God Has Laid It
Upon My Heart
To Pray For You
Don Myers

From: Don Myers
To: Positive Atheism
Sent: Sunday, July 22, 2001
Subject: PAM, via the Positive Atheism Index

I am a Christian and God has laid it upon my heart to pray for you.

That I will do.

God Bless....

Graphic Rule
Revised, October 31, 2009

From: "Positive Atheism Magazine"
To: "Don Myers"
Subject: PAM, via the Positive Atheism Index
Date: August 10, 2001

I am a Christian and God has laid it upon my heart to pray for you. This I will do.

That you would pray for me doesn't bother me at all. I wouldn't care even if prayer had the power to accomplish anything (which it doesn't outside the mind of the one doing the praying).

What concerns me is that you'd inform me that you are doing this. It almost sounds as if you are in some way superior to me, that you're somehow trying to tell me that I ought to get my act together (or something along those lines).

If so, why do you think this way? What is it about me that you would take it upon yourself to try to straighten me out? -- or, what do you have that you feel justified in suggesting that I need to get with the program (as they say)?

Finally, I'm sorry you don't believe in the god-man deity of the New Testament, who is widely supposed to have said something that I find quite profound, something with which I wholeheartedly concur:

[1] Take heed that ye do not your alms before men, to be seen of them: otherwise ye have no reward of your Father which is in heaven.
[2] Therefore when thou doest thine alms, do not sound a trumpet before thee, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, that they may have glory of men. Verily I say unto you, They have their reward.
[3] But when thou doest alms, let not thy left hand know what thy right hand doeth:
[4] That thine alms may be in secret: and thy Father which seeth in secret himself shall reward thee openly.
[5] And when thou prayest, thou shalt not be as the hypocrites are: for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and in the corners of the streets, that they may be seen of men. Verily I say unto you, They have their reward.
[6] But thou, when thou prayest, enter into thy closet, and when thou hast shut thy door, pray to thy Father which is in secret; and thy Father which seeth in secret shall reward thee openly.

This god-man seems to suggest that we do good simply for the sake of doing good -- or, at minimum, doing good for self-serving reasons, such as obtaining the comforts of a blissful afterlife or avoiding the wailing and gnashing of charred teeth. Now, this latter example is not morality by any stretch, but if it accomplished the goal of making people act morally I would not be the most cacophonous objector you've ever heard, to be sure. Problem is, this method for trying to make people behave morally doesn't work all that effectively, as shown by any overview of the history of the Hebrew, Christian, and Islamic religions.

Most importantly, the New Testament deity here seems to renounce the notion of doing good as part of a larger marketing plan for religion. Personally, I find this motive for doing good works (charities, and the like) to bring more overall destruction than what little benefits the good works themselves bring forth. A few atheist organizations, particularly Atheist Centre, in Vijayawada, India, have erected vast charitable organizations with the motive being, in part, the ultimate propagandizing of atheism. These works put to shame the works attributed to Mother Teresa, to say nothing of the paltry hovels Mother Teresa actually erected with the millions that have been sent to her (but are now collecting dust and interest in huge bank accounts). In the United States, "doing good works for the Lord" has become such a lucrative industry that American legislators recently agreed to allow tax dollars to fund such big-money projects as feeding winos and junkies (although the winos and junkies must endure an hour-long Fundamentalist Christian sermon or participate in an hour-long Hare Krsna ant-dance and chanting extravaganza -- amidst elaborate gold-covered statues of Hindu deities -- before they are allowed to eat the food we bought for them through our tax dollars).

Organizing good-works projects in order to convince people that a certain ideology deserves credibility is, in my opinion, patently dishonest. To concur with a philosophical proposition simply because its proponents do good works is an insult to the very nature of philosophical discussion. I do not respect atheists who rejected their religion because, for example, the priest molested them. True, if an ideology purports to make people moral, then we legitimately examine the morals of the ideology's adherents; this is why we showcase the evil deeds of Christian moralists and others in our "Inevitable Apocalypso" section. But noting the behavior of a philosophical outlook's adherents is the wrong way to go about assessing the truthfulness or falsehood of that outlook.

The greatest crime in this respect, though, is the new practice of forcibly extracting money from taxpayers to fund these good-works projects. Then they announce to the targets, "See? Aren't these Christians wonderful, selfless people, who provided this food for you? Is not Christianity a good religious to turn people into such giving folks?" Before any readers accuse me of exaggerating, I've eaten many a meal at the various Christian "Rescue Mission" get-ups ("Rescue Mission" is the registered service mark of a large and powerful franchised chain of charitable front organizations which are little more than tax-funded Christian propaganda machines). Only one group during those times did not point out that the food came from kind-hearted Christians, giving in obedience to the gift of salvation that they themselves have received from Christ. That lone exception was the Roman Catholic Parish of Saint Francis that didn't make you listen to any propaganda -- except one guy who would stand up and remind us of the house rules.

While we laud the good works of our associates (indeed, our mentors) in Vijayawada and elsewhere, we at Positive Atheism Magazine shun the notion of doing good works with the ultimate motive of using those works as an advertisement for an ideology. We agree with Robert Green Ingersoll that all sects have pretty much the same distribution of morals among their respective memberships: a certain amount of good is represented in each ideological group as are a certain number of bad apples. Most of us are good people when things are going well for us, and many of us would compromise some of our morals if it meant, for example, the life of a child. Of course some ideologies advocate behavior that most of us consider wicked, and some ideological systems expose their members to exploitation while most systems incorporate various methods to protect the member from being taken advantage of. But over all, and for the most part, no ideological system can boast of having a clear advantage when it comes to teaching morals or anything else.

So, I am interested in knowing why it is that you'd send this particular message to me, that you are praying for me. Why am I in need of your prayers? Am I in some kind of trouble? And what qualifies you to determine that I am in need of these prayers? Are you somebody special? In other words, what's wrong with me living my own life and you minding your own business? Or are we not pretty much equal before the Cosmos (or whatever)?

Cliff Walker
Positive Atheism Magazine
Six years of service to
     people with no reason to believe

Graphic Rule

From: "Don Myers"
To: "Positive Atheism Magazine"
Sent: August 10, 2001
Subject: PAM, via the Positive Atheism Index

Cliff.... I did not realize I would touch such a chord. Please just forget about me and I will go my own way....

Best to you in the future.

Don

Graphic Rule

From: "Positive Atheism Magazine"
To: "Don Myers"
Subject: PAM, via the Positive Atheism Index
Date: August 10, 2001

Aw, don't go away mad!

(And keep in mind that we have an audience watching.)

But think about it: What would your response be were I a member of the majority and you, in the minority, still thought your position was valid, but every day people from the majority approached you and urged you to change your ways "for your own good" (etc)? How would you feel about this if you had been on the receiving end of the between-the-lines message you sent to me?

Cliff Walker
Positive Atheism Magazine
Six years of service to
     people with no reason to believe

Graphic Rule

Material by Cliff Walker (including unsigned editorial commentary) is copyright ©1995-2009 by Cliff Walker. Each submission is copyrighted by its writer, who retains control of the work except that by submitting it to Positive Atheism, permission has been granted to Positive Atheism to use the material or an edited version: (1) on the Positive Atheism web site; (2) in Positive Atheism Magazine; (3) in subsequent works controlled by Cliff Walker or Positive Atheism Magazine (including published or posted compilations). Excerpts not exceeding 500 words are allowed provided the proper copyright notice is affixed. Other use requires permission; Positive Atheism will work to protect the rights of all who submit their writings to us.