This is Why People Reject Religion

Permit me a Sunday Sermon.

If you want to understand the recent rise of the “nones”–people, especially young people, who do not affiliate with any organized religion, and who explicitly reject the “Christianity” that dominates headlines– you need only read about the prayer recently given by Senator David Perdue, Republican of Georgia, at a Faith and Freedom Rally.

Numerous media outlets have reported that Perdue told his audience to “pray like Psalm 109:8 for Obama.” And what does Psalm 109:8 say?

Let his days be few; and let another take his office.

Let his children be fatherless, and his wife a widow.

Let his children be continually vagabonds, and beg: let them seek their bread also out of their desolate places.

Let the extortioner catch all that he hath; and let the strangers spoil his labour.

Let there be none to extend mercy unto him: neither let there be any to favour his fatherless children.

Let his posterity be cut off; and in the generation following let their name be blotted out.

Let the iniquity of his fathers be remembered with the Lord; and let not the sin of his mother be blotted out.

Evidently, suggesting Psalm 109:8 as an appropriate prayer for Obama has become a right-wing meme; the biblically knowledgable “pious” folks even  buy bumper stickers and shirts that carry the reference.

My Facebook feed was filled with reports about–and reactions to–the Senator’s “prayer” yesterday, right before Indianapolis’ annual Pride celebration. The contrast between  those who– like Perdue– use religion in the service of hate and the churches and religious organizations promoting love and inclusion in the Pride parade was striking.

I’ve attended most of Indianapolis’ Pride celebrations since 1992. My husband and I still remember the very first year there was a parade; as I recall, it had all of eight participants. Yesterday’s parade lasted more than two hours, and had well over 100. (In the hot sun, it seemed like 1000…)

In addition to the businesses, the banks, the universities, the LGBT and civil rights organizations, a significant number of participants were churches: Quaker, Presbyterian, Episcopalian, Baptist, United Methodist, Unitarian, Christian, UCC and others. The Jewish Community Relations Council represented the Jewish community.[Update: There were actually twelve Jewish organizations participating; the JCRC was one of the twelve. H/T to Paula Winnig for the correction.]

Several denominations had more than one church participating (the Episcopalians had 4!). The messages on their banners were the absolute antithesis of the mean-spirited and hypocritical prayers of the so-called “Christians” who dominate the Republican party. (The most recent evidence of that domination? Indiana’s GOP platform committee just declined to allow convention delegates to even consider a proposal to bring that document into conformity with the law of the land by eliminating language insisting that marriage should only be between a man and a woman.)

When the image of religiosity is the image conveyed by theocrats and fundamentalists who insist that their highly selective reading of their bibles should supersede the U.S. Constitution and the rule of law, it shouldn’t surprise anyone that decent and loving human beings reject that narrow and self-serving “Godliness.”

When “Christian” folks pray publicly for the death of our President, when Indiana’s Governor defines “religious liberty” as the right of his kind of Christian to discriminate against LGBT Hoosiers (but not the right of women to follow the dictates of their own religions or consciences with respect to reproduction), it’s no wonder good people prefer to define themselves as “nones.”


  1. Hi Irvin….good question…maybe hard to explain…I’m not at all eloquent with words and certainly not as smart as so many of Sheila’s followers and friends. It may come from a need in faith that there is something more…maybe years of being at the bedside of people where death was imminent. I don’t know if I believe in a God in the organized religion way…just a spiritual person. I do believe Jesus existed and I find so many of his teachings something to aspire to be…

    It is just something on an intuitive level…in my darkest days (I suffer from depression and prone to suicidal ideations) I had some doubts, but as I get older it is a sense I feel. I guess for eme there is no harm in believing… Sorry for my inadequate response…you did ask a question that I wish I could find ways to better explain.

  2. I am just not a fan of organized religion….it is run by fallible humans working from their own agendas

  3. NVL – I need to clarify for you that nothing was done to me at the Quaker church. I am not homosexual, however I cannot tolerate discrimination of sexual orientation or race.

    Thanks for the background on Quakers though. The decision to discriminate was actually voted on within the church and some people were vocally very loud about their hatred. I could not be a part of that congregation any longer – I would have had to be silent, which would have signaled approval. I chose to never return. It was healthier for the ugly haters that they not experience my disapproval of their hatred and bigotry.

  4. Over it; so now I will say it out loud. You do not know the difference between true religions and bastardized religions as used by ISIS and here in Indiana by Pence to get his bigoted laws passed by the Republican Congress. Jim Jones began as a Christian here in Indianapolis but bastardized Christianity and we all know where and how that ended. The Branch Davidians bastardized Christianity through their Seventh Day Adventist church as have the Fundamentalist Later Day Saints bastardized Christianity through their basic Mormon religion. And don’t forget the Salem Witch Trials, again, supposedly Christianity. Not to mention the KKK whose cross burning, they say, is to draw God’s attention to their love of his Christian symbol.

    ISIS, as with Jim Jones, Branch Davidians, FLDS and Pence’s version of Christianity have taken a grain of the basic religion and twisted and turned it to meet their own needs by using extremism and, in the case of ISIS, terrorism.

  5. Great when remarks exceed 50. No apathy here.

    “True, but how many Muslims worldwide believe that gays should be tolerated? That human life is more important than obedience to an ancient book? That apostasy should not be punished by death? That women are equal to men?”

    I have no idea. Do you?

    I don’t know a single person that I don’t disagree with on something. I love that fact.

    What I’m intolerant of are those who would impose economically or legally or fraudulently or physically what they believe on others. I’m a freedom nut.

  6. How many really know what government is or how it’s supposed to work?

    How many know what religion really is and how it’s supposed to?

    So we have those who make enlightened observations of an elephant no one has ever seen.

  7. People of the USA reject a lot of other people, each individual, but all of the cities’ churches constructed or their founders’ marks are surveyed as they are. They cannot reject the foundations and stakes claimed. An LDS technician told me that in Richmond City, there are 106 churches for 96 faiths. Go ye to the courthouse and multiply 0 property tax payments for rejectors of peers in citizenship, not in law by yer ears. Some walk home; some stay home as in the Snowbird nesting grounds.

  8. “Religious” people do for Christianity what Shelia does for thoughtful journalism.

    You see Psalm 109:8 says “May his days be few; may another take his place of leadership “. That’s all. The rest of Shelia’s text are from subsequent verses. Not condoning that any person representing godliness should pray that way. It’s a bad joke and poorly reflects true Christian sentiment. But, in typical fashion, Shelia can’t wait to turn it into a full-on condemnation of religion, Republicans, and anti-Obama rhetoric.

    It’s no wonder good people are sick of social media and ideology wars….because neither side is willing to turn down the vilification in search of truth.

  9. Jed. Like many who quote the bible you choose to home in on that one psalm only. It is all there so why did Perdue not quote 109.2?

  10. irvin; you beat me to the punch. I am looking at Psalm 109, I read from verse 8, then backed up and 109.2 certainly should have been the response from President Obama and/or his supporters:

    “Psalm 109.2 For the mouth of the wicked and the mouth of the deceitful are opened against me: they have spoken against me with lying tongue.

    1093 They compassed me about also with words of hatred; and fought against me without a cause.”

    This describes what he has had to deal with since before he won the first election; it has continued and escalated since. Another instance of a “Christian” taking Bible quotes out of context and using them for their benefit.

  11. Looks like you all conveniently forgot about the constant 8-year nedia hate fest against President George W. Bush. There were even films about assassinating him made. Where eas your outcry then, hypocrites?

  12. I want to make sure some things are set straight (and btw, thank you Ginny for the thoughtful response):

    1. I am NOT a GOP fan, nor am I a Democrat fan. The two parties are equally corrupt and politicized to the point of being harmful to democracy and America. I am ANTI party and think political parties should be completely abolished. They are the machinery that has been used to usurp our country from the citizens hands and even early founders (as flawed as they were) saw the dangers of political parties. I have, more often than not, voted straight democrat/independent because, frankly, they tend to be the more reasonable of the bunch. My critiques and disagreements are in no way implying support of the GOP nonsense.

    2. To Pete, what facts should I provide that hasn’t already been covered by news and/or is easily accessible even with a quick Google? Should I hold your hand and lead you to things you can easily verify by yourself? And some of the elements are opinions that are extrapolated from fact, observation, and reasoning. So here, let’s look at my post together:

    >>”I don’t care if they pray for Obama’s destruction and neither should you. People are allowed to hate who they want. Only when they cross into actual acting on that hate do they cross a line.”

    -Freedom of belief and religion is just that: People are allowed to THINK and FEEL whatever they want. Many people HATE me, and I would still defend to my death their right to do so. I grew up with a bigoted dad who was very “fire-and-brimstone” Baptist but I am also a priest in a private Druidic circle and have walked/studied numerous religions. I’m also bisexual with friends who are transgender and I understand many people hate me because of this – so? If their religion teaches that it is wrong/sinful and they must have no part, then I respect that. If I was in their homes or churches I would respect their ways and be a good guest, just as I would expect that when they are in MY home they would understand I won’t hide who I am. This is the true nature of tolerance and acceptance, as well as religious/ideological freedom. As long as they do not act on this hate in a way that attacks/oppresses me and my rights, I don’t care if they believe I am Satan himself. While some extremely religious believe even thinking about another when married is “being unfaithful”, we don’t charge people as adulterers because they had a fantasy/thought – but if they actually act on those thoughts, that’s a completely different scenario.

    >>”I do agree that this drives many away from religion, but who cares? If they ostracize themselves with their words, let them! The world would be better for it.”

    -Many are starting to wake up and reject these hateful and fearful ideals and church attendance is at record lows… this was discussed in Time, and other media sources over the past 10-20 years and is easily verifiable on Google. So with church attendance down and many congregations petitioning their leadership to be more inclusive and loving (again, there have been numerous articles talking about this), the churches that see the lowest attendance are the ones who are uncompromising. And since the entire tone of this article is to attack “hateful” congregations I think I am justified in assuming that you all agree that letting these churches drive away members with its own hate is a good thing. They are promoting hate and more and more people are rejecting it – this IS a good thing and takes no actions from outside to achieve.

    >>”Frankly Obama is scum and a liar and I can’t wait for him to leave office. He’s a liar, a warmonger, an elitist, and a fascist corporate hack (and I was stupid and voted for him twice: once because I bought his lies, the second because I chose the lesser of two evils).

    His presidency has been no different than Bush Jr’s in any meaningful way and the only progress we made under him were politically superfluous (though still good). Great, he spoke out for gay marriage and gave a few token nods to economic inequality – who cares? The balance of power, threat of terrorism, and rights of citizens vs corporations hasn’t improved. He’s still conducting the same power stealing others before him started.

    Obama is a disgusting president.”

    -Promised to close Guantanamo, failed to deliver. Promised to end troops in the Middle East, their numbers have increased. Promised to end drone strikes, failed to deliver, etc, etc. If you promise to do something but do the opposite, you’re a liar.

    Under his care NSA spying has increased, the government regularly fights transparency and disclosure, it continues to fund religious extremists and interferes with other sovereign nations politics, he has also increased drone strikes which have killed innocent civilians and further angered the Middle East with US policy (why do you think these extremists hate us? Meanwhile he has done nothing to reign in police abuse and continues to protect law enforcement from paying for their crimes while giving them more and more military grade equipment.

    There are lots of legitimate reasons to hate Obama as a president and to pretend that there isn’t justified hate for his presidency and actions is silly and naive. Again, these things have been in the news and can easily be verified.

    >>”And why do you care that people are praying this? What business is it of yours?”

    -Seriously. I don’t think I need to justify this. It’s like arguing that you have a right to decide what people can say, think, and mentally do within their own private homes, churches, and minds.

    >”Frankly this “sermon” as you call it is made from the same empty rhetoric that’s driving people away from churches.”

    -The entire blog is about despising people for what they think. How is that any different than hating people because they’re gay/Muslim/etc?

  13. Despising people for what they think is not what Shelia’s blog was about. I am amazed that anyone would think that. On the other hand, how many people despise what Hitler preached? Freedom has its limits my friend.

  14. Craig Gosling Plenty of people despised what Hitler thought, but he also wasn’t just trying to “pray the Jews away”. He was a leader actively engaging in action based on his hate which is completely different.

    You completely ignored everything I said and then attempted to make a false comparison.

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