“We Christians out number you”: more venom from Lebanon

June 9, 2014 • 8:03 am

UPDATE: I’m adding one comment I found on Facebook’s “Standing strong with Kevin Lowery” page:

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It’s unbelievable: these people feel uncomfortable UNLESS God is mentioned constantly—and, in this case, illegally.  Sometimes I feel I’m living on a different planet from these people.


Here are a couple of comments from the Fox News story on Lebanon, Missouri’s praying-principal issue, “Missouri principal wows crowd, angers atheists with guarded ‘God’ references“.

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I love the last comment, with “god” in lower case. But there’s a reason why people like Davidd1975 are sometimes called “the Christian Taliban.” Imagine if they ran the country! Could we still drink and dance?

Refreshingly, though, there’s a lot of pro-secularism comments on that thread, which surprised me.

In the meantime, a few more students and residents of Lebanon have overcome their fears and written to me in support of the First Amendment and against the relentless proselytizing of Lebanon High School, its principal, and its supporters. I hope to publish the thoughts of these dissenters later today. But in the meantime, what started as a simple criticism of a legal violation has become, for me, a fascinating glimpse into a part of American society that is widespread, but one that I don’t often hear from. Fascinating, but scary.

138 thoughts on ““We Christians out number you”: more venom from Lebanon

  1. Somebody in the last few years had a great comment (I think it was Richard Dawkins or A.C. Grayling) to the effect: Yes these supposedly middle of the road Xians like to appear reasonable; but fear not, as soon as they get control, the bonfires will be lit again.

    With nuts like that commenter, can anyone doubt this?

  2. The fictitious zombie called Jesus has resulted in a large population of brainwashed, non-thinking zombies in the US.

    Too bad they can’t handle reality.

    1. Deos (Freudian Slit?) that explain the (to me) utterly incomprehensible American penchant for zombie movies? I mean, “ha ha silly idea, splatter move” is all very well and good, but can we move on now and have an interesting movie?

  3. I have a family member who watches nothing but Fox News. That network is a greater threat to our freedom than just about anything I can thing of. They distort, inflame and feed off the ignorance of the simple-minded, all in the name of ratings and the mighty dollar.

    1. Partisan networks are almost as bad as a state controlled one. There shouldn’t be a liberal or conservative news network but sadly there are.

      1. That has the state of media for most of the history of the USA. One went and bought Paper X because it provided the Whig perspective, or Paper Y because it provided the Democratic perspective. Only for a short while from around WW2 and for a few years after was the media relatively neutral.

  4. Another thought – cockroaches, insects and beetles far outnumber Christians and they have no religion, so therefore God loses.

      1. If they did, and they were in fact correct about it, I’m not sure that I’d like to meet their gods.

        1. Perhaps H.P. Lovecraft did … ?
          (Guilty admission : I’ve never read an H.P.Lovecraft book. Not because I couldn’t get a pirated one online, but because I’ve enough respect for the many people who consider him good to think buying a genuine edition to be worth the effort. But I’m trying to fight down the over-flowing piles on the bookshelf as it is. )

          1. May I permit you to assuage your guilt?

            Lovecraft’s works aren’t under copyright.

            And Ruth has been kind enough to collect everything he wrote into a single volume in each and every electronic book format I’ve heard of and some I haven’t:


            It’s well worth starting at the beginning rather than jumping to some favored volume. You not only get to see him grow as an author, you get to see the development of many of the themes which come to their fullest in the famous works.


      2. Sadly, it requries a sophisticated brain to be religious, to learn all those rituals and counterintuitive variants on ordinary human experience and knowledge.

        Just like the ability to do great good also seems to require the ability (in some sense) to great evil.

    1. At the risk of being a pedant, may I gently point out that cockroaches and beetles are insects? But “ants, beetles and cockroaches” should serve your purpose.

      1. JBS Haldane thought that the counter-idea was probably true, but he expressed no opinion (that I am aware of) on the preferences of beetles.

  5. I made the terrible mistake of clicking on the link and reading the comments. How utterly depressing.

    1. 🙂
      That’s amusing – I also like the “Jesus saves, but Moses pays interest” meme

        1. Wouldn’t Chthulu order you to make a nice sandwich, then give you bread and a knife?
          Or is that some other slobbering monstrosity form the pit?

    2. Funny. Most religious folk have no idea how little they have to be thankful for their god and yet the real debt they owe is to science. Put down those iPhones believers. In fact, save your money, cause Jesus will save you unambiguously.

  6. I renewed my FFRF membership yesterday. This kind of thing is all too common, and they go to bat for the Constitution all over “God’s Country”

    What would we do without them? The Christian Taliban has done enough damage already.

  7. It is always disheartening to read / hear somebody that is so clueless, and so blind to the irony of their statements. This is pre-Bronze Age thinking. More selfish than a one year old with a fistful of candy.

    1. The Bronze Age still exists in small towns throughout the Midwest. Whenever I return to visit relatives I scrunch down behind bushes to stay out of conversation with the locals.

    1. I doubt the principal will be fired. Less sure about the lawsuit. My feeling is that the FFRF would settle for an assurance from the administration that it won’t happen again, if the administration was willing to give it. Also, re: lawsuit, FFRF would have to find a student or attendee willing to be plaintiff. It sure seems from the letters Jerry and Hemant have gotten that FFRF could find soneone like that, however, it’s not guaranteed. There is a big difference between writing a letter expressing outrage and being willing to go to court over it.

      1. In past cases I believe students have been able to remain anonymous. They don’t actually need to go (physically) to court.

        1. Its still a lot of work they have to do, and some minimal risk they have to take. Not every offended student will be up for it.

      2. This isn’t the first time that it’s happened though, so my hope is that they won’t settle for assurances.

      3. As a Lebanite, I’ve heard that both the FFRF and ACLU are building cases, each with a different plaintiff.

        1. Let’s hope they’re paying attention to the posts by Lebanon-ites (Lebanese seems wrong). Stuff like David’s post make it obvious that the town understands Lowery’s speech to be endorsement.

              1. Any relation between Lebanites and a bucket of rocks is purely, uh, serendipitous.

  8. Could we still drink and dance?

    Men yes, women no. Actually, you can probably use that answer for any “can we…” question when the government is a fundamentalist christian theocracy.

  9. Although my views on religion are virtually the same as Jerry’s, Dawkins’, Dennett, etc., I grew up in a town much like Lebanon. None of this surprises me. What I’d stress is that there are a great many Lebanons across the country. Enough to elect US Senators in numerous states. We are up against a very powerful force here, not just a few nuts.

  10. Although my views on religion are virtually the same as Jerry’s, Dawkins’, Dennett, etc., I grew up in a town much like Lebanon. None of this surprises me. What I’d stress is that there are a great many Lebanons across the country. Enough to elect US Senators in numerous states. We are up against a very powerful force here, not just a few nuts.

  11. “…Imagine if they ran the country! Could we still drink and dance?”

    Not only that.

    An acquaintance of mine who teaches math (yes, math!) at a state college in the Midwestern U.S. had to accommodate a religious student who said his religion forbade him from doing any homework or answering any test questions when they used dice or playing cards to demonstrate probability.

    His religion was against him doing hypothetical math calculations using dice or playing cards.

    My friend was sympathetic to him (being a good Catholic too, and also being afraid for her job) –and so it came back to bite her in the butt: she had to spend 2 hrs. of her already precious time re-drafting “special edition” quizzes and homework for him.

      1. I kinda agree. I could grok a ‘no gambling’ religious proscription, but it seems silly to have a proscription against talking about certain types of random number generators.

      2. That is religion. People of faith honoring one another’s delusions to stymie the doubt that clouds every believer’s mind.

        1. And I happen to know that in at least one northern Chicago school district (which I presume is not alone), in the elementary and middle schools the teacher cannot arrange any birthday celebration or other celebration in the schoolroom until special arrangements have been made to take the Jehovah’s Witness students out of the room. (for those who don’t know, JW’s don’t believe in celebrations of any kind).

          Keeping track of all these special religious rules, and being concerned about making a mistake, must be an added burden on the teachers.

          1. We once had some distant neighbors who were Jehovah’s Witnesses. They said they did not have a TV, and yet I distinctly heard the movie Jurassic Park from the living room quite loudly. So much for will power.

              1. My brother had a classmate from an Exclusive Brethren family (1970s). The boy’s news one Monday was the family went to buy a new car, but they couldn’t bring it home yet as it had a radio. My brother asked why they couldn’t have a radio and the boy told him it was because god didn’t have a radio. My 7 yo brother’s response? “God doesn’t have a car either.” It’s a bit like those Amish who can drive, use machinery etc as long as they don’t actually own it. The hypocrisy never seems to faze them.

          2. My university has a written policy for students requesting time off, or an exam scheduling change, for religious reasons. And, right in my syllabus, I unambiguously state that I will adhere to the written policy rigidly; no exceptions if they do not follow the regulations. The administration backs their teachers. Of course, I’m in Southern California, not in Lebanon, Missouri…

        1. That’s no exaggeration. All the rituals, especially the ones that require exactly so many repetitions of this or that, are pure OCD encoded into religious law.


          1. Yep, and the Romans were the worst. If someone sneezed during a ritual, they had to start all over again.

  12. Davidd1975, that YHWH has a nickname of, “God,” no more means that he’s the one and only god than the fact that Bruce Springsteen has a nickname of, “Boss,” means that he’s the one who signs everybody’s paychecks.



    1. His preferred name is “Jealous.” (Exod. 34:14)

      There’s another way to settle this:
      Hey Christian, is yours the one true god?
      (Presumed answer: yes)
      Hey Muslim, is yours the one true god?
      (Presumed answer: yes)
      Well then, it must be the case that you both worship the same god.

      1. One of the hand grenades I occasionally toss into conversations, sans pin, is to refer to Muslims as the Mohammedian sept of Judaism.
        I do this with malice aforethought. and an exit route ahind-thwart.

    2. It was my dream as child to work against Boss Hogg, though I did not see myself as a fast-driving-hill-billy-Robin-Hood.


    We should never forget the fate of Jan Hus and Jerome of Prague whenever we wonder what would happen if Christians outnumbered us and came to power.

    Yes, let us never forget what happened at the Council of Constance (1414-1418). There were then three Catholic popes fighting for survival and supremacy. The king of Hungary, de facto the head of the Holy Roman Empire, called for a general Council of the bishops to convene in Konstanz in order to solve the issue of the papal schism.

    Jan Hus, of Prague,(1369-July 6, 1415) was the first European theologian who promoted the idea of a Reform of the Catholic Church, well ahead of Luther.
    He had been excommunicated, but was invited to come to the Council. The King guaranteed his immunity with a pass of safety. Hus, then 45 years old, left for Konstanz in Oct. 1414.
    Once at the Council, he was arrested, kept in jail, ordered to recant, and tried by the bishops. The bishops condemned him on July 6, 1415 to be burnt and led him to the stake.

    One of Hus’s followers, young Jerome of Prague, ten years younger, (1379 – May 30, 1416), had promised Hus to come to his assistance. He arrived in April 1415, but without a safe-conduct from the King. Realizing his folly, he fled, but was arrested, returned to Konstanz in May 1415, and remained imprisoned while Hus was being burnt at the stake. Jerome was tried, condemned on May 30, 1416, and burnt the same day.

    This is at heart, an intolerant religion, threatening non-believers with “burning by fire” with “weeping and gnashing of teeth”.

    Matthew expressed it most clearly in his famous Parable of the Weeds (13: 40-43, ESV):

    “40 Just as the weeds are gathered and burned with fire, so will it be at the end of the age. 41 The Son of Man will send his angels, and they will gather out of his kingdom all causes of sin and all law-breakers, 42 and throw them into the fiery furnace. In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth. 43 Then the righteous will shine like the sun in the kingdom of their Father.”

      1. The protestants were just as bad, even to each other. Calvinists had a great time burning Lutherans and vice versa.

    1. Well, yeah. Religious wars have done a fantastic job of depopulating large chunks of Europe at times, and these people wonder why much of the continent looks somewhat askance at extremism.

      The only things resembling holy wars committed in the USA’s recorded history have been against brown people so don’t count if you’re white.

      1. Many thanks for that. I’m very partial to Dvorak’s music, but somehow I’d never encountered that work before.

        1. I actually didn’t know about it, myself, until the Arizona Repertory Orchestra performed it last summer. I didn’t play that piece on the concert — we rotate parts, and I played other things instead of the Dvorak. But I did cover the parts in a rehearsal once or twice…fun stuff. Bruce Pulk, the principal timpanist of the Phoenix Symphony conducted it; he did an excellent job, as is his habit.


      2. Neither did I.
        I listened to it, trying to spot any bars alluding to Jan Hus’s arrest and stake burning.
        It does not have the open plains sweeping feeling of the 9th symphony, nor the shimmering quality of Rusalka.
        I must find some learned commentary on this overture, to check if there’s any implied reference to Hus’s story.

        1. I think you’ll find that one of the musical themes is very common in Czech music. Check out the end of the national opera “Libuse” (you’ll have to imagine the diacritical mark over the s) for another use.

              1. I cheated. Cut and paste from Wikipedia (since I needed to confirm which diacritic you were referring to anyway).

                But you can do it easily in iOS (if you select the right keyboard; e.g. Czech) or OS X: Hold down the [s] key and select from the contextual menu.


        2. The two major themes are traditional Czech tunes. The Hussite battle hymn (attributed to Hus himself, I think) “Ye Who Are God’s Warriors” represents the Hussites, and and older chorale, “St. Wenceslas” (no relation to the Christmas carol), the Catholics.

          You should be able to find more detailed program notes all over the Web, and I imagine the usual suspects (Grout and / or Palisca, etc.) should have even more.

          Or…I’m pretty sure you should be able to find Bruce Pulk’s email address. He’s the principal timpanist of the Phoenix Symphony, and he’s the one who conducted the Arizona Repertory Orchestra’s performance of it last summer. Tell him of your interest, and he’ll likely be able to get you his own extensive program notes.



  14. as re “Sometimes I feel I’m living on a different planet from these people:” =

    “these people” and any and all others like them = exactly the W.H.Y. for the percolating in my core – essence the hermitess / recluse persona, … … for my daily desire to be from them way, way … … away.


      1. ” … … since moving to the midwest” ?

        I am a Midwesterner. Almost all of my life.

        As too, my parents, the godless Iowa farmers that they .always. were. As are my three atheist adult children.

        ” ‘these people’ and any and all others like them ” exist and poison … … everywhere.

        Hence, a godless’s need to be reclusive.

        Out and gone.

  15. According to the Pew Research Center (via Wikipedia):

    Christians make up less than 32% of the world’s “religious” people. Therefore, if the “Christian” people of Lebanon think they are in the majority and have the right to dictate their religious beliefs to the rest of the world, they are simply wrong. Of course, the Supreme Court has clearly ruled that they would be wrong even if Christians made up 99.9% of the population, but that’s another story!

  16. Well if I understand the US constitution, and I believe I do, it’s all about protecting the majority from the tyranny of the minority!

    In God We Oppress.


  17. ah, “we Christians outnumber you”. A lovely claim that is shown to be a lie as soon as you ask a TrueChristian how he defines Christianity. Then the numbers dwindle rapidly as they decide that only themselves and those who believe exactly like they do qualify. Indeed, Christianity should be taken out of the list of the largest religions and shown to be the myriad of different faiths that it is.

  18. I do believe that a better term for the Christian Taliban is, most definitely:

    Y’all Qaeda

    P.S. Thanks Prof. C.C. for doing such a splendid job on this topic!

  19. My question to all these hateful people is: Why are you so dumb?

    It is utterly ironic that one of the tenets of Heyzeus was for his followers to spread the “good” word. With this kind of hate spewing forth like the toxic oil from the Deepwater Horizon well, how do they expect to spread their so-called goodness? Seems to me if someone who never heard about the “good” word listened to these folks, they would say “what a bunch of assholes! Keep them away!”

    “When the church is full it means you’ve just been had.”
    -Steven Wilson of Porcupine Tree

  20. As Jerry mentioned in one of these posts, this whole episode evokes images of Sinclair Lewis’s Main Street. I highly, highly recommend it for all who have not read it. Probably one of my top five favorite novels. Maybe you can give us your top five or ten novels, Jerry?

  21. She’s uncomfortable to not hear about her sky-fairy in speeches and announcements. So, she’s uncomfortable about not having control over what others say? Epic fail and back to kindergarten, child.

    1. I don’t know about you, but I don’t get lost in a sea of doubt and consternation if I don’t have passages of my favorite books read to me on a regular basis. “Oh, no! Someone read some Sam Harris to me right now or my head will cave in!” If she needs that much in the way of affirmation . . . maybe Jesus just isn’t working for her.

  22. It’s unbelievable: these people feel uncomfortable UNLESS God isn’t mentioned constantly, and illegally.

    I think you mean “UNLESS God is mentioned …”.

  23. Isn’t that great!? Christians want to include God in everything without shame, so everyone else can feel shameful about nearly everything they do! Hooray frustration, repression and guilt! In all seriousness, the lack of knowledge on the subject of separation of church and state is appalling.

  24. Sometimes I feel I’m living on a different planet from these people.

    You do : Planet Reality.
    As Douglas Adams once put it (approximately), in the metaphor of the Infinite Improbability Drive “Probability level 1 : 1. We have Reality. Anything you still can’t handle is your own problem.”

    But there’s a reason why people like Davidd1975 are sometimes called “the Christian Taliban.” Imagine if they ran the country! Could we still drink and dance?

    Sticking with the perceptive authors : Margaret Atwood ; Gideon ; enough said?

  25. Professor Coyne: This story and your posts are heartening reminders of our proud and courageous country-men and women that stand strong against a prolific drone-like community of goddies, which blanket and blight the American cultural landscape.

    This story also reminded me of a recent visit to a national park, where I passed by a high school graduation ceremony taking place in the park’s amphitheater. A school official – I don’t recall whether it was the principal – opened the commencement with a Christian prayer. This immediately struck me as a bold and illicit move, especially so, since I was at the Mount Rushmore National Memorial!

  26. That they “out number” the minorities and think that is enough is part of the problem of course. (Or perhaps all of it, besides the arrogance it has evolved into.)

    in lower case.

    In ekumenic circles, the different magic agencies are claimed to be the same, no matter what spelling. I think they should get their magic act together…

  27. It is quant to see the claim that all (?) US sects “fought for the right to practice our faith without restriction” (when?), yet the law of the land make it explicit that it is the private right to do so. No government endorsement, which is why Lowery knows he was opposing the law.

    “Freedom of religion, not from religion” is a deepity. If you push your faith on others (as opposed to, say, inform about it), you restrict their private right to practice their own faith in peace. And if you don’t push your faith on others, there is both freedom of religion and however much religion individuals want.

  28. I am curious as to why people with such strong religious convictions would send their children to a public school rather than a faith based school?
    Is cost a factor?
    In making that decision they should realise that the religious proselytizing is inappropriate in a public school.

  29. to borrow a page from george wallace …

    “As a matter of fact, we have never had a problem here in Lebanon except in a few very isolated instances and these have been the result of outside agitators.”

  30. Very belatedly to David: Christians are the dominant religion in the U.S. but not in the world where Christians are significantly outnumbered. There is no good reason for Christians in the U.S.to expect or require verbal or written reinforcement of their belief systems in the context of government financed venues. You are entitles to your beliefs and to free to talk about it but not to force it on others who are not of your religion.

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