Overheard: January 2016


“Inciting fear of hell in children to persuade them to do good [does] not encourage altruistic behaviour. You’re doing things ultimately to get a reward in the end. That’s not a moral system.”

Danny Jarman, vice-president of the Atheist Foundation of Australia, after a new study suggests children who grew up in spiritual households were less generous and more judgemental.—The Advertiser (Australia)

“It’s easy to see the church as a sort of bullied boy in the playground that won’t fight back. But God is big enough to take criticism or take a joke. There’s something pretty insecure about feeling the need to do God’s work or protect [H]im.”

Milton Jones, British comedian, responding to the idea that comedy and religion often fail to co-exist. He goes on to explain comedy is about dealing with the truth of life and what it’s all about. The same is true of faith.—Christian Today (UK)

The problem isn’t with Christianity, but the so-called followers of Christ. I can no longer identity with their self-justifying competitiveness, their outright hypocrisy, the hate they harbour towards what their ignorant (brainwashed?) minds do not understand, and the disregard some groups have towards something alien to their belief system.”

Writer Keay Nigel, on why he chose to leave the Christian church after 13 years. He no longer considers himself a Christian, but says he’s keeping a space for God in his heart.
—The Huffington Post (US)

I’ve been saved all my life and [it’s difficult to believe] a representative of the Gospel could get so low that I wanted to die, kill my children, kill my husband and kill everybody, and go out with a bang, because life was that bad. But that’s exactly where I was in 2013, and God alone saved my life.”

Tina Campbell, one-half of gospel music duo Mary Mary, reflecting on her state of depression after her father died and her husband, on national television, admitted to multiple infidelities.—The Christian Post (US)

“Jesus commanded us to love our neighbours. The parable of the good Samaritan comes to mind, making it absolutely clear that our neighbours cannot be limited to those of our same ethnicity or religious traditions.”

Amy Rowell, director of humanitarian aid agency World Relief Moline, after governors of more than half of the US’s 50 states announced they would defy President Barack Obama’s announcement to resettle Syrian refugees in the aftermath of the November 2015 Paris attacks.—Quartz (US)

“The uncomfortable conclusion to be drawn from the theology of both Christianity and Islam, and from the way they have acted throughout history, is that both peace and violence can be true and authentic expressions of these religions. And in the modern world, violence is as much of a problem within religions as between them. We do both of these religions a disservice if we fail to recognise that they can inspire and justify not only the best but also the worst of human behaviour.”

Philip Almond, Professorial Research Fellow in the History of Religious Thought, the University of Queensland, analysing the interpretation of Islam and Christianity.—The Conversation (Australia)

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