March 20, 2009

Baptist Pastor Caught Lying, Impersonating Atheists

How to Know when Someone's LyingImage by ATENCION: via Flickr

If I have anything to say about it, the story of a Baptist pastor impersonating atheists on various blogs in a desperate attempt to confirm bigoted stereotypes will sweep the atheist blogosphere and perhaps extend beyond our little niche. This is an intriguing tale that deserves to be widely read. I only wish I could take credit for writing it, but credit goes to Daniel Florien of Unreasonable Faith for breaking this one wide open.

Daniel's post, "Pastor Gets Caught Lying for Jesus," contains a number of important lessons for Christians and atheists alike. I simply cannot resist highlighting one here. Contrary to popular stereotypes, it appears that atheists are such decent people that someone trying to demonize them has to resort to lies and deceit to do so.

Pastor Chris Fox of Kendalls Baptist Church in New London, NC, was caught impersonating atheists in comments he left on Unreasonable Faith. Here is an example of one of his comments, and you can see for yourself what he was hoping to accomplish:
What’s wrong with killing babies? I see no problem with it. I have enough mouths to feed. I don’t get the argument and I am an atheist. Since I don’t believe in God, I don’t believe in anything characterized as good, bad / right, wrong. So, what’s the big deal?
My guess is that Pastor Fox was hoping for one of two things here. Either someone would agree with him, confirming his stereotypes and allowing him to run back to his superstitious flock and loudly proclaim they were all true, or nobody would take the bait in which case he could still return to his flock in victory by claiming that someone other than himself had left the comments he wrote.

So Daniel and some of his readers became suspicious, and Daniel did a bit of detective work. He soon discovered that Pastor Fox had been doing this under a variety of handles, giving the impression that multiple atheists held these views.

What Pastor Fox probably did not count on was that Daniel was able to learn his identity and reveal it to all. Best of all, Pastor Fox apologized for Daniel's reaction but not for his own behavior. Well, at least he's had many excellent role models in the non-apology apology!

It seems fairly clear that Pastor Fox is confused. After he was caught lying, he insisted,
I am in no way a fundie or extremist. Like you I believe in thinking, searching, asking questions, and hearing others from outside my box. I thank you for your allowing various opinions and sides to share.
Well, Pastor, you may call yourself whatever you like, but this does not change what you tried to pull. That you do not seem to find anything particularly wrong with your behavior speaks volumes about your character. I'm not even going to say that you reflect badly on Christianity because most Christians I've had the pleasure of knowing would never dream of stooping so low. You should be ashamed.

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