cornered like a cat
Reading Time: 8 minutes (Oliver Schwendener.) Cornered! Time to DARVO!
Reading Time: 8 minutes

Hi and welcome back! Ever been hit by blame from an ego-stung Christian who thinks we just didn’t Jesus right, and that’s why we now disagree with them about something? It’s like blame constitutes legitimate evidence all on its own. But it doesn’t. Today, let me show you how toxic Christians resort to blame games when they realize they’ve backed themselves into a corner for lack of evidence.

cornered like a cat
(Oliver Schwendener.) Cornered! Time to shift blame and run for it while they’re distracted!


(When I talk about evangelism in terms of sales, the product is always active membership in the evangelist’s group. It’s not belief in their package of nonsense. They only try to sell that package first, because they see it as a necessary prerequisite to getting their mark to join their group. They’re wrong, but that’s just the beginning of their ineptitude with selling their actual product.)

Toxic Christians and the Blame Game.

Back in 2017, a survey by PRRI (Public Religion Research Institute) got our attention. In it, white evangelicals claimed with straight faces that they faced more religious discrimination than Muslims do in America. It was an absolutely striking finding, one that got a lot of mainstream news outlets talking.

It caught people’s attention like that because only white evangelicals went there. And I’m sure they felt very hard-done-by indeed by all this discrimination they perceived against themselves. Yes, I’m sure they did. After all, the shifting of blame is in their tribe’s very blood.

From infancy, authoritarians get taught to blame others for their own failures. Any time they feel bad or do something naughty/off-limits, they learn to insulate themselves from those feelings of guilt and shame by blaming others. The thought process:

  • Facts: Only bad people do X.
  • I did X.
  • But I know I’m not bad.
  • SynthesisSometimes good people get compelled to do X. If they are, then it’s not their fault if they were compelled. So therefore, I must have been compelled to do X. (See also: “The only moral abortion is my abortion.”)
  • Conclusion: It’s not my faultThe agent doing the compelling is the problem here. It’s the compelling agent’s fault I did X. I am blameless and may still think of myself as good. It’s that agent’s fault.
  • Secondary conclusion: That agent is the bad one here. Blame them, not me.

And toxic Christians tend to be really, really authoritarian.

Watch carefully when terrible people try to push blame onto you for something they did. You can just about see the li’l hamster wheels turning in their heads!

a cute hamster in a wheel
Sometimes the hamster needs a break though. (Jeremy Noble, CC.) Oh man, now I want a lil hamster. Yeah. I’m totally sure Bother would lurrrrve a hamster friend. All 50-ish calories of it.

Watch Where the Blame Rests.

The one who finally gets stuck with the blame will be the least powerful player in that Christian’s social group. Usually, they blame women.

That said, I’ve certainly heard plenty of sex abusers in Christianity blame children for crimes committed against them. Here’s one. A rapist pastor’s male relative just asks a question about whether the underage victim of this sex-abusin’ pastor maybe shares responsibility for her pastor’s sex crimes against her. (The correct answer is “NO.” It should be followed by “Ick, what on earth is even WRONG with you?”)

Other blame-assigners actively punish women for making them feel off-limits twitchiness in their pantsal regions. Or rejecting invitations to get busy with them. Or just existing in public while female.

Usually, the blame gets plastered over a tribal enemy. That’s like catching fish in a barrel. The tribe’s enemies are a long-established valid target for blame, and one easily accepted by the vast majority of toxic Christians. Nobody’s really lower on the ladder than enemies!

Blaming someone lower on the ladder of power keeps that victim’s group oppressed, maintains the war at a proper boiling-point, and gives extra power points to the accuser.

How Toxic Christian Blame Works in the Wild.

Often, toxic Christians blame their evangelism marks for not accepting their recruitment attempts. Christian apologetics (like this stream of hamfisted dishonesty) is stuffed full to bursting with this kind of blame. It’s been part of the package of Christian beliefs for literal centuries.

For example, here is an advice listicle from a Zondervan site. (Zondervan publishes all kinds of Bibles and guides to how-to-Jesus-correctly.)

  • #1 on their list: “The gospel doesn’t fit their [meaning those who reject the evangelist’s pitch] plausibility structure.”
  • #3: “They don’t understand sin and guilt.”
  • #5: “Ethics are a barrier to belief.”

The rest of the listicle blames Christians for recruiting incorrectly, which I’d expect from a company that makes its coin selling recruitment guides. But it’s notable that at least three of their listed ten reasons try to blame their marks for not buying in.

Lesson learned! Even when the evangelists recruit perfectly, gosh darn it, their marks will often still reject their product! And they do so for completely unvirtuous reasons! Darn them to heck!

(I’ve never encountered a single legitimate sales organization that taught its salespeople to do this. But I’ve seen tons of inept salespeople go there. It’s still just so remarkable to me, how bad Christian evangelists are at sales.)

And the Classic Blame Attempt: “You Just Want to Sin.”

We see this kind of blame elsewhere, too. A Christian Post article (reproduced here) asserts that “personal rebellion” is the root cause of atheistic beliefs. Despite what almost every atheist asserts about Christians having a total lack of compelling supporting evidence for their claims, atheists are just totes wrong and don’t realize it!

And over and over again, ex-Christians get told that we only rejected Christianity because we’re really just in total rebellion! We just wanna seeeeeeee-yinnnnnnnnnn!

As one Redditor notes, “Unfortunately it’s one of the most common rationalizations as to why people leave the church.” And yes, it is. I’ve been hit with it so many times I’ve lost count.

By the way, I liked barrierbreaker’s takedown of this particular blame game. All of the post’s offered ripostes are good. I’m somewhere between “Yes, and so what?” and “If I really wanted to ‘sin’ and not face consequences for it, I’d still be Christian.”

well, it is
Both is good!

Blame Absolves Accusers of Further Action.

Once TRUE CHRISTIAN™ accusers assign blame, they need take no further action. Take evangelism, just as one example of where they do this. Whatever we might say about wanting supporting evidence that is both credible and persuasive, we’re just wrong. We don’t really want that. In fact, TRUE CHRISTIANS™ insist that if they ever did pony up what we ask them for all the time, we’d still reject their product.

Toxic Christianity is full of this insistence too. It always runs along the same lines: a Christian pouting about how their marks just won’t accept a sales pitch, then picking apart the mark’s stated reason for disbelief as invalid and unvirtuous.

Here’s a great example of the trope. After pouting about his utter lack of buy-in from his chosen marks, a TRUE CHRISTIAN™ called Tim Barnett blusters that even if he presented his marks with absolute proof of his claims, they would not accept it. Like GYAHH, y’all, people in the Gospels didn’t even buy in when Jesus resurrected Lazarus in the Bible fairy-tale that totally for realsies really happened and isn’t just recruitment propaganda that this guy has grievously and hilariously mistaken for real history.

The obvious reply is that maybe ol’ King Tim here should at least try finding and offering that kind of supporting evidence before deciding what his tribal enemies’ “wicked hearts” would do with it. Then, he can blame people all he wants for not accepting his claims.

Unfortunately, Barnett can’t even imagine a world where his religion even contains that kind of evidence! Indeed, the only things he can conceptualize as credible, compelling evidence are things that he knows don’t actually exist: his god writing his name in the stars or stamping “Made by God” on every atom in existence. Dude likely only describes them at all as PROOF YES PROOF that the meaniepies rejecting him are just so totally unreasonable.

It’s such a telling failure, such an obvious compensatory fantasy spun by someone who knows, without a doubt, that he can’t produce this kind of evidence, ever, no matter how hard he ever tries.

Blame = Admission of Guilt.

As a quick sidebar, let me mention that when toxic Christians go for the blame game, it’s because they know they’re guilty.

In the above example, Tim Barnett above knows perfectly well that he completely lacks credible, compelling evidence. The Christians accusing us of “just wanting to sin” know similarly well that they can’t rise above our real reasons for rejecting their claims.

In these cases, blaming us for their own shortcomings functions as a concession that we’re absolutely right here. They’re saying, in effect, “Yes, sure, okay. But you still suck.”

They’re seeking to zing us for their own failure to provide compelling reasons to buy their product. Talk about a hardcore cope!

Synthesis: Our Rejection Becomes the Evidence.

Now we come to the beauty of Tim Barnett’s blame game:

Once he deploys blame, he absolves himself of any wrongdoing or shortcoming. His lack of evidence becomes evidence in and of itself. And he blames us for not accepting that evidence!

He doesn’t need to produce real evidence. After all, he’s already decided that doing so wouldn’t help his sales metrics because his marks still suck. Our suckage is, itself, the evidence! So he can keep selling his product with only emotional manipulation and irrational arguments-in-lieu-of-evidence.

Whew! I’m sure it’s a vast relief to him to know he doesn’t need to change at all!

Blame lets him imagine that his failure to make sales isn’t his own fault, and so he doesn’t need to improve his tactics at all. He deployed his tribe’s approved tactics perfectly well, if he says so himself. So if he’s not making sales, obviously he’s not the problem here. And the tactics can’t be. Therefore, his failure to make sales morphs into our fault, not his.

Seriously, y’all. The best contradiction to Christian claims is, and has always been, the behavior of so many Christians.

NEXT UP: A very quick note about what might represent compelling evidence for at least this ex-Christian, graded with Jessica Walter gifs according to how likely each bit is to ever happen. See you tomorrow!

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A last thought (and sweet teaser for tomorrow): That Tim Barnett post (relink) hilariously “just asks” if belief is like an “evidence meter” — “it’s as if we have an “evidence meter” in our heads. And when the “evidence meter” reaches a certain level, we believe in God. But is it really that simple? Does belief in God merely depend on evidence?” My reply: yes, and yes, and his faith operates the same exact way. The reasons he lists for accepting his claims are evidence, in their way; they’re just not credible or compelling to people with all their critical-thinking thrusters on line. He’s perfectly happy to accept this tribe-approved evidence, and he’s just so furious that it’s not enough for those rejecting his claims.

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ROLL TO DISBELIEVE "Captain Cassidy" is Cassidy McGillicuddy, a Gen Xer and ex-Pentecostal. (The title is metaphorical.) She writes about the intersection of psychology, belief, popular culture, science,...