Thursday, July 4, 2013

What's Wrong With Christianity?

Happy "Love 'Murica er Git Out" Day! I am taking advantage of the computer access I have today to exercise my God-given (allegedly) right as an American citizen to take advantage of the First Amendment and express my thoughts freely. With Freedom. American Freedom.

Now that's freedom.

Facebook. I use it. I sometimes wish I didn't. It's turned into a necessary evil, or something like that. Facebook is like living in a small town: seems I know too much about everybody else's business. I try to keep my personal life off Facebook. I'll post the occasional picture, but usually I post music or random nonsense on my personal profile, and use Facebook mainly for outreach (Dead-Logic and The Carl Sagan Google Doodle Campaign, to be precise).

"Outreach." And you thought only Christians used that word.

Sometimes, because of my Christian past (including youth group and Bible college), I'll see people posting something about their faith. I have friends who do it all the time, as though they have to keep reminding everyone that they're committed Christians. Sometimes it looks like it's for show. I'm sure sometimes they're just being sincere about something they're passionate about. Either way, I call it "Facebook Faith Vomit." Now, I don't really care what a person believes necessarily, but what bothers me is the complete ignorance about the privilege the majority has - in this case, the Christian majority.

If you are jonesing for some Facebook likes, all you have to do is post something happy or sappy about God. "Feeling blessed today. God is good!"

I'm afraid people will misunderstand what I'm trying to say here. It's fine to post about what you believe on Facebook. What bothers me is that Christians do it so frequently and freely that they take it for granted. If an atheist were to post about her atheism as often or as whimsically, many of those Christians would spontaneously give birth to a live chicken out of sheer outrage. "Why don't you keep that junk to yourself?" It's happened. I've seen it. That's a direct quote. Hell, I was chastised by a Christian for wishing people "Happy Carl Sagan Day!" on my profile, and that had nothing to do with atheism. Not only are they in the majority, they act like they are a persecuted minority. They act like the world is out to get them. Of course, they get this idea partly from the Bible.

"You will be hated by everyone because of me, but the one who stands firm to the end will be saved." [Matthew 10:22]

This is why we keep hearing about the "War on Christmas" or the "War on Christianity" or the "War on the Family" or whatever thing they think non-Christians are warring against. It's always a war, and they're always the victims.

Being the majority - enjoying such privilege - has added to the problems Christianity causes. Facebook Faith Vomit is small in comparison to some of the other problems, like judgmentalism without justification. Many, many Christians believe (and are not shy when it comes to telling you) that you're going to hell if you're not a believer (i.e., the right kind of believer who believes the right kind of things). Do they have any evidence to support this very serious accusation? No. It'd be the same as if I were to run around town accusing people of murder without providing any evidence to support the claim. "You're going to hell" is the worst condemnation a person can say to another person, because what that statement means is that the creator of the universe thinks you deserve to die and be tortured forever (or at least for a very very very long time) because you are just that bad.

Even the nicest and fluffiest versions of the doctrine of "original sin" make mankind out to be vile and wretched. The central message of Christianity is that you are so bad that God killed himself.

Of course, we shouldn't be surprised that members of the majority are positioning themselves as better or higher than those who are different. The majority - whoever they may have been throughout history - tend to do just that. And we shouldn't be surprised that they level accusations and judgments at us with no rational warrant whatsoever, because Christianity wouldn't exist without the deep emotional roots that (as Kirk Cameron once said) "circumnavigate the intellect." See, there's a reason why most "converts" (if many of them can really be called that) become Christians well before they're 18 years old. Children haven't developed the ability to think abstractly or apply critical thinking. Most Christians inherited their faith from their parents. As kids, we are taught, conditioned, to believe our parents. When they told us Santa Claus was real, we believed it and made sure we were in bed at an unreasonably early hour on Christmas Eve so to avoid even the possibility that we'd run into Santa (because, for some reason, Santa wouldn't stop by our house and deliver presents if we were still awake and could actually see him). When our parents told us God's real and listens to our prayers, we believed them (even though God and Santa use the same playbook for staying out of sight).

The early indoctrination followed by years of developing deep emotional roots lead a person in one of two directions: 1) like many of my Christian friends, they are now cemented in their faith and consequently don't think critically about it. They just accept it. At best they try to use reason only as far as it appears to defend what they already want to believe. Or, 2) a person begins to question it, and only after years of struggling with what to believe do they decide to step away from their faith. Christians - being the majority - usually don't realize how much pain and sorrow and confusion and fear and sense of loss occurs for many of us who step away from faith. The typical response is more judgmentalism without justification. They talk as though the person who renounced his faith did so quickly, or because he got mad at God, or because he's being selfish or just wants to do naughty things. They don't understand how long - and how difficult - of a process it was to go from being a believer who really believed and really wanted to believe to a person who (often reluctantly) had to discard faith out of integrity and intellectual mandate. In my own case, I spent years anguishing over what to do. I wanted to believe. I wanted to remain in the community of believers. But I couldn't ignore the reality I saw right in front of my eyes. I couldn't ignore the questions that Christians couldn't answer. Over time, after many sleepless nights and shed tears, I had to give it up. I had to be honest...

... even though it meant that I'd have to deal with the reactions of those in the majority who couldn't - or wouldn't - understand.

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