Wednesday, November 11, 2015

An Experiment in Atheism: Liberal, Missouri

I am grateful to Eric Lyons for this fascinating article, and I am happy to share it.

Atheism and Liberal, Missouri

by Eric Lyons, M.Min.

In the summer of 1880, George H. Walser founded the town of Liberal in southwest Missouri. Named after the Liberal League in Lamar, Missouri (to which the town’s organizer belonged), Walser’s objective was “to found a town without a church, [w]here unbelievers could bring up their children without religious training,” and where Christians were not allowed (Thompson, 1895; Becker, 1895). “His idea was to build up a town that should exclusively be the home of Infidels...a town that should have neither God, Hell, Church, nor Saloon” (Brand, 1895). Some of the early inhabitants of Liberal even encouraged other infidels to move to their town by publishing an advertisement which boasted that Liberal “is the only town of its size in the United States without a priest, preacher, church, saloon, God, Jesus, hell or devil” (Keller, 1885, p. 5). Walser and his “freethinking” associates were openly optimistic about their new town. Excitement was in the air, and atheism was at its core. They believed that their godless town of “sober, trustworthy and industrious” individuals would thrive for years on end. But, as one young resident of that town, Bessie Thompson, wrote about Liberal in 1895, “ all other unworthy causes, it had its day and passed away.” Bessie did not mean that the actual town of Liberal ceased to exist, but that the idea of having a “good, godless” city is a contradiction in terms. A town built upon “trustworthy” atheistic ideals eventually will reek of the rotten, immoral fruits of infidelity. 

Such fruits were witnessed and reported firsthand by Clark Braden in 1885.

St. Louis Post-Dispatch, Saturday, May 2, 1885St. Louis Post-Dispatch, Saturday, May 2, 1885
Braden was an experienced preacher, debater, and author. In his lifetime, he presented more than 3,000 lectures, and held more than 130 regular debates—eighteen of which were with the Mormons (Carpenter, 1909, pp. 324-325). In 1872, Braden even challenged the renowned agnostic Robert Ingersoll to debate, to which Ingersoll reportedly responded, “I am not such a fool as to debate. He would wear me out” (Haynes, 1915, pp. 481-482). Although Braden was despised by some, his skills in writing and public speaking were widely known and acknowledged. In February 1885, Clark Braden introduced himself to the townspeople of Liberal (Keller, 1885, p. 5; Moore, 1963, p. 38), and soon thereafter he wrote about what he had seen.

In an article that appeared in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch on May 2, 1885, titled “An Infidel Experiment,” Braden reported the following.

The boast about the sobriety of the town is false. But few of the infidels are total abstainers. Liquor can be obtained at three different places in this town of 300 inhabitants. More drunken infidels can be seen in a year in Liberal than drunken Christians among one hundred times as many church members during the same time. Swearing is the common form of speech in Liberal, and nearly every inhabitant, old and young, swears habitually. Girls and boys swear on the streets, playground, and at home. Fully half of the females will swear, and a large number swear habitually.... Lack of reverence for parents and of obedience to them is the rule. There are more grass widows, grass widowers and people living together, who have former companions living, than in any other town of ten times the population.... A good portion of the few books that are read are of the class that decency keeps under lock and key....

These infidels...can spend for dances and shows ten times as much as they spend on their liberalism. These dances are corrupting the youth of the surrounding country with infidelity and immorality. There is no lack of loose women at these dances. Since Liberal was started there has not been an average of one birth per year of infidel parents. Feticide is universal. The physicians of the place say that a large portion of their practice has been trying to save females from consequences of feticide. In no town is slander more prevalent, or the charges more vile. If one were to accept what the inhabitants say of each other, he would conclude that there is a hell, including all Liberal, and that its inhabitants are the devils (as quoted in Keller, 1885, p. 5).

According to Braden, “[s]uch are the facts concerning this infidel paradise.... Every one who has visited Liberal, and knows the facts, knows that such is the case” (p. 5).

As one can imagine, Braden’s comments did not sit well with some of the townspeople of Liberal. In fact, a few days after Braden’s observations appeared in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, he was arrested for criminal libel and tried on May 18, 1885. According to Braden, “After the prosecution had presented their evidence, the case was submitted to the jury without any rebutting evidence by the defence (sic), and the jury speedily brought in a verdict of ‘No cause for action’ ” (as quoted in Mouton, n.d., pp. 36-37). Unfortunately for Braden, however, the controversy was not over. On the following day (May 19, 1885), a civil suit was filed by one of the townsmen—S.C. Thayer, a hotel operator in Liberal. The petition for damages of $25,000 alleged that Clark Braden and the St. Louis Post-Dispatch published an article in which they had made false, malicious, and libelous statements against the National Hotel in Liberal, managed by Mr. Thayer. He claimed that Braden’s remarks, published in the St. Louise Post-Dispatch on May 2, 1885, “greatly and irreparably injured and ruined” his business (Thayer v. Braden). However, when the prosecution learned that the defense was thoroughly prepared to prove that Liberal was a den of infamy, and that its hotels were little more than houses of prostitution, the suit was dismissed on September 17, 1886 by the plaintiff at his own cost (Thayer v. Braden). Braden was exonerated in everything he had written. Indeed, the details Braden originally reported about Liberal, Missouri, on May 2, 1885 were found to be completely factual.

It took only a few short years for Liberal’s unattractiveness and inconsistency to be exposed. People cannot exclude God from the equation, and expect to remain a “sober, trustworthy” town. Godlessness equals unruliness, which in turn makes a repugnant, immoral people. The town of Liberal was a failure. Only five years after its establishment, Braden indicated that “[n]ine-tenths of those now in town would leave if they could sell their property. More property has been lost by locating in the town than has been made in it.... Hundreds have been deceived and injured and ruined financially” (Keller, p. 5). Apparently, “doing business with the devil” did not pay the kind of dividends George Walser (the town’s founder) and the early inhabitants of Liberal desired. It appears that even committed atheists found living in Liberal in the early days intolerable. Truly, as has been observed in the past, “An infidel surrounded by Christians may spout his infidelity and be able to endure it, but a whole town of atheists is too horrible to contemplate.” It is one thing to espouse a desire to live in a place where there is no God, but it is an entirely different thing for such a place actually to exist. For it to become a reality is more than the atheist can handle. Adolf Hitler took atheism to its logical conclusion in Nazi Germany, and created a world that even most atheists detested. Although atheists want no part of living according to the standards set out by Jesus and His apostles in the New Testament, the real fruits of evolutionary atheism also are too horrible for them to contemplate.

Although the town of Liberal still exists today (with a population of about 800 people), and although vestiges of its atheistic heritage are readily apparent, it is not the same town it was in 1895. At present, at least seven religious groups associated with Christianity exist within this city that once banned Christianity and all that it represents. Numerous other churches meet in the surrounding areas. According to one of the religious leaders in the town, “a survey of Liberal recently indicated that 50% of the people are actively involved with some church” (Abbott, 2003)—a far cry from where Liberal began.

There is no doubt that the moral, legal, and educational systems of Liberal, Missouri, in the twenty-first century are the fruits of biblical teaching, not atheism. When Christianity and all of the ideals that the New Testament teaches are effectively put into action, people will value human life, honor their parents, respect their neighbors, and live within the moral guidelines given by God in the Bible. A city comprised of faithful Christians would be mostly void of such horrors as sexually transmitted diseases, murder, drunken fathers who beat their wives and children, drunk drivers who turn automobiles into lethal weapons, and heartache caused by such things as divorce, adultery, and covetousness. (Only those who broke God’s commandments intended for man’s benefit would cause undesirable fruit to be reaped.)

On the other hand, when atheism and all of its tenets are taken to their logical conclusion, people will reap some of the same miserable fruit once harvested by the early citizens of Liberal, Missouri (and sadly, some of the same fruit being reaped by many cities in the world today). Men and women will attempt to cover up sexual sins by aborting babies, children will disrespect their parents, students will “run wild” at home and in school because of the lack of discipline, and “sexual freedom” (which leads to sexually transmitted diseases) will be valued, whereas human life will be devalued. Such are the fruits of atheism: a society in which everyone does that which is right in his own eyes (Judges 17:6)—a society in which no sensible person wants to live.

Note from Cory: "grass widows" and "grass widowers" are terms that referred to those divorced, separated, or living away from their spouses. For more information:


Abbott, Phil (2003), Christian Church, Liberal, Missouri, telephone conversation, April 7.
Barnes, Pamela (2003), St. Louis Post-Dispatch, telephone conversation, March 12.
Becker, Hathe (1895), “Liberal,” Liberal Enterprise, December 5,12, [On-line], URL:
Brand, Ida (1895), “Liberal,” Liberal Enterprise, December 5,12, [On-line], URL:
Carpenter, L.L. (1909), “The President’s Address,” in Centennial Convention Report, ed. W.R. Warren, (Cincinnati, OH: Standard Publishing Company), pp. 317-332. [On-line], URL:
Haynes, Nathaniel S. (1915), History of the Disciples of Christ in Illinois 1819-1914 (Cincinnati, OH: Standard Publishing Company), [On-line], URL:, 1996.
Keller, Samuel (1885), “An Infidel Experiment,” St. Louis Post-Dispatch, Special Correspondence with Clark Braden, May 2, p. 5.
Moore, J.P. (1963), This Strange Town—Liberal, Missouri (Liberal, MO: The Liberal News).
Mouton, Boyce (no date), George H. Walser and Liberal, Missouri: An Historical Overview.
Thayer, S.C. v. Clark Braden, et. al. Filed on May 19, 1885 in Barton County Missouri. Dismissed September 10, 1886.
Thompson, Bessie (1895), “Liberal,” Liberal Enterprise, December 5,12, [On-line], URL:

The original publisher of this article is Apologetics Press at this URL:

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Help for Your Future or Present Marriage: Prepare Enrich

Cory Collins is a licensed facilitator of Prepare Enrich. He does not charge for his assistance.
Prepare Enrich is a tool that assesses couple relationships. It is not exactly a test that people can pass or fail, but a device to measure the strengths and possible growth areas of a couple's relationship.
1. What is the Prepare Enrich assessment?
2. How many people have taken the Prepare Enrich assessment?
3. What are the different inventories?
4. What are the major goals of the Prepare Enrich assessment?
5. What relationship areas are assessed by the Inventories?
6. What evidence is there that the Prepare Enrich assessment is valid and reliable?
7. Who developed the Prepare Enrich assessment?
8. How much does it cost to take the Prepare Enrich assessment?
9. How does a couple sign up?
10. What happens next?
1. What is the Prepare Enrich assessment?
The Prepare Enrich Premarital Assessment is a program based on a set of five inventories that examine major relationship issues a couple may experience. These inventories must be administered by a trained Prepare Enrich Premarital Assessment assessor and include feedback in which the counselor facilitates discussion between the couple based on their inventory results.
2. How many people have taken the Prepare Enrich assessment?
Over 2 million couples (4 million people) have taken the Prepare Enrich Premarital Assessment since it began in 1980.
3. What inventories are available?
Depending on your relational situation you will select one of the following:
- Prepare – Pre-marital couples
- Enrich – Married couples with or without children
- Mate – Couples over the age of 50
4. What are the major goals of the Prepare Enrich program?
There are six goals of the Prepare Enrich program. In order to achieve these goals there are also six corresponding couple exercises designed to help couples improve their relationship skills. The six goals are:
1. To explore Relationship Strengths and Growth Areas
2. To learn Assertiveness and Active Listening Skills
3. To learn how to resolve conflict using the Ten Step Model
4. To help the couple discuss their Family-of-Origin
5. To help the couple with financial planning and budgeting
6. To focus on personal, couple and family goals
5. What relationship areas are assessed by the Inventories?
The following are the 20 relationship areas assessed in each of the five Couple Inventories:
A. Assessment of Significant Issues for Couples (14 scales)
Conflict Resolution
Personality Issues
Financial Management
Sexual Expectations
Marital Satisfaction
Leisure Activities
Children and Parenting
Family and Friends
Expectations/Cohabitation Issues
Idealistic Distortion
Role Relationship
Spiritual Beliefs
B. Personality Assessment (4 scales):
Self Confidence
Partner Dominance
C. Couple and Family Map (4 scales):
Family-of-Origin Closeness
Family-of-Origin Flexibility
Couple Closeness
Couple Flexibility

6. What evidence is there that the Prepare Enrich assessment is valid and reliable?
An important strength of the Prepare Enrich Premarital Assessment is its strong psychometric properties. High levels of reliability and validity have been found for each instrument, making them valuable tools for research as well as clinical use. The national norm base, validity and reliability information are listed below.
National Norms based on:
500,000 couples for Prepare
250,000 couples for Enrich
150,000 couples for Mate
High Levels of Validity and Reliability:
Prepare Enrich has validity in that it discriminates premarital couples that get divorced from those that are happily married with about 80-85% accuracy. Reliability is high (alpha reliability of .80 – .85).
7. Who developed the Prepare Enrich assessment inventories?
David H. Olson, Ph.D
Professor Emeritus, Family Social Science, University of Minnesota & President, Life Innovations; Developed ten diagnostic tools and Circumplex Model; Licensed Consulting Psychologist and Licensed Marital & Family Therapist, State of Minnesota.
Joan M. Druckman, Ph.D
Marriage and Family Counselor, Palo Alto, California; Co-directed study on "Effectiveness of Five Types of Premarital Preparation Programs."
David G. Fournier, Ph.D
Associate Professor, Child and Family Development, Oklahoma State University; completed study of reliability and validity of Prepare. Former Director, Marital & Family Therapy Program.
8. How much does it cost to take the Prepare Enrich assessment?
The company charges $35 per couple. Cory Collins does not charge for his assistance as a facilitator.
9. How does a couple sign up?
A couple may not sign up directly, but only by meeting with any licensed facilitator. The facilitator will register the couple by submitting their email addresses to the company. The company will then email the couple. The couple will pay online and take the inventory online.
10. What happens next?
The facilitator will receive a detailed report from the company. The couple will then meet with the facilitator several times to go over the results and go through the various exercises.
Here is the company’s website:

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Simple Ways to Get the Most Out of Today – Author Unknown

John 9:4 We must work the works of him who sent me while it is day; night is coming, when no one can work.
Of course the first step to improving each day is to draw near to God in Bible study and prayer. Effective living focuses on worshiping Him, serving Him, and sharing Him with others every day. Based on that foundation, the following are practical tips (from an unknown author) that can bring satisfying results in each of our lives.
1. Take a 10-30 minute walk every day.  And while you walk, smile.  It is the ultimate anti-depressant.
2. Sit in silence for at least 10 minutes each day.  Talk to God about what is going on in your life.  Buy a lock if you have to.
3. When you wake up in the morning complete the following statement, “My purpose today is to__________ today.”  “I am thankful for______________.”
4. Eat more foods that grow on trees and plants and eat less food that is manufactured in plants.
5. Drink green tea and plenty of water.  Eat blueberries, wild Alaskan salmon, broccoli, almonds and walnuts.
6. Try to make at least three people smile each day.
7. Don’t waste your precious energy on gossip, energy vampires, issues of the past, negative thoughts or things you cannot control.  Instead invest your energy in the positive present moment.
8. Eat breakfast like a king, lunch like a prince and dinner like a college kid with a maxed out credit card.
9. Life isn’t fair, but it’s still good.
10. Life is too short to waste time hating anyone.
11. Don’t take yourself so seriously.  No one else does.
12.  You are not so important that you have to win every argument. Agree to disagree.
13. Make peace with your past so it won’t spoil the present.
14. Don't compare your life to others. You have no idea what their journey is all about.
15. No one is in charge of your happiness except you.
16. Frame every so-called disaster with this question:  “In five years, will this matter?”
17. Forgive everyone for everything.
18. What other people think of you is none of your business.
19. God heals everything in His own time and way – but you have to ask Him.
20. However good or bad a situation is, it will change.
21. Your job won’t take care of you when you are sick.  Your friends will. Stay in touch!!!
22. Envy is a waste of time.  You already have all you need.
23. Each night before you go to bed complete the following statements: “I am thankful for __________.”  “Today I accomplished _________.”
24. Remember that you are too blessed to be stressed or depressed.
25. When you are feeling down, start listing your many blessings. You’ll be smiling before you know it.

Thursday, October 08, 2015

1 Timothy 3 - Daily Study Themes, Scriptures, and Questions

DAY 1 - The Heart of an Overseer (1 Tim. 3:1)
1 Peter 5:1-4
DAY 2 - The Family of an Overseer (1 Tim. 3:2-5)
Titus 1:5-11
DAY 3 - The Traits of an Overseer (1 Tim. 3:6-7)
Acts 20:28-35
DAY 4 - The Character, Faith, and Behavior of Deacons (1 Tim. 3:8-10, 12-13)
Acts 6:1-7
DAY 5 - The Nature and Lifestyle of Their Wives (1 Tim. 3:11)
Titus 2:3-4
DAY 6 - Proper Conduct in God’s Household, the Church (1 Tim. 3:14-15)
Hebrews 12:22-29
DAY 7 - The Mystery of Godliness (1 Tim. 3:16)
Acts 10:36-43

Questions for Thought and Discussion

Discuss “overseer,” “elder,” and “shepherd.” What does each term convey?

Why would a godly man passionately desire to work as an overseer?

What kinds of ungodly motivations does this passage rule out?

Discuss: “An overseer is not perfect, but he is blameless and above reproach.”

Why is it crucial that this man be a faithful husband and effective father?

Describe each quality, its significance, and possible reasons for its inclusion here.

What traits of worldly leaders are not listed here?

Why must a recent convert not be appointed?

What are “outsiders,” and how could they disqualify a man from being an overseer?

How eager is the devil to snare church leaders? Why? How?

What are the spiritual qualities that deacons must have?

How are deacons (the word means “servants”) different from other servants in the church?

In what ways can a wife enhance (or undermine) her husband’s role?

In what sense is the church the pillar and ground of the truth?

How is this ancient hymn about Christ simple? How is it profound?