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.