A message to Charles Hawthorne, Puritan preacher of Minekey


Dear Mr Hawthorne,

I thought I should take the time to make clear that I do not have the slightest problem with you being a Christian or with you holding onto the beliefs you do. I don't agree with them, but I don't dismiss them.
What I have a major problem with is your superiority complex, your insistence that because you believe that this is the right way to live, everyone else has to do the same. I am affronted by the way you preach and lecture people, your deeply offensive condemnation of others whose only apparent 'crime' is enjoying a healthy sex life. What harm does their behaviour actually do, beyond offending a God whose very existence is questionable at best (and it is questionable whether you like it or not), and who, by your own argument, is unknowable and whose will we therefore cannot be sure of? And sitting in judgement over people the way you do is surely an offence to what you perceive God to be? For by doing so, you are presuming to do what God alone is entitled to do.
When you are challenged on these points, you start resorting to short-tempered swipes that don't really answer the questions being asked. You keep using glaringly circular reasoning of the long-discredited "The Bible is the truth because it says so in the Bible" variety, and your arguments frequently contradict each other e.g. "We must obey the Bible to bring us closer to God," and "We cannot know God through Man's intelligence", despite the Bible being a product of Man's intelligence.
When I try to get you and those around you to stick to the point and to answer the questions I ask, you start accusing me of being a bully. Your constant preaching to others to try and force them to bring their lifestyles into line with your own, your threats of eternal damnation for disobedience and so on and so forth resemble bullying at least as much, but for some reason that's okay because you do it in the name of the Lord. But in any case, if the likes of you, Lynda and Darlene would try answering my questions to begin with, I wouldn't have to 'bully' any of you, would I? Cries of "BULLY!" and "FASCIST!" in the face of a powerful counter-argument are an ancient method of evasion that fool nobody. I have had arguments with teenagers who respond less petulantly than you.
You show other signs of hysteria. You did accuse me of being an atheist, which I am not, both before and after I put you right about it, and you accused me of saying there is no morality, which I did not. Putting words in an opponent's mouth is a classic tactic of trying to shout him down and cast him in a poor light. It is also, on a purely aesthetic level, extremely poor debating technique. You further accuse me of being 'brainwashed'. This is fantastic hypocrisy, given that you are the one whose attempts to construct an argument are often composed of verbatim quotes from a single book.
Now I repeat that I do not dismiss God as impossible, which means I cannot be an atheist, but until I see some hard evidence that God is real, I see no reason to follow his word. Therefore I believe everyone has the right to think and live for themselves, provided that in doing so they do not infringe on the happiness and freedom of others, without having their ways and beliefs dictated to them from the pulpit.
You on the other hand show all the hallmarks of a theist demagogue who can't bear to see others thinking and living for themselves. It is that, not your faith, that I find so utterly repugnant. I don't know who the hell you think you are, but you espouse deeply offensive, obsolete views that you are unable to provide a sustainable argument in favour of. You are a deeply offensive man, Mr Hawthorne, you insult and affront a lot of people who have done nothing to deserve it. In the hope of pleasing someone who might exist, you upset many people who definitely do exist and have done nothing harmful by anybody. Think about that.
So when you preach, I will challenge you. If you don't like it, you'll have to out-debate me. If you can't - and given your irrelevant, exasperated faffing during our arguments it's clear that you are powerless to do so - you'll have to stop preaching and learn to do as the overwhelming majority of Christians do; practise their faith as a matter of private choice, and stop inflicting it on anyone who hasn't asked them to. I have the utmost respect for them.
And never judge me or anyone else you haven't even met. For you to do that is to presume yourself to be the equal of your own God. Surely there is no worse blasphemy than that?
Polite regards
Martin Odoni