What If An Evangelical Fundamentalist Christian Pastor Said Something Stupid?

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You are not going to believe this, but an evangelical fundamentalist Christian pastor recently said something stupid. Shocked, aren't you? Who was it? I'm not sure it matters. But what did they say? Again, I'm not sure it matters. Ask yourself the following question: Is there anything a Christian pastor could say that would be so stupid you would be shocked to learn that they said it? No, I didn't think so.

Atheists who write blogs or are otherwise active online love to share stories of evangelical fundamentalist Christians saying stupid things. I suspect we've all done it many times. I know I have. There are probably at least a few good arguments for doing so, but I can't help wondering whether it really has the kind of impact we wish it had. I'd be surprised if it has much of an effect on evangelical fundamentalist Christians. They'll just dismiss it as unfair or out-of-context even when it isn't.

I think it might have once had a positive effect on liberal to moderate Christians and atheists, but I am doubtful that it still does. After all, how many things have the same impact after they've happened well over a thousand times? We habituate to hearing the same news over and over again, and once shocking statements no longer surprise us. Repeated enough times, they may even become what we expect to hear from evangelical fundamentalist Christians. Once that happens, it seems unlikely that hearing the next stupid statement will affect us the way the first few did.

Over a decade ago, I can remember being curious and even puzzled when I'd encounter Christians condemning someone for having "teh gay." Now I am surprised when they don't. Over a decade ago, I considered it newsworthy (or at least post-worthy) when some high-profile Christian would take to the airwaves to claim that some sort of god was using the weather to punish sinners and "sodomites." I consider it the norm these days. Unless they are really ranting about "fornicators," which I love for some reason, it barely registers. It is just more of the same drivel.

I think we atheists continue to promote these stories online because we imagine that doing so will contribute to the erosion of religious belief. But does it? And if so, how does it do so? My guess is that it is not nearly as effective as sharing stories of Christian wrongdoing. Even if we imagine a Christian pastor saying the most absurd or despicable thing we can think of, does it really surprise us or anyone else? And if our audience includes Christians, can we be surprised when they easily dismiss it as not applying to them or their pastor? By now, they've been inoculated against that sort of thing.

I'm not suggesting atheists refrain from sharing these stories. As I noted above, there may well be some good reasons for doing so. Simply finding them entertaining could be one such reason. Good entertainment isn't easy to find, and it is worth something. I'm just not sure these stories have the effect some of us wish they had. But hopefully I am wrong about that. Maybe they really are taking the air out of Christianity. What do you think?