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That Ray Comfort meme

March 6, 2014

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Today I saw this meme today allegedly written by popular Christian minister Ray Comfort. It has appeared in a number of atheist and secularist Facebook pages, such as “Anti-Theists. Pro Active Atheists. Opposing Religious Harm.” The meme touches on a number of issues particularly on the nature of ‘faith’ and the test of Abraham’s faith in Genesis 22.

I’m not entirely sure if the meme is true. Ray Comfort stated on his Facebook page that it wasn’t him – it was a vicious prank.

“I noticed an excessive amount of anger towards me today from indignant atheists, who were accusing me of saying “If the Lord commanded me to kill my own children tonight, it would be done by morning.” I never said such a horrible thing, nor would I. Please join me in prayer for the person who wrote this fake post.”

Apparently this meme was created in response to an earlier Facebook post that Ray made:

A skeptic asked: “God told Abraham to sacrifice his son to prove his love.” Ray answered: God told Abraham to “offer” Isaac, and when he was about to kill him, God stopped him (see Genesis 22). This is a Bible “type”– of God sending His “only-begotten Son” to suffer for the sin of the world. Any dirt we try and throw at God will always come back down on us, because He is without sin.

So it does appear that the meme is indeed a prank as the ‘meme’ doesn’t accurately quote Comfort at all (unless someone can verify otherwise). It appears that the meme author has taken some creative liberties to suggest what Comfort ‘might’ have said. This raises a couple of important issues.

1. Attacking a straw man. The prank meme hasn’t actually quoted Ray Comfort. Ray claims he never said the things quoted here. The meme has created a straw man. There are some important theological issues touched on by the meme, but it is always important to check that when quoting someone, you actually quote what they say – otherwise you may misunderstand them and their position (which I think this meme does quite tragically). Creating a straw man might make for a sensational and popular ‘meme’ but it hardly fosters rational, intelligent discussion – something highly regarded in the atheist community. The meme has replaced rational discourse with invented mockery.

2. Atheist rhetoric. As I saw this meme, it challenged the rhetoric I consistently hear in atheist circles that atheists are more ‘rational’, and ‘reasonable’ people and that the world will be a better place without religion. As mentioned before, the ‘meme’ is not really ‘rational’ as it hasn’t quoted its sources correctly. Moreover what has concerned me is the viciousness with which the meme was written. It has been written with the intent of harming, insulting, slandering and mocking. I see little grace, respect, nor kindness shown towards Comfort. This viciousness challenges the claim that ‘people are basically good’ and the world will be better without religion. I struggle to see how this (assumed) atheist who wrote the meme is creating a moral vision of a world which is attractive. In this world, it appears acceptable to slander and invent lies. I struggle to see the appeal in this.

The meme has even caused friction within the atheist community. Some have highlighted the points I’ve raised here, i.e. engage with ideas and facts, not on insults and ridicule. One person commenting on the “Anti-Theists. Pro Active Atheists. Opposing Religious Harm.” page said:

Ok… For being a bunch of rational thinkers, you guys sure do fall for these fake screen shots from this guy all the time. His account was obviously hacked again. Stop slandering the guy, especially with something that is this awful. I get it, he is a delusional fuck, and says some pretty stupid shit, but he is smart enough to know not to post something like this. Beat him with facts, not this garbage.. [22 likes]

Atheist friend of mine Chip also agreed commenting separately,

This strikes me as another fake. This seems to be happening more and more. It’s pretty annoying that with all the terrible shit he says people still decide to make up shit like this. These should be condemned no matter who the object of the fiction is. (I tried to find this on his page and couldn’t. It COULD be real, but I doubt it. It doesn’t seem like his style.)

Yet astonishingly some atheists disagreed – they thought that Comfort deserved it, even if it wasn’t true! Mandy Harris responded to that first comment with:

Nah fuck him,even if it is bullshit..He deserves as much shit as people can give him,this fucking moron has influence and that’s dangerous… [2 likes]

It puzzles me how one can propose that inventing vicious lies about a person because he ‘deserves’ it can be considered reasonable, rational and attractive?

The meme does raise some genuine theological issues (which I dealt with here), but I’m interested in atheist reactions to the meme – is it acceptable? What do you make of it?

I did see grace in Comfort’s response as he offered to pray for the person who wrote the memeWhether or not you believe in the power of prayer, there is at least a kindness in his response that seemed lacking in the original meme and in some atheist responses.

So ‘that’ Ray Comfort meme appears to obscure rational reasonable discussion and it also makes it harder for me to believe that the world will indeed be better without religion.

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From → Bible, Comment

19 Comments
  1. This is just more evidence that being an atheist does not automatically imply that one is skeptical or reasonable. This fabrication is just the latest in a series showing Ray saying terrible things that he didn’t actually say.
    As an atheist, it pisses me off that people who share my label engage in this kind of terrible dishonest nonsense. It’s true that Ray says some morally abhorrent things, some factually incorrect things, and engages in logically fallacious reasoning and rhetoric. But that does not, in any way, justify fabricating quotes about him. That say much about the author and those that defend it, and nothing about Ray.
    Some defend it by saying that his behaviour warrants it. That’s bullshit. We are all 100% responsible for our actions and reactions. Isn’t substitutional culpability something that we atheists criticize the Christians for supporting?
    As for the suggestion that it’s satire or parody, I don’t buy it. If it is, then this tripe is offensive to the fine art of satire as well.
    Say what you want about Ray. He certainly deserves it, and he can take it. However, don’t demean yourselves by creating lies and supporting them. Be better than that. Otherwise all of your assertions of the wilful ignorance and dishonesty of those in the pews are empty and hypocritical.

    • NyteShayde permalink

      Anyone (the authors and supporters of that meme) who stoops to this level to “prove” their atheism by engaging in ridicule and libel make me question their convictions. Why are they trying to prove *their* disbelief. What do they get out of it? It sounds a lot like the lady doth protest too much.

    • Mitc permalink

      Truly well said, thank you. One of the characteristics I define myself by as an atheist and skeptic is following where the evidence takes me and not just accepting lies that appeal to my way of thinking. I too am insulted that someone stooped to this level, and that so many within the community unthinkingly accepted and propagate it. I saw this meme on FB and my first thought was “this directly reinforces our narrative about crazy fundamentalists; almost as if one of us wrote it”. So I just googled it quickly and found this post. I rail against people who don’t make the slightest of efforts to fact-check things, and am saddened so many supposedly like-minded people didn’t do so.

  2. Don’t give them an inch, they already control most of the battlefield! The things theists say to justify their beliefs contain plenty of genuine horror as it is – let’s not give them the old “They’re putting words in our mouths because they don’t understand us!” defense.

    • Not quite sure I follow what you’re saying here. Are you suggesting it’s ok to make up things that someone never said? I’m fairly sure you’re not trying to say that, but I just wanted to clarify

    • NyteShayde permalink

      Why exactly is there a battlefield in the first place? Are you going to pound them down with logic and reason because you’re trying to tear apart the indoctrinated.

      • UncleGus permalink

        There is a battlefield because they Fundamentalist Evangelical Christian Right in America wants to abolish any teaching in this country that doesn’t EXACTLY correspond with the stories in the Bible.

  3. It’s true, I verify it. I’m Martin Roberts, the guy who posted the question.

  4. Santiago permalink

    Whoever posted this lie is a religious fundamentalist as much as Confort (albeit a different creed). What worries me most, however, is not that there are immoral atheists willing to lie and offend other people at the cost of their own integrity; but the underlying, and mostly shared, idea that there should be a war going on to destroy religion. Why would anyone want to destroy religion? I respect others for their beliefs. All I ask is that religion is kept out of stately and legislative matters. Other than that, I respect and promote that other people might think different than I. This does not threaten my own beliefs nor my liberty to hold them.

  5. Daniel Mitchem permalink

    I am a Christian myself, but I saw a link for this on facebook and chose to read it. I just want to say that I appreciate the respect you have shown for Ray. Even though we do not agree on religion and such I have to say I admire your respect and honesty. That is hard to find in people today. I have read many atheists’ remarks and they were nowhere near as kind and thoughtful, and for that I would like to say thanks. It goes to show that not all people of any certain background should be labeled as any stereotype because more times than not, they are often wrong.

  6. Ray did suggest that God is without sin. If you define (as Ray undoubtedly does) sin as some kind of moral failing, then that assertion shows a breathtaking moral blindness. If demanding that someone kill their own child is not morally reprehensible, then what the hell is? If a parent who agrees to kill their own child is not immoral, then who the hell is? Whether the act is actually carried out is kinda irrelevant in this case. And let’s not forget that there are at least a dozen incidents in the Bible where god orders clearly immoral acts. The most horrific arguably being Noah’s flood where all but 8 humans and most animals are killed because an “all powerful” god is unable to forgive the sins of the people he created with part of their nature being that they tend to commit those sins — sins which mainly consist of violations of arbitrary rules, the violation of many of which is just human nature. How is that mass-murder not immoral? What kind of morality consists of simply blindly following the orders of an Imaginary Sky Monster — or his self-appointed spokesmen? What kind of morality is simply based on fear of punishment?

    Ray has said a lot of insane shit, more than enough to ridicule him endlessly without making shit up and falsely attributing it to him. Lying is the specialty of the religious. As atheists, we should be better than that.

    • Agree that atheists should be better than that (hence the post), but not all atheists seem to agree.

      In terms of the immorality of God. What do you make of a ‘final judgement’? Would that also be immoral?

    • Ryan permalink

      Noah preached for an insane number of decades warning people to repent, because God commanded Noah to do this as it was God’s desire that everyone be saved. Back then they knew God. Adam was a mere great grandparent. They were not far removed. They had no interest. It never rained on the earth before. Water misted from the ground. The water that covered the earth was the water canopy in the atmosphere just above the ozone. Every ancient civilization has record of this water canopy, most of which did not believe in God. This is why everyone said Noah was insane. What is rain? What is he talking about? The genius of it is, Jesus said the end of this world before the rapture would be the same as Noah’s day. 2000 year old prediction unfolding before our eyes. As for hell, it was made for the devil and his angels, not humanity. Everyone had a choice, and still does today. Many children choose to run away from home and their father’s rules and die in the streets. This is probably the simplest comparison to people choosing hell over God. There is no greener grass. We learn this in Psalm 23.

  7. Dan permalink

    Apparently the Ray Comfort comments about whether he would obey a command to kill a child is authentic. Martin Roberts, the person who posted the question has confirmed this on his FB page.

    “I am Martin Roberts, the one asked Ray the controversial question that lead to his even more controversial response. In only a short time (no longer than ten minutes) he succeeded in blocking me (removing my ability to post on his page) and deleting all evidence… But he didn’t account on me making a hobby of documenting my religious debates.

    I am making this openly public post so that there is a place where people can come to ask me personally about this incident and to hopefully clear up any misunderstandings.

    -M”

    So it would seem that not only did Ray Comfort post these comments, he now denies that he did, has banned Martin Roberts AND removed his posts.

  8. Eli permalink

    Misinformation takes us further away from the potential heavens humans could muster here together. Just as taking religious stories to be literally true.

    • Agree about the danger of misinformation and ignorance. Why do you say that about ‘religious stories’? That assumes they are all false. What if one is actually true?

  9. sistanis permalink

    As an atheist I don’t agree that slandering Ray Comfort does anyone good. But I also don’t follow Ray and had no way of knowing if this was true or not at first. I have seen him post some vile things, but that is no excuse to post a lie about him.

  10. Philip Bannor permalink

    Let me get this straight – the person telling us that the banana is gods perfect fruit is the SAME guy telling us this meme is false…???
    I’m sceptical……

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