The Motte and Bailey of Christian Belief

I remain connected to the Christian world, even though I’m not a Christian. This is because I value friendship, and I don’t want to cut ties with people who are very dear to me. While having conversations about faith with Christians, though, I’ve noticed a trend that annoys me.

Christians will often make strong, extraordinary, and hard-to-defend claims about the world. But when pressed on these claims, they often retreat to more philosophical, vague, and easier-to-defend claims. This tactic is called the Motte and Bailey. When the Bailey is under attack, they retreat to the Motte.

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Sacred Tension: Derrida, The Exorcist, and Losing Faith | David Rutledge of The Philosopher’s Zone

In this episode of Sacred Tension, I’m joined by podcaster David Rutledge of ABC’s The Philosopher’s Zone to talk about his religious upbringing, his interest in Satanism, his loss of religious faith, and his objections to public intellectuals who take an over-simplified and divisive approach to “postmodernism.”

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Reactions to Satanism: A Field Guide

I’ve been a Satanist long enough now to notice some patterns in how people react to the news that I’m a Satanist.

What I find most fascinating about these reactions is how inflexible they are. They seem to be manifestations of buried beliefs that are incredibly resistant to change. With very rare exceptions, I haven’t seen any of these attitudes shift in response to new information or perspectives.

Without further ado, here is my field guide to reactions to Satanism.

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Sacred Tension: Intersectional Demonology with S. Jonathon O’Donnell

In this episode I speak with religious scholar and intersectional demonologist S. Jonathon O’Donnell. We discuss their new book Passing Orders: Demonology and Sovereignty in American Spiritual Warfare, which is an examination of how American Evangelical beliefs about spiritual warfare intersect with transphobia, racism, and homophobia. Buy the book here.

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Guest Post: Reinforcing Evangelical Fear

This is a guest post by Warden Sif. Warden Sif has been interested in religion his whole life, and obtained a degree in history and theology. He has identified as a Christian, Deist, Agnostic, Atheist, Apistevist and, at this point, a Satanist. He began following TST’s efforts in 2015 and officially joined a few years later. His Twitter can be found here. He can also be found on BaphoNet Antisocial Network, its associated Discord server and the Sacred Tension Discord server.

After reading Mr. Morehead’s guest post titled “Why Are Evangelicals So Afraid of Halloween?” I was inspired to write further on something he touched on at the end of his article. I’ve tried in the past to emphasize his final point, but I consistently get push back from a fair number of other Satanists:

But understanding the psychological underpinnings of Evangelical prejudices and stances in popular culture toward others is helpful in formulating appropriate responses. Responding in-kind with fear, prejudice and alienation will only exacerbate our tensions in an extremely polarized environment. If you’re angry with Evangelicals over any number of things, including their stereotypes of Satanists, I get it. But I think we need to try to understand their fears rather than reinforce them.

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Satan Has Always Been My Home

I understand how, to many onlookers, my conversion to Satanism could seem like an extraordinary escalation. For years I was a committed Christian, dedicated to the church and to following Christ. My mission in life as a Christian was simply to be normal, included, at home: I wanted a place in the church as a gay person. As such, I was generally a very well-behaved gay, and my faith was everything to me even when I wished it wasn’t.

How, then, did I find myself as a Satanist? When looked through the lens of my previous religious life, nothing can seem more scandalous and overly dramatic than my Satanism.

The truth is that my leap from Christianity to Satanism was not a large one at all. It was simple, obvious, and intuitive.

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