A Christian asks; “I’m the bad guy? How did that happen?”

Near the final scene of the 1993 Joel Schumacher film, Falling Down, Robert Duvall has cornered Michael Douglas, who plays a laid-off defense-contracting engineer who has gone on a murderous rampage.  Douglas looks at Duvall and asks incredulously, “I’m the bad guy?  How did that happen?”  And he really doesn’t know.

I’ve been corresponding with a Christian minister who asks a similar question.  He’s genuinely puzzled as to why humanists in general or gays in particular would associate Christianity with bigotry and prejudice.  A few excerpts:

Who should I hate? In the end, it seems that I must either hate them all or none of them. The word of God and the inward testimony of God both tell me that I must hate none of them – even when it is necessary for me to oppose them…

And I think you have correctly perceived that I do not hate you. And, I find that the ability – the necessity – to love my opponents and to wish always for their best good, is tied directly to having placed my ultimate hopes beyond the present reality. If I thought this was all there was or ever would be, I think I would be decidedly more capable of hate. If I thought it was all about evolution – which,it seems to me, hinges on the quest for momentary advantage – I believe I could hate – that being after all, only a chemical phenomenon that is either useful or not at the moment and virtually immune to concepts like virtue or morality…

In the meantime, I hear from folks on your side of some issues that I do hate. I am prolife and therefore, ipsofacto, I hate women. If what they mean is that if I had my complete way, I would restrict certain freedoms even though it places certain barriers and limitations before individuals and classes of people who would like to operate without that restriction, then we don’t have the same definition of hate. I could introduce you to several women who have had abortions, who either previously were or currently are pro-choice, who yet would sign any affidavit you cared to craft swearing that I love them. (Emphasis mine)

And,

Please believe, it is not a matter of hurt feelings. I don’t have any particular desire to be obnoxious to you or your compatriots. I am not afraid of spirited debate. But part of my agenda is both to understand and confront the (to me totally upsidedown seeming) notion that Christianity breeds hate, contempt, and ignorance. If I am not yet skilled enough to communicate across this great divide without fostering the impression of ignorance and hatred despite my own clear conviction that I hate none of you (whether or not I’m ignorant may be more in question), then it is probably best to keep my mouth shut a while longer. (Emphasis mine)

And,

I feel that homosexuality is a moral problem. I do not, for what it’s worth, feel the need to take that issue to law and regulation. I don’t think the moral problem of homosexuality is worse than my own moral problems. I am not – at heart – a legalist. And I’m not trying to start a new issue between us on either abortion or homosexuality. And I know that presenting a similar list of homosexual people who would sign the ‘He does not hate me’ affidavit wouldn’t make any real difference. The assertion seems to be that I hate a class of people regardless of my relationship to any particular individuals.

I suggested throwing his agenda open to the community at SEB for response and he replied:

I don’t mind if you post the paragraph. I would be interested to see what would happen. I don’t really think you misundestood this – only a product of a quick communication – but to clarify, I’m only partly worried about offending anyone. I’m more worried about the cultural divide. I have seen missionaries do harm because they were eager to impart the gospel before they understood the target culture. This is not what you would call a missionary venture, but the same principle applies.

Really, Christians are the bad guys?  How did that happen?  Aren’t Christians, by definition, the good guys? Can anyone explain?

He’s all yours, folks.  He wants to know.  Can you help him understand?

956 comments

  1. Ok…I will try to be coherent and not too rambly…so anyone else feel free to expand or clarify anything I say here…

    First off…I don’t believe that ALL Christians are bad.  I truly think that many of them really are trying to help the world and people and many of them are more than willing to let you be you and do what you want even if they don’t like it.

    The problem is that there are MANY Christians (and you can substitute ANY religion there actually) who are not all about the word of God per se, but about making the world what THEY want…not what their God intended.  Therefore they twist things around to make it out like everything that they don’t like or believe in is wrong and against God.

    These individuals tend to take advantage of others who take what their religous leaders say word for word as the end all be all Gospel and then propagate hate towards our fellow man by any means necessary.  The Bible’s Ten stats that you shouldn’t lie…yet you can go on the internet alone and make a search for Witchcraft and there will be all kinds of websites dedicated to lies about witches and wiccans saying that they eat babies.  Honest.  I have done it myself and one paragraph FROM A CHURCH WEBSITE says that witched “enjoy feeling the blood of a newborn drip down their arms”.  Now, I know a lot of wiccans and witches and even a few satanists.  I even practiced witchcraft for a time so I am no stranger to it whatsoever.  No one has ever killed or ate babies or witnessed it…so how can this person be telling the truth?  Hell most of them are freakin Vegans.

    Because it was said to someone a long time ago trying to get their numbers up and scare people and has since been perpetuated as truth..so called an “urban legend”. 

    So then you get those people telling other people who are afraid of what they don’t know or understand, and instead of trying to get to know and understand they follow along like good little sheep, “GAYS ARE BAD!  WITCHES EAT BABIES!  THEY ARE DIFFERENT!  OOGA BOOGA!” 

    Then comes the harassment and death threats and murders and so on…all carried out in the name of God. 

    Many Athiests or otherwise religously-interolerant individuals were’t born that way.  Many of us were born in some kind of faith.  We know all about the Faith.  We read the Book.  We took the Classes.  Some of us even tried to be good little vessels of Faith.

    Chances are, it was the hatred that the Faith tried to push on us that just didn’t resonate with us.  We didn’t want to hate gays.  We didn’t want to hate witches.  We didn’t want to hate women.  But, to be a part of the Faith, we had to or we were as bad as they were.

    You can say it isn’t “hate”…but when you say that a homosexual is less than a Christian because of something they were born with and call it “un-natural” (yes I said born with…same sex pairings happen quite often in nature) or say that abortions are wrong and murder, then don’t speak out against those who would bomb abortion clinics or torture and murder a gay person…that is teaching hate. 

    Your silence is condoning it.

    And, for the record…many pro-choicers aren’t so much about everyone going out and having an abortion.  It is more about education women more about sex and empowering them. 

    If you dare to stand up to your congregation and the MEN in your church and community and teach them to stop using women for their own enjoyment and taking responsibility for THEIR sexual actions instead of making all women like Eve and saying they are at fault…then you won’t have to worry about so many abortions. 

    Christianity teaches that women have to submit to men…but when we do we are the ones who are at fault.  Instead of preaching against abortion, start preaching to your young men about taking responsibility and stop making it all Eve’s fault.

    Eve may have offered the apple…but Adam didn’t have to eat it.

  2. Because anyone using a work of fiction to justify their actions and stances vis-a-vis others is on undefendable territory.

    For me, it is sufficient to follow Kant’s categorical imperative, excluding any fictional characters…

    YMMV

  3. I will offer my input on one issue: abortion. I believe it embodies what many refer to as “hatred”.

    I agree with Sandy in saying that a community is responsible for the regulation of its members. As a society, it is everyone’s responsibility to promote and reward good works, while condemning and punishing bad ones. There is a strange disharmony between this idea and the notion of forgiveness: even if we love, and forgive, and judge not (lest we be judged) we are still called to play this vital role – to provide collective arbitration, within, through, and upon the community.

    In this context, I quite understand the position of pro-lifers, who, unlike yourself, would have abortion outlawed. They feel the need to condemn and punish those things that are moral wrongs.

    The problem is that there is no disconnect between them: whether we outlaw abortion or not, someone is going to die. Fetuses if we don’t, fetuses and mothers if we do. Some (nearly all, in my experience) call these casualties of choice a “punishment from God” – when, as DoF has described, this is the reading of one’s existing moral prejudice into divine imperative.

    Say the pro-life crowd managed to outlaw abortion:

    The deaths that result are not “punishment from God”, but a direct consequence of actions taken by human beings – something that those human beings are all too cognizant of. For those human beings to, then, say “[abortionists] did it to themselves”, is a moral cleansing-of-hands, and is, itself, a moral wrong.

    Worse, the community tends to condone this moral wrong. Christianity’s crime is in, largely, condoning this, and each other, as when the Pope lied about the effectiveness of condoms.

    As a metaphor from my childhood, the taller we stand when casting judgment, the more ample the shadows in which we conceal our wrongdoing. That accusation exempts one from wrongdoing is a revolting double-standard.

    This is not a mentality borne from love and forgiveness: it is a mentality borne from misanthropy, spite, and a desire to punish.

    Jenny McCarthy did similar in suggesting that the deaths of children from vaccine-preventable disease are the fault of pharmaceutical companies who don’t listen to her, rather than the fault of her “green” vaccination campaign.

    Assume the child is brought to live: who will be responsible for the child? What of the child’s quality of life? The parents, apparently, didn’t want them. I don’t trust adoptive or foster systems: I have yet to know one child that was not treated as second-rate trash. It’s sort of like this comic. This is a subject of much moral ambiguity, but pro-lifers I’ve spoken with neither acknowledge this, nor take responsibility for the life of the child.

    To paraphrase George Carlin, “Every life is special until they’re out of the womb, then fuck ‘em, they’re on their own”.

    But where it concerns me, I stand on the side that allows people to make colossal mistakes, if, indeed, they are so.

    Besides, there are those among my ilk who have had abortions. Suffice it to say, the experience is punishment enough, with or without protests or public backlash. Even when it was, by far, the wisest choice, they bear the guilt of it for some time.

    The reason is simple: it is not that they are not, also, pro-life. The problem is that they had to make a hard, long-term choice between their life and the life of their child, with the most appealing option to be to murder their child.

    Anyone that desires to further punish a person in such a position cannot be acting out of love or forgiveness. Christians are particularly frustrating in this regard, because they genuinely believe that this is the only way they could act.

  4. My connection, here, is bad, and I can’t edit, but, Les, when you’re around, the /u tag, in preview, is displaying as /i on text. Don’t know what’s up.

  5. I feel that homosexuality is a moral problem. I do not, for what it’s worth, feel the need to take that issue to law and regulation.

    Similarly, I feel that religiousness is an ethical failing. While I might truly desire that the religious stop obfuscating their archaic bigotry with a work of fiction I don’t have a problem ignoring it as a matter of personal freedom as regarded by the law.

    For instance, I think Christians should be able to marry who they like and for whatever reasons they like. I support people hiring Christians and not murdering them for being Christian. I support Christians serving openly in the military, and wearing tokens of their Christianity openly in public without fear reprisal. I’d wish that families with Christians within their ranks wouldn’t feel the need to hide their Christianity from their parents for fear of being disowned. Christians should be allowed to adopt children like the rest of us, and I don’t support a past of Christianity that would include listing the religion as a sexual perversion in the eyes of medical professionals.

    I’m not Christian or homosexual, I’m an egalitarian. Why does Christianity believe it can only lead a rich, fully purposed life within the community by dominating a community and making it exclusive?

    I think most Christians I’ve met would be quick to agree that even according to their own standards few of them lead blameless, perfect lives. Even here at SEB we’ve seen religious people quick to defend people for the other aspects of their so-called Christian lives even after those people have committed horrifying crimes.

    If those self-professed Christians would defend a life after a person has committed murder or heinous assault, why must Christians cling to the notion that they must be politically opposed beyond all reason and sense against homosexuals? Why, in fact, must Christians be so doggedly focused as they apparently are on anyone’s acts of sexuality?

    I understand that Christians are quick to regulate and impose sexual standards upon their own memberships. Why must those standards apply at all to others disinterested in being Christian? I’m always struck by how many outraged Christians there would be if they were forced to comply to the mores of other similar groups – polygamy, daily enforced prayers, meditation, chastity? Why should anyone want to support religious sexual values upon society as a whole that values freedom in religion?

  6. Let’s start with the Christian definition of “love.” John 3:16, “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” And the earlier example from Gen 22:9-12, where Abraham so loved God that he “. . . hast not withheld thy son, thine only son from me.” Remember, according to the same book, both Isaac and Jesus were the “good guys.” Now, if this is the way the Christian faith and the Bible define love, I can see where others looking from the outside may have difficulty understanding the difference between love and hate. How can alegiance to some imaginary being trump the life of a loving young child or that of a full-grown child?

  7. This guy has to ask why we gays might see Christianity as a hateful religion? Really?

    I hear from Christians that they “have no problem with homosexuality but it doesn’t deserve government approval.” Yet, they have no problem with murderers getting married.

    I hear that homosexual parents are bad for children, but I’ve never once seen any church anywhere make any attempt to make heterosexuals (and there are many of them out there) better parents.

    I hear Christians lie about the character of us in general (we’re all promiscuous drug users and child molesters), and I’ve never seen any Christian who knows better correct them.

    I hear some Christians say “we don’t all believe that!” but don’t lift a finger to stop those beliefs they think are harmful.

    Christians run ex-gay camps for teens (where they are brought against their will), but if I suggest something like that for Christianity, you can bet what the reaction is.

    I could go on and on.

    The simple fact is that gays view Christianity as the bad guy because it IS.

  8. Thanks to everyone who has responded so far. I am truly grateful. I will not make much of a comment until I have listened some more. And, I will be out of town for the next few days so I probably won’t say much until at least April 17. But I will be listening.

    In the meantime, I have a few questions. Please don’t take these as anything other than an honest attempt to understand and process all this better.

    Bachalon,
    Are you employing hyperbole or have you really never heard of a (Christian) church attempting to help heterosexuals become better parents? In the same vein, have you really never heard a Christian admonishing another Christian that not everything they may be saying about Gays is true? One more – what do you make of Gay Christians?

    Patness,
    The further punishment you refer to as being heaped on those already burdened with the guilt of having made the pragmatic decision to murder their child (For those who may not have read patness’ comments – those are his terms. I did not throw them in as a thumb in the eye.), are you thinking of shunning of some sort or something more legal?

    Sandy,
    I’m thinking about this. Can you give me an example of the kind of church you mean where sexual irresponsibility for young (or old) men is not discouraged? I’m not saying that no such thing exists. I would agree that some do. But I want to make sure we’re talking about the same thing.

    Euonia,
    Hang in there. I would love to have a rousing discussion on Kant’s categorical imperative but it may have to wait a while. Or, I would be happy to be shown how that issue is as relevant to my immediate concern as the other comments.

    Thanks again to everyone.

    Terry

  9. No, I’m not. I’ve never heard a single peep from any church about the heinous things that Christian parents have done (sometimes in the name of Christianity (and this blog had an example of that recently)). Where are the press releases about that? Where are the “pro-family” set when stuff like this happens?

    Secondly, no. I’ve never heard a Christian correct another Christian when it comes to homosexuality. What happens is someone will write an opinion piece decrying this or that, but there’s never direct engagement. I’ve watched friends remain silent about homosexuals and asked them about why the didn’t stand up for me. They never have a good answer. When the cost of doing so may be ostracization from a church and possibly even family and friends, is it any wonder why lies are allowed to perpetuate? Where are the people calling liars like Rick Warren out on national television?

    Last, I’ve got my own issues with gay Christians, but that’s another bit of information.

  10. I’m going to disagree with my husband’s (Bachalon) post and just say that I don’t see Christians as the enemy. Rather, I see them as self-serving hypocrites. Both my husband and I admit that his views are a bit extreme and that he can be very hostile towards religion, but he doesn’t have the experience of once having been religious, as I have. One of the major reasons I am now an atheist is because I could not continue to justify the self-hatred I had as a Christian.

    I know that being non-religious because of some pain I suffered while religious can make me seem like a reactionary god-hater (which I am not), but that’s precisely the point at hand: Christians don’t do much to make themselves well-liked these days. The moderate majority may say they don’t support their more extreme brethren, but I don’t see them doing much at all about it, much less actually making their disdain public. Instead of seeming like nice, loving people, they end up looking like mealy-mouthed milquetoast demagogues.

    Basically, they aren’t my friends because they choose not to fight a clear common enemy (Switzerland, anyone?), but I certainly don’t hate them.

  11. Interesting question.  I do think he throws his own understanding off the scent by focusing so much on the question of whether he “hates” or not.  The reason we associate Christianity with bigotry and prejudice and consider Christian fundamentalism the “bad guy” is not so much a matter of their own internal mental state (which in the final analysis is unknowable to anyone but themselves) as the behavior which results from their beliefs.

    Who are the people who are agitating to take away women’s right to abortion?  Who are the most obsessive and agitated opponents of gay marriage?  Who are the people who constantly scold other people for harmless but unconventional sexual behavior or relationships?  It’s almost always the religious.  We associate them with bigotry and prejudice because they are the active proponents of bigotry and prejudice.  Whether they are motivated by “hate” or by some other complex of emotions is barely relevant.  The point is, they’re a threat to the rights and happiness of the broader community.

    We similarly strive to limit and defeat epidemics, not because we attribute “hate” to viruses, but because they harm people.

    That being said, the visible evidence is that fundamentalist Christianity is pervaded by a kind of petty viciousness and mean-spiritedness, in the sense that it always seems to be obsessed with shunning and excluding disfavored groups.  They get publicly upset about gays being allowed to marry or gay parents being invited to the White House Easter-egg roll and so forth, because these things are signs of gays being accepted as full members of society on the same level with everyone else, and they can’t stand that.  They struggle to defend the right of photographers, fertility-treatment providers, and so forth to refuse service to gay people, of religious groups to refuse to hire them or recognize their relationships, etc.  It is all about shunning and excluding.  This certainly looks a lot like the mentality which, in an earlier era, fought to keep the rules under which blacks could not drink from the same water fountains as whites—not because they feared there wouldn’t be enough water left for white people, but because it was a symbolic way of saying “you’re lower than us, you’re not as good as us.”  Trying to enhance one’s own sense of self-worth by lowering someone else’s is common human behavior, but not very admirable.

    So that would be my answer.  Conservative Christians today are trying to make the whole society conform to their taboos in a way that threatens other people’s freedom of action, and they come across as mean, insecure, spiteful people obsessed with shunning and denigrating certain groups, specifically homosexuals.  That’s why they are viewed as bigots, and that’s why they’re the bad guys.

  12. Followup: I would have been more correct to say that segregated water fountains were a symbolic way of stigmatizing the outgroup as tainted and “unclean”, unworthy to associate with the pure. I think there’s a strong element of that feeling in the Christian obsession with exclusion of gays from institutions like marriage, too.

  13. I think most Christians are pretty decent people, albeit many are spiritually misguided.  It’s certainly true, however, that a minority of very vocal Christians are the sort of folks who find nothing wrong with immoral behavior—such as lying, discrimination, and so forth—so long as it furthers their interests.

    Every group has it’s scoundrels and, while I don’t think all Christians should be held accountable for the actions of a minority, I would like to see much more activism against that minority on the part of the majority of Christians.  Where is the outcry against Fred Phelps that’s comparable to the outcry against gay marriage?

  14. Well, gee, where to start?

    For one thing, a Christian is enjoined by Scripture to go make disciples of the world. This automatically assumes that, loving your enemy or not, that “they” are wrong and “you” are right. You must always practice a program of promotion rather than like, say Gandhi, a program of attraction.

    And convincing anyone as a matter of argument also assumes a victor and a loser. For me to win, you must lose, i.e., change, as opposed to both of us learning something and evolving together in freedom.

    I’m a keep-it-simple kinda guy. Making a lifetime commitment to someone of any gender seems to prove itself a good thing in practice… words like love, service, compassion, and mutual benefit come to mind.

    But having to follow anybody’s rules to be judged acceptable in their eyes?  No, thanks. And to paraphrase again from Scripture, don’t offer to remove the splinter from my eye without removing the plank (oppression of women, a fine history of child molestation, benign neglect of the Holocaust and the slave trade, etc., etc.)from your own.

    Live and let live, buddy. Seems like Eostre is a good time to remember that.

  15. Because Christians are always, at some level, on the offensive.  Putting heathens and blasphemers to the sword and rack in centuries past.  Preempting other culture’s celebrations of Winter Solstice and Spring Equinox with their own ideals.  Bulling their way into the far corners of the map to convert brown-skinned people for their own good.  Constantly working to make sure schools teach fairy tales instead of facts.  All the way to the seemingly innocuous banging on my door on a Saturday to ask “Have you accepted Jesus?”

    You’re always in my face!  You’re constantly trying to force the society I live in to fit your cuckoo-for-cocoapuffs ideology.  It’s either surrender or fight back.  And the never-ending effort of fighting back can morph from irritation to disrespect to hate.

  16. I’m thinking about this. Can you give me an example of the kind of church you mean where sexual irresponsibility for young (or old) men is not discouraged? I’m not saying that no such thing exists. I would agree that some do. But I want to make sure we’re talking about the same thing.

    Are you serious?  Really?

    Ok, take the Catholic Church and their child molester priests.  They tried to cover it up.  They even transferred some priests.  It wasn’t until recently that they have somewhat started doing something about them.  Yet, I haven’t seen anyone excommunicated for it or humiliated for it any of the other things that The Church does to those that “sin”.  Yet, a woman that gets an abortion because her baby is basically dead anyway due to birth defects is ostracized and harassed and even receives death threats.

    Let’s take the modern American view of of the Christian Church and get specific.

    Ted Haggard was found out to have slept around with male prostitutes…yet I don’t see his followers numbers dwindling.  Same for Jim Bakker. 

    Again…the fact that people are STILL flocking to these guys proves my point.  They obviously really don’t care that much for “sexual misconduct” from these men. 

    However, Sarah Palin was blasted during the election from many many MANY sources far and wide when the rumor was started that her little baby was actually her daughter’s kid and she was just trying to cover up her daughter’s pre-marriage pregnancy.

    I haven’t seen NEAR as much venom directed at Haggard and Bakker as I did Palin, and she was actually telling the truth!  And those are just the high profile cases…

    So, if that isn’t what you are talking about…then what the hell are you talking about?  The venom directed at Palin and the SILENCE that followed Haggard and Bakker is condoning the behavior.  Ok…so you are a man and you slept around with male or female prostitutes…but you said you were sorry and you were tempted so that is ok.  But goodness forbid you have a kid in your 40s and you didn’t look pregnant because then you obviously are hiding something!

    Give me a break.  Just read the news and you can see it.

  17. Terry:

    Have you been to a picket at an abortion clinic? What about in ‘96 when abortion doctors were being shot – do you remember that? I was in catechism back then: my teacher was adamant that “what the shooter did was wrong, but what the doctors do is also wrong, so…”. My Catechism teacher, condoning the murder of doctors. That isn’t love or forgiveness. Nothing righteous about that.

    Have you been on campus to see groups like Campus Crusade for Christ spewing lies, judgment, guilt-tripping and verbal venom at offensive (and logically fallacious) displays?

    They use shocking and offensive imagery, comparing abortion to the Holocaust and slavery, and claiming a link between abortion and breast cancer.

    At the university I was attending, they were given the grace of a security presence to protect them (at least in the early years). They were given a fenced off, but publicly visible, region to do their business. Each semester, as the years rolled by, they would guilt-trip people about their abortion experiences, then offer them a card saying “if you’re feeling guilty about an abortion experience, come see us”.

    They made people feel like shit, then used that as a recruiting tool to their cause! That’s little better than the Iraqi woman that set other young women up to be raped, then tried to convince them that a suicide bombing was the only way to escape their shame.

    This kind of activity resulted in the women’s centre on campus seeing exponential spikes in traffic every year. Pro-life know they’ve played a part in this. Hell, they’re proud. To them, that means they’re getting the message across, and screw anyone who gets hurt by it. Did the CCC or the people running the display take responsibility for the harm they’ve caused? Of course not! It’s the abortionists’ fault; if those women didn’t have abortions, there wouldn’t be a problem!

    Never mind the fact that if there’d been civil discussion on the matter instead of the brute-force attacks, we wouldn’t see that massive of a spike, either. They have the option of respecting the human dignity of their enemies, at a bare minimum, and refuse to do even that. As long as they can stand tall and judge someone else, they have the moral high ground and aren’t accountable for the wrongs that they also commit.

    I must ask, Terry: doesn’t that disgust you? I think less of humanity every day I see activity like that.

    Well, the university finally got sick of that, and asked them to set up a tent, more or less: the images could be concealed or turned inward, and anyone that was interested in engaging them could still go in and see it.

    They refused. The University attempted negotiation, but they wouldn’t compromise. Finally, the university made a very controversial move (one I don’t agree with) and banned the pro-life club from campus.

    They proceeded to show up on campus illegally (the lawyer they had on-site even admitted it to me, though it’s not indefensible). Now it’s in the courts.

    All the pro-life crowd has ever done, in my experience, is judge and hate on the people that disagree with them. They go out of their way to make people feel like miserable pieces of garbage, as a recruiting tool, then go to bed at night, secure in their righteousness.

    How vile is that? Worse, the message that it’s okay to be that vile, as long as it serves the collective cause – oh, but they still occupy the moral high ground in any debate, because they’re Christian, and they’re serving God.

    This is the kind of added burden I’m talking about. Women already suffer enough with their personal choice to abort. That’s what it is: it’s a personal choice. They don’t need anything like what I’ve described above, but from Christians, that’s the status quo.

  18. Who should I hate?

    An odd question. Have you resigned yourself to the idea that you should hate?

    I don’t have any particular desire to be obnoxious to you or your compatriots.

    The religion you choose to align yourself with is, to any self respecting person, obnoxious at its very core. The idea that all human beings are born with an inherent defect and eternal torture hanging over their heads for being born that way is utterly disgusting.

    You say you don’t desire to be obnoxious to non-christians, yet you have no problem accepting an obnoxious idea as a premise for the existence of all humans, christians included.

    Not only is christianity obnoxious in that it breeds hatred of non-christians, it breeds a hatred of the self – a self hatred without which the religion is ideologically impotent.

    … part of my agenda is both to understand and confront the (to me totally upsidedown seeming) notion that Christianity breeds hate, contempt, and ignorance.

    Luke 14:26 If anyone comes to Me and does not hate his father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters, yes, and his own life also, he cannot be My disciple.

    Do you really not understand how such explicitly hateful statements (among many others) breed hatred?

    I feel that homosexuality is a moral problem.

    How’s that, exactly? If two homosexuals consensually engage in a homosexual relationship, where is the immorality? Where is the harm? Why are homosexual relationships immoral while heterosexual relationships are moral?

  19. Because a very, very vocal minority of Christians have given the rest a bad name.

    The Catholic Church hiding child molesters, the Mormons legally opposing gay marriage, and the Evangelical/Born-Agains voting Bush into office twice…

    If these folks would spend as much time enabling good things in their community as they spend going those things, the world *would* be a better place.  Jesus preached to love thy neighbor, and the core message there seems to get lost for a huge number of folks.

  20. You call the institutions of Catholicism, the Mormon Church, and the loose aggregate of Evangelicals a minority?

    Even if we grant you that not everyone is hateful, the fact is that the public seems to think banning gay marriage is a good thing. More states have bans than don’t. That’s a lot of fucking people for a minority.

    Not to mention the moderates are complicit in this as well for not really doing anything to stop it despite the fact that they always take the time to orally distance themselves from the extremists.

    Don’t even try to tell me that they’re a minority. Most people may not think of themselves as bigoted, but they are, and religion is directly to blame.

    Why is that so hard to see?

  21. Dean writes: Because a very, very vocal minority of Christians have given the rest a bad name.

    Christianity gives christians a bad name.

    Dean writes: The Catholic Church hiding child molesters, the Mormons legally opposing gay marriage, and the Evangelical/Born-Agains voting Bush into office twice…

    If they’re the minority, who’s the majority? Not that it matters. This is a discussion about why people see christians as the bad guys. Why do people see christianity and/or christians as, among other things, hateful and intolerant. To put it as plainly as possible, it’s because christianity is a hateful and intolerant religion, and people who align themselves with a hateful and intolerant religion are justifiably going to be perceived as hateful and intolerant.

    Dean writes: If these folks would spend as much time enabling good things in their community as they spend going those things, the world *would* be a better place.

    In spite of their religion.

    Dean writes: Jesus preached to love thy neighbor, and the core message there seems to get lost for a huge number of folks.

    Jesus also preached hatred, intolerance and violence, and the core messages there seem to get lost on the cherry pickers in their quest for that one meaningless and woefully unsatisfying ‘love thy neighbor’ cherry on a tree full of rotten, poisonous cherries.

    “Love thy neighbor.” You can’t command people to love other people. It doesn’t work that way. Silly Jesus.

  22. Re: “Most people are bigoted, and religion is to blame”

    Religion is a reinforcing factor, but I have problems seeing it as a root cause.

    Most people hate anything they’re not familiar with.  Hell, most of the Midwest is still racist as fuck.  I can’t pin racism on the Church, but I can say that the majority of Americans have pretty fucking small worldviews.

  23. Over-generalising and over-simplification ahead.

    Religion is a celebration of ignorance. Ignorace is evil. Therefore religion is evil.

  24. I think people mostly do bad things. For whatever reason they weren’t wired correctly and when something clicks, bad things happen. Now that being said, I think other people are easily persuaded. Which is why I am on the fence with religion being bad or good. Religion has a lot of power over people and it doesn’t always use that power for good, but rather to support their own interests. The catholic church has tons of examples.

    This is my problem with religion, it’s an enabler and sometimes seems as though religious heads don’t realize this. To use the cliche, with great power comes great responsibility. Teaching people how homosexuality is a sin is pretty shameless. Homosexuality isn’t a choice, and teaching people it is, all the while teaching how it’s the wrong choice, is just evil. If you need an example of this see the movie, “But I’m a Cheerleader.” Children don’t chose their sexual orientation and telling them they did doesn’t help their emotional or physical well being.

    Personally I don’t really see this dialog going very far unless scripture is thrown out the window.

  25. You really can’t engage in a rational discussion of homosexuality if it’s been disentangled from fiction?

  26. My own posts suggest that moral issues preceded scripture and tradition – that scripture and tradition are an inadequate compass for moral conduct.

    How, then, is a discussion of morality, absent scripture, impossible?

    Nevertheless, I welcome you to your terms on the matter. Just don’t expect me to deliver much more than I have. (Maybe that’s for the better raspberry)

  27. It is my opinion that the reason Christians are considered bigoted is due to the fact that as members of a proselytizing religion, it is incumbent on Christians to foist their beliefs on the rest of us.

    After all, if you are absolutely right about your worldview, then by definition, everyone who does not believe as you do is absolutely wrong.

    This doesn’t leave much room for tolerance.

    Combine this with an innate sense that women are somehow lesser, more imperfect beings that need to be controlled by men, then of course, allowing them to be empowered over their own bodies and reproduction is morally distasteful.

    The rabid Christian reaction to Homosexuality is, in my opinion, very much tied in to this. Sex must be controlled, codified, and only allowed with your own female property. Two men or two women having a relationship precludes this ‘ownership’ principle, and therefore must be stamped out or at the very least, denigrated in such a way as to force gay folk to make themselves invisible to society, lest people realize that the entire principle of sexual ownership is unnecessary and barbaric.

    It is unfortunate that Christians are so sexually repressed that these issues take precedence over the kind of issues that your founder would consider important (poverty, violence, injustice).

    In America at least, keeping gays from committed, recognized relationships, and keeping women from birth control and abortion are far more important, despite the fact that these attitudes create poverty, violence, and injustice.

  28. Bachalon writes: You really can’t engage in a rational discussion of homosexuality if it’s been disentangled from fiction?

    Are you addressing me? If you are, I’m unclear as to how your question is relevant to anything I’ve said. If you’re not, please disregard this post. smile

  29. Tyler:

    Halfway, yes. I do think there is some issue to be raised with the idea that this thread can’t be done without the Bible, at least for a tangent that, say, you and I might engage on (though I’m not sure I intend to).

    I do, however, think such discussions are fruitful to the original post, as they designate that, when sources of morality outside the Bible are considered, then we end up in a situation where the Bible no longer seems relevant. I do think that using an otherwise morally irrelevant work as moral imperative is bound to strike up some evils.

  30. I don’t see Christians as “the bad guys”, I see them the same way that I see all religious people. Religion is a mental disease in which one believes that there is a “god” in the sky and that if we behave ourselves according to standards developed over thousands of years by other human beings then when we die we will spend eternity listening to people with wings on their backs play the harp or getting blow jobs from virgins.
    Don’t hate religious people, pity them as you would anyone who suffers from a mental disease.

  31. Patness writes: I do think there is some issue to be raised with the idea that this thread can’t be done without the Bible, at least for a tangent that, say, you and I might engage on (though I’m not sure I intend to).

    Well, as the subject of discussion is why christians are seen as bad guys, it appears the bible is a virtually if not wholly necessary part of the discussion.

    But out of curiosity, what tangent(s) do you have in mind that you and I might engage in (that have little or nothing to do with the original topic)?

    Patness writes: I do, however, think such discussions are fruitful to the original post, as they designate that, when sources of morality outside the Bible are considered, then we end up in a situation where the Bible no longer seems relevant. I do think that using an otherwise morally irrelevant work as moral imperative is bound to strike up some evils.

    Perhaps it’s my unfamiliarity with your writing style, but I honestly have no idea what you’re trying to say here.

  32. Tyler:

    One might also conduct this discussion on the absence of the Bible (which means we are talking about the Bible in a sense): without it, what morality we have, why or how it works, and the human aspects that motivate it. The reason it works is simple – as has been stated elsewhere on this thread, when you base your morals on fiction, you’re bound to do some pretty evil shit.

    So then, one asks, “did you need the Bible to do it?”. The reason this is important is straightforward: most Christians I know, haven’t read the Bible. In what way was it relevant? In what they thought they were commanded by the Bible to do, or in what they thought was necessary to be a good person (without consulting the Bible)?

    Christianity is it’s own spectrum culture. Most Christians get the popularized, secondary source (the preacher, the family, whatever), but not the real thing.

    Ergo, I think it’s worth considering the morality of Christianity -without- the Bible. As Webs points out, it mostly boils down to power, flocking and corruption problems – human problems.

    I’d go so far as saying that the whole reason the Bible is relevant is a continued struggle to make it so.

    I apologize for being overly verbose. I haven’t been in my element for some time.

  33. It’s fine to discuss morality without the discussing the bible, or at least with the bible as a historical footnote.  But to discuss the reason Christianity has become associated with bigotry and ignorance, you have to at least account for the, what, 100 at most? bible verses that most Christians actually know.  And those are the ones that keep popping up in any discussion of issues that are essentially political at heart.  Almost as if someone were cherry-picking bible verses to manipulate Christians as a voting bloc.

  34. Almost as if someone were cherry-picking bible verses to manipulate Christians as a voting bloc.

    DOF: Whatever has possessed you? How could you say such a thing? Just because it’s true, is no reason to pick on Xtians (actually Xtian leaders). But, then, where would Xtian leaders be without Xtian followers? I’m so confused!  tongue wink

  35. Patness writes: … as has been stated elsewhere on this thread, when you base your morals on fiction, you’re bound to do some pretty evil shit.

    Well, that’s not necessarily true, of course. But sure, basing a moral standard on the bible will likely lead to “evil shit.”

    Patness writes: So then, one asks, “did you need the Bible to do it?”.

    And one answers, “Of course not.”

    Patness writes: The reason this is important is straightforward: most Christians I know, haven’t read the Bible. In what way was it relevant? In what they thought they were commanded by the Bible to do, or in what they thought was necessary to be a good person (without consulting the Bible)?

    That’s a question for the christian to answer.

    Patness writes: Christianity is it’s own spectrum culture. Most Christians get the popularized, secondary source (the preacher, the family, whatever), but not the real thing.

    When someone calls himself a christian, he is attaching himself to the bible, and anyone with a passing knowledge of the book knows that it contains the justification for the “evil” behavior exhibited by the so called “vocal minority.” A “vocal minority” that merely publicly voices and wishes to force on others what most of the “silent majority” believes in private. A “silent majority” made up by and large of those who, as you say, don’t get the “real thing” – much like the (not so) privately bigoted person who asked the question in the title of this thread.

    Patness writes: Ergo, I think it’s worth considering the morality of Christianity -without- the Bible.”

    How can you consider the morality of Moby Dick without a copy of Moby Dick?

    Patness writes: As Webs points out, it mostly boils down to power, flocking and corruption problems – human problems.

    Well, yeah. That’s pretty much what christianity/the bible is all about. Some people just take it waaaaaay too seriously.

    Patness writes: I’d go so far as saying that the whole reason the Bible is relevant is a continued struggle to make it so.

    By people, like the person who asked the question in the title of this thread, who call themselves christians – a label for which the bible is inseparably relevant.

  36. When someone calls himself a christian, he is attaching himself to the bible, and anyone with a passing knowledge of the book knows that it contains the justification for the “evil” behavior exhibited by the so called “vocal minority.” A “vocal minority” that merely publicly voices and wishes to force on others what most of the “silent majority” believes in private. A “silent majority” made up by and large of those who, as you say, don’t get the “real thing” – much like the (not so) privately bigoted person who asked the question in the title of this thread.

    I am reminded of President Václav Havel’s New Year’s Address to the Nation (Czechoslovakia), 1990: “When I talk about contaminated moral atmosphere, I am not talking just about the gentlemen who eat organic vegetables and do not look out of the plane windows. I am talking about all of us. We had all become used to the totalitarian system and accepted it as an unalterable fact of life, and thus we helped to perpetuate it. In other words, we are all—though naturally to differing extents—responsible for the operation of totalitarian machinery. None of us is just its victim: we are all also its co creators.” This is from his book, “The Art of the Impossible.” Please read it, especially the speech of acceptance of the The Sonning Prize, May 28, 1991.
    If it looks like a duck, walks like a duck, and quacks like a duck, just maybe it IS a duck.

  37. I am reminded of the endless deluge of empty rhetoric that flows from the mouths of politicians trying to spread the blame around to “us.” smile

  38. Tyler: Who elects the politicians? Who supports their agendas? What happens to a politician who looses his support? Yes, we are to blame if we elect, or allow to be elected, politicians that rape us and steal our money. The good news is that in this country we are allowed to complain and organize resistance without fear of being shot, so long as the resistance is civilized and non-violent. How do you complain and organize resistance against the organized religion politicians (priests, ministers, popes, etc)? RE: Galileo. As Forrest Gump says, “Evil is as evil does.”

  39. My issue is not with the fact that people (are forced to) elect “evil” politicians. My issue is with the use of the terms “we” and “us,” as there are many of “us” who are in no way responsible for the “contaminated moral climate” (of politics) Mr. Havel spoke about.

    I also have issues with idealistic notions of effecting political change, but we’re already way off topic, so I’m going to save that for another thread that may or may not ever come. smile

  40. My issue is with the use of the terms “we” and “us,” as there are many of “us” who are in no way responsible for the “contaminated moral climate” (of politics) Mr. Havel spoke about.

    But, all of “us” are responsible—to some extent or other—and when you give up responsibility, you also give up any chance of making a change. As Gandhi said, “Be the change you want to see.” Someone else may have started the changes that allowed evil to triumph, but the only thing that really is important is when good people stand by and do nothing to prevent evil from triumphing.

    I also have issues with idealistic notions of effecting political change, but we’re already way off topic, so I’m going to save that for another thread that may or may not ever come.

    Are you aware that you can start a thread? At the top of the page, click “SUBMIT” and follow directions.

  41. I haven’t given up responsibility.

    I am the change I want to see.

    I don’t stand by and do nothing to prevent evil from triumphing.

    Yes, I am aware I can start a thread.

  42. “A Christian walks into a bar.” (Ouch.)

    As the usually-resident guy whom Les not-infrequently points out as the sort of Christian “the world could use a few more” of, I apologize for not chiming in before now.  Technical difficulties, not shying away from a difficult subject (I’ve been busy commenting in another post, and my computer was not cooperating in reviewing all the goings-on here).

    It’s difficult to consider what to say in response to a thread like this, given that much of what is said is certainly and damnably true for many of the most vocal Christians and Christian groups out there.  They seem much more interested in power games, money games, bitch-slapping the Other, and preening in their own self-righteous virtue to be at all defensible.  I think Jesus referred to the type as “whited sepulchres,” and though Christians are called not to judge (believe it or not), it’s hard not to judge them.  Indeed, I do so, though I also believe that my own judgment is not automagically synonymous with some greater metaphysical judgment.  Oddly (for the common perception of Christians), I don’t make out my personal judgment as being synonymous with Divine Judgment.

    For what it’s worth, I’m a Christian who happens to be pro-choice, pro-marriage equality, pro-science, and generally progressive on most of the moral issues of the day.  I do not consider any of those positions as contrary to my faith, and I speak out on them whenever the opportunity presents.  I’m not (despite the “Christian” label and being one of those deluded believers in fairy tales) the enemy.

    As such, you may concider me a bizarro exception to the rule, as an exemplar of what should be more common among Christianity (humility forbids my thinking so), or just a “bad” Christian.  Indeed, as an Episcopalian, many conservative Christians would consider me apostate to begin with.  Given that I’m a Universalist (i.e., I don’t believe in the abominable doctrine of eternal damnation), that I don’t consider the Bible the inerrant truth, that I don’t feel that belief in Jesus or the Nicene Creed or even God is necessary to avoid the Fiery Furnace … well, even without even more outre elements of my personal theology, quite a few Christians would question my religious affiliation.  So perhaps I’m not a good counter-example to what’s being talked about.

    Which is all a round-about way of saying that I understand why a lot of folks who have been traditionally (and are currently) condemned, rejected, and/or oppressed by Christians would consider Christianity the enemy.  It drives me crazy, because I see self-appointed Christian spokescritters mouthing position points that do nothing but reinforce that position—and I do know Christians who I consider fine, loving, intelligent people most of the time who absolutely buy into those position points.

    But it doesn’t have to be that way.  And, in some cases, it’s not.  So I guess all I would ask for the same thing that anyone else would: don’t jump to conclusions, and don’t presume that all self-labeled Christians are, in fact, the enemy.  Judge by actions, not by labels.  It’s fine to be wary—but ask a few questions before you open fire.  It’s the enlightened thing to do.

  43. I do this a lot, but “What ***Dave said”.

    It’s three in the morning, and my shoulder isn’t going to let me sleep anytime soon, so here’s a little Toolkit:

    First, “If the shoe fits”. But it isn’t one pair of shoes; it’s a whole closet, and they’re all the same brand.  Only instead of a Nike Swoosh they have a Cross™ on them.  Sure enough some of them are Republican counterfeits but the brand is there anyway, messin’ with your reputation. 

    Somebody sees you wearing those shoes, even the “I’m OK with gay marriage, well not really, because homosexuality is still a moral problem” model, and you are wearing the brand, brother.

    You wanted to know how Christianity came to be identified with intolerance and ignorance.  Here’s how: by being intolerant and ignorant.  No, “not all Christians” or even necessarily a majority, but the ones with the television broadcasting networks, the ones who get weekly phone conversations with the president, the ones with image consultants, the ones who hold prayer breakfasts with Senators.  That’s how the brand got where it is.  What did you expect?

    Intolerance:
    Dude, there’s like, eleven verses in the Bible against homosexuality, and over two hundred about caring for the poor.  But the bible-thumpers are against any attempt to address poverty on any societal scale, even condemn and exploit the poor, and keep hammering on those eleven verses about queers.  And that’s when they’re not found to BE in the closet themselves.  Yeah, I’m lookin’ at you, Ted Haggard, you sanctimonious hateful son of a bitch.

    “Defend marriage”?  Against what?  When Rick Warren says marriage has been one-man-one-woman for five thousand years in every culture, we know that isn’t true.  And anyway, find me any mention of God in the constitution, let alone the Christian™ God, let alone some particular conservative flavor of the Christian™ God. 

    Please spare me any whinging about “the children”, by the way.  Studies of real-world gay families say the kids are doing fine.  I bow to results.

    You personally aren’t against gay marriage, but homosexuality is still a “moral problem”?  Well bully for you, and nevermind the cover that gives for the legislating Dobsons of the world.  When did you choose to be straight?  Even if being gay were 100% a matter of choice, what’s it to you?  Oh, right; your particular flavor of your particular Abrahamic religion says it’s bad to be gay.

    I’m going to split this up into separate comments.

  44. Now how about Ignorance? 
    When the pope tells lies about condoms, that’s ignorance.  Something like half of Americans think the Earth is six thousand years old and that humans and dinosaurs lived at the same time: ignorance.  And the “moderates” give cover for morons like Ray Comfort and Kirk Cameron who conflate evolution and the big bang, but couldn’t define either one if their lives depended on it.  When pastors all over the country keep referring to the same BS study done by Paul Cameron that basically said all gays are bath house prostitutes, that’s ignorance with intolerance thrown in.

    When Liars For Jesus claim that Intelligent Design is somehow not a religious idea, and then get pwned in court, and excommunicate the Republican Judge for his trouble, that does not escape our notice.

    These aren’t just some backwoods snake-handlers either; The Bush administration was packed with graduates of Liberty College.  Then when Sarah “I read everything but I can’t name even a single Supreme Court case” Palin or Mike “God ‘n Guns!” Huckabee have a real shot at the presidency, it just frankly scares the living crap out of us.

    Abortion:
    Do you realize how the Christian™ brand has been led around by the nose on this one issue alone?  The evil monsters who keep getting elected because they use that rhetoric as leverage to manipulate a voting bloc?  (See also: gays and guns.)

    Again, “moderates” give cover for some jerk waving a full-color poster of a late-term aborted fetus at some girl having a first-trimester abortion, and then the church offers “help” with the resulting guilt.  Because every fertilized egg is a human person, right?  Even the ones thrown into the biowaste pickup bag of fertility clinics because it wasn’t legal to use federal research dollars on the resulting stem cells. 

    But I don’t see “pro-life” Christians™ holding funerals for every miscarriage.  And if they really believe that clinics murder babies, why aren’t we in a civil war?  But Christians™ don’t seem to have a problem with the other kind of war.

    Making abortion illegal won’t stop it from happening, but full-on sex education with contraceptive availability and a functioning social safety net will vastly reduce it.  If you don’t like abortion, look at the Netherlands.  They have a lot less of it than we do.

  45. Prayer in schools, flag-burning, guns, War! On! Drugs! and other conservative leverage over believers:

    There’s a pre-packaged shipment of issues that apparently comes with every bible-college degree.  Take “prayer in schools”, please!  What possesses Christians™ to want government endorsement of some kind of vague (or not-so-vague) religiosity?  Do they like sawdust in their scrambled eggs for breakfast too?

    There is something about the inflated sense of power from holding a gun that makes a person politically malleable.  But brother, if your handgun is all that stands between you and tyranny, you’re screwed.  Practically every family in Iraq had a friggin’ Kalishnikov, for all the good it did them.  And gun sales have soared in the Bible Belt since Obama took office.  Never occurs to these yahoos to check Obama’s platform on guns, I guess.  Or to wonder who benefits from all that paranoia.  (Yeah, I’m lookin’ at YOU; Remington, Smith & Wesson, Winchester, Ruger, Mossberg…)

    OK, if that particular pair of shoes isn’t in your closet, fine.  But the brand is still on it, and your shoes have the same brand.

    H.L. Mencken defined puritanism as “the nagging suspicion that somebody, somewhere, is having a good time.”  Yet we keep falling back on prohibition despite the lessons of history.  Rivers of blood issue from the black-market violence that results, empowering the nastiest criminals and terrorists.  Yes, drugs are bad, but not nearly as bad as black markets.

    Flag-burning – oh, my, how can anyone not see that “issue” for the manipulation that it is?  Nothing is more futile than demanding respect.  And you know it’s in the closet with the other shoes, all branded with the Cross™, as if God who put trillions of stars in the universe gets misty-eyed at the Red, White, and Blue.

    The inevitability of branding:

    When a few Muslims attacked our country, we went on a Muslim-hating binge.  Our newspapers have been dutifully stocked with pictures of angry Palestinians burning American flags, and atrocities committed by Muslims in a diversionary war that we started.  “Religion of peace, my ass!”

    And sure enough, there are plenty of Muslims who are a damned poor advertisement for Islam. But nearly a billion more who are just trying to live their lives.  They are Muslim for the same reason most Americans are Christian; it’s the dominant religion of their culture.  Of course, the moderate Muslims give cover to the radicals, and failed states give bases of operation.

    And people don’t make fine distinctions; they’re cognitively parsimonious.  I know a Sikh fellow who was thrown out of a bar after 9/11.  He wore a turban, that was enough. 

    The kind, thoughtful messages of Episcopalians or Mennonites, (for example,) are drowned out by the noise of the Christian™ political machine. 

    Well, the painkillers are starting to kick in, I’m going to try and get some more sleep.

  46. I’ve been waiting for ***Dave to say something in this thread before commenting myself and now that he has I’ll speak up.

    As an atheist who spends a fair amount of time ranting about the sort of Christians that DOF just wrote about it it is all too easy to fall into the trap of thinking of the collective group as intolerant, ignorant, and, so to speak, “the enemy.” That’s because there’s more than a few very large segments of Christianity for which that sort of thinking is quite appropriate. Evangelicals are a prime example. There’s far too many Christians out there that are more interested in forcing their viewpoints onto everyone else than actually doing the stuff that Christ said they should be doing.

    Despite the fact that I will openly say that I think religious people are delusional and that I feel Christianity does more harm than good to the people who practice it the truth is that I don’t really care what you believe if it helps you get through the day without climbing a clock tower with a high powered rifle. I might poke a little fun at you, but I honestly don’t care if that’s what you believe so long as you’re not trying to force it onto anyone else. We all have our security blankets we turn to from time to time and if Christianity works for you then so be it. When you start trying to force everyone else to live by your tenants, then I tend to get a little upset. Preach all you want, but don’t try to force compliance. It’s been awhile since I last read through the Bible, but as I recall Jesus never tried to get his teachings enforced as law through the government of the time. He preached, but he never tried to force compliance on anyone. This is a fact that is lost on too many of his followers.

    I said before I waited for ***Dave to respond before saying anything and you’re probably wondering why. I value ***Dave and consider him a friend, in spite of never having met him in person, because he reminds me that Christians aren’t all the same. That there are plenty with whom I have no real quarrel and are, in fact, an ally on a number of issues. That I need to consider people as individuals more than as collective groups. That I can’t assume too much just because someone has self-identified as Christian or any other label. ***Dave, by virtue of just being who he is, does more to help the image of Christians as a whole in my mind than any of the so-called Christian Leaders out there.

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