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Tuesday, July 24, 2007
(1:38 PM) | Stephen:
Keeping Faith Through Unbelief

William Lobdell just wrote an article about his journey toward and away from faith. After a conversion experience, Lobdell sought a position as a religion writer for the LA Times, actively lobbying the editors. He wanted religion coverage to be better, more honest, more accurate.

He wrote about some great stories of faith and the faithful. Then the child abuse scandals of the Roman Catholic Church started to really pick up steam, and he watched as the leaders of the church he was studying to join covered abuse up, how they defended confessed child molesters, how they and regular church members blamed the victims, even cursed the victims to their faces.

Lobdell started to look at Trinity Broadcasting Network and the obscenely lavish lifestyle of Paul and Jan Crouch and Benny Hinn, at the way people were making dangerous medical decisions because Hinn told them to, yet were not healed like he promised.

He went to a conference for ex-Mormons and heard their stories of rejection from their families. He sat in a courtroom and watched a Roman Catholic priest and his church-financed, very expensive, lawyer argue that he shouldn't be required to pay more child support for his illegitimate son, because he had "taken a vow of poverty." And the child's mother, who couldn't afford a lawyer and so represented herself of course lost, consoling herself with only the fact that at least she stood up for herself and her son. The extra child support, by the way, was to pay for doctors and medicine for the child. When the priest's lawyer found out that a journalist was present, she ran, literally ran, back into the courtroom to try and get an order to seal the proceedings.

The upshot of all of these experiences is that Lobdell now finds it impossible to believe in God. And even after he started to have doubts and struggles, he still pursued God. It's a heartwrenching story.

And I can't blame him. The more I see of the Church, the more I wonder if atheism isn't actually a reasonable way to honor God. To refuse to believe in the god of Paul Crouch, Benny Hinn and James Dobson is certainly no sin. Nor would it be a requirement to then believe in some other god, some other vision, because let's face it: the preponderance of evidence points to the idea that the god of Benny Hinn and Archbishop Cardinal Law is a huge asshole, and that it's better to just not believe than to try and redeem him.

Again, that others - me, for example - believe in a God that's nothing like their god really doesn't mean much, at least until the God in which I believe becomes the real object of Christian belief.

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