away. My mother was devastated; she tried to get quite a few people from the church to convince me that I didn't want to go out into the world that would "corrupt" me, but failed.

Since, I have seen other families collapse; two friends of mine who were home-schooled all the way up through highschool have been kicked out of their house and disowned by their family. The oldest turned out to be gay--a furry gay, mind you--and the other one was getting married to someone the family didn't approve of. My friends tell me that before he was kicked out, their mother told the eldest that he was possessed by an evil gay spirit, and tried to pray for him. That was the last they ever saw of her.

Another friend of mine, possibly the closest friend I ever had in my life, his mother was kicked out of the church for insubbordination. At the time, his two other siblings were attending that same Christian school, and when she tried to take them to school, one of the "elders," one whom I thought was supposed to be not so corrupt and more friendly, blocked them from coming.

And horror stories from that church-school still abound. Children being kicked out because they were "not right with the Lord" or "bad influences" on others. One of my friends is now in a mental institution. His older brother used to be one of those "model Christian youth" the elders would praise as the "ideal Christian." That church collapsed not so long ago, and today, without that system of praise and glory, that self-same young man is a pariah. He acts as if he's Jesus incarnate and can do no wrong, so nobody wants to be around him. Christanity does make people crazy, and I'm sure that had I not stood up for myself that day, I too would have ended up in similar situation.

Christianity is more than just a nightmare, it's a poison. I know quite a few Christians who share that sentiment of "Islam is evil because it subjigates women and causes wars; your family members can kill you if you're being unfaithful to Islam, etc., etc., etc." But they don't take a look in the mirror and realize just how screwed up Christianity in our own country is. Christainity is as bad as Islam, and groups like New Life Church are the American Taliban.

Murray was a product of this abject humiliation and mind control. I can't believe the attempts on here at circumventing. It can't be this system's screwed up absolute submission, it has to be "possession" or "mental illness." These people make me sick. Christanity is sick. It teaches people to cover up everything and keep up appearances. Time after time, these big-time "flock" owners turn out to be corrupt. It's all a farce.

It all really is a big lie. I feel sorry for the children that have to grow up in this system their parents are making them live through. As long as it continues, the mass murders committed by these poor disgruntled souls will continue.

Joe Cortez

Salinas, CA

Sep 23 2009 - 5:19pm

Web Letter

I love the Internet. It's improved almost every aspect of life. Well, almost. Journalism is the exception. No longer is journalism held to the lofty standards of the past. Its about page views and click thrus. This has led to an unfortunate tendency throughout the field of journalism, and it can be defined best by the vocabulary of the Internet. The word/concept is "trolling".

"Trolling" here relates to the sport of fishing. You stick some bait on a hook, and you attempt to reel in the suckers. The bait on the Internet is outrage. A journalist can write a wonderful article and elicit very few remarks or page views. The reader reads the article is satisfied and leaves. Outrage, though, elicits something far different. Outrage leads to comments, and the return views to see who else has commented on the comments. On and on it goes, to the delight of online advertisers. No longer do most journalists strive to educate or accurately report. They simply attempt to elicit outrage.

Max Blumenthal is a troller. However, Max is a special breed of troller. If there is such a thing as the beautiful fly-fishing troller who has mastered the art in creative and compelling ways, Max is his counterpart: the guy with a can of worms fishing for carp. Max has found the lowest of the low-hanging fruit (outside the world of sports) on which to build his reputation: religion. Religious zealots possess the things required to be easily trolled, fervor and passion. Unfortunately for the whole of what is a beautiful and complex faith, the hard-line right is the most vocal, the most publicly passionate and the least knowledgeable on the matter of Christianity. They are the carp of the fishing lake. If an author can get decent platform on which to mock the right, he is guaranteed a million page views and hundreds of comments, no matter how lousy the writing, shoddy the research or sloppy the presentation.

Blumenthal is joined the ranks of Richard Dawkins and Christopher Hitchens in attempting to garner notoriety and, more important, wealth by plucking this lowest of low-hanging fruit. Yes, it works, but so does toilet paper. What's more troubling on the matter is that there used to be a time when the critics of religion were educated enough on the matter to have a less vitriolic discussion. More important, they cared enough about finding the truth to seek out the most educated of religious circles. It wasn't about money, it was about truth. Blumenthal, like Hitchens and Dawkins, have become what they hate. They've become the goofy bumper-sticker vendors for atheists. The sad thing that they are celebrated for it and the truth, the high-hanging fruit, may never be tasted again.

Shame on The Nation for stooping to this level. Shame on me for commenting on it.

Daniel Muller

Raleigh, NC

Sep 23 2009 - 1:36pm

Web Letter

I would like to hear the parents' side of this story. "The first to present his case seems right, till another comes forward and questions him." Proverbs 18:17

David Sulzbach

Renton, WA

Sep 23 2009 - 12:54pm

Web Letter

One case of mass murder by someone brought up in a certain religion mkes for an "absolutely damning indictment of its ideology"?

I wonder if the author would apply the same standard to other religions. For example, Islam.

Shlomo Katz

St. Louis, MO

Sep 23 2009 - 10:57am

Web Letter

I see this article as highlighting the extremes in one young man's life: the harmful religious fanaticism of his youth and his reactionary plunge into self-loathing/satanism/hedonism. I do not believe this article is meant to impugn all forms of religious worship, but it does highlight the harm that can result from certain extreme forms of religious fundamentalism, which is not the norm for many Christians.

The moral of this story is best summed up by the old saying: "Everything in moderation."

Phil Tate

Puyallup, WA

Sep 23 2009 - 10:40am

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