Off of yesterday’s Atheist comments came this one on the comment line. It was so good I thought I’d formally repost:
From a reader named Kate:
I agree, this is hate speech. But here’s the difference between badmouthing Christians and Jewish people in our culture: The Jewish Community, as a whole, does not have a reputation for being ignorant and hateful themselves.
What we really need to do is some serious damage control on the public persona of “Christian,” because there are a lot of loud, angry, homophobic, evolution-deniers out there who make us look ignorant. There’s no way around it. When the people I work with heard I was a devout Catholic, they were nervous – and perhaps rightfully so – that I’d be an unbearable coworker.
Christian should mean loving, giving, generous, and patient. Instead, thanks to certain fringe groups, and particularly distasteful methods, Christian means homeschooling, creationism, and carrying signs that say, “God hates fags.”
Who would even self-identify as that – let alone leap to defend it?
I love my God, I love my church, and I’m offended by that billboard – but I’m still hesitant to self-identify as a Christian in a public setting without clarifying, “But that doesn’t mean I’m going to preach at you. We can all just chill and be normal.”
Yes we need to solve this, we need to solve the root problem first.
My buddies and I have been talking about this too. Some conclusions that we came to are that Kate’s absolutely right. How many Christians say that Pat Robertson is nuts when he claims that God is punishing the Haitian people? Or when the Westboro Catholic Church protests at military funerals with signs that say “God hates fags”? Or when Glenn Beck says that social justice has nothing to do with Christianity?
That was a big one that is certainly a valid criticism. So thanks to Kate. Keep em coming and like us on Facebook if you haven’t already.
We also concluded that too many groups, us included, pay far too much attention to the fringe groups. For instance, some atheists should concern themselves with bad individuals who take religion to extremes and cause social discord–but some go too far and lump ALL Christians (including us Catholics) into one group of nutters. For some, this reveals a hidden agenda of hate towards religion in general. But that too, can lead fair-minded religious folk to lump all atheists into one grouping and not consider that there may be some very fair-minded atheists who don’t deem religion as something that should be blighted from the earth. It’s just not THEIR thing.
I’m hoping that I didn’t insinuate that all atheists are crazy yesterday. Certainly not the case. However, some do have a hidden agenda and I fear that is what is behind the signage.
One of my friends, Ian, is an atheist and he once said to me that many people think that atheists believe in “nothing.”
“We don’t think that there’s nothing or that life is meaningless, we’re all connected in some way. We just don’t believe in God.”
Some would also say that our bodies unite with the environment after we die and the earth keeps on moving. But there’s not much more beyond that. So I’d like to point out that I like having those kinds of conversations so I can understand where people come from.
However, once you start denigrating my faith, when I don’t do that to you, I’ve got a huge problem. And that problem is that some can’t deal with people believing in God. The need to be “right” surfaces and dominates their psyche and until religion (in this case) kow-tows to them, they are like a dog with a bone.
So maybe we all need to be cautious of the extremes here. I think we should probably use the word some Christians, some atheists, some Muslims, some Buddhists…
And maybe, just maybe, fair minded people of all faiths can unite around one thing: