Author: Stephen Bradford Long

Atheism, Religion

Terrible Things Christians Say When You Stop Believing in God


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I always assumed that atheists were assholes. Whenever Dawkins, Harris, or Hitchens would show up on my computer screen, I would internally snarl at them: so angry, I thought. So prone to bitterness and self-righteousness.

Now that I’ve undergone my own deconstruction of faith I have to say that, while not excusing their more egregious behavior, I get why atheists can be assholes. It can feel like the whole world is against you, putting words in your mouth, or making assumptions about your character. Ever since coming out as a nontheist, I’ve gotten a steady torrent of unpleasantness from theists. I’ve gotten unsolicited challenges to debate, condescending private messages, and annoying assumptions about my personal integrity hurled at me.

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Sacred Tension Podcast

Sacred Tension: FrazzleDrip, Satanists, and Other Moral Panics


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The history of the United States is dotted by moral panics: delusional mass hysterias over complete fictions like the Illuminati, 9/11 trutherism, Stranger Danger, and pedophilic satanists. Now, in a climate in which the fertile jungle of the internet seems to produce new conspiracy theories by the day, we need to understand the importance of moral panics: how they warp minds and destroy lives.

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Atheism, Nontheism

Meaning in a Godless Universe


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Last week, I had the pleasure of appearing on the podcast Church and Other Drugs. What I expected to be a conversation about Satanism turned into an enjoyable back and forth over the existence of God. Jed, who hosts Church and Other Drugs, is a theist, while I am a nontheist. Jed finally brought up a question he says he has yet to hear a satisfying answer to, and it’s one I hear perpetually:

If there is no afterlife, how can this life have any meaning?

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Sacred Tension Podcast

The Theology of Heaven’s Gate


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In March of 1997, Heaven’s Gate committed ritual suicide to the astonishment and horror of the world. Over 20 years later, we are still piecing together the mystery of this fringe UFO religion: who were they, what did they believe, and why did they end so horribly? Joining me for today’s Sacred Tension podcast is Benjamin Zeller, widely considered the leading authority on Heaven’s Gate.

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Curiosities

Jordan Peterson, Satanic Factions, and Anti-trans Memes


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Welcome to Sunday Curiosities: the blog series where I bring you the interesting, bizarre, and insightful tidbits I’ve collected over the week.

Jordan Peterson is Incomprehensible

A hilarious video of edited footage from the Joe Rogan show has Jordan Peterson arguing with himself. I was once enamored of Peterson, but I now understand him to be at best boring and at worst incomprehensible and an accessory to sexism, transphobia, and patriarchy. What amuses me about this video is how it is just slightly more indecipherable than his regular videos.

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Homosexuality, Religion

The 4 Steps of Standing in Solidarity with LGBT People


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I regularly find myself in conversation with people who feel deeply conflicted about how to love and respond to LGBT people: conservative minsters whose hearts have softened towards LGBT people, but whose theology has not; college chaplains who are suddenly finding themselves flummoxed by trans, queer, and gay students sitting in their office, struggling with faith and sexuality; parents, friends, siblings of gay people who see the damage done by the church and don’t know how to stop perpetuating that damage.

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Religion

On Not Believing in God But Experiencing Him Anyway


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Last night before going to bed, I found myself praying the Evening Office from the Book of Common Prayer. I love the book of Common Prayer — I love the poetry and the guiding, inner choreography of the liturgy. As I prayed last night I felt that warmth, presence, and silent awe I’ve felt my whole life when I enter sacred spaces — many would call it the presence of God. Sometime, when praying, I find myself speaking in tongues, a torrent of syllables pouring from me unbidden. It feels warm in my mouth, and it feels like something outside of myself speaking through me. I also still attend church (when I can), and I experience the love and presence of an external, invisible force.

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