This has really got me fired up.


BEND, Ore. -- To most people, there is nothing humorous about crime, or religious beliefs. But a group with a name many would find amusing is very serious about helping two churches vandalized in its name. Word of Sunday night's tagging spread to Pastafarian members with the Church of The Flying Spaghetti Monster and atheists across the country.
One of them decided to do something about it - from halfway across the country.
"You know, when I saw this church get vandalized and someone did it, I guess through atheism or Pastafarianism, I just figured the church, even though they are wrong and even though I disagree with their beliefs, they didn't deserve this," atheist Hemant Mehta said Wednesday. "So I think a lot of readers on my site would agree with this, so I asked them if they would consider chipping in."
Hemant Mehta, who goes by "the friendly atheist," created a church cleanup donation fund online from his home in Chicago.
In less than 24 hours, it's already raised nearly $3,000.
His message: This isn't about giving money to a church, it's about righting a wrong.
"This isn't about what they believe and what we believe. Nno one is advocating this," Mehta said. "I don't know who did this, and I hope that whoever did it is caught. But in the meantime, this is the least that anyone can do to just help this church."
Reactions in the non-theist community have ranged from applause to gasps of dismay.
But local churches say that believers or non-believers, the support from the community has been overwhelming.
"You see people who maybe have very different belief systems, and yet come together and realize we are all human." said Mike Alexander with the Westside Church. "And even in this local community of Bend, in the last several hours raise up and do the same thing."
Christian Life Center already has completed most of the clean-up, and the writing on the wall is nearly gone.
Pastor John Bluebaugh said though they wont have much need for the money, we need to learn a lesson.
"It's a good lesson for us to understand that not everyone that adheres to a faith or a belief system is extreme like that and would do something like this," Bluebaugh said Wednesday.
Deschutes County Sheriff's deputies said the vandals could be charged with criminal mischief and intimidation. Both misdemeanor crimes that come with possible jail time and fines up to $2,500
If you have information, call the Crime Stoppers tip line at 1-877-876-TIPS.
You can remain anonymous, and you may be eligible for a cash reward.


This Church actively promotes theocracy, evolution denial, and Bible literalism (read homophobia), and all the other wonderful selective text reading that comes along with Evangelicals. Do I condone the vandalism? No. I don't. However, they're not victims. They're a business. They have insurance. They are part of a church that's part of a billion dollar political machine that is working to blur the lines between church and state constantly, and holds a massive supermajority in this country. I think it was wrong to do this collection, even if the spillover from the cost of the cleanup, goes to a secular foundation. Condemnation of the act is enough and is way more than any of them would ever do if the shoe were on the other foot. 


Another thing, I'm getting tired of people making grand gestures on behalf of atheists. I don't want to support that church for the reasons I stated above. I'm not sorry they got vandalized. They preach exclusionary, hateful messages every Sunday. Don't take up a collection as though it's the morally right thing to do, when in truth, it's quite ambiguous, and then offer it on behalf of atheists. That ticks me off.

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theocracy, evolution denial, and Bible literalism (read homophobia)
I only specifically looked for homophobia, but couldn't spot it on the churches' websites. Maybe I missed it, care to link to the relevant pages?

They run an ex-gay program and are apparently linked to Exodus International. At best there are psychologically abusing people and screw them up for many years. At worst they are killing people. Giving money to them is beyond disgusting.


The pastor also a comment that his god will exact vengeance on the vandals, thus showing that he has no moral problems with eternal torture.

I saw the pastor's comment at Friendly Atheist, that would have put me off, too.


I don't really doubt they Exodus link, but I still like to see a link for it, to see for myself, could you point me towards it?

Meh.  I mean, I can see your point and agree with you to some degree, but there are so many other things that are more deserving of contempt that I just can't get too excited over something minor like this.

I have to disagree. Though I hate the idea of giving money to any religious group I do think it is very important to repudiate acts of vandalism or destruction. And the best way to repudiate something really is to do something to fix it.
People loudly and strongly condemn actions all the time. It looks and sounds meaningless. Raising money to fix something however, says more strongly than any amount of condemnation: "This is not who we are and not what we stand for, we are not the ones who desecrate and spew violence and hatred."
Besides I do not think a collection like this is so much a grand symbolic gesture on behalf of all atheists as it is a means for individuals to communicate their disapproval, and it seems more meaningful than the alternative of loudly and publicly denouncing fellow atheists for the graffiti.
I agree with Sin 100%.  Actions speak much louder than words.  In fact, I would go so far as to say it would be hypocritical of the "atheist movement" as a whole to be angry about actions being taken to repair the damage because we tend to demand that of Muslims.  It's fairly common (and rightly so) to see atheists questioning why moderate Muslims don't put a fraction of the energy into publicly protesting against terrorism and hate, compared with the world wide outbursts at the slightest joke/comic strip regarding their prophet.  Sure, they say they don't support the killings, terror, etc but you don't see them doing much about it?  Perhaps it's because they secretly support this behavior?  It is right to question this, as Muslims are famous for being less than honest when talking about Islam with outsiders / infidels.  If atheists are to be respected then we need to at least live up to our own standards.  This collection effort is has nothing to do with the Church's message, and everything to do with making a public statement about the integrity of atheists and free thinkers as a whole.

Well said Apple. We do need to show we can rise above the hatred by our actions. Plus, demonstrating that "Being good without god" is not just a clever catch phrase.


That's inaccurate, Apple.


The FSM "prophet" publicly denounced the vandalism. That alone is more than Muslims have done to protest the outbursts. Also, and I'm getting a little testy about this point, there is no such thing as an atheist movement. I see a lot of people here who are humanists, a philosophy, which as I learn more about, I get more turned off by. Atheism is a part of an individual's greater philosophy, it's not an end in itself. Denunciation is an action. It is a public distancing from the vandalism. 


I also do not necessarily see this as a "good" action. I see it as an act of misplaced compassion.

Good analogy! I wanted to point out one about Mormons and how they feel about polygamists. They don't talk about them, basically, but when the latest scandal about polygamist comes out, all Mormons get a bad rap.
I'm with Sin on this one.
We claim, as humanists, to have a morality superior to that displayed in religious texts, but if we don't ACT on our morality when members of our community act like extremist dis-compassionate assholes, then as Apple pointed out, we are no better than the Muslim or Christian who stays silent about their own extremists.

What this church preaches is irrelevant. Part of being a Humanist is showing compassion for ALL humanity, not matter what their creed.


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