Christian “Love” and Christian Dissociation


(This was written long ago, and I never got round to posting it, but a fresh infusion of Good Christian Love™ has made it quite relevant. So why the hell not?)

I’m so tired of this.

I’m tired of hearing people prattle on about “God is Love” and what loving, moral people religion makes. It isn’t true. It’s manifestly not true. What religion does is takes otherwise decent human beings and turns them into sanctimonious shits, when it’s not busy enabling evil. “Men never do evil so completely and cheerfully as when they do it from religious conviction,” Blaise Pascal said once. This is truth.

Let me just state this now, for the believers: I do not want to hear, “But that’s not True Christianity!” I do not want to hear, “But I’m not that kind of person.” The first is a bloody stupid No True Scotsman fallacy, and you should be better than that. The second is beside the point. And don’t even begin to tell me how the majority of Christians are wonderful people who would never, ever do the things I’m about to show you Christians have done. Stop playing defense for the home team for a moment. Sit down on the sidelines and listen.*

I will tell you what set me off. It was back when I tweeted a link to this post by Chris Rodda. Some wonderful Christian had sent Mikey Weinstein, founder and president of the Military Religious Freedom Foundation, an email on his birthday. It was full of ethnic slurs and bile and some choice Christian love:

That’s right Mr. Weinstein. Hell awaits you. As it awaits your wife and children and all who align with the satanic darkness you and your “Freedom Foundation” preach Mr. Weinstein. And we are frankly very glad of it.

And right after I tweeted the link, someone I like and respect** tweeted back, “yikes! I hope I come across as a friendlier Christian.”

you_are_doing_it_wrong

Let me unpack the wrong here. She’d apparently read the post, as my tweet didn’t give away much. So she’d just seen that vile bullshit spewed by a man who loves him some Jesus. And all she could think about was appearances, rather than condemn, directly and without hedging, that venomous hate. Perhaps she didn’t mean it to, but those words come across as a Christian caring more for presenting a good Christian facade than sticking up for a fellow human being.

And that’s disgusting. It’s far beneath her, a person I know to be smart and funny and caring. I wonder if she would she say the same if she realized that this man, in defending the Constitution, fighting for the separation of church and state in our military, battling for other Christians, as well as atheists, Jews, Muslims, pagans, and all other religious flavors when they come to him with problems caused by evangelical Christians using our armed forces as a captive audience for conversion, has been targeted by people who would describe themselves as Good Christians. His house has been vandalized, “good” Christians have killed animals and strewn them on his property as a warning; he and his family need bodyguards because some of these warriors for Christ believe God will be quite happy with them if they blow Mikey Weinstein and his family away.

“Yikes! I hope I come across as a friendlier Christian.”

It doesn’t matter how friendly you are. It doesn’t matter how much fluffier your Christianity is compared to their (supposedly fake) Christianity. It. Doesn’t. Matter.

And I’m not speaking just to her. I’m speaking to all of the Christians who have responded to the worst Christianity has to offer with, “That’s not really Christianity.” Or, “Not all of us are like that.” Let me tell you something: distancing yourself from your fellow believers accomplishes so very little other than making you look like a self-absorbed jerk. You sound like you don’t give two shits about the people harmed by the behavior of your fellow believers. Don’t tell me not all Christians believe that way, and not all of them are like that, and you’re not like that. I know this. If you were, we wouldn’t be friends. If you were, you’d be too busy telling me I’m going to burn in hell to tell me how awesome your brand of Christianity is.

Tell them that. Tell the people who threaten harm, and do harm, in the name of God that they’re despicable shits. Read them the riot act over their behavior. Tell them this isn’t what Christian love is all about, if that’s what you believe, but please don’t tell it to me.

Not after I’ve seen what Christian love really looks like. Here’s the response to a brave young girl who asked for a prayer banner in a high school to be taken down: there’s the rape threats, and the death threats, and the threats of violence, and the sincere wishes for her to burn in hell. Ordinary Christians who, up until the time Jessica Ahlquist asked the school to abide by the Constitution and take down an illegal prayer banner, were probably quite decent and possibly kind, suddenly let their inner lunatic go. Over a fucking banner.

I want you to click this link. Right now. Go see only one of the many disgusting letters she got juxtaposed against the holy words on that fucking banner. You might have pointed to that banner as proof that your religion teaches love and compassion and morals. This is how well it worked.

These are good Christians, killing animals to leave on a man’s lawn, threatening to kill him, threatening to beat and rape and murder a teenage girl. If all you have to say to me is, “I hope I come across as a friendlier Christian” or the equivalent, all I have to say to you is, you have some soul-searching to do.

*And don’t you even start the “Atheists can be meanies, too!” spiel. We know that. We’ve screamed at them for it. And we, unlike you, do not have this bloody stupid idea that some ancient book cobbled together from the ravings of goatherders and fanatics, full of horrific violence, somehow has the magic formula for making people wonderful.

**I like and respect her enough not to plaster her identity all over this post. That may not be the right thing to do. But I want to give her enough anonymity to hopefully think rather than get defensive, and it wasn’t meant only for her anyway. She’s not the only believer I’ve encountered who, although a fantastic human being, says some very fucked up things when religion is involved.

Comments

  1. says

    Very well done Dana. Sorry it’s drawn from reality. And somebody remind me to never ever piss Dana off! Seriously, I admire your courage and wish I had a tenth of it myself.

  2. rq says

    I used to be one of those Christians. See? I’m ok, nothing wrong with Christianity here!
    I’m glad I’ve been cured, and to think it was a a friend of mine of different religious persuasion that started me down that road for good (seriously, telling me that my out-of-wedlock child was a product of sin (fornication, for what it’s worth) and that I should ask god for forgiveness and turn to the muslim faith as a way of saving my soul… not something you want to say to someone looking for friends and support during a particularly trying and depressing time – and so I learned to hate god, this besides the fact that he didn’t listen to my prayers, anyway, me being a good catholic n all throughout childhood and right through university).

  3. screechymonkey says

    Well said.

    Dan Savage has talked about this phenomenon, too. He wants the NALTs (the “we’re Not All Like That” Christians) to stop writing him every time he fails to use the appropriate qualifying adjectives (“conservative,” etc.) when talking about Christians, and start telling their fellow Christians who claim to speak on their behalf.