Denouncing the Holy Spirit.

“Whoever blasphemes against the Holy Spirit will never be forgiven; he is guilty of an eternal sin.” [Mark 3:29]

Brad sent me a link today. It’s a story featuring an idea addressing a growing theme among Americans today: Atheism. The Rational Response Squad came up with a project called “The Blasphemy Challenge” where they challenged people to make videos of themselves denouncing the Holy Spirit and post them on YouTube. So far, there have been over 800 participants.

“We wanted to do it in such a way where we stripped the power from religious institutions that instill fear in people,” says Brian. “And we did that by blaspheming the Holy Spirit, by showing that we are not scared of this unforgivable sin.”

Of course, The Rational Response Squad has received hundreds of death threats, a tactic I have always found hilariously ironic coming from a Christian. Something very similar happen to Julia Sweeney after she wrote an article called “Letting Go of God.” She received so many death threats directed to both her and her child she was forced to take her Web site down. (Incidentally, if you haven’t heard this piece of writing, I highly recommend checking it out.) Still others believe that the group is denouncing hope, and a little hope never hurt anybody. Some believe that faith doesn’t need proof, nor does the existence of God.

I have written about this topic before. I wrote about it back in October of last year and if I remember correctly, it spawned quite the debate. I also received a few not so nice emails after the fact. I still can’t figure out why some Christians become so hateful when it comes to someone disagreeing with their religion. I know that most aren’t like this that it’s only the fundi weirdoes, but it still perplexes me. If they are true believers, if they know that God loves them, shouldn’t that belief be all that they need? Why do they care what some heathen believes, doesn’t believe, or says? I never quite understood that reaction. What is it they are so afraid of?

But I digress. You can read more about what The Rational Response Squad is up to by clicking here. I’m not sure how I feel about the whole thing. But Nico had a good point yesterday. She said, “I actually think the reasoning in this is a little weak. To say that you are blaspheme-ing (a word?) is to acknowledge is that there is a god to blaspheme. If you don’t believe in god you can’t believe in blasphemy itself. But whatever, I am verging into college stoner talk here. I know that is not the point.” Even if she does sound like a stoned college student, the gal’s got a point.

After having read the article, I think I am more pleased with the fact, based on the statistics quoted, that what I wrote back in October isn’t necessarily true, that an atheist isn’t necessarily seen as a second class citizen by those who are religious. I was even more intrigued to discover that there is now an atheists’ lobby in Washington, DC. (Admittedly, that city has an organization and/or lobby for nearly every group, thought, belief system, or plant under the sun. It’s true.) I think the “filler” material appealed to me more than the actual point of the interview.

How do you feel about The Rational Response? Me? I am not at all upset about their quest but you won’t be seeing a YouTube video of me denouncing God anytime soon. A post hinting to it? Perhaps. But for now I’m just here to question.


  1. I was going to edit the above post but instead I’ll leave it here.

    Lately, I have been wondering if it’s actually possible for someone raised with religion, to totally and completely live in a world without the idea of God. The book I’m reading has me contemplating this quite a bit, and then when Nico brought up the fact about blasphemy existing only to those who can actually blaspheme, it really stuck.

    When I was learning sign language, I asked a similar question, is it possible for someone who once heard to ever fully see sign without translating it into the way a word sounds. I still don’t have an answer to that one. And it’s impossible to ever prove.

    For those of us raised with God, is it possible to ever fully let go? For someone raised without it, God might not even enter their head. But for someone like myself who was raised with God, instead I might have to denounce the idea each time instead of simply just knowing God doesn’t exist.

    Are you once a religious person, always a religious person? As seen with addicts? Does one have to fight it for the rest of their lives should one decide to give it up?

    (Who sounds like the stoner now, folks?)


  2. i think its interesting in general that both sides are afraid to stand alone in their belief/non-belief. Many Christians as a group get uproared when the idea of God is put into question, and Non-believers need to define themselves with a title (Atheist) and, in this specific case, band together as a group in a ‘challenge’. Kinda the same thing when you think about it. For something that is incredibly individual and personal (one’s spirituality) it often manifests itself as quite the opposite.

    Perhaps reinforcing the terrifying human fear of being alone, either in this world or any other. (depending on what you believe, he he)


  3. i have to agree with stacey. is there a big difference between making a proclamation of faith and making a proclamation of non-faith?

    they say that their motivation is to “strip the power from religious institutions that instill fear in people”, right. i seriously doubt that any one of them truly believes that a christian will watch one of the youtube videos and think, “wow, they make a great point, i’m going to reevaluate my faith.” the idea behind the campaign is insulting, why should they expect anything but a negative response?

    in my mind, this whole thing is just another example of two belief-clubs starting shit with each other. just like catholics and protestants in ireland, sunni and shia in iraq, hindu and muslims in india… now christians and atheists on youtube.

    for pete’s sake, people. have a beer and fucking relax.


  4. Like I said in October, I don’t really think about religion or gods much until these discussions arise, and I’m happy with that. I don’t feel a need to act against religion or believers. If they leave me alone, I’ll leave them alone. So I think making a YouTube video to blaspheme the Holy Spirit, or piss on a Bible or whatever—it’s kinda stupid.

    I was a born-again Christian for several years. Went to church regularly, participated in Bible studies and prayer groups, prayed daily, studied the Bible, and even went to Daytona Beach at spring break (back when Daytona was the place to be) to preach on the beach.

    It’s all rather embarrassing to think about, but it’s all also firmly behind me. The only residue of it in my life is that I still like hymns and spirituals, especially when Johnny Cash is singing them.

    And I’ll admit that after I learned of Cash’s death, I played “Family Circle” and wept a little. Not because I myself believed that Johnny Cash was gathered around the throne of God with his family singing bass and tenor and whatnot, but because I knew HE believed it, and I hoped that belief gave him some comfort in his waning days.

    Beyond those old hymns, though, I’m happy to have left it all behind. So yeah, I think we can let go, if that’s what we want to do.


  5. I think the reason why you always see atheists and agnostics band together is because societies continually try to force the will of dominant religious groups on the rest.

    But I don’t like what these guys are doing. Its inflammatory, its not with tact. They’re targeting the catholics it seems too (or is that whole trinity dogma in other christiantities too ?). At best they’re anti-christian, they’re not pro-agnostic.

    Also, I ‘m an ardent atheist and I’ll deny the existance of the christian god without a second thought, and I’ll question the existance of a god in general easily. But the line that’s used in the videos “I deny jesus” – not a big fan of that. “I deny jesus being the son of god” or something , fine—but there’s overwhelming proof that there was a jesus and he was a nice guy.


  6. nervous and small February 1, 2007 at 2:18 pm

    As a fervently lapsed Catholic, with TWELVE years of Catholic education marinating my soul, I premotely telepathetically presupposed this, once I had seen the approval ratings of the amorphous Holy Spirit drop to twenty-eight percent, it lowest levels since the fourteenth century in the latest ecceciastical polls. Yes, the survey did recognize that the shaved vagina of Brittany Spears as image material is more “recognizble” than they recognized the “image” of the Holy Spirit, but with an approval rating of 28%, I blame the Holy Spirit itself, who refuses to get a true publicist of any kind, on theological grounds. Obviously, the Holy Spirit, in medieval Catholicsmspeak, is “so September 1399” atm. But that’s OK. According to Field Research conducted at the Vatican, in the fall of 1979, with 150 micrograms of LSD at my disposal and ten hours of free time on my hands, let me assure you that the Holy Spirit is alive and kicking. Hardcore.


  7. i think it’s just silly stupid….

    george carlin said….” i’d rather live my life accepting that there is a god to find out there isn’t than to live my life denying gos to find out there is.”


    maybe i should make a UTUBE video of myself denouncing the fact that i’m a man……. “i’m not a man, i’m not a man, i’m not a man!!!!” and hopefully it’ll make people aware of violence around the world. i’ll show them! hehehehegreg


  8. I think the pope is full of shit.


  9. There are extremists on all sides. Unfortunately they are the ones that make the headlines.

    On both sides of the issue: I enjoyed the remark given to George Carlin and Jonathan’s response to the whole matter.


  10. I wonder about if those of us raised with religion can ever fully let go, too. I attended Catholic schools for 12 years, but I am firm in my lack of belief in god. Sometimes I find my old Catholic biases come out. I still bristle at anti-Catholic sentiment, still seem to be pro-Catholic schools, etc. I’m not sure if I’ll ever get over that. Sometimes I think I’m like people who say they are ethnicly Jewish, but not religious. Can you be ‘ethnicly’ Catholic? Maybe I should call it culturally Catholic.

    I find The Rational Response a bit distasteful, and I think it’s because of my Catholic viewpoint. Even though I don’t believe in god, I know a lot of good-hearted people of faith. I feel bad that they would be insulted by the Response. I’ve always had a live & let live spirituality. Don’t make me feel bad about what I believe & I won’t attack your beliefs. I get that the fundi’s of all religions are trying to take over the world in the name of their god, but is the Response a worthwhile undertaking? I’m not sure it’s going to accomplish much besides drive people further apart.

    I still find myself occasionally missing the community I felt when I belonged to a church, and I can understand why anyone joins a group for the fellowship, christian or atheist. I think I’m looking for a church that doesn’t have so much ‘god’ in it, if that exists. I have researched the Unitarians, but haven’t gotten the nerve up to visit a service. I’m not sure if it’s what I’m looking for, but it may be a start. Or maybe I just need to join some charitable civic group, I guess. (or log onto your blog everyday!)


  11. First of all, GG Allin, George Carlin most certainly did NOT say that. He is a dyed-in-the-wool atheist from back in the day. Anyway, I was raised Catholic, and I just… never believed. When I finally realized that I did not believe in a God, I looked back and couldn’t find one moment where I ever accepted what had been taught to me. My realization, and my family’s reaction, is comparable, as far as I can see, to someone coming out. I realized I had been born that way, there was much wailing and gnashing of teeth from my mom, and my family will never quite really believe I’m serious about it. Of course, the federal government does recognize my right to marriage, so I’m certainly not carrying quite as big a cross as the gays, so to speak…


  12. pghgirl, I found I could fill a little bit of that community void at that yoga studio I joined in DC. Granted, i have yet find another one similar, but I know they are out there. Someday, after we move the burbs maybe I’ll dig on up again.

    Also, regarding the whole George Carlin bit, who did say that? I kind of liked it. hehe

    yes, good thing we can marry! marriage is good. :] I like it alright.


  13. I was raised a Mormon with all things revolving around God. I believed in God and considered myself an apologist.

    I am now an athiest and brew my own beer. :)


  14. It was some scientist, hell if I can remember who. I want to say Carl Sagan, but I know he was ALSO a dyed-in-the-wool atheist from back in the day. If I can track it down, I’ll fill you in.


  15. no actually he did, i never said he “coined it,” but i sure heard him say it and that too doesn’t mean he believed it, just said it. i liked it, thanks for the history of it though. : )


  16. C.S. Lewis said something along the lines of, “Atheism is a faith, a refined and delicate one.” I’m totally pregnant and can’t remember the actual quote, but it’s in his autobiography, Surprised by Joy. Point being, believing in anything requires faith, because things can only be proved so much, and even then, you have to choose to accept the evidence.

    Of course, Lewis is known as a famous Christian thinker, but he spent the first half of his life as a dedicated atheist, so his book is pretty interesting to read.

    I can’t remember if I’ve commented here before-yeah, pregnant-so just call me Lurker 372. :)


  17. Hi. My name is Naomi and I am a Christian. I am 24 and from England. I feel personally that the amazing spirt of God is in me and so I have decided to write a comment.
    At the very beginning of time when all intentions were perfect and pure, God’s Holy Spirit hovered above the earth, ready to play! God loves us all so much that he sent his son, who, in agreement with his Father died so that we could be reconcilled with him, even though we screw up on a daily basis. It is a love that surpasses all understanding. It is undeserved and unending. There is nothing we can do to make God love us more and nothing we can do to make him love us less (grace). Jesus loved us so much that he wanted us to have a personal link to God and so he organised with God for the Holy Spirit to come and strengthen, guide and comfort us. It is the most wonderful gift and is available 24/7 to everyone who acknowledges that Jesus is the son of God. Knowing God’s love is better than brewing our own beer or coming up with random theories about the meaning of our existance. Theories that may sound profound, but are actually empty and hopeless. Our God is a forgiving and loving God. A God of absloute hope and His spirit is one of truth and peace. Do not hurt Him when He has such an amazing plan for your life. Just ask Him to reveal himself to you through his spirit before you dismiss and disown both Him and your own eternal happiness. With much love to everyone who reads this. Naomi XXXX


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