The Raving Theist

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God Squad Review CLV

January 16, 2006 | 12 Comments

How does anyone know what’s “right” when it comes to religion? That’s the question from a Squad reader who has been at the brink of death due to cancer and wants to go to heaven — but is concerned about all those who say that their faith is the only path to salvation. Should she listen to them? The Squad gives a definitive, thundering yes-no-maybe:

Sometimes, the religious message of love is entrusted to hateful people. Sometimes, communities of faith that teach the value of welcoming the seeker and the stranger, instead become communities of exclusion.

However, just as you wouldn’t condemn all of medicine over the presence of some quack doctors, so we urge you not to condemn all organized religion because of a few spiritually limited representatives. As we’ve often said in our column, the “one-wayers,” those who believe that only those in their church will be saved, may be right! Perhaps there is just one way up the mountain and they have found it. But we don’t think they’re right, and we don’t believe God would give all the truth to just one denomination in one religion. Only after we die and approach the pearly gates will we all be able to sort things out.

* * *

Don’t give up. The place where diamonds are found is mostly filled with dirt.

Actually, as I’ve pointed out before, half of the Squad doesn’t believe there are many paths up the mountain. Father Tom is a “one-wayer.” They’ve expressly admitted that he believes that Christ-belief is essential to getting into heaven.

That belief is certainly clearer than anything else they say about the subject. Why wouldn’t a perfect God give all the truth to one denomination — is it preferable to sprinkle a combination of lies and truth in every religion so no one can be sure of anything? And are they suggesting that we listen to the hateful, exclusionary people anyway just in case they’re right? By that logic, are they urging us to go to the quack doctors as well? If I’m reading their closing line correctly, it also seems they’re suggesting we explore the filthiest religions because diamond are found in dirty holes.

Though it hardly seems possible, their answer to the next question makes even less sense. A parent has written in to say that her Jewish daughter is about to marry a Catholic man, and that the couple has decided to compromise with respect to childrearing. Although she wants to raise the kids Jewish, his parents oppose that. Accordingly, they’ve decided that “there will be no religion in their house — just the two them respecting each other.” The Squad concludes as follows:

Children can be raised without any religion, but they can’t be raised in a lie. The truth of what your daughter is about to enter through marriage is that you will have Catholic grandchildren (even though, technically, they will be fully Jewish, and if they ever decide to reaffiliate as Jews, they won’t need to convert back to Judaism).

If your daughter is really willing to give up on bequeathing her Judaism to her children, she can go ahead and get married. If she knows she’ll resent being forced to raise her children as nothings or as Catholics, she should break off the engagement and find a Jewish guy and a marriage that will not begin with two strikes against it.

I would critique this answer if I had some idea of what the Squad means, but I don’t. First, what is the “lie” the children will be raised in? Catholicism, Judaism, or atheism? Are they saying that it’s a lie to believe that the children with be “nothings” when in fact they’ll be Catholic? And why will the children be Catholic? Is it some sort of genetic thing (which appears to be their basis for saying the children are “technically” Jewish)? Given that they don’t believe that God gives all the truth to just one denomination, I don’t see how they’re in a position to call any mixture of belief or nonbelief a “lie.”


12 Responses to “God Squad Review CLV”

  1. Andrea
    January 17th, 2006 @ 1:16 am

    Since “technically, they will be fully Jewish” why does it even matter how the kids are raised? Clearly genes are all that’s required to be a member of a religion. So glad I know that it doesn’t matter what I believe as long as I can “techincally” identify my religion. This news will be such a relief to all the readers of this site. Now our religious parents don’t need to worry about our god-denying, shrivelled little hearts.

  2. MattH
    January 17th, 2006 @ 1:53 am

    Perhaps they don’t trust the Catholics, who obviously are just going to SAY they’ll compromise but sneak in eucharists when the Jewess isn’t looking.

  3. a different tim
    January 17th, 2006 @ 5:28 am

    I think it’s touching how RA keeps expecting the God Squad to make sense.

  4. Morgan McEvoy
    January 17th, 2006 @ 7:16 am

    Well, Judaism is at least partly an ethnicity and community, more so than something like Catholicism or Islam. Converting to Judaism doesn’t just mean practicing a religion but also becoming a Jew in a larger sense. This sense of ‘jewness’ isn’t genetic but can, apparently, be inherited – the child of a Jewish woman is a Jew, however he is raised, and whatever his beliefs. I think the Squad’s point is that the kids wouldn’t have to go through any formal conversion process if they decided they wanted to practice Judaism later in life.

    I have no idea what they’re on about saying that they would actually be Catholic, though. Wouldn’t they have to be baptised for that?

  5. hermesten
    January 17th, 2006 @ 9:29 am

    Expecting the Squad to make sense is like expecting Thomas Kincaid to produce a work of art, or the Chimp to tell the truth.

  6. coyote1284
    January 17th, 2006 @ 10:19 am

    “one-wayer” is not exactly a Christian vs. everyone else idea. It describes a Christian sect that believes that just that sect will go the heaven, i.e. Baptists that think Catholics/Methodists/ect. will go to hell because they don’t practice the exact same rules.

  7. Andrea
    January 17th, 2006 @ 10:46 am

    People can’t inherit a “sense” of anything, they either believe or don’t believe. The God Squad consider children Jewish despite their Catholic upbringing; this makes about as much sense as Jews feeling some connection with an atheist just because his mother happens to be Jewish. It’s one thing to claim Judaism is more than just believing in a higher power; it’s quite another to accept non-believers into their culture and voluntarily invalidate their own religion.

  8. severalspecies
    January 17th, 2006 @ 1:16 pm

    I agree with ADT, Why expect their anwers to make sense, even their name doesn’t quite fit. Whenever I think of a squad, I usually think of four, maybe five people or more. They should call themselves the “Godd couple”.

    Note to RA: should you tire of picking on the “Godd couple” (and I’m surprised you aren’t), listen to for more bizarre anecdotes and answers.

  9. Jason
    January 17th, 2006 @ 2:48 pm


    I respectfully suggest that you retire your incessant criticism of the God Squad’s inconsistencies. The problem is not that you aren’t doing a very good job at it. The problem that I see with it is that I don’t think it serves any purpose. The Squad’s answers are obviously conflicting, and pointing this out is like shooting fish in a barrel. Furthermore, (and I may be wrong in this,) I don’t think that the Squad holds very much sway in the religious world. I don’t know what thei readership is, but I can’t imagine it’s very high. Perhaps you should move on to higher-profile targets.

    – Jason

  10. godsarefake
    January 17th, 2006 @ 6:22 pm

    C’mon folks the GS aren’t that opaque, are they? The “lie” they refer to is the one the parents are making when they think they can raise their kids without a religion, despite their strong familial ties to religion. They are simply implying that, despite the parent’s best intension to raise the child without religion, some religion will undoubtedly creep in from them. It’s the same “lie” made by European-American couples who think they can effectively raise an African-American child to be “color blind”. The thing this kind of logic misses, of course, is that homogeneous families merely are unaware of their closet bigotry and religious biases they hold, and it is precisely due to the introduction of mixing of religion (and race) that brings this ugliness to the surface and allows people to deal with it.

    …and I think their belief that Catholicism will be the default religion of the grandchildren is more of a marketing ploy for their stupid position that parents are somehow better off if they are the same faith. Many Jews are afraid of losing their religion and culture to assimilation into an overwhelming Christian America. Since they are talking to a Jewish mother, I think they are merely trying to enlist this woman as a soldier in their crusade to stop mixed marriages. By scaring her with apocalyptic visions of gentile grandchildren, these morons are hoping this lady will put more effort into breaking up her daughter’s engagement to a non-Jew.

    As an atheist who has been inundated by Catholic and Jewish faiths in my own life, I would say that the GS are probably right — more grandchildren will probably turn to Catholicism than Judaism due to the reasons outlined by Morgan McEvoy above — but the obvious point the GS miss is that many of this couple’s ancestors may also use their mixed heritage to turn away from dogmatic adherence to antiquated religions and simply become more open-minded agnostics or atheists.

  11. Kafkaesquí
    January 17th, 2006 @ 11:45 pm

    Why are so many people demanding RA give up blogging on Mondays?

  12. Dillon
    January 22nd, 2006 @ 6:21 am


    Main Entry: Jew
    Pronunciation: ‘jü
    Function: noun
    Etymology: Middle English, from Old French gyu, from Latin Judaeus, from Greek Ioudaios, from Hebrew YehudhI, from YehudhAh Judah, Jewish kingdom
    1 a : a member of the tribe of Judah b : ISRAELITE
    2 : a member of a nation existing in Palestine from the 6th century B.C. to the 1st century A.D.
    3 : a person belonging to a continuation through descent or conversion of the ancient Jewish people
    4 : one whose religion is Judaism

    Main Entry: 1Is·ra·el·ite
    Pronunciation: ‘iz-r(E-)&-“lIt
    Function: noun
    Etymology: Middle English, from Late Latin Israelita, from Greek IsraElitEs, from IsraEl
    : a descendant of the Hebrew patriarch Jacob; specifically : a native or inhabitant of the ancient northern kingdom of Israel

    Main Entry: He·brew
    Pronunciation: ‘hE-(“)brü
    Function: noun
    Etymology: Middle English Ebreu, from Old French, from Late Latin Hebraeus, from Latin, adjective, from Greek Hebraios, from Aramaic ‘Ebrai
    1 a : the Semitic language of the ancient Hebrews b : any of various later forms of this language
    2 : a member of or descendant from one of a group of northern Semitic peoples including the Israelites; especially : ISRAELITE

    One has to be baptized to be a CHRISTIAN, and have one’s first communion, confession, and one’s confirmation to be a Catholic–as I am. And being born of a Jewish mother–as I am–makes one ethnically a Jew whether one practices Judaism or not. Also, if a Gentile begins practicing Juaism he is a Jew. If these two people marry and choose no religion, but do not teach them there is no God, then they will be raised as, and by, agnostics, and still be of Jewish descent. Simple, no? Now knock it off, huh?

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