NZ’s new PM ditched Mormon Church, supports LBGT equality

NZ’s new PM ditched Mormon Church, supports LBGT equality

Faced with the choice of remaining within a deeply homophobic  Mormon Church or fighting discrimination on behalf of her gay friends, New Zealand’s new Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, 37, chose to kick the church into the long grass.

According to this report, Ardern’s work for equality began when she left the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in her early 20s.

The Mormon church is extremely hostile to LGBT people. Prospective members of the church must agree, at their baptismal interview, to remain chaste, never enter into a homosexual relationship and marriage is between a man and a woman.

Any child of same-sex parents are banned from receiving a blessing unless they:

Specifically disavow the practice of same-gender cohabitation and marriage.

LDS members also famously bankrolled a lot of the campaign for Proposition 8, the law that banned same-sex marriage in California.

Having been raised in the church, Ardern began questioning her faith when she became friends with gay people.

For a lot of years, I put it to the back of my mind. I think it was too unsettling. If something like religion is part of your foundation, and then suddenly you start questioning that – it’s quite a confronting thing to deal with.

Even before the Civil Union Bill came up, I lived in a flat with three gay friends and I was still going to church every so often and I just remember thinking ‘this is really inconsistent – I’m either doing a disservice to the church or my friends’. Because how could I subscribe to a religion that just didn’t account for them?

She added:

It was one of the issues that became a real flashpoint. You drift along a bit, there are always going to be things you can’t reconcile, but I could never reconcile what I saw as discrimination in a religion that was otherwise very focused on tolerance and kindness.

So Ardern left the church. She also had an issue with the Mormon requirement on tithing, paying at least 10 percent of your income every month.

I have a real respect for people who have religion as a foundation in their lives. And I respect people who don’t. I’m agnostic. I don’t spend a lot of time trying to figure it out. I just think people should be free to have their personal beliefs and not be persecuted for it, whether they be atheist or staunch church members.

Ardern’s left-leaning Labour party will form a coalition government with NZ First and the Green party. She said:

This is an exciting day. We aspire to be a government for all New Zealanders and one that will seize the opportunity to build a fairer, better New Zealand. We will work hard to ensure New Zealand is once again a world leader, a country we can all be proud of. We said we could do this, we will do this.

43 responses to “NZ’s new PM ditched Mormon Church, supports LBGT equality”

  1. Broga says:

    More persecution of religion, I fear. I can imagine the howls of anguish from the LDS.

  2. AgentCormac says:

    The world needs more leaders like Jacinda Ardern and Canada’s Justin Trudeau. As we know, the old-guard alternatives are just too hateful, bigoted and feckless.

  3. StephenJP says:

    “Very focused on tolerance and kindness”. Not words that most people would use of the LDS.

    Still, a very good start. I guess she will appeal to many En-Zedders. My son-in-law is one, and out of his extended family only his 92-year-old Nana has any religious sensibilities at all.

  4. 1859 says:

    You can’t believe what a relief it is here in NZ to have Ms Ardern as PM.
    I went along to a highly choreographed ‘meeting’ with Bill English (the now former Prime Minister) at the main synagogue a few months ago, and it was totally sickening to hear him spout these cheesy, well-rehearsed answers to specifically selected questions. No one in the audience was allowed to ask a spontaneous question. English himself is an observant catlick with seven children and his ‘respect’ for this and that shows that nauseating trait of all politicians of trying to say comforting things for everyone which ultimately say nothing to no-one. Jacinda Ardern is the complete opposite of a formal politician – she openly admits she doesn’t understand things when put on the spot. I just hope she lasts long enough to make a real change. The church she left has so much wealth it is obscene. Thanks for posting this Barry .

  5. Joshua says:

    Everybody knows that NZ is morally rotten country. Once they passed the anti-smacking law. Australia shall never accept it similarly gay marriage. That is LGBT wishful thinking. They count on Polls. Bexit and US Election Polls also favoured LGBT but they were made by lefist media so the results were obvious. By the way Austria is waking up. Hope, Ireland will one day.

  6. CoastalMaineBird says:

    Ardern began questioning her faith when she became friends with gay people

    I am buoyed by the fact that she compared what she found in the real world, with what she was taught in fantasyville, and came to the correct conclusion.

  7. 1859 says:

    @Joshua: Sorry, but every one of your comments is morally rotten – they literally drip of profound ignorance. You are not Donald Trump by any chance?

  8. barriejohn says:

    It is, indeed, wonderful news that “Austria is waking up”. Cable TV shows many programmes about the Nazis (almost to the point of obsession), but one aspect that is often overlooked is the aftermath of World War II, and After Hitler (shown last night on Yesterday) is excellent:

    Europe was left as a virtual wasteland by the fascists, and practically everything that Hitler was opposed to came into effect: the destruction of Germany, the rise of Communist Russia, the end of the British Empire, the founding of the state of Israel, and so on and so forth. If they think that their rabid nationalism is going to have any other effect in the future, then they need to think again.

    “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.” (George Santayana)

  9. Stephen Mynett says:

    The likes of Joshua, Newspaniard when he was trolling here and others of that ilk base there ideals around hatred and very little else because that is the easiest option for the simple-minded. It is easy to hate but much harder to find solutions and they are not brave enough to attempt problem solving by means other than violence, whether it is verbal or physical.

    Barriejohn, a good film on Hitler, although fiction is based on eye-witness accounts as the production team used accounts from Hitler’s secretary Traudl Jung, is Der Untergang. Bruno Ganz is good as Hitler and the film certainly has more decent history than most of the rubbish produced about the final days in the bunker.

  10. barriejohn says:

    Stephen Mynett: Also titled Downfall. I’ve watched it several times – and some of the brilliant parodies on YouTube! Bruno Ganz’s portrayal of Hitler was excellent. Traudl Junge said in an interview that when the arch villain dictated his last will and testament to her she thought that she would at last learn the reason for all that had happened, but that it was just a regurgitation of all the same stuff that he had come out with before, blaming the Jews for the war, and so on. What did she expect? She had been incarcerated in the bunker with him for weeks listening to the same twaddle, and he hadn’t changed the record. The real mystery is how such a man could have had such a hold over erstwhile intelligent people, right up until the end.

  11. Stephen Mynett says:

    Barriejohn, I have the extended German version with the Jung interviews, plus others – the actress who played Magda Goebbels said the scene where she killed the children although only acting had a harrowing effect on her and she had nightmares after. I can understand.
    I have met people who were alive at the time in Germany and the common thread was Hitler’s ability as a speaker who could enthral people. He was a lot more intelligent than some of the populists leaders of today, certainly Farage and no doubt Trump so it does not surprise me that much. Plus the NSDAP never had a majority but once he had the chance coerced power held on to it by violence and fear.
    What worries me is that people like Trump are elected by an affluent minority while too many just do not bother to vote. Considering the economic state and the post war reparations I can understand up to a point why he gained support.

    PS: If you want to see a less depressing German film, Goodbye Lenin is very funny.

  12. barriejohn says:

    Stephen Mynett: Have you watched The Nazis – A Warning from History? One of the best series made on that era. People openly boast about the day that they met Hitler and his gaze fell upon them, and how they were spellbound as his eyes seemed to burn into them. Some are moved to tears by the memory of that event, and not at all ashamed of such hero-worship. Others speak about the rallies, and how they so WISHED that they could have joined all the crowds enthusiastically cheering their Feuhrer. It just goes to show what is possible, and how dangerous demagoguery can be. Stalin was also worshipped, and when he died people came onto the streets of Moscow weeping, and declaring that they were lost. All the mythology was naively swallowed – neither slaved away selflessly for the good of the people. If the lights were burning in the Kremlin at night it was because Uncle Joe was enjoying another vodka-fuelled party, and forcing stool pigeons like Kruschev to make fools of themselves for his amusement!

  13. Stephen Mynett says:

    Barriejohn, thanks for the link, I have seen it but not in a while. I also thought the World at War narrated by Laurence Olivier was a good series.

    It is a pity others cannot learn from history – I can easily imagine some of the trolls we get here singing the song from Cabaret “Tomorrow belongs to me.”

  14. pip says:

    I am a Mormon. but I feel strongly that being such does not automatically mean I am homophobic. I might add that I am also a Polynesian male, a bloke’s bloke, a hypersexual (within the bonds of marriage) and was raised on old fashioned principles in the old fashioned way (when a clip around the ear and a boot to the backside was ok)

    All of these different aspects of my existence come with built in taboo’s. These taboo’s are sacred to me and I am ok saying that I hold these taboos sacred. These taboos do not make me bigoted or homophobic. I have no fear of gay people, I have no quarrel with them, I have no hatred for them, and not wanting to sound clichéd, and feel lame for saying this, but “I know gay people, and have gay friends!”

    But literally all sexuality, be it hetero-sexuality, homo-sexuality, bi-sexuality, hyper-sexuality, marital-sexuality are all taboo’s that I feel strongly about keeping in the private space. And I am ok with saying that out loud to who ever might want to know my personal feelings on the matter.

    I don’t need to be judged as repressed, oppressed, depressed, old fartish etc. I don’t even care if people feel that way about me. But I will never abandon the things that are culturally sensitive to me.

    I don’t have to agree with all progressive ideology, nor do I have to agree with all conservative ideology either. But I must at least agree with my own personal ideology, philosophy, culture and faith, and hold on to what is sacred to me.

  15. barriejohn says:

    Stephen Mynett: The World at War is a classic, and unsurpassed, and many of the interviews come from that series. More facts have come to light since it was made though, but that doesn’t lessen its impact. The commentary is crucial, and Olivier’s first attempt was abysmal, evidently, as he was tired and disinterested. According to a recent anniversary programme, Jeremy Isaacs didn’t comment, but merely asked if Olivier would like to listen to it. That was enough, and he produced the wonderful commentary that we have now for posterity!

    BTW I think that I may have left one statement open to misinterpretation (above). What I meant to say was that some at Hitler’s rallies wished that they could have joined in the adulation like all the others around them. It’s what I felt, eventually, at Christian meetings. You look at people who are obviously enthusiastic and deliriously happy, and think to yourself: “You’re all deluded, but how I envy you!”. Odd, really.

  16. barriejohn says:

    Talking about demagogues, have others noticed that that great humanitarian, Robert Mugabe, has been appointed a Goodwill Ambassador for WHO? The mind truly boggles!

  17. Broga says:

    Mugabe has been to Singapore three times this year already for medical treatment. His senior thieves all go abroad for medical treatment. I think we may still be sending overseas aid to his benighted country.

    overseas aid is where: poor people in a rich country have their money sent to rich people in a poor country.

  18. 1859 says:

    @barriejohn: Believing in demagogues like Stalin, Hitler Chairman Mao etc., is , I think, clearly an expression of the superstitious need to believe in a some form of divine power. How else have people traditionally made sense of their lives? Before science began to make some sense of our world, the common people only had superstition and the pronouncements of ‘spiritual leaders’, to explain why they suffered so much. ‘Leaders’ (popes, queens, kings,priests,messiahs,emperors,zsars, etc.,etc.,) have always been equated to gods or demi-gods because they
    were seen to have what the common people did not have and that was power. So it’s really no surprise to see people immersed in deluded adulation while you – barriejohn – ‘ envy’ them : your envy is just a residual
    longing for the certainty that a blind belief once gave you.
    Because I never, personally, went through what you did, whenever I see religiously or politically deluded people, envy never enters my consciousness – I just see the stranglehold of superstition at work. But I’m sure you know all this anyway – if you feel my comments above seem like I’ve been trying to teach you to suck eggs, I apologise

  19. 1859 says:

    @pip:My first thought is how do you reconcile your Mormon beliefs with your personal beliefs regarding sexuality – especially same sex relationships? My second thought/question is why have the Polynesians swallowed the white man’s religions so wholeheartedly, so totally, so obliviously?

  20. barriejohn says:

    @1859: Au contraire. I am always delighted to find that someone found a comment of mine worth responding to! I have always been bemused by “The King’s Touch”, which was practised until the late 18th Century; and by the discovery that people soaked handkerchiefs in the blood of Charles I and others in the belief that these would then possess “healing properties”. Biblical “miracles”, and exhortations regarding the “laying on of hands,” are obviously in the same category – just the result of primitive superstition.

    PS I do realize, myself (contrary to the comments made by some), that I may well be “stating the bleeding obvious” to rationalists here , but this site receives a lot of visits, even though comments may not always be left, and I think that these things need saying. Some readers may never have confronted these facts before, and, to borrow from the religious, if we can prevent just one poor, benighted soul from continuing in the path of blind belief, then our efforts will have been worthwhile!

  21. barriejohn says:

    @pip: Interesting and unusual comments, but my immediate observation is that you are deluding yourself. When you talk about your “personal ideology” it’s not, is it? It’s someone else’s ideology that you have absorbed or adopted. These ideas which are “sacred” to you are not strengthening you; they are making you weak. You seem an intelligent and independent sort of person, so I would urge you to read more about sexuality, etc, and think things out for yourself rather than follow any taboos, even though some may have come into being for good reasons in the past. You are not being as rational as you seem to think that you are, but I think there is hope for you yet!

  22. Stephen Mynett says:

    1859, Barriejohn, interesting posts and I totally agree re saving people from delusion, it is always worth recounting some stories, views etc. Pip is a case in point, he seems a rational and decent person but has been captured by a fairly nasty cult founded by a confidence trickster. Hopefully he might read some of the history behind Joeseph Smith but that written by objective people and not the Mormon church.

    As fas as the love of demi-gods, dictators etc, we can see that in eastern Europe, Poland managed to shed the yoke of Stalinism only to allow the catholic church to take control, although there are a number there willing to protest but still not enough.

    There is also Putin in Russia who has embraced the Orthodox Church to help cement his position and there is not much more democracy now as there was in the USSR.

  23. pip says:

    Hey “1859” and “barrieJohn”, thanks for the responses.
    Q1, Part A, How do I reconcile my Mormon beliefs with my personal beliefs on sexuality?
    My personal beliefs align quite easily with Mormon belief. Mormon belief is that Marriage is between a man and woman, and that sexual expression outside of Marriage is harmful to the family.

    If I viewed it from an evolutionary perspective, I would arrive at the same conclusion about the importance of family. In every culture and every known species of human, we find the family. Mum, Dad, kids, extended family, community, each bound to the other by emotional ties of loyalty, fidelity and companionship.

    Anthropologically, and Culturally, the taboos of Family existed in Polynesia long before the missionaries arrived, and its status of taboo remained long after they left us to our own devices. They just asked us to pray to a new deity.

    Any which way I look at it, whether from the Evolutionary, Anthropological, Theological, Philosophical perspective, I arrive at the same ideological location. So there is no real disjointedness in my way of thinking.

    Q1, part B, ‘especially same sex relationships’?

    Thinking Hypothetically, How would same sex attraction serve to protect the human family in the evolutionary or Anthropological sense?

    I honestly don’t know enough about ancient cultures to comment, but I assume that taboos would have existed that preceded Christianity about homo-sexuality and its counter-productiveness in the continuation of the family.

    (These are just ideas based on thought experiments and conjecture. I have no data to support anything I am saying)

    Q2 – How did Polynesians end up worshipping a white mans religion?

    Ill pivot from that question onto a question of my own? How did the white man end up worshipping Semetic/Hebrew/Aramaic deity? When did Rome, Greece and other neighbouring countries decide to embrace this self proclaimed God-man?

    Christianity had a very peculiar start. Its founder was murdered at 32-33 years of age, and only 3-5 years into his proselyting work within his Jewish community.

    His core leadership all met a similar fate not long after Christ was murdered. His followers were hounded by political bodies and murdered as well. But somehow, the movement remained. Why? and How?

    How could a group of people be so moved by one persons short life? Yet, here we are in the 20th century, with entire Countries and their founding constitutions built upon the proselyting work of this one person.

    Christianity is not a deity related to any Caucasian culture or race. But here we are in 2017 with almost every European Culture devoted to the worship of a Semetic deity?? This is fascinating to me, and I really feel that he was the real deal.

    But to answer you straight about my own people, I don’t know how my ancestors came to believe in Christ, or why they chose to abandon beliefs held for thousands and thousands of years. Did they see something special as well? maybe? who knows, I just know what I see and feel when I study this stuff out.

  24. Stephen Mynett says:

    You need to study a bit more about the history of Christianity Pip. It was only a messianic cult until Constantine usurped power in Rome, fighting off the other three emperors of the time. For reasons probably more to do with power than belief he mad Christianity the state religion and from there all others were hounded out.

    The reports of Christian persecution are also exaggerated, even church scholars have admitted that.

    Europe did not come to Christianity by any peaceful way, for the most part it was imposed and often in a bloody way. I am afraid the rise of Christianity is not as simplistic as you describe it.

  25. barriejohn says:

    Pip: Stephen Mynett took the words out of my mouth! There has been some recent debate about this topic, and the idea that Jesus was a purely mythological character invented for largely political reasons, which I will attempt to locate when I have the time. I used to be an evangelical Christian as a young man, and believed much as you do until my eyes were opened!

  26. Stephen Mynett says:

    Pip, as Barriejohn said there is doubt about Jesus ever existing, the Bible is certainly not a true account. One interesting point is that archaeological evidence shows the town of Nazareth did not exist when Jesus was supposed to have lived there.

    The whole book is littered with ambiguity and many of the stories were copied from more ancient myths, the flood being a good example.

  27. barriejohn says:

    Stephen Mynett: The non-existence of Nazareth as a city – let alone a city on a hill – is a clincher, really. As the burial site of the locals from that era HAS been found,no one can use the popular argument, “The evidence just hasn’t been found yet”. There would be a significant graveyard if there had been a city there.

    It was prominent atheist David Fitzgerald of whom I was thinking. He has published a book in three parts this year, viz. Jesus: Mything in Action.

  28. Stephen Mynett says:

    Thanks Barriejohn I will look out for it. Richard Carrier has written some interesting stuff as well:

  29. pip says:

    @barriejohn, thank you for your concern over my delusion. Its always nice to have people looking out for me. (I say that with all sincerity brother!)

    Rest assured, My thoughts on human sexuality are of my own making. I feel that the spectrum of human sexuality is very wide, and each of us exist somewhere on this spectrum of sexuality.

    Also, whether we realise it or not, moral limits exist for ‘all’ people on sexuality. They just exist in different places on the spectrum. Even the most sexually liberated person stops at some point, and says ‘hey, I’m not comfortable with this’ or this is not ‘right’, even though I have heard sexuality should be explored freely.

    I agree, it should be explored freely, but only according to the moral boundaries of where the individual feels the boundaries should be.

    For my family’s sake, my hope is that my wife and I have drawn the same moral boundaries around each other, and no one else. This is an act of faith between me and her. Again, I would arrive at this same logical conclusion with or without my faith. Bottom line is, I want my wife to be available and committed to our little family as a wife and mother.

    Moral boundaries exist in other areas for other people. Some wives draw a grey line around each other, with a wide grey area where there is freedom to explore with other people. That is there choice.

    Gay people have there moral boundaries, I don’t talk with my friends in depth about these boundaries, but I am sure that they want commitment, loyalty and love just like the Monogamists, Polyamorist etc…

    The moral line is that thing that is taboo. It is that thing that is off limits. Other men, and other women are off limits to me and my wife. Men are taboo or off limits to me because I am hetero-sexual. Women are taboo to my wife because she is hetero-sexual (an assumption of faith on my part)

    Dr Lawrence Krauss always begs the question ‘Why does God care where we put our genetalia?’ –
    I would say cheekily, regardless of what God thinks, Its truly a Human thing to care about where other people put their genitalia.

    Hetero-sexuals, Homo-sexuals, Bi-sexuals, A-sexuals, Hyper-sexuals etc… moral boundaries exist for all groups.

    Is Moral conditioning an Anthropological phenomena? an evolutionary phenomena? a spiritual phenomena? I think it might be all three. But moral taboos exist for all of us, even if we don’t view ourselves as sexually liberated and free…

  30. barriejohn says:

    But why bring God into it? Why does there just HAVE to be a “spiritual” aspect?

  31. pip says:

    Sorry about the poor writing, I might be repeating myself in some places. I have ideas, but I’m not really a writer. I was just kind of trying to answer 1859 and johnbarrie.

  32. pip says:

    barriejohn (not johnbarrie)

  33. Stephen Mynett says:

    Pip, Professor Lawrence Krauss was being facetious when he posed that question, he is an atheist and his subject is phsyics/cosmology.

    No one is saying there are not moral limits we are just saying, as Barriejohn said, why bring a god into it. Like it or not the church you belong to has a history of homophobia and racism, things that no decently moral person should accept.

    Unlike Barriejohn I have been a life long atheist, although that has not stopped me reading books from many faiths and all those books have done is confirm my original opinion that gods do not exist and that they are not needed. Any decent group of people can work out a moral code, although the various forms of sectarianism, racism, homophobia, misogyny and violence shows that organised religions have not been very good at it.

    Also Pip, would you like to address the points Barriejohn and I made about the spread of Christianity.

  34. 1859 says:

    @pip:Thanksfor responding to the comments above. One thing that is very clear to me in all that you write, is that you have mixed together in the same bottle ‘morality’ and ‘god’ and given them a good shake. You do not need a deity of any description, to decide for you what is ‘good’ or ‘bad’ behaviour. As a human endowed with the powers of reason and self-criticism, you can make these decisions for yourself. Personally I try to behave towards others how I would like them to behave towards me. Moral boundaries as dictated by some organised religion just do not enter into this and as such I feel more in control of my own person – and, perhaps more importantly, it gives me a vast sense of freedom which is unimaginable to anyone caught in the ideological nets of a formal religion.

  35. pip says:

    @1859,barriejohn, stephenMynett – funny story, I didn’t know this was an atheist publication when I responded to the article (It was just listed with other articles on NZ PM when I googled her) but thanks for being very welcoming to my opinions, and letting me speak in this forum, and asking questions rather than hurling insults at a believer (which does happen sometimes)

    @barriejohn, In regards to the Mythical Christ argument, as far as I understand, the Historicity of Christ is not under scrutiny by scholars. Just his claim to divinity and resurrection (which is fair enough!) but there are non-Biblical references made of Christ, often by opponents/skeptics and persecutors of Christianity.

    Tacitus – Roman historian and Christian skeptic
    Lucian of Samosata – Greek Satirist, Rhetorician and Christian skeptic
    Flavius Josephus – Roman Jewish Scholar
    Celsus – Greek Philosopher, Christian executor and persecutor and skeptic
    Gaius Sutonius Tranquilus – Roman Historian and Scholar
    Thallus – Chronologer/Historian
    Talmud – Babylonian Historical document

    These sources are all rooted in Antiquity and are opponents of the Christianity. These were the Dawkins and Krauss’s of the ancient world who viewed Christians with contempt for worshipping Christ.

    I find these writings from these opponents and antagonists of Christianity so important, because it shows that there was something to oppose and push against.

    Christ and his followers existed, and they were there to be insulted, persecuted and executed.

    The debates being had within some of those ancient writings trying to explain away Christ’s magic tricks, or to describe that Christ was a bastard son of a Roman Soldier all show that there was someone to debate over. There was a magic trick that needed rational explanation. There was a Christ born without a Father to a naughty Mother. All of these show that something was there, because people don’t argue over nothing. unless your a astrophysicist 🙂

    So we can say, at the very least, with a reasonable level of certainty, that ‘someone’ named Christ, Christus, Chrestus or whatever other spelling or name they gave him was walking around the ancient world, performing magic tricks and calling himself God.

    We can say with reasonable certainty that he got himself in trouble with the law, and got himself executed. We can say with reasonable certainty that straw-headed believers started worshipping him as a God, and got themselves in trouble with the law at the time. Right?

  36. Stephen Mynett says:

    Pip, you really do need to check your facts. Mainy of those refernces you have gievn are false, even church scholars admitted the part of Flavius’ work about Jesus was a forgery. In many cases you are mistaking Christ and Christianiaty, there is a big difference and many of those writers you mention may have talked of the Messianic Cult of Chrisitianity, that is not the same as saying a Christ existed.

    I am afraid your arguments are basic religious apologetics stuff, not academic. I would also like you to respond to your earlier claims about the spread of Christianity which you failed to note was forced on people, often by violence and was not simply an obvious religious of choice for the people.

    Did you note the bit about Nazareth not existing at the time it was supposed to in the Bible, that shows a great chunk of the book is false. Please also note some of the work by later church scholars that show stories of Christian repression were vastly over-stated.

  37. barriejohn says:

    Pip: The only reason that so many comments by the religious receive abuse is that they WILL persist in merely posting quotations from their scriptures (much of it pasted), and telling everyone that unless they accept these statements as “The Truth” they are going to suffer in hell for all eternity. They don’t want a debate!

    I haven’t got time at the moment to reply properly to all the points that you make, but I agree with what Stephen Mynett says (and I am an ex-evangelical Christian myself): references to the Christian religion do not prove that Jesus himself existed, though I tend to the view that he was an amalgam of different “freedom fighters” who existed in plenty at the time, many of them taking the name “Jesus” (Joshua), after their Old Testament hero who supposedly cast the Canaanites out of the so-called Promised Land. My view is that Paul (if HE existed!), invented the Gentle Jesus of the Gospels, who contrasts markedly with the armed zealot who preached death and destruction, and certainly wouldn’t have had any sympathy with anyone who loved his enemies and turned the other cheek! I would strongly urge you to also look at the Dead Sea Scrolls, which show that the teachings ascribed to Jesus in the Bible are neither unique or revolutionary. When I “discovered” them for myself as young Christian they forced me to look at everything in a new light, as it became clear that claims made about Jesus were patently false. Apologists who claim that all references to a Messiah in the Scrolls must automatically refer to the Jesus of the Gospels are completely missing the point – they show that such ideas were current at that time.

  38. pip says:

    Well, as far as I can tell, Historians don’t agree with the mythical Christ idea. Even if you discount Flavius Josephus, you have other accounts that you have to deal with. These accounts are non-biblical, and rooted in antiquity as I mentioned.

    The Historians I have used to make my point are are Atheists (to remove the bias of faith and belief from what I was presenting) I tried not to use Christian apologists for the very same reason. All seem to be of the opinion that the historicity of Christ is pretty much accepted as fact.

    I don’t know what else i can say on the matter that is stronger than what these other Historians have mentioned.

  39. Stephen Mynett says:

    Pip, I am pushed for time at the moment so will not waste too much on you but you need to learn a little about what is genuine academic evidence and what is conjecture.

    Just because a Christ was mentioned somewhere does not mean he existed, you should also be more careful about your sources. You describe the Talmud as and ancient Babylonian historical document, it is not. Try this:

    The Talmud is central to Judaism, from where Christianity came, it is not historical but a collection of myths and stories.

    Perhaps rather than just listing names of people and documents you think proves your point you would show us the actual part of the text which shows it. We have heard all these “arguments” before and they are lame.

    Please, try to post some evidence, not opinion. You said this: “I don’t know what else i can say on the matter that is stronger than what these other Historians have mentioned.” The truth is you could not have posted stuff which was much weaker, just because they are ancient, “rooted in antiquity” does not make them right.

    Do you believe everything in the the Iliad or Odyssey is true? They are rooted in antiquity and some of the characters and places can be proven to have existed but that does not make it all true, they are narratives, just as the Bible, Talmud, Torah etc are.

    So, please, back up your arguments with quotes, not just generalisations and try to discern whether what you are reading is a genuine historical document of just a collection of ideas/myths from that time. Read again this quote from Barriejohn: “Apologists who claim that all references to a Messiah in the [Dead Sea] Scrolls must automatically refer to the Jesus of the Gospels are completely missing the point – they show that such ideas were current at that time.”

    Barriejohn makes a very good point there and one you should try to learn from. I am sorry but you are becoming a bore, I expect you will interpret this to me just being abusive to get rid of you, that is not the case, I am just fed up of seeing the same old tired arguments being rolled out by someone who has not bothered to try to consider facts.

    I have given you more time than your arguments deserve,in return I hope you re-read the things posted on this thread and try to be a little more academic in your analysis.

  40. pip says:

    I am being accused of not taking an Academic approach, But truth be told, my thoughts on the matter are borrowed from Academia itself.

    I might point out that Richard Dawkins tried to argue this very same point about the Mythical Christ with Scientist and Mathematician John Lennox, and failed miserably.

    Dawkins first made the bold claim ‘most’ historians don’t even believe Christ existed. John Lennox countered with his own fact checking with Historians,Lennox found the opposite was true.

    Dawkins backpedaled by saying 1-2 historians don’t believe Christ existed. Dawkins finally capitulated to Lennox’s facts, and ended up pivoting to a different topic.

    I did not mean to offend anyone with my comments. good day.

  41. Stephen Mynett says:

    Goodbye Pip, you were interesting for a while but ended up like all the rest with the same worn out arguments. As for your own estimation of your academic abilities I suggest you look up the Dunning Kruger effect.

  42. barriejohn says:

    Pip: I sometimes feel that Professor Dawkins should stick to debating science, as that is the subject in which he specializes. When I was a young Christian, we were told that “there is more evidence for Jesus Christ than there is for Julius Caesar”. This is absolute nonsense, but I have seen the claim repeated since, and I am sure that millions of Christians sincerely believe it today. Most (one might almost say “all”) of the evidence for Jesus, and in particular for the resurrection, is found within the Gospels themselves; but in a way it doesn’t matter whether “Jesus” existed or not. As you are familiar with the NT, you must realize that there is an amazing contrast in the Bible between the zealous, warrior Jesus, who told his followers to give away all their wealth, leave their work and family (even to “hate” their father and mother for his sake), carry no extra clothing, and assist him in setting up God’s Kingdom on earth, and the gentle, peace-loving Jesus, who taught people to love their enemies and turn the other cheek when persecuted. What is the explanation for this? Could it possibly be that at least one of them was pure invention? And if so, on which would you place YOUR money? Well, I can accept that the Zealot Jesus may have existed, but the “Gentle Jesus, meek and mild” is, to me, pure fabrication, whatever the case. It seems so plain to me now that great chunks of Essene and similar teachings have been put into the mouth of a fictitious itinerant preacher who was just too good to be true, and that miracle stories, etc, have been attached to him – a man who, as someone pointed out here the other day, came not to fulfil Old Testament teaching (like Soldier Jesus), but to REPLACE it. This, of course, fits in very neatly with Paul’s teaching that the OT had now been superseded, and was done with, and that a new theology had come into being. A bit TOO neatly, really! I can’t say that this interpretation is “the truth”, but it answers a lot of questions to which I could not find the answers even after many hours poring over the Bible with the aid of concordances, lexicons, “commentaries” and “harmonies”, trying to make all the facts fit. I am not being dogmatic, but just put these ideas out there for you and others to think about, as they are the result of my honest endeavours over the years to find that elusive “truth”!

  43. pip says:

    I don’t know how we got onto history, But I agree with you on Dawkins, he should have stayed within his area of expertise, which is evolutionary biology, but he decided to put his opinion in print inside of his book about matters of history, and now he must answer for his remarks.

    I also accept your points of discussion as valid. I am well aware that their are endless possibilities for arguments on Christ are many. Ill focus on 3.

    1- Christ the resurrected God incarnate
    This is at best a faith based hypothesis with no testable evidence. We have records from supposed eye witness, but these were believers, and are susceptible to bias.

    2- Christ the citizen
    Physical accounts and records accepted as real. Most Historians sit in this camp, and I acknowledge that this is as far as my Rational argument can go.

    3- Christ the Myth/invention
    Counter arguments used to attack authors and question the history that has been written (which is fair enough, Historians are susceptible to bias)
    But ironically, those who create content for 3 are just as susceptible to bias.

    I agree that the potential exists that the entire Canon of scripture may contain embellishments and exaggerations. But I cannot discount the personal intangibles such as Philosophy, Theology (which can at least investigate the idea and history of God in human society, rather than rubbish and discount it as nonsense)

    Mormons and Christians believe in a Celestial being creating the earth and organizing things. Sumerians attributed their technology to Extra-Terrestrials. Atheists such as Niell De Grasse Tyson have suggested that genetic material came from the cosmos. Dawkins attributes it to Natural Selection. Stephen Hawking attributes it to Gravity, Kachu says it might be from vibrating bands of energy, Krauss suggests quantum fluctuations etc…

    My point is after all is said and done, we are are all hypothesising about an unknown thing, and if a thing is unknown, we must accept that can stand on absolutism, and say I truly know. But I love the idea of discussing it, which is why I have enjoyed this discussion. I didn’t know about these Roman historians until BarrieJohn and 1859 pushed me to look into it. But I am not convinced ‘yet’ of the argument 3, that Christ does not exist, and was a political invention created to control the superstitious Christian masses that existed following the execution of Christ the citizen.