Another rule of blogging: One vague post yields several overprecise posts. So here’s a bit more on what I said about differentiating between the Christian friends I admire and the noisy, political, often intolerant Christians whose opinions I have a problem with. My friends show me what’s right and admirable about Christianity, while the intolerant ones show me what’s sometimes troublesome about Christians.

My point is that when I hear awful things said about people like me or about how certain people can’t be Christian because God hates them or that it’s not morally right to discuss global warming, that’s unpleasant in its own right. But it would be less unpleasant if there were more specifically Christian voices against intolerance like this.

When I hear intolerant Christians having a public fit about people who believe in evolution or are gay or who don’t agree with prayer in school, saying that such people are doomed to hell and ought to be silenced, it makes a difference when I’m thinking about heading to church on Sunday. Will I hear the same intolerance preached from the pulpit? Will I encounter more people like my friends, or more people like those intolerant cranks who have been lipping off? If I heard the tolerant voices of Christians more often, raised in specific opposition to the intolerant voices, I would have less of those fears and I would feel more open to getting involved in a faith community.

I get why people would suggest that I should just differentiate between the kind of Christian I like and the kind I don’t, and not emphasize the creeps over the people I admire. I do my best to do that, I assure you. But to differentiate is not to forget. I can’t forget the folks who would bar me from the church door if they could, nor do I know when I’m going to run into those folks. And my arguments against these people are not effective with them. Why? Because I’m not a Christian. My opinions are easily dismissed, whereas the opinions of Christians would carry more weight.  

I don’t blame folks for being offended when their more tolerant viewpoints get drowned out by the noisy political types, and when they feel lumped in with them. But I can’t help asking whether tolerant, loving Christians ever write to people like James Dobson to ask him to be more tolerant in his doings and statements, or ever protest against people like Sheldon whose hatred is so public and so strongly identified with Christianity.

Anyhoo. I don’t mean to criticize specific Christians, but these are the things that try this little agnotic’s soul.


9 Responses to “Differentiating”

  1. 1 Tim Archer March 4, 2007 at 12:59 pm

    I don’t know why it’s the grating voices that seem to be heard the most, but if you don’t believe it, listen to talk radio. Sadly, the same thing happens with Christianity. It’s the lunatic fringe that gets the spotlight.


  2. 2 Glenn March 5, 2007 at 4:22 am

    Holly- I am abhorred at what the leaders of the religious right say to the media. It seems purely irresponsible to me. Their steely focus on gay marriage and abortion has given people the idea that Christians and the church are judgmental and unaccepting. Unfortunately, too often that is true. Then there is the whole tendency to over look huge ethical issues like war, poverty, and AIDS. I could also talk about the suburbanization of the church and how the people in those churches look so little like the people that Jesus spent time with.

    Please don’t get a few confused, politicized individuals confused with what Jesus taught and modeled. Yet, we both know that all Christians and churches are not like that. It has been said that Jesus needs a better PR team. There are people trying to do something about that. May their tribe increase!

  3. 3 tobeme March 5, 2007 at 4:53 pm

    Your point is very well made. This is one of the key problems that I have with organized religion. The church leaders and followers get very hung up on the “rules” and easily lose site of the true message which is love. I believe the Jesus Christ would be very shocked at what Christianity has become. I think he would shake his head and say, it was never about the rules, it was always about the love!

  4. 4 rjlight March 5, 2007 at 7:16 pm

    Holly, the media focuses on the people who have the political power.It is a more interesting story talking about the “Christians” who are fighting global warming and gay marriage. The ones who are trying to speak Christ’s message are doing it they way He did–with love and humility. Jesus didn’t fight political battles he focused on the poor,the hurting, the forgotten and God told us to be good stewards of His creation — wouldn’t that mean taking care of the environment? I could go on for days, but this is your website! There are a few of us that get very angry at how Jesus’ message is warped!!!

  5. 5 Donald B March 6, 2007 at 6:25 pm

    Holly … I hear your complaints about the loud and noisy Christians who display a lot of intolerance. And – concerning your comment about those Christians that would bar you from their churches – there are churches out there that would bar me too (and many of the commenters on this post). But what’s important to me is my relationship to Christ.

    These barrers can continue to live their Pharisaical, judgmental lives … but I choose to live it a little differently.

    The unfortunate thing is that there will ALWAYS be Christians like this. They were around during the time of Paul and will forever be here.

    Go with God,
    Donald B

  6. 6 Jesse March 8, 2007 at 11:04 pm

    HI. Down here in the South we are constantly coming into contact with people who are so worried about the rules they must follow in their church that they have no time for God. The relationship is missing. It is what would be called a works based religion and NOT a faith based religion. I can see how this could happen in any type organization. I can remember when I was first saved! Oh the zeal and fire I had for God. For the first six months that was all I could talk about! I was inviting people to church and testifying to the unsaved…..but eventually I became complacent. My fire slowly receded until I could barely feel any warmth at all. I went to church and did what was required of me, not because of my relationship and love for God, but because I feared to lose my way to Heaven. Works based religion comforted me for a time. Rules and regulations. But then, eventually, that was not enough. I needed GOD in my life like never before and……but there was no relationship. A very hard time. I had to cultivate that relationship and now my faith in a loving God has grown and I no longer worry about rules, I long for my time with God.

  7. 7 Alien Drums March 9, 2007 at 7:47 pm

    Holly, you’ve done it again. Made me think… and respond. My response is on my blog: http://aliendrums.wordpress.com/2007/03/09/taking-an-agnostics-challenge/

  1. 1 Taking an agnostic’s challenge « Alien Drums Trackback on March 9, 2007 at 7:46 pm
  2. 2 Fear and Hate Christians « re-dreaming the dream Trackback on March 11, 2007 at 7:38 am

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