Tag Archives: faith

You’re doing journalism wrong

Pastor Jerry Allen Jackson claims that God used him “as an illustration” to deliver a message during his sermon last Sunday. Now Pastor Jerry has successfully manipulated his local media into a conduit for proselytizing to his community. Here are excerpts from Tara Edwards’ piece (emphasis mine):

[Time] was the focus of his sermon Sunday at Abundant Life Ministries in Ypslanti. We’re told at some point Pastor Jerry suddenly slumped.

Five registered nurses inside the church went to work on the pastor who they say had no pulse or heartbeat.

The whole congregation began praying for him while CPR was performed. The news was sent out to other churches and they began praying.

“Then i [sic] sat up and then I asked for the mic. ‘Amen, and I told them ‘praise God… I told you God will give you more time,” said Pastor Jerry.

Paramedics took him to the hospital  — at first it was believed he had a heart attack.

But now, Pastor Jerry says they don’t know what caused his heart to stop for minutes. He says he doesn’t need a reason, he says he knows why it did.

“I know because the message was God will give you more time. So he just used me as an illustration as I will give you more time.”

The pastor plans to take a break next Sunday and return the following Sunday better than ever.

To recap: a pastor preaching about God giving us more time conveniently experiences a “miracle” demonstrating his exact point, to the amazement of his faithful followers – including the media.

An incident so fishy should draw some skepticism from journalists, but Tara Edwards and the rest of WXYZ Detroit lapped it up.

A simple Google search for “fake healing” shows how frequently faith leaders use deception to sell their messages (and how easy it is to debunk these frauds). WXYZ’s report doesn’t look into this possibility a bit. Nor does it bother to include interviews with any witnesses besides the pastor and his wife. Pastor Jerry offered to spoon feed WXYZ a story, and they swallowed it unquestioningly.

Is it possible that Pastor Jerry really did succumb to some unexplained heart condition in his church last Sunday? Of course, but it does not mean that God was sending him a message. Is it also possible that Pastor Jerry was lying to make a point? We’ve got a motive…

Journalists have a special duty to look at stories objectively in order to find the truth. It appears that WXYZ failed completely in this instance.

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Sam Harris Responds to Critics

Sam Harris

Image credit: Wikipedia commons

Let me start by apologizing for my irregular posting as of late. This weekend I was at a conference in Albuquerque and had zero time for blogging; and as the semester (my final semester of college!) comes to a close, I’m finding myself with less and less time for blogging.

Be that as it may, I’m going to commit myself to making time to blog. I really love blogging (and communicating with you readers), so I can’t think of a worthy excuse for not engaging more consistently.

Today I mostly just want to direct you to read Sam Harris’ most recent blog post, which addresses the complaints of his critics. The post is outlandishly long, but necessarily so. Harris has been criticized for his views (or the views people attribute to him) on Islam, torture, war, airport profiling, and Buddhism – and he addresses each of these concerns comprehensively.

I have already formed my own opinion about his rebuttal, but I’m interested to hear how others have responded as well. Harris is undoubtedly an exceptional and entertaining writer, and I enjoy reading what he has to say whether or not I agree with it. He is a controversial figure in atheist discourse – this new post will do nothing to change that.

Please read what he has to say entirely, then leave your comments here if you so choose. I’m eager to hear the verdict.

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“Heaven Just Gained Another Angel”

Posting from my phone here, so I’ll make this one brief.

We see this saying a lot when people die (which has been painfully frequently as of late). To me it’s a curious statement…one I find desperately hypocritical.

Here’s the thing: in life, we are quick to pass judgement on our fellow humans. Nobody is ever good enough. This behavior is hyperactive in religion; especially in religions for which faith is the utmost of human virtues.

These religious people are constantly told (and telling each other) that nothing that they do is good enough. No amount of charity or goodwill can save them from the wrath of their god unless they truly believe.

Often, their criteria for belief is abnormally strict. You have to believe the right way. People of different faiths are eager to condemn those who don’t share their viewpoints, even when these people are their friends.

I’ve asked a few of my religious friends what they think will happen to me when I die. Many of them don’t shy away from responding that I’ll likely end up in Hell unless I redeem myself through faith. They also don’t balk at the idea of their friends of separate faiths spending eternity in the grips of Satan.

So why are they so sure that the recently deceased are in Heaven? After so much doubt and condemnation during the living hours, why are the religious so quick to confidently predict the whereabouts of the departed?

To me, this demonstrates the real purpose religion serves for most people. It’s a matter of comfort and convenience rather than a conviction of knowledge. Religious belief, like many beliefs concocted by our complex brains, serves to make sense of what is around us in a way our brains can manage.

Religion is not the result of divine inspiration or divine revelation; it is the trickery of our brains as they try to appease their foolish possessors.

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