In Defense of a Thoroughly Secular New Year

“Christianity is not too big to fail”

As of today, a fifth of the 21st century is now behind us. How are we doing? Does the famous Charles Dickens sentiment express how we feel these days? 

“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of light, it was the season of darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair.”

No, “age of wisdom” doesn’t sound right. Certainly there are reasons to suspect that foolishness and incredulity are in the ascendancy these days. Tom Rafferty, owner of the blog, Understand Reality Through Science, noted this week on Facebook, “Unless religion is marginalized, humanity will be up the roaring and rocky creek without a paddle.”



This echoes what John Loftus wrote in his 2011 anthology, The End of Christianity:


“When it comes to Christianity, two thousand years are enough. It’s time for this ancient myth to be laid to rest. This book calls for the same end of Christianity as the other religions we reject as dead to us.” 


And we hope that David Fitzgerald is right: “Christianity had a good long run, but it is not too big to fail.” (Jesus: Mything in Action, Volume 1)


John A. Haught recently reflected on his career as an investigative reporter (Why I couldn’t expose the biggest fraud):


“I realized that there is a clear pattern in all the reporting on religion: It’s fine for the media to reveal particular crimes within religion. It’s forbidden, though, to write that religion itself—worship based on supernatural gods, devils, heavens, hells, miracles, visions, prophecies, divine appearances and the like—is a glaring global fraud. Religion around the planet reaps untold amounts of tax-exempt dollars for magic tales, but mustn’t be criticized.


“There is plenty wrong with holy faith. It’s a system of lies. To assert that magical spirits watch people and burn them in fiery hell after death is an obvious falsehood to any thinking, educated person. Ditto for the rest of biblical supernaturalism.


“…religion has been deeply entrenched in virtually all cultures for millennia. In the past, anyone who ‘blasphemed’ the holies could be put to death. Religion became untouchable. But there’s little reason to continue this taboo in modern secular democracies, where supernatural faith is fizzling.”


“…there’s little reason to continue this taboo…”


The taboo must be swept away because of the danger posed by religion. In his Facebook post, Tom Rafferty also quoted Frank Schaeffer: 


“…a group of Americans might as well be actively working to destroy the world. The USA can't be governed with this population. They are called White evangelicals. They gave America Trump, death and dishonor. They destroyed the Republican Party. We have no future until we honestly deal with what they did to America and how to stop it happening again.”


This is harm on a serious scale, but there is damage wherever magical thinking prevails. Just this week, Hemant Mehta posted this headline, Martha’s Vineyard COVID Outbreak Linked to Christians Trusting Jesus Over Masks. The Reverend Dan Davey led a Bible study group—no masks required—resulting in the spread of COVID. He claimed that the science on wearing masks was “inexact.” “But I live my life, frankly, that God’s going to take care of me regardless. There were a lot of other viruses before COVID-19 came along, and I’m sure there’s more to come.”


And just why would his caring god allow that?


Mehta’s retort: “Jesus Christ, these people… Does he not realize that many of the 330,000 dead Americans were Christians who believed in his God? They died. Jesus didn’t help them. I guess he thinks none of them were truly devout.”


The Evangelical push for theocracy in America, and many churches leading the way in COVID denialism come to mind especially as we wonder what fresh hells await us in 2021. We would welcome a thoroughly secular New Year; atheists, humanists, and secularists need continual coaching, constant reminders, that religion is a threat to humanity. So here’s some homework: I highly recommend Richard Carrier’s slam-dunk statement of this truth, his long article, What’s the Harm? Why Religious Belief Is Always Bad, published 10 September 2018. Save the link to for easy reference, and spread it around.


Here’s the introduction:

“I’m often asked, ‘Christianity doesn’t really hurt anyone. Why is it so important? Just let people believe what they want. At least in religion. Why should we bother critiquing and opposing belief?’ 

“In some cases the question is terribly naive. In others, it’s meant to refer not to conservative and fundamentalist religion—whose dangers to society and to every individual, both within and without the faith, are countless and well documented—but to liberal theologies, so-called ‘safe’ religions, that don’t appear to cause any overt harm. So here is how you can reply to this question, depending on which group you are getting it from—those so naive they don’t even know the dangers that conservative theologies pose, and those savvy enough to get that much, but who still don’t see what the harm is (for instance) in just believing you’re immortal and have an imaginary friend.” 

Many of us remember Nancy Reagan consulting astrologers to help guide her husband’s presidency. Yes, astonishingly stupid. But how does that differ from getting guidance from gods? In our society that is taken for granted…well, getting guidance from one god in particular—you know, the one with hundreds of thousands of shrines throughout America’s towns and cities. Christian superstition is just as faulty as the astrology superstition, as Sam Harris once observed:

“The president of the United States has claimed, on more than one occasion, to be in dialogue with God. If he said that he was talking to God through his hairdryer, this would precipitate a national emergency. I fail to see how the addition of a hairdryer makes the claim more ridiculous or offensive.”

Hence, one of Carrier’s statements:


“False beliefs lead to bad decisions. And that can be dangerous on a mass scale. Paradigmatic examples: the Catholic Church is an international rape factory; a majority of Evangelicals are perpetually pushing for war, the expansion of poverty, and the suppression of women’s autonomy; and Donald Trump is President. But just in case a few examples aren’t enough to make the point clear, let me give you a slightly expanded tour of the horrors of religious belief.”


And that is what Carrier does in the remainder of the essay, critiquing moderate and liberal religion as well as fundamentalism. He includes many links to other resources, including Valerie Tarico’s 6 Reasons Religion May Do More Harm Than Good.  Carrier provides a summary of her points: 

·       Religion promotes tribalism. [Believers vs. unbelievers, saved vs. unsaved.]

·       Religion anchors believers to the Iron Age. [Through still-revered scriptures.]

·       Religion makes a virtue out of faith [Promoting faith-based epistemologies and over-trusting the clerical and the pious.]

·       Religion diverts generous impulses and good intentions. [Enabling exploitative enterprises and institutions; draining resources from where they’d be better spent.]

·       Religion teaches helplessness. [“Jesus take the wheel”; “Let go and let God”; “God will sort it out”; “God has his reasons”.]

·       Religions seek power. [Churches are literally just untaxed corporations. With less oversight. Think about it.]

Our religious friends and neighbors may protest that religions do produce good results: just think, for example, of the thousands of good deeds that Christians do every day; just think of the charitable work that churches do. But non-believing people also do thousands of good deeds every day. Empathy is required for that to happen, not piety. And Carrier points out that churches become power structures capable of evil—with the laity turning blind eyes:

“In actual fact the Catholic Church is an international rape factory. And has been for decades; possibly untold centuries. Religious belief not only allowed that to happen, it is still allowing it to happen, as believers refuse to leave the church, refusing to effect any substantive reform that would prevent it, refusing to find a less deadly and destructive religion to believe in and support.” 

And churches are responsible for the hype about Jesus, which is not justified by a careful reading of the gospels; bear in mind that Carrier is one of the top Jesus scholars of our time:

“…the character of Jesus in the Gospels was not the wisest and kindest of beings—he is actually quite loathsome and rarely gives anything but really bad advice … the rest of the New Testament isn’t all that great—it’s full of support for slavery and the subordination of women and superstitious woo nonsense; and never endorses democracy, human rights, or positive sexuality.” 

The “superstitious woo nonsense” includes the theobabble peddled by the apostle Paul. I’ve just launched a new series of videos on my YouTube Channel: Please STOP Calling him “saint” Paul.” 

There are so many resources now to advance the cause of secularism—for the New Year and all the years to come. The Loftus books are crucial; check out his Amazon Author Page for all the titles. These explain, in detail, the falsification of Christianity. He’s so right, as many other serious thinkers agree: “When it comes to Christianity, two thousand years are enough. It’s time for this ancient myth to be laid to rest.”


David Madison was a pastor in the Methodist Church for nine years, and has a PhD in Biblical Studies from Boston University. His book, Ten Tough Problems in Christian Thought and Belief: a Minister-Turned-Atheist Shows Why You Should Ditch the Faith, was published by Tellectual Press in 2016. It was reissued in 2018 with a new Foreword by John Loftus.


The Cure-for-Christianity Library©, now with more than 400 titles, is here. A brief video explanation of the Library is here.