An Open Letter to John Loftus of “Debunking Christianity”

[Note:  John Loftus hosts the blog Debunking Christianity.  He is author of the book Why I Became an Atheist.  John was an evangelical Christian before becoming an atheist.]

John,

I have decided to stop reading and commenting on your blog.  The reason for this is the way you operate your blog.  That is, you portray yourself as open-minded but your blog actually functions as an echo chamber for your beliefs, and works aggressively to quench and stigmatize any dissent from those who would comment on it.

I have observed and experienced first hand on multiple occasions the way your “regulars” swamp any comments favorable to Christ with multiple hostile refutations.  Earlier this week, I commented on a post of yours and was met with numerous pointed challenges – including gratuitous insults and invectives –  by your regulars.  I did not complain about the venom but rather responded to each one with a calm focus on the points at issue.    After a few days, this resulted in a total of some 250 comments (mine being a sizable fraction of the total, written with great care and respect for those who would read them).  I was satisfied that I was at least able to convey my point of view.  You found this intolerable, and you said you were going to delete all the comments and re-publish your post without them.  And that you did.  All the work I put into those comments offering reasoned explanations to your “debunkers” was washed away in an instant.  I wrote those explanations for you and your debunkers but also for the Christians uncertain in their faith who visit your site.  I wanted to give those unsettled believers another side to what they were hearing from you.  If they decided to follow you then so be it, but at least they got to hear another side.  You obviously don’t want them to hear that other side, because it threatens your goal of deconverting them from their faith in Christ.

You operate your blog like a church, and not a very open-minded church at that.  You are the pastor and your regulars are the choir.  You seek visitors because you want your church to grow.  You seek to convert the visitors by bullying and applying enormous peer pressure on them.  When you went from evangelical to atheist all you did was change uniforms – you’re still doing all the recruiting, enlisting, training, and battling that you did before.  It’s still all about getting people to say, “Amen” to you and your worldview.  It’s only your worldview that has changed.  And your blog actually operates more like a gang than a church.

Jesus of Nazareth lived a life more moral than that of anyone else.  He truly came from heaven to earth.  And to heaven He has returned through His resurrection.  It is bad enough that you have turned your back on Him.  But that you have set up a website whose purpose is to persuade others to imitate your mistake is truly tragic and deeply saddening.

I had hoped we could have a mutually respectful dialogue on our points of disagreement.  Your methods, however, will not allow that.  You only want two or three comments from dissenters which will then be drowned out by your sycophantic followers in vituperative tones rather than rational discourse.  While I occasionally sense some good will from them, their predominant tone was hostile and they liked “piling on.”  You never jumped in to stop their overkill; only to stop the one commenting for Christ.  Nevertheless, I bear no ill will toward you or them.  The Lord is judge of us all.

I move on because I cannot in good conscience be a part of your trap for shaken believers.  You are shrewd enough to keep just enough believers in Christ around to make the game seem unrigged.  But it is rigged.  I’m sure you would never sign up for a debate in which you were allowed up to three presentations and your opponent was allowed unlimited rebuttals.  And yet that is the basis on which you “invite” dissenting Christians to debate on your site.  I’m not the only person I’ve seen you threaten to bar for commenting too much – even though all we did was respond to the comments made to us.  A newbie comes by and reads a post from you that is followed by a mountain of comments that disdain the few that might dare to disagree with you, and figures, “Wow, this atheist argument is really powerful!”  I can’t let my words and my time be invested in such a scam.

I hope you will come to your senses, John, and return to Jesus Christ.  If you ever loved Him in the first place, you surely should love Him now.  His forbearance towards us is amazing.  And the magnanimity of His grace unprecedented.  There is truly none like our Lord Jesus Christ.

We shall all bow the knee to Him one day.  I bow mine now.  I won’t be reading or commenting on your site again, so the next time you hear from me will be if and when you reach out to me.  May God have mercy on us all.

Mike

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6 Responses to An Open Letter to John Loftus of “Debunking Christianity”

  1. Pingback: Dialogue with Others at “Debunking Christianity” (re: Christ and the New Testament) | Current Events in Light of the Kingdom of God

  2. Anonymous says:

    Mike, you were respectful but ignorant. I cannot convince you that you are ignorant, for in order to do so I must give you an education, something I cannot do online. You can always write here.

    Cheers.
    John

  3. Mike Gantt says:

    John,

    I appreciate the note and the sentiment. Nevertheless, I stand by what I wrote above. Godspeed.

  4. Breckmin says:

    There is a credibility issue when every time we post or answer questions – we are met with “you’re a troll” or “you’re crazy” or “you’re insane,” etc
    And by the regulars, indeed.

    It is very disappointing that there isn’t better policing going on – that would encourage point for point rebuttal rather than meaningless personal attacks.

  5. Mike says:

    Hi Mike,

    We seem to have run into the same problem but from opposite directions. I blog now and then on Christian websites (I’m a former evangelical and now a Deist) and my experience is that blogging Christians are rude, insulting and flat out lie, big time, major league. The reason you and I have encountered problems, you with unbelievers and myself with believers , is pretty simple; one we are in some sense trespassing and seen as the enemy, we are the minority and maybe the most important is that people tend to say stuff they would never say if talking to others face to face. And of course everybody knows that when in social situations with strangers it is wise to avoid politics and religion, they are simply hot button topics.
    Kind regards

  6. Mike Gantt says:

    Mike,

    I have actually encountered this problem both with unbelievers and with believers. Unbelievers don’t like my talking about Jesus Christ and “believers” don’t like my talking about His taking everyone to heaven. (I put “believers” in quotation marks because I don’t think any true believer would act with hostility toward my views – even if he disagreed with them.) After many experiences like the one I had with John, described above, I began to see a pattern.

    Wikipedia defines an “Internet troll” as “a person who sows discord on the Internet by starting arguments or upsetting people, by posting inflammatory, extraneous, or off-topic messages in an online community (such as a newsgroup, forum, chat room, or blog) with the deliberate intent of provoking readers into an emotional response or of otherwise disrupting normal on-topic discussion, often for their own amusement.” Though this does not describe me at all, I did come to realize that this is how people like John saw me – whether they derided faith in Christ or professed it. The point for them was that I was disagreeing with them…and they didn’t like that.

    I agree with the adage that it’s wise to avoid politics and religion with strangers, but it never occurred to me that I should be just as reticent to engage with people who write publicly-accessible blogs about politics or religion!

    In our politically-correct world of “trigger warnings” and “micro-agressions” it’s difficult to challenge a prevailing point of view because any challenge is viewed as “hate speech.” I’ve learned this the hard way through multiple experiences with blogs like John’s. As a result, I seldom comment on the blogs of others anymore (List of Blogs on Which I No Longer Comment). I focus all my attention on communicating through my own blog where I can be sure that those who challenge me will be treated respectfully and their opinions can be heard and examined.

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