Humanism letter to the editor published

Bumper sticker from the Freedom From Religion Foundation


During my stay in Columbus for the Secular Student Alliance‘s 2012 annual convention, a local newspaper published a letter to the editor I had written concerning humanism and the (lack of) efficacy of prayer and supernatural pleas in regards to a pious pastor who attempted to address the problem of violence in Northeastern Pennsylvania. I have addressed this pastor, Rev. Michael Brewster, in previous posts on this website. Below is the letter.

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I was dismissed as ‘professional atheist,’ ‘insensitive,’ ‘self-absorbed’ by local newsradio host

In my last two posts regarding the Christian response to the death of Tyler Winstead, I argued that Rev. Michael Brewster’s comments were vapid, did nothing to address problems of violence, and were problematic considering they offer false hope to people who believe they’re actually doing something to address a problem. If you haven’t read the posts, please take some time to read them so you can understand the context of this post.

Drawing on the comments from my two blog posts, I posted some comments on WILK Newsradio’s Facebook page responding to this following status

Tyler Winstead’s funeral packed the Mt. Zion Baptist Church with celebration, heartache and the promise of church-led community action to make Wilkes-Barre a better, peaceful city. What will it take for the dream to succeed? Talk to “Corbett” at 3 about the future.

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The failure of the Christian response to the death of Tyler Winstead

In a previous post, I analyzed and aggregated many of the comments some Christians in my community were voicing in response to the shooting death of a 14-year-old boy named Tyler Winstead. In particular (and as expected for better or for worse), Rev. Michael Brewster of Mount Zion Baptist Church received a great deal of coverage in the media and had a really good opportunity to offer some solutions to respond to violence in Northeastern Pennsylvania…but he blew it. Instead of offering some real-world solutions or attempts to ebb violence, Brewster used the opportunity to preach empty words and grandstand for his faith; Brewster noted that he would employ “the weapon of unconditional and radical love for humanity. Brewster also said that Tyler “is in the best hands he ever will be” and that God and Tyler’s family have forgiven the person who was responsible for Tyler’s death.

The vapid Christian response to the death of Tyler Winstead


For those who are not from Northeastern Pennsylvania — or otherwise do not know — a 14-year-old boy named Tyler Winstead was recently shot and killed while walking home from playing basketball at a Christian Youth Center by an assailant who is still at large and unknown. Local media has described Winstead as a “well-behaved church-going honors student” and noted that he was killed right outside of Mount Zion Baptist Church where he and his family attended. Tyler even sung in the church choir. As might be expected, many Christians — including members of Tyler Winstead’s family — have commented on the death.

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