Sometimes one is stunned by blatant hypocrisy (or in some instances simple ignorance).
Such was my reaction recently to the objection of Mr. Robert Aughenbaugh [noted in a July 9, 2014 article in the Oregonian] (of the sneakily named atheist organization, Protect Portland Children) to the Child Evangelism Fellowship use of public school space for their summer Good News Clubs, an outreach to introduce local children (by parental permission only) to the good news (i.e. the gospel) of Jesus Christ. An Oregonian Live article afforded Mr. Aughenbaugh a big ‘microphone’ to sound off and of course he took full advantage to distort the picture. With the greatest of ease Mr. Aughenbaugh gyrated between hypocrisy and/or ignorance (it was not always easy to tell which, but certainly a large measure of the former.)
Hypocrisy? Strong word. But it is no overstatement here.
First of all, Mr. Aughenbaugh coyly fails to mention that his organization is an atheist enterprise. Why is that hypocrisy? Because Mr. Aughenbaugh’s group is not actually about “protecting Portland children” from anything except the knowledge of God and the historic gospel of Jesus Christ. Their pitch is atheism. What they are up to is doing all in their power to make Portland safe for their worldview. They would like the field all to themselves, unchallenged by Christian teaching. This is about shutting up and shutting out Christian voices in the marketplace of ideas.
To be clear, we have no objection whatever to this organization holding atheistic views. The law and even God himself gives unbelievers the right to be wrong. The truth can stand on its own feet. We disagree, even viscerally with many ideas people advance, but we support the right of even Mr. Aughenbaugh and his atheistic acolytes to shout their atheism from the rooftops. All I ask is for a little integrity. Let them just be honest about what their agenda is.
Here is why they are not. You see, their hypocrisy serves their ends. Were they just to speak the bald faced truth and plainly tell Portland that “we do not believe in God and we don’t want your children to believe in God either. Our opposition is just a tactic discourage people from exposing their children to Christian influence that might take deep hold on them and keep them from becoming the atheists we think they would be better off becoming,” we of course would deplore it, but heartily agree they have the right to say it. We are most content in the world of ideas to let water find its own level.
But, no, they hide their agenda behind a benign, but misleading name that masks what they are all about. It’s that shucking and jiving that sends up a red flag about the integrity of Mr. Aughenbauch and his associates This tactic of veiling the true nature of one’s cause under some high-sounding moniker is all too familiar to those who have studied the ways of radical and extremists groups in this country and others (especially Marxist ones). By their organizational tags they regularly and deliberately misdirect. That devious tactic alone should be a big red flag.
By contrast, one should note that that there is nothing disguised about Child Evangelism Fellowship or Good News (that is what ‘gospel’ means) Clubs. Forthright. Straight up. Totally honest in advertising what their agenda is. It is all about the Great Commission Jesus gave to His disciples 2100 years ago. This mission was to go into all the world and make disciples, baptizing them in [His] name and teaching them “everything I have taught you.” That includes not only adults, but children. We have been at it for centuries. That contrast in honesty is revealing about who can be trusted and who cannot.
The hypocrisy of this atheist organization appears starkly at several other levels.
For Mr. Augenbaugh to pretend high anxiety about children being exposed to “darkness,” (you know, making them aware of the fallen human condition which stands between lost humans and their Creator) is beyond hypocritical. I personally believe it is twisted. It is bad enough that in a sound bite way Mr. Augenbaugh grossly distorts our historic Christian message. Worse yet, this man and his kind show that they have no real conception of the darkness descending on our culture and our children (a darkness which they have no small part in deepening).
You want to talk about exposing children to darkness? Consider his worldview (atheism) and its awful effects on children (and adults):
“Hey, kid, forget this God stuff. The truth is, you are all alone in this world. You are on your own, honey. No God, no hope. There is no purpose, no meaning in life (except what in desperation you manufacture for yourself, like a good existentialist). What you see is what you get. After all the blood, sweat and tears, life is just a comedy of the absurd (Sarte). Oh, yes, just be realistic. Life is unfair and there is no justice in the end. Etc. etc.”
Now that is what I call ‘dark’. There is a message of hopelessness and despair. Might is right, boy. Kids growing up on that depressing message will have no fixed morals, no rooted ethics, for there is no final accountability, since there is no God. You want sullen kids and depression? I would love for Mr. Aughenbaugh to please tell me (and the world) how he with his atheism evades that logic. That is pure, unadulterated darkness to me. Who wants to live in a world like that?
The gospel of Jesus Christ offers hope. It identifies the root problem on this planet. It is corrupted human nature (called sin). Thankfully our sin and sinful condition can be pardoned. God in His grace sent His Son into the world to atone for all our sin. If we will repent and receive His atonement, we will be forgiven, the penalty of sin will be lifted and we will gain eternal life and the hope of the resurrection when Christ returns.
What is dark about that? We call that light in the surrounding darkness.
To smear up the message of historic Christianity like that is the height of hypocrisy and betrays lack of any semblance of moral perspective.
The truth is, biblical Christianity has changed the face of history and human conditions on this planet immeasurably. That is because it brings a message of hope in the face of the darkness that envelops it in the form of human bondage to sin and rebellion toward our Creator. We have a transforming answer. And it is the only answer.
Atheism, on the other hand, makes no one better, only intractably worse. Witness its tract record of horrific human abuse and slaughter (Marxism e.g. estimated killing of 120 or more millions of human beings). Atheism wants an amoral world (and boy, are they getting what they bargained for!), a world where there is no God, no judge, no justice (except as they decide it), no future. You want to talk about darkness? Why do you think so many of our kids are off-kilter? Sullen, depressed, loners, running with bad crowds, premature drunks, on drugs, getting in trouble with law, getting pregnant out of wedlock, unmotivated, immoral and unethical (no problem with lying) and coldly killing people?
It not because of Good News Clubs!
These are not the effects of the Christian message, the effects of authentic Christian homes or the effects of orthodox Christian churches or the influence of para-church ministries like CEF. Not to say that kids with those problems cannot emerge from those environments with those issues, but only to say that those are not the influences of Christian teachings, but another example of the effects that take over when those influences are rejected.
If Mr. Aughenbaugh were truly concerned about bad influences, wouldn’t make a lot more sense for him and his group to target the hopelessness and despair and loneliness and sheer wickedness and the immoral influences that destroying the moral fiber of our country? But then, if his group were to do that, they would have to look themselves straight in the mirror and say, Atheist, you are a huge part of the darkness that is enveloping this world. CEF is trying to do its part to bring the good news of Jesus Christ to children who without God, who are without help and without hope. What is Mr. Aughenbaugh doing in a positive way to change the tide of evil that is sweeping our nation and corrupting our children?
Nothing. This is rank hypocrisy. Show me one person, just one, whose life was a wreck who has been transformed by the message of atheism. Show me one and I will show you hundreds whose messed up lives and homes have been ennobled by the message of Jesus Christ. What we bring to children is not darkness, but light. But just as physicians, in order to remedy diseases and perilous conditions, must tell their patients bad news, so we must alert children and adults to the bad news in order to enlist their wills to embrace the redemptive news.
If we believe the Scriptures, as orthodox Christianity has for two millennia (and counting), it would be cruel and irresponsible to withhold what we believe to be divine revelation to mankind because persons like this organization object to it. If our message is true (Mr. Aughenbaugh, I suspect, if he is of the post-modern stripe like so many of his secularist comrades, doesn’t even believe in “truth,” another very dark worldview), then it is the height of indifference, if not hate for the human race, to suppress it. That is irrefutable logic, I think most people would agree.