'Blasphemy Challenge' lures kids to renounce Holy Spirit


NASHVILLE, Tenn. — A radical new Web site is gaining popularity by challenging people to deny the existence of God, and it's run by an atheist who was raised Catholic and claims he "became a born-again Christian when he was 13."

"I loved Jesus and he was my best friend and I talked to him and God all the time," Brian Fleming said on Jan. 30 on ABC's "Nightline." "I have to admit that they never talked back to me, and I think some people would say that God does talk to them and I think they're not being honest with themselves."

Now a dejected Fleming is part of the "Rational Response Squad," which is behind the blasphemy challenge Web site, which promises to give away 1,001 copies of a DVD espousing their views.

"There's only one catch: We want your soul," the site says. "It's simple. You record a short message damning yourself to Hell, you upload it to YouTube, and then the Rational Response Squad will send you a free 'The God Who Wasn't There DVD.' It's that easy.

Somewhere in the video, the person must say the phrase "I deny the Holy Spirit." The Web site explains that the phrase is required because Mark 3:29 says, "Whoever blasphemes against the Holy Spirit will never be forgiven; he is guilty of an eternal sin."

Matt Barber, policy director for cultural issues at Concerned Women for America, told Cybercast News Service that by arrogantly rebelling against God's authority, the Web site implicitly acknowledges His existence.

"Scripture tells us that the reality of God's existence is written on the heart of every man, woman and child," Barber said. "Man's rebellion against the Creator is no new thing. It's a time-honored tradition among those who prefer to view the world through the prism of moral relativism."

Fleming is aggressively targeting teenagers by advertising his site on 25 Web sites frequented by teens, including Xanga, Boy Scout Trail, Teen Magazine, CosmoGirl and Seventeen, according to Focus on the Family's CitizenLink.

"As young people are the most vulnerable to religious indoctrination, we feel it is important to reach them with the concept of challenging the doctrine they are told to unquestioningly believe," the Web site says.

So far at least 955 videos have been posted, including one from someone named Joel.

"My name is Joel. I deny the Holy Spirit, as well as God, Jesus, Buddha, Zeus, Mohammad, Joseph Smith, Sponge Bob, the pope, Santa Clause, Mother Mary, the Easter bunny, the tooth fairy, Optimus Prime, all the saints and Spiderman," he says, according to Nightline.