One Million Moms" campaign. If not, the long and the short of it is that this "family" organization is trying to have Ellen fired, as a J.C. Penney spokesperson, simply because she's gay. Whoops, sorry about that, it's actually because J.C. Penney needs to "remain neutral in the culture war". It's a lost cause, of course, since J.C. would literally have to be bat-shit crazy to fire someone as wildly popular as Ellen Degeneres. Besides, they've already told "One Million Moms" to "suck it" (J.C. Penney didn't actually use those words; but I have to admit it would have been pretty funny if they had).
Now, despite the exaggerated numbers ("One Million Moms", yeah right) the truth is, more than likely, that the majority of Christians probably don't want to see Ellen fired.
But hearing this story got me to thinking about how more moderate Christians internally "process" the existence of people like Ellen. For example, I recently overheard a conversation (on Ellen) between a couple of Christian friends of mine. It was a perfectly routine interaction, for within Christian circles, but I haven't been able to stop thinking about the implications of it over these past few weeks. Basically, the discussion went (roughly) a little something like this...
Friend 1..."Did you hear about that thing Ellen did yesterday?"
Friend 2..."Yes! Wow! She gives away the best prizes of anyone on television!"
Friend 1..."I think even non-Christians can sometimes do good things. She does do a lot of good, for people who really need it, on her show...". (Pregnant pause, to see if friend 2 will agree to the premise...)
Friend 2..."Yeah, you're right, she does help a lot of people."
At this point, the conversation on Ellen pretty much died. I mean, there was really nothing left for them to say. I think it's because the next logical step, in that stream of thought, is to wonder why Ellen does so many "good things" "even though" she's not a Christian (and she's gay). Truth be told, most Christians haven't the faintest idea whatsoever.
This innocent discussion, between my two friends, demonstrates something I'm going to call "The Ellen Effect". Let's define "The Ellen Effect" this way; "cognitive dissonance, created in religious believers, by non-believers who are well known for their good deeds and/or strong character".
Pat Tillman, Angelina Jolie, and Warren Buffett. The first is a guy who voluntarily stepped down, from a prestigious professional football career, so he could serve his country in the army. (Sadly, he also died for his country.) The second is a woman who has chosen to use her considerable fame to promote humanitarian causes (and she takes those causes seriously). The third is a noted philanthropist, having pledged to give away 99% of his fortune to charity. Despite their considerable "good works", none of these people seems to have the slightest interest in Christianity (or religious belief of any kind). Two of them, in fact, are (or were) avowed atheists.
But all of this should lead the thinking believer, very naturally, to the doorstep of two obvious questions; a) what motivates these people?, and b) why do they deserve eternal punishment, after living this sort of life? Christians will sometimes attempt to give a reasonable (but not plausible) answer to the first question, but I have never once heard anything even approaching a reasonable answer to the second.
So, based on "The Ellen Effect", here's my suggestion...not only should us unbelievers avoid being dicks, we should look for ways to increase (and point out) "The Ellen Effect" wherever we see it. We need to give more money to charity. We need to dedicate (or even lay down) our lives for the betterment of our fellow man and woman. We need to make "The Ellen Effect" so huge that it reaches a tipping point; where believers begin to see their own beliefs as unpalatable. And we need to stop accepting it when they say "I don't know because I'm not God", in answer to whether or not a specific person is (or will be) in Hell. I'm not talking here about Universalist Christians, I'm talking about the lion's share of Evangelicals (who reject Universalism in the strongest possible terms). We need to get these sorts of believers to actually admit, as this guy did, that those who don't believe as they do will be punished in Hell forever and ever and ever and ever and ever and ever. And then we need to ask them why such and such a person deserves this fate. Is it justice? Is it fair? Is it even "moral", according to literally any sensible definition of the word, for God to treat people in this manner? What is it exactly? Quoting the Bible won't do. We're not asking what you believe, we're asking why you think what you believe is actually true. Believer, if you can't answer these questions, without strain, than your faith is not a reasonable one and you should give it a very hard second look.
I think the Christians over at "One Million Moms" are the truly honest ones. They believe that Ellen is wallowing in the muck and the mire of her own filthy sin. This unimaginable sin is horribly disgusting to God. (And, according to Christian theology, all the other sins are too.) Maybe getting fired from J.C. Penney would be the wake up call that Ellen needs, y'know, to save her eternal soul from damnation?
"The Ellen Effect" played a big role in my own loss of faith. Sure, there is an abundance of evidence against Christianity and I've talked, and will continue to talk, about some of those individual pieces of evidence here on the "Respectful Atheist" blog. At the end of the day though, Christianity starts to seem a little crazy too. The problem is you can't see the crazy, while you're still a Christian, because you're in too deep to think straight. Christians hypothesize a God who gives humans no eternal credit whatsoever for what they DO in this life. But if you reject the historicity of some really fantastic supernatural things, that supposedly happened 2, 000 years ago, you're mega screwed. But, hey, it must all be true. It says so right there in the Bible.